We have a circle of friends, nothing formal, but say 12 people that make up the core group and various others that float in and out. Of this core group, 2 people, J & W, have had a falling out. They are both great people, but have strong, dominant personalities that have clashed many times over matters large and small. I think even both of them would admit there’s fault on both sides. Neither excels at agreeing to disagree or letting things go. After their last blow up a while ago, J decided to stop being friends with W. It’s not been a declaration of out and out war, more just a letting go. As he himself said, it’s not like he hates W, he just feels like the friendship is more drama than it’s worth. He’s perfectly cordial to W when he sees him at other group members houses, just does not invite him when he hosts, or attend when W does. And I fully understand and support his right to decide the drama just isn’t worth it, and be friends with who he wants to be, although a few times I’ve had to make awkward cover ups to W when he mentions that he doesn’t see much of J anymore. I refuse to act as any intermediary or try to make peace between them, because experience has taught me that never ends well for the 3rd party.
I feel like J’s new policy is fine for the informal game/movie nights or dinners out that he organizes through the year. However, the whole group has a long standing tradition (think 10 years or more) of having a big Halloween party. Hosting duty rotates, and the guest list expands and contracts, but its the same core group of people at the center. We all look forward to it all year. This is the first year since J & W’s “break up” that J has hosted the party-and he is not inviting W.
On the one hand-his house, his rules. In theory, he has the right to include or exclude who he chooses. On the other hand, this party is a long standing tradition in our group, and has always included everyone. He may be the host this time, but the event is kind of “owned” by the group. Can he unilaterally cut someone out regardless of how the rest of us feel?
So, what is the etiquette correct way to handle this? I’m certain W is going to ask me for details of the party. Do I just pretend to know nothing? Or inform him that he’s not invited and tell him to talk to J?
And do I have the right to ask J to reconsider? I feel like he’s putting the rest of us in an awkward position where we have to choose sides. Should I decline to attend unless he invites W? Please advise. 0915-13
You have a good grasp of the issues as to why this is an awkward situation. It is J’s opportunity to host a party at his house. However, J is really exposing his ungracious side if this has been a group party for many years and he’s now purposely excluding one of the core members who has always attended previous such parties. Further, if J wishes to socially segregate himself from parties that W hosts, that is J’s choice to make but in this instance, he is calling upon his peer group to tacitly facilitate his shunning of W. It’s no different than a divorce amongst a close group of friends and unfortunately someone ends up losing in order that others not feel so awkward. I wonder if J has pondered the ultimate consequences of not inviting W to an annual party because that consequence may be that J is not invited when it is W’s turn to host or others in the group decide that both W *and* J bring too much drama to this circle of friends and both are stricken from future guest lists.
Basically J has created drama specifically pertaining to this annual party and you, the unfortunate friends and guests, are caught up in the drama as secondary actors on the stage J is setting. Act One of the drama has already commenced with you realizing that this is an awkward situation being placed upon mutual friends of W and J and as the scenes and acts progress, the drama gets heavier. Friends will need to ponder and decide if attending the party will be viewed as a declaration of support for J and rejection of W. As the party gets closer, the drama escalates as friends try to navigate the awkward discussion about a party one of their own won’t be attending.
The one suggestion I have is that several of the “core friends” meet to speak with J about the awkward situation he has placed you all in and to suggest that someone else host the party this year instead of J. If the hosting were to change to a neutral person’s house, then both J and W will attend, friends have not been inconvenienced with relationship drama they are not willing to be a party to, everyone is happy and the drama defused.