taking sides

Reader A.C. asks:

I have two friends who recently broke up after 7 years of dating/engagement. Although I have known him longer, I have thus far maintained my relationship with both of them. The break up did not go well, so they are not currently speaking and he also has a new girlfriend. I have a big annual party coming up in May. Who do I invite?

Dear A.C.:

Taking sides after a relationship has ended is one of the hardest things we friend types are forced to do. You shouldn’t have to choose between them, but they’re going to make you do it. For the most part, you can probably hang out with either one of them whenever you want, but in terms of the party, you’re just going to have to choose.

it's your party

It's your party. Cry if you want to. Image: Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Luckily, it’s your party (and you can cry if you want to) (but you shouldn’t). You get to be as selfish as you want in this instance, especially since they’re selfish enough to put you in the middle of their relationship troubles.

In an ideal world, you would be able to invite both of them and they would be gracious enough to let the bad feelings slide for the night, for your sake. Hell, if you want to see fireworks, by all means, invite both of them. It’s quite possible that they will solve this problem for you by duking it out on their own. She may ask you if you’ve invited him, and when you say yes, she may just say, “Well then I’m not coming.” Easy enough.

But if you feel that you must invite one and not the other, I think you should simply invite the one that’s more fun, will mingle best with your guests, and is the most interesting. I’d lean towards the lady friend, since she apparently doesn’t have a new significant other and therefore you won’t have to invite two people to your party. Single people can be much more fun at parties (teehee). Of course, if she’s mopey and spiteful, by all means, leave her out. Once again, it’s your party. It’s supposed to be fun. If you don’t want drama, you don’t need to invite it.

Of course, if you must, you can opt not to invite either of them. If it’s just going to cause them more grief anyway (“You invited her to your party but not me???”), then there is nothing wrong with leaving them both out of the fun. They should be capable of being adults, but if their relationship blues are going to get in the way of that kind of thinking, you shouldn’t have to deal with it. It may save you a lot of trouble and explaining if you just opt not to invite either of them.

Unfortunately, if your party is an annual event and they both know about it, you’re going to have to explain to whoever isn’t invited why that is so. It’s kind of a dick move to do it pre-emptively, but it may be necessary to save the friendship in the long run. If you end up not inviting either of them, write them each a separate email explaining that you love them both too much to choose between them, and you didn’t want to cause them pain by inviting both of them to your party. Once again, adults would understand. Maybe next year they’ll be capable of standing to be in each other’s presence again and you can invite both of them.

Basically, your guiding principle here should be your own feelings. Obviously their feelings are going to be somewhat hard to deal with right now, but yours are what matter in deciding what you want your party to be like.


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