Please come to the party but DON'T BRING YOUR BOYFRIEND
February 11, 2016 5:00 PM   Subscribe

How do a tactfully request that someone invited to a party does NOT bring their boyfriend?

I am hosting a birthday party for a friend at my house, and she invited one of her friends, Mary, to come to the party. No big deal! We like Mary. The problem is, we just found out Mary is dating Maurice.

Maurice is generally unliked by most of our friend circle. That by itself isn't the biggest deal though... The last time Maurice was at my house, I'm 90% sure (although I don't have proof unfortunately) that he stole money out of my communal "house fund" that I forgot to hide prior to the party. On top of that, Maurice has been known to be a belligerent drunk and has in the past hit a woman at a party after she did not respond to his advances. I do not want this man in my house, not only for the sake of my possessions but for the safety of the guests.

Now, the relationship between Mary and Maurice was not known at the time of the invite but since we've learned that they are basically inseparable. Although Maurice was not specifically invited to the party it's basically a given at this point that Mary is going to bring him if we don't talk to her about it. I'm looking for a way to tactfully talk to Mary and ask her not to bring Maurice, but without stirring up a pot of drama and awkwardness. Although I do see Maurice around from time to time, I generally avoid him and don't care what he thinks of me. However Mary is a fairly good friend who I do appreciate and I don't want her to feel like I'm attacking her for her relationship choices.

How do I talk to Mary about this?
Should I mention the previous incidents even though I don't have any proof?
How can I make sure she knows we still want her to come and it's 100% not about her at all?
How should I handle it if she gets upset about this, or if she insists that her boyfriend is fine and will be coming?
Am I over thinking this too much?

Help me mefi!
posted by smurfzambo to Human Relations (25 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You need to discuss this with your friend, the birthday honoree. I suggest telling her that Maurice is not welcome in your house and coming to an agreement with her, first, on how to best approach Mary. And you are not overthinking this too much.
posted by argonauta at 5:07 PM on February 11, 2016 [10 favorites]

Best answer: There's no way of tactfully mentioning this, at least if by "tactful" you mean no-one will get upset. There just isn't a tactful way of saying "I don't want your boyfriend at my party because I believe him to be a belligerent, violent thief and drunkard". It sounds like you probably should talk to her, though, because quite rightfully you don't want someone you believe those things about at a party you're responsible for (or any party). But there's no way to phrase this where Mary won't potentially feel judged, and you should accept the possibility you'll lose her as a friend before having that talk.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 5:07 PM on February 11, 2016 [47 favorites]

My first concern would be Mary's safety. She's in the heady first phase of a relationship with someone who smacks around women when he's drunk. For her sake, I would make sure that she has friends to go to for help if she needs them.

I'd stash the valuables, hold my nose and let the guy come to the party. And I'd keep a very watchful eye on my friend Mary.
posted by 26.2 at 5:11 PM on February 11, 2016 [20 favorites]

Best answer: "We'd love to have you. However, Maurice has been known to be a belligerent drunk and has in the past hit a woman at a party after she did not respond to his advances. I do not want this man in my house. Please don't bring him. I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but it is non-negotiable."

I can't tell why you're certain about this stuff but also say you have no proof? I'd just mention one or two things that you're more certain about, and skip the "I think he stole money from me" thing unless you have more than a gut feeling.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 5:11 PM on February 11, 2016 [63 favorites]

Sorry, there is no tactful way to tell someone you think their boyfriend is a thief and a violent drunk. Obviously you are free to decide who gets to come to your house or not, but I don't think there's a tactful way to tell someone their significant other is not welcome unless you are organizing a single-gender event (like a girls night or bachelorette party or whatever). That doesn't mean you should not do it if you feel strongly about this, but just go into it with an awareness that there will be, at a minimum, some hurt feelings.
posted by rainbowbrite at 5:12 PM on February 11, 2016 [6 favorites]

There's no way to be graceful about this. Accept that you'll probably lose Mary and Mo as friends. Stick to the facts, set your limits.

"Hey Mary. Sorry to say this, but Mo is absolutely not welcome at my party. At XX time, he was a belligerent drunk and physically assaulted someone. That type of behavior is unacceptable to me. You are welcome. He is not."

And then move on with your life.
posted by gnutron at 5:13 PM on February 11, 2016 [9 favorites]

I was going to say you should suck it up, but then got to the belligerent drunk part. Tell your friend Maurice is not allowed in your home and let her sort it out with Mary.
posted by corb at 5:16 PM on February 11, 2016 [4 favorites]

You must tell her not to bring him; and it is going to hurt her feelings. That's a given, there's no way around it, and it's just one of the duties that has fallen to you as a responsible hostess, like cleaning up vomit. You're strong, you can do it. Call her and say "Mary, about the party, you know we'd love to have you, but I need to ask you not to bring Maurice. I understand you're dating and I hate to ask anyone not to bring their boyfriend, but Maurice has a history of assault, and I just can't have him here, I'm sorry. I would love it if you can still come but I understand if it means you decide not to. I hope you and I can still be friends. Ok bye."

(By the way, don't leave it to the birthday girl to do. It's your house, it'll be your mess if he does show up, so you better make sure he doesn't.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:23 PM on February 11, 2016 [20 favorites]

If I invited a person to a party, and they then invited another person to that party, and that second person was spot-welded to a third person, I would call off the party altogether and say that I had unstoppable diarrhoea. Later I would talk to the person I originally invited, and whose birthday it was, and suggest that they not invite people to parties that I am hosting without my explicit and condition-rich approval.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:29 PM on February 11, 2016 [17 favorites]

You say that Maurice is known to be a belligerent drunk and has hit women in the past but you don't have proof. What kind of proof are you talking about, video evidence? It sounds like you actually saw it which should be enough.

For me, the over riding concern here would actually be for Mary's long term safety (although of course you don't want him around your guests) so for that reason your friend should definitely speak up and tell Mary about the dark side to her new boyfriend. She should then end the conversation by saying words to the effect that I'm concerned about the person you're with for these reasons, and his behaviour is so off the charts other people now don't even want him at their parties because he's drunk/unpredictable/violent.

Frame it as concern for her, which is true and then give Maurice's party disinvitation as further evidence that his repugnant actions have been noted by others, which is just another reason she should stay away. But make sure the friend who did the inviting has the talk, not you.
posted by Jubey at 5:37 PM on February 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: "Mary, {Friend} is really looking forward to having you at her birthday party this week. However, since the event is being hosted at my home, I need to ask you to not bring Maurice as the last time he visited his behavior towards my home and my friends was not positive and I do not feel comfortable having him around anymore. Please know that this is not a criticism of you in any way and I look forward to seeing you that evening as much as {Friend}. Thank you for understanding."
posted by Hermione Granger at 6:03 PM on February 11, 2016 [15 favorites]

Best answer: TACT IS OVERRATED. Tact is the reason people continue to get away with behavior like this. Fuck tact. If you don't want him in your house, he doesn't get to come to your house.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:08 PM on February 11, 2016 [133 favorites]

I'm with the "you don't need to be delicate about saying that someone who hit someone while at a party is not welcome at your party" crowd. You don't need to elaborate, you don't need to engage in any discussion about it, you just say this person isn't welcome in my house. Repeat as necessary.
posted by phearlez at 6:31 PM on February 11, 2016 [5 favorites]

"Hey Mary. Maurice isn't coming to my house." Don't front load an explanation. It's your house, your rules.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 7:43 PM on February 11, 2016 [3 favorites]

If she's someone important to you or your friends, I would provide an explanation. She deserves to know that he has this kind of history, even if the truth makes her more upset. I would leave the theft out, since you don't have any proof, and focus on the drinking and the assault:

"Mary, I was happy to hear that Rita invited you to her party; we'd love to see you. Unfortunately, I need to talk to you about Maurice. I understand the two of you are dating, and I am afraid he is not welcome at my house. This has nothing to do with you. There was a past incident where he assaulted a woman after drinking heavily and I will not have any risk of that in my home. I trust you understand." Then do not discuss or listen to excuses, but apologise gracefully and say "I realise he's an important person in your life, but I'm afraid this is my decision."

I trust, by the way, that you have direct first hand evidence of this assault and it isn't hearsay.
posted by frumiousb at 8:14 PM on February 11, 2016 [13 favorites]

Years ago, some friends invited me to dinner and when I confirmed for me and my awful boyfriend they let me know unequivocally that he was not invited. I didn't go to the dinner--I stayed home and did nothing interesting and probably got yet another in a long series of stupid arguments with the awful boyfriend--and I was extremely irritated, confused and upset at my friends. But when me and the awful boyfriend finally broke up I realized how grateful I was to those friends for planting that seed that helped me realize I needed to get out of something that was not just bad for me, but bad for people I cared about and who cared enough about me to be honest and forthright, even if it was unpleasant.
posted by gubenuj at 9:40 PM on February 11, 2016 [34 favorites]

Tact is overrated but if you want to avoid confrontation is there any reason that you can't tell her that there are no plus ones at your party?
posted by futz at 9:52 PM on February 11, 2016

Whelp. This sucks.

I'm leaning towards telling Mary about her bf's history and telling her how much you all care about her, too. Acknowledge that since she is dating him, you understand how upsetting it might be to be made aware of his past actions. Emphasize that you understand the difficult position she's in. Apologize to her profusely, acknowledge that if you had not witnessed drunken belligerence and violence towards others personally, you would never in a thousand years make an issue of this now.

Wait? Are you speaking from personal experience?

If not, let Maurice come and keep an eye on him. Let's hope he fucks up and someone can reach out later and further apprise Mary about Maurice.

If your goal is to stir up drama, disinvite Maurice. If your goal is to get Mary to see this guy for who he really is, let him come to party and act horribly in front of her, then rush to her aid afterwards!!

If this is mostly gossip and suspicion, hide your valuables, let him come to the party, and ignore him.

Only you know if Maurice is 100% not allowed in your home. Decide wisely. No, there is no tactful way to bring this up if it is just gossip. So sorry! I've been in your shoes. I know this sucks.

Do whatever is best for Mary. That's your best choice.
posted by jbenben at 11:28 PM on February 11, 2016 [3 favorites]

I would add that "I understand if that means you can't make it. It sucks because we'd love to have you."
posted by Omnomnom at 12:11 AM on February 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Do not allow this person to attend your party. The idea that this is more of a drama-inciting move than allowing him to attend in the hope that he might well get loaded and at worst thump your friend - so you can be the good guy and jump in and save her! - seems, to put it mildly, misguided.
posted by ominous_paws at 12:43 AM on February 12, 2016 [5 favorites]

Turbid dahlia has it. The first problem is an issue of etiquette. You invited Alice who then invited Bob without consulting you, and you anticipate that Bob will invite Carol without consulting you.

I get that this is a birthday party that you are hosting for Alice at your house, so Alice gets to make the guest list. But it's your house so Alice doesn't get to actually invite people without consulting you. This is the first point of failure.

The second point of failure is that established couples are supposed to be invited together. Mary was invited without Maurice, which goes against this, while also butting right up against the first point of failure which is that you, not Alice or anyone else, get the final say on who is invited to your house; and that anyone Alice invites doesn't get to invite other people at all because it's not their party. It's tough if most of your social circle assumes they can just show up wherever, but without actually disinviting anyone at this point, you have to start exercising some control over who you let into your house. This time around, it's already partly out of your control so you have to work with what you've got.

Now we have the other problem which is that you suspect Maurice of stealing and you also claim he's violent. But we know you aren't certain he's a thief and we don't know whether or not you're certain he's violent. Some clarification of whether you know this firsthand, or how you found out, would be helpful.

The third problem is that, if Maurice is a danger to Mary, you have to be careful not to alienate Mary because if you do that she'll have no-one that she can go to when the scales fall from her eyes. At the same time, if Maurice is a danger to the other guests, but you think he will show up anyway, you have no choice but to tell Mary preemptively that she can't bring Maurice, and there is no way to do that without offending her, and yet you do have to tell her.

Unless, as others pointed out above, you don't really know for a fact that Maurice is violent. If you don't know that, then your best choice is to just take your chances this time. Mary will bring Maurice or she won't, Maurice will either act up (usefully doing so in front of Mary) or he will behave himself, and then you can move on from there by enforcing better boundaries about who gets to invite who into your house in the future.
posted by tel3path at 3:22 AM on February 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

And of course as turbid dahlia said: if it's that bad, you cancel the party on an excuse. The birthday girl will be the only one majorly disappointed then, and she really brought it on herself, and you can make it up to her by taking her out to dinner or something (dinner for just the two of you has got to work out less expensive than a party for an unbounded and infinite number of monkeys).
posted by tel3path at 3:37 AM on February 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

You don't need proof or documentation or any such thing. If there's a person you don't like you don't have to have them in your house, full-stop.

The first conversation is with the birthday person. "Hey Corrine, I know you want to have Mary at your party. I adore Mary. But she's seeing Maurice, and frankly based on some previous crap he's pulled, I won't have him in my home. I don't want to get into it, he's flat out not welcome. That said, I'll reach out to Mary and let her know. I wanted to give you a heads up." Hopefully Corrine will understand. Chances are, she will.

Here's what you say to Mary. "Hey! I know that Corrine invited you to her fete and I'm so happy, I think you're awesome. I know you're with Maurice now, and that's where we have a hitch in the giddy-up. In the past he's not behaved well and we're on the outs with each other. I'd rather you didn't bring him with you on Saturday, he's not welcome in my home. I hate that this is so awkward and I wouldn't for the world upset you. I hope you understand."

You don't have to get into details or build up your case. Just state firmly that Maurice is not welcome. Let Mary decide from there how she's going to handle it.

At the end of the day, it's your house and you get to decide if someone who skivves you out is allowed in it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:11 AM on February 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

If anyone's going to do the anti-invitation, it should be the person who invited Mary. The birthday girl invited Mary, so I think she should do any explaining to Mary if that's how you decide to go.
posted by tel3path at 5:55 AM on February 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

I want to emphasize that you should explain that he hit someone. Otherwise, it's too easy for Mary or someone else to assume that you're just being bitchy. Hitting someone and being a belligerent drunk is beyond the pale (so is stealing money, but you aren't sure about that), and I think it's important to be clear that your reason here is not just an icky feeling.

That is, of course, unless you don't care about that sort of thing and are wiling to sacrifice yourself on that social fire to protect him and maybe not upset Mary, but I think that would be a mistake.
posted by hought20 at 6:48 AM on February 12, 2016 [6 favorites]

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