Should I go to this party or not?
March 28, 2014 3:32 PM   Subscribe

My roommate and good friend invited me to her bday party. But this out of town visitor I really don't like is also coming. Now I am debating if I want to go.

I've mentioned this person before. Long story short I went ice cold and he still reached out once a month, about six times after ignoring him. I told him to stop contacting me firmly. Still ignored and kept doing it. I then blocked him via phone, email, and social media. All good. As for the emotional stress of dealing with harassing behavior, I have been working on it with my therapist and finally am in a better place. I don't talk about it with my friends, and they know on a high level I don't like him but I haven't gotten deep into how bad it was.

Now our mutual friend is having a bday party (small, about 15 people), and he is in town visiting his girlfriend (as he does, once a month). He is coming, maybe with his girlfriend. Since realizing that, I don't know if I want to go anymore. Just seeing him increases my stress, and everytime I have to see him I am impacted for a few days afterwards because he inappropriately flirts with me (touching my arm, etc.). I'm not counting on him conducting himself.

I am torn between going and supporting my friend and not making a big deal about it and moving forward -- as well as not letting him have power over me and where I go. But then there is also the temptation to skip it and not deal with that stress. I'm leaning towards the former. I will be polite, but excuse myself if he tries to have a conversation.

Thoughts are always appreciated. Potentially overthinking this, but trying to navigate.
posted by pando11 to Human Relations (22 answers total)
You don't have to go. It's one event and if your friend is a good friend, she won't be upset. Going to the party will make you feel much more emotional stress than anybody else will feel as a result of you skipping it. Take your friend out for a special lunch at another time.
posted by something something at 3:43 PM on March 28, 2014 [5 favorites]

I'm from the internet, and I give you permission to decline this party invite.
posted by bunderful at 3:45 PM on March 28, 2014 [28 favorites]

I vote for offering to take your friend out for drinks/brunch/etc. or inviting her over for a meal at your place and not going to the party. If it were a larger gathering you could more easily avoid him and more easily ignore him without anyone else noticing, but this is small and he's already known to be a boundary-breaking jerk.
posted by rtha at 3:46 PM on March 28, 2014

I am a strong believer in not blaming the victim whether it's minor social situations all the way up to legal crimes, but I would err on the side of not going to this--even though it's your friend, you're not the creep, and it sucks to miss out. If this guy's got some weird boundary issues I would avoid "rekindling" any funny ideas he might have about your relationship. Also, if you know you'll be stressed going into it, that is much less fun. This doesn't sound like, "A creep will be there, oh well." There's a history here. Respect your spidey sense and agreed with something something, take your friend out another time.
posted by Lardmitten at 3:47 PM on March 28, 2014

Please don't go. It's REALLY not worth it at all!!

Take your roommate out later:))
posted by jbenben at 3:51 PM on March 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

I would probably not go, only because I would know that I wouldn't have a good time. And, my free time is precious! If I knew this was not only going to ruin my night, but also put me in a funk for a few days, I would not want to put myself through that. I get not wanting to let this dude control what you do, but since it sounds like you're not constantly running into this dilemma, I would probably err on the side of protecting myself from an unpleasant evening.

But, I would make a special point to take my friend out for lunch/dinner/drinks sometime around her birthday and give her a nice card. And, I would be careful not to set it up as an ultimatum (i.e. I won't come if X is there), as it puts your friend in a very awkward position over a party that is ultimately about her, not you. (NOT that you suggested you would do that! I would just be conscious about avoiding it.)
posted by rainbowbrite at 3:52 PM on March 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Take her out on your own and skip the party.

"I just can't make it," is a perfectly cromulent thing to say.

Enjoy a nice evening alone.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 3:58 PM on March 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

What do you want to do? If you would like to go to this party, go. If you don't want to go to this party, don't go. Don't let this person decide for you what to do.
posted by Rob Rockets at 4:01 PM on March 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Don't go. Life is too short for avoidable stress like this.
posted by Ostara at 4:06 PM on March 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks guys. I probably won't go :) Have a fantastic weekend!
posted by pando11 at 4:08 PM on March 28, 2014

Consider telling your friend why, if she is a good friend and won't cause drama.
posted by Omnomnom at 4:10 PM on March 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

An invite is not an obligation. You'll have other opportunities to see this person, and the two of you doing a Thing together will lead to much stronger memories of her seeing you at that point in time. You're not obligated to be friends with her friends. It's OK to dislike people and have nothing to do with them.

There's a time and a place to challenge your comfort zone. This is not one of those times.
posted by Solomon at 4:14 PM on March 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Gross, don't go. Buy your friend a really nice present and explain. Drop in late or early if you know he won't be there. But yeah, definitely avoid this creep.
posted by quincunx at 4:15 PM on March 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Well, my friend isn't too understanding. Mostly because she doesn't get that he's a creep.
posted by pando11 at 5:33 PM on March 28, 2014

Then don't use that reason. She will have to understand that you can't make it.

You shouldn't have to think about this, or over think it. Don't go. Do your very best to avoid getting dragging into discussing your reasons and arguments about his creepiness.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 5:42 PM on March 28, 2014

If you need to bring it up with her, forget convincing her that he is a creep. Just tell her "I'm uncomfortable being around Bob." That's that. It makes no difference whether Bob is objectively speaking a creep; it's about your feelings, on which you are the expert.

But it doesn't seem necessary to do that. "Sorry I can't make it to the party, but I'd love to buy you a birthday drink on DAY at PLACE."
posted by bunderful at 5:52 PM on March 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

"Creep" vibes is an individual thing, so there's nothing for anyone but you to "get". Take a day off.
posted by Namlit at 5:55 PM on March 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

If she doesn't have your back on this-- assuming that you've told her what you've told us-- she's not your friend.
posted by brujita at 8:09 PM on March 28, 2014

You can always not feel well, which is, you know, true.
posted by Capt. Renault at 9:52 PM on March 28, 2014

I want to be gentle here. I think that if I were you I might examine why you might to to the party, despite the fact that it really seems like you don't want to go.

I guess I am just confused when you say you want to go to "support" your friend. What is the supportive activity here? She is not getting surgery or recovering from a breakup. Going to a birthday party isn't really supportive.

I say this because I have fallen in the trap of putting my feelings and desires aside for friends - in situations very similar to yours- and have justified it by telling myself that my friends needed my support. Not really, no. If anyone needs support here, quite frankly, it is you.

There's absolutely no reason to go, nor is there any reason to tell your friend why you aren't going. She won't understand and might not really care anyhow, given your update. "Oh, I'm sorry, it won't be possible for me to make it. Can I take you to brunch on the 5th instead?" is a perfectly normal and acceptable response to a birthday invitation.

One of the more difficult but most valuable lessons that I recently learned - and I am just kicking myself for not figuring this out before I was in my 30's - is that it is healthy to take care of myself and my feelings first. So your friend will feel "unsupported" if you don't go? Not really your problem. If you decline politely and offer another concrete suggestion for celebrating her birthday with you, that is more than enough.

I guess I just see you falling in the trap that I know all to well: putting yourself aside for the sake of others in situations where it's really not warranted. If your friend was in the ICU I bet that you would be there and you'd just deal with the emotional impact of seeing the guy there too. But for a birthday party? I don't think so. It's not worth feeling bad so someone else can feel good.

I'm just going to repeat that because it is a lesson that I wish I had learned a long time ago: it is not worth feeling bad so that someone else can feel good.
posted by sockermom at 4:36 AM on March 29, 2014 [3 favorites]

Usually you'd just say Hi Friend, I'm so sorry to miss it but something has come up and I can't make it to your party. Since your friend knows why you choose not to attend, Based on my history with X, I think it will go badly, and your birthday party should be about you, and not be disrupted. And it would really upset me. In any case, I think the person who has the issues with somebody else is the one who should stay away, so that's what I'm doing. I want to take you out to brunch the next day.
posted by theora55 at 4:45 AM on March 29, 2014

It's just a party. Skip it.

Well, my friend isn't too understanding. Mostly because she doesn't get that he's a creep.

If your friend won't accept your word that his guy has been creepily harassing you, then consider whether you want this person as a friend any more.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:11 AM on March 30, 2014 [4 favorites]

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