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Exercising That Polite Spine Can Be Quite Awkward Sometimes

We were friendly with a couple that that we met through a larger group of friends. We invited them over for dinner parties and they invited us over to their house for dinners, and at first things were nice. Slowly though (over the course of a year), they started trying to push their views on us, they only wanted to have dinners at our house (to the point that they would call or text us trying to get invited over with the pretense we were better cooks than them), and they started bringing their preteen son and toddler daughter to anything we hosted (I like children, but their children were not well behaved-yelling matches from the preteen and his mother, and things broken by the toddler).

We decided that we really did not enjoy being around them and we had nothing in common with them (except that we knew the same people), so we stopped inviting them. I did have a conversation with the couple’s wife and voiced my concerns (she kept messaging me asking why we never had them over anymore), but she just made excuses and blew me off. They continued to call and text off and on for a couple of months trying to get invited to dinners, but they finally faded away…. UNTIL

My husband’s birthday. We had not seen or talked to this couple for at least 6 months. It was a week night and we got home later than usual from work (my husband and I carpool together). As we drove into our driveway, they drove in behind us like they had been waiting for us to get home. They got out of the car and said that we got home late, what time was dinner? Then they went into a monologue on how the children just had to see my husband on his birthday and give him a gift (coffee from the local shop), that it was a great present and we should go inside so they can see my husband’s new humidor (birthday present) ……… and didn’t they see a cake on social media I made for his birthday, because the coffee would go great with that cake. This went on for 20 minutes while I was being bit by every mosquito in the land as we stood in our driveway. We stood our ground though, and did not invite them in. The wife finally stated that she guessed she would have to eat cheese crackers for dinner as they had not been invited in for at least cake, and her husband then stated that they guess we were busy and should go (all in a very passive aggressive tone). My husband and I just nodded yes. They finally left, but they really tried to make us feel guilty for not inviting them in for at least cake. It was awkward and strange to say the least, but confirmed that we really didn’t want to socialize with this couple! Needless to say, I went inside and changed all my settings on social media so they could no longer see any of my posts….and they couldn’t message me. 0920-18

{ 42 comments }
{ 42 comments… add one }
  • jokergirl129 September 25, 2018, 3:59 pm

    If the couple did wait outside your home for you and your husband to get home that is really creepy. Their behavior is just so odd and bizarre that I don’t blame you one bit for wanting nothing to do with them. They were beyond pushy. Borderline on stalking even if seeing a cake on your social media account made them go to your home and wait for who knows how long just to get a chance to eat some of it. I’m glad you and your husband stood your ground and didn’t let them in (and good on you for changing your settings so they can’t see what you post anymore or contact you again). You don’t want these types of people in your life and who knows if they would eventually want more than just dinner in the future. Here’s hoping this is the last time you see/hear from them again.

  • Lady Catford September 25, 2018, 4:12 pm

    Good for you. A polite spine is a wonderful thing.

  • Secret Sauce September 25, 2018, 5:17 pm

    This one is very familiar, but not sure if I saw it here or another site. Regardless glad to see the originator extricated herself. I’d have not put up with it for 20 minutes while mosquitoes snacked on my though. I welt up horribly and am miserable for days!

    • admin September 25, 2018, 6:18 pm

      It was originally posted in the Ehell forum a year ago and the author resubmitted to be published on the blog.

  • Kat September 25, 2018, 5:31 pm

    20 minutes?! You have the patience of a SAINT. The FIRST time they asked / suggested they go inside, I just would have flat out told them no, we hadn’t invited them over and therefore had made other plans. Can’t host, have a good evening.

  • GreenThing September 25, 2018, 6:47 pm

    They know you can just buy cake at the grocery store right? You don’t need to wait outsides someone’s house for Lord knows how long for a slice of cake. You can buy a cake and eat the whole thing yourself whenever you please. What was so incredibly special about OP’s cake that it was worth stalking them for? OP I think we need a recipe because clearly your cake is heavenly.

    • Psyche September 26, 2018, 3:17 pm

      It sounds like the couple were trying to score a free dinner.

      • Carrie September 28, 2018, 12:48 pm

        And probably try and take home any leftovers.

    • AttackKitten September 30, 2018, 11:45 am

      These people really take the cake! (Sorry, that was terrible, but I couldn’t help myself) Complete weirdos. How long did they make the kids sit in the car stalking these people to beg for a free meal?

      And yes, my local grocery store not only sells cakes, they even sell single and double slices. It’s marvelous. But I agree with another poster that they were definitely trying to score a free dinner as well as a piece of cake.

  • staceyizme September 25, 2018, 7:25 pm

    You have the right idea. BUT- it’s not necessary to remain outside with uninvited guests for more than a few seconds. “We’ve got to be going. Have a good night!”. And then IN to your house you go! You’ve given these people far too much access to your time, your hospitality and even your patience. The moral of the story is- set those boundaries early and maintain them. The first time someone tried to invite themselves to your house when you hadn’t issued an invitation should have been the last. “No” is a complete sentence. Even silence would suffice. You don’t need to engage with social miscreants any more than you do telemarketers. As soon as the conversation has gone “off the rails” of conventionally accepted standards, a quick exit is generally in order.

  • AJ September 25, 2018, 9:18 pm

    Goes to show, you can be as polite as polite can be but it’s no counter for the rude entitled moocher. 🙁

  • kingsrings September 25, 2018, 10:50 pm

    I love cake and there are many times that I see yummy cake photos posted on Facebook and I just want to have a piece so badly! Never thought of tracking down the address and showing up at the cake owner’s door, hmmm, maybe I should try that! ?

  • at work September 26, 2018, 5:40 am

    Do you think the offending couple considered themselves to be good friends with OP, and in their world this is how good friends interact? The reason I ask is that a friend was astonished when I strongly urged her to telephone one of our friends ahead of time instead of just dropping in at 9 p.m. In her world view, everyone is always happy to receive everyone else at any time. As for the OP, you stood your ground admirably in my opinion.

    • staceyizme September 26, 2018, 9:02 pm

      Goodness, it’s hard to believe that an adult could be that oblivious! Her world view sounds a great deal as if it accounts very nicely and comprehensively for her own needs, wants and desires. Based on the anecdote you cited here, it seems unlikely to have accounted for any similar frame of reference for others. Their needs, wants and desires seem expected to miraculously align with her own. What a wonderful world she must inhabit, until she comes to a place where she is confronted by evidence to the contrary.

      • Redblues September 29, 2018, 1:21 am

        They were not at all oblivious. They were pushy and rude. They knew the OP did not want them there and had not invited them. They wanted to embarrass the OP into inviting them in anyway. They failed.

    • lakey September 27, 2018, 10:44 am

      I think that the world view you are describing involves a level of self centeredness. “I feel like visiting at 9 PM, so it must be a good ideal.” A person who thinks like that is oblivious to the fact that there can be any number of reasons that someone else doesn’t want to answer the door at that time. You are describing a person who is only thinking from her own point of view.
      She probably means well and doesn’t intend to bother someone, so good for you for nicely pointing out to her that she should call ahead.

  • MelEtiquette September 26, 2018, 9:13 am

    The LW did a fine job of exercising their polite spine and not giving in to the couple by inviting them in for dinner…but what bizarre behavior! I’d like to know more about this family. Is there an indication that they have fallen on hard times financially? It would explain why they stopped hosting dinners. It would also explain why they push to have dinner at LW’s house rather than at a restaurant, as they may not be able to afford to eat out. It sounds like they still want to enjoy LW and husband’s company, and may not know how to suggest an activity that does not center around a meal or some other activity that costs money. The fact that they waited for LW and husband to come home on the night of his birthday is truly strange and stalker-ish, though – especially if they do not live in the same neighborhood – and the fact that the birthday gift they brought husband was an item they were expecting to consume right then and there is also weird.

    I’m also curious what the LW means when they say they started to “push their views” – made me think that the family is either in a cult or a company like Amway.

    • Ripple September 26, 2018, 10:09 am

      I’m thinking more political or religious views that don’t match the OP’s.

    • Ilikecake September 26, 2018, 10:37 am

      OP here-about the family….they had not fallen on hard times financially (that we knew of)….they traveled and went out to eat often (but did not invite other couples to go with them). The wife and husband first started pushing their political views on us. Then they got involved in a MLM group selling toothpaste and “nutritional” supplies (not Amway-but another company like it). They really tried to push that on us (the hard sell), and were met with a rousing no from me and my husband (I am not buying 25.00 toothpaste). That was about the same time we had couple of bad incidents with their children at our house, and stopped inviting them.

    • The Other Elizabeth October 8, 2018, 9:00 am

      I think it’s absolutely hilarious that multi-level marketing is seen as comparable to cults. They certainly are inordinately enthusiastic about their products!

  • Mary Sgree September 26, 2018, 11:44 am

    I’m prob from a different generation that most on here. But I was always taught that if someone shows up at your house for a social call, they were invited in and offered a beverage and something sweet. Always, even if it were someone that made you groan. That was proper etiquette and civility. Now, I get people dont do this any longer, but sometimes I wonder why we dont. But, I’ve mentioned this before, this generation does seem to always invite themselves over to dinner, or whatever, instead of hosting themselves, they always want someone else to do it and invite them. That is not right.

    • Ange September 26, 2018, 8:01 pm

      I imagine this is why it doesn’t happen as much anymore. Nobody needs to be held hostage to the whims of freeloaders with wild children in their own home.

    • staceyizme September 26, 2018, 8:57 pm

      I don’t know; I can think of people who wouldn’t qualify to be invited in even in generations gone by… (Jesse James, Lucky Luciano, John Wayne Gacy, Bonnie and Clyde…). I think the point is that when people stop being tolerable due to a lack of civility or at least a basic observance of common decency, they stop being eligible for the benefit of the doubt on which these older customs were based. And when they had a situation “back in the day” when someone was not deemed to be socially acceptable, they probably had a number of acceptable options other than simply surrendering their homes and their time to random interlopers. “I have to wash my hair” rings a bell, as does “I have a headache…” or any number of random excuses appropriate to the era. At no time in history were reasonable (or reasonably intelligent) people subject to being randomly victimized by those in their circle. An “out” of one sort or another existed in every era and for almost every difficulty.

      • Asharah September 30, 2018, 11:03 am

        Heard an Urban Legend about a frontier widow who answered the door to two young men looking for shelter on a rainy night. Of course on the frontier hospitality was more important than being wary of strangers. she mentioned she owed the bank a debt and would lose her farm if it wasn’t payed off. She wakes up the next day to find they’ve left her enough to pay the debt, several hundred dollars, along with a note saying to make sure she gets a receipt from the banker. Banker shows up, accepts money, givers her a receipt saying debt is paid in full and heads back to town. On the way, he’s robbed by two armed bandits that turn out to be the same two guys. Frank & Jesse James.

      • ladyv21454 October 1, 2018, 4:58 pm

        Back in the days when ladies used to pay calls on each other, it was perfectly acceptable to have your butler/maid/footman tell a visitor, “Madam is not available at the present time.” The fact that Madam might be upstairs taking a nap was irrelevant, as no reason needed to be given.

    • Vicki September 26, 2018, 9:15 pm

      That’s not what I was taught (born when JFK was president), and it’s not what my parents did (my mother was born in 1931), so I assume this varies with location and probably between social groups as well as having changed over time. In my father’s childhood, polite people didn’t visit at or near mealtimes unless the invitation was explicitly for dinner, because not everyone could afford to feed unexpected guests.

      But if you miss that practice of having people visit without an invitation and giving them at least a snack , it seems odd that you also mind that “this generation” (which?) invite themselves to dinner, i.e., show up for a social call when they feel like it and expect to be invited in and fed. There isn’t that much difference between expecting to be asked in and offered coffee and cake when you show up unexpectedly, even at the home of people who don’t want to see you, and expecting a meal in similar circumstances.

      I suspect that one thing that changed is that once most households have phones, it’s easy to call and invite someone for an hour, or ask if this is a good time to return something you borrowed, or would they like some extra tomatoes.

    • MzLiz September 26, 2018, 11:55 pm

      I think it was more common to show up unannounced in the days when women generally worked within the home. The Ladies popping over for coffee or whatever at each other’s houses after getting the kids off to school & before dinnertime was like having a coffee with your co-worker in the break-room. They all knew each other’s schedules so it wasn’t intrusive – You wouldn’t turn up at the door during meal times unless it was an emergency. And lots of housewives used to actually enjoy an unexpected visitor for the company/excuse to sit down & have a chat. But while my mother’s generation still does the ‘pop over’ now & again, a lot of them send a quick text cos it’s handier.

      Most households are double-income now so the days of being ‘guest ready at a moment’s notice’ & having that kind of free time are pretty much done. Current civility dictates you call/text first or be OK with people thinking you’re a bit rude/being sent away/wasting your time when you arrive & they’re not home. But rolling up with the kids & demanding dinner has always been rude, as far as I know! I could understand if they were dropping off a gift & happened to be ‘caught’ by the OP & her husband, but obviously, the gift was supposed to be their ticket for a free meal that would be cooked & served to them. Cheeky or clueless? I can’t decide.

      • JD September 27, 2018, 8:23 am

        In the Victorian times, there were set hours for women of the “leisure” class to go “calling” on each other, to be invited in for tea or simply to leave their calling card, in order to let someone know they had come by. It was sort of a social obligation. If a person was no longer wanted as a social connection, the servant was told to tell the caller that ma’am was not available. Which meant, not available to this particular caller.
        I agree with MzLiz; I was born in the 50’s. Neighbor women did drop in to chat with each other at mid-morning a lot, but never at meal time, never when the kids were getting home from school, and never in the evening, unless specifically invited to come over.

        • Catherine St. Clair September 29, 2018, 12:16 pm

          You’re correct. Ladies had a set “at home” time when all callers were welcome. Everyone when your “at home” time was and that they would be welcome at that time and on that day. You, in turn, knew when your friends had their “at home” days and hours and that was when you went visiting. It was the way to make certain the house would be presentable and the lady of the house correctly dressed and ready with refreshments. It was very civilized; we just no longer have that much free time.

      • Liz September 27, 2018, 10:45 am

        I agree. I know while I’m single, i DO work FT and absolutely hate people just “dropping by” unannounced. my free time outside of work is usually planned, esp. so when I had a second job, and someone just dropping by would throw a wrench into it all!
        So i can only imagine what its like for a family with two working parents, kids, activities etc. a lot of logistics and planning, so really not easily adaptable to someone who just shows up and wants to hang out or have a meal!

        • MzLiz September 27, 2018, 2:41 pm

          Liz, I know you didn’t take it that way but instead of writing that ‘most households are double-income’, I should have said most women (whether single or married) work outside the home now. That’s what I meant. The assumption that you can drop by on ANYONE nowadays & expect to be ushered in, entertained & waited on because ‘that’s how it used to be’ is impractical. Being encroached on to play hostess for surprise guests was kinda part of the job when it was more common for women to work at home. That’s changed so the social norms have too.

          When I was single, I probably had less free time than I do now cos I split chores/errands with my Hubby instead of doing everything myself. I really dislike it when people think that because someone is single and/or doesn’t have kids, their time isn’t as valuable or they have nothing better to do so other people are entitled to their free time. Everybody’s busy!

    • Bea September 27, 2018, 10:40 am

      Well unless I’m expecting a visitor, I don’t have anything to offer them. This couple at least knew they had cake and brought a beverage. But show up unannounced and I’ll just say we need to go to the diner because I’m fresh out of treats and can offer tap water.

      It’s possibly regional. We don’t do that unless it’s family and even then it’s rare. My grandparents were born into the great depression, so what is there to share after your 14 kids are barely fed?!

    • Leigh September 28, 2018, 10:58 am

      My sister’s neighborhood/street has a standing agreement-if the garage door is up, then that means the family is available for drop in visits from anyone. If the garage door is down, they aren’t available. This is a general rule, and if a family doesn’t follow along, that’s perfectly fine, but that’s one way they have made a social agreement with friends and neighbors to know if it’s a good time for a visit. While this wouldn’t be practical in every situation and location, it works where they are, and I think it’s lovely.

    • crella September 30, 2018, 10:30 pm

      Well, the people who dropped by for a social call did so within acceptable hours. I think that makes a difference. This family showed up at dinner time and all but demanded birthday cake.

  • lakey September 26, 2018, 1:01 pm

    “Then they went into a monologue on how the children just had to see my husband on his birthday and give him a gift (coffee from the local shop), ”

    You know what’s worse than freeloaders? Manipulative freeloaders. The gift was a form of manipulation. I actually know someone who pulled a stunt like this in order to get herself invited into the home of a well to do family whose daughter was marrying the manipulator’s nephew. The social climber showed up at their door with a knick knack gift and waited to be invited in. Nephew’s soon to be MIL, stood in the doorway, thanked her, and didn’t invite her in. You have to be firm with people like this.

    • staceyizme September 27, 2018, 8:05 pm

      This particular narrative could go either way and the teller often embroiders such an anecdote for effect. Showing up with a knick knack gift in honor of your nephew’s upcoming marriage might be in (somewhat) questionable taste, but it might actually be the MIL to be in this case who came off as a little to “classist” in her views. If she was the one who later shared the anecdote, then I’d double down on her as the likely villain in this piece, rather than the long-suffering and saintly homebody at the center of an unwanted family drama.

  • JD September 26, 2018, 1:34 pm

    These “friends” are a bit scary. And I had to laugh at some of the comments, especially GreenThing and KingsRings. Yes, it’s just a cake, people! Make one, or buy one, for yourself. Cake mixes do exist. Who loads up the whole family and stalks another family, just to try to mooch a slice of cake? Good for OP for resisting that one, and for opting out of the “friendship” in the first place, when it became apparent they weren’t going to be a good fit. It sounds like OP even told the wife something along that line when they stopped inviting the family over, and wife asked what happened, yet this family still shows up in her driveway? I agree, too, that the couple was using their kids to try to manipulate OP and OP’s husband.

  • shoegal September 26, 2018, 2:08 pm

    It would be completely against my nature to even remotely think of doing something like that. I wouldn’t stoop to humiliate myself to try and wrangle an invitation to anything from anyone. As it is, I try desperately not to offended if everybody in the world is invited to so and so’s party but I’m not. No one is at all obligated to invite me anywhere. If my neighbors stopped inviting me – well, then I would certainly wonder and speculate about what I could have done but I wouldn’t ever ask and I would never pull into their driveway and try to get invited in or stalk them on facebook. Don’t they have any pride?

  • Catherine St. Clair September 26, 2018, 2:52 pm

    They tried very hard to put you on the spot where you could not say no and turn them away. I am sorry it took you twenty minutes to work yourselves free of them, but you stood your ground. These people want to manipulate you and make you feel as if you are being selfish and unkind. You explained your concerns and she blew you off. I’d have asked them who invited them for dinner and if they were not concerned their hosts would be waiting for them while they chatted in our driveway. “I am sure you’ll want to getting to your friend’s home. Don’t let us hold you up. Bye.”

  • Sarah September 27, 2018, 5:33 am

    The kids “just had to see the husband on his birthday.” Why would some kids want to see their father’s friend on his birthday? He’s not their friend – he’s their father’s age. WEIRD!

  • Redblues September 29, 2018, 1:31 am

    OP you are my hero!

  • Kitty October 2, 2018, 9:12 am

    Trying to guilt you into providing them dinner by claiming she needs to eat cheese crackers? Pft. Nod into the direction of the closest fast food joint and tell her to go there if she’s hungry. Good thing you made sure to work on getting them out of your life. I almost want to call them leeches.

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