Co-worker spread pregnancy rumor at wedding.

Our advice columnists have heard it all over the years. Each Sunday, we dive into the Dear Prudie archives and share a selection of classic letters with our readers. Join Slate Plus for even more advice columns.

Dear Prudence,

Last Saturday was my wedding and it was everything I could have wished for, until the reception. One of my co-workers, “Kim,” started saying I was pregnant because I wasn’t drinking. I kept telling Kim I just don’t drink, something everyone knows. She even teases me about it every week when everyone at the office goes to happy hour at a local pub. I asked her to stop, but she didn’t. By the end of the night, I had guests coming up to congratulate me and my confused husband on our upcoming baby. They were asking when the due date was and what the gender was, and telling me that they had thought I looked pregnant but hadn’t wanted to say anything. Over the course of the night, this rumor had transformed into common knowledge that I was pregnant, no matter how much I tried to deflect it away. My immediate family wanted to know why they were finding out from strangers that I was pregnant.

The thing is, I am pregnant. I found out Friday, the day before my wedding. I hadn’t even had a chance to tell my husband, but I’m less than five weeks along. I honestly thought I was having pre-wedding jitters on Friday, so I took the test just to calm down, which didn’t really work out well.

I feel like my wedding became all about my pregnancy. It turned what was supposed to be a happy memory into something I just feel angry and frustrated about, like something was taken from me. I know I’m being ridiculous, but I’m so upset about this. I do realize it isn’t the end of the world, but it was my own personal information to share when, and how, I wanted to. I didn’t want my wedding to be about my pregnancy. I don’t know how I’m going to deal with Kim when I get back. For the past six years, I’ve worked for a small office of seven people, and now everyone at work thinks I’m pregnant. I am so mad at Kim I don’t know how I can work with her. Do I have to just suck it up and act like everything is fine? Can I tell my co-workers I’m not doing anything outside of work if Kim comes? Am I overreacting? My husband says I’m not, but I’m fairly sure he’s supposed to say that.

I’m so sorry this happened at your wedding, and I’m especially sorry you had to be the one to deal with it. I wish a member of your bridal party could have run interference for you on this one and explained that it was a joke gone awry so you didn’t have to explain yourself again and again. The fact that you work in a small office and aren’t sure how you’ll face Kim without blowing up at her feels like a pretty pressing issue. It’s a tough needle to thread, since you do have to remain at least distantly professional with her in the interest of making sure work goes smoothly. I think it’s possible for you to say to her, “I wish you hadn’t kept joking about my pregnancy at my wedding. It was very difficult to have to explain over and over to my friends and relatives that I hadn’t kept an announcement from them. Please don’t tell people I’m pregnant anymore,” and then keep your distance from her unless you have to talk about work. It’s OK to feel frustrated and angry, and you don’t have to berate yourself into letting this go by telling yourself you’re overreacting or being ridiculous. I hope that with time you can also remember the things you were able to enjoy about your wedding, but it makes sense that you’re angry now. When it comes to everyone else in your life—presumably your husband first and then the rest of your friends and family—I think they’ll understand whenever you do tell them that the rumormongering at the wedding had nothing to do with your actual pregnancy, that a co-worker got carried away with a bad joke, and that you hadn’t told her something you withheld from them. You can even share your frustration with Kim in this announcement, or at least with your close friends so they have a sense of what you’ve been going through and how they might best support and sympathize with you now. I hope she feels thoroughly chastened and never pulls a stunt like this again. —Danny M. Lavery

From: “Help! I Was Upstaged by a Rumor at My Wedding.” (Sept. 16, 2019)

Dear Prudence,

I met both “Teresa” and “Colin” in college. I grew close to both of them in separate friend groups. By the time we were graduating, the two of them were strongly infatuated with each other and began dating not long after. The relationship worried me, as they did not bring out the best in each other. I am ashamed to say I was very vocal about this opinion to everyone but the couple, and they soon stopped talking to me around the time they were married.

Last year, I realized that I had messed up and wrote a long apology to the two of them. I apologized for doubting their relationship, explained that it came from a place of worry, and said that I should have come to them with concerns, not fallen temptation to gossiping instead. They forgave me, and we began to rebuild the friendship.

Last month Teresa confided to me that she was deeply unhappy in her marriage, falling for another man, and taking steps toward a divorce. They are currently living apart. Colin is with his family, several states away, with the purpose of finding better employment, and Teresa is working on cutting him out of her life without telling him first. She has begun splitting the bank accounts and blocking him on social media. She has only told me, claiming she feels comfortable because I would support the split anyway.

While I do agree that a divorce is best for both of them, I know that Colin will be devastated. He supported Teresa through mental breakdowns, lost his previous job because he wanted to care for her when she mentioned feeling suicidal, and moved his whole life to be with her. She will move on easily, as she has already done so emotionally, but this will come as a deep shock to him.

I feel dirty knowing all of this. I feel deeply uncomfortable with the fact that she hasn’t told Colin anything and have encouraged her to communicate her intentions. She says he will lash out and it’s better to have everything in order and then worry about the communication aspect. They are both my friends, and I feel fully stuck.

Tell Teresa you’re not comfortable hearing any more about her plans to leave Colin and your discomfort for being placed in the middle. If she starts to bring it up again, remind her of that and leave.

This is a good time to mind your own business. This sounds mean, but it’s not meant to be. I also suggest that this extremely dysfunctional friendship may have finally run its course. It clearly does not bring you joy. —Nicole Cliffe

From: “My Friend Wants to Ghost Her Marriage.” (Nov. 30, 2019)

Dear Prudence,

I’m about to get married and am caught in an argument between my fiancée and my parents. This will be the first time in over five years that our whole family will be together. My parents want to take a picture of just them, me, and my siblings, and a family photo obviously means a lot to them. My fiancée heard this and became immediately offended. She says it’s rude to exclude her on the day she “joins the family” and any family photo should therefore include her in it. We’re not talking about taking an hour for a separate family photo shoot; my parents simply want one photograph of themselves and their children. I don’t understand why my fiancée is so annoyed and now she’s even more angry because I’m not supporting “her side.” Should I back up my fiancée on principle, even if I disagree with her?

Apparently your fiancée wants to be the “Where’s Waldo” of her wedding album. When the photographer calls for a shot of all the groomsmen, she plans to puts herself in the middle. Photographs take only a short time to compose and an instant to snap. Presumably, both of you want a variety of pictures of groups of people to commemorate this event. Since your family is apparently far-flung, there is nothing wrong with your side wanting to piggy-back on the big event and get a couple of family photos added to the mix. This is one of those silly little fights every couple has. Calmly tell her you understand how she may have misperceived your family’s request, but it has nothing to do with excluding her. Your parents just want to take advantage of all of you being together for this happy day to have a long overdue photo of your immediate family. Explain to her that of course all the many and traditional wedding photos will take place. If she won’t back off, then it’s important that you two figure out how to resolve an issue—trivial as this is—that has you each in opposite corners, certain you are right. —Emily Yoffe

From: “Help! My Fiancée Thinks She Should Be in My Family’s Photo at the Wedding.” (Oct. 28, 2013)

Dear Prudence,

I love my girlfriend. She is amazing—funny, smart, kind—but I am tired of her “friends.” She has a tiny group of friends from college who are the most dysfunctional group of women I have ever met. They basically brag about their mental illnesses and wear their “disabilities” like badges. I am sure a few have real issues, but from the stories I have heard, only two have actually seen a medical professional. The rest either self-diagnosed or have some holistic quack they found online. They don’t work, don’t date, and can’t function, except by abusing my girlfriend’s good graces. Making her spend six hours on the phone to soothe their egos, making my girlfriend into their personal chauffeur (three “can’t” drive or take the bus), making my girlfriend pay for their meals, and, finally, making my girlfriend and I move them after they got evicted. In the latter case, that girl sat on her ass, slurping a smoothie while we moved her unpacked junk. Her knees hurt, and she was too “upset” to pack.

Most of them don’t like me because I advocate for my girlfriend to stand up for herself, not dump her life to deal with the wreckage of theirs. Last week, one of them was staying over the weekend because she had a fight with her housemates over her food stealing. She kept putting on the waterworks. I was in the basement and had to kick the door open because it sticks and my hands were full. I came into the living room with this girl in hysterics. My girlfriend was trying to calm her down, but another friend hissed at me that I had “triggered a panic attack” since she had PTSD over her parents’ divorce. They fought and slammed doors. I told them she needed to get a grip and get out of my house since it was Sunday. The pity party was over. It was like dumping water over cats. My girlfriend and I later fought. She hates the way I treat her friends, and I told her I hate the way they treat her. They never say thank you, they never return a favor, and they forget her birthday! She got red and told me I am not helping. I don’t want to help these ladies. They need doctors and a good kick in the pants. My sister was hit by a car and had to have reconstructive surgery as a child—she has never acted like this. What do I do here?

You and your girlfriend might have reached an impasse here! She doesn’t seem to agree that all of her friends are taking advantage of her or treating her badly, and if she’s convinced that you’re the one who acted wrongly, plans on seeing these friends as often in the future as she has in the past, and “hates” the way you treat them, I don’t really see a way forward for the two of you here. Maybe if this were just one friend of hers, or if she felt at least a little bit as you do and just wanted help in moving on from some of these friendships, there’d be room for compromise. But I think you should ask yourself whether you can imagine yourself happy in a long-term relationship with someone whose closest friends you despise (and who despise you in turn). If the answer is no, it might be best to part ways with mutual good wishes now and go find someone whose friends you like (or can at least tolerate), rather than waste a lot of time trying to convince your girlfriend to be friends with women who resemble your sister. —D.L.

From: “Help! My Girlfriend Needs to Dump Her Fragile Millennial Friends.” (Nov. 4, 2019)

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