10:10am, Saturday, a local café. I sit at an empty table and wait to meet my friend, Nicola. I look up expectedly every time the door opens. I glance at my phone to see if she’s sent me a message. No. Our conversation from Wednesday arranging to meet is still there …
The bell above the door rings as it opens. I see Nicola and my heart sinks.
Oh for fuck’s sake. She’s brought her husband …
I fix a smile on my face and greet them brightly. “Hello! Hello Mark, how are you?”
We exchange kisses and pleasantries. I want to leave, immediately. I like Mark, but I arranged to meet Nicola. Not Nicola’s husband.
Do I still talk about my recent medical problems? Do I cover off the weirdly suggestive email I got from my ex last week? Will Nicola let me know if she’s still frustrated at Mark and resenting their sex life?
No. Now the morning is going to be stilted, superficial talk, and filling Mark in on the background of each thing I mention. Jokes will be missed, and his (unwanted) opinion will have to be politely heard. Total waste of time.
Nicola is my friend, and her “people” are not my friends by default.
I HATE it when this happens. It’s not always husbands. It’s often friends, or wives, or partners, or other family members. It is always irritating.
There are occasions when it’s great to bring your loved ones. And there are plenty of these occasions – your entourage get ample airplay. But when you make arrangements with an individual friend, those arrangements are between the two of you. A token (and rhetorical) “You don’t mind if I bring, Charlotte, do you?” doesn’t cover it. That blasé gesture puts the pressure on the other person to refuse your request. And they’re not the one being rude.
Don’t bring your people along. It’s presumptive, bad-mannered, and it ruins the outing for the other person who was anticipating sharing their intimate thoughts and feelings with you … the person they know, like, and trust.
If you want a group gathering, initiate it and state it upfront, “Charlotte and I are going for lunch on Saturday, would you like to join us?” It’s that simple.
Much like a threesome, a third party alters the dynamic and never in a good way. It might seem like a fun idea in your head but in reality it’s awkward, and at least one person is frustrated, resentful and unsatisfied.
You’re my friend. I chose you: It’s a compliment. I like you, I want to spend time with you. Quality one-on-on time.
Don’t bring the strays.
And don’t get me started on people who ask that dreaded sentence “Do you have plans for the weekend?” Or “What are you up to on Saturday?” Unless you’re completely comfortable with people saying outright that they just don’t want to go to your social event, state what you’re inviting the person to and ask if they’d like to come (e.g. “We’re having friends around for dinner on Saturday, would you like to come?”).