How do I not invite a friend's boyfriend to anything in the future?
September 8, 2014 4:21 PM   Subscribe

Over the weekend we went to a party at my friend Ryan's apartment (not his real name) where he lives with his boyfriend Kevin (also not a real name), then we all went out to a bar. They've been dating for probably a year. My friends Anne and Steven, who are dating, came too -- they don't really know Ryan and Kevin but they came for the party. I ended up leaving fairly early and Anne and Steven were still there, as was my friend Amanda (none of these names are the actual names of participants). I found out yesterday from Steven that Kevin "jokingly" groped Anne which is obviously profoundly not okay. I have a few questions about how to proceed from here. Don't know if this matters but I am a woman so it would be great if suggestions about specific steps I should take could please bear that in mind.

1) I want to write to Anne and say "I'm really sorry this happened, I had no idea, that sucks, what a jerk, please know that we will not be hanging out with him in the future". However, I didn't hear about this from her directly (we've emailed each other a couple of times since then) and if she doesn't want to talk about it I don't want to make her. I DO NOT want to ask her if this really happened; if she writes back "eh, that's not really what happened, not a big deal" then fine but I don't want to put any pressure on her to act like this is okay, even implicitly, by asking about it.

2) I would like to have a small gathering of friends in a couple of weeks. I'd been planning on inviting Ryan and Kevin but that's obviously not going to happen now. This is also complicated by the fact that Ryan and I have a close mutual friend Amanda. These questions are for this specific get-together but they also relate to my longer-term treatment of the issue; this is not the only time this will come up.

Here are my options:

a) Talk to Kevin (the groper) about this and how it's not acceptable (cons: we're not really good friends and frankly I'm not big on having this conversation; it doesn't seem likely to lead anywhere good).

b) Invite Ryan but explain to Ryan that I'm not inviting Kevin and why (cons: don't want to get involved in someone else's relationship).

c) Don't invite either of them and don't tell Amanda (cons: I like Ryan and I would like to see him. Also, Amanda would definitely ask Ryan about it because she'd assume he's invited too. This option is not really an option at all since it would just create more drama, just making sure no one suggests it).

d) Explain to Amanda that I'm not inviting either of them without saying why (cons: she'll be curious, it's awkward and weird, she might mention it anyway).

e) Explain to Amanda that I'm not inviting them because of Kevin's inappropriate behavior (cons: don't want her to feel involved in all this, don't want to make it seem like Anne is creating drama when she is most emphatically not, don't want to seem like I'm "spreading rumors" about Kevin. Amanda and I are good friends and I think she will respect how inappropriate this is but she's sometimes insecure and isn't always great about standing up for herself in situations like this and I don't wan to put her in some weird "in the middle" position).

f) Don't invite Ryan or Kevin OR Amanda (cons: I like Amanda and I don't want the unrelated behavior of Kevin to change our friendship).


1) Ask Anne "what happened?" or in any way try to convince her that this is okay.

2) Invite Kevin into my home. If he doesn't respect people's physical space and boundaries, I don't want him in mine.

Please do not suggest either of these things or provide answers like "you aren't even giving Kevin a chance to defend himself". That's true, I am NOT giving him a chance to defend himself. I trust Anne and I trust Steven and there's no acceptable defense for someone violating another person's boundaries like that. I'm not trying to be a jerk here, just want to make sure this stays on topic and provides answers that are useful to me.


1) What specifically do I say to Anne?

2) Which of the above options should I take and how exactly would you suggest I conduct any relevant conversations? I would love ideas for specific phrasings.

Thank you!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (57 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
1) I would email Anne and tell her you heard that there was an incident with Kevin, that you are sorry she had to deal with it, and you just wanted to give her a heads-up that when you invite her over for an upcoming gathering, Kevin won't be invited.

2) I would email or call Ryan and say that you heard there was an incident with Kevin & Anne, and you aren't comfortable hanging out with Kevin right now (sounds like you won't be ever, but that's not super important to the conversation and could make it more difficult). Ask Ryan if he's okay with you two hanging out one-on-one and/or being invited over to a gathering without Kevin. Proceed from there.
posted by insectosaurus at 4:36 PM on September 8, 2014 [11 favorites]

You have to talk to Anne. Sounds like you are bending over backward for her, so I'm suggesting this.

"I am having a small gathering in a few weeks. I had planned on inviting Ryan and Kevin, but now I'm having second thoughts. I've heard that Kevin has acted I appropriately in the past, and I don't want to condone that behavior. But I don't have any concrete information, just hearsay. You've spent more time with him than I have, since I left that party so early last week. What do you think I should do?"
posted by raisingsand at 4:41 PM on September 8, 2014 [19 favorites]

Pump the breaks, who knows what the context was. I've been groped by my gay friends and it was no big deal. But you sort of had to be there, weren't.

What you can say to Anne is, "I'm thinking of having a few folks over. What did you think of Ryan and Kevin, would you like to see them again?" If she doesn't seem upset, then whatever you were told was Drama Llama territory. If she says, "No thanks, I'd rather not." That's all you need to know.

As for getting all indigent on Anne's behalf with Ryan and Kevin, give it a miss. You'll find no love there and it'll just be DRAMAZ for no good reason. Ryan is a pleasant enough guy, but he's not your close friend.

For now, keep everyone separate. If Ryan says anything, just say, "Considering how grabby Kevin got that one time, I think it's a good idea to get some distance for awhile."

As for Amanda, if she asks why Ryan and Kevin aren't invited, you can say, "Look, I'm not sure what happened that night, but I'm trying to keep the drama to a minimum."

So basically, instead of stirring up drama, dial it down with everyone.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:42 PM on September 8, 2014 [42 favorites]

Sadly, I noticed that all the options you listed feature High Drama, and the most direct and mature course of action (ask female friend what happened) is out of the question.

If you can't bring this up to Anne, you most probably should not be taking actions against others on her behalf.
posted by jbenben at 4:43 PM on September 8, 2014 [133 favorites]

Agreed with the above that more information is needed from Anne.

Also, to make sure I understand context....a male from a gay couple "jokingly" groped a woman.

I am not sure what groped means. A butt slap?

In no way am I condoning boundaries being crossed, and I am sure that Anne was uncomfortable, but I do think context matters. If a gay guy groped me versus a straight male (I am a woman) I would respond differently. The first may be a (poor) attempt to be lighthearted. The second is a move with sexual intentions.

The way you are talking about this is that you have had personal history and that is making you sensitive to the topic. Not sure if I am reading this correctly, and apologies if I am not. Only reason I mention this is because that may be indirectly influencing your perception of the situation.

I would talk to Ryan (your friend) and Anne separately. They can appropriately guide you as to what happened. Anne can indicate what she is comfortable with.

As someone who is the subject of a harasser, I appreciate it when people ask me what I am comfortable with.
posted by pando11 at 4:44 PM on September 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Disagree, groping is groping. And apparently gay men groping women is a Thing.

I like the idea of emailing Anne and asking what she thought of Ryan and Kevin. Her answer will inform what you do.
posted by chainsofreedom at 4:49 PM on September 8, 2014 [11 favorites]

I would talk with Ryan about this. you say he's your friend and part of being a friend means working through crap like this when it comes up. tell him you're not comfortable with what Kevin did and you want to minimize contact with him from here on in, and Kevin is certainly not welcome at your place, and try to work out what the two of you are going to do from there.

also, I imagine that whatever you say (or said) to Steven will find its way back to Anne. that's likely a way to approach the subject with her without doing it in a way you're not comfortable doing.
posted by spindle at 4:50 PM on September 8, 2014

Invite the friends you would like to have over. If someone asks where Ryan and Kevin are you can say you didn't invite them this time and let it go.

If you are afraid that awkward conversations might come up, and you don't feel like you can handle potentially awkward questions, don't have a gathering.
posted by Fairchild at 4:55 PM on September 8, 2014

Gay dudes don't get a pass on groping women just because they're gay. There's this nasty thing where it's assumed that lack of sexual interest means that gay men don't have to respect women's personal space, and it's Not OK. Good on you for being willing to take a stand on this.

So here's a question: if Anne has decided that she's ok with this, are you still uncomfortable with Kevin? (I would be--this is a judgement-free question.) If you are, then the course of action is easy--don't invite Kevin, and possibly give a heads-up that you've been uncomfortable with some of his behavior and would like a break from him. You needn't say that this break is going to be long-term.

If you're not uncomfortable with Kevin if Anne's ok with what happened, then there's no drama-free way to do this without talking to her. You don't need to ask what happened, necessarily--you can just phone and say that you're thinking about having people over, you'd heard about some conflict, and you wanted to see how she felt about having Kevin there. If she says she's fine with it, you invite him and move on; if she's not ok with it, you don't invite him, and if you're pressed, you just say that you've been uncomfortable with some of his behavior and would like a break from him. In either of these scenarios you can still invite Ryan, and just say that you'd prefer that he come alone this time. (This may mean he doesn't come, but...well, that happens.)

Either way, I think that the course of action needs to be making it clear that you are having an issue with Kevin. I agree that avoiding Kevin is the best course of action, but if you want to minimize drama (not avoid--avoiding is impossible, I think), you have to be the one to take the heat for this.
posted by MeghanC at 5:00 PM on September 8, 2014 [8 favorites]

Maybe it was a joke they were all in on, but it's really difficult if everyone thought it was a joke but you felt violated to stand up and say something. I do think you should talk to Anne, try to feel out if she felt it was ok or not.

Groping is NOT okay because one of the people involved is gay. You don't get to treat people that way.
posted by Aranquis at 5:02 PM on September 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

I found out yesterday from Steven that Kevin "jokingly" groped Anne

OP, the way you've phrased this one has me profoundly confused. You're saying Steven (Anne's partner) speaks for her, and based on Steven's account alone, you're now positive that Anne in fact shares your strict assessment that Kevin's behavior was definitely NOT OK by her.

How do you really, truly know that Anne was offended, and it wasn't just Steven who was offended? Because from where I sit, a woman's boyfriend being offended by another man -- a gay man -- "jokingly groping" his own girlfriend right in front of him, might be entirely distinct from her actually having actually offended by it.

THIS IS ONLY SOMETHING YOU CAN FIND OUT BY, LIKE, ACTUALLY TALKING TO ANNE. But you seem ready, willing, and able to exclude Kevin - do you even need an actual reason?

One possibility you don't seem to have considered: hetero boyfriend Steven is not super comfy around gay men and his brand of secondhand finger-pointing to you is his way of showing it.

Bottom line: until you hear it from Anne, you don't truly know what the vibe was because you weren't there.
posted by hush at 5:07 PM on September 8, 2014 [19 favorites]

I think you're doing the exact right thing.

My friends Anne and Steven, who are dating, came too -- they don't really know Ryan and Kevin

This wasn't friends joking around with friends. Strangers don't get a pass to grope others, no matter whether "jokingly" or not. The idea that this is something gay dudes get to do to women they don't know is profoundly insulting to the vast majority of gay dudes who wouldn't dream of being so boorish. If I invited someone to my home who felt free to sexually touch strangers without their consent, they would not be welcome back.

You have every right to set this boundary regardless of Anne's reaction. Even if she's relatively unfazed, another person might not be -- especially those who have been sexually assaulted or who otherwise have a strong aversion to being touched. There's a social cost to behaving this way, regardless of the variables involved, and I hope your unwillingness to allow this to happen in your presence helps Kevin to realize that.
posted by melissa may at 5:13 PM on September 8, 2014 [5 favorites]

You are well intentioned, and it is sweet that you want to show solidarity with your friend, Anne. But you weren't there, and the context really does matter. Anne might have been having fun messing around with Kevin (this is a pretty common dynamic, I think). Or not. But you don't know.

Since Steven has brought it up to you, I think it would be fine to say something like, "Hey Anne, Steven mentioned that Kevin was harassing you after I left the party the other night. Are you OK?" This is showing concern, not questioning her. In fact, it is showing more respect for her than simply taking the word of her boyfriend about what happened that night. Once you do talk with Anne, this should give you all the info you need to know how to proceed.
posted by girl flaneur at 5:19 PM on September 8, 2014 [20 favorites]

I don't think it's necessarily relevant how Anne feels because if OP is not cool with people groping others. That's a boundary she's allowed to set for herself. For example: a gay guy friend of mine had another gay guy friend who really wanted to use Ebonics with me and have me be his black lady friend. He also was fascinated by my boobs and tried to motorboat me. In Target.

I was not amused but what are you gonna do? I can't get mad at every idiot white guy I interact with. What am I? Training wheels for basic social norms? "Now, now... Don't play with the nice lady's tits while channeling Mammy from Gone With the a Wind..." We're adults. Don't grope.

Without my saying anything a mutual (also gay, male) friend was like yeah, that asshole isn't invited to our parties anymore because I find his treatment of other minorities offensive. I appreciated that it was less about me and more about the kinds of friends this other guy wanted to have. Tbqh it wouldn't have occurred to me to complain because I'm accustomed to my white acquaintances failing at basic ally shit.

Any hoot, invite Amanda, don't invite the couple, and have tea with Ryan later.
posted by spunweb at 5:19 PM on September 8, 2014 [19 favorites]

I don't want to put any pressure on her to act like this is okay, even implicitly, by asking about it.

I'm not sure asking her about it would be putting pressure on her to act like it's ok.

By acting solely on hearsay, you run put yourself between Scylla (inviting Anne to social situations with someone who has acted inappropriately in the past) and Charybdis (cutting off Kevin based on hearsay). Even if it's all more or less true, if Kevin is ashamed of his behavior the next morning and apologizes to Anne, you'll never know.
posted by bunderful at 5:28 PM on September 8, 2014 [4 favorites]

I think you call Anne and talk to her, letting her know you are just checking to see if she is okay. And then you let her be your guide from there.

I get that you don't want to blame Anne, or come across like you are blaming Anne in any way. You want to support Anne.

But you are not actually choosing Anne over Kevin here, you know. You are choosing Steven over Kevin.

Which, fine, if you are okay with making judgments about other people based on third-party accounts, then you just go right ahead and ostracize Kevin and tell yourself you are doing it to support Anne.

Except Anne didn't tell you she was groped, Anne didn't tell you she was upset, and right now you have no idea if Anne wants you to ostracize Kevin or not.

It feels like maybe you are projecting from your own painful experiences here rather than putting Anne's concerns first, which, as a good friend, and a good person, is what you really ought to be doing.

Talk to Anne.
posted by misha at 5:30 PM on September 8, 2014 [9 favorites]

Another saying making a decision based on what happened to Anne without talking to Anne seems patronizing. Did Anne contact you? (It appears she didn't. ) Did Steven say or imply that Anne wanted you to know?

You know her. I don't. Maybe there's some history and you are making the right call on her behalf. But maybe she likes to think of herself as a badass who can take care of herself.

Your wanting to avoid someone accused of groping is fine. Your life, your boundaries.

If I were Anne, however, and found out you were so fraught about how to handle something you think happened to me, then I would not feel respected.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 5:50 PM on September 8, 2014 [8 favorites]

One notes that there's a whole lot of folks doing a lot of assuming that the dude is gay. If the dude were identified as bi or pan, would there be a lot more of people going "no, groping is not okay?"

I wouldn't invite Kevin anywhere, because I wouldn't want to be around someone who can't manage boundaries with folks they've just met, but perhaps that's just me. Ryan is an adult and can decide if he wants to go out without his boyfriend. Everyone else in the group can figure out how they want to do on their own.
posted by joycehealy at 6:04 PM on September 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

You weren't there, and right now all you have is a second-hand story from someone who wasn't involved.

On just the bare facts here, the only way to be mature and respectful of Anne's agency is to ask Anne what happened and how she feels about it -- and then trust that what she tells you is the truth as she experienced it.

Honestly, it's a bit weird that you refuse to let her give her point of view. Anne is presumably a grown woman who is able to speak for herself, and not a fragile flower who will melt away if you speak to her about something uncomfortable. I don't get why you would privilege Anne's boyfriend's account of what happened over Anne's own account.

I would be incredibly pissed at any friend of mine who started spinning group drama on my behalf without checking in with me first. I do think you're trying to do the right thing by Anne, but what you're actually doing is treating her like she's incapable of representing her own interests with you.

Ask her what happened. It's possible to ask her without coercing her into denying it. "Anne, I heard Kevin treated you really disrespectfully after I left the other night. Are you okay?" is a good way to start.

If something happened that bothered her, she will tell you, and you can go from there.

* if it matters, and because my name isn't obvious - I'm a woman.
posted by kythuen at 6:07 PM on September 8, 2014 [33 favorites]

Ask Anne "what happened?" or in any way try to convince her that this is okay.

This has been extremely covered already, but if I were Anne (and I'm...closest to being her than anyone else in your scenario) then NOT talking to me would make me think it's okay. More men around me deciding what to do about me, defending my honor without even consulting me... That would be worse than the groping.
posted by RainyJay at 6:08 PM on September 8, 2014 [10 favorites]

To address the question as asked: you cannot ask a friend not to bring his boyfriend without inviting a whole mess of drama. Can't have one without the other, in most circumstances. And if Ryan and Kevin are... like this... then they probably won't accept that boundary. You talking to Kevin when you are so far removed from the incident will not change that.
posted by RainyJay at 6:10 PM on September 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

The OP is also allowed their own agency, and if they're not comfortable being around people who grope other people, then they're not comfortable with that.

I agree that setting boundaries based on Anne's assumed feelings--"I don't want Kevin around because it might make Anne uncomfortable", is problematic. Enforcing one's own boundaries--"I have a problem with this behavior, even jokingly, and don't want to be around it" is a reasonable reaction, and the OP is well within their rights to feel this way, regardless of how Anne or Kevin or anyone else feels about it.
posted by MeghanC at 6:13 PM on September 8, 2014 [8 favorites]

I STRONGLY get the feeling that OP, this is triggering something for you and that's why you refuse to ask Anne. However, I do think it's fair to ask Anne if she's okay, at the very least.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:22 PM on September 8, 2014 [5 favorites]

Whoops. I missed that the party reporting this thing that may or may not have happened in exactly the negative way it was related to you, OP, was Anne's Boyfriend, Steven.

OP you also wrote about whatever happened that it was "obviously profoundly not OK."

You don't know that. You don't even know what happened. You only know that whatever happened was not OK for Steven.

I know it's becoming a bit of a pile on, but more than ever it seems clear you have to confirm if something actionable from Anne's perspective occurred here, or not.

It seems like Steven is making you his agent for some reason. There's such a huge disconnect between your pleasant emails with Anne and what Steven is reporting.

Be wary of jumping to conclusions. This might not be what you originally thought.
posted by jbenben at 6:26 PM on September 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

I found out yesterday from Steven that Kevin "jokingly" groped Anne which is obviously profoundly not okay.

Obviously profoundly not okay to whom? As you were not there, the only person who can tell you if the "joking" was okay or not is Anne. Steven might be a great guy but his account could be tainted by guy-thoughts like, "Dude touched my woman!"

For your own peace of mind, you need to indirectly find out how Anne feels about Kevin ("Hey, what did you think when you met Ryan and Kevin at the party the other day?"), and use that to decide if you need to exclude Kevin from your future events. And if it comes to that I would mention to Ryan that you don't feel comfortable inviting Kevin into your home because of X and not speak to Kevin directly.
posted by FreezBoy at 6:26 PM on September 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Mod note: This is a followup from the asker.
Thank you to the people who have responded. I talked to Steven because I happened to see him and he didn't say Kevin assaulted Anne and thus his honor, he said that Kevin had groped Anne and it was unpleasant and made her uncomfortable.

I have since talked to her and she said she felt uncomfortable but not threatened and that she'll avoid Kevin in the future but that I don't need to curtail my interactions with him, and I explained that I just don't want creepy gropers in my home and that I'll hang out with my friend separately. At the very least, if he's willing to grope someone he just met in a way that makes her uncomfortable I don't want to enable him to grope my other friends when they don't want it.

What I'm really looking to do now is to figure out how to structure future social events in my home with as little drama as possible; I explicitly DON'T want drama which is why I'm trying to figure out how to handle this with the least problematic outcome. There's really no drama now as Anne seems fine and I'm just making a personal choice, I'm just looking to sort out how to do that in a way that is as drama-free and respectful as possible to all parties.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:35 PM on September 8, 2014 [11 favorites]

I'm sorry, but you HAVE to get the facts straight first: you've got to talk about this directly with Anne, there's no other option.

The thing is, right now ALL you have is a third-hand comment from Steven: he said she said Kevin groped her. You did not witness any groping, and neither Anne nor Kevin has said anything to you about what actually happened. Maybe he did, maybe he didn't; maybe she was offended, maybe not.... YOU DON'T KNOW.

Don't get me wrong, sexual assault is extremely wrong; but the very first thing you HAVE to do is, yes, talk with Anne about this, and don't convict Kevin solely on Steven's word.
posted by easily confused at 6:41 PM on September 8, 2014

Have your party and invite who you want. You don't owe Kevin & Ryan an explanation for why they aren't invited, and you don't have to explain to Amanda why you're not inviting them, although you could certainly tell her they're not invited if you want to help her avoid awkwardness with Ryan. I think you are overestimating the amount of "drama" this option will cause if all parties are reasonably mature. Who was it that first said: don't start none, won't be none? They were right. You have the power to not make this into A Thing, and still have a lovely party at your home.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:41 PM on September 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Good on you for talking to Anne!

What I'm really looking to do now is to figure out how to structure future social events in my home with as little drama as possible

Don't invite Kevin and Ryan. Sorry, but I doubt Ryan will agree to come to your parties without his BF. If he believed Kevin's behavior was bad, he'd (hopefully) break up.
posted by bunderful at 6:48 PM on September 8, 2014 [5 favorites]

What I'm really looking to do now is to figure out how to structure future social events in my home with as little drama as possible.

Your only choice here is not to invite them both to this group thing. (Couples go together.) It'll have some sucky consequences, like some gay grumbling. Oh well! Gropers can't be choosers.

You also want to see Amanda, so invite her. If she mentions the event to the boys, so bet it. There may be confusion and hurt. It kinda doesn't matter. If Ryan or Amanda asks about this, then you can say "Hey, I don't want to hang out with Kevin, so I'm doing my own thing." The end.

The fantastic answer by spunweb above (and OOF, that story!) makes the great point that it doesn't matter what anyone else at all thinks; it only matters what you think and what you want to do with your social life. And similarly, you don't have to be their training wheels or Kevin's education system, NOR do you have to be a wedge between Kevin and Ryan. These boys are on the outs with you, until such time comes as you don't want them to be. At some point you'll probably have to simply talk this out with Ryan, since you want to remain friends. It's likely to not be a very satisfying conversation, but who knows.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:04 PM on September 8, 2014 [4 favorites]

Well done talking to Anne, seems like the best thing to have done in the circumstances.

As for drama, nothing creates it like making a big deal out of not inviting a particular person. Oh, the drama-filled parties I have been to (and not been to) which could have been avoided by people just not announcing to all and sundry that they were never going to go if so-and-so was going to be there, or invite so-and-so because of what they did that one time. I guess it depends how strongly you feel about not wanting him in your house. Is it a forever thing or something that might change over time? (It's fine either way, you're under no obligation to invite him to your house.)

Just as I think it's unfair to make assumptions about what Anne thought/felt without talking to her, I think it's not fair to Kevin and/or Ryan to ban them from social events without telling them why. I also think Kevin should be told his behaviour was inappropriate. It's an awkward conversation to have, and you're not necessarily the right person to have it with Kevin, especially if you don't know him well. But involving more people just creates more drama.

I honestly think your best bet is to be honest with Ryan about not wanting Kevin there. He's likely to be defensive of his boyfriend, so if you really don't want to talk to Kevin you'll need to expect some push on that front. Ultimately I think the ideal would be to sit down with Kevin and say, "look mate, that kind of thing's just not on." Hopefully he'll apologise - to Anne would be ideal! - and then all will be well. You still might not want him at your parties - which is fine - but at least he and Ryan will know why. Nothing will ever get better as long as you're all talking about the thing behind their backs.
posted by Athanassiel at 7:09 PM on September 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you don't want Kevin in your house then you will need to either tell Ryan this (otherwise he will assume that an invite for him is an invite for his partner), in which case you will have to explain why because he'll sure as shit want to know; or you will have to just not invite either Ryan or Kevin to things. You're really gonna have to do one or the other.

It may depend on your specific friend group, but if I were in your situation I would go with the first option and tell Ryan you don't want Kevin around and then tell him why.

Here is my logic: If you go with the second option and simply leave them out of invitations, they will find out that you're doing that, or they will show up anyway because if they're anything like my friend group then they will assume that big gatherings are by default open invitations. So if Ryan gets wind that there's a thing happening at your house then he may assume he's invited which means he will assume his partner is invited. Or he'll wonder why he's not invited and then all this shit will wind up getting back to you anyway.

So! Here is what you do. Have a sit-down with Ryan and explain that what Kevin did is really not okay by you and that Kevin is not welcome in your house. Leave it up to Ryan to decide whether he wants to explain this to his partner or not. Explain to Ryan that you don't want to argue about this, they're your boundaries and you get to have them. If you're okay with being around Kevin in settings that aren't your home, you should let Ryan know this so he can factor that into his decisions.

Ultimately, as long as it's a hard boundary that Kevin's not allowed in your house, there is no solution that will not generate some drama, so you might as well just be direct with the people it will affect most.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:14 PM on September 8, 2014 [8 favorites]

Nobody seems to have mentioned that there may have been drinking involved (party/bar).

Do you know how Kevin feels about the situation, is he embarrassed and remorseful about his actions? Maybe he misread the signals and thought Anne was cool with a bit of mucking around.

I think this is way overblown for the info you have.

Can you not ask Ryan about it and say that you know Anne was a bit thrown and uncomfortable. He may well say that it was totally out of character for Kevin and how sorry Kevin is. Kevin may want to apologise to Anne and be on his best behaviour for evermore.

This situation could be resolved much easier than you think.
posted by Youremyworld at 7:36 PM on September 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

The thing is, Anne did not initially bring this up with you, and when you asked her about it, she specifically said that she didn't want you to curtail your interactions with Kevin on her behalf. I think she may end up irritated with you if tell Ryan that Kevin is persona non grata because of the groping. She may feel that you have no right to use her experience in that way.

So, if you feel strongly about excluding Kevin, I think you need to make it about your feelings about him. And you will have to do it in such a way that keeps Anne out of it. This will be very hard, I imagine. You'll have to be vague with Ryan and Amanda and say something like "I just get the sense that Kevin is not very respectful of women." Warning: this will not go over well, and all involved will push you for specifics. However, I don't see another way out that doesn't end up putting Anne in an awkward position.

(If it were me, I'd probably just invite everyone and see what happens. Assuming it is a large gathering, Anne will be free to avoid Kevin, and you can keep an eye on things. If it will be a small party and Anne will not be able to avoid Kevin, I would just not invite Ryan and Kevin to this event.)
posted by girl flaneur at 7:47 PM on September 8, 2014 [4 favorites]

Tell Anne you heard from one of the others that Kevin had been really rude that evening, but that the person you spoke with didn't feel comfortable gossiping about it and giving all the details.

And ask Anne if she'd like to tell you about what happened, and if she'd like you to speak to Kevin, or do anything else about what happened.
posted by JimN2TAW at 7:58 PM on September 8, 2014

Does Kevin even know he made Anne uncomfortable? If not, as you're the intermediary friend, you need to pass the message along to Ryan ASAP and let him inform Kevin. This isn't about "letting Kevin defend himself", I agree - he was wholly in the wrong. This is about educating someone on the situation. Don't assume malice where stupidity will suffice.

Tell Ryan, "So, the other night with Steve and Anne... after I left, I heard Kevin was trying to be funny and groped Anne. I just wanted to let you both know that's wasn't cool, she really didn't like it. She said it made her feel really uncomfortable." And let Ryan respond. He may be apologetic and say he'll talk to Kevin about it. Or he might brush it off. Kevin might not care. Or he might be really sorry, and want to apologize to Anne, lesson learned.

Depending on how Ryan and Kevin respond, perhaps they deserve a second chance. Preemptively barring Kevin (and most likely Ryan by proxy) from all future events without a chance to make amends is overly judgemental.
posted by lizbunny at 7:59 PM on September 8, 2014

If I were your friend Anne and you didn't ask me about this but instead went about rearranging your social calendar based on....something (did my boyfriend pass this information along specifically at my request? If not....) that did not come from me, I would be weirded out by this when I found out. Just ask me what happened. Ask me how I feel about it. Ask me if I want to know if Kevin is going to be at future gatherings. Do not arrange any part of my social life on my behalf without talking to me.
posted by rtha at 8:03 PM on September 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'm glad you feel comfortable setting YOUR boundaries. This isn't totally about Anne, it's about the people YOU feel comfortable with having in YOUR home. I think people are forgetting that OP isn't just talking about "poor Anne" but also trying to make sure her home remains a safe place for her to live in comfortably.

Sometimes friends date assholes. Hang with Ryan separately until he breaks up with Kevin. This seriously doesn't need to be drama unless Kevin moves from ::dating:: to ::LTR/partner::.
posted by spunweb at 8:05 PM on September 8, 2014 [7 favorites]

Groping is never ok, even if the groper is gay or another woman or whatever. Especially in a bar or at a social situation. It sends the message that a specific woman's body is out there for the touching to everyone in the room.

Having said that Anne's reaction and your reaction don't have to be in lockstep. I wouldn't want someone like that at my parties either, in fact I've not invited people for similar reasons. The amount of drama that ensues is entirely out of your hands though, and it can be a lot.
posted by fshgrl at 8:15 PM on September 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't know how to say this. But you say you don't want drama. And yet you're completely involving yourself in some situation that literally has nothing to do with you. That is the definition of drama.

Just don't invite people you don't want to invite to your house. If people have the audacity to ask why someone wasn't invited - which no one should do, and if someone does, they are not really friendship material - just say "oh, I'm afraid I forgot! I feel awful!" and change the subject.

You are asking for all of this turmoil. Just stop socializing with people you don't want to spend time with. Spend time alone with your friend one on one without his boyfriend in tow. If he can't do that, again, he's not good friendship material.

Don't spend time with people you don't like, and don't gossip. These two tricks can make your life drama free.
posted by sockermom at 8:26 PM on September 8, 2014 [5 favorites]

For all intents and purposes, this is high drama already and one which is totally of your own making, because you gossiped and decided to take action on Anne's behalf.

I you can't let go, as everyone around you seems to have, then throw a party and do not invite Ryan and Kevin.
posted by Kwadeng at 8:35 PM on September 8, 2014

Okay, OP, so you're basically banning Kevin for life, and you won't ever let him into your home. Seems like your new boundary statement looks something like this: If I ever hear that anyone I know has ever groped a woman, anywhere, anytime, jokingly or otherwise, then that person is no longer welcome in my home. Fair enough.

This may strike some as perhaps an unreasonably tight boundary to have, but you need to know that more importantly, it is nevertheless a perfectly valid boundary for you to have given what I have to imagine is some personal trauma history. YOU get to say what your own boundaries are, always.

I know folks are going to say real friends understand it when you ban people suddenly for a reason that is maybe not immediately obvious to everybody, and well, yes and no. Do not expect Ryan to still want to be friends. In his shoes, I would not understand your choice at all. Amanda's loyalty to you might also be tested, and she might possibly drift away from you, too. But that doesn't mean you are not making the right choice for yourself. Potentially losing some friends is a small price to pay for having your own home sweet home remain a safe space for you. Good luck to you.
posted by hush at 9:11 PM on September 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

As always, the best way to avoid drama is honesty and transparency. If you suddenly stop inviting Kevin and/or Ryan to things that you normally would have invited them to, they will be forced to wonder why, and this will create drama. If you tell them that you aren't interested in associating with Kevin because of his lack of boundaries, there will probably be bad feelings on their part, but there will be much less drama, as there is no mystery as to what is really going on, and drama feeds on mystery.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:14 PM on September 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Under the circumstances of your update, I would take Anne at her word and drop this.

Keep inviting Ryan & Kevin to stuff.

If you experience something untoward from Kevin's direction, you can take it up with Kevin directly.

This doesn't sound like a banning offense. It sounds like some drinking and joking around that got a little out of hand for a moment, as things do when alcohol is involved.

My answer would be different if the act was malicious in intent. No one indicated this was done with ill intentions.

If you don't want drama - drop it.
posted by jbenben at 9:32 PM on September 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

I don't understand why anyone thinks it's okay to violate a woman's bodily sovereignty in any way or why they would think OP is overreacting to hearing about Kevin's bad behavior. Him being gay is irrelevant, it's no more acceptable than if a straight man did it. Being gay is often used an excuse for gay men to sexually assault women by touching their bodies without permission. It's a thing, as chainsofreedom says. Lack of sexual interest does not mean it's okay. Boundary pushing is not okay. Lack of malicious intent doesn't mean it's okay.

Perpetuating the misogynist idea that women's bodies are fair game is bad and harmful. Groping by gay men and other (usually straight) women so frequently gets dismissed as nothing, but it's not nothing. It's a microaggression meant to override a woman's wishes and assert dominance over her body without her assent.

Women are conditioned from birth to accept this kind of violation and not make a fuss. Consider this when thinking about why Anne would rather OP doesn't make a big deal about the situation. It should be noted, however, that Anne has decided to avoid Kevin in the future. That's a pretty clear indication that even though Anne doesn't want to make waves, she will never be friends with Kevin and that the groping had a lasting and negative effect on her life.

Even if Anne doesn't want OP to feel obligated to avoid Kevin, OP has the right to feel creeped out by Kevin's actions. OP absolutely has the right not to invite him into her home or ever see him again.

OP, if you're up to it, I would tell Ryan why Kevin's not invited to your house anymore. They should both know that being gay doesn't give them a pass to grope women. I think that being direct and honest would avoid a lot of the drama you're afraid of. If they try to bring the drama, just get up and leave.

If you're not up to doing that, you'll probably have to not invite either of them to your gatherings. I would definitely invite Anne so that she doesn't feel ostracized or like she was wrong to feel uncomfortable. I commend you for your sensitivity to her feelings.
posted by Arrrgyle at 10:28 PM on September 8, 2014 [14 favorites]

I don't think you mention the incident to Anne specifically. She may not see it as a huge deal and may be more embarrassed by the fact that you (and other people) made it a huge deal and were discussing her being groped behind her back. But as a throwaway line, you can say "BTW, I heard Kevin was an asshole the other night. I'm having a get-together next Friday and I will not be inviting him, so I hope you can join!" I think your goal should be to merely communicate that Kevin is not going to be included in anything so she shouldn't let that dissuade her from joining.

I think you tell Ryan that you'd like him to come to the gathering, but you don't want to bring Kevin because he apparently can't hold his liquor and you heard he got out of hand with Anne and Steven.

If that's too awkward for you or you think Ryan will be offended/angry by it, you simply do not invite Ryan. You invite Amanda and say Anne/Steven and Ryan/Kevin didn't mesh that well last time they hung out, or so you heard, so it's just you guys.
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:11 PM on September 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm surprised at some attitudes here. Groping is not ok and OP is a very good friend to be looking out for Anne and not placing her in an uncomfortable position where she would have to interact with someone who assaulted her. It's clear that she doesn't want to be around Kevin any more. And I can tell you that if the act was done "jokingly" that can be even worse in social settings, because the pressure is so much higher to laugh along and not cause a fuss.

OP, I think you should have your gathering, invite Amanda and Ann but not Kevin and Ryan. Let Ryan know why. You don't have to frame it as "defending Anne" if you don't want to, you could make it about your own boundaries: "I heard what happened at the party and I will not have people who think it's ok to grope people for fun in my house." If Amanda is curious she could ask you or Ryan, but it's not your job to manage her relationship with Kevin and Ryan. I wouldn't bring it up at your gathering if you can help it. This is your "Option C" which you say would be unacceptable, but consider it. "Drama" is a loaded word. Yes, your actions might cause ruckus in your friend group, but that's often the consequence of drawing boundaries, especially when it comes to issues of sexual assault. Many people (as evidenced by some MeFites, sadly) would not think this is a big deal and won't understand your actions. You're going to have to accept that and live with the fallout if you want to do what you think is right. You won't be able to make everyone happy.
posted by mymbleth at 1:29 AM on September 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

Without defending Kevin, because I agree, the whole "omg boobs" thing is so old, there is or has been an amount of societal allowance for gay dudes being naughty with straight women, even ones they don't particularly know. Now, Kevin seems like a dense mofo who can't read a room and who needs to hear that that's some tired shit in general and to update his routine. I am all for camp but there's always been a fine line being walked between that and misogyny.

I think it's fair to say something like: "Listen, Ryan, while I get that Kevin probably thought nothing of it, this thing with him groping Anne was really weird and makes me uncomfortable so I'm taking a time-out on contact with him for a little bit. If you want to come to the party you're more than welcome, but I get if you'd rather skip until it's a dual invite". His reaction to this would clue you in on whether there will be any dual invites or not. "Omg, chill, he's gay, we doooo that!" is him not listening to you and minimising your concerns about womens rights to physical integrity, "Oh god, yeah, he does that when he's drunk, he think's it's hysterical, I'll talk to him about it" is much more in key with what you want to hear. And it is about what you want to hear, because you've been clear that it is mainly your own discomfort with his actions here now.
posted by Iteki at 3:09 AM on September 9, 2014 [7 favorites]

This answer from this old Ask (Am I Obligated to Invite A Horrible Mutual Friend to A Party?) happens to be really spot-on advice in this case, too.
posted by hush at 5:33 AM on September 9, 2014

Based on the follow-up, I don't think you should cite Anne in any discussions. From the update, she seems clear on her desire to manage her business and against your making decisions based on her experience.

Your experience is that you heard something, you were creeped out and have a new opinion of Kevin (and possibly Ryan) which is your business. I would avoid them for now and, if you want, have a talk with them.

If you don't want people in your life, exclude them.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 7:07 AM on September 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

Based on your update, I'd not invite Ryan and Kevin to your gatherings. If Amanda asks, I'd stick with, "I'm not comfortable around Kevin. So, how 'bout them dawgs." If Amanda pursues it beyond that, she's a jerk.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:20 AM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I cut a friend out of my life for a few years because the guy she was seeing was a jerk. I honestly don't know if she noticed but she's not seeing this guy any more and I've invited her over to my place since they split up. I don't think it's polite in general to invite half of a couple somewhere unless it's someplace where you know the other half would not be interested in attending (a married guy I know and I run together sometimes but we don't invite his wife because she doesn't run, she and I might do yoga together instead but he'd prefer not to do yoga, etc.).

If anyone asks why the groper isn't there, you can just say he acts like a jerk when he drinks. I would probably not even bother and say that I must have forgotten to invite him. But honestly, I've thrown a bunch of shindigs at my place and I don't think anyone has ever asked me why I didn't invite someone because that's kind of a rude question to ask (because it's my party?)

It sounds like you really want to Send A Message and Show Solidarity With Anne which is fine but it's a little dramatic. It's your party at your place. You get to invite or not invite whoever you want.
posted by kat518 at 10:43 AM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

1. Groping is wrong. No question.

2. It's very very very likely that he doesn't think he did anything wrong at all, because gay people "jokingly" groping women is this really common thing for some reason. I doubt he thought about it before or after. That doesn't excuse the behaviour in any way, but it does mean there's the chance for a positive, no-drama outcome here that eliminates the problem behaviour without eliminating any of your friends. Win-win-win, right?

3. Solution: calmly talk to the guy, tell him that you heard what happened and that you won't tolerate that kind of behaviour in your house. He'll probably say it doesn't matter since he's gay and not hitting on her. You'll tell him firmly that regardless, you're not cool with it and if he does it again, he'll be asked to leave. Then follow through. If you feel especially ambitious, you can explain why exactly it's not cool, but informing him of a firm boundary is good enough. If you don't like how he takes it, don't invite him back. I strongly feel that the lowest-drama option is to give him a chance to know what he did wrong before slicing him (and your friend) cleanly out of your life. That said, you can always ban people from your house for any reason - there just might be some social consequences (i.e. drama).

This conversation tends to work better when it's the recipient giving the speech, but that's entirely Anne's call and it sounds like she doesn't want to do it, which is fine. I have given a similar speech as the recipient several times, and still hang out with the guys years later, without any further incidents - I'm glad I didn't write them off for one shitty behaviour, and also glad I didn't ignore it, because if you don't tell them it's unacceptable, they'll keep doing it, usually without intending any discomfort to anyone. If they keep doing it after you tell them to stop, then they're assholes and you cut them out of your life at that point, if you don't want to hang out with assholes.
posted by randomnity at 1:33 PM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't like drama but I dislike groping even more. I would mention it to Kevin, Ryan or both, the details don't really matter, and tell him no groping and that it's inappropriate. Set your boundaries, and if they are crossed just don't invite him to anything. What's more important? Avoiding drama or avoiding getting groped? Figure that out and proceed.
posted by driedmango at 4:20 PM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

There's really no good way to proceed with the restrictions you're insisting upon.

You've already said you won't have Kevin in your home, and he and Ryan and probably a package deal, so that's done. Write them off. If they find out about the gathering from Amanda and want to know why they weren't invited, I guess you can just ignore them.

Amanda's probably going to want an explanation, so you'll have to decide if you want to give one to her or risk losing her friendship, too.

Of course, you could probably decide on a better approach if you were actually willing to ask Anne about it. If she's so emotionally fragile right now that she can't handle having a female friend ask in a neutral/supportive way what happened and how she feels about it, even though her boyfriend already told you about the incident, it's probably going to be hard to maintain a friendship with her, too.

I think the way you're treating Anne isn't solicitous, but patronizing, and inserting yourself into this situation in the way you are is almost certain to cause lots of drama.
posted by jingzuo at 4:56 PM on September 9, 2014

Ok as someone who has been in Anne's position, I feel the need to provide a counterpoint to the people saying you are being patronizing to Anne by cutting off Kevin on her behalf. You've already heard the facts of what happened and you've heard from Anne that she was uncomfortable. You have all the evidence you need to proceed with cutting Kevin out of your social life, you don't need her to be the one who does it.

When this happened to me, it turned out I was far from being the first gropee, and the end result was a social shitstorm of pretty major proportions. I shied away from being directly involved in it because there was so much vitriol, so many angry, even violent words, so much victim-blaming (gosh-darn-it if I wasn't wearing just SUCH a tempting dress that night) that I often thought my head was going to explode and I just wanted to crawl into a hole. I didn't have it in me to stand up and fight my own battle so close to it happening; I was just trying to stay sane. But you'd better believe that I wanted that battle fought. You'd better believe that I remember very clearly which people said "Gropey McGroperson is no longer welcome at our place, period, end of story, not up for discussion." Or "I'm just not ok with non-consensual groping, no matter what, in fact, no matter how the person being groped says they felt about it." Or "It's bullshit that you should have to *explain* to a goddam adult that he should keep his goddam fucking hands to himself, if he doesn't know that by this age maybe he needs to redo kindergarten. Except this dude should definitely not be around kindergarteners." Those are the people I kept as friends and respect and trust. And I was very grateful to those people for making it clear that the dude's behavior was NOT OK and was going to have actual consequences.

The key thing that these kinds of responses have in common is that they are about the groper, not the gropee. It's not "Show solidarity with Anne," it's not "I'm on Anne's side because I like Anne and it doesn't really seem like she did anything wrong," it's not "I would like to protect Anne from that guy who is creeping her out for whatever reason." It's definitely not about bending over backwards for Anne; in fact, it's not about Anne at all. And, OP, it sounds to me like you're already at that point. You can express solicitous concern to Anne, but instead of being reassuring to her that you'll protect her (which definitely *could* cross over into being patronizing), make it clear to her that what you're doing is about asserting your own position. Not just your own personal boundaries about who you want to hang out with, but your vote on the referendum question "Is non-consensual groping socially ok? Yes/No."

Because this IS about sending a message, and the message is one of zero tolerance for people who can't refrain from copping a feel, no matter how hilarious they think it is or how much they could use a clue-by-four upside the head. It's a message of actively fighting back against the pervasive and insidious nature of rape culture, because I can't think of anything more emblematic of rape culture than the idea that taking someone off your invite list because they think it's funny to grope women is an overreaction.

As far as dealing with Ryan and Amanda, once we think of this as message-sending, I think it's totally reasonable to tell the truth. Again, you want to avoid making it be about Anne. To Amanda, should she ask why Ryan and Kevin aren't at the party, say something like "It came to my attention that Kevin is unable to consistently keep his hands to himself, and that's not the kind of person I want to have at my parties. There is no acceptable defense for violating someone's personal boundaries." Amanda doesn't need more details about what happened; it would be perfectly appropriate for you to respond to her further questions with "That's not my story to tell, I'm sure you understand." To Ryan, you can reassure him that you value his friendship but say that his boyfriend's behavior is not ok and Kevin is no longer welcome at social events you're hosting. Then it's up to him what happens next. Same with Amanda. Their reactions become part of your ongoing assessment of whether these friendships are working out for you right now.

Note that this approach is not likely to be the most "drama"-free path. But so often, almost every time I've ever seen it, standing up against this kind of behavior is labeled "drama" as a silencing tactic. You're seeing it here. It supports the status quo -- calling people out on their long-protected bullshit behavior is likely to cause social friction, yes indeed. But I would suggest that those who brush off this kind of behavior in the name of avoiding "drama" are ultimately complicit.

Thank you, OP, for asserting zero tolerance in this situation. As this thread shows, oh so clearly...we have a long way to go. If we put the burden on people who are sexually assaulted to swim against the tide, to spearhead the fight against the people who cross their boundaries and invade their personal space, we will never get anywhere. The social pressures are such that Anne is unlikely to request that you dissociate yourself from Kevin, but that doesn't mean she won't be secretly grateful when you do.
posted by ootandaboot at 9:28 PM on September 9, 2014 [8 favorites]

Thank you for how you're handling this, for not blowing this off, and for taking responsibility for what is in your power to make your home a space where women can enjoy without groping.

Don't put anything in writing. If you're going to see Ryan or if you have a telephoning relationship, I think it would be good to say to him, "Kevin groped someone and I can't have him in my home." Don't open a negotiation and don't give names. "Let me know if you want to be invited for things even if the invite doesn't include Kevin." Don't put him on the spot for a response, assume the answer is no and let him reach out to you later if it's yes.

Otherwise, don't invite either to your party. If anyone asks where they are, you can say, 'Don't know!' If they ask whether they were invited or why they couldn't come, you can say, 'it's a long story,' 'don't ask' (said in the right tone this can take you pretty far, or, if you want, 'I don't want to get into it now but it just didn't make sense' with an offer to follow up if you think the person really cares/is educable/has any business knowing.

If you keep things low drama and low key, that'll go a long way to keeping them that way.
posted by Salamandrous at 3:59 PM on September 12, 2014

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