I have a male friend (strictly platonic) whom I've known for 10 years. He's getting married this fall to a woman he met long after we became friends. Over the past year, she's taken a strong dislike to me for no reason other than the fact that we are close, to the point where I have now been banned from attending their wedding. He's apologetic and wishes I could come, but doesn't want to risk upsetting his fiancée on their wedding day. I'm okay with not being able to attend. However, I want to show him his friendship is important to me. Should I bother sending a wedding gift even though I wasn't invited? Is my relationship with the fiancée mendable?
What's happening to you is a variant of something that's happened to me my whole adult life.
There's one major difference, but … bear with me and I'll try to explain.
See, I've more or less always hung around with what you might call "a villainous crew of really rather naughty fellows." (I like villains! If I go to a party and it's all decent, well-intentioned people who make good, healthy choices, I'm soon checking my watch, wondering: "When are all the scoundrels coming?")
And since the dawn of my 20s, whenever one of them got married it was usually to someone intent on "reforming" him (well, not my wife, Pam – I think she took one look at me and figured it wasn't worth the effort). The reformers have a three-step approach:
Step 1: Establish electronic moat around new husband, slowly but surely cutting off contact with his circle of ne'er-do-well friends;
Step 2: Surround husband with hand-picked group of defanged, declawed, eunuch-type doofuses, ideally wearing fanny packs and whose jokes are "groaners";
Step 3: Explain to husband, "These are your new friends."
But in your case, it's probably not that the bride-to-be thinks you're a bad influence on her fiancé. It's probably your gender that's the problem.
I realize I'm speculating a bit. Maybe she doesn't like the way you slurp your soup. But I think it's a fair guess.
You say you think she circled the wagons because you and her fiancé are "close." Certainly, if Pam had had a male "special friend" lurking around when we started going out, I would have regarded him with an extremely hairy eyeball.
Because a "special friend" could so easily be tweaked into a "secret friend," and we all know what's down that road.
Now, true, I have a number of female "special friends," all of whom are quite attractive and all, like my male friends, rather naughty. But I have proved myself over the years with a spotless record of fidelity and non-flirtation. And my female friends, I noticed, were all very careful in the early going to pay their respects to Pam, Godfather-style
And thus I am actually allowed to go out with my attractive, naughty, female "special friends" alone, and even to stay out late and get drunk with them (up to a point, obviously).
But that's master-class stuff. To get there, you need to start with baby steps:
Step 1: I like the idea of sending them a gift. That's the high road. Pam and I had a small wedding, and one person I liked very much but hadn't thought to invite touchingly gave us a lovely present anyway. You do something like that, it could buy you hell's own amount of brownie points with the bride.
Step 2: Invite them both to stuff. You do that, right? Because, if not, there's your problem right there. Cozy tête-à-têtes with your friend are out, at least for the time being. And make sure, if/when they do come over, that you pay special attention to her. Try to give her the vibe that you're a woman's woman, not a man-stealer.
Step 3: Be patient. In time, she will release her kung-fu death grip on him, and you might even be allowed eventually to have (carefully monitored, highly restricted, Hannibal-Lecter-style – he'll be wheeled out strapped to a dolly, wearing a mask, surrounded by armed FBI agents) one-on-one encounters with him again.
At the same time, he should know that not inviting you, a close friend of 10 years' standing, would be hurtful – even if she demanded it, stomping her feet.
If he cares about you, he should extend an olive branch post-honeymoon. But again, be patient. Sometimes fresh-married people need a period of adjustment before they reach out again, even to their oldest friends. (Never mind fresh parents, who can go under the waves, socially, for years.)
Your friend will come around, I predict. He just needs to figure out how you retain friends once you're married – a tough trick to pull off even when your new bride isn't running interference.
David Eddie is an author and the co-creator of the TV series The Yard, airing this summer on HBO Canada.
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