Demanding Friend

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Single friend inviting himself over for dinner all the time

July 2007

An old friend of mine recently moved to my neiborhood. When he first made the move we asked him over for dinner several times. Everytime my husband has asked him over he asked,''What are you making?'' before he says yes. We have since quit asking because he is so high maintenance and we usually just don't want to deal with him. Now he calls us almost everyday at exacly 6pm and asks us what we are doing for dinner. I know he is on his way home from work at that time and it is so annoying to me that he is so blatantly trying to take advantage of our hospitality. So far I have been dealing with it by saying ''Why what are you doing?'' Then he says he is going to eat at KFC or some other take out and I say ''Oh I can't come with you. I don't have a babysitter.'' I pretend like he is asking me out so he might get the impression that it is inappropriate to invite himself over or beg for food from us. For a while we just didn't answer the phone but then he would call both of our cell phones and then just show up if we didn't answer. The thing is I really like him and I don't want to make him feel bad but I also want him to start acting like a grown up and not one of my kids who just show up and open the fridge looking for leftovers. He also drinks out of my cup without asking. I guess he just feels really comfortable with me. Mean Mom

I like your tactics, here's another idea.

If you want to keep being tactful with a message, try saying, re KFC or whatever, ''that sounds great, yes, thanks- do bring some on over for us, I'd love to not have to cook tonight''. If he then tries to get you to pay him back for the food, look really dejected and say, ''oh, and here I thought you were offering to treat us'' (you could add ''for a change'' to that sentence if you want to drive the point home).

But if you just can't get through to him, why can't you start being direct- he's acting like a kid who hasn't been taught good manners or personal boundaries, so treat him like a kid who needs limits set. So what if he feels bad, we all do when we realize that we've been making a faux pas, it's part of learning:

''Sorry, I don't like to share my cup, I think you left yours over there (or ''I'll get you one from the cupboard'')''.

''I'm afraid you're going to have to quit asking us to be your regular dinner stop- we actually like dinner to be our special private time together unless I've invited guests ahead of time and have planned for that'', and optionally, ''I apologize if we somehow gave you the wrong impression about how we do dinner here''. Anon

People in our society need to stop being polite and start being honest. If he is your friend, BE a true friend to him and tell him what you're experiencing, and tell him you don't like it. Tell him it makes you not want to invite him over anymore. He probably is clueless. Yes, this will be awkward. Have the guts and be the friend he needs. It will either push him away or he will make a concerted effort to grow as a person and treat you better. Either option is better than what you have now. Awkward truth wins over uncomfortable silence
It sounds like you have a problem with boundaries. If I were in your shoes, I would tell him when he shows up at your front door that your family is busy and he can't eat dinner with you. Say you'll call him to invite him over when your family has the time. When he calls, don't be sarcastic, just say the same thing. Hopefully, after several times he'll figure out that he's no longer welcome. If he demands a response as to why he can't come over every day, tell him he's too demanding and your family is too busy to feed him. Say that if he changes, you'll be more than happy to have him over once a month. Don't give him any advice on what he should do for dinner since that's something he needs to figure out on his own and you want to take the role of his mom. Anon
And why do you like this guy??? Don't answer the phone, no matter how many times he calls. Lock the door, and don't answer if he knocks. Is he going to break into your house to have dinner with you? You need to set up some boundaries. anon
Your post reminded me of a the classic room mate break up scenario: You go off each other; have a fight, or there is something new going on, and now you notice the glop of toothpaste in the sink. Was it always there? Yes. Why didn't it bother you until now? Hmmmmmnnnn?

OK, so nothing has changed and yet, somehow, everything has changed. Now, your friend is only welcome once in a while and when you invite him. My advice is: say exactly that. Tell him that it has been OK and now, it is not.

I don't think that it is good to play games with people. You will lose respect for him if you get away with it. Does it make you feel good? Aren't you trying to have a good time in life?

Brutal straightforwardness is easier and nicer in the long run. If he is using you with out genuine affection, he will drop off your planet. Otherwise, this is a speed bump and will inject some zip in the, until now, taken for granted calm. Resentment can be turned around.

Whoa. I'm sure you'll get a lot of responses like this, but your friend is WAY out of line, and also sounds very weird! It's nice that you still want to be friends with him...but no normal adult is going to call a family EVERY day and try to invite himself to dinner, not to mention being picky about what you're eating. You need to be very straightforward and honest with him that he needs to cut it out. Obviously he's lonely and not very mature, for some reason, and maybe you can make some suggestions for him to deal with whatever the problem is, but geez. anon
People treat us the way we ''let them'' treat us. If you want this man to change his appalling behavior (I actually went YUCK when you say he drinks out of your cup), you need to be upfront. He's got some nerve to answer to your invitation to dinner only after he's gotten the menu. He's probably one of those who doesn't bring anything, either. He's a grown man and really you can't worry about his feelings because obviously he's taking advantage of you and could care less about your feelings. Simply...DO SOMETHING TO CHANGE THIS...or it'll forever be perpetual. No
You have a few options. One, consider him part of your family and make extra food every night. Maybe he can babysit once in a while after dinner while you and you husband catch a movie or something. Two, when he calls, tell him you can't that evening, then invite him for a specific evening. I *hate* getting caught off guard and always being on heels with certain people. So, turn it around and invite him when you want him. Or set up one or two nights a week that are your regular nights. Three, cut him off. I hope he has some other redeeming traits, but you don't mention them. If his likeable qualities don't outweigh this gross etiquette transgression and his lack of social skills, then just level with him, give him the boot, feel bad for a little bit, then move on. -- I'd be irritated to no end, too
Ah, a bachelor friend! And here you are, married with kids, and thus making dinner every night. Did you perchance say, one time, when he was over, ''No problem, come anytime''? You didn't do anything wrong, some people are just clueless. You have to just be straight up with him and say, since you are old friends, ''Dude, you can't just invite yourself to dinner every night! I would be really mad if my kid's friends did that, and you are acting like a 10 year old.'' Don't try to be cute by pretending he is inviting you to fast food, it just encourages this weird way of communicating. Invite him when you want to see him. And let him take you and your husband out sometime when you do have a babysitter. anon