Congrats! You’re engaged. After relishing in the blissful moment as a couple, you likely reached for the phone to share the exciting news with your loved ones. Most engagement announcements are met with equal amounts of enthusiasm, but there are times when that’s not the case. Unfortunately, it’s not so uncommon that friends treat the newly-engaged members of their social circle differently. If you’ve noticed a BFF treating you strangely or becoming distant ever since you got engaged, you’re not alone,
While upsetting, this experience is actually pretty common, says Allison Moir-Smith, a couples’ counselor and author of Emotionally Engaged.
It’s easy to dismiss friends’ distance as jealousy, but Moir-Smith says when people pull away or act weird after a friend’s engagement, there’s often stuff going on beneath the surface, including social, financial, or other factors.
A joyous occasion for you may make loved ones realize what’s missing in their lives.
“Anybody who is in a difficult marriage or just broke up with someone and sees no prospects… it may look like jealousy, but it's really feeling sad for themselves,” she says. “On the one hand, they are happy for you, but it makes them reflect.”
For single friends, an engagement can signal a fundamental change in your relationship with them. They may worry you won’t have as much time for them anymore or fear your bond will change. They may also be concerned that your lives are going down different paths now that one of you is getting married and one of you isn’t.
“When you get engaged you are growing the intimacy with your future husband—he becomes your best friend and that is good and appropriate,” Moir-Smith explains.
“But with close girlfriends, there’s an enormous shift in the relationship and a loss of intimacy. So often people are reacting to that feeling of being less important in your life.”
Friends can also treat you differently because there’s something going on in their personal lives. This can include a sick family member, their parents’ divorce, or work-related stress. If you haven’t been in touch as often amid wedding excitement, you may be less tapped into such circumstances.
Money is also a factor for some friends, which can cause them to withdraw during wedding planning. Because it can be hard to admit you can’t afford things like bachelorette parties and bridesmaids dresses, it’s often easier to bow out or make excuses. (For tips on how to talk money when you’re in a wedding party read here.)
Last, your friend may not like the person you’re marrying, which is a hard thing to admit. Maybe you’re aware of their lukewarm feelings towards your partner, or maybe they’ve tolerated them up until now. Either way, if a friend isn’t thrilled with your spouse, they may be pulling away from your wedding.
While it’s easy to blame strange behavior on just your friends, you also need to look in the mirror. Moir-Smith says many brides can get swept up in wedding planning and turn their focus solely to their big day, and not realize they’re isolating others. No one enjoys being around a “wedding monster,” Moir-Smith says, so make sure you aren’t acting like everything revolves around you.
You also want to look at your online presence, Moir-Smith says. It’s perfectly normal to share wedding updates on social media, but you don’t want to go overboard. Did you go from posting travel photos and pictures with friends to only sharing wedding-related content? If so, you might want to consider how this affects others.
“If you are doing that, you have to own that and realize people are going to react to that behavior because you have changed,” Moir-Smith says. “Is it really important that everyone sees all the bridesmaids dresses you're thinking about?”
If you’re hurt or confused by a friend’s sudden coldness, Moir-Smith says it’s important to address it with them in a kind and compassionate way. Empathy, she says, is key.
“This [conversation] is something you do quietly, privately, and between the two of you,” Moir-Smith says. “Meet them with a kind heart, not an angry heart.”
Moir-Smith suggests starting the conversation by sharing how you feel first. That way, you are inviting a conversation—not pointing the finger or accusing someone of “not being happy for you” or “being a bad friend.”
“Say things such as, ‘This is really weird for our friendship. I don't know if you're feeling it, but I sure am. I'm happy that I'm marrying [insert partner’s name], but at the same time, I really miss that closeness that we shared.’”
You can also let your friend know what while yes, things are different right now, you still really value their friendship. By coming from a place of love, you are letting them know you want them to be in your future long after your wedding day.
“What’s important is that you don’t put it all on your friend,” stresses Moir-Smith. “That can ruin the friendship. But if you want the friendship to continue, address it with kindness and an acknowledgment that there is a real change happening.”