I kicked my best friend out of my wedding and I refuse to feel bad about it

Guest post by elliesmash
Philadelphia Tattooed Bride Photographer

I have been besties with my bestie since our first day of college. We weathered awful roommates, harsh professors, and bad relationships together. We danced together at the weddings of mutual friends, lamented explosive breakups over bottles of vodka, and supported one another through some pretty rough times. She was one of the first people I asked to be a bridesmaid, and I couldn't imagine getting married without her there.

However, as time has gone on, and the wedding has drawn closer and closer, several really harsh truths have come to light about my friendship with my leading lady. Namely, that it's changed.

While I used to accept my best friend's harsh criticisms and extreme negativity, I slowly awoke to this gnawing sense that I no longer enjoyed our conversations. No matter what the topic of conversation — the weather, school, the election, mutual friends — it all devolved into a hate-fueled, depressing monologue. I started avoiding her, and then — when I was unable to avoid her and we spent time together — I found myself making any excuse I could to escape her company.

I hated myself for it. This was my best friend, and good friends are always there for each other. Right?

At first, I tried to be positive for her, and offer suggestions on how to change her situation. She got enthusiastic about every solution, agreeing that she needed to do something, only to never follow through. So I found that I was unable to keep up a positive attitude for long — I was emotionally drained and exhausted after every coffee date. I tried to minimize contact with her, but I wanted her to be in the wedding. Again, this is a fairly important day, and I wanted her to be there.

After a while, though, I knew I couldn't really continue this way and feel good about it. Even then, I was extremely conflicted. The last thing I want to do is be a self-centered, self-important princess about my wedding, and kicking someone out of the wedding party feels like the height of selfishness. “Firing” a bridesmaid feels like the stuff that “bridezillas” are made of.

Plus, asking my friend not to be in the wedding also meant possibly losing her forever. And despite her negativity, my best friend still means a lot to me. I don't want to toss her aside when she is obviously so unhappy, but I can't relax and enjoy this wonderful, happy time in my own life when every conversation with her leaves me feeling guilty and drained.

Finally, I sat down and I wrote my friend a letter.

I reminded her of all the wonderful times we had shared in college, and told her I would always be grateful for those times. I told her that recently, talking to her and being there for her had been very hard, because I felt like we had fallen into this pattern of me always reassuring her that she is pretty and of value, and not being able to express my own anxieties and feelings without the focus of the conversation being turned back around onto herself.

I told her that I loved her dearly, and I wanted so badly for her to feel better about herself, but that I felt like by continuing in this pattern that I was enabling her.

I reminded her that as the wedding got closer, the stress and expenses would increase, and I felt like releasing her from her duties would be the best thing for both of us.

I told her she would be listed with the bridesmaids in the program as an honorary bridesmaid. That she was of course invited to the bachelorette party, and to the pre-wedding festivities. But that this way she wouldn't have to worry about buying a dress, or showing up early to the ceremony, or being in photos.

I told her that I love her and I think that she is entirely capable of fixing her situation. That maybe speaking to a therapist might be a good solution for her.

I told her that she means the world to me, and that I hope that no matter what, we'll always be best friends, and that even if our friendship is never what it once was, that it can someday be really good again.

Her reaction was like a face full of angry bees, and then she went silent. I haven't heard from her in weeks.

It was hard, and I am sad. But in the end, kicking my best friend out of the wedding was the best thing to do for myself and the others in the wedding party. In fact, telling my best friend the truth about how marginalized and used I felt was good for me anyway, regardless of all this wedding drama.

Things change, people change, and gently letting go of a relationship that isn't very good for you can allow space in your life for other people to come in and be wonderful. My bestie will always have a space in my heart and in my life, but my wedding will go on, whether she's attending, or not. And while I might feel like I am a terrible friend at the moment, I know I'm just a human being, doing the best I can, and not martyring myself for the detriment of everyone.

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Comments on I kicked my best friend out of my wedding and I refuse to feel bad about it

  1. Well, if you’re feeling emotionally abused by her and/or always fight, you made the right decision.

  2. It’s hard to put in all the detail that was behind a decision to end a friendship into a piece as short as this has to be because it’s a piece on a website and not a novel, so I can see why those who have never had to do this may fully understand. Ellismash it’s a great piece though!

    I have had to end a friendship over this kind of behaviour and it’s really really hard. It’s not as simple as it’s annoying having a depressed friend so I’m going to kick them out. Of course anyone going through depression needs a little extra friendship currency, I’ve been there as the depressed person myself. But the friendship I ended was different, this person endlesslessly picked fights with me in order to fuel their depression/negativity spiral (If I held a different opinion on even the most neutral of subjects they were incredulous and took if very badly, constantly picking at it and pushing me into defending my position) and was insecure and very very jealous of anyone else in my life. When this person was in a rare good place they could be a good listener although they frequently interrupted me to tell me off for not defending myself in a situation I was describing, but when they were not they were like a swarm of angry bees and about as rational, I was once severely told off for not asking how they were first for instance. This person was not just needing a bit extra and not really in a place to give it back, they were kind of consistently demanding extra an almost pathologically unable to give it back.

    We met through mutual friends and bonded over bitching about issues with people in our families, but when we spent time together it was usually just the two us not a larger group. As I began to move to a more accepting place and out of my anger this person didn’t. About halfway through our friendship this person called me over and gave me an ultimatum over my bad behaviour as a friend. They had tossed aside a guy they were seeing who was really into them and who was so heartbroken he asked not to have contact for a bit and when asked if I thought that was really crap of him not to hang around and still be a friend I had said that that seemed reasonable and why not give him some space. I was issued an ultimatum over this so I walked. A few years later we ran into each other again and this person seemed to have matured and we began to hang out again. It all went wrong when a close relative became seriously ill and I was away a lot caring for them. My friend called me to a meeting where I was told I was a bad friend because I wasn’t sufficiently managing my life enough to be there for them. Again I was given and ultimatum and again I walked.

    Each time I felt terrible, this person was and probably still is very messed up and suffering a lot inside. But they were incapable of not lashing out in that pain. I tried so hard and I even went back a second time but I could not, and it is not my job, to save this person. Being depressed is not bad friendship behaviour, using a friend as an emotional punchbag is. It can take a long time to realise that you are being used, and let’s be frank, abused like this, I know that seems insane when you read what I have just written but it really did take a long time for me to admit how unbalanced the friendship was. When I was issued with the ultimatums I took that chance. There was no point in trying to explain it to my friend and see if their behaviour would change, if they were capable of understanding the issue it wouldn’t have been there in the first place. Which is not to say they were not capable of changing but not with me, not at that time. To put it very starkly, it is not the victim’s job or responsibility to help change the abuser. That’s the sad truth, that this friend in their pain, bullied and abused me, someone they really actually quite cared about and that means I have no responsibility, whatsoever, to them.

  3. People bond by venting. Venting about something that’s bugging you gives you a feeling of release, and it’s easy to get hooked to that feeling. You start venting instead of enthusing, because it’s less risky – people might criticise the thing you’re enthusing about and bring you down, but if you’re being critical you’re already safe from that, plus you can get the positive reinforcement of other people criticising it too. You don’t realise that it starts weaseling into your way of thinking until you start bringing yourself down, and you have to make a real, active effort to stop. And part of that effort usually results in becoming distanced from other negative people, because now you’re bringing them down by disagreeing with them about their venting.

    I knew a couple of people at my old work who were excessively negative, and what got me about both of them was that they could see it in each other, but not in themselves. There was a lot of sniping about not getting promotions because they felt picked on “and it’s not like I’m always putting this place down, unlike some people”. Even with stuff they loved, it wasn’t “I found a great salon”, it was “all the other salons are crap”. If you said “I love your necklace,” you got “I hated the seller, and the price, and the packaging, and that it wasn’t as nice as this other necklace I couldn’t afford…”. When you put to either of them they were being negative, it was always “well, but this thing deserves it” or “but not as negative as so-and-so”, and if you didn’t agree they’d keep changing the subject until they found something you also felt negatively about (or walk off to find someone else). I’d be loath to describe either as depressed (though obviously it’s a possibility) because in a lot of respects both were quite cheerful about being negative. It was how they’d learnt to bond with people, and it worked for them.

    It’s a great social tool, negativity, because tearing things down together is a shared activity. It’s just also very, very damaging – even if you’re not depressed, the person you’re tearing things down with might be, and they’re not going to walk away from the conversation with the same little endorphin rush you got from it. It’s hard to move a friendship on when it’s started with negativity, but if you can find something to enthuse about together, sometimes it’s possible.

  4. I don’t know how I feel about this. On one hand, I get cutting negativity out of your life, but to ask a girl who has been supportive of you for years to step down because you just can’t handle being supportive of her anymore (after you already asked her), is weird. ‘Hey, getting married is totally stressful, and you’re just making me sad by clearly having issues, so you can’t be my bridesmaid anymore but you can still totally come to the celebrations and bring gifts! Kisses!’

  5. You absolutely did the right thing! People change, and friendships change, and something as stressful as a wedding does NOT need added drama that can easily be avoided. Good on you for having the courage to step away from someone who was causing more harm than good.

  6. Okay, wow. I thought I was the only terrible person to kick someone out of my wedding. I didn’t get a “first wedding.” We got married in a courthouse and we spent far too much time during our marriage in a courthouse, and finally, were divorced in – you guessed it – a courthouse. So when I was lucky enough to snag “the one that got away” I knew my wedding (my one and only wedding!) had to be perfect.

    From day one, it went awry. First, my husband to be accidentally invited someone to be in my side of the party that I DID NOT WANT. But she was family, so I nodded and smiled. This rearranged my entire idea for the wedding party, and the size of it. Due to finances, we had to keep it small, so I found myself crossing off great potentials and trying to stick to those who were closest to me.

    One of my oldest best friends came bounding into the bar one day and showed me her gorgeous ring. Guess when her wedding was? Two weeks after mine! (After we cooled our friendship down a few months later due to her negative attitude and complete hatred for anything I suggested for my own wedding, I found out she ended up getting married on the same date my groom and I had chosen. She had been hoping to lure our guests over to hers instead. Can you see why we aren’t friends anymore?)

    I initially asked my sister to be my MOH. She was thrilled, but then it dawned on me that she was broke, and so was I. This meant she could not afford the expenses of being a bridesmaid, and I couldn’t afford to cover them. Also, she lived two hours away at the time and wouldn’t you know it… she also became engaged while I was, and her date was four months after mine. Meaning, right when things got down to the nitty gritty, she’d be neck-deep in her own planning. So I had a heart to heart with her and told her it would be better for both of us if she focused on her wedding and I focused on mine with someone else. It was SO HARD and to this day, I regret it.

    I replaced her with the girl who was my closest friend at the time, who had helped me make it possible to even BE with my fiancee again. She had been super loyal, helpful, and seriously indispensable during this period of my life, and I was so excited when she was stoked to be in my wedding. It was the plan we’d had since we were in 8th grade. But as time went on and I spent more time reconnecting with my fiancee (we’d been apart for five years and had a lot of time to make up for) she grew a little resentful of that and started to pull away from me. It came down to two months before the wedding when bridesmaid dresses NEEDED to be ordered, and she told me, “you’re just not a priority in my life.” Needless to say, that stung. Hard. So I quietly “unfriended” her and called back my sister.

    But guess what? The other bridesmaid, the one I hadn’t even invited to be in the party, told me she had already ordered her dress. Which did not come in a size anywhere near what my sister would need. While I look back on it and think how stupid it was that I chose to listen to my OCD rather than my heart, I again told my sister “actually…thanks but no thanks.” (ps- I’m an awful, terrible sister.)

    So I called up my last resort, a fun cousin whom I’d always been close with. Maybe not “MOH” close, but close nonetheless, and she had the funds and the figure to fit in the dresses I’d chosen. Within a week, I’d asked her to fill in, she’d ordered her dress, and had planned a super awesome bachelorette party, despite all the nudity she included, lol. She came through in a pinch and even hooked me up with a fabulous hairstylist who took care of my hair as a wedding present.

    About a week before the wedding, I was informed that the other girl had NOT ordered her dress as she had told me she had. She ended up paying almost twice as much to get it rushed, and we have maybe two pictures of us together throughout the whole day because well, we’re not really friends. It still makes me sad that I chose color coordination over my own sister, who didn’t hesitate to make me her MOH in her own wedding.

    So guys, go with your gut. And if their gut doesn’t fit in the “perfect” dress, then it’s not the perfect dress. Don’t be an asshole like me.

  7. Depression is an awful thing. Not only for the person struggling with it but for those Around them. Providing solutions will not work – the person needs to work out their own solutions. What they need meanwhile is SUPPORT and not rejection. I find your move cold and something I could never do. I am glad you’ve been able to find peace with it; as I never would be able to.

  8. I have depression and I have depressed friends, and I’ve leaned on them and they’ve leaned on me during hard times. Somehow we all managed not to be completely shitty and self-centered during these hard times.

    Bad behavior isn’t mental illness. I think OP did the right thing to get out of a friendship that had become unhealthy.

  9. I once ended a friendship with my best school friend because I coudln’t handle her negativity anymore because I was depressed myself. I still regret this decission. I let her down and that was the worse thing I could do. I was a bad friend.
    I once also ended a friendship with someone that always took advantage of me. It was a good decision, however I still miss her sometimes. She did wrong to me.

    Everything depends on situation. But I think it’s hard to let a friend down while they need your support the most. I did it once. People did it with me. And friendships never get the same anymore.

  10. There’s only but so much information you can put into a webpost such as this, but I feel like the op did what was best for her well being by removing herself from the situation.

    I’ve been in a situation similar to this before. My best friend of several years started to become increasingly negative. I would try to do everything I possibly could to cheer her up, listening for hours to her venting, offering advice when asked, reminding her of the good things she had in her life, encouraging her to do things that made her happy. During that same time, I started struggling as well. I mentioned it to her and she would dismiss it, saying that her problems were more important (yes, she actually said that). I kept trying to talk with her, and every single time I brought up issues that I was having she would dismiss it or change the subject to herself. I would tell her she wasn’t listening to me to no avail. I began bottling my sadness and emotions up and simultaneously developing resentment every time I listened to her complain. I started reaching out to other people who were much more reciprocal in their friendships. And then at one point after being fed up with months of this treatment, cut off all communication. I felt bad doing it. I was genuinely concerned that she wouldn’t be able to deal with the challenges she was facing without being able to express them. But I don’t regret it at all. I was going down a very challenging path too, only I had no one to listen to me. If I hadn’t stopped that toxic relationship and found friends who were willing to have a little give and take, I don’t know how I would be now.

    Anyways, I’m probably projecting a bit. But I do understand how you can both care so strongly about someone, but also need to remove yourself from them. I wish you both the best and I hope that time will heal the wounds of your friendship.

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