Over the holidays, a lovely young thing served as bridesmaid at a perfectly swell wedding. The event was charming. The bride and groom glowed with happiness, and the guests reveled in their joy. The flowers were fabulous. The dinner was excellent.

So this is a story about love, but not the love that was happily celebrated during the recently passed most wonderful time of the year.

No, this is a story about tough love, and how the beautiful young bridesmaid did herself proud.

For, you see, she had invited to this glorious event as her date a fine young man. He is handsome, charming and smart. His family is accomplished and a community pillar. They have been friends since practically kindergarten.

He was a perfect date. Except for one not-so-small misstep. The wedding dress code for men was black tie. When the bridesmaid extended the invitation weeks in advance of the important day, she was perfectly forthcoming. He accepted happily. A good time was going to be had by all.

Two days before the wedding, they were chatting. Was he happy with his tuxedo, she inquired?

I’m just going to wear a suit, he said.

And so, with the clock counting down and less than 48 hours to go, the bridesmaid rescinded her invitation. No ifs, no ands, no buts. No proper attire, no date.

You may think this is a trifle. Surely current standards of dress are such that a charming, handsome young man can confidently attend an evening event in an excellently tailored business suit without reproach?

Well, no. He could not.

Our bridesmaid had clearly presented the terms. He had not hesitated accepting the invitation, and his agreement indicated compliance. Yet he did not intend to honor the wishes of, not our bridesmaid, but of her dear friend, the bride. It was the bride who set the dress code bar.

What the young man’s costume choice actually told the bridesmaid was this: He neither values nor respects her feelings. He does not hold her in high enough regard to warn her before showing up at her door sans black tie. And, hallelujah, the bridesmaid heard him loud and clear.

And that brings us to the point of our story.

Even if you are not in love, even if the guy is just a friend, heed the signals. Pay attention, because the way he treats you now is the way he will treat you later. Men are pretty easy to read in matters of the heart and, yes, sex.

Greg Behrendt spelled it out for us in He’s Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys. Amazon calls the book “tough love advice for otherwise smart women on how to tell when a guy just doesn’t like them enough, so they can stop wasting time making excuses for a dead-end relationship. It’s the best relationship advice you’ll ever receive.”

Kovie Biakolo’s recent updates eye recent culture shifts that don’t change the underlying message. Her thoughts can be found at Eleven Pieces of Advice from He’s Just Not That Into You and Whether or Not You Should Believe Them.