Dear Carolyn:

A close friend of mine is marrying the wrong woman. None of his friends has ever understood why he began dating her in the first place. She's just not very interesting, and treats him badly. Worse, he's never seemed to be that in love with her. Our reaction to his engagement was a collective, "Huh?" Over the course of their relationship, he has gone from hanging out with friends a few times a week to barely even returning messages.

The consensus is that it would be fruitless and inappropriate to try to talk him out of getting married. But it's hard for me to sit and watch a friend resign himself to unhappiness. Can you suggest any last efforts to convince him he is about to ruin his life?

Desperate to Help

Mean, OK, but boring? How tragic.

Unsolicited "efforts to convince" precipitate more bad weddings than the stork. It is appropriate, however, to say: "You seem unhappy. If I'm wrong, I'll butt out."

The possibility this woman is abusive (his isolation is a classic sign) nudges "appropriate" toward "imperative" -- but, sadly, no closer to effective, since the laws of fruitlessness tend to prevail.

Dear Carolyn:

I dated a divorced woman for a few months, but realized I love her only as a friend, and we remained friends. She met another guy after a few months, and she's going to be married soon.

I didn't mind her complaining about her ex-husband, but her stories were like a puzzle missing pieces and always ended with his being 100 percent at fault. Recently I talked with her ex, and he filled in those missing pieces.

I've become good friends with the fiance as well, and he has no idea what she is really like. I had no intention of talking to the fiance, so I confronted her about being honest with him. She got angry (understandably), but didn't deny anything the ex told me. She insisted nothing that happened then matters to the new relationship and told me to butt out.

The fiance has shared his doubts with me, but he is chalking them up to "pre-wedding jitters." This marriage has "crash and burn" written all over it; the ex and I have a pool as to how long it will last. Is my friendship with her more important than with the fiance?

Conflicted

Your obligation to each is to know your facts and your place.

Your confrontation was meddlesome, though I suppose skillfully so. You chose the right person to confront; you seem mindful of your role as both mutual friend and marital bystander; and you covered her best interests, not just yours and the groom's.

Telling the groom to use those cold feet and run run run from this freak show wouldn't quite meet those same standards. But he is confiding in you, so it's actually more your place to advise him than it was to confront her, as long as you don't sell her out. Meaning, your mouth does not form the words, "crash," "burn," any synonyms thereof, "what she is really like," or "pool." (I'm in -- five years.) Just advise him, generically, that grooms with doubts should never ever oh ever dismiss them -- for your benefit, since the laws of fruitlessness tend to prevail.

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