I have those two friends visiting me: Steve and Bob (not real names obviously).

I enjoy the company of both of them, but I feel closer to Steve. I see him really rarely (once every year or two) because of distance. Bob lives significantly closer, but not locally. I am able to see him 2-3 times a year.

When Bob learned Steve is visiting the region he announced it would be a great excuse for all three of us to see each other, and so he that he should come as well. In the most part this is true. However, I really would like to also spend some time alone with Steve. We share some interests which Bob does not. Also, as closer friends I was really looking forward to proper and deeper catching up - something not really possible with the dynamic of us as a trio. On one hand I acknowledge that Bob would also really like to see Steve (they've met and became friends independently of me). On the other hand I feel slightly cheated off a time with a close friend.

Bob is undecided on how long to make his stay. He is flexible and currently plans to leave only one day before Steve does. I would like to get more time than that with Steve, especially that the last day is bound to be frantic with him leaving quite early next morning.

What would be a good way to communicate my needs to Bob without disrespecting his relation with Steve and (preferably) not making him feel like he is not being appreciated in the trio (because he is appreciated)?

This is happening in the UK, famous for its indirectness. The people involved are exceptionally bad at sending and reading hints...

  • Are you interested romantically in Steve? Did you tell Steve about Bob interjecting himself into the stay as well? What does he think? Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 21:55
  • No romantic involvement. 100% platonic stuff.
    – KubaFYI
    Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 22:17
  • 1
    I think it would be worthwhile to mention Steve and Bob's relationship. If they are also close friends who rarely see each other then even though it is your house, Steve may get upset if you pull away his time with Bob.
    – Jesse
    Commented Dec 31, 2017 at 0:47
  • @Jesse Steve planned the trip without including Bob.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Dec 31, 2017 at 13:43
  • 1
    Are Bob and Steve both staying with you for the duration?
    – Lawrence
    Commented Jan 1, 2018 at 14:34

2 Answers 2


Being indirect is okay, but then you significantly reduce the chance of getting your desired outcome. Obviously it's way easier to hint and hope they understand, but it sounds like Bob is either not getting the hint or doesn't want to spend less time and is playing dumb. Either way your hinting/subtleness to this point has not been effective. I understand the difference in culture, but if he needs a more specific description of your feelings, it is your responsibility.

The first thing you should do is decide for yourself that it is okay to want to spend more time with Steve. If you don't really believe this already, you can't be very convincing with your subtle hinting.

At some point if you want to have Steve alone to yourself for extra time, you need to tell Bob that you are really excited for the three of you to spend some time together, but since you rarely get to see Steve, you want to be sure you get enough time with him alone. You may soften the blow by planning an activity that you know Steve would like and Bob wouldn't towards the end of his trip - that way you can say, "Steve and I really like to do XYZ, so I've planned that for ABC day - would you be ok if we did that just the two of us since I don't get to see him very often? I'd like the time when we are all three together to be focussed on things we like to do together and then have some time with Steve separate from that."

No matter how you tell Bob, it will likely be awkward, but that's when you need to remind yourself that it is okay to want some alone time and the only way you will get it is by being more assertive than you might normally be.


Another option is to plan to do one of those activities that both you and Steve enjoy. Either Bob decides to join in, learns a bit while still letting you and Steve share your 'in-talk', and might even gain a new interest. Or Bob declines, especially if you offer to set him up with some other activity (eg. 'I can drop you off at the cool new coffee shop I've been talking about if you wanted to catch up on some of your sketching')

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