The Vine: August 24, 2011
Now with follow-up info! — 10/17/11
I have a wedding-related conundrum, and I hope you (and the illustrious Vine readership) can help me figure out the best course of action.
My dear friend B just got engaged to a wonderful man. The wedding is set for October. Her younger sister is going to be the maid of honor. Our friend, M, and myself will be bridesmaids. We are both thrilled for B, we love her sister, and we're excited about the wedding. The three of us — B, M, and myself — have been friends for many years, we've seen each other through heartbreaks and career disasters, we know where all the bodies are buried, etc. We live in different cities now, but we get together as often as we can.
The history that we share makes us wonderful friends, but there have been ups and downs, natch. One thorny issue that has come up more than once over the years is how M has, at one time or another, hooked up with both of B's brothers. The first time it happened, M and B's older brother actually made out in the back seat of a car B was driving. B was extremely uncomfortable about this, and remains (I think) unaware that the two of them hooked up again a year or so later, when the older brother declared his sincere emotional attachment to M. I believe he is in love with M and hopes to have a relationship with her when he moves back home. He currently teaches English overseas, and M enjoys his company when he comes home for a visit, but that's as far as it goes on her side.
Now, M is a wonderful person, but she is A Flirt. If her hookups with the older brother were all we were looking at, I might get a bit nervous that she would make out with him at the reception (which would be entirely in character, but which would make B extremely uncomfortable), but that would be the extent of it. However! Last year, B and M and myself went on a camping trip with B's younger brother. In the middle of the wilderness, with all of us sleeping in tents, M and the younger brother had a drunken hookup. B was mortified. She and I could both hear everything.
M and the younger brother were suitably repentant the next day — they're not really interested in being together, it was just mutual horniness combined with M's tendency to flirt with any attractive man. B was furious, and took several days to cool down. You can probably imagine how much fun the rest of the camping trip was. I tried to keep the peace as best I could, but I was definitely pissed at them for indulging their horniness despite B and myself being five feet away in the other tent, to say nothing of my awareness that B's older brother has feelings for M and would be crushed if he found out she had hooked up with his younger brother!
M is not interested in a relationship with either brother, but she has always flirted, made out, and/or hooked up with them if the opportunity presented itself. This New Year's Eve, for example, she made out with the younger brother — so much for the post-camping repentance. As far as B knows, there was drunken making out in the backseat of her car with the older brother, and a drunken hookup with the younger brother years later on our camping trip, and that's it. She is very uncomfortable with H hooking up with either of her brothers, and doesn't like to be reminded of either incident. Her sister, the maid of honor, is blissfully ignorant of all of this (as far as I know). Also as far as I know, neither brother knows about the hookups with the other brother.
So my question is: Do I approach M and ask her please not to flirt/kiss/sexytimes with either of B's brothers at the wedding? Any obvious amorous action would mortify the bride, horrify the bride's parents, and probably distress whichever brother was not getting kissed. I would like to think that M knows better, and maybe she does. She was truly chagrined after the camping incident, but…then she was kissing the younger brother at the New Year's Eve party, so I don't know. The wedding will also be the first time that she and the older brother have crossed paths since his declaration to her almost two years ago (although I know they have been in touch online, and he really really likes her).
If I say anything to her, I run the risk of pissing her off. I completely understand that my basically telling her to behave herself is condescending and kind of insulting. But if she publicly kisses or hooks up with either brother, it has the potential to be really awful for a lot of people. I don't know for sure that she will flirt with either of them, but her history suggests it's a strong likelihood. She's a lovely person in so many ways, but her drive to flirt — especially when she's had a few drinks — tends to obliterate her common sense and thoughtfulness.
Do I say something to her in the hope of preventing that particular disaster? How on earth would I even bring it up? Do I say something to the brothers (with whom I'm in touch online)? Do I say nothing and just remain optimistically vigilant (or do damage control) at the wedding? I want to make things as wonderful as possible for B, and it's not clear to me what the best way to do that would be.
No; you don't; no; do nothing; no, no, no, no, and no.
Wanting "to make things as wonderful as possible for B" is an admirable goal, but I want to point out two things here. First, that isn't your entire goal. You also want to avoid the kind of horrendous awkwardness that M's behavior put you in the middle of the last time. You want to not have to pick a side, you want to not have to make cheery conversation when the emotional temperature is hovering around -19F, you want to…not.
This isn't a judgment of you. I would want to…not my own self; I would probably also consider taking her aside all, "Look: you'll do what you want, but if you do do anything, I am Switzerland so leave me out of it, you dig?"
But it is condescending, and that's the second thing — you are Switzerland, or you can be. This is an issue between M and the older brother, and/or the younger brother, and/or B. Knowing about it does not make you responsible for it.
Set a boundary here, for yourself. No need to set it out loud to M — or to B, for that matter, and while I'm up, it's fine if she's weirded out or upset, but her siblings are grown men and she needs to corral her feelings a little more tightly — but just decide, right now, "Whatever happens with M and X Brother is for M and X Brother to figure out," or "I hope things don't get awkward, but if they do, it's not my job to play ambassador." Wherever you want to put the line, whatever mantra you want to store it in, recognize that you don't want to be in the middle; acknowledge that, if you end up in the middle, it may be partly your own doing; and take mental steps to stay out of it.
If M wants to play careless with a man's feelings, that's unfortunate, but that's on her. If B wants to throw a cloud on her own wedding day by obsessing about who her brothers get it in with, that's on her. Here's what's on you:
…Yeah. Say nothing; stay out of it.
Tags: friendships the fam