Brawling bridesmaids, broke friends, and reckless exes—Friend or Foe offers advice at Slate.com.

Advice on sticky friendship dilemmas.
May 17 2011 6:55 AM

Jerry Springer Wedding Edition!

I've been asked to be a bridesmaid—by a woman I once got in a bar brawl with.

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Here's another thing: Being a starving artist is a beautiful thing, but it's also a choice. It sounds as if Kelly decided to forgo a better salary so she could pursue her dream. Fair enough. People can (and should) do that kind of stuff when they're 20. If you really want to use your cash to help someone in need, I'd write a small check to Smile Train or Unicef—and save the Visa card for when you have to make a large purchase, such as a new sofa or bed. Honestly, you're too young (and poor) to be playing a Medici. Leave the patronage stuff for when you're 50 and sitting idly on your cajillions.

Sincerely,
Friend or Foe

Dear Friend or Foe,

For the past eight years, I've had a best friend, "Dick." First, we were friends. Then we dated for four years and became engaged. We subsequently broke up. Dick never took the breakup very well, but we've remained super close. I've been dating a great guy for two years.

Dick and I had a falling out around New Year's Eve last year. Then, about a week ago, he called me and told me he was proposing to an 18-year-old that he's known for less than a year. (He's 26 and doesn't have any friends his own age except for me). I think he's making a big mistake—he and the child bride break up all the time—and I told him my feelings and that I wouldn't be attending the wedding. But now I feel bad. Should I swallow my pride and offer my congratulations and attend his wedding, even though I think he's headed straight for divorce court?

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Sincerely,
Til Death Do Us Part

Dear TDDUP,

You don't give a reason for your falling-out with Dick. (Was it this same girl?) But if you care about him and hope to patch things up eventually, telling the guy you plan to boycott his wedding isn't going to mend any fences. Considering you two were once a pair and he never got over the breakup, I think it's fairly big of him to have kept up the friendship all these years and, what's more, invited you to his wedding.

I know you think you're warning off Dick for his own good. And, yeah, the chances of an 18-year-old making an informed decision about her life-mate are slim. But I'm afraid that's for her (and Dick) to find out. It's simply not your job to butt in. It's also frankly insulting to Dick, since the people we love are a direct reflection of who we are.

I'd call Dick back and apologize. We all have buddies with spouses who make the hair on our arms stand up. Short of those partners being abusive drug offenders, it's our job as friends to grin and bear them. Some of these unions even end up being joyful and durable. Then again, 43 percent of all first marriages end in separation or divorce within 15 years—including the ones that initially seem like perfect matches. So who's to say what a happy couple even looks like these days?

Sincerely,
Friend or Foe

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