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Hellish upcoming dinner party: WWYD?

(266 Posts)
Nettletheelf Fri 05-Jun-15 12:05:07

DH and I are invited to a dinner party tomorrow evening. The hostess is somebody we've known for a long time, although we don't see as much of her as we used to, and her new-ish partner.

Until today, we thought that it would be six for dinner: our friends, us and another couple DH and I know well and like.

We discovered today that another couple are invited. The female half is horrendous. Around five years ago, I got to know her slightly through a community activity (I won't say what it was for fear of outing myself). She'd taken umbrage at something I'd said to somebody else (which wasn't horrible: I'd asked the other person to do something they'd previously agreed to do, but hadn't done) and sent me a really spiteful e-mail full of insults and saying that she'd only asked me to be involved in the activity because she "felt sorry for me" and "thought I didn't have many friends".

I showed the e-mail to a couple of close friends and they couldn't believe the venom. (FYI I have lots of friends and I am very popular, but I don't think that logic or truth matter much to this person.)

I was really shocked and upset by it, so I've avoided this person ever since. As any sensible woman would. This person later had an affair with her then best friend's husband, so, you know, nice woman.

I don't think that I can sit at a table with this woman. I loathe her too much and her presence will spoil the evening. However, I think it would be rude to cancel on our hosts at such short notice.

What would you do? Also, any tips for coping strategies?

PenguinBollards Fri 05-Jun-15 12:08:07

I don't think that I can sit at a table with this woman. I loathe her too much and her presence will spoil the evening. However, I think it would be rude to cancel on our hosts at such short notice.

Does the hostess know about the email incident? If not, tell her, and tell her why it would be had for you to be there. Start a conversation and take it from there.

Mistigri Fri 05-Jun-15 12:11:40

It's only for an evening.

Be the better person, behave politely, let her make a fool of herself if it comes to that.

Jackie0 Fri 05-Jun-15 12:11:44

Honestly I just wouldn't go. I would tell the host you are sorry to cancel but there's no way you're spending an evening in that woman's company.
You have done nothing wrong.
I'm sure you are worried about cancelling with short notice but to be fair when you accepted you didn't know that woman would be there .
Don't go.
Life is too short for crap like that.
I used to go along with anything to be polite but since being in my forties I've learned its okay to look after myself too.

SquiddlyDiddlyDoo Fri 05-Jun-15 12:12:20

There will always be times in life where you have to spend time with people you dislike for whatever reason. Just go to the dinner and suck it up. Her attendance shouldn't prevent you from having a nice dinner and you cant dredge up issues from 5 years ago now without looking petty to the hostess.

I think her email to you sounds pretty spiteful, but just take the moral high ground and shove it to one side during dinner. Smile, e polite and ask lots of questions about her and, with any luck, she will say something which will make you feel smug about how much better you are doing in life than her. If not, take comfort in the fact that it's probably as awkward for her and it is for you.

Just as an aside. I don't think you can really judge her for her affair - it's not anything to do with you and you don't know all the circumstances. Given that she is still married, her husband has clearly decided to forgive her, so it's not really your place to judge.

Nettletheelf Fri 05-Jun-15 12:17:08

I'd feel bad putting extra stress on the hostess at this late stage. She was also involved (peripherally) with the same activity so was aware that there was some friction at the time, but I think she's probably forgotten.

Nobody will convince me that having an affair with your supposed best friend's husband makes you a decent person, by the way. The other couple have subsequently divorced.

codandchipstwice Fri 05-Jun-15 12:22:09

Don't go, explain briefly to host why and do something lovely instead. Life far too short

PoppyBlossom Fri 05-Jun-15 12:22:26

Don't go, life is too short. If it was a large event then yes, but a dinner party for eight is so intimate as to become unbearable with company you dislike.

Either say you've been struck down by sudden illness or be truthful, you dislike this woman and think it's best to rain check the evening because it would be unpleasant for all involved.

Jackie0 Fri 05-Jun-15 12:24:10

The hostess's dinner party will be a party of six instead of eight, it won't be that big a deal , honestly.

MrsRSharpe Fri 05-Jun-15 12:26:08

I'd also take the moral high ground, be polite to her but don't actively engage in her very much.

As PP says, sometimes in life you just have to spend a bit of time with people you don't like.

It would be really unfair to the hostess.

hellsbellsmelons Fri 05-Jun-15 12:28:56

I think I'd go.
Armed with the email in case anything got a bit nasty after a few drinks.
Go along and be charm personified and just get away as quickly as possible.

PoppyBlossom Fri 05-Jun-15 12:30:03

Can I also say, don't consume yourself with worrying. Worrying about how the hostess might feel, how you might tell her, is it too short notice etc etc. a short response right now, and then it's done. The anxiety you are going to feel for the next 24 hours if you do decide to go, and then likely the 2/3 days following where you agonising over every slight or look across a table. Just don't. Why put yourself through it? You know you won't enjoy, likely the other people in the room wouldn't enjoy either due to the tension and anxiety about it all.

This isn't some major life event that you need to suck it up for, it's a bloody dinner at a mates house.

codandchipstwice Fri 05-Jun-15 12:30:23

To be fair it's unfair that the hostess has invited both as she was aware of previous, as host I would rather someone cancel than spend evening having awful time

ApeMan Fri 05-Jun-15 12:32:10

"There will always be times in life where you have to spend time with people you dislike for whatever reason"

Exactly, which is why when you have a choice, fuck it don't do it.

As Poppy says, be truthful or pretend to have a tummy bug or something, whichever you feel would be nicer/better for the hostess.

I agree on the affair thing, by the way - it is right that we shouldn't judge, and I know I am not the moral arbiter of other people, but I find you remember stuff like that about someone.

Nettletheelf Fri 05-Jun-15 12:33:10

Wouldn't making our excuses make me look petty?

QuiteLikely5 Fri 05-Jun-15 12:33:29

I would go. Be polite and civil to this woman.

If she makes any barbed comments, say loudly 'sorry I don't understand, what do you mean'

Then she will have to explain herself and look like a fool in the process.

You never know she might even apologise.......

mindthegap79 Fri 05-Jun-15 12:34:02

I'd go. Dress fabulously, be extra charming and witty. I'd mention it to the host beforehand and perhaps swing it so you're not sitting next to her. I'd also probably aim to arrive a bit early (if ok with the host!) so you're already there, confident and happily enjoying drinks and nibbles when she arrives. Be super friendly to everyone. I bet she's feeling more uncomfortable than you.

PoppyBlossom Fri 05-Jun-15 12:35:34

Meh, petty schmetty. You've been invited to an enjoyable evening meal at your friends home. This event will no longer be enjoyable for you. You're afraid you will no longer be able to attend. Let's don't another time at my home (with my bloody guest list.)

End of drama.

JakeBallardswife Fri 05-Jun-15 12:36:22

This sort of thing really annoys me. Dropping out at the last minute really isn't on. Just make sure you are the other end of the table to her, reply to any questions she asks you but don't really engage her in conversation in a larger number this is really easy to do without the hostess knowing. You can always mention it to the hosts after the event so there won't be a next time but really, just suck it up have a few drinks and enjoy yourself.

PoppyBlossom Fri 05-Jun-15 12:36:34

*do this another time!

God I hate this ipad for typing, I do apologise.

Dafspunk Fri 05-Jun-15 12:36:52

Just explain to the hostess that given your history with this woman, you don't feel that you can be civil to her so you'll drop out, rather than make for an uncomfortable evening. I'm sure she'll appreciate that this is a better outcome for all.

Dublinlass Fri 05-Jun-15 12:38:36

Agree with the above.

MrsHathaway Fri 05-Jun-15 12:40:42

If she's that deranged then she might well spoil the dinner by attacking you in some way.

I think you need to contact the hostess ASAP and say there's bad feeling between you and MrsDeranged so you can't come for dinner with her, but how about making another date for you and LovelyHostingCouple to have dinner/go out for lunch or whatever. That way she knows it's MrsDeranged and not MrsLovely or her cooking.

Gasp0deTheW0nderD0g Fri 05-Jun-15 12:41:50

Dafspunk has it.

uglyswan Fri 05-Jun-15 12:43:25

OP - I really wouldn't go. You can be the better person, take the moral high ground, bite your tongue and grind your teeth - but will she? If her email is anything to go by, possibly not. The presence of both of you at the same table may be enough to spoil the entire evening, however much self-control you exercise personally, if the other woman is spoiling for another fight. Explain that to your hosts: if I were in their position, I would be grateful to you for offering everyone an easy way out of a potentially horrible evening.

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