FWP: The Family Gatecrasher
PROBLEM: My spouse’s oldest friend is a gatecrasher, when it comes to our family gatherings. I like the person, and they are a true friend to my spouse, but over the years, they’ve somehow attached themselves family holidays, holiday parties, birthday parties and other gatherings that, aside from them, are, well, family-only. Is it too much to ask for some family (only) time, or am I being ungracious? And if it’s OK — how to do it?
SB: You’ve got a stage-3 clinger on your hands! The way I see it, if you don’t say something now, you can expect their spouse and kids to start joining your family events in the future as well, which may or may not be so bad.
One thing is for sure, at this point, do as you mean to go on. Think a moment about if it would be so bad to have that friend around all the time in the future because if you proceed with plan privacy, there is a risk of them feeling hurt by your decision. If you decide that you will slowly seethe over the years as a result of their unwelcome presence, then it’s time to take action. Talk to your spouse about setting up traditions for your family and how this friend factors into that vision and go from there.
LG: A gatecrasher is annoying, no matter how wonderful a person they are. I echo SB, but also suggest talking to your spouse about setting up traditions with that BFF — maybe all of the gatecrashing is really just a plea for more time well spent together. If that desire can be channeled into a handful of standing bestie-dates, then it might spare the rest of you and keep family time a little more sacred.
MM: Like SB & LG have said, talking to your spouse is the first step to getting around this gatecrashing BFF. People’s definitions of family can vary, and it looks like this particular friend definitely considers themselves part of yours. Demoting someone from family to friend is not going to be easy, especially since your spouse has known them for years. Tread carefully and be prepared for slow progress.
KB: So my first question is: Are you absolutely sure this person hasn’t received a personal invitation from your spouse? Because I think that’s your step one. If the friend is an invited guest, then the advice is about figuring out why they have a standing invitation.
But if they truly have misinterpreted their own importance at these occasions, then the friendly, breezy brush-off is the way to go. My impression of gatecrashers is that they usually don’t realize they’re not invited; they’ve usually convinced themselves that they’re wanted everywhere! Once you casually indicate that their presence isn’t required, you’ve burst the bubble. The rest should take care of itself.