Friend not inviting my girlfriend to his party
August 5, 2017 12:20 PM   Subscribe

My friend is having a moving-in party, but won't invite my girlfriend. I think he should. Am I wrong?

My friend has recently moved and is going to host a small party. He is single (got broken up with last year, as did I), but has invited a handful of couples - basically mutual acquaintances from uni (we graduated last year as well) and their SOs.

However, when I mentioned that I would like to bring my new girlfriend (we have been dating for three months and been "official" for one month), he told me he'd prefer that she not come, in order for it not to be just couples and him.

He is one of my closest friend, as are a couple of the other people at the party, and I would have liked to be able to introduce the GF to them (we've just now gotten around to the "meet-my-friends" stage).

On the one hand, it is his party and he decides who to invite. I can also sorta see where he's coming from - it kinda sucks to be surrounded be couples when you're single. On the other hand, I'm kind of annoyed. While my GF and I haven't been dating for long, it's not like she's a Tinder date I just met either.

I don't intend to cause any drama or confront him. There will be more parties and chances to meet. I was fine with it at first, but the last couple of days it's been bothering me in the back of my head. Am I wrong, or is this behavior kind of rude?
posted by Bukvoed to Human Relations (33 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: On the one hand, it is his party and he decides who to invite.

Stop there, you're done. Looked at another way, do you expect your new girlfriend to insist on bringing you along to any party she's invited to?
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 12:28 PM on August 5, 2017 [27 favorites]

On the one hand, it is his party and he decides who to invite.

he'd prefer that she not come, in order for it not to be just couples and him.

Both these statements are true. But it's also true that good manners says that when one invites half of a couple, one invites both halves; it's also true that it doesn't have to be "just couples and him": he's the one who chose to invite only couples (other than you), and therefore it was entirely his own choice not to invite other singletons.

Personally, I would decline to attend: "I'm sorry, but I won't able to be there."
posted by easily confused at 12:37 PM on August 5, 2017 [23 favorites]

Best answer: this is like a housewarming party at his new place, and all the other couples are people he knows well (both halves, not just one member)? then he's not being rude at all.

he just doesn't know her, he wants to be around friends and not strangers, and he doesn't want his housewarming party to be your introduce-your-girlfriend-to-your-friends party. that's fair. you can host one of those yourself.

eventually he will get to know her, and if he specifically excludes her from things after meeting her, it may be rude at that point. but not yet.
posted by queenofbithynia at 12:38 PM on August 5, 2017 [48 favorites]

Best answer: It's absolutely fine for him to decide who he wants to invite to his party and it's also a bit rude to not include his good friend's new girlfriend because he's overly sensitive about being single. Both things can be true.
posted by quince at 12:41 PM on August 5, 2017 [47 favorites]

I don't think he's necessarily disrespecting your relationship, in case that's how you're feeling. Maybe he wants a particular kind of comfortable evening with friends, and having a new person there (no matter whose guest it is) can kill that vibe. Plus there's the aspect that the party can end up being about you because everyone is talking about how they know you and so on.

Invite your friends out to dinner to meet your girlfriend sometime, maybe?
posted by cabingirl at 12:46 PM on August 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

If no one in your friend group has met her (as you're just getting to that stage), maybe arrange a small get-together at a pub or something before his party. It takes the onus off him (hosting a meet-the-new-gf shindig, however inadvertently, in a sea of couples while he's single) and your girlfriend (something more casual than meeting all your friends altogether at this one party).

Your friend might then feel comfortable extending the invitation to include her (but even if he doesn't, you can decline to attend on any grounds you like).
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:47 PM on August 5, 2017

Best answer: I don't think it's rude. He doesn't know your girlfriend. Your girlfriend is not friends with anyone who will be there except you. This sounds like a pretty intimate gathering in general. Plus, he explained his reasoning and made sure that you knew that his not making this a "plus one" kind of scenario wasn't meant to be a personal slight against her. I feel like he really tried to be fairly respectful in this request.

To be frank: personally, sometimes I also want to hang out with just my friends and not their significant others, too. It's not that I don't like my friends' SOs, but the vibe is different when the friend is there as part of a couple, and sometimes I just want to hang with the friend herself. YMMV.

I also think it's not necessarily that appropriate to co-opt your friend's housewarming to make it a "meet my girlfriend" event. I think that either you should bring her to something larger and/or more casual for the first intros, or you should invite everyone to a little get-together yourself.
posted by rue72 at 1:00 PM on August 5, 2017 [24 favorites]

Maybe he feels like he'll end up kind of third wheel with you introducing your new love interest and having to entertain a newbie and he'd just rather not. I don't think the way he is acting is the height of etiquette; in fact, I do consider it kind of rude. But, unfortunately, he gets to dictate the level of etiquette that will be observed at his own party. If you want to make a point, and are feeling kind of snubbed, you could drop by early on, leave a bottle of wine, or whiskey, or a potted plant, have one drink and then go out with your girlfriend. "I'd love to stay but I have plans later with girlfriend!"

That's probably what I would do because I'd feel a bit hurt and also, frankly, a bit stupid to be hanging around with all my couple friends while my not-invited significant other is somewhere else? I mean, that is a factor, right? Because someone is going to say, "Where's your girlfriend?" and then you have to say something stupid.
posted by amanda at 1:03 PM on August 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: So on one hand technically it's pretty rude to not invite one half of a couple when other couples are invited. On the other hand, sometimes friends ask us to do imperfect things that will help get them through a painful or uncomfortable situation. I'd probably let this go if it's definitely going to be a one-time thing.
posted by lalex at 1:04 PM on August 5, 2017 [20 favorites]

Response by poster: I figured AskMe was the place to get some thoughtful perspectives. Thanks for the replies, everybody!
posted by Bukvoed at 1:15 PM on August 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

I'm anxious around new people and sometimes weirdly anxious about meeting SO's of good friends. No idea if he feels the same way, but I worry that I might not like the SO or they might not like me, and that might impact the friendship. It also takes a lot of energy to meet a new person, and it's energy I don't always have. I'm also a little intense about having strangers in my home - I like to meet them elsewhere first. Plus, I sometimes get very attached to the idea of a small intimate gathering of people I can really relax with, and when a stranger is tossed into the mix my mood changes from "friendly relaxation" to "how soon can this anxiety-inducing event be over." I have no idea how your friend feels, but these are some things that would definitely be lurking in the back of my mind if I were in their shoes.

Plus if he really does feel uncomfortable about being a 3rd wheel - some people do - I think it's understandable. Maybe not the most polite thing ever, but understandable.

I'd let it go and later invite him to meet your gf in a different setting.
posted by bunderful at 2:02 PM on August 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I feel like generally it's unhelpful to think about stuff with your real friends in terms of etiquette. Etiquette is for smoothing stuff between people who don't really know each other. Empathy is what you give friends. So if a friend is being "rude" but explains to you it's because they're going to feel awkward and uncomfortable if they do something else? Roll with it. The complex rules of manners are there to make interacting simpler, not harder! They're defaults for when you don't know people well enough to talk things over.
posted by Sequence at 2:05 PM on August 5, 2017 [35 favorites]

Seconding quince because no one else seemd to pick up on the part that he's doing it, not because he doesn't know her, but because he didn't want to be the only single person.

But yes, both are true.
posted by Room 641-A at 2:36 PM on August 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

I would drop it, but invite him out to something where your girlfriend is present and so are her single friends. After meeting her he may extend an invite to her to the party as someone he knows, and maybe he won't be feeling so single if he hits it off with someone she knows (ugh, meeting new people is hard so access to a whole new social circle is awesome)
posted by saucysault at 4:03 PM on August 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

It's amusingly insecure. He's essentially made you his date by proxy. If it's going to be the two of you against everyone else for the whole party, then no, it's not exactly rude.
posted by benadryl at 4:21 PM on August 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think he's being ridiculous, to be honest. His reasoning is that he doesn't want to be the only single person there -- really? That's pretty silly. If he doesn't know your girlfriend and he hasn't met her, I can understand where he's coming from -- I just can't believe he actually said that. Not worth starting a fuss over, but your friend is being a bit childish.
posted by AppleTurnover at 4:33 PM on August 5, 2017 [7 favorites]

Just because he gave one explanation doesn't mean that another one can't be just as true. I think it's kinder and easier to say "hey, will you do me a solid and go stag so I'm not the only one at the party" than to say "I don't want to make my party be about you introducing your new girlfriend."
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:00 PM on August 5, 2017 [7 favorites]

His party, his home = his rules. It's not up to him to provide a convenient forum for you to introduce your very new girlfriend. I've been third/fifth/seventh wheel so many times. At my own party when I'm feeling vulnerable about being the only single friend? No thanks.

Until you found this relationship, he was probably relying on you to be his loyal single wingman. Maybe there's a hint of punishment/resentment over that.
posted by wreckofthehesperus at 6:29 PM on August 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

(My response is based on the assumption that your friend is not lying about not wanting to be the only single person at the party, but may have other reasons that are more vulnerable, harder to articulate, and more awkward to explain).
posted by bunderful at 6:42 PM on August 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Look, the truth is none of us can really know. It really hinges on what the reason is that you're worried. Do you think he doesn't want to meet your girlfriend? Do you think your friend group doesn't really care about your love life? Well, yes, if these things are true, then he's not being polite. Politeness means giving a wide berth to other's feelings and going the extra mile to make them comfortable.

There is no magic rule about parties that absolves people of being considerate to each other - for instance to me it's a bit bridezilla to expect everyone in a gathering to worshipfully honor the fact that they moved. And it is rude to say, "look, I only want to have people who I enjoy come to this, and I'm not sure I'm going to like your girlfriend." There is a difference between being honest and being polite, and the older and more genteel people get, the more of a buffer they try to provide others in these types of settings, sometimes at the expense of being direct. But this guy is young so it came out a bit raw.

I'd say let it go. He was polite enough to come up with an explanation that is basically embarrassing to him. He took a little blow in telling you the reason. Don't worry about this, really. This is the stuff that early 20s friend drama is made of. I think it is reasonable to be anxious but if they're your friends, let it go.
posted by benadryl at 6:53 PM on August 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

wtf you invite the person, you invite the couple, crikey what fucking world are you all living in
posted by Caxton1476 at 7:25 PM on August 5, 2017 [7 favorites]

I've been on the wrong end of this sort of thing - because my SO and I aren't married, her dreadful family made a point of excluding me from a number of 'family only' functions. For personal reasons that go beyond the scope of AskMe, she did not have the luxury of telling them to shove it. I hold that shit against them to this day.

Having experienced that, if someone asked me to a party and said 'you can't bring her,' I'd skip the event with a level of grace depending on the nature of the relationship involved. (In the case of a close friend having a hard time, I'd go with 'politely.')
posted by mordax at 7:49 PM on August 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

I am sixty years old. After years of drama within my friends group when one had a falling out with another, or a relative took up with a person the rest of the family hated, my ONLY hard and fast rule about inviting people to my home is that I'm the one who sets the rules. it's my house. I have absolute final say I who I invite and who I don't, full stop. If you disagree, I will graciously accept "Sorry, I won't be able to make it." But that's the ONLY acceptable response. My house, my rules, you get to choose how you respond but not what I do in my own home.
posted by raisingsand at 7:54 PM on August 5, 2017 [6 favorites]

Yeah, I totally 100% disagree with people who say that once you couple up you are now an inherent unit and its implicit that they should/need to be invited to any event that you are invited to also. I think the only exception to this is family functions; I think family should be inclusive because they are your family, and if your family made a point to exclude your significant other, then that's another kettle of fish.

But friends? I'm my own person, and I don't need to bring my SO with me everywhere to hold my hand. My friends aren't a bank account that is now shared between us once I found somebody-- they're my friends, they were my friends first, and I totally get that they may want to hang out only with me sometimes. I totally get they may not like my SO as much as me! Gasp! Yeah, And I'm okay with that. They didn't pick him, I did. It's not a slight on me to not really want him there, sometimes. And I think people over estimate how awesome they are as a unit and how much everyone will love their SO as they do. And having been single while everyone coupled up, it sucks-- auto inviting your partner to an event, sticking together and mostly talking only to each other is rude, PDAs are rude, acting like you're hopped up on giggle juice because you have a new beau and you are so totally in love is infuriating. I'm not saying this is you at all, but this has happened multiple times to me over the years, (and friends who insisted they 'weren't that lovey!' etc, were severely underestimating how much they were) so I can understand why this dude wants to avoid this at his own party.

Go or don't go-- it's fine if you'd rather skip it because you have a girlfriend now and you want to do things together. It's a valid reason to not go. But as for feeling as if he 'should' invite her. Why? See, we're all inherently selfish somewhat, and the core of these opposing views is just that-- selfishness-- but (and I'm going to get hate for this) your reasons are just as selfish as his. You want her there because you're newly in love and it's a nice feeling to spend time with her, to see her-- even you wanting her to meet everyone is also kinda selfish. And he doesn't because he doesn't want to feel like a third wheel to a new couple in love at his new place. But both those reasons are selfish, and one isn't better than the other (although by the comments section, society seems to be on the couples side). But he doesn't owe you, or her, anything. The reason it's grating on you is because you're taking it personally, or viewing it as a slight to her. You want to go to the party, AND you want to bring her, and it's pissing you off he's limited you. I get it, it does kinda suck. But its not about you, or even her; don't take it personally-- its about maintaining his sense of comfort at his own party. That's it. This is 100% acceptable, and I don't personally don't think you should feel angry about those terms. If you would rather spend the night with her, then it's totally okay to reject his terms and just stay home. Unless he starts excluding her constantly, getting righteously angry about this is doing more harm to you than good.

Personally, I'd just go, because I don't need my partner there, and have fun with my friend, who I have empathy for. Not everyone is lucky enough to be coupled, and people don't have a lot of tolerance for this. Then I'd plan my own party or get together, for everyone to meet my SO at, instead.
posted by Dimes at 12:51 AM on August 6, 2017 [7 favorites]

One other thing people don't seem to have mentioned - this is a new home / housewarming party. Friend is presumably throwing it to a) show off his new home to his friends, b) depending on how recent or painful his last breakup was, show off that he is stable now and (literally) in a good place. Like a party to meet the new baby or a get-together on your last day of a job you're leaving, a housewarming is generally a self-affirming occasion where you're partly doing it to get some attention and try out your new state of being for an appreciative audience.

Having a new person there whom no one has met turns his 'look at my new place' party into a 'meet Bukvoed's new girlfriend' party. It's stealing his thunder while he is paying to host.

This is an emotional nuance, not a hard fact - but those are also important. Whatever his inner reason for not wanting your new girlfriend to be there, it's almost certainly nothing to do with her or your relationship, and everything to do with the sort of emotional gathering he is (maybe subconsciously) hoping to have. Throwing a party - even a casual get-together - is fraught for some people as it is. You've only been official with your girlfriend for a month. If your relationship can't survive this evening apart, then that says more about you or your girlfriend than about him.
posted by Mchelly at 4:55 AM on August 6, 2017 [14 favorites]

His party, his rules. Go if you want to and if friends there ask about your squeeze just say "Yep, been seeing [awesome gal] for a few months, it's going well, she's elsewhere tonight but why not come along to [future event] and I'll introduce you!".
posted by freya_lamb at 6:17 AM on August 6, 2017

Technically, its his house, his party, his rules. But his reasoning sounds dram-queenish and petty. I'd politely decline to attend. If he doesn't want to be the only single person, invite more single people for heaven's sake!
posted by WalkerWestridge at 12:29 PM on August 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

"I don't want to be the only one without a plus one at this party, so you should leave yours at home," is something I would laugh at incredulously if my party-hosting good friend said that to me, and I wouldn't go.
posted by emelenjr at 1:14 PM on August 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: My, people can be remarkably ungenerous to single people who are struggling with being single. He told you something painful and vulnerable. He obviously trusts you and considers you a good friend. You can laugh at him, consider him ridiculous or petty or childish or a drama queen, or you can be a friend, empathise with how he's feeling, appreciate that he trusts you like this, and go celebrate his moment.
posted by Mavri at 2:10 PM on August 6, 2017 [14 favorites]

How does your girlfriend feel? Would going to this party without her be tantamount to picking a fight, or does she see it as an opportunity to go do her own thing?

If going would start a fight, well, you should weigh that in the "don't go" column, but at the same time this is something you should probably know about your girlfriend at this stage. Is she okay with you doing your own thing, is she upset at the idea, or is she really upset with you even asking? There might be something to be worked on, and there's no time like this early part of the relationship to suss that out and figure out where her and your boundaries are.
posted by Sunburnt at 2:11 PM on August 6, 2017

I think your friend is being maybe a teeny bit rude, but I also think it is pretty hard to feel like the one single person when all of your friends are coupled up. Especially if there's a fairly recent breakup in the past that he may still be feeling vulnerable about. There will tons of opportunities for your friends group to meet your new girlfriend in the future, I don't think you need to insist on this one. And I do think bringing it up this way is way more about your friend sharing with you that's he's feeling sensitive/vulnerable than about any personal slight against you or your GF.
posted by rainbowbrite at 4:49 PM on August 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

His party, his rules.

He's your friend. It's up to you to figure out either how to tell your new GF that she's not invited to the party, or else to tell your friend that you won't attend. This isn't a job for a referee. You can thank him later.

Good luck.
posted by mule98J at 11:37 AM on August 7, 2017

Yeah, it's a bit rude that he's asked you not to bring your gf, but it's also understandable that he doesn't want to be the 7th or 9th or 11th wheel. For the folks suggesting he simply invite some single friends - presumably he doesn't have any single friends, otherwise he would - and if most of his friends (all besides the OP, till recently) are coupled up, it could help explain why he's sick of being the 7th or 9th or 11th wheel.
posted by whitelily at 3:18 AM on August 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

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