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An acquaintance visits my city for 1-2 weeks every few months because her boyfriend lives here and wants all of three of us to meet up together. I'm fine with her, but do not like her boyfriend, because he behaves passive aggressively towards me (but she is oblivious to it). How do I decline her requests politely? I have met them a few times before. I don't want to give the generic "I'm too busy right now" because it seems too obvious, is there a better excuse?

To clarify, I would like to avoid meeting her, to avoid this whole situation alltogether.

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    Do you care if you see her, or continue your relationship, or is it ok with you if the two of you become less close and she no longer wants to see you when she visits? – Kate Gregory Mar 21 '18 at 21:49
  • I meant I would like to distance myself towards her. – bookish_bob Mar 21 '18 at 21:51
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If you want to let a relationship lapse, my answer to a previous question may be valuable in creating distance and gracefully ending a relationship.

Specifically:

Avoid giving justification or indicating you are interested in spending time with this person in the future.

If/when this person contacts you via social media/texting/messaging channels, don't respond immediately, don't ask questions or extend/expand conversations (this applies to in person one on one conversations as well).

Relationships between people, including friendships, require effort to maintain. Unless this person has a specific desire to develop a friendship with you and is extremely persistent about it, your lack of effort or response will discourage this person from putting effort in.

The "I am too busy" excuse is a polite social standard way to decline an invitation and there is nothing wrong with using it multiple times. If you are against giving the same response each time, you could word it differently each time though, cite upcoming deadlines, new responsibilities, recent colds, using little white lies or exaggeration to add some variety to your declination.

When you get these invitations to spend time with your acquaintance and her partner, wait to respond, a day or maybe more.

The idea is to gradually ramp up the amount of effort required to reach and interact with you until it is not worth the other's time. If you are still getting invites after declining with late messages, try not responding until the day of the meeting, after the meeting date, or not at all. Very few people care to repeatedly try talking to somebody who doesn't respond.

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It sounds like you have multiple priorities here. Mostly, it sounds like you have a group of friends that held on from an earlier time, and your acquaintance is trying to reunite the group, but you don't really feel a desire anymore to socialize with the acquaintance and her boyfriend.

To just distance yourself from her (and him), just respond that you won't have time this time, but you hope she's well. This should result in your goal of not spending time with them, and making it less likely that you are on her regular rotation of visits. If seeing her becomes rare (i.e. she stops inviting you), this is either a win for you or, if it's too rare, you can invite her for coffee when she's next around.

Bringing up that you don't enjoy spending time with the boyfriend would lead to more communication, which is the opposite of distancing yourself from her. To have more enjoyable group reunions, either meet with your acquaintance without the boyfriend or push back the next time the boyfriend is passive aggressive (e.g. "Wow." or "What was that about?").

In theory, you could involve mutual friends: "I feel like boyfriend acts like a jerk to me sometimes. If he does, could you tell him to knock it off?" or "Boyfriend acts like a jerk sometimes, but I want to catch up with acquaintance. Could you help set up a hangout where we're likely to see acquaintance but not boyfriend?"

  • Sorry if I confused you with the original post but it's actually just the 3 of us, there is no other group involved. I've edited the post to make it clearer. – bookish_bob Mar 21 '18 at 23:44
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    I do like your ideas if this was in a group setting though. I'll keep that in mind if a situation ever happens with a group dynamic like this. – bookish_bob Mar 21 '18 at 23:50
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I think you have enough moral authority here to just flat out decline any further meetups with the two of them.

Let me try to explain by stepping into the boyfriends shoes, having been in this socially awkward position a few times when some GF wants me to meet up with a male buddy of hers.

I am meeting some guy, whom I don't know, whom I may or may not like, that for some reason and at some level has an interest in my girlfriend and/or my girlfriend has an interest in him, that I do not understand at this point. I don't know him, I don't understand his inner motives, I have no reason to trust him. All these things more or less biologically driven make me at best uncomfortable about the whole situation. I will be defensive, a little alpha male might surface in the way of passive aggression. It is never going to be a fun light hearted night, whatever conversation I might engage you in will more likely then not be trying. I am there to spend time with my girl, not spend time with you, and I sort of resent you being there. I may not be hostile or jealous or any of those, I am just not doing what I want to be doing. And its your fault.

Actually it is more his girlfriends fault. She thinks you a good person and has no clue that her boyfriend won't share that sentiment with her. Just tell her the truth, that it is awkward between you and her boyfriend and decline the invitation. If you feel like it, maybe counter the invite with a meet up for lunch or coffee if she has some free time. From my experience it is almost futile to try explaining it to her.

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