I'm planning on having a birthday party. I'd like to invite a friend of mine, however, nobody in our group likes his girlfriend. Is there a polite way of hinting I don't want her there? Chances are that she might show up with him anyway even if she's not invited.

  • Will there be other female guests at the party? – HDE 226868 Jul 18 '17 at 1:49
  • There will be other female guests at the party so a simple "no females allowed" can not be applied here. She's generally not around with us unless we happen to meet her by coincidence or she is in the shared apartment. – infinitezero Jul 18 '17 at 10:36
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    Do your friend knows about your group opinion of her? Does he know about your plan not inviting her? Like Raven's said. If he found out your plan after. It will br complicated – Vylix Jul 19 '17 at 7:27
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    Why don't you like her? If it's something like "we have different political views" or "she seems stuck up" the answer is going to be very different from something like "she verbally abuses our friend the whole time they're together" or "she always comes to social occasions drunk/high". – 1006a Jul 23 '17 at 5:45
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    Please don’t write answers in comments. It bypasses our quality measures by not having voting (both up and down) available on comments, as well as having other problems detailed on meta. Comments are for clarifying and improving the question; please don’t use them for other purposes. (cc @EdwinBuck) – Em C Nov 12 at 21:18
up vote 10 down vote accepted

Try viewing the situation in a broader context. It's not really just about this birthday party, after all. If your friend is in a long-term relationship, this is going to come up every time your group wants to go to a movie or have a party or have dinner out or whatever.

I have a friend I've known for 30 years. A few years into our friendship he started dating somebody who I and several other friends dislike. They're still together (married now), so we're stuck with her if we want him. But -- not all the time.

Members of a couple don't always have the same interests. My friend likes board games way more than his wife does, so when we're getting together for a day of gaming we invite him, not them, and that's ok. On the other hand, something like a birthday party is a "general" activity, not usually tied to specific interests, so we invite both of them to those kinds of gatherings. I've found that larger parties are ideal for this -- you can get your "included the distasteful spouse" points while diluting the effect. The more people there are in attendance, the less time you usually spend around any one of them. Sometimes you can get it down to "hello", "may I take your coat?", and "thanks for coming".

To increase your chances of enjoying your party despite this person's attendance, try to invite other people she'll like spending time with. I call this tactical party-planning. When I'm planning a gathering I usually have the set of people I know I'm going to invite and then a larger set of people I'd like to invite if I can (depending on space, money, or whatever constrains the overall size). As a host I don't want any guest to feel isolated, so "has common interests with so-and-so who will be there" can act as a differentiator when selecting among that larger set.

To go back to your original question: for the birthday party, assuming it's not some small and intimate gathering, I recommend just gritting your teeth and inviting both of them, and if you can invite some others who might enjoy talking with her, do that. For get-togethers with your friend in general, try to identify some "just us" get-togethers. Excluding your friend's girlfriend from everything won't work, but having some things you do with him and some things you do with them is doable -- and that way you don't force your friend to choose between his friends and his girlfriend. That rarely ends well.

There is no polite way to say this as it is an incredibly rude gesture. The underlying problem seems to be that you do not trust your friend's judgement in women. You could go with the honest approach though:

Hey ___, I know you like your girlfriend, but I do not and I have no interest in getting to know her better. The party is for ____ and we feel that it would be better if she were not there.

Be prepared to lose this friend, but it sounds like you are already at risk of losing the friend by forcing him to choose between you and her.

A friend of my friend is also my friend.

It seems that you, and your group, may not be such good friends to your friend.

Here's why:

You imply that you like this friend. After all, you call him a "friend" and you want to invite him to your party. You and this friend may not have everything in common, or like all the same things. Still, you presumably have many important things, such as values and beliefs, in common. Now, here we are with this friend who likes this gal enough to call her a girlfriend. You know how he feels about her, because you don't want to hurt him by just telling him openly that you don't want her at the birthday party. I get the impression that this girlfriend is not just a "flavor of the month" type of relationship. So, it seems he likes her enough to get to know her better, and, in his sub-conscience at least, considers her a possible mate. One of two things seems to be the case:

  • you see something in her that's not good which your friend doesn't see or
  • he sees something in her that is good which you do not.

If you see what he is blind to, and still don't tell him, then you're not warning him of something that could hurt him later, when he finally sees what you do. OTOH, if you don't see the good that he does, and don't spend time with her to see it, then you're not giving your friend the respect he deserves. In either case, by not wanting to invite her to the party, you're asking your friend to choose between you, and your group, and the one who just might be his future mate. Then, to be even less respectful, you don't even want to tell him, you only want to "hint" that you don't want her there.

Sounds like your friend might need to find a different group of friends.

What you should do. Get to know this girlfriend. Inviting her to the party is a good way to get to know her, and can help your other friends to know her better too. If your friend likes her, then you can as well. You can like anyone you choose to. Simple as that. You may not like everything she does, and you probably don't like everything all your friends do either. Still, you do like them. Once you do get to know her, if you still think there's something amiss, be a friend and tell your friend. He deserves that much respect and consideration at least.

The enemy of my friend is no friend of mine.

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    You're skipping the most common scenario: The friends and girlfriend clash, not because either party is doing something objectively wrong, but because their intentions conflict. This often happens when the two groups end up "fighting" over the friend, e.g. either party tries to get "alone time" with the friend (explicitly excluding the other party). Another common cause is that the friend picked a girlfriend from another social clique (different personality/style) than their friend circle; which is perfectly reasonable to do, but can hamper socialization between the friends and girlfriend. – Flater Nov 27 '17 at 13:29
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    You've also somewhat blindly assumed that the friends don't like the girlfriend because they don't know her well enough. But it's just as possible that they dislike her based on knowing her well. Anectdotally, this is what happened to a friend's girlfriend (many years ago). She was welcome in the group, but would openly mouth off about everyone, and was caught trying to secretly instigate social fights between others (by lying to either friend about what the other friend said). She quickly lost everyone's goodwill and was no longer invited to social gatherings. – Flater Nov 27 '17 at 13:32
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    I have to disagree with this answer. My friends got to the point with my abusive ex-wife that they let me know she was no longer welcome in their house. They knew her quite well, which was why she wasn't welcome. I understood she was abusive, but I was trying to keep my marriage together. It's completely reasonable in some circumstances to just plain say "you are welcome, your wife / girlfriend isn't". – DaveG Nov 6 at 20:54

There's no polite way of "hinting" anything. You're going to have to deal with the problem head on, and hope for the best.

Just tell your friend the truth: "We all like you, but none of us likes your girlfriend," and that he'd be much more welcome at the party than her.

This "puts the ball back in his court," and can also lead to a "separation" of the following two cases.

One of two situations is likely to be the case:

1) The girlfriend is "poisonous," and "everyone" knows except your friend. If that's the case, he'll find out soon enough. You may "lose" your friend for a time, but when he figures out why people are behaving the way they do, he'll come around. Just keep re-iterating "we all like you, we just don't like her." Welcome him back when he comes to this realization on his own.

2) The girlfriend is "okay,"(to an objective third party observer), and there is something wrong with your group. They dislike her for the "wrong" reasons (dissimilar backgrounds, lack of coolness, etc.). If that's the case, be prepared to lose your friend. Otherwise, you may have to make a decision or choice to be friends with your one friend (and his girlfriend), or "all but one." If you want to keep a bridge to him, you might admit that you "might" be wrong about his girlfriend.

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    Hello, can you tell us more about why this is a good idea? This answer is a "Try this!" answer as it is, so can you please expand on what your reasoning behind this is. Thanks! Check out this meta for more information! – ElizB Oct 24 at 13:56
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    @ElizB: See new third line. – Tom Au Oct 24 at 16:49

Assuming your friend's girlfriend is known to be toxic, always take the high road. Never criticize his girlfriend or try to convince him that she's toxic. This will only make him defensive of her. Trying to drive a wedge between him and her is like telling a smoker they should quit. The smoker may realize it is bad for their health, but they're still unwilling to part with their comfort. Invite her to the party and treat her like you would any other good friend. If she "ruins" the party or acts in a toxic manner while you and other party goers are treating her fairly, your friend will have nobody to blame but her for any drama caused. Without a scapegoat, he'll be more likely to consider the negatives of his relationship with her.

Every humiliation from the scenes she causes without any sign of provocation will drive these negatives home and once they outweigh the benefits and other options (introducing him to other female acquaintances) will likely seal the deal.

Yes, it's called a "guy's night". Many of my friends have leveraged this. Or "girl's night".

Alternatively you can invite her last minute or in some roundabout way "oh, yeah, she can come". If none of your friends like her they will probably ignore her and she will feel left out of the group and become less likely to come out. Just be prepared for him not to come out as much either.

Option three would be to wait it out. If there is a consensus on distaste for her, the relationship may not last long. His girlfriend may eventually come to reciprocate your distaste for her and likely will stop wanting to go out with him to see his friends. When he goes out to hang with you alone, or doesn't go out period, it puts a strain on the relationship.

Background: best friend of over 20 years dated two of my ex-girlfriends. We're still friends. Women are gone.

You can't

The bond between a friend of yours and their life partner is likely to be closer than that between you and your friend. If you invite your friend and dis-invite his girlfriend, he will likely choose her over you.

And he should, because it's incredibly rude and insulting to tell someone that you really dislike their life partner.

Exception

The only possible exception is if other people's life partners aren't attending either, for instance if it's just you and your friend going somewhere, or a "guys night out".

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