15 Comments

  1. DeAnn

    One of my girlfriends for 30 years just happens her husband is my boss in the last 20 yrs. My girlfriend ask my family (my husband my 25 yr old son and his 25 yr old girlfriend and myself) to a suite at a football game including food and drinks and clients. One of my other friends of 35 yrs was asked (my boss told me to ask her) with her husband. My friend of 35yrs asked when she found that my son had been asked (my son has been around the inviting family before at games, concerts etc) what about her daughter age 16 and to bring a friend. My friend of 35 years could see on my face I couldn’t believe she was asking to bring guest and it being her child is now mad at me because of my reaction. What is the proper etiquette when you are invited to an event is it ok to as to bring your child even if the event is extreemly expensive

    • Alicia

      When you are invited to an event you should only bring those who are also invited. Asking to invite someone to any event is rude regardless of cost.

    • Zakafury

      Sometimes it is alright to ask if another spot is available. It sounds, however, like your friend handled this quite tactlessly. It sounds like she is jealous that your adult son and his significant other are being included and her teenage daughter isn’t.

      I would have told her to ask the host, but that it would probably not be a good place for anyone under 21.

  2. ExTexan

    I just spent 5 mins on the phone with the doctor’s appointment scheduler. She was sniffing a very wet, runny nose the whole time – should I have told her to go blow her nose? I’m a mom, but I’m not HER mom, yet I hate listening to that sound right in my ear. It’s so gross, what do I say?

    • Ashleigh

      I don’t know what the proper way to handle this would have been but I certainly hope she isn’t in the actual office spreading more germs to the patients!!

    • Country Girl

      Personally, I would probably say to the scheduler “Oh no, it sounds like you must be coming down with something. If you need to grab a tissue, please feel free. I will hold.”

  3. Araña

    Before I begin, I want to add the following disclaimer . . . I love having an amazing group of supportive, like-minded, and often polyamorous (or polyamorous friendly) friends in my life. Polyamory, abbreviated poly, is the practice of loving more than one person and engaging in a relationship with more than one person with everyone aware and consenting. Multiple relationships are not limited by gender or by marital status. There is a strong emphasis on safe, sane, and consensual involvement which avoids some of the stuff that hits media based on the fringe relationships that are more cult like and driven by religious dogma. That is merely informational, I’m not trying to engage in a debate of the appropriateness of the lifestyle choice, I merely want to set the stage. Please respond to my following questions under the assumption that the people around me are aware of or engaged in polyamorous relationships.

    That said, I wish there were a clear protocol for how to deal with the subject of invitations.

    Example: Say I want to invite two married individuals over for dinner – as a family. They each have a fairly embedded partner outside their marriage thus making these individuals part of the family. And each of those additional partners have some sort of other relationship. And so on, as can happen in poly communities.

    My question is this, where do you stop? When you want to invite the family, where is the end of the family?? I find the natural end for me in invitations (for something small) is one significant other past the original pair. What about people who have multiple significant others all embedded in their family? AND how do you invite someone if it looks like family from your angle but you don’t know if the other parties are using those same semantics and dynamics for their life? (In truth, I know a lot of people that shy away from conventional words for things for fear of how other people interpret them. I also know a lot of people who don’t like to call a duck a duck even if it’s quacking.) Why hasn’t Emily Post written on this yet?? I know people who wouldn’t dare invite one member of a couple without the other – even if they don’t care for the other half of the couple. But isn’t being a couple just a socially validated state of romantic and familial involvment? In a poly world, where’s the line of polite vs. overkill??

    I care a great deal about not offending or hurting someone unintentionally. People close to me get it and if they want to bring someone that I didn’t expressly invite they’ll ask. But I don’t want people to feel they HAVE to ask or have to wait for an express invite, particularly if those people are new to my life. My invitations are getting very specific as a result, “I’d like to invite your family to dinner. I recognize that you may or may not consider person x part of your family unit. Please bring them if it’s appropriate. And if there’s anyone I’m missing please let me know.”

    My mind boggles at how complex this begins to get. If poly ever becomes socially acceptable, I hope Emily Post begins writing etiquette on the subject.

    • I would approach it like this example: I know the partners of my dearest friends. I am dear friends with Dick and Jane, who are married but have partners. For my small dinner party, I send an invite to Dick and Jane, inviting them to bring long-time partners Sue, Joe and Rob (unless I know Sue, Joe and Rob’s addresses, in which case I’ll send separate invites). Now, if Sue, Joe and Rob have other partners unknown to me, I do not invite them, as this is a small dinner party, and I don’t have much room. Surely my dear friends understand my space limitations.

      Now, what if this were a larger wedding or other formal party? How would I know who considers themselves an official social unit? Perhaps Dick, Jane and partner Sue are a social unit, but Sue and Steven are also a social unit (though I don’t know Steven). The easiest thing to do is call and ask.

    • Elizabeth

      I’m not super familiar with poly culture, and I think Laura and Alicia have already given you solid advice, but I was wondering whether poly ‘families’ expect always to be invited out ‘as a family’ all the time, especially if they don’t all live together? Do they themselves socialize only all together all the time? I mean, if you were throwing an intimate dinner party, your table could be completely filled by one family! It seems to me, that in the case of extended webs of relationships in combination with a small gathering or dinner party, that it would be OK to invite the couple from the group who you know best or to invite the single person you know best and invite him/her to bring one guest. I have to believe that these relationships don’t entail all 5-6 of them all hanging out together all the time, so I don’t know that you’d necessarily be expected to invite them as a block either.

  4. Alicia

    It seems to me and I have worked on these assumptions in my own life. If casual event just say and family and then ask them to rsvp with how many people are attending. In formal events invite primary guest and date or dates. The dates of your primary guest would not then be able to bring dates once removed. Just like in a typical two person relationship if you are friends with Jim and invite Jim plus date and he brings Sue then Sue does not get to bring a friend Mary.
    If Jim is polyamourous and gets invites with dates Sue and Mary then those guests do not get to bring dates once removed of Sally and Joe.

    • Zakafury

      I think Alicia has a great way to handle it. Ask for an RSVP of however many the primary guest(s) expect to bring.

      I think I would send an invitation to each of the people I knew personally and allow them to bring a guest. I would expect some to choose to bring other people who received invitations in this situation, but that’s perfectly okay.

  5. Lady Antipode

    Politeness extends as far as your dinner table does. :)

    You mention them as ‘married individuals’ which I think is how you should approach it. Invite them by name, as individuals, and invite each of the two married individuals to bring a guest, or better still, name the guests (‘please bring Sue, Jo and Rob’) as this indicates that you consider them a social unit. On another occasion, you might send an invitation to Sue for dinner, and ask her to bring a significant other (who may not have been one of the ones previously invited). I think what I’m trying to say is that your natural end point of one significant other seems sound – Sue is being invited in her capacity as Jane’s long-time partner, for example.

    You also mentioned that you’d like to invite them as a family. Does this mean that children (grown or otherwise) are included? And by extension, the children of the extended social unit? I make no moral judgements here, but again, the size of your dinner table or budget might be stretched if they are included. If you’re asked, you might answer that you can’t include personsm X, Y and Z but you’d love to have them over another time or at a larger, more informal gathering like a bbq.

    Communities such as yours often develop very clear protocols and etiquette for their members. Is there an online polyamory community where you can ask how others handle similar situations?

  6. ND

    My partner and I have bought a house recently, as have the rest of our friends. Growing up, whenever my family was invited to a house held event, we brought a gift. Be it wine or flowers or both. I still believe in bringing a housewarming gift to a gracious host, but now, having bought a house and going to a lot of housewarmings, it’s becoming out of budget. I want to bring something they host will enjoy and/or appreciate but I don’t have a schedule that lets me make something everytime and money is a little bit tight for a while. What should I do?
    thank you :)

    • Country Girl

      Congratulations on your new home! I have just bought a house too, and know well the stresses on financing this can bring. :) I would say since it seems that you already know you are going to be invited to a few housewarming parties over the course of the next few months then it would be easy to stock up on a few inexpensive, yet thoughtful gifts. You could buy seed packets, fun spice rubs, tiny salt and pepper shakers, sets of kitchen towels, Christmas ornaments, small flashlights, set of measuring cups, yummy candles, funky kitchen gadgets, or fun paper napkins, etc. Each of these items can easily be purchased within the $1-3 range. A little trick I often use when budget is low is to 1) remove the cheap packaging elements then 2) tie with a pretty ribbon. You can actually make things like dollar store dish towels or Walmart candles look really lovely. And if you purchase and tie a few of them all at once, you’ll have an arsenal of gifts ready to go when you are invited to a party.

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