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In college, I had a fairly close knit group of friends that I played games with pretty regularly. That group primarily consisted of 4 people, myself, Alice, Bob, and Sam, with others joining depending on who everyone was friends or roommates with at the time. Alice and Bob started dating after a while, and myself and Sam became pretty close friends, and that was the situation when we all graduated.

It's now been a couple of years, and things have changed quite a bit. Alice and Bob moved out of state for grad school, while myself and Sam stayed in our college town. Since college, Sam and I have stopped being friends for various reasons, and I believe Alice and Bob have stopped dating, though I have been unable to confirm that. I'm also reasonably sure that Bob/Alice have the same level of ambiguity over whether Sam and I are friends now. I don't really hang out with the peripheral friends anymore, because for the most part they were all everyone else's friends or roommates, not strictly speaking mine, and our interests drifted apart over time. So, these days, the old friend group really doesn't exist in the same way.

Bob is coming back to the state for Christmas this year, and messaged me to see if I wanted to get people back together to play games. I'm not necessarily opposed to the idea, but I don't want to do the social lifting of trying to plan it, especially with people who are disinterested in playing games and have blown me off in the past. At the same time, I really don't want him to invite both me and Sam in a group chat with everybody, or anything similar, because of how awkward it would be. So I want to try and figure out what the social situation would be if we did play, to try and head off the problems at the pass.

So, given that, my question is twofold: how can I tactfully ask Bob whether he's broken up with Alice, and if he would want her to come (is this even appropriate to ask? I have 0 experience here...), while also explaining to him that Sam and I are no longer friends, and that he cannot invite us both to any get together?

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Being straight to the point and not sugar-coating anything will accomplish your goal and help you, as well as everyone else involved, avoid a potentially awkward holiday party.

You mentioned that you were all pretty close friends during your time in college. Bob is more than likely going to be receptive to a question about his relationship status with Alice. Losing touch with close friends doesn't revert your status to "stranger I've barely talked to", and the topic may be a great place to start catching up. Still, it depends on whether or not he's willing to talk about that; terse and disinterested responses about Alice will show that it's not a topic he'd prefer to discuss, while more lengthy and involved responses will show otherwise. Either way, you'll get your answer about whether or not they are still together, and from that conversation hopefully you'll be able to deduce whether or not he'd appreciate Alice being invited. If it's still unclear, just ask him!

So, would you be okay with inviting Alice to our party?

For your second concern, it might almost feel like a mirror of the first question! You are now in Bob's shoes; how do you tell your friend about the status of your friendship with Sam? Ultimately, it's up to you.

You can either keep it short and put the bottom line up front:

I wouldn't consider Sam and I to be close friends anymore, and it would be uncomfortable having her around at the party.

Or elaborate more:

Well, Sam and I haven't been on very good terms as friends. A while back this happened... and then that happened...

If you decide to go with the shorter option, Bob is inevitably going to ask you, "Why?" If you really prefer not to discuss it in detail, you can simply say something along the lines of:

It's a long story, I'd rather not go into detail about it. Let's look forward to catching up and sharing good times together instead!

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