My partner has a friend from way-back, T. We sometimes hang out with him and his family and go on day trips together. I've known them for 5 years but the contact is not always as frequent.

While we both ran into T, my partner was invited to a BBQ for T's birthday. He specifically mentioned I shouldn't come, as it's a 'guys only thing'. I was totally fine with that and planned something else that day.

That day is nearly coming and a mutual friend of us and T asks me if I'm coming to the BBQ, since his girlfriend was invited but she wanted to know if I planned on going. This mutual friend mentioned T specifically said his girlfriend could come, and that a couple of other girls would be there too.

My partner asked T again and again he said 'guys only', so it seems he is not including me specifically, on purpose. I feel hurt by this and want to know the reason behind it, but I feel 'above' causing a scene over this. I will not attend the BBQ or see him before that time. My partner says that I should just ask T myself and that he's not going to 'get in between this'.

How can I ask T why I was not included without causing a scene or being too confronting?

EDIT

So the BBQ happened. My partner went, I did not. I did not ask T why I was not invited yet because I didn't want it to look like I was pushing for an invite and planned on asking later. Now I wasn't there, but according to my partner T said some of the guys were 'not allowed' to come if their girlfriends couldn't come, so he said they could bring their girlfriends, but he wasn't happy about that at all. He told my partner he was happy I wasn't so 'clingy'. My partner mentioned I was very confused about the situation but didn't want to create a fuzz about it and T sent me a message during the BBQ to say thanks for respecting his guys only wishes. I think it's still an odd situation but I'm going to take the personal thank you message as sincere and just try to continue the friendship.

I have no reason to suspect my partner being the 'bad' guy in this situation, he's usually fine with just saying it if he needs some time with his friends. We can talk about that stuff openly so I don't see why he wouldn't this time.

12 Answers 12

up vote 52 down vote accepted

T saying:

guys only thing

and discovering

This mutual friend mentioned T specifically said his girlfriend could come

is clearly a conflict of logic.


You are rightfully intrigued as to why you are being omitted from this social event and you should be rightfully upset with your boyfriend for being OK with this in the presence of such a conflicting situation.

Your boyfriend claiming that he's not going to "get in between this" signals to me that he may have some hunches as to why you are being omitted.

I think that you should have an open-minded open forum discussion with your boyfriend and ask him if he has any ideas as to why this situation is happening.

Quite honestly, if I was your boyfriend then I would have rescinded my acceptance of the invitation in light of the conflicting information.

Your boyfriend needs to be willing to approach T and say "I would really like my girlfriend to come to the BBQ. I understand that other girls will be present." Based on T's response your boyfriend should be willing to relay something back to you.


Addendum per the comments:

There is a possibility that your boyfriend may not want you to be present at the BBQ so he could have asked T to not invite you or he is simply OK with the current circumstance.

Before jumping to this conclusion you should give him the benefit of the doubt and use the ideas from my initial answer to get an answer.

It is really up to you to gauge the circumstance but if it turns up that there is no good reason for you not being invited then it could be time to shed this poor excuse of a boyfriend.

Is it possible to find out why I was not included without causing a scene?

I'm afraid this is not really possible (in my experience). I've been excluded from similar gathering countless times in my life, and I never got a straight answer to the question "why?".

I got my own answers, sure, by growing up I was able to analyse the situation from a "distance" and see that the political situation and the fact that I was born in the "wrong place" made me the automatic target for many, still, it was nothing anyone was ready to admit or discuss.

Your situation is most likely different, but you still have to consider the chance that T has no desire to discuss the reasons (be that he does not like you, or that he perceives that you made him a wrong in the past, or whatever) that brought him to decide not to invite you, also given the fact that he is trying to hide the fact that he is not inviting you specifically (and that he has no reason to expect he would not be found out on the day of the BBQ).

without being confronting?

Since he invited your boyfriend, he could mention that he has "heard that mutual friend's girlfriend has been invited, has there been a change of plan?" This could give the chance to T to change your status from uninvited to invited without creating a fuzz (or to un-invite your friend).

From personal experience, any choice that involves "why did you not invite me/my girlfriend?" will not lead to straight answers, and possibly more resentment in the future (he will not like the feeling of being "exposed", you will not like the feeling of being treated like the "idiot that would not have found out")

You can go "conflict aversion", or you can go "rock and hard place": When your boyfriend gets there and sees your mutual friend's girlfriend there, he need to query "Huh, you told Jane and I this was guys-only... Guess we won't be watching the Baywatch slow-motion specials then?" - T then has a choice between saying "Oh, that changed because", or straight out admitting he was specifically excluding you

(Feel free to substitute other embarrassing "lads-night" item/activity, or "I'd have dressed up for the ladies")

The point being made is there are social norms that differ in mixed company, and T is being a bad host by setting the expectations wrong.
It's as much a faux pas as if he'd told you and your boyfriend that it was a black-tie affair, but told your mutual friends to turn up in jeans-and-t-shirt, and T needs to understand that this is wrong, he is not being "sneaky" or "clever", and people will calll him out on it.

Ask about the event after it has happened.

You are looking for specific information that T has gone out of his way to avoid having to provide to you. In that context, I'm not sure that there is a non-confrontational way to get that information, as T is working to avoid expressing it directly.

It will seem more confrontational to ask ahead of the BBQ because you will have a hard time avoiding the impression that you are trying to get yourself invited.

If your true objective is just to know why you were (to all appearance) excluded, asking afterwards both avoids the invitation-seeking element and also makes it more plausible that you would be aware of the difference between what you and your friends were told-- it would be normal to hear something about the event from someone who attended, while your boyfriend asking T again has already "used up" the opportunity to casually double-check ahead of time. Repeated inquiries which imply T is lying to you are neither casual nor non-confrontational.

As for what to say, it would be easy to mention that Sara, Beth, and Emily had told you about the event, and you hope T wasn't too disappointed that his "guys only" event was crashed by women. In general, if you want to be less confrontational you will probably have to be more accepting of what T tells you at face-value. Forcing him to resolve a contradiction is inherently a confrontation.

Addendum: There is a big difference between asking a question and getting a reliably accurate answer. If your true objective is only to ask, then my advice above stands. If you are instead focused on getting the true reason (or reasons) for being excluded, or are hoping to attend the BBQ, my advice would be different (and would likely require confrontation).

  • Thanks! The reason why I mostly want to know what is up is because I'm scared I've done something to upset him, but I have no idea what that is. I can't 'fix' it if he doesn't tell me what's up. – Summer May 7 at 7:41

My partner says that I should just ask T myself and that he's not going to 'get in between this'.

Wow. No, your partner is wrong. He is the one who is friends with T, he needs to ask. It might just be a misunderstanding.

Personally, I think he needs to think long and hard about what it would mean for him to go if it turns out that you were singled out to be excluded.

First of all, do you actually want to know why you're not invited, if it turns out to be something you won't be happy about and/or can't work on changing?

While it's possible that there's some underlying reason you aren't invited that is open to being improved, it may also just be easier to accept that you aren't invited, take that at face value, and move on from there.

If you do want to dig into this potential can of worms, you do have an opening

Which would be to simply let T know that

…a mutual friend of us and T asks me if I'm coming to the BBQ, since his girlfriend was invited but she wanted to know if I planned on going. This mutual friend mentioned T specifically said his girlfriend could come, and that a couple of other girls would be there too.

You can simply present this to T non confrontationally and allow T's answer to speak for how you move forward from there.

For example

Hey T, I was talking to M, and he said his girlfriend wanted to know if I would be at the BBQ too, since she's planning on going and was looking forward to maybe seeing me there. I was a bit confused, since last we talked it was going to be a guys only thing, so I told M I hadn't been invited so far as I knew, but let me know if that's not right since I don't have anything else planned yet, and…

which can be followed with any number of statements indicating your interest, such as "I always like all of us hanging out together", "I'd rather set the time aside for you", "I haven't seen you in awhile and thought it would be a fun chance to catch up", etc.

This is one way of basically saying "look, I know you said this at the time, but now I'm hearing things from other people that conflict with that, so I'd like to know what's going on." This also doesn't lean on assumptions, particularly not negative ones regarding T, so it hopefully shouldn't put him into a place where he feels a need to act defensive, and leaves some easy openings for resolution if T wants an out for this. The last thing you want to do is make accusations based on what are no better than assumptions as to someone else's intentions especially when the situation is this unclear: focus on the impact to you of just what is immediately visible from your perspective, and keep it in that context.

For this to work, you have to genuinely approach it from a position of this being about your own confusion, versus one of making accusations based on assumptions you're arriving at due to the discrepancy. I also feel like the best approach is one of positivity (e.g. feeling like it would be fun to attend) rather one that opens up about your negative feelings such as of being left out. If you want to go there later that's up to you depending on how things go, but if I wanted this to resolve nicely I'd avoid it until it was clear that there would not be a nice resolution either way, personally.

It sometimes helps to remind yourself of that positive posturing (either just mentally or even aloud) before starting conversations where you're currently feeling some hurt based on the negative feelings of where things are at right now (left out) and any negative potential assumptions that have formed in your own mind.

T's either going to say that plans changed/snowballed out of control and you're invited/may as well come now too, that you're actually not invited because of some other reason, or he may just try to blow past it. If there's something else going on he may even get defensive anyway. All you can control in this is how you present yourself and your side, and keeping that focused in you rather than turning to assumptions about T.

If it's not one of the first two, you're going to have to either

  • be more directly confrontational. I would still suggest posturing it as something more related to your own perspective rather than assigning malice or other assumed actions to T, like:

well this doesn't really make sense to me, it seems like a direct contradiction that this is what I'm told but this is who is going, and being faced with that contradiction is making me feel singled out, so if there's something else going on please just be up front* with me because that's better than being left to my own imagination on what it could possibly be

(* I used "up front" rather than "honest" because some people are quicker to take the latter as you accusing them of being dishonest)

  • or you're going to have to draw whatever conclusions you want to based on the behavior that's visible and move on from there.

T could choose to invite you after being presented with the discrepancy and tell you it's just a change of plans that never got communicated back to you, and you're going to have to decide whether you trust that to be the simple truth or not, and if not what that means for your friendship, because it's unlikely that ratcheting up the confrontation in regards to that would lead to anything either more truthful or of a positive outcome between you.

2 options :

  • T. is friends with the other girls that are invited and wants to be only with first-degree friends. He didn’t want to hurt your feelings so he made up this “guys only” rule. In that case, T. is not very delicate but you shouldn’t feel hurt. Maybe your bf could say, “Oh but I thought it was guys only?” when he’ll see the other girls. T. will certainly feel uncomfortable and I believe it’s enough. Maybe he’ll get some additional info, maybe not and that doesn’t matter.

  • T. doesn’t want you to come at his BBQ. Maybe you hurt him in the past, maybe he simply doesn’t like you or you bf’s behaviour when you’re around. Maybe T. noticed that you get all his friend's attention when you’re together and he would love to spend some time with him alone.

In that case, I wouldn’t bother either. You should not make a drama out of it and you should not feel hurt if your bf goes to his BBQ. It’s his friend after all. It doesn’t matter if every one of his friends likes you and/or wants to spend time with you.

Actually I think it’s great not to share every friend.

  • Welcome! Thanks for posting this answer! Ideally answers here dig into the underlying interpersonal skills that are involved. You do a great job demonstrating some of those skills by coming up with possible reasons for T's behavior, and I think that your last two sentences especially provide good insight for this question. None of the other answers address the idea that it can be healthy to build and maintain separate relationships from a partner, and that might be something you could expand on. :) – cactus_pardner May 4 at 18:57

Without knowing any more nuanced details than what you've given, I would still say that this is a discussion for you and your partner.

T is primarily your partner's friend, not yours and your partner needs to take responsibility for getting a straight answer from T by asking these two questions:

Partner: Hey T, I heard that other girls/girlfriends were invited to the event. Is that correct?

Partner: Mind if I bring my gf then?

Make clear to your partner that this is not your responsibility to figure out, and that as your partner, he should be willing to talk to his friend to clarify this simple point.

If your partner asks and you are still denyed an invite while other girls are invited, AND your boyfriend doesn't let this stop him from attending, then you need to have a separate discussion with him about why he's ok with his friend acting inhospitable toward both of you.

I wouldn't go if someone told me that other guys' girlfriends are invited but not mine!!!!

To answer your question, with the assumption that your partner doesn't know the reason, I will start with my partner and ask him if T said anything about me or if I did something that might exclude me from the invitation.

If I didn't get an answer, then you have to ask T. But, before you ask him you have to ask yourself 2 questions:

1- Is T an important person to my life that I want to know why he didn't invite me? Or can i live with it because I don't care?

2- Is T the kind of person that cares and understands? After all your dignity > all.

  • 2
    Welcome to IPS! One of the goals is to be able to explain the Interpersonal Skills necessary to solve a problem. You could make this into a great answer by expanding your reasoning in an edit: why would you not go, and how might you bring this up to your friend? – cactus_pardner May 4 at 19:43

All of the above are decent answers, but I feel like the answers have become over complicated. Put it like this... If you want to know why you weren't invited while other girls are, ask the host/birthday boy exactly this! "I was wondering why I am being excluded while other's girlfriends are not? I'd understand if your BBQ were actually going to be an all guys thing, but my girls are all asking me why I'm not coming, because they are all going, and honestly my feelings are a little hurt. Did I do something to upset you?"

Be sure to add, "I don't want to be where I am not welcome, however, I feel it's only fair that I know why I am not welcome when everyone else is."

You need to do this in a calm, humble, non-confrontational manner. I'm tempted agree with the statement by MemoryOfHers... Why would causing a scene be necessary? No one wants to include someone who is pushy or who tries to invite themselves, much less someone volatile or unstable! Think about it. This is why you make sure you reduce the tension with the above statement... Don't try to force your way in. You're likely to get a more truthful response and perhaps even an invite if you remove the notion of crashing the party and are pleasant. Head down... Tail between legs... No barking.

Put yourself in T's shoes... If you were having your birthday party and didn't want T there, and invited everyone else but him, and T confronted you, what would be going through your mind? Would you be irritated? Would you have to have a great reason to exclude someone on YOUR BIRTHDAY?(HINT HINT! JUST AN IDEA).

Your boyfriend telling you he's not getting in the middle is a pretty clear indication that there is some underlying reason you have been excluded. Do you really want to know why? What if it's because T finds you irritating annoying? Do you actually think you can handle the truth? Sometimes it's best to let sleeping dogs lie.

Everything else aside, your boyfriend is seemingly too passive, and honestly, kind of a jerk for planning on going without you while others are bringing their chicks... Unless he's trying to plan a surprise party for you or something; In which case, your girls wouldn't be asking you if you were coming, nor would they be doing so in celebration of some other persons birthday BBQ!

If you really want to go, ask T, "When am I supposed to give you your gift if not at your party?"

Lay on the guilt.

Good luck. Keep Calm and Make Awesome, jealousy provoking solo plans!

I feel 'above' causing a scene over this

This is related to why you were not invited. You signal that you are above T intellectually, and you might have missed how it affects T.

How can I ask T why I was not included without causing a scene or being too confronting?

Well this is simpler than you might have thought; I mean, look at the question, the answer is embedded within the question... First you ask, politely and without prejudice, then, you don't make a scene when T responds. You respectfully accept his answer.

  • 2
    Welcome! I think you're misreading the idiom about feeling above doing something, in terms of maturity and morals; in this case, it doesn't imply anything about what OP thinks T would do. Also, I'm not sure your simple answer adds much if you don't explain the reasoning behind it: one of the Interpersonal Skills SE principles is to focus on the interpersonal skills behind the answer, not just tell people what to do. (Easier said than done, I know.) The more you stick around, the more these norms will make sense. :) – cactus_pardner May 7 at 3:29

Unless you become really obnoxious or assertive about party behavior, it seems odd T would even care if you came. If you are a party spoiler that is your answer. Otherwise one more gf of a friend should just not be important one way or the other to a guy.

Otherwise, the uninvite could very well have come from T's gf, if you do not get along with her. On the dark side, your SO may have a new/old/possible gf coming to the party and T is helping him out.
Good luck

  • 1
    Welcome to IPS SE! I'm guessing the downvotes you've gotten are because of the (conditional) advice to crash the party, since it's violating a clear boundary someone set. While there are potentially understandable reasons not to invite OP (they're reenacting Hamilton for T's bday and have exactly the number of women they need), your speculation is somewhat helpful. Also, usually good answers here focus on helping develop the Interpersonal Skills needed to solve the situation, so you can focus on that in future answers. – cactus_pardner May 7 at 3:35
  • 1
    I must have missed that I implied crashing the party. Not intended. I just felt the problem may not only be a simple snub. I have, regrettably, been on the other side of this scenerio as the bf. This is one time to really try to communicate with your partner and pull out the truth, not meekly laying down and accepting it. That was what I was trying to say. – Sam Walker May 8 at 9:19

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