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The Tag-A-Long Guest

Hello Jeanne and fellow Etiquette Hell readers,

I recently had a visit from an old friend (let’s call him M) and we were talking about an incident that I would like your opinion about.

This happened about five years ago while we were both in our 4th year of college.  I was living by myself near the campus and wanted to invite a couple old friends from out of town up for New Year’s Eve.  I invited M and another friend E, both male. The invitations were verbal over the phone something like “Hey, want to come stay here for New Years?  I’m inviting E/M too.”  My thought was that we would just have a guys night out.

E arrived first and we were watching t.v. until M got there.  However, he did not arrive alone.  He brought his girlfriend (H) with him.  I was surprised because I had not said anything to him about bringing her along and he did not say anything to me about bringing her.  I even thought back to when he called to tell me he was on his way there, he did not say we are on our way there.  It caused some tension later that night, but in the end we all had a good time.

When I brought this story up at the recent visit with M he told me I should have expected him to bring the girl he was dating at the time.  We then asked another friend who heard the story what he thought and he agreed that if M was dating someone at the time I should have expected her to come along with him.  My question for you is, should I have expected him to bring her?  If so, shouldn’t he have at least told me that he was bringing someone else who would be staying the night in my home?

Thank you for your advice.

First, let me give you a hearty “way to go” for making the effort to be a hospitable kind of guy and second, to commend you for wanting to do it right.  It warms my soul.

The first error was on your part to not have communicated clearly that this was a guy’s only event.   While you intended your guest list to be limited to those with a surplus of testosterone, it’s unlikely they read between the lines and your mind to know that for certain.   Had they, M would have either declined or asked to bring his girlfriend anyway.   My college senior son hosts the occasional evening party he calls “Man, Meat, Movie” and it’s obvious by the name that anything that doesn’t have a Y chromosome is not a part of the party plans.   (When he was in high school, we hosted a party called “The He-Man Fellowship of Manliness” which involved a very aggressive form of capture the flag in the pouring rain, mud wrestling and consumption of large amounts of beef.  No ambiguity there!)  So, extend your invitations with the clear message of the theme, in this case, it was to have been “Guys Night”.

M was wrong to assume an invitation given to him to sleep over at your house was also extended to his girlfriend.   While etiquette does recognize that dating couples can be a social unit and should be invited together for parties and dinners, there are exceptions to that which are weddings and overnight sleeping arrangements.   A host is never under an obligation to extend invitations to weddings or their home to the date of their intended guest.    I know many of the younger generation think that just because pre-marital sex is so culturally prevalent that this excuses their presumptions that hosts should welcome and extend hospitality to those presuming to sleep together under their roof.  Had an invited house guest made that presumption upon my hospitality and showed up with an additional uninvited house guest, the awkward level would peak pretty high and quickly as the words, “I’m sorry, I cannot accommodate that request”, came out of my mouth.   Arrangements would have been made to bed them separately and therefore the awkwardness continues because I would not have been prepared for that scenario.

M should have asked you if H could come and then you would have had to decide which mattered more to you, having M (with H) come to your party or keep to your original plan of having a guy’s only theme which would have been limited to you and E.   But let’s face it, New Year’s Eve ranks high up there for holidays that lovers want to be together to celebrate the start of a new year.  M probably would not have come at all if you had excluded H.   Such are the dilemmas of all hosts and hostesses!


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • karmabottle March 9, 2011, 6:49 am

    Respectfully, I disagree. I think M is in the wrong.

    When the OP invited M, he said, “Would you like to come up for New Years? I’ve invited E too.” That is crystal clear: YOU. Not you and a friend, not you and your significant other, not you and your dog. Just YOU.

    Additionally, if M was a bit thick and needed more clarification than that, he should have simply asked if it were to be a guy’s night or bring-a-date night. However, he should not ASK to bring a date. One does not invite others to someone else’s event. If the host wants you to bring a date, they will let you know when they ask you to come.

    The onus is on M to *hear* what the host has said. The host WAS clear. M was the one who chose to ignore the explicit invitation to bring himself to the city.

  • Bint March 9, 2011, 7:06 am

    People who do this drive me mad. If you want to bring your partner when they haven’t specifically been invited, ask. And don’t expect people to invite you as much – I don’t necessarily want both of you there all the time, and quite a few events may not be for couples.

    I’m married and would never assume I was invited with my husband. Not even Hogmanay. We’d want to stay together then, so we’d ask first and if not suitable, go somewhere else together. M was presumptuous. Even if he thought it was fine to bring his girlfriend, did he not think his host might like to know she was coming?! Assuming the host will know *of course* you’re bringing your other half is pretty daft. Not everyone likes being joined at the hip.

  • Tara March 9, 2011, 7:18 am

    My husband was invited to a Derby party a couple years back, and asked me to come with him (it was at a friend’s house). I said no, since I hadn’t been specifically invited. He said he was sure it was fine, and I told him that he should ask his friend if he meant to invite me too, or just my husband. In the end, I didn’t go, and now they both (my husband and the host) tease me about not showing up. No, I wasn’t invited, but it was assumed that I would go too, since my husband had been invited.

    I think that MOST young people assume that when they invite one person, that person’s spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend/life partner are also invited, unless it’s been stated otherwise, especially for casual parties. Further, people ought to know whether their friends would have a problem with their girlfriend/boyfriend going with them to an overnight event… if you are in an ultra-religious circle of friends, then you know better, or if you happen to have a religious friend, you’d know.

  • Kimberly March 9, 2011, 7:39 am

    You invited your friend(s) over for New Year’s Eve, and did not specify that you thought it would just be the guys? No, I do not think M committed a faux pas(?) in this case, nor you. I think it was more a lack of communication between all parties. It is New Year’s Eve. Most couples spend it together. If I was M, I, too, would have thought that when you were inviting me over by phone, that you meant myself and my girlfriend.

    I once had a friend invite me over on Christmas Eve. He sort of said the same thing, about coming over on Christmas Eve. I thought, great, as we had not seen each other in a long while. We talked again, and were discussing something and it came out that he only meant me coming over on Christmas Eve, while I had assumed he meant myself and my family. I had to decline, because I am sorry, I am a mom, had two children at the time and myself and my second husband had just gotten married. I was not going to spend Christmas Eve without them. I am glad we had the chance to talk before we would have shown up at his place, because than I would have felt awkward, as I am sure he would have also and so would my family. I guess because it was a holiday, I did assume that when he invited me to his place, I did not think he meant just me alone.

  • Kai March 9, 2011, 8:00 am

    The admin is right about New Years Eve being high on the list for couples to be together. If the OP knew that M was in a relationship, then yes he should have expected that M would want to spend New Years with her. In which case the OP could have decided to include her in the invitation or to not invite M in the first place. However, expecting that M would want to spend the day with his girl does not equal expecting that M would bring her along uninvited.

    Now M on the other hand, had no right to expect that his girlfriend was immediately invited. He could easily have asked when the invitation was given whether his girlfriend was invited or not, and then decided whether or not he would attend based on the OP’s answer. I’m glad the OP reacted graciously to the tag-along though. I think admin’s suggestion of a very masculine name for future guy’s nights is a good one, and gets the message across in a fun way so that no decent person could get upset at.

    I don’t understand why so many people assume that their SO is automatically included in everything. I don’t assume that I am invited to anything just because my fiancee is, nor does he assume he is invited to everything I am just because we are engaged. But the difference is, when we’ve been unsure we’ve asked (in a polite and friendly way, unless it is obvious that the invitation is for one, such as a guy’s night for him or a girls day for me)

  • Shayna March 9, 2011, 8:30 am

    This is why, when I’m hosting a get-together for my female friends, I specifically make mention of a “gals’ night out” and a few days later, “Have you found a sitter yet?” Otherwise, with me, it’s common knowledge that if I don’t make that statement or ask that question, it’s bring the husband, the kids, the dog if you want.

    While I normally don’t criticize our Dame, I’m going to have to disagree with her on something: the bedding separately. Just because one feels as though pre-marital sex is wrong, they have no right to force their moral beliefs on a couple who may, or may not, be involved in whatever it is you might object to. Therefore, if you do have people in your life who are dating and you assume that they are sexually active, you simply don’t invite them for an overnight stay.

    • admin March 9, 2011, 10:06 am

      Sorry but my house, my rules. One should never assume that your personal ethics are shared by everyone else and therefore must accommodated with little thought of how others might believe.

  • ferretrick March 9, 2011, 8:35 am

    I think the first, and most significant, mistake was the letter writer’s for planning an event that excluded singificant others on a major holiday. I thoroughly support the idea that couples should be able to do things seperately with their friends and have interests that don’t always include their significant other. There’s also nothing wrong with the friend wanting time designated as one on one time with their friend, or guy’s/girl’s night, or whatever you want to call it. But there’s a time and a place, and major holidays are not that time. Family/significant others come first, and a good friend would understand that. Even if LW had been more clear that it was guys only, I would be offended by an invitation from a friend on New Year’s Eve, or Christmas Eve, or any other loaded day like that that EXCLUDED my significant other. That says to me the friend expects me to prioritize them over my partner, and that’s very presumptuous.

    But, LW was a college senior at the time. It sounds like this is one of those college-is-ending experiences that wake you up to the realities of adulthood. You have to learn that as all of you grow and marry, friends and guy time is going to take a back seat to family time. It doesn’t mean your friendships have to die out, but they will change. It’s part of life, and as you move to your upper 20s and 30s you’ll find guy’s night becomes rarer and rarer and couples time or kids play dates becomes what hanging out with your buddies means.

    All that said, no M shouldn’t have brought girlfriend on an overnight visit when she wasn’t specificly invited. But a party like that on New Year’s Eve should never have been planned in the first place.

  • MetalRose March 9, 2011, 8:43 am

    I think it was poor communication all around. I’m assuming you knew he had a girlfriend and I’m assuming you knew they were joined at the hip. Saying, “for a guys night” makes it a little more clear. So I’d say your error there.

    For the friend, sometimes people get so wrapped up in relationships they forget that there is a single person there and assume every invitation is for the “you” as the couple and not “you” as the person. So his error there.

    I think a big part missing is is everyone had girlfriends at the time, if everyone is always doing things as a group, it may be hard to distinguish that would be done for the guys alone. I guess even if there weren’t other GF’s involved if hanging out as a group was normal, then it was the OP’s faux pax.

    Bottom line, I think it was just miscommunication and not really a breach.

  • Ashley March 9, 2011, 8:55 am

    I agree with the Admin that New Year’s is an important holiday for couples (i.e. the kiss at midnight). However, that doesn’t give M the right to bring along a guest that wasn’t invited, especially if the plan was to have a sleep-over. Because M never mentioned H and never used “we” in his convo with OP, I get the feeling that M may have known this was a guys-only night and deliberately neglected to mention H because he knew she wouldn’t be invited. Invites can certainly get complicated when invitees have significant others to consider. Now that I and most of my friends are either married or in serious relationships, I always make a point to clarify whether or not SOs are invited to functions.

  • Ugh March 9, 2011, 9:02 am

    This kind of thing irritates me too. I’m divorced now, but even when I was married, I did not assume that my husband was invited everywhere I was. When my female friends would say, “Hey I haven’t seen you in a while, why don’t we go to lunch and catch up?” or “It’s my birthday, I’m inviting X. Y, and Z, let’s get together for a birthday lunch.” I didn’t assume that meant I brought along my husband, I assumed they wanted to see me and catch up with me or celebrate their birthday with me, their friend. Not me, their friend, and that guy she’s with. And yet this has happened to me time and time again, invite a friend to lunch and they bring along their significant other. Seriously, you cannot be without your significant other for the duration of a lunch? I have had get-togethers at my house and have made it clear that this is a Significant Other event, as in, “Hey, why don’t you and X come over?” They are obviously invited. Why must you bring them to events when I specifically invite only you?

    And now, being a single mom with kids, if I’m invited somewhere, I say, “Well, that would be nice, but I have the kids.” I don’t assume they are automatically invited either. Many times they are, but other times we pick another day when I don’t have them, or I just don’t go period. People wouldn’t like it if I just showed up with my kids in tow uninvited, so why is it OK to bring your Significant Other in tow uninvited?

  • --Lia March 9, 2011, 9:05 am

    For me, the problem isn’t that it’s an extra girlfriend; it’s that it’s an extra person. If I plan an informal party for 30 people, I can accommodate 32. If I plan a party for 3 people, it’s hard to accommodate 4. That goes extra for people staying at my house and double extra for when I’m young. How many beers in the fridge, how many towels in the bathroom, that sort of thing. Who gets the couch and who gets the sleeping bag. I don’t mind if unmarried people sleep together, but they might reasonably expect privacy, and if it was supposed to be a guys’ weekend, how does the guest know the original plan wasn’t to have them all sleeping in the bunk beds?

    Having said that, I’d put this in the no big deal category. It was a minor faux pas. I committed much worse at that age. I hope the young lady was a sport about it.

  • Alexis March 9, 2011, 9:16 am

    Sounds like miscommunication all around. But really, how single and how socially tone-deaf do you have to be to invite half a couple to an overnight party, on New Years Eve?

  • Chocobo March 9, 2011, 9:33 am

    I can see where there might be some miscommunication here. Especially in college, where parties are so often amorphous and open ended, an informal party with a vague and informal invitation can seem open to interpretation. Especially on a holiday like New Year’s Eve, which can be a couple’s holiday. Such is the annoying/confusing thing about the English use of “you” to address both the singular and collective 2nd person. Inviting “you” to come over could mean “just you” or “both of you.”

    Best to just be upfront next time and say “Want to come over and have a guys-only night?”

    As a side note, I’d probably never go to a party unless my husband was invited, and vice versa, unless it was in a social circle that he or I were completely uninvolved in, like a work party. It’s just not fun.

  • Michelle P March 9, 2011, 9:34 am

    Admin is right; it’s a tough situation; the suggestion of having a ‘manly’ name for the event is great!

    I’ve been in the same scenario, only I fully believe my guest was rude: I’ve been friends with spouses of soldiers at various times of my adult life, having been married to one once. I was often faced with the problem of my friends not wanting to do anything without their husbands. Once, I invited a good acquaintance to dinner; I wanted to become closer friends. She asked if her husband could come! Sorry, but no, I’m not interested in having dinner with you and your husband. Mine was deployed. She then asked, “Can we make it lunch instead, my husband gets jealous when I go out to eat without him?” Good grief. Mind you, she said he wasn’t jealous of her being out with someone, he just couldn’t stand not going out while she did. I politely said I really wanted it to be a girls’ night, and couldn’t make it a lunch due to my schedule. Was I wrong, or was she? While I agree that holidays should be spent together, can’t anyone do anything without their significant other???

  • Katy March 9, 2011, 10:13 am

    Based on my experience, New Year’s Eve isn’t a holiday that is spent in exclusive groups of only three people. Generally, it’s the more the merrier. However when it comes to sleeping arrangements bringing an uninvited guest can make for awkward situations. If I was the girl I would have wanted to know if it was okay for me to stay over and where I would be staying. I’m not one to travel with my entire closet but I do need at least an overnight bag.

    I believe that if a person is in a committed relationship and/or married then any inviation is extended to both people – unless the title of the event is clear like: Bachelor Party or Bridal Shower. If either my husband or I were invited to a party and the other one was not invited we would probably not attend. I do agree that many people these days think that any person they are dating is welcome to come along to wherever they are going. For the last 5-6 Christmas’ my cousin has brought a different boyfriend to our family gathering. Our family is always welcoming but it’s getting hard to invest any time getting to know the boyfriend when we all know he probably won’t be returning next year. Oh well, it’s family!

  • PhDeath March 9, 2011, 10:19 am

    I would just like to add that the “He-Man Fellowship of Manliness” party sounds great to me, and I am decidedly a woman. Well: not the beef, as I am a vegetarian, but hardcore capture the flag? Yes, please!

    Then again, I am often steeped in ambiguity. 🙂

  • alli_wan March 9, 2011, 10:24 am

    I’m going to have to disagree with admin here. I agree on the ‘my house, my rules’ thing (though there are nice and less nice ways of communicating that), but I totally disagree that the LW was not clear. He could have been more clear to accomodate M being incredibly dense, and I even like the ‘blatantly crystal clear ways he could have been even more clear’ but he was clear. The only person in the wrong here was M (and possibly M’s girlfriend).

    I also take issue with the assertion that ‘New Years is a holiday for couples’. While many couples like to be together at New Year’s, it’s not as if the holiday doesn’t happen for us single people and we all just sit around in a hole waiting for all the Coupleness to be over. I have fond memories of neighborhood parties, and relaxed family parties, and people going out, coupled or uncoupled. Just because Hollywood dictates the only proper way to celebrate is a New Year’s Kiss as the ball drops doesn’t mean it is true, and doesn’t mean a New Year’s invitation is an ‘and guest’ situation. If you want to be with your significant other, decline the invite and go be with them. It’s certainly not a snub that anyone you may be having pre-marital or marital relations with is not invited to sit on couch for beer and New Year’s movie marathons.

  • Guinevere March 9, 2011, 10:31 am

    Wondering why the girlfriend wouldn’t have had M ask for more details on the guest list, to find out if she actually was invited. To me, this is normal behavior from the significant other. I quiz my hubby about how invites are worded, and even have him email or call the host to be sure it’s a guys-only event. I would never show up unless I had been specifically invited – how awkward!! Not knowing the relationship between M and his girl, it’s hard to know who to blame in this situation. But, it does sound like the OP handled it wonderfully, and like a good host accommodated “one more plate at the table”, so to speak.

  • Sarah Jane March 9, 2011, 11:01 am

    I’m glad this issue has come up again and am particularly interested in some of the comments I’ve read, especially in light of the post that appeared a few days ago (the “Bologna” one.). In that case, the OP attended a birthday luncheon for her boyfriend’s friend on a day that was actually her boyfriend’s birthday, as well. I was disappointed to see the OP receive what I thought to be quite a dressing-down for possibly showing up uninvited. The details were never clear as to whether she had been invited, no matter how begrudgingly, and I stated as much in my comment, which is still awaiting moderation (?)

    While I believe that no one should presume he or she is invited to an event, nor should he or she fish for an invitation, nor should he or she attend uninvited, what I’m hearing today is that it is not altogether unreasonable for a couple to wonder if they are expected to attend together, and that such clarification should be sought, especially on important occasions where couples might normally expect to spend the time together, such as New Year’s (or a boyfriend’s birthday, maybe???)

  • Chocobo March 9, 2011, 11:01 am

    Shayna — I disagree. The host/ess DOES have the right to enforce their own beliefs in their house. If someone is staying over and the host believes they shouldn’t bunk in the same room, it’s their prerogative to separate them. Oppositely, they wouldn’t have any right to protest it in someone else’s home who allows it. I do agree that if that really rubs some couples the wrong way, the most delicate solution is to avoid the scenario, or be upfront about it.

    I will also say one thing about “manly” names for a party: it’s cute, but still leaves you open for interpretation. Probably because I grew up a tomboy, and hung out almost exclusively with men/boys, a “Poker, Red Meat & Beer” party would probably not dissuade me from coming, or honestly even register that it’s supposed to be men only. In fact, I would probably think it sounded awesome and want to go more. In the same vein, my husband would love to go to a “Garden Tea Luncheon” and not necessarily assume it was exclusive to women. For me, I would probably ask in these examples whether the other spouse was invited, because I know our interests aren’t normative, but not everyone would.

    Especially in a time of changing gender scripts and interests, where being a man/woman doesn’t mean the same things to everyone, it would be safest to simply say “men only” to avoid any confusion, if you really want only the XY chromosomes to show.

  • Shayna March 9, 2011, 11:08 am

    That wasn’t what I said, admin. I agree completely that if I were engaging in pre-marital sex and I was planning on staying at the home of someone whom I absolutely knew didn’t agree with that, then I would not engage in pre-marital sex and would be happy to sleep in a separate bed while under their roof. However, what I meant was that if you know a couple who you assume is engaged in pre-marital sex, you don’t invite them, at all, for an overnight stay.

  • Jillybean March 9, 2011, 11:15 am

    Michelle – I don’t think you were wrong, but I don’t think you helped yourself. If you truly couldn’t make a lunch work, than fine, that’s a bummer, but if you were just saying that because you that her reason for not wanting to dinner was absurd, well, I think you should have done lunch. Your goal was to get to know her better, and maybe had you accomplished that, later she would have felt more confident in telling her husband she was going out without him.

    But I agree that it’s frustrating when you encounter people who won’t do anything without their spouse. My husband has a really great friend that he’s known triple the time that he’s known me. She invited him to dinner one night and despite us going out as couples many times she said that she’d like to go out just the two of them to catch up. He was all worried, afraid to tell me. I was happy to send him along to dinner without me. I like her, but she and I have little in common and it’s usually a snooze when I do go along. But besides that – they have been friends for ages, and I don’t think she is required to always include me in their friendship just because he and I got married. And I go out with my friends all the time without him. There are couple things, and there are friend things, it’s ok if they are not always paired together.

    In this case, I wonder if the OP knew that M had a girlfriend at the time. And yes, while M shouldn’t have assumed the invitation was for both, I find a lot of aggravation in life can be avoided by simply using very specific wording. “Hey M – I’m organizing a guy’s night for NYE. E is coming, too. Plan on crashing here, because we always drink too much on guy’s night.” is a lot more specific than, “Hey, want to come stay here for New Years? I’m inviting E/M too.”

  • Hanna March 9, 2011, 11:26 am

    As the girlfriend of a man who gets invited to events quite often, I ALWAYS make sure that if he invites me along, that he asks the host if it’s OK. Sometimes he thinks we’re a package deal, but I always make sure he asks first. I would never show up at a party I was not initially invited to because I think it’s rude, and I understand how awkward it can be for some hosts/guests for unaquainted people to show up at their parties (especially at a small gathering like the one mentioned in the OP).

    Awhile back, a very close, small group of us (6 total) were planning a get-together. We had hung out all summer as we were part of a production together, and some of us had been friends for years. The times just the 6 of us hung out were so nice. So one of us planned another get-together, and we were all looking forward to it. One of the 6 posted on the Facebook wall of the host, “Can’t wait for the get-together this weekend, what time does it start, again?” The host, bless her little sensitive heart, felt it was kind of rude to post that publically, because her other friends (who were not invited) might see that and wonder why they were not invited, too. So she proceeds to invite about 4 more girls, who none of us knew, either well, or at all. And it. was. awkward. We felt like we couldn’t really converse like we normally would, because none of these girls would know what we were talking about, but at the same time we didn’t want to exclude them. This would not have been a problem had this been a party or a bigger event, but because it was such an intimate gathering, unfortunately we felt like we couldn’t hang out like we normally would, because we didn’t want to be rude to these 4 extra people.

    Anyway, as mentioned by Jeanne, New Years is a lovers’ holiday, which I would have liked to spend with my man, but that doesn’t mean I’d show up at a small gathering with him that I was not invited to.

  • Mary March 9, 2011, 11:42 am


    Although I normally would not assume that significant others/kids are invited when I am extended an invitation, your situation was different. Yes, if someone invited over a friend who was married and had children ON Christmas Eve, then yes, I would be assuming that they meant the whole family. Very good thing that you clarified!

  • Louise March 9, 2011, 11:43 am

    I think M was in the wrong here, and I absolve the OP. The OP said to M, “Would you like to come?” not, “Would you and H like to come?” To me, if the significant other is not mentioned in the invite, you shouldn’t assume he or she is included. If the invite is for a “loaded holiday” such as New Year’s Eve, by all means clarify (I’ve done that myself), but don’t assume your significant other is included. You are, after all, two bodies and need two invites — even if the other one is just, “Oh, yeah, bring H, definitely!” I’ve been with my boyfriend for three and a half years and we live together, and I never assume invites apply to both of us unless explicitly stated.

    I think my generation in general — the mid- to late 20s crowd — is lax when it comes to RSVPs. Even an event such as a casual New Year’s Eve get-together requires some planning and preparation, even if it’s just as minimal as an extra bottle of soda and a few bags of chips. I’ve hosted a few meals and gatherings in the past few months and it’s a headache when someone shows up with an uninvited guest (although these days, I’m excited if my guests show up at all….).

  • Louise March 9, 2011, 11:51 am

    “Sounds like miscommunication all around. But really, how single and how socially tone-deaf do you have to be to invite half a couple to an overnight party, on New Years Eve?”

    I’ve been with my boyfriend for three and a half years, we live together, and it wouldn’t bother me at all if he got an invite to go out of town on New Year’s Eve to see an old friend. Nor would it bother him if I got one. A local party? We would clarify whether the other is invited and likely decline if not; but a special trip to see an old friend? Go! Have fun! Call you at midnight!

  • Enna March 9, 2011, 12:17 pm

    The only thing I would suggest to Admin is that there is a difference between a girlfirend or boyfirend who does not LIVE with the guest and a live-in partner who does. If the live-in partner is a “new addition” to the guest’s hosuehold maybe the guest could ring up and politely ask, with an offering to bring an extra dish/bottle/gift for the host either from the guest or the guest’s partner as well as offering to assit the host and actually doing it.

    Admin – I agree that the OP is good for asking advice about this and that he should be a bit clearer in future and his faux pas was not being more clear. M was quite rude to assumme that H could come round however this could be miscommunication. We don’t know if H was living with M at the time? E.g sharing a room whilst at collegue. If this was the case M should have told you (but this could still be miscommunication) because being on your own for New Year’s when you have a partner is a bit odd for the reasons that Admin has stated.

    I like your comment PhDeath – I’m a vegitarian woman too.

  • Allie March 9, 2011, 12:18 pm

    I think M was fully in the wrong here. The poster was perfectly clear that he was inviting E and M, and M should not have presumed to bring his girlfriend. And since when is New Year’s a lovers’ holiday? In my experience, for men it’s like a bachelor party without the groom (i.e. an excuse to drink to excess). My girlfriends and I like to stay far away from our husbands/boyfriends on such nights.

  • Enna March 9, 2011, 12:20 pm

    P.S OP: you handled the situation well – you included her – it’s not good when a person resents their firend’s bfs/gfs. The tittle “Tag-along-Guest” is a lot better than some ppl might have put such as “Tag-along-bf/gf”.

  • Elizabeth March 9, 2011, 12:45 pm

    OP did nothing wrong, IMO. My DH and I have never assumed we are a package deal. It is kind of funny because most of his friends assume we are and have had to learn to mention me in the invite, or I end up making other plans.

    As far as the Admin and Shayna- I kind of agree with both of you. Yes, Admin, it is your house and your rules, which is fine as long as you are up front about it. (And I am sure you are.) I would have a problem if I arrived and that is when host/hostess mentions separate rooms. I think something like that should always be brought up well in advance so hotel arrangements can be made if needed without any hurt feelings. My husband and I lived together for a while before marriage (and some ppl just don’t believe in marriage), so I would be rather upset if we could not share a bed and would more than likely prefer a hotel. (I have always had a bit of trouble sleeping without DH next to me.) Then again, I refuse to have sex in a home of someone I am visiting because I find that a bit unnerving.

    The only exception to the separate rooms thing for me if when I spent Christmas with my in-laws for the first time. We had only been dating a year and a half at the time, and I knew he was his mom’s little baby. He actually was prepared to have it out with his mom, until I told him he dare not tell his parents how to run THEIR home. . . unless he wanted my wrath. Turns out it was all for not in the end. We had been living together at my mother’s for about 6 months (saving up for our own place/move across country) so his parents didn’t see a point to separating us. Sorry I got a little off topic with this one.

  • SJ March 9, 2011, 12:58 pm

    It’s a tricky situation. Some people treat over the phone invites as open for interpretation.

    It seems to me that both sides could have communicated a tiny bit more and solved the problem.

    And, I think the responsibility was on both sides. As the host, it’s necessary to clarify since most couples want to spend New Year’s Eve together. As the invitee, you should always check before bringing additional guests.

  • Lizajane March 9, 2011, 1:07 pm


    Ok, but the girlfriend wasn’t invited.

  • ferretrick March 9, 2011, 1:19 pm

    Well, let me know put it this way-my partner is still best friends with his ex. I encourage him to nurture that friendship and see him often, as well as other friends he has, who I am friendly with but don’t really consider them my friends, because we don’t have much in common. He does the same for some of my friends. But if either one of us ditched the other on New Year’s Eve to hang out with anyone else, they might not have a place to come back to New Year’s Day.

    “I also take issue with the assertion that ‘New Years is a holiday for couples’. While many couples like to be together at New Year’s, it’s not as if the holiday doesn’t happen for us single people and we all just sit around in a hole waiting for all the Coupleness to be over”

    @Michelle P: I don’t think either one of you is “wrong” from an etiquette standpoint, it just suggests that you two might not be compatible enough to become friends. Nothing wrong with that.

    No one said any such thing. What was said is that people who are coupled will 9 times out of 10 want to be with their partner for NYE, and single people should respect that and either include both parties in an invitation or celebrate with other single people.

  • ferretrick March 9, 2011, 1:20 pm

    Crap. Messed up the paragraph order in my comment somehow.

  • AS March 9, 2011, 1:24 pm

    If I am invited by my friends for a party, I ask them if I can bring my boyfriend along if they haven’t specified. My boyfriend does the same. And we are pretty serious, and just waiting to finish grad school before we can get married (we want to pay for our own wedding. My point is, I don’t see why M should have just assumed that inviting him (that too to a sleepover) at his guy friend’s house entitles an automatic invitation to his girlfriend. He probably wanted to spend the New Year’s eve with his girlfriend. But in that case, he could have asked you (OP) specifically, and declined to join if he wanted to be with her.
    It could have been that he was young and didn’t know better. But it seems he thinks the same 5 years later too. In my opinion, this is a lower level etiquette breach that can be pardoned, especially if you know his girlfriend too. But in the future, it might be useful to specify that you are having a guy’s night, and take off any ambiguity in the invitation.

    It is nice that you were welcoming to the uninvited guest, and you people still managed to have fun.

  • Serenity March 9, 2011, 1:34 pm

    While I do think most couples prefer to spend holidays together, and friends should pretty much assume as much if inviting them ( and Kimberly, I think it’s just plain weird that an ‘old friend’ who knows you’re married and have kids would invite you for Christmas Eve alone, seems suspicious, like he was hoping for an extra special gift?! very odd.) on those occasions. However, people who can’t go ANYWHERE without their SO drive me insane. A good friend of mine got married, and after that, her husband was ALWAYS with her…and she never asked or even mentioned if he’d be coming as well. No one knew him that well, he never really spoke when he was around, and it was awkward having him sit there like a lump in the midst of 5 or 6 girls that were trying to get caught up. Not to mention how it kind of took the fun out of a girl’s day having a guy around that you didn’t feel comfortable being open around. But my friend always said “he’s my husband and if I go somewhere, he goes with me, and I don’t have to ask”. Which is why no one hangs out with her anymore EXCEPT for her husband.

  • Jen March 9, 2011, 1:42 pm

    College is a different social context, so keeping that in mind, I don’t really think it’s worth getting irked that the OP’s friend brought along his girlfriend. Maybe it’s because my group of friends isn’t really into the guys / girls night out thing, but the idea of inviting your college friends over for a New Year’s get together and deliberately excluding their significant others seems strange to me. Unless you really don’t like their significant others, but then that’s a different issue I suppose.

    Ultimately, I think it’s a waste of time to analyze the finer details of etiquette amongst college students. That’s not to say that all consideration gets thrown to the wind when you’re that age, but it’s definitely a different set of norms.

  • Harley Granny March 9, 2011, 1:59 pm

    This one won’t go down in the record books as a major no-no.

    If anything it taught the OP to be more specific in future invitations.
    My husband and I do a lot together and we do a lot on our own. This includes club meetings, lunches, birthday parties, casual get togethers and such but the big 3 (as we call them) New Years, Thanksgiving and Christmas we always spend together. So if anyone is issuing invitations to one of us for one of these then you might as well assume both of us are coming. Anything else we ask.
    Truly if you really know the person, you know if this is the case or not.

    OP…you really did nothing wrong and neither did M…it was just a breakdown in communication.

  • Geekgirl March 9, 2011, 1:59 pm

    I would love to do the He-Man Fellowship of Manliness party, and I’m a girl! It just sounds so much more than whatever the girly equivalent would be. She-Ra Sisterhood of Frilliness?

  • ellesee March 9, 2011, 2:39 pm

    I have to disagree with the admin. OP is not in the wrong at all, and this isn’t a situation of miscommunication either. If you strip it to the bare bones, a person brought along an uninvited person to join in the event AND receive sleeping accomodations. One cannot assume that an over the phone invite indicates a casual event with an open invite. The faux pas lies with M. I’m also guessing the OP did not know M had a girlfriend at the time.

    My bf and I never shared a New Year’s with each other yet. It’s a popular holiday for couples, but it doesn’t excuse M’s assumption. If he wanted to spend with his gf but also go out with OP and E, then he has to make a decision or ask for an extended invitation. Then at that point, if OP had really wanted M to join his party, he can offer E an invite as well.

    People have different ideas about couples being a unit, but it’s always best to ask if they can come too. Just like pre-marital bedding, you can’t assume everybody shares the same view with you.

  • Wink-n-Smile March 9, 2011, 2:49 pm

    How serious was the relationship? While couples should be considered a social unit for most events, my understanding of that is if they are married, engaged, or of long-standing.

    Maybe M was reeeeeaaaallllllllyyyyyy serious about the girlfriend he started dating three weeks ago, but most of his friends had no idea he was IN LOVE, and just thought they’d gone on a few dates. M should have asked, specifically, “Is my girlfriend included in this invitation?”

    Then the OP could have responded with 1) “You have a girlfriend?”, followed by 2) “No, this is Guys’ Night,” or 3) “Well, I was just planning a guy’s night, but sure! Bring her along! The more, the merrier!” or possibly 4) “I guess you’ll want to spend a romantic evening with her, then, huh?”

    The point is that M needs to speak up to clarify the situation, and OP can then decide if he wants to change his plans to include H, or not.

  • Kimberly March 9, 2011, 3:59 pm

    Serrenity…..just replying to a comment you made….(can we quote posts? if so, don’t know how to do it).

    My friend is gay, so, no, he did not want anything extra special! lol… We knew each other in high school and had not seen each other for a long time. So, we finally had a chance to talk by phone and he said somethng about Christmas Eve. I said, “Sure”. Now, because it was Christmas Eve, and even though it seems I am in the wrong, I assumed that when he invited me over, he meant my and my family. I would not go somewhere for a few hours on Christmas Eve without my children and new husband. I don’t know what he was thinking. Maybe it is just my thinking, but Christmas Eve and New Years Eve are the two most major holidays of the year. (Christmas day too), that you spend with family and friends. I would never think to invite one half of a couple on either of those days to my home, whether I was married or single. Maybe it is just the way I was brought up, but at the holidays, we either had friends and family over or we were invited over and never “alone”.

    And, yes, I can and do, do things without my husband and children. I don’t need them with me at all time.

  • Serenity March 9, 2011, 5:02 pm

    @ Kimberly, hah, ok that makes more sense now. And I definitely meant to convey that I would assume that families would be with each other on holidays, as I would expect/want to be with mine. I was only referring to couples who won’t do anything separately at any time, even when it was clearly a girl’s ( or guy’s) nite, like my (former) friend was. 🙂

  • Cooler Becky March 9, 2011, 6:11 pm


    In regards to seperate bedding. I feel that if people are sleeping over under my roof, they should abide by my house rules. Even if that means seperate bedding for male and female guests. The less temptation I give them, the less likely they are to make me wake up to them doing things that are better kept private.

  • gramma dishes March 9, 2011, 9:16 pm

    I think the thing that sticks out most here is that there are so many people — of ALL ages — who simply have never been taught the basics of etiquette. I don’t think either the host or the guest in this scenario was necessarily grossly at fault or “rude”.

    There was a lack of communication, both sides, but seriously even more noticeably a lack of comprehension of the fact that it actually matters! I just don’t think either side really thought about the ramifications for the other person/people involved. Everyone was just wrapped up comfortably in their own assumptions.

    People on this site no doubt teach their own kids. But look at how many people are not on here. They may have stumbled and bumbled all through their lives never realizing how stressful their actions are for other people. So they can’t teach their kids what they don’t even know themselves.

    Ignorance is not bliss. We really need to start teaching this in college or better yet, even in high school or junior high. People don’t know unless someone TELLS them and no one is telling young people any more what’s okay and what isn’t. It’s not stupidity. It’s lack of information.

  • Renee March 9, 2011, 9:25 pm

    I’d say that poor communication is definitely to blame on the part of both parties. OP shouldn’t have assumed that anyone would want to spend a major holiday apart from significant others, nor that the exclusion was understood. On the other hand, M shouldn’t have assumed it was okay to bring H on an overnight get-together without clearing it with the host. I, like the admin, would be surprised if a guest showed up for an overnight stay with someone accompanying them unannounced. Though this aspect didn’t seem to be an issue to OP, I would also take issue with an unmarried couple expecting to share a bedroom in my home. My home and my family’s integrity and moral values are not subject to any guest’s perceived ideas of entitlement or decorum. Impropriety will be checked at the door of my home, etiquette or not.

  • Renee March 9, 2011, 9:31 pm

    Jillybean – I’m fairly new here, and this is my second post, so I don’t actually know if it’s okay to comment on examples given in other users’ comment, but here goes. If I recall correctly, you said that your husband’s female friend invited him out to dinner alone, and you were fine with that and encouraged him to go. I find this intriguing, because a guy friend recently asked me to meet him at Panera to discuss our art for a few hours. I declined out of respect for my husband. I guess I come from a very different background, and possibly a different region of the country, though I don’t suppose location necessarily has much to do with it. In my social circle (which is a fairly religious one, I’ll admit up-front), it generally would be considered inappropriate for a married person to spend quality or bonding time alone with someone of the opposite sex who wasn’t a family member. Perhaps this isn’t an etiquette issue as much as it is an integrity issue–keeping relationships above reproach. I’m sure it’s possible for a married person to maintain an innocent relationship with a person of the opposite sex, but it does often enough pose risks that don’t seem worthwhile in the long run. I know of two separate situations where waters of affection were muddied by friends of the opposite sex. One thing led to another, and another, and then to divorce. I realize this is probably not an etiquette issue at all, and perhaps it shouldn’t be. Just thought I’d throw out that differing perspective.

    Regarding Michelle’s situation, I don’t think either party was wrong, per se. I think they both simply voiced their desires and were, apparently, unable to reach a happy medium. I think it’s sad that the intended guest’s husband is jealous of any enjoyment his wife might experience apart from him, but that’s really not bad etiquette on her part. I personally think that Michelle’s rigidness about the time of day of the meeting was just as questionable etiquette-wise as her guest’s response. That said, I don’t think an “etiquette finger” needs to be pointed in every situation. Actually, I think it’s quite silly sometimes.

  • Lynne March 9, 2011, 11:19 pm

    Allie, what country/regional area are you experiences based in? In different areas that I have lived in the US, New Year’s has always been VERY much a couple’s holiday.

  • Jillybean March 9, 2011, 11:36 pm

    Hi Renee – yes, we all generally comment back and forth to each other, so perfectly acceptable.

    You declined an invitation from a friend out of respect for your husband. I encouraged mine to have dinner with his friend out of respect for him as well. I trust him, and I love him. I have no need to deny him a dinner with a friend he has known for 10 years because she happens to be a woman. I assure you that our integrity remains in tact. If people choose to make judgments of our relationship based on their preconceived notions about who should and shouldn’t be friends, it’s no skin off my back. The judgments of others is actually not an accurate measure of my morals, as much as others might like to believe that they are.

    I have no idea how different our backgrounds are, and agree that location likely has little to do with it. Many people I know feel the way that you do, and you are absolutely entitled to that opinion and to navigate your relationships and marriage based on those beliefs. But I would respectfully request you try to resist questioning the integrity of those who do not share those beliefs. You believe that opposite sex relationships are not worth the (I’d say “potential”) risk to be worthwhile in the long run. But I know the value that my friends bring to my life, and the value my husband’s bring to his. We both have extremely close friends of the opposite sex. We often hang in groups. We often hang one-on-one. We often hang as couples. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • Ginger March 10, 2011, 2:48 am

    I would have thought the invitation extended to both of them, especially since it was New Year’s Eve. When I invite a friend around, I just expect that their other half will accompany them – that’s part and parcel of your friendship with someone. You accept and include the person they are dating.