am i obligated to invite a (horrible) mutual friend to a party?
June 18, 2013 2:41 PM   Subscribe

about a year ago, I had a falling out with a mutual friend, complete with group g-chat strategy sessions, late-night mediations and about a dozen really, really long emails. the reason for it doesn't matter that much, but This Lady showed no good faith in my intentions and less than no respect for me as a somewhat intelligent and considerate person. since my two closest friends are good friends with are, am i obligated to invite This Lady to any mass party or event things?

from the beginning i knew we wouldn't be super-close friends (we both annoyed the shit out of each other i'm sure), but this falling out made that a certainty. now our mutual friends are putting pressure on me. i've told everyone who knows about it all and who has asked that yes, we had a problem, and it was rather important to me that i remove her influence from my life as much as possible .. but no, you don't need to plan who to invite to what to ensure that we don't see each other.

recently there was a big event where This Lady was present and i was not -- i had other plans, but some mutual friends who weren't aware of this thought i was boycotting her presence. which might explain why this last part seems like a big deal to them ...

i'm planning an event coinciding with a time a friend of mine from out of town will be visiting, and i cast the net rather widely. i've been told by mutual friends that "eventually you'll just deal with her, because she's our friend too." i feel that while it is unreasonable of me to demand that other people invite one or the other (and i haven't asked that!), it is completely reasonable of me to leave her off MY guest lists.

so i guess i'm asking ... who's the asshole here?
posted by blandcamp to Human Relations (29 answers total)
Your party, your guest list.
posted by nathancaswell at 2:44 PM on June 18, 2013 [16 favorites]

You may have to deal with her, but not at an event you are hosting and to which you are issuing invitations.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:45 PM on June 18, 2013 [11 favorites]

I've had things like this happen and these are the rules:

1) You don't have to invite her to anything

2) You also can't insist that she not be invited to things that you are also invited to. This tiff isn't your friends' problem and they should invite whomever to whatever they want.

That said:

3) They can't insist that you invite her to anything either. Because you get to invite whomever you want to whatever you want.

If they keep up the pressure for you to invite her or be friends with her, drop them too.
posted by sweetkid at 2:45 PM on June 18, 2013 [12 favorites]

Based solely on the information you have provided, no one is the asshole, and you are not obligated to invite anyone to your own event that you don't want to invite. It's totally fine to not like someone and not want to be involved socially. Just don't make a big drama about it, which it sounds like you're gearing up to do.
posted by juniperesque at 2:45 PM on June 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

am i obligated to invite This Lady to any mass party or event things?

No, that is a crazy thing for your friends to suggest. You are under no obligation to host anyone.* Be prepared for the fact that she may well come, and have a game plan for how to handle her and yourself in the classiest way possible. Also be prepared to talk with your mutual friends about why they are so insistent about involving her in your life in the future.

*I am assuming this isn't a mass public event, like a gallery showing or musical showcase-- that would be different.
posted by jetlagaddict at 2:45 PM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: juniperesque: i know it sounds that way! i promise i'm not trying to. i just wanted to check my gut feeling against some other wise people's opinions before folding. because i often err on the side of making things harder on myself to ensure that i don't piss anyone off. (but sometimes if they're pissed it's because they're wrong, right? :/ )
posted by blandcamp at 2:47 PM on June 18, 2013

Don't invite people you don't like to your own parties.
Attend parties she's attending if you wish, but don't bother if it's going to annoy you and result
in questions to metafilter like this one-not worth it for you, life's too short.

If you keep getting pressure and drama from mutual friends, when you've explicitly told them you'd rather not invite her, then lose the friends or minimise interaction.
posted by Snazzy67 at 2:48 PM on June 18, 2013

It's not a question of who is the asshole, it's a question of why are you continuing with these people at all?

I can't imagine any dust up that takes emails and mediation. That seems so willful, it didn't just happen by accident! At every juncture, decisions were made to escalate the drama. You participated in those decisions. You decided to keep this rolling.

Your friends have asked you to drop it. Either you drop this grudge, or you drop the group entirely.

You can only control yourself.
posted by jbenben at 2:49 PM on June 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

You're well within the bounds of okay here. Tell your friends that you don't expect them to accommodate the fact that the two of you don't get along, and that you're fine with being invited to the same places she is, and will act like a grown-up and not cause drama when that happens. Also tell your friends that despite your willingness to be a grown-up when you run into her socially, you don't feel the need to invite someone you don't like (and who doesn't like you) to a party you are throwing, and you don't expect that she would invite you to something she was hosting. You can have mutual friends without being friends, as long as those mutual friends are also able to be grown-ups.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:53 PM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Don't invite her to the party, but if she tags along with your friends, don't cause a scene. Don't avoid parties where she'll be present, and if you're both present at a party, be cordial (if distant).

Manners aren't that hard when you stop worrying about the drama of it all.
posted by xingcat at 2:53 PM on June 18, 2013 [10 favorites]

You don't have to invite anyone you don't want to invite, for pretty much any reason.
posted by rtha at 3:05 PM on June 18, 2013

You're hosting, inviting and paying? Invite whomever you like. However, don't be hurt if that group of friends opts out of attending in solidarity with the chick you dislike.

Dramaz people need to keep the Dramaz going.
posted by 26.2 at 3:05 PM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Unless you've left out some info – like that she's the partner or even possibly the sister of someone you're inviting – you don't have to invite anyone you don't want.
posted by zadcat at 3:08 PM on June 18, 2013

posted by Max Power at 3:10 PM on June 18, 2013

Best answer: 1. Tell your two close friends that you love them, but you and that other friend have already come to terms with the fact that you can't be friends, and that's how you've both elected to deal with it.

2. Tell your two close friends that means you're certainly willing to attend things that she's attending, because you and she have already established that you're both adults and will simply stay out of each other's way.

3. Tell your two close friends that also means you don't expect her to invite you to her events, and that you have no intention of inviting her to your events.

4. Finally, tell your two close friends that nobody's asking them to choose, because adults who don't get along can peacefully coexist without making a big drama out of it, but if they want to be dramatic and start choosing sides, you hope they'll be polite enough to let you know what they've decided.

I mean, this isn't rocket science. I have six friends with issues like this; I'm still capable of going to their parties and lunches, capable of having relationships with them all independently, and I feel no need whatsoever to force them to "deal" with anything. Your friends can easily extend the same courtesy to you and this other person.
posted by davejay at 3:15 PM on June 18, 2013 [17 favorites]

Best answer: This isn't kindergarten, you don't have to invite the entire class. It's okay to say that you don't want to be around people with whom you have conflict in your social life. It's actually a really valuable tool for young women (all people, really, but young women the most) to have; the ability to calmly refuse to engage in situations that make you uncomfortable, and not let others bully you into doing things you don't want to do.
posted by elizardbits at 3:25 PM on June 18, 2013 [14 favorites]

I think the correct answer has been given. That said, you don't specifically mention what led to the falling out. I certainly appreciate that you don't want this person's influence in your life. But, if the party is large enough where your interactions with her would be minimal, a general invite would be quite the olive branch. It could establish a rapport where you acknowledge each other's existence but don't interact with more than a hello.

But, if her presence is really that bad full steam ahead on the exclusion.
posted by munchingzombie at 3:37 PM on June 18, 2013

I spent some time trying to find the best way to put this, but i've been in situations a lot like this and i can't help but feel that a major issue here that continues this types of things is not wanting to concede.

By which i mean, you had some kind of conflict that probably resulted in, explicitly or implictly, one or both of you going "Just admit that i'm right/agree with me". And for whatever reason, neither of you wanted to. Maybe you have some really righteous reason not to. But i just can't imagine this being something like her picking your cat up by the tail and throwing it out the window or there'd be police involved or something.

This kind of thing is almost always some petty dustup, as you described it with the emails and such. It's never over something with actual stakes or that actually matters other than one or the other person being right. Or sometimes even simply not liking eachother.

Where i'm going with this is that you may reach a crossroads where you need to either make the decision to stuff your contempt and baggage in the trunk and make up. Not like, invite her over to your house every weekend to hang out make up, but be passively nice to when you encounter her at an event kind of makeup. Adults can do this, children cant. If she's a lady-child you may be boned here.

The problem is that if these people are really circling the wagons around her(and i've seen this happen before, and its a lot like what you're describing with all your friends whining at you about it) then you may reach a point where you have to either do that, or walk away from most/all of these people.

And the thing is, option 2 may be the only "not tons of drama" option. Especially if she's the kind of person who would continue to flip you shit after you "made up" or basically gloat about how they were right or otherwise cause garbage drama.

Pretty much i'm saying you are in the right, and not an asshole to not invite this person and eject their drama. But your, and her friends might bring the drama to your doorstep anyways. I'd pretty much make the point that it's your party and you don't want to hang out with that person and see what they say, and then gauge how much you cared about them being there if they were really negative about it beyond "You're going to have to deal with her eventually".

My point after that is actually very similar to munchingzombie's, in that you might have more to gain with burying this situation by inviting her and essentially going "So this crap is all behind us, right? we'll just stick to our separate zones in the future". I've completely shut down drama with people in this type of way before. Especially if you want to continue to be friends with these people who are siding with her(which honestly, i would think long and hard about. Are they acknowledging that she was being an ass at all?)
posted by emptythought at 4:03 PM on June 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

It also feels pretty good to let bygones be bygones, give her a wide berth, and maybe be pleasantly surprised when things roll out uneventfully.
posted by thinkpiece at 4:07 PM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

You are allowed to invite who you want to your parties.

It sounds like your friends are falling victim to Geek Social Fallacy #4 (and maybe #5).
posted by Betelgeuse at 4:14 PM on June 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

You are totally entitled to invite whomever you want to something you're organising. By that token, you're totally entitled to NOT invite whomever you don't want to invite.

However, I'd keep a weather eye on the mutual friends who have decided that they know better than you regarding your preparedness to deal with this individual. They might invite her just because they think they know better than you how you're going to get along with her.

These other mutual friend are (potentially) being assholes. It seems that you and she are capable of acting like adults and dealing with the fact that you don't like each other. These other friends don't seem to have grasped that concept. Which is sort of a strange thing for an adult to not be able to do, but there you go.

I've sort of been in this situation myself, where myself and another person REALLY didn't get along. We just move in different circles now, and our mutual friends deal with the fact that we don't get along. I arrange meetups that don't involve the other person, and presumably the other person arranges things without me. Only one shit-stirrer has been found out, hence my comment above, and this person has been mostly dropped by the friend group.

Here's hoping you have fun at your party with some excellent people.
posted by Solomon at 4:29 PM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: thanks all! it means a lot to hear that This Is Ok.

to give some context where it was requested: she didn't throw my cat out the window! but it's not quite an agree-to-disagree sort of thing. we were in casual conversation and i felt really torn down and personally attacked; we disagreed and she refused to disengage from the conversation after i explicitly asked for an end to it, because i was uncomfortable. as part of my personal journey toward assertiveness (how DID you know i'm a young female) & in a spirit of "call people on their bullshit & give them an opportunity to change," i let her know i was not ok with how the conversation went, in what i thought was a super-respectful way.

she replied with an explicitly condescending point-by-point takedown of my career choices, my values, and my relationship with my partner. the other rounds of emails were me checking that it was ok for me to not be ok with this with other people, and refining how to say so respectfully, again. the mediation was more Friends A & B trying to reconcile us through "well if you just understood that's just how This Lady IS" and vice versa talks. i wasn't really interested in reconciliation at that point, and i'm still not. she eventually apologized, but that didn't change that she's not someone i like spending time with.

she's since included me on funny link emails here and there, and i've invited her to a number of events which i invite more or less everyone to (happy hour kinds of things), and she's attended. i've also been to some largeish social events where i knew she'd be there and have made polite conversation (as has my long-suffering partner).

in this case, there were only about 10 spots to go around, and she is (clearly) not one of top 10 friends. it happens that about 60% of my top 10 friends are also friends of hers. i was also concerned that the people i invite and introduce to my out-of-town friend reflect back on me and so i wouldn't want someone so consistently negative and someone i'm still uncomfortable with to be there.

mutual friends have said it's weird to have to hedge or talk about an event she's not invited to, but i guess i have to tell 'em that's their problem. i did say explicitly once they'd brought this concern to me that if they felt like it was a matter of showing loyalty or whatever, i was fine with them not going. because, again, we're all adults.

anyway. thank you!
posted by blandcamp at 5:37 PM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Don't be a pushover. Don't invite people to an event you are hosting if you don't like them.

and i've invited her to a number of events which i invite more or less everyone to (happy hour kinds of things),

I think doing this might be why your (moderately jerkish) mutual friends feel entitled to tell you to invite her to your party. If you don't like her, why invite her to anything?
posted by spaltavian at 5:49 PM on June 18, 2013

Nthing sm1tten so hard.
posted by jbenben at 7:02 PM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

I think it would be useful to reduce the drama, and I think you've tried to. When people push you to be her friend, a breezy, Friend, you know Lady & I are just oil & water; we've established entente, let's not disturb it. As far as invitations to an event I couldn't invite very many people; I'm sure Lady will understand and don't discuss it further C'mon, we've discussed this to death. Lady & I aren't going to be buddies. It doesn't need to be such a big deal and change the subject.
posted by theora55 at 8:20 PM on June 18, 2013

Given this: there were only about 10 spots to go around, and she is (clearly) not one of top 10 friends, I do think you can kind of breezily deflect to Mutual Friends by being all, "space was so limited, I just couldn't invite her. I'm sure she understands," and then change the subject. That also gives THEM something to tell her if she comes to them all butthurt (she won't; she probably didn't expect to be invited), which is what stresses out Mutual Friends in this situation more often than not. They want you to invite her so it doesn't feel awkward for them and giving them An Excuse is going to make it feel less awkward, and they're probably going to act less lame about it.

I TOTALLY get why you'd want to be like, "I am not inviting her and HERE IS WHY" but sometimes life is easier for everyone if you go the Breezy This Is No Big Deal Route when dealing with dramatic friends.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 8:29 PM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: If an actual adult sent you publicly a complete take down of your character in their estimation because of one deflected disagreement, this is not a simple matter of "over-blown friendship DRAMZ."

You are dealing with a charismatic bully. You see this, the two friends are still being victimized and controlled by said charismatic bully. No amount of emails or cajoling or whatever is going to make them see this. It's a personal realization.

Learning to assert yourself is great! And you're doing a great job. However, as mutual friends are being influenced by this type of person it's not worth your time in this specific instance with them. Whatever is easiest mentally (ignoring it, just saying out of town friend doesn't really know bully, saying you already have twelve people you'd love to invite and can't, whatever) is probably the best at this point because you've done all you can do and now it's really down to getting to enjoy your event. I would personally just keep saying, "I'm sorry you feel that way," with no qualifiers but you should do whatever seems least taxing to you when you consider the options.

Perhaps one day, one or both of these people will have the realization that this person is a bully. Until then, just tell yourself it's not your fault, this person is wrong, and you cannot change anyone's mind but you own.
posted by itsonreserve at 8:54 AM on June 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

Though you don't have to invite this mutual friend to your party, it'd be tactful to swallow your pride and to invite him/her to save face in your circle and to keep relations cordial. Be diplomatic.
posted by lotusmish at 12:29 AM on June 21, 2013

I don't think you are obligated unless it is a party for one of your mutual friends (i.e. a birthday or a shower). However, if it is a larger, mingly party vs. a sit down dinner, I probably would just to minimize drama.
posted by hrj at 2:36 PM on June 21, 2013

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