Do you have issues with your no-longer-best girlfriend? Is your coworker driving you crazy? Megan Carpentier is here to give you the life advice that you don’t want to hear, told in the way you absolutely need to hear it.
My cousin is getting married this summer, and she just sent out save the date cards. The wedding is a “destination wedding” in Mexico. I would love to go, but I just started a new job after being unemployed for awhile and I can’t afford to take time off, and I also can’t afford a trip like that. I know she’s family, but is there any way I can decline her invitation so I don’t have to borrow money from my parents for the flight?
There are two types of couples who have destination weddings. Some couples who feel obligated to invite tons of family and friends who they don’t really want to come choose destination weddings as a specific way to limit the number of people around — I, in fact, have friends who have done this. In that case, declining to go is actually a favor to the happy couple.
The other type of couple is the one who needs the kind of reassurance of love and popularity that only obligating all their friends and the entirety of their extended family to spend $1,000 or more for the privilege of eating hotel banquet food and drinking rail liquor while watching them pledge their everlasting love can provide. Those people are assholes.
Now, of course, I don’t know which type your cousin is, but presumably you can figure it out — or you’ll know once you decline to attend and she calls you up and tries to guilt trip the shit out of you. But the reality is that the initial purpose of a “destination wedding” was to limit the attendees, not to single-handedly save the travel industry by forcing everyone you know to spend tons of money to prove they love you. If you and your cousin are close, before you send back the RSVP declining to attend, just give her a call (or, if she’s close in proximity) take her out to coffee, drinks or dinner and tell her the truth: you don’t have the money or the vacation time to watch her wedding in Mexico, as much as you’d love to be able to be there for their wedding. Ask her where she’s registered (you ought to give some sort of gift, even if it’s minor), tell her you’d love to help out in any other way you can (if you can) and apologize that your circumstances aren’t as happy as hers. If she’s not an asshole, then you don’t have a problem; and if she is an asshole, who wants to be at an asshole’s wedding, except to get in on the pool for when they’ll be divorced?
My sister and I look completely different. I’m tall and skinny, she’s petite and curvy. When I was a kid I was self-conscious about my height and kids made fun of me, but now I’m pretty happy with how I look. My sister, though, is always complaining about how she looks and drags me into it. She’ll say stuff like “Oh, well, if I didn’t eat either I’d be as skinny as you.” I wish she wasn’t so insecure about her looks, but why does she keep trying to make me feel bad about myself?
Misery loves company, and some people that are insecure have difficult imagining a world in which everyone around them isn’t insecure as well. Congrats, by the way, for not letting being the Tall Girl In School affect your own body image for the rest of your life — that’s not an easy trick, as many other oft-mocked people can tell you.
I think, in a very twisted way, your sister actually fishing for a compliment. You, of course, are supposed to turn around and say, “Oh, if only I had breasts likes yours” or something, admitting to a sisterly solidarity in her self-loathing and desire to look utterly different than she does. But, that’s actually not helpful in pushing back on the idea that either one of you has anything to be insecure about.
Instead, the next time she does it, say to her, “Do you really think there’s only one way to be attractive? Isn’t it possible that each of us is equally attractive in our own way, and that our relationship isn’t and shouldn’t be a competition?” Use it as an opening to remind her how hard it was for you to be The Tall Girl, and how many actual insults you had to listen to when you were young — and then to share how it is that you got to a point where you didn’t hate your body anymore. And listen to her about why she thinks that not eating is the only way to be skinny (i.e., pretty) and why she thinks she’s not attractive — and then ask her how she thinks she can start to change her thinking about herself and her relationship with you, which is a hell of a lot easier than quitting food.
If you have a problem with a friend, relative, coworker, or other person in your life, email Megan at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have a problem with your boyfriend, you should probably just try talking to him.