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I am a 19 years old male from Canada. I have this friend (Let's call her Alice) who I've known for a few years. Since both our birthdays are on the same date and we have a lot of friends in common, we've been celebrating our birthday party together for the past years.

This year, we plan to do the same but there's a problem. Alice recently (about 1 to 2 months ago) broke up with her boyfriend of 2 years (Let's call him Steve). Steve is a close friend of mine, he's part of our mutual friend group, he has been there at most of our birthday parties and I really want him to be there this year. However, when I told this to Alice over the phone, she said after a long silence that she'd rather not invite him but that she will think about it.

My question is : How can I sensitively talk to my friend about my desire to invite her ex to our party?

I feel it's unfair not to invite him just because he's her ex. He was a part of our friend group before they started dating and he's friends with pretty much everyone we want to invite at the party. Also, the party will take place in a downtown bar and there will be a lot of people, so even if he's there, they can simply limit their interactions and enjoy their night with the other people they want to see. They had no problem doing this at the house party for the birthday of a friend in our mutual friend group. However, I do understand that it's her birthday party this time so she doesn't want to deal with having her ex around in the same bar she's in but I think it's necessary to compromise, given the circumstances.

UPDATE :

Here's what happened : I stopped trying to convince Alice to invite Steve. During the day before the party, Steve kept messaging me saying that he really wanted to show up even if he was not invited. I told him it was a bad idea and that he should at least ask Alice instead of showing up unannounced. He asked Alice and she told him that as long as they did not interact, she would not mind him being there. So Steve came to the party, it was a great night, everyone had fun and since then, it seems like they've been able to attend the same events without being annoyed by the presence of each other.

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    Do you want Steve or Alice at the party - that is the question. – Jon Custer Mar 1 '18 at 16:34
  • @JonCuster I want both, that's the point. – OfficialQueensbridgeMurderers Mar 1 '18 at 16:54
  • Is Alice a co-host of the party, or simply a guest? – Em C Mar 1 '18 at 17:07
  • She's the co-host, that's why i can't take the decision without her approval – OfficialQueensbridgeMurderers Mar 1 '18 at 17:19
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For most occasions the best policy to have when two people in your friend group have dated is that they will both still be invited but it is up to them to sort out if they have issues seeing each other, not the group. The group shouldn't be responsible for their intimate drama, and that's an expectation of about any friend group in normal circumstances.

However, because this is her birthday, maybe the best solution is to allow her to set the tone for her own birthday. Explain to her that you feel they could easily avoid each other at the bar, but let her decide if she wants Steve there.

You said:

They had no problem doing this at the house party for the birthday of a friend in our mutual friend group. However, I do understand that it's her birthday party this time so she doesn't want to deal with having her ex around in the same bar she's in but I think it's necessary to compromise, given the circumstances.

This is a very fair assessment you've made. The best you can do is tell Alice that you'd really like to invite Steve, and let her decide if she's okay with that.

If she says no, maybe you can suggest separating your parties this year. One for her, without Steve, and one for you, where you invite both of them. You could also propose this to her by saying:

"If you don't want Steve to come for your party, would you be okay with having separate parties this year? I understand how you might be uncomfortable and I'm okay with that, but for my party I'd like to not exclude Steve since he's a good friend of mine as well."

It might be less convenient than usual, but this is the best way to respect your friends wishes for her own birthday, should she still not want to invite Steve.

  • Your'e right. I'll tell her why I think it's unfair not to invite Steve, but if she's still reluctant, I'll just go out with the boys (and Steve) friday and the big party (with Alice) will be saturday. – OfficialQueensbridgeMurderers Mar 1 '18 at 21:58
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Maybe you should sit down with yourself and have a little empathy session. Consider how much of a downer it is going to be for your friend if her ex is there and weigh it against how much of a downer it is going to be for you if her ex is not there. Than give her a little bit more, since Alice really seems to have strong feelings against him coming. I am tending to think it could be more then a downer for Alice, more like a spoiler.

You're friends with both, you know the nature of the break up. If it is going to be a downer/spoiler for your friend, then be cool and let this one go, especially if there is some chance of an incident between the two of them. Smooth it over with her ex by having a talk with him. He might actually be really OK with it. Since you're close friends with Steve do it over a little birthday lunch or dinner.

If you decide to split the parties over this I would think Alice would be offended and you would run a risk of losing her friendship. Joint birthdays are a very cool thing.

To be honest with you I am getting a feeling you're being a little self centered about this thing. You're trying to put something that you want, over something that Alice may need at this time. I don't think there is any sensitive way to do that. Whatever way you approach it you're going to suffer some fall out with Alice or Steve. If Steve is a good guy he will get it and you will still have a friendship with him. Alice on the other hand: you're running a high risk of really hurting her feelings.

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