Dear Carolyn: I recently called off my wedding less than a week beforehand. And everyone hates me now — my ex, her family, even my family has been nasty to me.
On top of that I truly feel terrible about having done this. I kept trying to put my feelings down to cold feet but I suddenly knew I couldn’t go through with it. Better that than divorce in less than a year, right?
I know I look like the bad guy, but I honestly think my ex bears some blame for giving me an ultimatum instead of letting it happen organically. We had only been dating two years before she said, “Give me a ring or else I walk.” When I tried to explain this to some friends and my family, they said it just makes me look even worse, trying to blame the “heartbroken, jilted bride.”
Aren’t I entitled to defend myself, or am I just going to have to take 100 percent of the blame forever??
— Not Really the Villain
Not Really the Villain: Ah, you had me till the finger-pointing.
Yes, her ultimatum was a terrible idea. But, dude — you heard her terrible idea, and did what? Bought a ring. So that’s on you.
Let me go back for a second, though. I don’t like blame at all in situations like this. You two weren’t right for each other. Everyone who “hates” you isn’t connecting enough dots to recognize you had to call it off.
You could both be lovely people who tried to do right by each other, and that still could have brought you to a last-minute cancellation. Sometimes the Aha Fairy chooses to visit at an exquisitely terrible time.
So own that, and nothing else. Say you’re sorry. Say you feel terrible. Say you wish clarity had come sooner. No flinching.
And no justifications, either. Here’s what doesn’t help anyone at a time like this:
“Hey, beats a divorce, amirite?”
“YOU pressured ME, remember.”
“We had only been dating two years!” [My eyeroll added.]
“Do I have to take 100 percent of the blame forever?!”
Your job is to have a clear message for yourself, that you are 100 percent responsible for your part in this. For agreeing to something you didn’t want and for taking so long to see the error in that.
How others see it, see her, see you? That’s for them to work out. The rest will follow when you get right with you.
. . . And when you compensate your ex and/or her family for any deposits you lost by bolting so late. Decency demands it, in installments if you must.
Dear Carolyn: I have a friend who never calls me — ever. Which is fine, I’m a busy person with multiple jobs and an active social life. The problem is sometimes she will send me an email saying she misses our old close friendship and wonders what she might have done wrong to push me away. We’ve been through this a few times. I say nothing is wrong, I’m busy and the phone works both ways. I set up an outing or two for us. She enjoys it, tells me so effusively, but does not suggest any outings from her end. I get busy, cycle repeats.
I haven’t heard from her in a really long time. I’m anticipating the hurt email, and I’m trying to figure out a way out of this. I enjoy her company, but I’m tired of doing all the work, then getting guilt-tripped when I stop. Ideas?
Overbooked: If you like her, then email now, unprompted, to suggest making plans. The best defense being a good offense, or something like that.
If her wounded email shows up before you’ve had a chance to do this, then don’t scramble to make plans. Instead, just answer her “what she might have done wrong to push me away” question honestly. “You haven’t called me! If you want to, though, then call me.” Spray-paint the steps on the floor to help her do the dance.
Dear Carolyn: My son and his wife have a blended family. They have been together a short time and I have come to love all the children equally. All are tweens and young teens.
The step-grandchildren have birthdays coming up. I gave the grandchildren gift money for their birthdays. I am concerned that whatever I do, the others will feel that I value them less. If I give everyone the same amount or same gift, I feel the “grans” will feel slighted because I am THEIR grandmother. If I give the “step-grans” a lesser gift, I feel they will feel slighted. Any suggestions would be helpful.
Anonymous: Which “bad” message is better to send: That you treat all children equally, or that you openly grant some children more-than and others less-than status?
Please tell me the answer is obvious when it’s phrased this way.
Kids are kids and grandparents are grandparents. Love is love. Equal gifts for all.