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Etiquette question - shadows of echoes of memories of songs — LiveJournal
j4
j4
Etiquette question
If someone invites you to a party, and the invitation doesn't say "bring partners" (but does imply that it's okay to bring friends), and your partners are not on the invite list in their own right, is it rude to email and ask whether it's okay to bring partners? Would it be rude (even ruder?) to just bring partners anyway (on the basis that they are my friends as well)? Or should one assume that if the partners in question were welcome in the first place, they would have been on the invite list?

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From: pir Date: July 21st, 2003 02:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
I tend to play that one by ear.

In general an invitation specificly to me to a party is something I take as assumed that a guest is probably ok, particularly a partner. If I would like to take someone who the host doesn't know I will generally ask first.

If I am unsure if someone I wish to accompany me would be welcome or not, I will ask.
sesquipedality From: sesquipedality Date: July 21st, 2003 02:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'd view partners as a subset of friends, myself.
bopeepsheep From: bopeepsheep Date: July 21st, 2003 02:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'd say partners were definitely friends. Some people have a tendency to assume that an invite to one person is an automatic invite to another and therefore don't bother with a second invite (it's rude, but sometimes quite understandable). So I wouldn't necessarily take one person's absence from a list as a deliberate snub or hint that you shouldn't take them. (However, if you suspect they might not be welcome that might merit a discreet email.)
reddragdiva From: reddragdiva Date: July 21st, 2003 05:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ask and check - no reason to read minds when you could ask directly, and it will train others out of expecting their mind is readable or that their personal ideas on social conventions are universal.

Then decide based on the response whether you go at all.
taimatsu From: taimatsu Date: July 22nd, 2003 12:38 am (UTC) (Link)
I would tend to alert the organiser to the fact that I was planning to bring *anyone*, friend, partner or pet giraffe. When I give parties I like to have an idea of numbers (though I tend to say that on the invite) so I try to do the same for others. If it were me I'd contact the organiser and say I'm planning to bring whoever. I think partners count as a subset of friends, too :)
simont From: simont Date: July 22nd, 2003 01:31 am (UTC) (Link)
A lot of this has been said already, but...
  • I think that it would be very weird for anyone to put out a party invite in which they allowed people to bring friends but would rather they didn't bring partners. I suppose there might be rare exceptions for strange types of party (a bitter-singles party at which they didn't want people being couply, perhaps?); but if nothing else, each guest's partner is likely to be a friend to other guests, so if friends of the guests are generally welcome then they're probably included.
  • One should certainly not attempt to draw subtle hints from the presence or absence of people on the invite list. A great many party organisers are barely worthy of the term "organiser" :-) Never attribute to malice, &c.
  • If you're still in doubt, I'm certain the "damage" from asking for clarification would be a lot less than the potential damage from making the wrong guess.
(Deleted comment)
j4 From: j4 Date: July 22nd, 2003 03:40 am (UTC) (Link)
I can't see how there is ever any harm in checking with the host first.

I was just thinking that it might put the host in the awkward position of having to say "No, you can't bring your partner, because [unpleasant reasons]", when they were perhaps hoping to avoid that by merely not inviting them and not saying "Please bring partners". It sort of feels like it's questioning the terms of the invitation when the guests have no real right to do that, if you see what I mean.

And if the host has met the partner but doesn't know them particularly well, it's harder to be clear whether the lack of invitation is an oversight or a deliberate omission.
From: angua Date: July 22nd, 2003 04:05 am (UTC) (Link)
It's probably better to put them in that position before the party and find out it was an oversight or something (or worst case scenario they have deliberately not been invited) rather than turn up with them in tow at the party and find out they aren't welcome. In which case the host gets put in a horrendous position and everyone ends up embarrassed.

Course, I'm just looking at it negatively because that's the way I am.
j4 From: j4 Date: July 22nd, 2003 04:08 am (UTC) (Link)
rather than turn up with them in tow at the party and find out they aren't welcome

Ah, I wouldn't do that. If I don't ask, the fallback option will be "don't bring partner" or just "don't go to party".
marnameow From: marnameow Date: July 22nd, 2003 05:08 am (UTC) (Link)
Is this a *specific* invitation?
(feeling slightly paranoid kitten right now)
j4 From: j4 Date: July 22nd, 2003 05:43 am (UTC) (Link)
It's something that I've wondered in response to several specific invitations. I've got round to asking it now because there are so many parties being announced at the moment.
rbarclay From: rbarclay Date: July 22nd, 2003 07:11 am (UTC) (Link)
People who'd have problems with me asking to clarify such wouldn't have me attending their parties.
OTOH, I wouldn't bother asking whether I could bring my partner along in the first place.
j4 From: j4 Date: July 22nd, 2003 07:24 am (UTC) (Link)
People who'd have problems with me asking to clarify such wouldn't have me attending their parties.

But how would you know that they'd have problems with it until/unless you tried asking? (I agree that asking for clarification seems reasonable, though.)

OTOH, I wouldn't bother asking whether I could bring my partner along in the first place.

You'd just bring them without asking? That seems rude to me, even though I know a lot of people wouldn't mind.
rbarclay From: rbarclay Date: July 22nd, 2003 07:36 am (UTC) (Link)
I'd know after asking the first time, of course. There wouldn't be a second time.
Generally it's pretty clear on first sight if people are that far into Beverly-Hills-90210 - territory (think "living Barbie doll"), and it's also clear on sight that such people are fundamentally incompatible with me.

You'd just bring them without asking?

Yes. IMHO, if I do share my life with a partner, "us" is the default, especially on social occasions, unless explicitly stated otherwise (of course, this assumes that the host knows that I have a partner, which is pretty much a given if I'm invited to his/her party anyway).
j4 From: j4 Date: July 22nd, 2003 07:56 am (UTC) (Link)
IMHO, if I do share my life with a partner, "us" is the default, especially on social occasions, unless explicitly stated otherwise (of course, this assumes that the host knows that I have a partner, which is pretty much a given if I'm invited to his/her party anyway).

Hm, this is something where opinions obviously vary a lot.

Personally I'd be rather offended if people assumed that "us" was the default for every social occasion -- I still have my own friends, my partners still have their own friends, there are things that we don't do together, and I prefer to keep it that way. I'm still a person in my own right; I really don't like it when people assume I'm no longer capable of functioning without one of my partners stapled to my side.

What I share with my partner is the bits of my life that they and I agree to share. That doesn't mean I have any right to impose that sharing on my friends. It's not a question of "Love me, love my partner(s)" at all -- obviously I do get upset if friends are persistently rude about my partner(s), or actively hostile towards my partner(s), because it hurts me, and consequently that may put a strain on the friendship; but not necessarily any more so than if one friend is persistently rude about or hostile towards another friend, or a family member, etc.

Out of interest, do you also insist that your partners like all your friends? What if they don't like them?
rbarclay From: rbarclay Date: July 22nd, 2003 08:10 am (UTC) (Link)
Whoa, either you interpreted too much into my stetement or I didn't express myself clearly enough.

Obviously, I don't expect my partner to like all my friends or vice versa. Nor do I like all my partners friends (and vice versa, probably). The "us" is just the default, no more, no less.
j4 From: j4 Date: July 22nd, 2003 08:26 am (UTC) (Link)
The "us" is just the default, no more, no less.

I'm sorry if I read too much into your question. But to my mind defaulting to the assumption that your partner is invited to anything you're invited to is rude -- it's assuming that a) people know who your partner is (this is not always the case IME, as it's subject to change and not all the parties I go to are those of close friends), and b) that they want to invite that person.

It's also not an assumption that I would want anybody to make about me and my partner(s). To me, the implication of that assumption is that by default I'm no longer an individual in my own right; that I'm some kind of "buy one, get one free" offer attached to somebody else. Obviously there's a similar implication about my partner(s) but I'll leave it to them to be offended (or not) about that, being individuals and capable of taking their own offence...
rbarclay From: rbarclay Date: July 22nd, 2003 01:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'd say that depends strongly on the view of and on relationships in general, and on the social circly one is in.

assuming that a) people know who your partner is (this is not always the case IME, as it's subject to change and not all the parties I go to are those of close friends),

Well, the parties I go to usually are those of (more-or-less) close friends or ones where I'm dragged to by some close friend of the host. In the latter case asking (by proxy of the person dragging me there, usually) is mandatory for me.

I should also note that in my social environment, relationships tend to be monogamous and long-term, which I guess also accounts for some amount on the different POVs.

and b) that they want to invite that person.

Where our (I guesstimate) different views on the default situation hits again.
j4 From: j4 Date: July 22nd, 2003 02:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
I should also note that in my social environment, relationships tend to be monogamous and long-term, which I guess also accounts for some amount on the different POVs.

Possibly; but even if I was monogamously married to somebody for the rest of my life (and it's possible, it just hasn't happened yet), I would still hope that I was regarded as an individual with a right to have a social life which didn't always automatically include my partner.

And before you tell me that only naive 20somethings in weird-assed open relationships think like this, and that I'll grow out of it, it's also true of my parents -- if one of them is invited somewhere they don't automatically assume that the other is invited, and their respective friends don't automatically assume that the other will attend if they're not invited. And they've been married (and TTBOMK monogamous!) for over 30 years now.

And I know plenty of other long-married couples who think the same. In fact, I was told very firmly on usenet the other day that only immature couples think they have to go everywhere together, and that mature married couples have long since grown out of this and have their own separate lives...

and b) that they want to invite that person.
Where our (I guesstimate) different views on the default situation hits again.


Well, like you say, it does depend on the sort of social circle you're in. It sounds like the people who you're visiting will already know that if they invite you then they're also inviting your partner.

But in general I wouldn't want to assume that somebody who had invited me to a party or other random social gathering was aware of the Divine Right of Couples (or does it only apply to monogamous couples?) to go everywhere together even if they're not invited.
ewx From: ewx Date: July 22nd, 2003 03:05 pm (UTC) (Link)

Divine Right of Couples

I like that phrase.
rbarclay From: rbarclay Date: July 23rd, 2003 01:00 am (UTC) (Link)
And before you tell me that only ...

It's not that I think my views on that are berrer or somesuch. Those are my views, valid only for me and in my social context. And who knows, maybe I'm only a naive 20something in a weird-assed not-very-open relationship ;-?
I specifically tried to not rate any lifestyle better than another, just wanted to provide some background on the social context I live in since I guessed that accounts for some of the differences in our views.

It sounds like the people who you're visiting will already know that if they invite you then they're also inviting your partner.

Unless they state otherwise, yes, it's the underlying assumption. That does not mean that stating otherwise would be a problem. Also doesn't mean that it'd be a problem if the partner doesn't come along. Plus, last not least, it doesn't imply that if I wouldn't want to bring my partner along would become a problem. It does mean that when one does something outside the usual context (say, going to the farewell-party of an ex-colleague you've never known that well. Example taken out of my recent social activities) it'd be a good idea to not rely on the assumption but to ask.
And to get back on the original topic: if the person had a problem with the asking itself, I'd probably decline the offer anyway.

But in general I wouldn't want to assume that somebody who had invited me to a party or other random social gathering was aware of the Divine Right of Couples (or does it only apply to monogamous couples?) to go everywhere together even if they're not invited.

And there's no "Divine Right Of Couples" for me, be they mono- or polygamous, hetero- or homosexual, or whatever. I just tried to provide some background on my views, and I can't tell if you're offended (it does look that way, but with english not being my native language and not knowing you personally, it's pretty hard to tell).
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