DEAR CAROLYN: My fiancée has a large social network predating our relationship, which I am learning to navigate. Over the course of the past few years, I have attended almost every dinner, party and other outing with my spouse-to-be and have been outgoing with all of her friends. As a result, I have always been greeted warmly by them.
My fiancée’s friend is having an engagement celebration weekend at an out-of-town resort. The guest list included the friends and significant others of the bride- and groom-to-be, including my fiancée, but I was not addressed on the invite. When my fiancée responded that both of us were coming, she was informed that it was a “friends only” event and that the invite was for her to attend solo.
Should this change how I approach them going forward? Should this change how my fiancée approaches them going forward? And what if it doesn’t change her friendship with them; should I be hurt by her loyalties?
– Feeling Left Out
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DEAR LEFT OUT: You just took a face-slap, so it makes sense that you’re responding emotionally – but taking one opinion as a consensus is a dangerous habit to get into. Whether it’s a rave or a rejection like this one, it’s still just one view, and best treated as such.
So, no, this shouldn’t change how you approach “them,” nor should it change how your fiance approaches “them.”
Do, though, open your mind to the important information available in the way your fiancée responds to this insult. Did she acknowledge your hurt feelings? Did she feel hurt? Did she tell her friend that your exclusion was insulting to her?
Was she, in fact, insulted? Or did your fiancée already regard this friend as peripheral to her? Can you then be OK with her decision either way, to take the invitation or leave it, because you’re confident she has your back in ways that matter and with people who matter?
Or, was she not insulted because your fiancée herself still regards you as outside this group? Did this exclusion trigger a general reaction in you because it’s just the latest sign this group hasn’t embraced you? And your fiancée is torn in her loyalties?
The most important information I’m missing is whether you can talk about stuff like this with your fiancée, freely, productively and without defensiveness on either side.
It can definitely be tough on a couple if their peer groups aren’t rooting for them, but not damaging as long as you two are rooting for each other. Bringing up the former with your fiancée is where you start looking for answers, but in the latter is where I suspect you’ll find the truth.