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Here Comes The Doomed

My best friend of five years was the maid of honor at my wedding, and wants me to be hers, too. The problem is, whenever she isn’t with her fiancé, she’s with another man. They go on dates, have sex, and send each other sappy text messages. He paid to name a star (in the sky!) after her for Christmas, and got her a $300 spa package. She says she cannot imagine her life without her fiancé, then says the same thing about Guy B. When I tell her I can’t help her plan her wedding to Guy A while she’s telling me about being with this other man, she says I’m judging her, and abandoning her, and I’m just a “fair-weather friend.”


Like the bride-to-be, I’ve recently made the disappointing discovery that a number of people in my life seem to be “fair-weather friends.” Just last week, I was planning to rob the liquor store, and my so-called friend Jackie, after all I’ve done for her, refused to drive the getaway car. And the other night, I just didn’t have what it takes to drag the garbage bags of body parts into the backyard, then do all the digging. Wouldn’t you know it, I called Nancy, Hillary, and Cathy, and surprise, surprise, everybody’s shovel was “in the shop.”

Oh, sorry, was I confusing “friend” with “accomplice”? Ideally, a friend is somebody you love, respect, and admire, whose fundamental values resonate with yours. Sound familiar? I didn’t think so.

“Friend” is one of the more misused words -- a warm, fuzzy word carelessly dropped into conversation to describe arrangements that aren’t the least bit warm or fuzzy. Much of the time, it should be accompanied by a qualifier; for example, “Proximity Friend,” a “friend” whose main merit is being conveniently located. Sure, you eat with this person every day -- not because you find them particularly compelling, but because you find they’re usually ready to hit the cafeteria when your blood sugar is. Next, there’s the “Nothing Good On TV Friend”: You’re bored, you hate bar-hopping alone, what the hell? And don’t forget the “Historical Friend.” You have so much in common. Okay, well, just those Hanson concerts way back when, and that time in eighth grade when you two got caught shoplifting Hello Kitty.

So, for your “friend,” it’s raining men. This doesn’t mean you have any obligation to stand around holding the umbrella. If she really cared about you, she wouldn’t be demanding you become the accessory to a major sliming of a guy you’ve probably gotten to know and like. Sure, you’re judging her and abandoning her, and what took you so long? As my friend Cathy Seipp says when people accuse her of making a “value judgment,” “I’ve got the values, so I’m making the judgment.”

You might put your own values to work by encouraging this girl to do the right thing and at least tell the fiancé she’s “confused.” Of course, you should formally resign as her maid of honor. Inaction on your part actually speaks louder than whistle-blowing. If you tattle, she’ll most likely deny it. But, when the maid of honor bows out of the wedding, the groom’s gonna wonder. In the meantime, re-evaluate all your friendships and see whether they fit the bill. After all, if this girl’s your “best friend,” who’s your second-best friend? I’m guessing the lady who hits your parked car and leaves a big dent and the note, “I’m just leaving this note because people are watching.”

Posted by aalkon at February 21, 2007 7:08 AM



Amy is right, and deep down inside, you knew the answer all along.

This person isn't your friend, she is a user. To say the least, she is immature and completely self centered. She lacks the capacity to recognize how her actions affect others - or worse, she DOES recognize but doesn't give a rat's ass. As my mother would say: She can't see two inches past her own nose.

I just felt compelled to comment because I have been in a situation where I too felt obligated to stick around. The "friend" label is sticky stuff; after all, we're decent people and don't want to be selfish jerks. But an important lesson I've learned is that it's OK to stop being friends with a person. It's not a legal or moral contract. You have the right to have expectations of the people you choose to have in your life. If a person doesn't treat you as you want them to (or is a manipulative, self centered, two timing whore and this, rightfully, disgusts you) then you are under no obligation to continue the friendship.

I'm sick of peoples' abuse of the "judgemental" card. People can get over themselves, it's so high and mighty of them - as if they're totally free from opinions and ideas that they can't disagree with the actions or lifestyles of others. If someone makes a lifestyle of molesting children, is it judemental of me to want his/her ass to be put in jail where the inmates can have their fun with aforementioned ass plus foreign objects?? Naw, don't think so. Along the same lines, it's ok to think your friend has dog shit for a spine and to dump her.

It will drain you and continue to eat away at your soul. Again, I've been in a similar situation...

...I walked away from a poisonous friendship. I didn't realize how depressed and not like myself I had been during the end-days of the friendship. I was instantly revived once I cut myself off from her!!

While you might choose to remain friends with her, but bow out of your wedding duties - you may find over time that her selfishness and immaturity carries over into all areas of her life. You must ask yourself if she really contributes to your life in a meaningful way that offsets her clear lack of moral fiber.


Posted by: Gretchen at February 21, 2007 7:31 PM

Great post, Gretchen. Maybe it's because my eyes are sliding off of my brain at this time of night (been staring at code for hours), but I don't have much more to add, other than the cheating fiancee/"friend" is probably slapping the LW with negative labels because of some misguided negative feelings she has towards herself. I mean, if she was truly confident that her behavior was just fine, she wouldn't get so defensive, right?

Weddings have an uncanny way of bringing bad situations and feelings up to the surface, don't they? It seems like they force us to consider issues that we've been putting off dealing with.

Posted by: Wendy at February 21, 2007 9:25 PM

I like reading Amy, but this is bad advice.

Of course "Tormented" should agree to be maid of honor. Those two deserve each other as best friends. One of them is a selfish, deceiving weasel willing to steal a man’s happiness and wreck his life, maybe forever, by marrying him. In fact, she cannot imagine doing anything different – ever. She has to have her paramour, too, a “man” of low breed willing to incalculable pain on the husband-to-be to amuse himself with a romantic fantasy and satisfy his own appetites. When back fence boy flakes off to use somebody else, she'll find another at the nearest bar.

For her part, "Tormented" is willing to be her best friend, and watch quietly from the sidelines as the fiance walks up the aisle to his destruction. Only her momentary torment matters. His certain, enduring torment, lost years and financial peril mean nothing to her.

So there are two choices. One: "Tormented," her friend and the paramour set up a menage a tois on the side where they can enjoy the husband-to-be's misery while they live for today. The three deserve each other.

Two: "Tormented" goes and tells the prospective husband everything she knows, leaving the friend in the lurch. Once the marriage is off, the twit the friend is seeing will drop her because there's no secret sport in chasing around a single, unattached woman. Worse, if she's no longer going to be married she might expect him to make a commitment.

One other thing: beware these overly-romantic guys that want to name a star after you. Sometimes these types favor romantic structures because of the distance it provides. Same goes for excessive gentlemanliness and other artificial ways of relating, like a relationship that gets its drive from attractive objects, environments or other externals. It’s sociopathic behavior in disguise, resorted to by people incapable of dealing with you as a person.

Posted by: Lastango at February 22, 2007 5:50 PM

Lastango, what you're missing is a grip on reality. Unless Tormented hires a private detective and gets the goods on the "friend" (ie, solid evidence, not just hearsay) the friend will simply deny it. Do you think the "friend" will suddenly be struck with an attack of honesty and ethics at the moment of accusation?

I give advice for the real world, not how people wish it would turn out in a perfect world.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 22, 2007 7:09 PM

Three points, Amy:

-- It sounds like "Tormented" already has plenty of specifics. The prospective husband might even be familiar with some of it, even if he didn't previously recognize its significance.

-- It's up to him to weigh the info, and watch for confirmation or hire his own detective if he wants to go that far.

-- We don't need to go to a "perfect world" scenario to ask people to live up to their responsibilities.

If Tormented doesn't try, there's no chance. And she will carry heavy baggage.

If she tries and it doesn't work, the prospective husband's situation won't be any worse. She cleaned her slate, and she can hold her head up.

If she tries and it works, she will have redeemed a multitude of her own sins.

Posted by: Lastango at February 22, 2007 10:20 PM

"Plenty of specifics"? You still aren't dealing in the real world. Unless she has photographs and physical evidence, she has nothing. Her "friend" is obviously and experienced liar and a cheat. Do you think she's going to break down and confess all if she's accused? Please.

Number two, it isn't Tormented's responsibility to do some major mop-up after a guy who'd probably rather not look at who his girlfriend really is. She'll do her part by refusing to participate. The guy will draw his own conclusions -- unless he'd rather continue with his head in the sand...which he may.

What she needs to do is work on her own life, like her weak concept of what a friend is.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 23, 2007 12:17 AM

You’ve taken hold of the wrong yardstick, Amy. Photographs and physical evidence aren’t necessary to help the guy change his mind. It’s more as a matter of creating reasonable doubt and pointing him in the right direction.

You bet it’s her responsibility. It becomes that because there’s a marriage in the offing, with all its enduring consequences. It the pair were just socializing you’d be correct.

By the way, if you believe a guy will draw a conclusion based on whether a friend of the bride wants to be a maid of honor, let me help you to the real world: we don’t ponder stuff like that, and if we even notice we consider it meaningless and forget about it. You sound like a girl headed out on a date thinking, “I hope he notices my green eyes match my earrings.”

Agreed she needs to work on her own life; she can start by cluing the groom and dumping the bride.

Posted by: Lastango at February 23, 2007 1:01 AM

Not to stereotype an entire gender but I think guys have to deal with this dilemma more than women. Men will screw around right up to their wedding day, swear that they'll stop, and then get right back to it the day after the honeymoon.

The worst part about it is that sometimes they're otherwise great guys, people who have given you the shirt off their back. So what do you do? I don't know. Institute a Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell policy?

Posted by: kevin_m at February 23, 2007 4:32 AM

"Photographs and physical evidence aren’t necessary to help the guy change his mind. It’s more as a matter of creating reasonable doubt and pointing him in the right direction."

So, she should hire a private detective?

People are responsible for their own relationship choices, and for policing them.

Every day, people marry who shouldn't. Do you pay for and force relationship counseling on friends whose marriages maybe aren't the best idea?

I'm not going to argue the point further with you. I have work to do.

The idea that this girl should hire a private detective to get the goods on her friend, then present them to a guy who clearly doesn't want to know if he's overlooking something that has to be flagrant, along with signs, that have to be obvious as well, that he hooked up with a highly unethical woman...not her job, and she's not going to take the step she'd need to -- hiring a private dick -- to do expose the friend in an effective way.

Again, advice for the real world here.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 23, 2007 7:12 AM

Lastango, why do you believe that woman exist to take care of men, as if we are all little mothers roaming the earth, just looking to nurture you poor helpless guys? Yes, men get hurt by bad relationships, but so do women. Both men and women have to learn to make better choices for themselves and not look to other people to look out for them.

Even if she did tell the guy right to his face that his fiancee was screwing around, he might be in denial and turn on her. He may accuse her of meddling in their lives. He may also get violent, which is something that women have to consider when dealing with men and their emotional/sexual self-perception.

I also don't understand where this 'multitude of sins' comes from. Is this religious?

Posted by: Chris at February 23, 2007 9:38 AM

"Even if she did tell the guy right to his face that his fiancee was screwing around, he might be in denial and turn on her. He may accuse her of meddling in their lives."

At last, somebody else living in the real world with me.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 23, 2007 1:40 PM

He may also get violent.
When he catches his wife with her "friend" he will get violent and someone might get killed. I say tell him and find new friends.

Posted by: genes at February 23, 2007 2:17 PM

Do you know the percentage of men who respond violently to conflict versus the percentage who respond peacefully? Most men do not get violent.

And again, it's not her job to police the guy's likely propensity for living while unconscious.

As Nathaniel Branden once told me: "People tell you what they're all about; you just have to be willing to listen." If this guy doesn't care enough to figure out whether the girl is ethical or not, it's not Tormented's job to sweep up.

I spent much of my 30s alone. Why? Because ethics in a man are exceptionally important to me, and many people are unethical. I actually looked, and looked hard, at what a man was truly made of, and didn't get into a relationship until I found a guy who's a great person, and really the best person I know.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 23, 2007 2:29 PM

It's not that she needs to tell this man to his face that his fiance is screwing around behind his back.
The issue here is that this woman knows her friend is doing something terrible, that will have a dramatic impact on her fiance.
This marriage needs to be reconsidered for myriad reasons, not only for the infedelity, but because this woman's friend doesn't REALLY love the man she is engaged to. The entire institution is a fraud, and that needs to be acknowledged.
This poor man is probably so blinded by the love he has for his fiance, that he wouldn't even notice the warning signs.
I think she should tell her friend that she must make a confession to her fiance.

Posted by: Jaime at February 23, 2007 5:24 PM

Realistically, it is not the friends place to take care of this issue. She should bring her conconcerns up to her friend. Then, she should do a cost/benefit analysis of continuing to be this woman's friend and go from there.

Posted by: Incognito at February 24, 2007 1:07 AM

OP has no duty to inform cuckold-to-be . . .

even though I really want her to.

Posted by: snakeman99 at February 24, 2007 11:56 PM

But if you witness a crime, you're obligated to testify, aren't you?
This is only slightly different, someone is being victimized and abused unwittingly. I can't believe that no one else, if put in the same situation, would find some way to let this poor man know what's happening.
Wouldn't you want the same done for you?

Posted by: Jaime at February 26, 2007 6:48 AM

I don't expect others to be my rationality or to police my life. I spent a bunch of years alone because it was important to me to find a man who is truly ethical, and I waited until I met him.

Again, real world theory, please. Unless this girl hires a private detective and gets photos and hard evidence, she has nothing except a reason for two people to manufacture a lot of hatred against her socially.

"Wouldn't you want the same done for you?"

Would YOU hire the private detective? It's hundreds of dollars a day. And there's no guarantee the P.I. can get the goods on the "friend" in a day.

I'm guessing I know your answer, and it's like the old joke about whether the girl would have sex with some guy for a million dollars. "For a million dollars? Yeah, for a million dollars," she says.

"Would you blow me for $10?" the guy asks.

"What do you take me for, a cheap whore?" she says.

"We've already established what you are -- we're just haggling about the price."

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 26, 2007 7:08 AM

This is the kind of situation that screams for putting on one's sneakers and running very far away from it in the other direction. Of course, you can leave a note beforehand that says:

"You're getting married to someone while having an affair with another guy? Are you on crack? You can't even pretend to be faithful to the guy until AFTER the wedding?

Get away from me, you freak."

Posted by: anonimouse at February 26, 2007 8:19 AM

I, too, have had a "friend" whom I considered a friend too long, forgiving her dishonesty over and over. We had a circle of friends in common, with whom we were both able to stay friends, and they knew why the two of us were no longer more than acquaintances. If I were Tormented, I would just ease this person out of my life: stop calling, stop returning calls, stop hanging out. Furthermore, I wouldn't just refuse to be the maid of honor; I wouldn't attend the wedding.

If Tormented knows the groom-to-be well enough to consider him a friend, if she thinks that he would trust her word, then she certainly should tell him. If she's no more than an acquaintance to him, then it probably won't do any good for her to say anything.

Posted by: Emaryn at February 26, 2007 1:45 PM

I'm only bringing this up not because I like to get people frenzied with controversial viewpoints--because I can assure, it's not **my** viewpoint--but perhaps the fiance *does* know? Perhaps he's what is known as a cuckold?

Believe me, I don't know about this lifestyle from personal experience, but because of my periodic dives into reading the Savage Love column. I used to get titillated by the varied spectrum of people's "curious" dilemmas--now all I do is get sad.

At the fact that I find cuckoldry and just overall infidelity sad, some people may say I'm old-fashioned. (I had one prospective suitor tell me I was being narrow-minded because I didn't believe in open marriages. At that remark he ended up in my write-off list. Check.)

Posted by: Wendy at February 26, 2007 2:22 PM

Who says you have to hire a private detective?
That's taking this much too far.
Chances are, the groom to be already has doubts in his mind, but is probably chalking everything up to cold feet.
If someone informed him of what was going on, it might be exactly what he needs to realize what's happening.

And if he gets angry, and cuts you off socially?
Then who cares? That's not exactly someone you should want to have in your life, anyway. And neither is the cheating friend. If you're honest, and you know that you're honest, you can take pride in yourself. Who cares whether the unhappy couple believes you or not? Worst case scenario: They'll cut you off. But at least you'll still have your dignity, and you'll have done the right thing.

No one is asking her to police someone else's life. It's not as though she went OUT of her way to find out what she knows about her friend. The information just fell into her hands, and she can't very well just ignore it, and rest with a clear conscious.

Posted by: Jaime at February 27, 2007 5:58 PM

My opinion is that if I was that oblivious to the most important person in my life, I would want to know what's going on. I could not imagine looking like the fool in anyones eyes.

Besides...how well does he know this skank and he is planning on spending the rest of his life with her?

If I was the bridesmaid/MOH to be, I would #1 step down, #2 tell her the reason and let her choose if she wants to come clean or if I would be the one to do it...

But, again, I value my friends and their relationships, we share the same values, so I could not imaging being in her shoes!

Posted by: kari at February 28, 2007 10:04 AM

I don't think it is tormented's responsibility to provide hard evidence, or even to get involved if she chooses not to. Honestly, I don't think any of us are obligated to look out for the well being of others, but as fellow human beings we should choose to when the situation calls. She is under no obligation to ensure this man's happiness, but if it really bothers her, shouldn't she be encouraged to speak up? I'm not saying give him pictures or anything, but just a mention of the sappy text messages may do the trick. He may be mad at her, deny it, accuse her of trying to ruin his relatiionship so she can have her friend all to herself, but it may also pique his interest enough to sneak a peak into her phone log. He may also be level headed enough to investigate on his own, and start asking his fiance questions, such as "who was that spa package from again?" Or he may choose to never speak to tormented again and ignore any warnign signs. Since she really doesn't need her best friend and her low values in her life anymore, what would the problem be if her ex-friend's new husband hated her? Either way, I think we should all give the fiance the benefit of the doubt and assume that he's a smart man and would make a smart move once presented with the information. And if not, tormented can walk away with a clean conscience knowing she did her part, and the two deserve each other.

Posted by: nicole at May 2, 2007 4:21 PM

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