Should I invite the ex?
August 8, 2011 12:40 PM   Subscribe

Should I invite my friend's ex to a party I am throwing at his house?

I am throwing a party for a good friend, David. My other friend, Jason, is hosting the party for me because I don’t have a big enough house for parties.

Jason’s ex, Theresa, has been out of town for months attending to a sick relative who ended up passing away. Theresa is returning to town on the night of the party and wants to get together with people. She asked me to hang out.

Theresa is an acquaintance of David’s and would probably want to come to the party. I don’t feel that I can invite Theresa, though, because Jason does not have the best relationship with her. She broke up with him and then continued to see him, knowing that he wanted a relationship and she didn’t. I’m not sure what the status is now, but last I heard, Theresa was contacting Jason and he was not replying. She is definitely a boundary pusher, so the less he responded, the more she pushed.

I feel that if I invite Theresa to the party, she will definitely come, and she may make Jason uncomfortable. If I just tell Theresa about the party and explain why I can’t invite her, I feel she will be angry and hurt. I know how she responds to my truthful explanation is her issue, but I’d rather not have to do this considering the loss she has just experienced and how excited she is to be back home among friends. I also don’t want to ask Jason if it’s cool, because that feels rude, after he has graciously offered his space. I directly asked him to host the party for me.

I’ve ended up lying to Theresa and telling her I had another commitment. I feel terrible about this. I don’t want to lie, and I especially don’t want to lie because it’s possible the party might get back to her. Then she will know I lied.

What’s the right thing to do in this situation?

Finally, just to mention, I’ve lied to Theresa before about what I’m doing. She often reacts in a hurt way when I express other interests or don’t get back to her immediately. It's very tiring, and I am, in part, reacting to this history I have with her. We used to be good friends, but this issue eventually wore me away, and I stopped feeling close to her.
posted by amodelcitizen to Human Relations (25 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If the party is at Jason's house, you should not invite his ex to the party, particularly not if she is trying to contact him and he is not responding. You did the right thing. Continue to say nothing to her about the party. If she freaks out later about not being invited, that's her problem, not yours.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:43 PM on August 8, 2011 [14 favorites]

One thing to worry about, though: if all of her friends are going to this party, is it possible one of them will assume she's invited and bring her along?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:45 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

I agree with TPS. And you didn't lie; you DO have another commitment.
If she gets up in your face about it later say "When you and Jason are normal friends someday, I look forward to having parties with both of you there."
posted by rmless at 12:45 PM on August 8, 2011 [7 favorites]

I’ve ended up lying to Theresa and telling her I had another commitment.

? By my lights, this isn't a lie. You do have a previous commitment, which happens to be with her ex. The fact that it's somebody she knows doesn't change the fact that you had committed to the party before she suggested getting together.

She often reacts in a hurt way when I express other interests or don’t get back to her immediately. It's very tiring, and I am, in part, reacting to this history I have with her.

I'd be inclined to either drag it out on the table (if the past friendship was valuable enough that you want to try to salvage it) or just cut it off (if you don't feel like salvaging it). But then, I have an incredibly low tolerance for drama or for people feeling like they are automatically entitled to my time and attention at their convenience.
posted by Lexica at 12:46 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

If she were great friends with David the answer might be different, but since you'd solely be inviting her to the party because she wants to go to a party, not because you know it would be important for her to celebrate the guest of honor, you shouldn't invite her, as it would be rude to the host for basically no reason.
posted by brainmouse at 12:46 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Hm, very good point about the commitment comment. I actually DID lie. I told her I was doing a certain activity that I had no intention of doing. I guess if I had actually said what I wrote here, then I really wouldn't have been lying.
posted by amodelcitizen at 12:48 PM on August 8, 2011

She asked you to hang out. You said you have another commitment. How is that lying? You chose not to tell her what the other commitment is, or where it is. None of her business anyway. If she says something to you later ... you restate "I had another commitment" and if she says, but it was Davids party at Jasons, you say "yes it was" and change the subject.
posted by batikrose at 12:48 PM on August 8, 2011

What? NO! Theresa is pulling the classic "crazy person" move -- that is, acting crazy to get exactly what she wants because you don't want to deal with the crazy. You're enabling it by lying to her. You're also letting her get away with hurting another person (Jason) just because you're intimidated by her crazy.

Exit the cycle.
posted by yarly at 12:48 PM on August 8, 2011 [9 favorites]

It sounds like neither you, nor Jason, much like her anymore - with good reason. If she gets hurt by finding out about this, you can tell her why you lied, and that you're no longer comfortable hanging out with her. Sounds like she will throw drama, but it sounds like she's itching to do that anyway, and then you can cut her out of your life like Jason did.
posted by ldthomps at 12:50 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

A few party rules that I like to follow and most of the drama-avoidant adults I know also follow:

Not everyone you know needs to be invited to every party. It's perfectly OK to host and attend parties that are comprised of specific guests.

Never tell someone about a party that they aren't invited to. It's impolite if you're a guest, it's crass if you are the host.

When hosting a party, strive to assemble a guest list that will spark the least amount of drama (and by drama I don't mean diverse views and intelligent conversation about the same, I mean the middle/high-school social stuff type of drama.

Telling someone you have another commitment is not lying when you do, in fact, have another commitment.

Sounds to me like you managed to follow all my rules, well done.
posted by jamaro at 12:51 PM on August 8, 2011 [8 favorites]

If I were Jason, and you invited Theresa, I'd be livid. Keep her out of it and if she directly asks about the party, I'd flat out tell her she wouldn't be welcome because it's at Jason's house and he's ZCP'd her.
posted by Kurichina at 12:55 PM on August 8, 2011 [4 favorites]

Prepare yourself to tell her that she has to leave, if she shows up. As the organizer of the party, that's your obligation.
posted by fatbird at 1:03 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

If you really do feel bad about lying and worry about it getting back to her, you could tell her the truth: That you're going to an event where her ex is going to be, and she's not welcome there for that reason. I wouldn't specify that it's at his house, because that'd increase the risk of her showing up to cause trouble.

I have a friend who is friends with a marginally creepy person I avoid, and when I found out she was revealing personal information about me to all and sundry including that person, I was furious, and as a result, have become extremely guarded around my friend. I feel like I have to cut off her access to my life, lest she start 'inviting' others into it without my permission. And she's just revealing information, not bringing him into my house.

Theresa sounds like, if not a stalker, someone with stalking tendencies (a creeper or a stalkoid, maybe?), and it would be a serious breach of Jason's trust if you were to usher her back into his life like this.
posted by ernielundquist at 1:03 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

DO NOT invite her. Jamaro has everything right.
posted by mitzyjalapeno at 1:12 PM on August 8, 2011

The party's in Jason's house. Jason has every right to decide who's allowed in his house. If you don't feel comfortable asking Jason if it's okay to invite Theresa, then don't invite her. That's that.

Say you have a prior commitment, and be vague. If word gets out that you guys had a party and didn't invite her, say something like it was just for close friends of David, or something like that. Something that doesn't directly implicate anyone, especially not Jason. Don't be apologetic about it.

I feel for Theresa, but it's not your responsibility to make her happy.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:12 PM on August 8, 2011

I also don’t want to ask Jason if it’s cool, because that feels rude, after he has graciously offered his space.

If you think it's rude to even ask him if you can invite her, then you KNOW it's rude to invite her without even asking him!

Don't invite her, and give Jason a head's up that she's in town and you didn't invite her but she may show up.
posted by amro at 1:16 PM on August 8, 2011 [5 favorites]

Nthing Jamaro.

You have a duty to keep this ex out of Jason's medicine cabinet, fridge, and hard drive.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:23 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Do not invite her.
posted by AugustWest at 2:09 PM on August 8, 2011

1) You do have another commitment, and
2) she probably is badgering you because she already knows about the party because she wants to come and make Jason uncomfortable.

Or not, but even without that she looks kinda stalky. You wouldn't want to help a stalky person harass somebody, would you? So don't invite her.
posted by tel3path at 2:58 PM on August 8, 2011

Well, I just spoke with her, and told her I actually DID have another commitment besides the one I mentioned (lied about). We are going to meet up on another day and I don't feel guilty. Thanks for the insights.
posted by amodelcitizen at 3:23 PM on August 8, 2011

Why does it seem like "you don't owe that person a thing" and "don't waste a second feeling sorry for that person" are the mottos of everyone you meet on the internet? It's like everybody's trying to preemptively and vicariously justify their own lack of empathy.

Your friend Theresa has just gotten back into town after what sounds like rough time, and would like to be around friends. Why don't you give Jason the benefit of the doubt for being a nice guy who actually cares for someone he recently wanted to date, and might not want to be the reason Theresa gets left out in the cold? At least give him the chance to be the bigger man here. Talk to him. Make sure he knows that it's totally cool if he doesn't want her around, and if that's the case she can stay in the dark about the party. But maybe he'll surprise you and take the opportunity to show that though she may have hurt him previously, he's above being petty and vindictive.
posted by patnasty at 3:45 PM on August 8, 2011

Stalking behaviors have to be nipped in the bud as soon as possible; so it would be a bad idea to play on Jason's sympathies or give him a chance to be 'the bigger man.' Lots of people make the mistake of showing small concessions to potential stalkers, out of pity or sympathy or just a desire to be a nice person, but that almost always exacerbates the situation, as someone in a stalking mindset takes even the most minor, polite concession as an invitation to escalate.
posted by ernielundquist at 4:19 PM on August 8, 2011 [3 favorites]

There are lots of places Theresa can be that aren't "out in the cold" and aren't Jason's house either.
posted by tel3path at 4:24 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

I do think this is too soon. In a year or two, maybe not. However, keep in mind that things change.

Several times now, most recently at my wedding, I've invited people who were "on the outs" with many of the other guests. The reasons were significant, some guests were (in the past) total jerks to other guests.

As the party organizer, it is totally in your power to tell people to knock it off. That fighting at your party is forbidden, and if they can't stand X person, don't come. That if they don't come, they are still your friend. You need to hold firm on this line with "preferred party guests" and "maybe disruptive party guests".

I've yet to see a friend fail to come to a party due to a "bad person" being there, but have had a few "freak outs" because of it. I held firm. I get to choose my friends, regardless of my other friends' opinions. Yes, adults can make up and resume friendships after time. It has actually been grand, scary to do this, but grand.

If friends ask "why did you invite X, he/she's a jerk?" I explain that it is freeing to forgive people, that it frees up energy I hadn't even realized was "locked", and that the person has changed. My querulous friend is then free to come, or not.

At my recent wedding party, I was gratified that several friends made up with someone that they were determined to be enemies with. It was wonderful, beside the fact of the beautiful wedding. If I hadn't made that speech about "energy freeing", I doubt that would've happened.
posted by Invoke at 4:58 PM on August 8, 2011

Invoke, those are all good things. But since this party is at Jason's house and it sounds like he has good reasons to be avoiding contact with Theresa the respectful thing is to do what would be most comfortable for him. If OP were hosting the party anywhere else and wanted to invite both Theresa and Jason (and give Jason a heads up beforehand) I'd agree with you.
posted by 6550 at 9:13 PM on August 8, 2011

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