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posted: 4/1/2014 12:26 PM

Exclusion from fiancee's social group feels like slap in the face

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Q. My fiancee has a large social network predating our relationship, which I am learning to navigate. Over the course of the past few years, I have attended almost every dinner, party and other outing with my spouse-to-be and have been outgoing with all of her friends. As a result, I have always been greeted warmly by them.

My fiancee's friend is having an engagement celebration weekend at an out-of-town resort. The guest list included the friends and significant others of the bride- and groom-to-be, including my fiancee, but I was not addressed on the invite.

When my fiancee responded that both of us were coming, she was informed that it was a "friends only" event and that the invite was for her to attend solo. As for the other significant others, we were told that they are mutual friends. By inference, this means that I am not. I am just the person my fiancee has been dating.

Have I misinterpreted my role all along? Should this change how I approach them going forward? Should this change how my fiancee approaches them going forward? And what if it doesn't change her friendship with them; should I be hurt by her loyalties?

Feeling Left Out

A. You just took a face-slap, so it makes sense that you're responding emotionally, but taking one opinion as a consensus is a dangerous habit to get into.

Whether it's a rave or a rejection like this one, even a painful, surprising one from someone you've made an effort to get to know for several years, it's still just one view, and best treated as such.

So, no, this shouldn't change how you approach "them," nor should it change how your fiancee approaches "them."

Do, though, open your mind to the important information available in the way your fiancee responds to this insult.

Did she acknowledge your hurt feelings? Did she feel hurt? Did she tell her friend that your exclusion was insulting to her?

Was she, in fact, insulted? Or did your fiancee already regard this friend as peripheral to her? Can you then be OK with her decision either way, to take the invitation or leave it, because you're confident she has your back in ways that matter and with people who matter?

Or, was she not insulted because your fiancee herself still regards you as outside this group? Did this exclusion trigger a general reaction in you because it's just the latest sign this group hasn't embraced you and your fiancee is torn in her loyalties?

The most important information I'm missing is whether you can talk about stuff like this with your fiancee, freely, productively and without defensiveness on either side.

It can definitely be tough on a couple if their peer groups aren't rooting for them, but not damaging as long as you two are rooting for each other. Bringing up the former with your fiancee is where you start looking for answers, but in the latter is where I suspect you'll find the truth.

• Email Carolyn at tellmewashpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.

© 2014 The Washington Post

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