The Vine: January 15, 2014
For many years, I've hosted an annual party.
Some of my friends have been to every one, some only started coming in the past five years. We do an activity, so only one or maybe two conversations go on at any time. It's like a dinner party for 12-20 people. In recent years, we've made a bigger deal about the "history" of the party, how long it's been going on, etc.
Three years ago, "Betty" started behaving badly. She was rude to others, and just a buzzkill. I suspect that one or two people have stopped coming because they don't want to be around her. I don't want to invite her, either, but I don't want to hurt her feelings. If I don't invite her, she will know that I am having the party and excluded her. (I had the party twice when I was 9.5 months pregnant.)
When I see Betty at other times during the year, she is okay, so I don't think she is mentally ill.
What to do?
Do you really not want to hurt her feelings? Or is it more that you don't want to deal with hurting her feelings — have a discussion about it, have her get mad at you, that kind of thing? No judgments, been there, etc. What you really "want" is for her to move away so that it's irrelevant, and I hear you, but in the world we actually live in, you have to decide what's more important to you: a peaceful party, attended by those you theorize have stopped coming because of her, that you don't spend the entirety of either cringing at Betty or bracing yourself for her to act up; or avoiding Betty's wrath/woundedness.
You could justify inviting her — you didn't call her on her behavior at the time, you can't prove that other guests have found somewhere else to be because of her, and whatever bug lodged itself in her ass may have gone to Boca for the winter and it could turn out fine. But you could also leave her off the list and decide to jump off that bridge when you get to it…and you may never get to it. Sometimes people don't care nearly as much as we fear they might. Of course, other times it's that one person you assumed wouldn't notice one way or the other who's all, "WELL BUT HEY FUCK YOU THEN" and you're like, "…You, really?" and my point is that you really can't control it either way. She has the right to feel hurt, but you have the right to invite whomever you want to invite, and to believe that, in your home, you can expect better from your guests than Betty has shown she's capable of.
In case Betty confronts you about it, maybe you want to prepare a short response along the lines of "I didn't mean to make you feel left out — but frankly, based on your behavior the last few years, you didn't seem to want to be there." Again, she may not mention it, because she's reluctant to confront you her own self or because she really didn't notice — but whatever happens, you can handle it, and it's not going to escalate into such a big deal that it's worth settling for a less-than event. She acted a fool; this is the price.
Tags: etiquette friendships