Playing Both Sides Of Hospitality

by admin on February 18, 2014

I have been very upset over this and my husband actually suggested submitting this story to see what everyone else had to say about it. One Friday night my sister, Ellie, calls up early in the evening and says that her and her husband, Ned, were thinking they would like to spend the evening with us and were willing to travel up our way. She lives about an hour away from us and we rarely have many opportunities to do something fun with them. I was delighted but had loose plans to spend the evening with friends that night. We are a part of a group neighbors that often get together over the weekend. Right after I got off the phone with my sister Ellie – my neighbor, Penny, texted to ask if my husband and I wanted to come over. I immediately asked if it would be ok if I brought Ellie and Ned and she texted back, “Yes, of course.” I then called Ellie and asked if perhaps she and Ned would like to go over to Penny and Ace’s house. Ellie said that would be great.

Ellie and Ned have met Penny and Ace before. Well, to give you a little background. Ace is known to be a complicated soul and has rather crass manners. He has rubbed people the wrong way before even among the members of our group. My husband and I have always liked him despite his flaws and even when problems with his behavior have come up before, we would refrain from talking badly about him. He is the type of person who has some issues but would take the shirt off his back if he thought it would help you. Ace is sort of like a country boy and Ellie and Ned are decidedly more urban. So they are quite different but that was never a problem.

Anyway, we all go over and initially, Ellie and Ned are rather quiet but as the evening wore on became more social and talkative. Penny is so very sweet and went out of her way to try to make them comfortable in her home. Ace not so much. We were all hanging out in the kitchen, talking, having some food and a couple of cocktails. After about an hour, Ace gets up and moves into the living room that is adjacent to the kitchen and starts to watch television. It is an open floor plan so you can see the entire living room from the kitchen. This isn’t really unusual. The television can be on or off when we all get together. At one point, Ned goes into the living room to talk to Ace and another neighbor that was sitting there. Ace gets up right then and goes back into the kitchen. I am interacting with the other people there and although I wasn’t sure about it I got the sense that Ace was being a little evasive with Ned. At one point in the evening, I go into the living room and I sit next to Ace. I’m not sure how it all came up but he sort of says that he really isn’t enjoying Ned’s company. I proceeded to tell him that Ned was a really nice guy and Ace said that that had nothing to do with the fact that he found Ned rather “boring” and didn’t want to listen to his stories anymore. I said ok and then got up to go back into the kitchen. I’m not sure how I ended the conversation there. Eventually, we all leave.

I asked Ellie if she had a nice time the next day and she said yes but they would never do that again. I asked her why. She said that both her and Ned did not feel welcome there. She recounted the fact that twice during the evening that Ned had gone into the living room and twice Ace had got up to leave. Ok. I do not require that Ace like Ned or my sister but I do require him to be friendly with them. If Ace and Penny brought friends or relatives into my home I would have gone out of my way to be nice and to make them feel welcome. It is rare that Ace spends any time with Ned at all, he definitely could have sucked it up for an evening. It is one thing for me to realize that Ace wasn’t being friendly but it is another thing entirely if Ned and Ellie know that too. I suppose it was rather stupid of me to think that they didn’t pick up on it. I was mortified and told Ellie how sorry I was and asked if she would apologize to Ned as well.

I am filled with rage now. I told my husband what Ellie had said and he was upset about it as well. I told him that I was so angry that I didn’t want to be around Ace any longer. He said that I should talk to him about it and that I shouldn’t just suddenly disappear but I am just so mad and hurt by his behavior that I don’t think I can do that without becoming mean and hurtful myself. I have no wish to hurt Penny who was as nice as she could be but I just can’t bring myself to forgive Ace. Ellie and Ned were nothing but nice to my friends and didn’t deserve to be treated like that. At this point, I’m not really sure what I should do.  0207-14

What to do? You should vow to never inflict unexpected guests on your neighbors like that again.   If you had “loose plans” with Ace and Penny then you should have informed your sister of this and asked her to reschedule their visit to another day.   If visiting with your sister was important to you, then you should have informed Ace and Penny of the change to your “loose plans” that evening and that you and your husband look forward to socializing with them soon.   What you did was attempt to maximize your socializing with two different couples and everyone lost. Ellie and her husband did not get quality time with you and neither did Ace and Penny.

Additionally, don’t presume that because you think you would be a great hostess to surprise, uninvited guests that others should be equally thrilled at the sudden change in their guest list.

{ 59 comments… read them below or add one }

Lo February 18, 2014 at 8:00 am

It sounds like you were fine with Ace’s poor manners until someone else noticed them. After all, you didn’t get angry when he originally said he found Ned boring. It was only after you realized Ned and Ellie were aware of this treatment that you became angry and protective of them.

To this I would say, what did you expect? You know this person is crass, you invited family members to spend time with him by springing them on him, and now you’re angry because he’s shown his true colors.

If it had been a situation where there were not plans in place to see the neighbors (you say loose plans so I’ll assume they were the priority) but she had texted you after you found out your sister and spouse were coming up and you had said, “Sorry I can’t this evening, so-and-so are coming to see me.” If THEN Penny had offered to have them over too… well that would give you a little ground to stand on.

Yes of course Ace should behave himself and rise to the occasion. That goes without saying. But you knew better, right?

You don’t have to be friends with this person if you don’t want to be but it seems silly to get angry over a situation you could have predicted and easily prevented.

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Anonymous February 18, 2014 at 8:03 am

I was just going to say, some people don’t mix well, for reasons that are nobody’s fault. It’s a mistake to think, “I like Ellie and Ned, and I like Penny and Ace, and they all like me, so therefore, they’ll surely like each other, right?” That doesn’t always happen, and the “triple date” scenario that came about in the OP isn’t the best way to test that theory. I agree with Jeanne–I’d have chosen either the neighbour visit, OR the sister visit, that night, and if I wanted both couples to get to know each other, I’d have invited both couples to a larger event, so that, if they didn’t like each other/get along, then it wouldn’t ruin the event, because there’d be other people there for them to socialize with separately instead.

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Abby February 18, 2014 at 8:29 am

Well, in Ace’s defense, he neither invited Ned, nor did he okay the last minute addition- Penny did, and yet it appeared that Ace was in charge of entertaining Ned. That said, Ace does sound very rude. It wouldn’t have killed Ace to be polite to Ned (who was not to blame for OP’s bad judgment), and then later either talk to OP or ask Penny to relay to OP that he would prefer OP did not bring her family along uninvited next time.

But yes, OP, Admin is right that it was a very bad idea to try to combine two separate social interactions without the permission or advance notice of all other parties. Since you say the plans were loose and you don’t see your sister much, the best thing to do would have been to tell Penny that your sister decided to visit at the last minute so you are staying in.

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Huh February 18, 2014 at 9:03 am

I feel bad for Ellie and Ned and Penny and Ace. Awkward for everyone around. I have had something somewhat similar happen – I have friends Couple A, that have recently became friends with another couple, Couple B, and have begun to take them everywhere with them. If you make plans with Couple A, it’s a guarantee that Couple B WILL be with them. I will fully admit that I am painfully shy around new people, but any attempts to talk to Couple B are rebuffed and it’s not just me, they are like that with everyone else except Couple A. It has made it very awkward to socialize with Couple A.

So anyway, I agree with admin. If you had plans with Ace and Penny, you should have told your sister tonight wasn’t a good night. If you wanted to visit with your sister, you should have told Penny tonight wasn’t a good night. Just because your friends with Ace/Penny, doesn’t mean your sister and her husband will get along with them, and vice versa. I have friends that both like me, but NOT each other, so I don’t socialize with them at the same time.

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AzaleaBloom February 18, 2014 at 9:20 am

I’d love to hear this story from Ace and Penny’s perspective. I really don’t think they did anything wrong. They were put on the spot by friends of theirs, and felt obligated to include extra guests. We also don’t know what Ned was talking about around Ace, but we do know that Ace did not particularly want to discuss it. So, Ace removed himself from the situation. How many times has that been brought up on this website as a way to avoid confrontation?

I do feel for Ace. For whatever reason, Ned rubbed him the wrong way. Now he has friends who are angry with him for not getting along with their relative – who, once again, was an uninvited guest in his home. He didn’t insult him to his face, he didn’t loudly stomp out of the room – he simply removed himself. I don’t know how it came up with the OP and him that he told her that he didn’t care for him, but if he was outright asked, well, it sounds like he just gave an honest answer. I can see where that would be a little on the rude side, but otherwise? I think he did the best he could with the situation.

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ally February 18, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Very interesting post @AzealaBloom, about Ace leaving the room. For no particular reason, I saw the act of Ace leaving the room every time Ned came in as being what one would do when they had issued the cut direct to someone. I thought it was somewhat harsh, but definitely sending a strong message. I guess it depends on what the circumstances were and how the 2 men interacted.

The OP did mention “another neighbor” being in the TV room, so it doesn’t sound like a triple date couples night, but definitely more of the casual hang out where extra friends would be ok to mix in…. with the hosts’ invitation, of course.

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RC February 18, 2014 at 8:51 pm

I agree, Ace may be crass at times but in this situation, he quietly removed himself from a situation where he was not comfortable or happy; he didn’t make a scene; sure, he could have been more polite and sat through and pretended to like Ned, but removing himself was probably very self-aware of him, if there was a chance he would snap and say something crass or rude. I’m on Team Ace, and think that perhaps OP is being sensitive and not understanding the position she put others in. No need to get angry at Ace, just don’t mix the two couples again! End of story!

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Owly February 18, 2014 at 11:49 pm

This, 100%. It’s unfortunate they didn’t get along, but not everyone does. I’m not understanding why it’s enough to end a friendship over. Just don’t bring Ned over to Ace’s house again.

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Meegs February 18, 2014 at 9:36 am

I don’t think I agree with the admin on this one. Some of the favorite people in my life started out as friends of friends. There is no reason why everyone couldn’t have had a good time and I don’t think the OP had any reason to suspect there would be any issues with introducing the two groups. Just because Ace was rude does not mean that there is anything inherently wrong including everyone in the evenings plans. I also don’t agree that they were “surprise, uninvited guests.” This was a casual get-together, not a formal dinner party, and Penny was apparently fine with the OP bringing Ellie and Ned into the plans.

As for what to do, well, that is entirely up to you, OP. Ace was rude but I don’t think calling him out on it is going to get you anywhere. Everyone does not have to like everyone else, but he could have at least been polite to Ned for the evening. You can either decide to let your friendship with Ace and Penny drift away or you can hope that your rage will die down and you’ll forgive Ace.

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Rachel February 18, 2014 at 11:13 am

I agree that it’s quite possible to become friends with people met through a mutual acquaintance, but in this case the problem is that the friends of friends were not initially invited. OP took it upon herself to invite them over to someone else’s home . As someone else said, it would have been one thing if OP told Penny she had to decline the invitation because her sister was coming to visit and consequently Penny would have invited them to join, but in this case OP did the inviting. No matter how casual a get-together that is being hosted, one should never to presume to ask that others be invited. OP could have easily had both couples get together when SHE was the one hosting.

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E February 18, 2014 at 9:43 am

I think if Penny knew her husband would basically would not talk to Ned, she could have easily responded to the OP’s text, “is it ok if we bring Ned and Nellie?” with a “oh, that’s ok. I know you haven’t seen them in awhile. Why don’t you enjoy the evening with them, and we’ll catch up with you next week?” Since the evening was just an at-home casual gathering which the OP has known to be “more the merrier,” I think she can be forgiven for asking. Once Penny said yes, I think that she and her husband had an obligation to be at least polite. Ace’s habit of refusing to talk to one of his guests, or even be in the same room with him, is far far worse in my book than asking a question which can be answered in the negative.

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Anny February 18, 2014 at 4:25 pm

Agreed. OP didn’t just spring surprise guests on the neighbors, but asked whether it would be ok, and Penny said yes. She could have said no (and graciously, as E points out).

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acr February 18, 2014 at 10:16 am

I’m with the E-hell Dame. LW, in this situation, since the plans were loose, you could have said something like, “My sister and her husband want to visit with us, why don’t you and Ace join us?” Then you would have been the hostess, and Ace and Penny would not have been trapped in their home with people they barely know and didn’t choose to invite.

I think you are being very unfair to Ace. Why is he obliged to sit and listen to boring stories? Why isn’t Ned obliged to read social cues and cut his boring stories short? I know a few people like that. I’ve watched them essentially “chase” a party from room to room as people get up and leave to avoid their “stories”. You hint several times at Ace being “crass” and “rubbing people the wrong way.” That’s pretty vague. You don’t give one example of crassness or rudeness. It’s not rude to excuse yourself from a conversation and leave the room. Ace isn’t obligated to provide Ned with an audience all night long. From what I can tell there were at least 7 people there – you and your husband, another neighbor, and Ace and Penny, and Ned and Ellie. Why was Ace responsible for being Ned’s audience?

The rudest person in this story is you, OP. You put Penny and Ace in a very awkward position. And then you complained that they didn’t host the guests YOU chose to invite into their home to your satisfaction!

OP, I’m wondering – I think it’s odd that if you are so keen to spend time with your sister who you rarely get to see, that you chose to do this at a neighbor’s party. Is it because you also find Ned boring and wanted some buffers?

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Cami February 24, 2014 at 5:03 pm

I didn’t realize that etiquette permitted us to leave someone’s presence just because they are boring. If so, I’d be walking away from people all the time. But given that such behavior would hurt their feelings, etiquette or not, I’ll refrain.

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Mya February 18, 2014 at 10:24 am

I agree with the admin on this one. You were wrong on both counts and did both your sister and Ned as well as Penny and Ace an injustice. An hours drive might be a short commute to people in America but it is not inconsiderable in the UK and if I drove a hour to see my sister only to be dragged to someone else’s house I’d be a bit peeved. Once you made concrete plans with your sister, you should have told Penny that you were unable to make it to the gathering as your sister was visiting. This would have given her a perfect opportunity to either specifically invite your sister and her husband (thus obligating both Penny and Ace to good behaviour) or to detach from the hosting duties with grace and a promise to meet another time. If you were my sister in this scenario I’d be upset with you.

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Amber February 18, 2014 at 10:26 am

I’m with you here, admin. This is what happens when people are afraid of disappointing others as well as wanting to have it all. OP should have chosen one couple or the other and stuck to her socializing from there.

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Gen Xer February 18, 2014 at 10:29 am

Maybe the OP could have phrased it a little differently – mentioning that her BIL and SIl were coming up and waiting for Penny to include them rather than putting them on the spot. Still….once you have agreed to host the extra people you make them feel welcome. Ace was very rude. He doesn’t have to like Ned or become his new best friend….but the snubbing was painfully obvious and inexcusable.

So those two couples don’t mix…but I don’t fault the OP for what is Ace’s bad behaviour. I would have been mortified had I been Penny. She may be the sweetest person around but her husband is a horse’s behind. I probably wouldn’t say anything about it to them….but I wouldn’t be going too far out of my way for Ace anymore. It kind of sounds like he’s gotten a pass on bad behaviour for a long time and now feels he can treat people he doesn’t take to any way he likes: “Oh that’s just how Ace is! He’s complicated you know?”

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Rachel February 18, 2014 at 10:40 am

Penny sounds like a pushover. Ace, I would bet, is constantly put on the spot because of her willingness to please. Things didn’t work out, think the OP should either forget and move on or not see that couple anymore.

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Yet Another Laura February 18, 2014 at 10:50 am

One social fallacy I run into a lot is the assumption that friendship is transitive.

A is friends with B and B is friends with C, therefore A and C should be friends, too. Sometimes that works out, but not always.

From what I read, your sister called offering to come up and named a day. It read to me as the opening move of a “Let’s do something” negotiation. She didn’t say, “My husband and I are in your area Friday afternoon, want to get together?” It sounded as if she and Ned were willing to make a special trip. If you already had loose plans, you could have offered a different day that would have worked better.

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AthenaC February 18, 2014 at 11:15 am

From the general tone of the first paragraph, it sounds like bringing Ned and Ellie along should have been fine. The OP describes it as “a group of neighbors,” and “loose plans.” So in my mind I see the type of gathering my husband and I regularly host – an informal gathering with no set closed guest list. Extra people are always welcome (and they have been in the past) – who doesn’t like meeting new people? In fact, we regularly have an exchange just like the OP and Penny did – “May I bring another couple?” “Of course!” That’s how these things are done for “loose plans” type of gatherings. I don’t see anything rude so far. Ace and Penny weren’t “put on the spot” and Ellie and Ned weren’t “surprise guests.”

Moving on – most people know someone who is abrasive. Most groups seem to work around / tolerate this person without an Amish-style shunning. I gather from the OP’s submission that Ace’s behavior was out of character even for someone known to be abrasive. It’s not as simple as “you know he’s a rude person so this is all your fault.”

Lastly, “It is one thing for me to realize that Ace wasn’t being friendly but it is another thing entirely if Ned and Ellie know that too.” Yes, that is absolutely correct. The OP seems to know Ace pretty well – maybe she can differentiate between “abrasive” and “unfriendly.” If Ellie and Ned weren’t aware of the “unfriendly” and just shrugged it off as “abrasive,” no harm done. (Please note that I’m usually the oblivious one that chalks all sorts of rudeness up to “oh they didn’t know” or some such.) But sadly, that wasn’t the case – “I was mortified and told Ellie how sorry I was and asked if she would apologize to Ned as well.” And that’s really all you can do at this point. That and not mix these two couples again – lesson learned. It’s up to you whether you want to give Ace a verbal smack upside the head or not; it may not be effective either way so it’s understandable if you don’t want to even try.

TL/DR: No the situation was not your fault, and you handled it the best way you could. Take this info going forward and don’t mix these two couples again.

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Rin February 26, 2014 at 9:32 am

I do think Penny was put on the spot, as there’s not really a good way to deny that “May I bring another couple?” demand.

Not everyone likes meeting new people either, some rather just hang out with their good friends and will consider the evening ruined when a third party is forced on them.

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R February 18, 2014 at 11:17 am

I agree with the admin. Yes, this was a casual get-together among friends, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the more the merrier. If I’m having a few good friends over to drink around the kitchen table and maybe watch TV, I’m even less inclined to have outsiders over. In this scenario, I’m expecting to relax and not have to be “on” for company. I just wanted to provide a counterpoint for those saying it’s a casual get-together so it doesn’t matter.

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Sarah February 18, 2014 at 11:32 am

I think that both sides were a little wrong in this case. I agree with admin that you shouldn’t have asked if your sister and husband could come (because I feel like in that situation most people would just say yes so as not to be rude) but I also agree that Ace could have just sucked it up and been polite for the evening. I would just let it go at this point.

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Cecilia February 18, 2014 at 11:43 am

Last minute additions, even to an informal get together, can be tricky and this is an example of how it did not turn out well.

Honestly, I can see all POV’s on this. But if we are strictly looking at Ace/Ned interaction, I think Ace was a bit rude, however, it probably was best to remove himself to prevent saying or doing something that could have been extremely rude. Some people just do not like each other and it is best to not mix or try to force them to spend time together.

OP, I find it odd that you know how Ace is and accept it, but when he acted like himself, in his own home, to your BIL, you were ok with it until your sister mentioned it. Now, you are filled with rage and never want to speak to him again. I think you should give a few days or weeks, wait until your emotions have cooled and then decide if Ace & Penny’s company is worth overlooking a situation that you actually caused.

I understand that you are upset that someone you considered a friend was rude to your family, but before burning bridges, take time to think about it.

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AS February 18, 2014 at 11:44 am

I am just going to echo what a lot of people said.

You are not supposed to spring unexpected guests on others, unless it is an open-to-all event (some of our friends have a few like that, often game nights, where they specifically say to bring friends). You should have chosen who you want to socialize with. And if it is your sister and Ned, you should have let Penny know of the plan. The only acceptable way for Ellie and Ned to be invited would be if Penny invited them.

You knew that Ace can be crass (I wonder if he has some sort if social anxiety, or hopelessly introverted, and thought that you were close enough to confide in). Why did you invite your sister and BIL in spite of that?

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Grey February 18, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Ellie and Penny would do better to consider their husbands when making social plans.

Poor Ned. He has to drive for an hour to visit his sister-in-law, only to discover he’ll be visiting her neighbor and rude husband who probably didn’t want him there in the first place.

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lakey February 18, 2014 at 12:43 pm

I agree with Administrator, particularly because you already knew that Ace has “crass manners”. There are people that it might work with to ask to bring another couple. There are people who are very open to everyone and who have a ” the more the merrier” attitude. However, with someone like Ace, who is apparently a bit difficult, this was not a good idea. Lesson learned.

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hakayama February 18, 2014 at 12:50 pm

RUDE. BLUNT. The terms are not interchangeable.
Let’s keep in mind the often subtle difference between them and avoid labeling directness as rudeness.

Now for our impromptu party: Besides the two “main” couples, there was at least one more person (that gets mentioned) that Ned could have stayed with (and bored him/her to tears? ;-). In light of that, as I see it, Ace merely removed himself from the sound and presence of the individual who brought him no joy…
However, it seems that Ned was intent on “hounding” Ace: kitchen to LR, LR to kitchen.
While loyalty to old friends is an admirable thing, a dose of objectivity is also desirable in so many instances. And this occasion, Dear LW, seems to have been one of them.

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hakayama February 18, 2014 at 4:03 pm

Correction, please: THREE “main” couples.
Also make that “loyalty to old friends and RELATIVES”…
It’s the snow. ;-/

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Dee February 18, 2014 at 1:00 pm

OP acknowledges that Ace can be quite rude, and also says that the TV is often on when they are all together “socializing” (WTH?), and yet now OP is suddenly frustrated with Ace’s lack of manners … I’m confused … what part of this isn’t expected? I’m not sure where I stand on OP’s inviting her sis and BIL to her neighbours but it all seems to me to be very wishy-washy in terms of etiquette. Chalk it up to personalities not meshing, don’t expect Ace to ever be civil, and perhaps things can go on as before. Or, just stop “socializing” with Ace. Seems Penny needs a wake-up call about hubby; I wouldn’t be getting together with this Ace at all, and I don’t know why OP or OP’s hubby would want to. Girl-dates with Penny would be the extent of it. Or continue on this way and quit complaining. about something you know is reality.

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M February 18, 2014 at 1:03 pm

I occasionally have lunch with casual friend named Dee. I like Dee just fine and enjoy talking to her when I run into her at parties. The problem with Dee is that she is a “more the merrier” person and usually asks someone, anyone, to join us at lunch. I much prefer “one on one”.

Everyone Dee knows is great and I like them all. However, I have limited free time. So I am careful with my lunch and coffee outings and spend them with people I wish to know better. Aside from this mindset, I am a good ten years older than Dee. We click just fine but that isn’t always the case with her peers. I find myself at these lunches holding back a bit or maybe not enjoying myself as much because I feel left out.

Example, Dee was discussing her brother breakup with his fiancee. The gal had broken up with him and moved on. Dee considered her a terrible person for breaking her brothers heart. Maybe she’s protective and is letting her feelings get ahold of her. Alone I could point this out, chat about it and find out more about the situation. However, Dee’s friend Gee listened intently and promptly declared the heartbreaker a witch. They agreed happily and continued to bash the witch. Ten years ago I might have had this viewpoint but after breaking an engagement myself I know that life isn’t always so black and white. At this point, speaking up would make me feel like an old “mom type” instead of a fun girlfriend. So I say nothing.

I had planned to either stop having lunch with Dee or mention my feelings the next time she arranged a lunch date but she ended up moving out of the area. Though recently she visited and we planned a lunch. I was not surprised when she texted me to let me know she also invited Ree to the lunch. Dee was only home for a short visit and I happen to really like Ree so I said nothing and enjoyed the lunch.

Mixing new people into a comfortable scenerio sometimes doesn’t work because someone could feel left out. Perhaps Ned is more “urban” as you say. Maybe he has an air of arrogance. Maybe he works in a more professional setting which makes Ace feel he has little to offer to a conversation. Maybe Ned made a racist comment which didn’t agree with Ace. Maybe Ace has a really rough day and wan’t able to muster up the energy to be more cordial. Maybe Ace was really behaving like a total jerk for no reason. You won’t know until you ask but I’d suggest really thinking before you confront this.

You have already known and accepted Ace’s personality quirks. It was an off night and not everyone had a great time. Probably it would be Ned and Ellie’s place to confront Ace on his behavior. But after a few days passed they probably agreed to not do that again and moved on with their life.

If you choose to confront this you may have to deal with hurting Penny’s feelings. Now maybe your casual fun get togethers aren’t quite as warm and fuzzy as usual.

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Elizabeth February 18, 2014 at 1:41 pm

You made plans with your sister and her husband, then put your neighbors on the spot to accommodate these extra guests. Best just to leave things alone at this point.

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Lisa February 18, 2014 at 1:41 pm

You asked Penny if you could bring friends. She may not have even told Ace. He was then surprised at the new guests and was trying to get his point across. Yes, he was rude in the way he did it, but you did say he’s a bit “socially awkward.”

You should have just said no to one of the two offers to hang out and then none of this would have been an issue.

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Rachel February 18, 2014 at 1:46 pm

Penny sounds like a pushover. Ace, I would bet, is constantly put on the spot because of her willingness to please. Things didn’t work out, think the OP should either forget and move on or not see that couple anymore. Sorry if I submit this twice on accident!

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Elizabeth February 18, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Geek social fallacy #4: Friendship is transitive

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LizaJane February 18, 2014 at 1:47 pm

The OP was rude for asking, Ace was rude for being inhospitable. But he needs to take it up with his wife. She ok’d the extra guests.
The OP is asking what she should do now. She should NOT confront Ace; pointing out the rudeness of others is rude in itself. All she can do now is evaluate the importance of her friendship with Penny, and not subject any more unsuspecting people to Ace’s “personality”.

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Library Diva February 18, 2014 at 1:48 pm

Ace could have been more polite, but OP created this situation. She put the city mouse and the country boy together, when neither of them had planned on socializing, and given Ace’s history, all that’s surprising is that he wasn’t more crass and crude. I think OP is overreacting a tad, though I could see having a weekend or two when she’s “too busy to hang out with Ace and Penny” until she cools down. To cut Ace off altogether is a bit much and will likely destroy not only her friendship with Penny, but will could cause a rift in her group of neighbors that might leave OP and her husband on one side and everyone else pleasantly socializing on the other.

You’ve already apologized to Ned and Ellie for putting them in that situation. The best thing to do now is to never do it again and to resume whatever friendship you can with Ace and Penny, bearing in mind their past behavior. You can probably see this in retrospect, but of all the ways to handle that evening’s conflicts, you picked the worst one. You should have either told Penny that your sister is coming over unexpectedly and can no longer hang out with the group, or told your sister that tonight isn’t a good night because you made plans and look to set a different date. However, you can’t jump in your time machine and choose one of those options, so for the future, just keep this incident in mind the next time you’re tempted to do this.

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Anonymous February 18, 2014 at 2:31 pm

@Huh–Have you ever talked to Couple A about how you feel? Or, alternatively, have you tried inviting them to “ticketed events,” where they can’t invite Couple B along, because you bought a limited number of tickets, all together? For example, you could say, “Hey, Mr. Huh and I thought it’d be fun to see Carmen this weekend. We got four tickets; are you interested in doubling with us?” That way, it’s not “You can’t bring Couple B”; but rather, “We want to see Carmen with YOU, Couple A, and logistics are such that it would be just the four of us.” Then, if they accept, you have a jumping-off point: “Remember how much fun it was when we went on that double date to see Carmen? Well, how would you, Couple A, like to accompany me and Mr. Huh to [whatever?]” You could start with things that are really, blatantly, just for four people (ticketed events with pre-planned seating, poker, golf, etc.), and then slowly branch out a bit. The “invite specifically for four-person events” approach could also be a catalyst for a discussion. Maybe Couple A would notice that you don’t seek out the company of Couple B, and you always invite them to events on their own, and they’d ask why. Then you could say something like, “When Couple B rebuffs our attempts to engage in conversation with them at social events, we feel left out, and third-wheeled.” I don’t know Couple A, so it’d be up to you and Mr. Huh to decide which approach to take–speak up right away, or invite them to four-person events without Couple B, and see if they bring it up. The “speak up” approach will work best if they’re straightforward and open-minded people, but the “invite them to four-person events” approach will work best if you think they’re likely to blame you for your feelings, or for not being “fun enough.” This way, they’d be able to think, “Gee, the Huhs really are fun people/good friends. Maybe there’s something to what they’re saying.”

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Kylynara February 18, 2014 at 3:29 pm

I think it is undeniable that Ace was rude, but there’s not much the OP can do about it now. I’d love to know more about the timing and nature of the “loose plans,” because that would make a big difference to me in whether or not the OP erred. If the OP and Penny had chatted early in the week, and Penny said something along the lines of “Let me check with Ace first, but maybe we should get together Friday evening.” Or the four of them had gotten together the previous weekend and someone said something along the lines of “How’s Friday look for everyone next week?” gotten definite Maybe kind of answers and they had agreed to be in touch again later in the week. Then the OP had heard nothing else, I don’t think she was wrong for agreeing to plans with her sister. When Penny texted right after, then it would have been slightly better for the OP to decline and say she had just made plans with her sister, and perhaps Penny would offer to include them. However, for this kind of casual get together, especially with someone it sounds like OP is fairly close to, I think it’s not that big a deal to present the problem and just ask if they could be included as the solution, especially since Ellie & Ned have met Penny & Ace before and presumably got along fine.

I think the OP fault increases if the loose plans were made Thursday or Friday where there had been less time to finalize the plans. Similarly, if the plans had been for “this weekend”, where the date was up in the air, I don’t think the OP is obliged to turn down last minute plans all weekend until the hosts finally call Sunday afternoon to have dinner that evening.

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Kate February 18, 2014 at 4:04 pm

After reading the original posts and all the comments written so far, my take on it is that Ace is in the wrong. Ned and Ellie were “suprise, unexpected” guests, but they were guests who could have been refused. It sounds like Ace and Penny were having an informal drinks and snacks party, something easily stretched to accomodate one or two more guests, and not ruined by having two fewer guests. Penny could have said no, and whether or not Ace knew that two additional people (people he had met before) were coming, is absolutely no excuse for rudeness. Even if Ace was incredibly shy and had never met them before, that would still be no excuse.

I agree that one of the things we often tell people on this site is that if they don’t get along with another guest at a party they should avoid that guest. We usually tell people this in the context of a large party where it will not be noticed, even when being done by the host (in the name of circulation as an ordinary guest, or seeing all of his guests, as a host). This sounds like a very small party, with maybe 8 or 9 people, where it would definitely be noticeable. I would recommend, and I think other commenters would too, that in this case, leaving the room once would be acceptable. After that, you should try joining another ongoing conversation, rather than letting the disagreeable (to you) person, Ned, start a conversation, on one of those topics you find so disagreeable. In this way you are not noticeably leaving the room whenever he enters it, nor are you forced to listen to whatever the disagreeable topic is, you look like you are enjoying yourself, and you don’t have to directly interact with or comment on whatever the disagreeable person is saying.

I also have to say I found your description of Ace strange, OP. You knew he had “crass manners” and yet you didn’t care because he would “give you the shirt off his back”. It sounds like you weren’t used to or didn’t care about his rudeness, until he was rude to your sister and her husband. It makes me wonder who Ace IS rude to, that you seemed so surprised by it. Total strangers and service people (cashiers, etc.) I guess? So that’s okay, for Ace to be rude and crass to everyone except his friends, at least until he is rude to someone you like? I am sorry, but I don’t think being rude is okay, even if you treat your friends well.

I think you have to either say something to Ace, or let the friendship die (by being “busy” every week). I would try saying something to him first. Try practicing what you want to say and how you want to say it with your husband, and ask him to say what you think Ace might say in return. He might get angry, and then the friendship will probably be over, or he might express remorse. You might use this to suggest an etiquette book to him, or something similar. If he does get angry, would you really want to be friends with someone who is rude to your family and doesn’t feel sorry when they learn the rudeness was noticed? If Penny doesn’t take her husband’s side, you could always continue to see her separately.

Perhaps losing this friendship will teach the couple something, and encourage Ace to change his ways. After all, his manners can’t benefit him at work or in public. I always say, you never know who knows who. The cashier at the coffee shop could be your client’s kid, and you just lost the big contract by being rude.

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AMC February 18, 2014 at 4:28 pm

I don’t actually think Ace or Penny did anything wrong. As OP stated, he and Penny are not required to like OP’s relatives. Yet they accomodated OP and welcomed the extra guests into their home. Ace wasn’t openly rude to Ned; he simply left the room when someone he didn’t care for entered it. I don’t think there’s anything unreasonable about that, especially since it was Ace’s own home.

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crella February 18, 2014 at 4:54 pm

‘Some of the favorite people in my life started out as friends of friends.’

But they weren’t invited by the inviting couple, the OP introduced the two couples on someone else’s invite. Penny was most likely being polite when asked if others could be brought, she couldn’t very well text back ‘No, please don’t bring them’ when they are already on the way to the OP’s house. Ellie and Ned wanted to see the OP as well, and they too, were put on the spot, with the plans suddenly changed to go to someone else’s home.

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Meegs February 19, 2014 at 9:20 am

I don’t see why this should matter and approaching it from my own perspective, of course, I just don’t see this as a faux pas. A few years ago I went up to visit my one of my best friends, about a 45 minute drive away. We hadn’t discussed ahead of time what we would do that night, we just wanted to spend time together. When I got there she told me that one of her neighbors (and very good friends) were having some people over and did I want to go over there? Yes, sounds like fun! And it was – not only did I get to hang out with my best friend but I also met some really cool people, especially the host family, who have now become my good friends as well. So I guess I just don’t see why it has to be so complicated.

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missminute February 18, 2014 at 8:51 pm

Have to agree, when you spring last minute guests on someone you have to bear the consequences.

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MichelleP February 19, 2014 at 1:48 am

I respectfully disagree with admin, to a point. The OP is overreacting, as well. She did ask Penny if she could bring her sister and BIL along. Penny agreed. This wasn’t a wedding for crying out loud, this was just neighbors hanging out. Ace is an adult and should act like one. My 11 year old child knows better than to act that way.

I couldn’t count how many times my now ex husband sprang uninvited guests on me. I NEVER took it out on them.

I seem to recall a story in the archives about a woman who invited her husband’s boss and his wife to dinner, making it clear that they needed to find a sitter for their three young boys. She had also invited her Sis and Bil. Boss and wife showed up with all three kids and dominated the entire evening. Admin’s comments at the end were commiseration, followed with (I’m paraphrasing), “Just thrash and writhe in private, and continue to act like a good host.”

A little confused here…shouldn’t Ace have at least acted like an adult?

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cicero February 19, 2014 at 6:19 am

sorry but i think the OP was wrong here. She should have been more explicit about the “plans”.

when sister called to talk about plans for the evening – she should have said “i have tentative plans for this evening; let me call you back in a few minutes” and then either firmed up or canceled plans with neighbors.

Then when neighbor called about plans for the evening – that was her cue to say “oh, sorry, i just made plans with my sister. we’ll get together some other time!”

It sounds like Ace made the best of a bad situation that was thrust upon him.

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Sammy February 19, 2014 at 6:30 am

Personally I wonder what is the level of Ace’s “normal rudeness” and crass manners. Because I think it makes huge difference how OP should see the relationship with Penny and Ace from now on.

If Ace is hurtful and insulting person who seeks out to cause disturbance to others, even if not his friends, I say good riddance. But I wonder, if OP meant that he is something like one of my friends. My friend is not what you could call a graceful gazelle in the social field. However, I’ve never seen him say a bad word about anybody or trying to be mean or insulting. And he is one of those people who are first to volunteer to help you move and will go out of his way to aid in other things. But, I could see him trying to avoid uncomfortable person in party or seeming grumpy in general, which is not best of the manners.

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PlainJane February 19, 2014 at 7:36 am

The person I feel most sorry for in this story is Ellie. She calls her sister who she doesn’t see all that much and says, “Hey, we’d like to spend some time with you and your husband,” and OP gives the green light. Her sister and BIL are going to make a 2 hour round trip to spend some time just hanging out and what does OP do? Immediately makes plans to hang out with other people. Nice.

I’m fully in Admins corner.

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Agnes February 19, 2014 at 9:45 am

I haven’t seen this option mentioned, but if you only had loose plans to spend time with Penny and Ace, why not simplify matters by saying something like, “My sister unexpectedly called to see me tonight, which we don’t get to do often. We had plans to see each other, so how about doing that here instead of your place?” That way you’re honoring both (tentative) commitments, not pushing additional hosting duties on someone, and Ace could have begged off at any point with a face-saving excuse about a headache or needing to get up early the next day, and would have been able to avoid Ned without being so obvious about him.

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Cecilia February 19, 2014 at 10:56 am

What I got from this was OP tolerates Ace’s crass manners until those manners were aimed towards her family members.

I do think Ace was rude, but the situation was created by OP. I can understand wanting friends & family to get along, but as many have pointed out, some people just do not mix.

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starstruck February 19, 2014 at 11:14 am

i really dont think you should over think this one. not everyone is meant to be friends and get along. its not like ace was openly ugly or rude to ned, he simply didnt want to sit with him. its his home and i just do see what the big deal was. i mean sure, he could have been more sociable and friendly, but there are alot of people out there just like ace who have a hard time pretending and navagating the social graces like the rest of us. had it been me, i would have warned them before they ever got there. maybe telling them ace is a little strange and not to pay any attention to it. they probaly would’nt have gotten so affended if they were prepared for it.

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Rebecca February 19, 2014 at 8:07 pm

I’m sticking up for the OP here. It sounds as though she has the type of relationship with Penny that plans can be loose, and she can say, “Oh, my sister and her partner are visiting now….can I bring them?” and Penny can say, if she wants, “Sure!” or “Why don’t you spend the time with your sister and we’ll get together another time?” Instead, everyone thought it would be “great” to hang out together; that is, everyone except Ace. Ace was very rude, and should have sucked it up and then taken it up with his wife, in private, “I don’t want to hang out with Ned and Ellie.”

That being said, I’ve never said anything about it to my sister, but it bothers both me and my mother when we make the trek out to see her and her husband, and they invite others to join us for the evening. The “others” are always people we have nothing in common with, and I find it hard to believe they invited them because they thought they were people we really should meet. I suspect it’s my sister’s husband who isn’t really enthralled with hanging out with the in-laws, so they invite some people he knows so he won’t be bored, or so that they can cover their end of reciprocal hosting for two sets of people in one go.

I think next time, if your sister and Ned are coming, see your sister and Ned only. If it were me, my sister’s visit would trump “loose” plans, and if they were “set in stone” plans, I’d ask my sister to come another time.

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Allie February 20, 2014 at 12:59 am

I’m a bit confused that you have this big buildup about how Ace is complicated but worth the effort and then end up furious over his behaviour. If I were Ace, I wouldn’t be any too thrilled that you had sprung Ned on me either. I don’t think you are justified in being angry with Ace, nor do I think you owe anyone any apologies for Ace’s behaviour in his own home. Chalk it up to experience and don’t mix these couples again.

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Enna February 20, 2014 at 1:21 pm

I think the OP has learnt a lesson there. Unless you are the host asking a host of an evening to accomdate people they haven’t seen before can be trickey. If I was in OP’s position I would have invited round the person I see less of. Loose plans can always bee rearranged.

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Celia February 21, 2014 at 12:54 am

I agree with Admin mostly however I think Ace was rude too. Once these guests had been accepted, don’t hosts have an obligation to be gracious?
Otherwise Penny should have done the “I’m sorry that won’t be possible” when Op asked.
I’d also e interested in the overall vibe of this social group. In some groups, the more the merrier is what’s normal to them, and last, minute guests might be ok. I don’t know if that’s the case here, Op didn’t say.
I don’t like the assumption that Ned must have done something wrong. We don’t know that. But we do knowAce has a tendency to be crass.

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Margo February 21, 2014 at 5:59 am

I think he first mistake was in asking Penny if you could bring your Sister and BiL – it put her on the spot and made it awkward for her to refuse. It would probably have been netter to have suggested to her that you see them a different evening – it sounds as though the arrangements were very loose.

Also, when Ace made the comments to you about finding Ned boring it might have been a good idea to make your excuses and go home, assuming you weren’t about to sit down for a meal or something .
I think you did rather drop everyone in it, by assuming that they’d all get on and that Penny and Ace would be happy with extra guests at short notice, and that Ellie and Ted would want to hang out with complete strangers to them. I think particularly as you knew in advance that Ace isn’t the easiest person to get on with it was a bad idea (another time, it might be better to if you feel you can;t back out of the loose arrangement with Penny and Ace to ask whether you could change the arrangements form ‘hanging out all evening with them at their house ‘ to ‘them coming over to yours for pre-dinner drinks and to meet you sister’ and deliberately keep it short so you get some time with your relatives

I don’t think you should say anything to Penny or Ace, but in future, don’t fish for invites for extra people.

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op February 21, 2014 at 5:00 pm

OP here:
This is why I love this site. It never ceases to amaze me. Yes, I’ve indeed learned a lesson. The “loose plans” were actually a passing comment the previous evening made by Ace that he would rather spend an evening in his home than go out on a Friday because of the cost. He was thinking of putting this into action. This comment did in no way obligate him to follow up with an invitation but all of us expected as much. When I told my husband that Ellie called and wanted to come up – he said, well, if plans materialize with Penny and Ace – we’ll take them along, they would be more than welcome there. Yes, we both thought it was an option to bring them along and that they would have been welcome there and that Ellie and Ned would enjoy that too. Now, I wonder why I thought that. Because we are good friends with Penny and Ace I see now that I basically obligated them to allow my sister and husband to come with us. So now, I feel very differently about the situation and feel sorry that I obligated my friends in that way and it wasn’t exactly a pleasant evening for Ellie and Ned either. I have no plans to say anything to Ace. Next time, no I won’t mix the groups and I will just cancel any plans I might have made with the neighbors. Thanks to everyone for their comments. It helped alot!!!

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EllenS February 22, 2014 at 2:40 pm

To pointedly get up and leave the room to avoid speaking to a guest in your home is only a half step away from the cut direct. It was very, very rude of Ace to do that. Even if he thought he was being subtle, Ned noticed and therefore it was not subtle enough.
I agree with Admin that the “instigating” or initial bad idea here was foisting the inlaws onto the neighbors by surprise. However, once the hostess accepted and agreed to the additions (after all, there were other neighbors there also -it was not just two couples), the inlaws became invited guests in their home and should be treated as such. The neighbors could have said “no.” Being rude because you are resentful is passive-aggressive and wrong.
However, I think the letter-writer is better off letting this go. She set the situation up. To ruin an otherwise good friendship because the neighbors acted badly in an awkward situation, is cutting off your nose to spite your face.

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kingsrings February 26, 2014 at 5:19 pm

I agree with the admin here. It’s quite rude and puts the host(s) in an uncomfortable position to spring uninvited guests upon them – “Can I invite so-and-so?”. Only the host(s) are in charge of the event and have the right to invite others. The OP could have solved this issue by denying the second invite by explaining to the inviter that she already had plans with the first invite people. Perhaps then the host of the second invite would have extended the invite to her friends.

Also, it’s rude for anyone at an event to completely leave the room to do something else permanently, like Ace did. You’re telling the others that their company isn’t good enough or wanted, so you’ll be off doing something else.

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