"I want to invite you, but your boyfriend's a drag"

I’m going to have a very fancy dinner out for my 30th birthday, and I have a core group of people I’d like to invite. So far, there will be my husband and 3 people all from the same social circle. There’s another person from a separate social circle I’d like to invite but I don’t think I should because of her boyfriend.

She’s one of our closest friends, and we normally don’t keep anything from each other. Her boyfriend is a nice enough guy, but he’s prone to temper tantrums and is very loud. He also takes joy in having a very inappropriate sense of humor, which is usually hilarious, but the idea of having him at a fancy-ass dinner makes me cringe. My friend usually takes on his traits when they’re together (fabulously obnoxious, very witty, and very loud), but alone, she will blend in with whatever group she’s with.

In the past, I’ve mentioned the dinner in passing to my friend, but I haven’t sent out formal invites or anything. When I mentioned it to her, I honestly didn’t think about the vibe her boyfriend brings to the group.

So, my idea is to bow out and tell my friend that I wish she could come, but I could only get reservations for 6 people (it’s a private club, so this is very believable), and then do something separate with them later. However, I spoke with my husband and he feels differently. He thinks that we’re so close with our friend that we can tell her that we think her boyfriend doesn’t seem comfortable with us. We can tell her that we’d love to have her, but we don’t think her boyfriend would have a good time. I think that there’s NEVER a way to tell a girl that you think her boyfriend sucks and have the relationship stay the same. Aside from that, I think that she’ll insist that he’s totally comfortable with us, and he’d love to come.

Oh, and a quick modifier: I invited everyone, so I plan to pay for everyone. Having to pay for fewer people has a definite appeal, but I wouldn’t exclude anyone just because of money. This is a few months out, and I’ve been squirreling away money, but having to save up a little less money would be a nice bonus.

So, what say you? Should I…

a) Invite my friend and trust her to be her boyfriend’s handler?
b) Do something separately with them and make an excuse as to why they’re not invited to dinner?
c) Try to invite her sans boyfriend using my husband’s technique?
d) Stop celebrating my birthday?
e) Do something else or a combination of any of the options above?

How serious is their relationship?

f) Be honest with friend and ask if she can ask him to be mellow?

Not sure if that’s something that would work in this case, but as another option to consider.

I don’t think any good can come from telling her about her boyfriend. I don’t think it is right to invite her with the stipulation that she can’t bring him, it would put her in an akward position of explaining to him why he can’t come.

I think the best approach is to either bite the bullet and invite them both, or decide that this isn’t the best venue for them and do something else with them later.

If you are truly worried that he will embarrass himself and your friends, than you are not doing anyone any favors by inviting them. A small lie to spare everyone’s feelings IMHO is the best approach.

I think you’re right on both counts. And my experience has been that if you tell her you don’t like her BF, you probably will not see her BF again. Of course, that’s because you won’t see her again, either, so it’s not really a win-win.

My vote (we are voting, right?) is you don’t invite her.

Just to expand on my earlier post, I wasn’t saying to say that her boyfriend SUCKS. From the OP it seems that him “sucking” or being “a drag” was meant mainly in hyperbole. By being honest I, of course, meant without the hyperbole.

There are lots of people who are perfectly self-aware that they are loud, gregarious people with a dirty sense of humor–and who are cool with that. Explaining that you’re going to have some uptight friends along who and “do you think he could ckeep it clean for them…?” etc. will, dependent on the person be no problem at all. Whether he is such a person I’ve no idea; but as said it is something to consider.

Is there any chance that they’ll recognize that they need to “behave” because it’s a fancy place? Some people do tone it down when the situation calls for it.

Invite her and the boyfriend. Tell the boyfriend that you aren’t sure how people are expected to behave in such snooty surrounds but you plan to keep it pretty lowkey so that you don’t look like a pack of assholes. Ask him in a light hearted manner whether he thinks he can manage this, “You know that you’re the worst of us usually! If you can fake it we should be right.”

Tell him that you will be really pissed off, no… REALLY PISSED OFF, if he lets you down. Tell him you will all let your hair down at… later.

You can’t tell your friend you think her SO is obnoxious. You can’t tell the SO you think he’s obnoxious. And you can’t invite one-half of an established couple to a sit-down social dinner and not invite the other half too. So I agree with those who say that your choices are either invite them both and hope for the best or don’t invite them. (I’m not sure how “making plans to do something with her later” fits in.)

But I’m afraid I personally think your choices are more limited than that. That’s because you say this person is “one of your closest friends” AND you’ve already told her about the dinner that you’re planning. If you don’t invite her, she is going to wonder why they have been left out and she’s probably going to be hurt. (And she won’t be less hurt to hear that it’s just a small dinner party and space would not allow her to be invited; that just means she hasn’t made the cut of being an important enough friend to merit an invitation.)

So I think you have to invite her and the BF and hope for the best. My only advice is that after you’ve invite them, you talk up the dinner party to her in terms of how you’re really looking forward to an “elegant dinner” with “quiet conversation” with your dearest friends – or some words to that effect strongly implying your expectation that everyone will be on their best behavior. If she’s smart, she will understand the vibe you’re going for and take steps to reign the BF in. If she doesn’t have the ability to reign him in, I still think you just make the best of it.

Ooh … this is a tricky one for you.

I think your only option is (a), since she is such a close friend. If she’s as close as you say, PERHAPS you could talk to her privately beforehand and explain that this dinner is really important to you, and you’re looking forward to celebrating in style, and that, although it’s kind of an awkward thing to ask, that while normally you enjoy her b/f’s outgoing personality, does she feel comfortable asking him to tone it down at dinner, for your sake?

(please excuse the long sentence - I haven’t had any coffee yet this morning).

I agree with Jodi. Sorry, but I think you burned your bridges when you told her you were having the dinner; there isn’t any polite way to talk about a party in front of someone and then not invite them.

You might be able to pull off something like telling her “Of course, Chuck is invited too if you think he’d enjoy it, but it’s going to be very formal and quiet, and I didn’t know whether he enjoys that sort of party or not. What do you think?” As long as you phrase it so that it’s a question of his comfort level and not yours, you might at least get her to reflect on whether inviting him would be a good idea (but you’d still be stuck with whatever she decides – I don’t think there’s any polite way to get out of that).

I agree with Jodi.

And I feel your pain. A good friend of ours just got engaged to a woman that none of his friends even likes.

Jodi has it right. You can’t use the space excuse with one of your closest friends unless you don’t care about hurting their feelings. The only thing to do is to REALLY play up the elegant, theme. Talk about buying a nice dress for the occasion, how posh the place is, etc. Make it sound like a really high class affair and that you’re really looking forward to a low-key, SOPHISTICATED dinner.

If you have kids then you could spin it so that it’s nice to do something elegant, sophisticated that you haven’t been able to do for a long long time. Say “oh, I just hope everything goes well, I’d be so disappointed to have this night spoiled.” But don’t say it in an accusing way.

I can’t think of one right off the top of my head, but BEFORE you send the invitations for your birthday, could you rent a movie with an elegant dinner scene (probably an old one) and invite them over to watch and then talk enthusiastically about how much your looking forward to doing something like that for your birthday? They’d know exactly what you’re expecting then.

So, why should you be worried about your friend’s boyfriend’s behaviour at all? If he’s load and belligerent it will reflect negatively on him, not you.

You would be embarrassed by someone else’s behaviour? I know I certainly wouldn’t. Invite them. So what if he’s a jerk? You’re not responsible in any way for his behaviour. I don’t get it. Go. Have fun. Relax a little.

probably for the same reason i didn’t invite my alcoholic ex-stepfather to my wedding – i wanted a nice occasion where i didn’t have to get the crap annoyed out of me because someone was acting like a loud-mouthed asshole, ruining the general atmosphere.

there’s nothing inherently wrong in wanting to enjoy a special occasion on your own terms once in a while.

I’m sorry I’m not going to quote people directly because I’ve got to try to make it quick (posting at work is fraught with peril!).

They have been living together for about a year and a half so yes, they’re very serious. My husband and I are both very happy that she’s found someone she fits so well with and it’s usually never an issue. If this event was at a bar with Karaoke, a concert, or a loud restaurant, the boyfriend would be an absolute riot. He is genunely interesting and fun.

However, last year when I had the exact same group together for my birthday, the boyfriend sequestered himself on one side of the room, and everyone else was on the other side. I had to play the go-between hostess and I didn’t dig it. And I do believe that while his behavior doesn’t reflect badly on me, I do think that the group vibe is much better without him. As a whole, he just doesn’t share any interests with the rest of the group. I also try to be a good hostess and bring everyone together, but it hasn’t worked in the past and I hate dividing my time between two factions of such a small group.

It is 100% my fault that I mentioned this to her without thinking. I’m usually much more savvy than that, but I was so jazzed about getting an invite to the club that I wanted to share. If that means that I have to pony up and invite both of them, well, I’m going to do the right thing. However, I think I see an option f.

There is me, my husband, and 3 other people that make up our usual group for a total of 5 people. If I say I could only make reservations for 6 (I can actually make reservations up to 8), I could tell her that we’d love to have her, but there’s only one spot and we completely understand if she doesn’t want to come without her boyfriend. It’s horrifically manipulative. It’s something I wouldn’t normally dream of doing, but I’m starting to feel weasely enough to try it. Is there a downside to this that I’ve not thought of?

Yeah, but you’re not the hostess this time. You’re going to a club. It’s your friend’s boyfriend with whom you would normally get along.

I think you’re worried about him making a scene and embarrassing you. He won’t. He’ll embarrass himself. Personally I’d invite him. It’s only a few hours in one evening, no? What’s the big deal?

Maybe I’m being totally unselfish here, but I would rather invite them both and not have to lie than try to weasel out of it somehow. How bad is this guy? Is he going to get drunk and start a food fight, or just tell off-colour jokes and laugh out loud once in a while?

You can’t live life feeling responsible for everyone else’s actions, unless maybe they’re your kids. Invite them both. Go. Have fun. What’s the worst that could happen? And even if it did, so what?

I don’t want to speak for my wife at all on this one, and I think all of the responses in here so far have been constructive. I just want to make one point in contribution to the ongoing discussion:

It’s not just “one evening”: it’s her birthday. I don’t think it’s wrong for her to not want to worry about whether her guests are getting along as well as they should since the night is supposed to be about her.

That’s just my two cents; please carry on.

If she’s doing the inviting and paying, she’s the hostess.

Personally, I don’t think that I’d be comfortable lying about the reservation number. But that’s because I know I’m a bad liar, and I bet the truth would come out. If you’re confident in your abilities, then it might work.

I agree that the official polite thing to do is to invite both of them as a couple, and that you should definitely not tell either the boyfriend or the friend about his shortcomings in certain social situations. It’s a tough situation.

This is weasely, which is not a criticism. Who doesn’t appreciate a good weasel? And it just might work. But the obvious potential downside is that she knows or finds out that you could have invited eight.

At this point, though, I’m not really sure about your concern. It sounds like first you were concerned that he might be too lively, but your last post makes it sound like last time he just sat there like an antisocial lump. If the latter is really the problem, then I do think you can talk to your friend, provided you phrase it as concern for him, not concern for yourself – that you want him to have a good time, not that you’re afraid you won’t if he comes. Honestly, maybe the sort of upscale dinner you’re contemplating just isn’t his thing and he’d love to skip it anyway. So you can certainly talk to your friend: “I’d love to have you and Bob come to dinner for my birthday, but last year he didn’t seem to enjoy himself. He sort of sat off by himself and didn’t really have much to say, remember? He’s very welcome to come, but I don’t want him to feel like he has to if he’d rather not. What do you think? And you know you have to come either way!” A little of this “worrying about him” and your friend will hopefully get that either he can stay home or he can come and not be Mr. Mopey all night long. The other issue – that he has three Stingers in a row and is on the table belting out “Volare” while wearing a lampshade – is IMO harder to broach with the GF. Then you might drop back to Plan B (whether that’s gritting your teeth or weaseling).