General Question

nikipedia's avatar

Is it rude to invite yourself to a social event?

Asked by nikipedia (27338 points ) December 6th, 2008

My favorite advice columnist recently broached this and there seemed to be two conflicting viewpoints.

VIEWPOINT 1: “Don’t be afraid to be the third wheel.” In other words, don’t be afraid to ask others to include you in their plans. This works best with new acquaintances . . . when you hear others making plans, say something like, “Hey, that sounds like fun, do you mind if I join you?” If they do mind, you’ll get the message. And usually they don’t!

VIEWPOINT 2: “Mind if I join you?” What?!?! Goodness, no! Please, if you overhear me making plans with a friend or friends, DO NOT INVITE YOURSELF to join! I don’t mean to be a witch or a mean girl, but seriously, I would have to say yes because I would feel horribly rude doing anything else and I really don’t want you there! That’s why you’re not invited!

What do you think?

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26 Answers

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

The first rule is always that listening in on the conversation of others is rude, even if you are friends with both parties. Interrupting a conversation to interject yourself in on it is also rude, unless you have a good reason to do so. Where the “don’t be afraid to be a third wheel” comes in is, it’s okay to have a private conversation with one of the parties of the conversation on your own, and ask about weekend plans, say you were also thinking about doing blah-blah and suggesting you do it together.

I personally find Carolyn Hax too flippant to be taken seriously

Mizuki's avatar

I’d like to know more context before putting forth an opinion. The question was missing vital details….

tinyfaery's avatar

The article aside, in general, it all depends on the event and/or the situation where one is inviting oneself. If you hear about a party at an aquaintaces house, but you weren’t personally invited, it’s okay to tag along with invited friends. If the affairs are more personal or ceremonial in nature, such as a wedding or a intimate birthday celebration, it’s probably best not to. However, crashing every once in awhile is okay

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

I would never go to anyone’s house for a party unless I live out of town and the host(ess) would be pleasantly surprised to see me, and I knew all of the other guests. If they wanted you there, they would have invited you. I think of “tagging along” is okay for unstructured events, like going to a movie, going shopping, going to a museum or gallery opening, going out to eat or bar-hopping, getting tickets to a concert. Not okay for a weekend trip or vacation, or a party at someone else’s home unless it’s an open invitation. And never, ever, ever to a catered event.

The rule used to be if you could show up at the event on your own, then by all means invite yourself along. So movie, dinner, bar-hopping, yes. Weekend trips move into stalkeresque behavior, wedding and catered parties, never.

wundayatta's avatar

I think there are few people who could carry off the self-invitation. You’d have to be really confident, and you’d have to really not care what anyone else thinks. Maybe you’re never going to see the hosts or their friends again. It seems like a kind of burning bridges thing, although it also might depend on how you behave at the event.

I generally agree with Alfreda, although I’m not sure about inviting yourself along on a movie or dinner. Going along on those things may interrupt private time the others were planning on. Even bar-hopping. Often times there’s a reason the person was not invited. The others don’t like that person. It makes the whole thing very awkward if someone disliked invites themselves along. Then you spend the evening trying to figure out a way of losing them.

EmpressPixie's avatar

Generally speaking it is rude because once you ask, there is very little polite way for them to say no. You put the host in an awkward position.

Having said that, I find that once you know someone longer it is easier to invite yourself along. Like if I’m going to dinner or the movies with my boyfriend, unless we’re all atwitter that it is a date, we don’t care if his roommates invite themselves, and they regularly do. Because we’re just planning a friendly outing, not a formal outing.

I guess in the end if it is formal in any way, it’s better to be invited by the host/planner or not go. If totally casual and friendly it doesn’t matter.

The only trouble is when something seems like a casual, friendly outing but isn’t.

augustlan's avatar

I’m generally of the opinion that you shouldn’t do it. Ever. The only exceptions I can think of would be if it involved my best friend or my husband. I trust that they’d be honest with me and tell me if there was some reason they’d rather I didn’t come along.

I love Carolyn Hax!

bluemukaki's avatar

I don’t do it, but the result is that I don’t get invited to many things, partly because no one likes me and partly because my gang have a habit of generally inviting everyone without actually telling them they are invited, which gets confusing sometimes… I think it depends on the context, if they are really good friends then it would probably be fine to invite yourself, provided it is a 2+ people kind of event, I wouldn’t do it if two people were planning on going somewhere together, unless they explicitly invited you.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

I think that if you overhear people talking about attending a public event after work, and in a one-on-one conversation with one of the people casually mention that you were thinking of going to the same event, and mention meeting up. Usually people who invite themselves along become a social liability for the others.

Really the way it should work is that if you want to do something with a group of people, take the initiative to organize a group outing.

mangeons's avatar

It would be rude to eavesdrop regardless, they could be talking about a more pressing matter that you really didn’t need/want to know about, and you’d wish you hadn’t been eavesdropping. In regards to inviting yourself, in most cases, if you are there and people don’t say “Would you like to come?” you most likely aren’t invited for one reason or another, and you asking makes them feel like they can’t refuse.

cdwccrn's avatar

I would not do it. It ismuch more honorable to be invited when you did not expect to be than to impose yourself on people who would not have wanted to include you.

Tantigirl's avatar

My father’s auntie actually did that. My parents couldn’t invite everyone to their wedding due to financial restraints, and my dad’s auntie actually turned up at the house on the wedding day, and expected to be included (along with the rest of her family) in the wedding, and to attend the reception afterwards, knowing that they hadn’t been invited and after it had been previously explained to them why they hadn’t been invited around the time the invitations had been sent out.

The irony of this is that when all of my dad’s brothers and sisters got married to their SOs (my dad is the eldest of 6), they all invited this auntie to their respective weddings, and she didn’t come to any of them!!

mangeons's avatar

@Tanti: That’s really bad. It seems like she only wanted to come because she was upset that she wasn’t invited. And they had a good reason, and she put them in an uncomftorable, financially distressing situation.

maybe_KB's avatar

Say, ”Thats sounds fun!
Allow them to invite you.
That’s the rule(s) Man.
LOL

mangeons's avatar

EXACTLY, maybe_KB, maybe hint that you would like to go, and if they pick up and want to invite you, allow them to do so. Don’t just go “Hey can I come?”

And if they just say “Yeah, it’ll be a blast, just assume you aren’t invited, because they most likely would pick up on it, and they would invite you. Don’t try to make them feel guilty by going “Oh. Okay. I understand. Hope you have fun.”

Siren's avatar

I agree with mayb_KB and mangeons as well.

If they know you are interested, and have heard the comment maybe_KB suggested, the ball is in their court if they want to let “bygones be bygones”. However, going away together for 3 days might be uncomfortable for all even if they are thinking of inviting you. Just saying how fun it sounds seems like a great icebreaker. Perhaps enough time has gone by that their attitude towards you is melting? (or at least fair enough for you to think so). If so, I would recommend trying to be their friend again and perhaps the next outing you will be included, and there won’t be any awkwardness about it either.

If that doesn’t work, how about buying a box of donuts for your group as an ice-breaker? One or two of them may feel like “breaking the clique” and be your friend again.

lataylor's avatar

it is rude toinvite yourself anywhere at anytime.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

I agree 100% with #2 viewpoint. If someone were wanted there, they would be invited.

Snowbud77's avatar

To give an example of this, my (socially inept) roommate OVERHEARD me ask a friend if he was going to my good friends party. When my friend left, my roommate asked about the party as if he wanted to go. To not be rude, I was rather vague about the details and said that I wasn’t sure if I were going to be able to make it, hoping he would get the hint. The following day I spoke with my good friend and he mentioned my roommate (who he has only met less than a hand full of times) sent him a text msg asking if he and his girl could come to the party. Who does this? Does anyone else think this is acceptable? It would be completely OK for him and his girl to come with me, but NOT OK to ask my friend whom he barely knows. WTF?

BogJuan's avatar

Nice of you to call me socially inept. I appreciate that.
I did overhear it, but I had forgotten and thought you mentioned it. Either way, I am friends with the friend having the party and even though we haven’t hung out that much without Snowbud77 around, he did give me his number at some time in the past so as to get an invite to the next party we were having over here. I texted him saying “I heard you were having a party?” “Mind if I come?” He replied with “yep Saturday” and “sure you can”. If we are not good enough friends he could have replied with ‘No sorry it is just me and some friends’ or something to that effect and it would be fine…
Am I just completely socially inept and putting him in a bad spot or is that a reasonable thing to do?

Ryu's avatar

I asked my 3 friends that im with and we all agree that it is highly dependant on both what it is that is going on and who it is.

BogJuan's avatar

It is Snowbud77’s best friends birthday party. I am good friends with Snowbud77 and am OK friends with his best friend.

BogJuan's avatar

OK, I guess myself and Snowbud77’s best friend are acquaintances.

Snowbud77's avatar

I don’t know this person…

sylverblade's avatar

Personally I don’t even feel comfortable going somewhere that I’ve been invited if the person inviting isn’t the person throwing planning it so forget about inviting myself, the only time I think it is acceptable to invite yourself is if it’s to a family members party or a very close friend of yours otherwise I think it’s just rude. that’s just my opinion though i’ve been known to be wrong

Da_Wolfman's avatar

Hell no, its an event….....and I’m social!

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