DEAR NATALIE: Many years ago, my old boyfriend John (not his real name) was invited to a wedding by our dear friend Steve and his fiancee Julie. Julie didn't want John to attend the wedding with me, even though we had been together for a few years. She wanted him to go with one of her single friends. Why? I am not sure.
The invite came addressed only to John (with no mention of me). John and I got into an argument about this because he refused to ask Steve if I could come (even though we were all friends). John ended up attending the wedding alone, and I dumped him over this. Fast-forward, Steve and Julie are divorced, and I asked Steve if he knew about what had happened. He said he had no idea Julie did that and would have insisted that I come to the wedding had he known. All these years later it still bothers me. Was I right to have dumped John over this? -- NEEDS TO KNOW
DEAR NEEDS TO KNOW: This is one of those situations in life that seems clear after the fact, but in the moment appears muddy and confusing. Your boyfriend should have taken you to the wedding. It's also weird that Julie was trying to come between you and John (for whatever reason), but apparently it worked. In a way, Julie did you a favor. If a guy you're with isn't willing to stand with you over something this small, there is no way he would take your side when the waves get really rough. In fact, you should send Julie a bouquet of flowers thanking her for sparing you years of agony. The card could read something like: "The best revenge is a happy life."
DEAR NATALIE: I have been invited to a wedding by very close family friends. However, they are also close to a relative I no longer associate with for very strong personal reasons. I don't want to be rude and ask the host whether this other family member is invited, or whether they have RSVPed. However, I want to attend and am discontented by the fact that to avoid confrontation and awkwardness, I can't. It is especially troubling because the couple getting married are also related to the family member I have issues with. So each party is equally close in relation but I do not know whether the couple have had the same issues as I have with this person. Plus, unless things are as bad as they are on my end with this family member, most couples will invite relatives to weddings out of formality. Is it rude to ask whether or not they are invited? I'm not sure how to handle this. -- LEFT OUT
DEAR LEFT OUT: It sounds as though you are close enough to the couple getting married that you could call them (not text or email -- this warrants a phone call), and tell them exactly how you are feeling. You are in a tricky position, and until you explain to them your situation, you cannot hope for any remedy.
Obviously, you can't expect them to choose a side or disinvite this other person on your behalf, but you can provide information as to why you may not be in attendance. If they say that this person is coming, you have two options:
1. You can send a gift and a card and miss this happy occasion because of someone else.
2. You can choose to attend and just avoid the person you don't want to see, or just be cordial and distant with him or her. Think twice before letting someone else dictate how you live your life. If you want to go to this wedding, do it. Don't give this person so much power over you. Bring your partner or a friend or someone who makes you laugh and dance, drink something bubbly and eat cake (at least have one piece for me) and celebrate love!
Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: This week's tip comes from reader Jeff Pollock. "I always try to get to an event early to take a peek at the welcome table usually with prepared name tags laid out alphabetically. That way, when I later see someone whom I have previously met and perhaps should remember, I can flatter them by actually recalling their name when I see them."
Please send your relationship and lifestyle questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet them to @NBSeen. You can also send postal letters to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15212
(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)