I'm a bridesmaid who hates the groom. Do I play along?

From a willfully blind bride to a bummer of a friend, Claudia Dey helps you do damage control.
bridesmaid wedding cake Illustration, Sarah Lazarovic.

Dear Claudia,

My close friend asked me to be a bridesmaid. I know her handsome, rich, charming fiancé is a lech — everyone knows it — and I told her so. Now she won’t talk to me about it and is trying to proceed as if nothing happened. Should I still be in the wedding?

Dear Bridesmaid,

Someone give you your danger pay, because you told your friend a very difficult truth. High-fives — that took a lot of guts. No woman wants to hear that her future is in hands that stray. But your friend is undeterred, so the question then becomes, do you play along too?

The answer is yes. Before your conscience cries foul, let me explain. Maybe for your friend, her fiancé’s matinee idol good looks and suitcases full of cash make up for that negligible detail we call philandering. Maybe you find this trade morally confounding; I would agree. But her choices are her own and, unfortunately, we no can sooner read another person’s mind than change it.

If you don’t attend her wedding, your friend will note your absence not only on that single day but also in the years to come. And those years will be the ones that matter most, when she’s very likely worn out by her lot and looking for a true friend. You have the chance to set an example here and be steadfast, whatever storms arise. Bridesmaid, standing at the altar next to your friend is not a seven-hour pledge: It is a lifelong one. But I know that you, unlike the groom, are up to the task.


Dear Claudia,

I secretly applied for a better job in my company and asked that they not contact my current manager. They did, he was blindsided, and I didn’t get the job. He told me, “I’m sorry you’re unhappy here,” in a terse voice, and that’s all we’ve said about it since. Do I try to patch things up? And how?

Dear Applicant,

I am a big believer in the constructive patch-up. Start by gathering your courage and making an appointment to speak with your manager. Sending a beautifully crafted email is tempting and safe, but emails do not convey tone — and tone is crucial here. Begin your face-to-face meeting on a positive note. You are not “unhappy” in your current job, but you are “hungry for different opportunities.” You applied for the “other” (never say “better”) job for a short list of valid reasons, primarily to grow your skills. Use this as a chance to broadly re-examine your career path with him and to ask for more of a challenge within the parameters of your existing position.

Be specific in your request. You might find that your manager agrees and your current job improves immeasurably — or that he does not and you have to hunt around for something new. Either way, that puts you one step closer to landing the job you’re after.


Dear Claudia,

My friend is going through a rough time, but he’s treating me like his therapist. I’m not his therapist. How do I ask him to stop — or at least start paying me?

Dear Doc,

Be patient with your friend. I understand that you want to drop the Jungian notepad, but your pal is suffering. Surely you too have been through a difficult patch and know its dizzying, consumptive effects. Life’s challenging moments force you to grapple and scrutinize and unpack — a trial no human being should be left to do alone.

Locate your heartbeat, then listen to your friend. Yes, you will hear the same words and questions and phrases over and over (a classic symptom of the rough-timer). And yes, there may be moaning and gnashing of teeth and other forms of vulnerability that are exhausting to behold. Instead of thinking about what a drag he is or what you’d rather be doing, summon your love and counsel. He’s come to you, Doc, so be there for him.


But if, in your listening, you notice his difficulties deepen and persist, gently suggest that your friend consider getting a professional opinion. If your pal is in trouble, he must see someone better (read: actually qualified) to guide him through.


Claudia Dey is a novelist, columnist and Governor General’s Award–nominated playwright. She is the author of How to Be a Bush Pilot: A Field Guide to Getting Luckier.


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