Even if your friend yawned when you shared your engagement news, don’t assume too much.
Q: My friend began to seem distracted when I called her, so I started to fall back. When I recently became engaged, I called her to share the good news and she gave a smug response: “Wow, I didn’t know it was that serious.” Now I don’t even want to call her to share details. We used to be so close, but I feel so judged and defensive. Do I give her one more chance or just call this friendship quits? — A.C.
A: If only people could respond the way we want them to all the time, right? It sounds as if your friend is going through something or there has been a rift in your friendship, from her perspective, that needs addressing. Her aloof response and catty reaction — everyone knows that the proper and immediate response to “I’m engaged!” should be “Congratulations!” — are probably not what you’re accustomed to hearing from her.
Do understand that not everyone around you is going to be happy about your engagement. It may have nothing to do with whether these folks think you’re making the right choice. Some people will want what you have and be frustrated that you’ve found what they have not just yet. For others, it will be a reminder of what they had that didn’t work. There’s a whole other group that thinks love and definitely marriage are for suckers.
I’m a big fan of Don Miguel Ruiz’s book “The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom” and suggest you become one, too. The Second Agreement is “Don’t take anything personally.” The idea is that what other people say and do is about them, not you. This means that maybe your friend is jealous or maybe she’s in a bad place and can’t muster up a standard response for you. Whatever the reason, don’t take it personally.
For the sake of your friendship, put aside your hurt and defensive feelings and get to the underlying problem that’s causing her to act this way. You may be surprised at what you find, and it may not have anything to do with you.
Tell her what you told me: She seemed distracted when you reached out, and you were expecting a more supportive reaction when you announced your engagement. Add that you value her friendship and are concerned that something is wrong. Hopefully this will lead to a conversation about what that is and you two can patch things up.
In the event that this rift isn’t mended and you two can’t reach a “Kumbaya” ending, it’s best to end the friendship, not just for your peace of mind but also for the sake of your forthcoming union.
It’s always important to have a strong support system from friends, but even more so when you’re embarking on a hefty experience such as marriage. Everyone who has ever done it notes that it’s not an easy task.
As important as it is to rely on your spouse and work out your issues together, you will also find that having the support of friends and family can make things that much easier. What you definitely don’t need, especially during the hard times that will most certainly come, is someone who takes such situations as an opportunity to throw a jab.
Years and years ago I attended the wedding of a family friend. I was barely 21, not remotely thinking about marriage and all caught up in how cute the garden wedding looked. I listened passively as the couple recited the traditional vows.
I was startled when the minister stepped forward to ask the audience to pledge that when “this woman,” the bride, called at 2 a.m. ranting about what her “so-and-so” husband did that had led her to believe he’d lost his mind, we were to listen and help her solve the problem, not agitate and make things worse. And when the husband appeared all riled up about whatever his wife had done that was driving him crazy, we were to listen and help him find a resolution, not add a battery to his back. In short, we were to support their union, and if we were unable to do so, then we should just listen.
That support system, the one that so many of us who have it take for granted, is so very necessary. I suggest, as you embark on this new and exciting adventure, that you take stock of your friends: those who are in your corner and will uplift you (even if they don’t agree with but still respect your choice) and those who will drag you down.
Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor to The Root, a life coach and the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life.” She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at firstname.lastname@example.org.