Hurt feelings

So I had this Bridal Shower recently, and I was not very invested in the whole Shower thing, but I obliged my FMIL by getting RSVP’s for friends that said they would come. One of my four close friends said she would be on vacation and unable to come, and the other three responded in the affirmative. I relayed this info back and forgot about it until this Sunday.

I saved a seat for her at my table, because I was happy to have made such good friends here and I wanted her and the others to meet my family, who had travelled from out-of-state. She is from Spain and eats later than the rest of us, plus she is always at least half-an-hour late to anything she attends, so I thought nothing of it when she didn’t show right away, but by the time we wrapped up and I said goodbye, the other girls and I agreed that she must have had an emergency, and that this was unlike her.

Monday went by and no word, so I dropped her an email asking if she was okay and saying I wasn’t upset, which was the truth. No response, but I see an email from her that she sent Friday which I had never read in which she says “See you Sunday.” I freak out a bit and call around because now I’m starting to think she might be in a ditch somewhere, since she obviously meant to go.

The other girls and I leave her messages, and Tuesday evening I finally get a hold of her. She sounds weird and definitely not happy to hear from me, and I get a flashback to my other friend’s recent shower, how much she hated it, how she complained that in Spain this wasn’t done, about not wanting to ever go to one again, etc. I get the realization she may not have want to come, but I decide to ask her if she’s okay anyways because I’d hate to assume. She said she woke up “so-so” that morning and then her Internet was down, and she couldn’t tell me that she wasn’t going to come because she didn’t have Internet, then Monday she was shopping with her boyfriend and forgot to email me, and then Tuesday day she had gone out to lunch and was tired from it and now she comes to see people are blowing up her phone and she doesn’t know why. Her tone was bored and she didn’t sound her usual self. I felt like an idiot for worrying she might be hurt.

Now, I can’t say enough that I don’t care about her shower attendance, but what hurts is that she’s being rude and deceptive for no reason. She has my home and cell #s, and she could have just left me a voicemail saying she was too sick to come, or had a last-minute emergency, or that she simply didn’t have a good time at the other shower and didn’t want to come. I would have understood and crossed her name off with no hard feelings, but now I feel like maybe we aren’t as close as I thought and I’m sad and disappointed in how she handled it.


Your story reminds me of a sad tale involving a friend, a friend of hers, and a handmade baby gift which has been tucked out of sight in the closet of the giver. Add in a dash of adultery (on the part of someone ELSE), and you see two very different people who became friends due to proximity several years ago, who had a good friendship for several years, then grew apart, and now, due to some deception and the fact that they started out as very different people, are not friends, with some definite hurt feelings on one side (and I’d bet some hurt feelings on the other, though I’ve never been friends with the other side).

It sounds more dramatic than it is. Or maybe not. I won’t provide details, due to time constraints and due to issues with concern for the privacy of those involved–especially me.

But if you feel like this friend is decieving you for no good reason, you should give serious thought to backing off. And I’d back off from any wedding related expectations with respect to the friend, anyway. I don’t know that I’d confront her, for fear of exploding a relationship which might otherwise fade naturally, with fewer hurt feelings.

You aren’t wrong to have hurt feelings, but I’d be wary of allowing tensions related to the wedding or the Mother of the Groom causing you to take things out on a friend who is less connected, and since she’s foreign and not a relative, someone you don’t have to be careful around for fear of what will happen for the next twenty years or more.

What you describe would have hurt my feelings. In my opinion it sounds like she didn’t want to come, didn’t have the cojones to say so, and now is taking it out on you that she was rude. Back off from her - she’s obviously not the friend you thought she was - and if she makes contact you can decide if you want to pursue the friendship.

Actually, my mother was in town so this weekend was the calmest, most focused I’ve been in months. I spoke to her, asked about her weekend and plans for this next weekend, and it was obvious to both of us that there was awkwardness there. I was very warm because I do think she’s a great person, I suppose it’s just wierd when you realize someone you’re friends with isn’t in tune with you.

Thanks for validating it, I felt a bit guilty that I might be putting expectations on her but in all honesty, all I care about is that she feels she can be honest with me.

I’m a bit confused - she said she would be on vacation and unable to come yet you were expecting her to arrive? I may have just read that wrong.

If you were under the impression she was coming and she didn’t, then she has been very rude and you have every right to feel hurt.

As for her not liking the whole shower tradition, it was one evening out of the rest of her life and clearly important to you, surely she could have sucked it up for one night. If she felt so strongly about not wanting to come, then she should have been honest and told you so.

As for not contacting you because she didn’t have internet access, that’s completely unacceptable when she has both your home and mobile numbers.

I hope the reason she was weird when you called her was that she felt guilty, which she should!

Does she have a history of doing stuff like this?

Yeah, I’m confused too. Who exactly didn’t come but was supposed to?
You seemed to leave something out between paragraph one and two.

I read it the same way. Even went back and tried to figure it out. I think there’s pronoun confusion and the “she” in the story must be a different “she” from the vacation woman.

In some cultures it is more natural to just defer something eternally than to give a definite no, even with an excuse. Although I’ve lived in Spain, I can’t say that this is exactly typical of Spanish culture. But IME the Spanish are not nearly as concerned about “closure” in terms of who will be at an event as we are. It sounds to me like she’s acting fairly normally within her culture for you inviting her to a bridal shower when you had heard she didn’t like them. She probably couldn’t exactly figure out how to say no. IME it’s pretty common not to be as close to someone from another culture as you think you are. I wouldn’t hold it against her. Maybe give it a few days and it’s something you can talk over. She might do well to learn how in the US invitations are more rigid, especially for anything bridal-related.

So in Spanish culture, if you’re invited to be a guest and you don’t want to go, you say you will come but then just don’t turn up? It’s not considered impolite?

I’m genuinely asking, I just can’t find a nice way of phrasing my question without it sounding sarcastic.

Absolutely. The people I described in post #2 had a working relationship for a year or two, working relationship plus friendship for another year or two, long distance friendship for a year or two, and are now no longer friends. They also have some religious differences. At some point before the blow-up–starting, I think, before the infamous baby shower*-- Amy started to feel like she was not as high on Beth’s priority list as she used to be. Which was OK, except that Amy was still putting Beth pretty high on her own priority list. Amy felt bad about the fact that they were growing apart, but with Beth’s marriage, Amy’s two kids, Beth’s new baby, etc. , they just didn’t have as much in common as they used to.

*Infamous Baby Shower–held in a dark, crowded tea house with uninspiring food. At a 3 hour or more distance from Amy’s home. Amy and husband had major fight about him being in charge of their two children, one of whom was still nursing, for an entire day. Amy had a miserable time. And left with some major resentments towards Beth. By my calculations, about half of Amy’s grievances were legitimate grievances, but not neccessarily things she should hold against Beth. (Example: major fight with husband–not Beth’s fault, really.)

This was my experience in Madrid. Social life is quite a bit different there. It mostly involves meeting up with groups of people to go out to places, usually a series of places in the same night. Entertaining in someone’s home, or catered events with a headcount, really didn’t seem that common. I socialized with both upper-class and working class groups, and this seemed true for both. Even well-to-do groups of adults would often have one or more spouses who would maybe or maybe not make it after work for a sit-down dinner of fine imported foods and multiple courses. All the social events I attended over the course of about 2 years were quite flexible. Nothing where there were party favors with each guest’s name, or assigned seats.

When going out in groups, it was very common, and this was before the days of cell phones, for someone to send word (or we’d call from payphones) that they would try to meet up with the group at the next place. Sometimes it happened and sometimes it didn’t. The people who did this a lot were considered sort of impolite, but it was nowhere near the big deal that it would be in the US. Also, a prior social engagement running long seemed to be a perfectly acceptable reason to be late to or miss the next engagement. Leaving a party that was still going strong because “I need to be at Flea’s at 8:00” wasn’t what was done, like it probably would be here.

So I guess I’d just say if this young woman is coming from the perspective of Spanish culture, it doesn’t give her a whole lot of guidance on how to handle a rigid invitation that she doesn’t want to accept. I can’t picture anyone I know from Spain having just said “nah, I don’t like showers.” And while the right thing in US culture would probably be to say “Oh, sorry, can’t make it, I have another commitment,” I think most Spaniards would tend to lie later rather than sooner.

Interesting, thanks.

Although, if this is a close friend of the OP, then I’d imagine this friend has spent enough time in the OP’s country to have learnt what the local customs are?

No, there’s four friends. One was on vacation and sent her regrets right away. The other three RSVP’d. This lady in particular said she would come, but has in the past voiced dislike of showers. She didn’t show, or call, until I called her.

Does she have a history of doing stuff like this?
Well, it wasn’t important to me that she come to the shower. It was important that she be honest and courteous, though. The ideal would have been for her to call that day and say “You know, I RSVP’d because I felt obligated but I really don’t want to come. Will you hate me?” I would have laughed and said no and meant it. If she had an emergency, I would have thought a phone call would have been thoughtful. I think a big part of this is my shame at being so worried when I had no cause.

I dunno. But I was making social blunders in Madrid well after making what I considered to be close friends. But I did make a constant effort to improve and learn, and I’m not saying the friend shouldn’t do that. I’m just grateful for those who were able to forgive me when I was unintentionally rude.

Actually, I guess not. She’s only been here four years, and is still very Spanish in her thinking. My family is from Peru, but perhaps I’ve assimilated more than I thought. I know all about the ‘sideways no’, but I never expected to have it used here.

Oh, no hard feelings, I just wish I could stop feeling hurt and quit feeling like I have to talk to her about it. I’d like to let it go, but I’m horrendously frank, and it’s difficult for me.

The part I shamefully identify with is the irritation she is communicating. If I messed up or made a decision I knew was iffy (deciding not to go to something I said yes to), I would have enough guilt that I would then be peeved at people tracking me down. It’s my guilt that I did something iffy and wanted it to slip by but here’s all these people calling me.

THIS IS NOT A CRITICISM of you and your friends, just that I unfortunately know that feeling and reaction in myself.

Excellent, thanks for the clarification. What would be the preferred way of handling this? Forgetting it ever happened? Asking you jokingly for a gift and calling you a slacker?

Hmm. I always hope that people will carry on like nothing happened, but that’s disregarding your need to talk about it frankly. And my friendship should be generous enough to allow that and be open to it.

But yeah, joking to cover up real emotions is my MO. :smack: