How to handle this stupid soap opera scenario?
December 13, 2016 1:49 PM   Subscribe

My fiance and I are in a quandary of the drama-llama variety. One of our best friends is separated from (but occasionally still sleeping with) his wife. (They've lived separately for over a year and date other people, but are still married and on friendly terms.) Trouble is, he's currently dating two of our other female friends. Dinner party etiquette-related question after the jump.

None of these relationships are secret from anyone in our small friend group, but it is starting to get complicated when we arrange outings or host dinners, because we're friends with everyone and refuse to choose sides. This worked fine as long as no one made it our problem, but recently two of the three ladies have started to feel sensitive about who gets invited to which of our social events, as they see it as us ranking their importance to us. And though the wife prefers that we give her priority since we've known her the longest, we like them all equally and view them all as equally important to us.

The wife knows her husband is dating within our social circle and isn't thrilled about it, but she was the one who initiated the open marriage and says it doesn't bother her. However she often cancels last minute if she hears he's bringing one of the other women. Which is her right, I guess - just rather inconvenient when you're hosting a dinner party, and it makes me not want to invite her in the future.

We raised this issue to our male friend and he kind of just shrugged and said "invite whoever you feel like hanging out with." This of course, just means that every time we host an event, 2 of the 3 of our women friends will have hurt feelings when they don't get invited.

Do we invite all three women to every event and let them figure out on their own who wants to attend? That seems best to me, but others have advised it will just create more drama. Any advice would be much appreciated.
posted by egeanin to Human Relations (63 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Do we invite all three women to every event and let them figure out on their own who wants to attend?

Yes!
posted by lalex at 1:52 PM on December 13, 2016 [14 favorites]


Jesus.

If I were you, I would invite everyone. (Then I might send an email to all three of them and say something like "I hate that [dude] put us in a position where we have to worry about this. I would love to have all three of you at dinner, but understand if any of you want to make other arrangements. Let me know if I can expect you on the 15th!") Let them work it out amongst themselves.

Actually if I were you, I'd invite the three women and not invite the assbutt ruiner dude, but that's just me.
posted by phunniemee at 1:54 PM on December 13, 2016 [111 favorites]


Personally I think I'd stop inviting all of them until they get their stuff together. There isn't any reason for them to insert you into their relationship problems and they apparently are by saying you're taking sides.

When they can have an open relationship without fighing about it and all of the partners can get along, maybe you can all start hanging out again.
posted by possibilityleft at 1:56 PM on December 13, 2016 [50 favorites]


All four or hard none* (including the dude).

"Sorry, y'all, but life is too short for us to work your shit out."

* -- "Hard none" means "Even if they find out about a get-together and ask to come, you don't let them."
posted by Etrigan at 1:56 PM on December 13, 2016 [23 favorites]


I am so sorry you are going through this! The real answer is your friend is being an ass and not handling conflict between the people he is dating (and maybe tbh enjoying it), and thus offloading it onto you.

Inviting all three of them sounds simple, but if in practice 2/3 of the women have issues with being at events the other women may be at, it's a good recipe to mean that the most tolerant woman is going to be the one actually present at all of your events, thus increasing the gulf and hurt feelings. Even if you're doing it so you don't have to "choose sides", it is, unfortunately, effectively choosing a side.

Personally, I think I would stop inviting the male friend to things, and let the women work their own shit out without his presence, but that's me.
posted by corb at 1:56 PM on December 13, 2016 [17 favorites]


Do we invite all three women to every event and let them figure out on their own who wants to attend?

Yes!


THIS. And tell all of them that this is your new way of handling the issue. They're refusing to "take sides" by forcing you to do that work for them.
posted by Kpele at 1:56 PM on December 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


I suspect if they're the kind of people who bail when they learn the others are attending, inviting all of them and letting them sort it out will just create some sort of passive-aggressive pecking-order drama.

So I'd invite none of them, and that includes the dude who apparently decided to date his entire social circle at once. Not your circus, not your monkeys.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:59 PM on December 13, 2016 [38 favorites]


Don't invite any of them, it's their messy drama, it doesn't need to be yours.
posted by so fucking future at 2:00 PM on December 13, 2016 [14 favorites]


Skip the dude, invite the ladies?

Or invite none of them - life is short, who needs this stress.
posted by SaltySalticid at 2:00 PM on December 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


None. Not your drama to work out, and your friend is an ass for not even pretending to give a fuck about the hassle this is causing you.
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 2:00 PM on December 13, 2016 [11 favorites]


Invite all of them. But, I'd also have a sit down with the dude and tell him that his inability to be thoughtful about his relationships and the feelings of the women he's involved with is spilling into your lives. He sounds like he's being a clod and then shrugging while taking a hands-off approach and letting you manage the fallout of his decisions. That's not being a good friend.
posted by quince at 2:07 PM on December 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


Time for new friends! I'm going to side with the 'invite none' brigade. And don't worry, you'll all be able to look back and laugh at all this in a few years when your friends are out of high school.
posted by matthew.alexander at 2:08 PM on December 13, 2016 [8 favorites]


Invite the women, don't invite the guy. Get drunk and tell rude stories about him.
posted by Squeak Attack at 2:12 PM on December 13, 2016 [7 favorites]


Team Don't Invite the Guy. He is the common denominator.

If he whines about not being invited so his ego can get stroked by watching women glower over him say "Hey you told us to "invite whoever you feel like hanging out with.". So..... we did.".
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 2:15 PM on December 13, 2016 [8 favorites]


Squeak attack: The three ladies are not all cool with each other otherwise we'd do that. Wife hates friend #3, friend #2 hasn't met friend #3 and doesn't want to, Wife will tolerate friend #2 but still backs out last minute when she's invited. It's a goddamn algorithm.
posted by egeanin at 2:17 PM on December 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Either pick the one you like the most and want to maintain a friendship with or invite none at all.
posted by blackzinfandel at 2:20 PM on December 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


I kinda think them not all being cool with each other is kind of their problem. I see nothing wrong with inviting everyone and thus "choosing the side" of the person/people who aren't being childish about it. There is no cheating. It is above board. The fact that they don't like each other/can't manage their emotions is not anyone's problem but theirs. Kick out/stop inviting the one(s) who cancel with short notice or start drama at a gathering. I would especially not care too much about someone who thinks you should prioritize them because you have known them for longer.
posted by pearshaped at 2:20 PM on December 13, 2016 [7 favorites]


Per your update: were these the dynamics before Male Friend started dating them all?
posted by corb at 2:20 PM on December 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yeah, pick one or decide that people who make this your problem aren't very good friends. Frankly, the most blameless person here, who's made the least number of choices contributing to this problem, is the wife.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:22 PM on December 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


> The three ladies are not all cool with each other otherwise we'd do that. Wife hates friend #3, friend #2 hasn't met friend #3 and doesn't want to, Wife will tolerate friend #2 but still backs out last minute when she's invited. It's a goddamn algorithm.

Oh my god just no. Stop inviting them ALL to dinner. If you like them each individually, then hang out with each separately. But stop letting them make YOU do all their relationship-management. Let them work their own shit out on their own time, not yours.
posted by rtha at 2:22 PM on December 13, 2016 [30 favorites]


Corb: good question. Wife has hated friend #3 always (we befriended friend #3 only when husband started dating her.) Wife was acquaintance-friends with friend #2 until friend #2 started dating her husband - now it is an uneasy semi-friendship.
posted by egeanin at 2:24 PM on December 13, 2016


I wouldn't invite any of them until they worked all this crap out. The trouble with inviting all of them is that it sets up too much potential for further drama if one (or more) of them decides to play out their dislike for each other at one of your gatherings and ruins it for the rest of your guests.

As I see it, they created this situation and its consequences (i.e., not getting invited to fun things).
posted by _Mona_ at 2:24 PM on December 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


Why are you doing the emotional labour of tiptoeing around this man's mistakes? Invite everyone. Inform the women involved that you have. Let the chips fall where they may and if one or all of these women break up with him, meh. Sounds like he deserves it.
posted by Jubey at 2:25 PM on December 13, 2016 [27 favorites]


Yeah, inviting all three of them SEEMS like the solution but I think that, in practice, it just means you're going to have to deal with ALL OF THEM being like, "is so-and-so coming, then I'M NOT" blah blah blah -- honestly also if all of them DO come, then your nice dinner party is going to be a dramatic clusterfuck. Don't invite any of them.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 2:29 PM on December 13, 2016 [8 favorites]


So that's a red flag for me - that the husband in the case started dating someone he knew his wife hated. That's a recipe for a bad time - that's not just a normal 'open marriage' - as is dating inside your social group when you know it's fraught. There is no way he doesn't know what he's doing. He may be a bang up friend, but he is shit at personal life.

I think you need to have a sit down with him, and he needs to offer solutions, because this is clearly his fuckup, and more importantly for his friendship, he doesn't seem to care currently that it is splashing over onto his friends' life.
posted by corb at 2:34 PM on December 13, 2016 [13 favorites]


Based on the updates I would probably mostly invite Wife and Friend2 to most things and smaller events and only Friend3 to really big events.

Wife needs to accept that she initiated the open relationship and thus she doesn't get to try and dictate your guest lists when *he* may act like a shithead and bring other women to parties they are both invited to. Her problem is with him, not you.

You need to accept that becasue these people can't contain their drama, they aren't all going to be at your parties.

I'd probably try to maintain friendships with the ones you like outside of parties as well.
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 2:35 PM on December 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


I wouldn't invite any of them because they are being incredibly rude to make this any of your problem. If asked, I'd say "I was sitting online stressed out by your bizarre inability to have open relationships and yet not respect my dinner parties enough to just be polite for a few hours &/or not flake on me all the time, so I needed a break."

Sorry you are dealing with this.
posted by warriorqueen at 2:40 PM on December 13, 2016 [22 favorites]


The three ladies are not all cool with each other otherwise we'd do that.

Ugh, then I'm on team "invite none of the four" because I don't have energy for that kind of drama.
posted by Squeak Attack at 2:41 PM on December 13, 2016 [7 favorites]


Excuse my French, but this guy is a fucking asshole.

Invite none of them, or just invite the women you like and let them sort it out. This is not your problem and this guy can stuff it, he sounds like he is the worst.
posted by sockermom at 3:06 PM on December 13, 2016 [9 favorites]


yeah oh my god send all of these people a bunch of table-flipping emoticons and find an entirely new dinner party crowd
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:09 PM on December 13, 2016 [13 favorites]


I wouldn't invite any of them because no matter what complex relationship math you do you're going to be on tenterhooks the whole time.
posted by winna at 3:17 PM on December 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


After discussing with my fiance, we have decided upon this plan: to invite whoever inconveniences us the least. (Male friend is not getting ostracized for his messy dating habits, because everyone he's dating is a consenting adult who knew what they were signing up for in advance, and because he is the closest friend of them all.)

The one person who has never complained to us, is Friend #3. If she's unavailable for an event, we will invite the NEXT-least-inconveniencing person (friend #2) and then the wife last.

If Wife and friend #2 ask why they don't get invited as often, we will say we don't have the headspace to figure out the complex relationship math, and when the day comes that they can show up regardless of who else is at the party, we will start inviting them to every event again.

Thoughts?
posted by egeanin at 3:36 PM on December 13, 2016 [7 favorites]


Or you could invite them all, tell them you're not picking sides and say you'll understand if they'd rather not come. But if they do, you expect them to act like grow ups and not cause drama and whoever does cause drama will be asked to leave.

Look, I've been in relationship dramas many years ago but what I told mutual friends was that I didn't expect them to choose (just in case they didn't choose me!) and it was on the involved parties to manage their own issues at joint events. And we did. So we both turned up to things, and in the event the mere presence of the other got too much for either, someone left. Without a fuss.

But right now your friends are putting you in the position of choosing which makes them shitty friends. Put it back on them. Invite them all and warn them of the consequences if they can't act like grown ups.
posted by Jubey at 3:56 PM on December 13, 2016


I'd personally skip right to the "When you're in the right headspace..." part. You're right that they're consenting adults who knew what they were getting into, so keep treating them like that.

"All three of you have been our friends, so we will keep inviting all three of you. We understand that you may not be in the right headspace for that, just let us know by X if you can make it."

Your way isn't wrong, I just suspect just inviting the one could cause you more drama as the other two may feel you're picking sides. You know the people involved though, so you're a much better judge if that's a valid concern or not.
posted by ghost phoneme at 3:57 PM on December 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


If I am reading this correctly -- i.e., male friend gets invited in all scenarios, regardless of which of the three women get invited -- then my main thought is that your male friend has successfully manipulated all five of you: he's sidestepped having to deal with (at least this aspect of) the complicated dynamics among the three women he's seeing, and he's actually being rewarded by you and your fiance despite having made things more difficult on you rather than easier. My vote is still not to invite any of them, him included, which in my book wouldn't be filed under ostracism, but rather under consequences, but ymmv.
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 3:59 PM on December 13, 2016 [88 favorites]


Male friend is not getting ostracized for his messy dating habits, because everyone he's dating is a consenting adult who knew what they were signing up for in advance, and because he is the closest friend of them all.... Thoughts?

My thought is that you are punishing these three women for this one man's behavior. I'd ask myself why I wanted to be close friends with someone who treats his partners this way, personally.
posted by sockermom at 4:00 PM on December 13, 2016 [60 favorites]


So I think before you decide externally how you're going to handle this, you need to maybe be more clear with yourself and your fiance about how you're actually handling this, and figure out how to give as an answer some version of the truth, because the one thing most likely to cause permanent hard feelings is for something to happen that clearly isn't what you're telling them.

You say "we're friends with everyone, and refuse to choose sides", but it sounds very strongly like you have already chosen sides - not necessarily between the three women, but between Best Friend and Best Friend's Wife, which is honestly The Side Choosing factor in a divorce/split up. You mention that Best Friend is the one you're closest to, and even though he seems to be displaying much more inconveniencing behavior, you're more sure that he's the one you're not going to exclude.

It's okay to make prioritizations that you're going to decide things on the basis of who you're stronger friends with. But what's not so great is acting as though it's a disinterested decision, which it really, really sounds like it is not. The ladies are starting to feel sensitive about who gets invited because they see it as you ranking their importance to you - but you kind of are. You're ranking the importance as: male friend first, male friend's right to bring a partner who is not actually part of the social group second.

If you're going to invite male best friend and his girlfriend from outside your friend group, you should be clear to Wife and Friend #2 that you are doing so because Male Friend is your best friend, and you're making decisions based on that premise. That's going to be a harder conversation, and it's going to kind of suck, because you are going to be hurting your female friend's feelings with reason. Ie, they are correctly upset about what they correctly perceive as you prioritizing their feelings less than your male friend's perceived right to run amok in the friend group.
posted by corb at 4:07 PM on December 13, 2016 [47 favorites]


Good point, Corb. My fiance has voted to prioritize the Male friendship over that of the other women. I was trying to find a way to be Switzerland since I am not as close with the Male friend as he is. But it's clear that to be Switzerland would mean my fiance didn't get to see his bestie as much and he doesn't want to do that. So you're probably right that it's better to acknowledge that we (as a couple) are not Switzerland, and go from there. I will let fiance handle the fallout from the decision to prioritize the Male friend.
posted by egeanin at 4:14 PM on December 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


If this is an etiquette question, the answer is: invite none of them.

Number one: if you invite SOME you don't let OTHERS know about it, as a general rule. (Yes, I know, Facebook. You still have control about what you publish about yourself.)

Number two: if, despite your discretion, OTHERS find out they were not invited, they don't get to confront the hosts and demand to be included. Just by doing this, they're indicating that they don't deserve to be invited

Number three: MUTEX - you don't invite people who don't get along with each other, as their presence is mutually aggravating and a pain for the host and other guests.

Number four: if you are a MUTEX guest you especially don't badger the host to be included in invitations that you probably only want to attend for the purpose of not getting along with the others.

Number five: if other people try to drag you into their personal drama, you don't have to cooperate. Again, if this is an etiquette question, you shouldn't cooperate.

All that is just at the level of basic etiquette, without even commenting on how other people are managing their lifestyles. Which is sort of the point of etiquette: you don't have to take on emotional labour that isn't yours, and others don't get to projectile-vomit their dramaz on you and expect you to do the cleanup. If this means taking a step back from close friendship into freezing cocktail-party politeness, well... yay, in this case?

Your decision to ditch the harem and let your husband hang out with his bestie in peace, is a good one.
posted by tel3path at 4:31 PM on December 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


Your male friend is an asshole for creating this situation by dating people his wife doesn't want him to date. It should be his problem to sort out. And by sort out I mean that you and your fiancé should tell him that he's being an asshole for having relationships with these people who are so at odds. I'd like to point out that by prioritizing the male friend over the women, you're punishing the women for your male friend's gross and selfish behavior.
posted by a strong female character at 4:31 PM on December 13, 2016 [18 favorites]


Invite the guy since you are going to anyway. Tell him to bring a date. Let him figure it out. You know how many people are showing up and can just roll with it.
posted by limagringo at 4:38 PM on December 13, 2016 [11 favorites]


This (eta: a strong female character's) is a good point. However, if not inviting three women who don't like each other is "punishing" them, inviting them is punishing you. Couples are properly invited together, but not if they're going to reenact "Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf?" in your living room. By extension, quartets are properly invited together, but on the same conditional basis. Quartets that really aren't, and seem to really just be a mechanism for humiliating the wife - NOPE. Let them all find their own sandbox to pee in.
posted by tel3path at 4:45 PM on December 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


"After discussing with my fiance, we have decided upon this plan: to invite whoever inconveniences us the least. (Male friend is not getting ostracized for his messy dating habits, because everyone he's dating is a consenting adult who knew what they were signing up for in advance, and because he is the closest friend of them all)"

Male friend is inconveniencing you and fiancé the most because he's using your approval as a couple to normalize his behavior of playing headgames with these 3 women.
posted by jbenben at 4:54 PM on December 13, 2016 [52 favorites]


Do we invite all three women to every event and let them figure out on their own who wants to attend?

i would invite all 3 women and aggressively exclude the stupid douchey guy.
posted by poffin boffin at 5:01 PM on December 13, 2016 [7 favorites]


Don't invite any of them. If you want to be a good host, then you really can't invite people to small dinners where you know there is going to be discord. Why ask people to interact if they aren't ready to do so?

PS - I'm with the group who thinks that the guy is a jerk. There is no real reason he has to keep asking out women in the same social circle.
posted by 26.2 at 6:12 PM on December 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


Invite all four and make them sit on the kids table?
posted by kitten magic at 6:24 PM on December 13, 2016 [13 favorites]


Both things can be true: these women knew what they were getting into, but also? Your husband's bestie is an ass clown. If ass clown is the priority, invite him and make him decide who he brings. It's not your problem.
posted by jessca84 at 7:17 PM on December 13, 2016 [14 favorites]


egeanin, I think what everybody is getting at here is that while cheating is certainly a blatant and well-known way of being a dbag, it's not the only way of being a dbag. To me, cheerfully forging ahead starting new relationships that you know perfectly well will cause serious unhappiness to the people in your current relationships is being a dbag. "Welp, I'll do whatever and you can feel free to stick around until you can't stand it anymore" is a dbag way of approaching any kind of relationship including casual golfing buddies.

"Inconveniences us the least," in this case, seems like it would be pretty much synonymous with "is OK with the current situation." You see the problem with that, right? Pretty frequently (and, I would say, in this situation) the person who's totally cheerful is the one who's already arranged to get everything they want. Whereas . . . get unhappy for pretty understandable reasons, try to do the right thing by avoiding being thrown together with people you're pissed off at, get classified as a buzzkill by your friends. That sucks.

I would invite any and all of Women 1, 2 and 3 (because seriously, they're the ones who need social support from their friend group right now, not Mr. Everyone Wants Him) whose company you enjoy to the party. Ask the guy to a different social event that's just the three of you. Think of it this way -- he could probably use a break from being (well, making himself) the center of all this anyway.
posted by ostro at 7:24 PM on December 13, 2016 [24 favorites]


In my social circles, double-dipping in a single circle is extremely bad manners. It's not that the wife has a say, it's that someone who gave a shit about not pooping in the pool wouldn't be leaving so many turds for you to invite to your dinner parties.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:52 PM on December 13, 2016 [8 favorites]


I'm really sorry, but my reaction to this situation would be to stop inviting any of them around. Your house isn't the fucking Red Tent or Farewell My Concubine or whatever.
posted by Sara C. at 7:53 PM on December 13, 2016 [10 favorites]


It sounds like the guy is the Priority Friend (despite being a jerk who seems to be using this situation to punish his wife for wanting to change the terms of their relationship). Ok, if that's the case, it is what it is. I'd suggest inviting him to your dinner parties and telling him to bring a plus one. Let him deal with the decision about which one to pick, and any fall-out from it. If you want to spend time with the women, do that separately. If any of them have a problem with the situation, tell them to take it up with Priority Friend.
posted by rpfields at 8:42 PM on December 13, 2016 [8 favorites]


I guess this is a variation on corb's answer that you marked best, and maybe some others as well, but I just want to note that your plan to invite "whoever inconveniences us the least" really does mean that you're already prioritizing your male friend. I'm not surprised his current girlfriend, who you don't know as well as the other women, is not going to complain to you. It's the history you have with the other two women that makes them more likely to raise concerns. I can't tell you what to do, of course, but from an outsider's perspective, I find it unfortunate that you're basically setting things up to dump your oldest female friend (the wife), since she's the one that'll "inconvenience" you most given your parameters.
posted by ferret branca at 9:15 PM on December 13, 2016 [28 favorites]


Oh please, oh please write into Ms Manners this one - I'm dying to know what she would say!!

In the meantime, I think she would say: in general anyone who cancels a dinner party invitation last minute due to finding out who else is invited, has just put themselves in the position of not being asked again.
posted by Toddles at 9:23 PM on December 13, 2016 [8 favorites]


So yes, they are fully aware, consenting adults, who entered into this relationship with their eyes open. I don't think that particularly makes him an asshole, just someone with a higher tolerance for drama than you or I personally have.

Look, this cuts exactly two ways: if they're fully aware, consenting adults who entered into the situation with eyes open, then so is he. If they have to face social consequences for the situation, then so does he. It's not about him being an asshole (though I kinda think he is), and it's not about him having a "higher tolerance" for drama than the rest of you (that may very well be true, but it's not the point).

Letting him off the hook for the chaos and bad feelings this situation has created perpetuates the old misogynistic double-standard where men behaving questionably/inconsiderately/badly is just viewed as the natural order of things, which shifts the burden of anticipating/accommodating/avoiding said behavior entirely on to women's shoulders. Then, if the situation becomes uncomfortable or untenable, the problem is (incorrectly) viewed as a failure to properly anticipate/accommodate/avoid the bad behavior, and not the bad behavior itself.

That's an ugly narrative. Whether you want to be a part of it is up to you.
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 1:04 AM on December 14, 2016 [57 favorites]


It sounds like you've reached a solution. It seems reasonable to me. You don't need the Internet's permission to invite whomever you wish to invite to your house.
posted by phoenixy at 1:06 AM on December 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


Take the backstory out.

People are having their feelings hurt. Stop participating. Then you are not contributing to anyone's painful emotions. Done.
posted by jbenben at 1:13 AM on December 14, 2016 [6 favorites]


It seems reasonable to me. You don't need the Internet's permission to invite whomever you wish to invite to your house.

I agree. It's totally ok to prioritize your closest relationships over other relationships.
posted by lalex at 5:57 AM on December 14, 2016


Tell the wife that last minute cancellations are problematic for you, and ask her if she would prefer not to be invited if the others are. If she says no, then invite all three. If she says yes, continue inviting the other two. (Their relationship with each other is their problem.)

The concern about "creating more drama" isn't your problem, unless they are actually starting fights/ making the situation uncomfortable at the party itself, which you didn't mention. If it leads to drama in their own heads or amongst themselves, ignore it, and hopefully it'll lead to them all better figuring out what they want/ growing up a bit.
posted by metasarah at 6:34 AM on December 14, 2016


Solve the problem, don't invite the guy. He's the one causing all the problems & then won't be the one to fix them.
posted by wwax at 7:50 AM on December 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


Have dinner parties with other, lower-drama friends for a while. Your husband can hang out with the male if he likes. You aren't required to put yourself in this position.
posted by bunderful at 9:08 AM on December 14, 2016 [11 favorites]


In light of all the updates, I heartily agree with bunderful. Until they sort out their drama, they're no longer invited to group things. Your husband can hang out with his bestie one-on-one or in groups of dudes.
posted by purple_bird at 9:54 AM on December 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm polyamorous, and I go to events where several of my friends' partners are invited. I host a dinner party with my partner, his wife, her two boyfriends, and one of their ex-wives, for example. That's a pretty typical Saturday night. If there's some kind of tension, I typically will just invite who I want, assuming they can talk it out amongst themselves.

The amount of planning you're having to do around this person - not to mention drama surrounding him - really doesn't sound normal to me. That's dragging you too much into their relationships. This is not your mess. Invite who you want, and don't do anyone else's emotional work for them.
posted by a hat out of hell at 10:43 AM on December 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


Your guy friend is right: invite whoever you want to hang out with. Dinner parties are for having fun. If someone isn't fun — even if it's understandable — invite them when they're fun again.

I don't think it makes sense to think of not inviting people as "punishing them". Presumably, the people you don't want to hang out with will something fun to do, and you'll have a good evening without them. Everyone wins. Thinking of not inviting someone as a punishment makes it sound like your dinner party is the only fun thing to do!

I also don't think it makes sense to invite people for "social support". If people find out that you're inviting not because you want to hang out with them, but out of a sense of charity and goodwill, you end up doing the opposite of social support.

It's a dinner party; invite everyone you want to hang out with. You're not "hurting" anyone by inviting them. If the event brings up difficult feelings for some of the guests, you should know that these feelings will come up anyway. They come up whenever these people collide, they come up when they talk, they come up in the night… You can't control people's feelings, and you're not responsible for them.

Sometimes, the easiest thing to do is the right thing to do: do what you feel like and let everyone else do what they feel like.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 12:53 AM on December 16, 2016


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