An 'Uninvited' Guest & Overbearing Mother-In-Law

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

DEAR CAT: A former coworker has a large holiday gathering every year that she publicizes on her personal family website with a message saying everyone is welcome. She emails some people about it, but I am not included on that distribution list. I have gone the last few years, unlike a few mutual friends who are on that email list, and I am questioning whether to go this year. She is always pleasant to me when I go, but don’t you think if she wanted me to come, she would have sent me the email? When I show up, I wonder if she thinks, “Oh crap, I guess she checked my website.” If I asked her about it, I’m sure she would say it was just an oversight, that she lost my email or something like that, but would you go and have a good time, or would you take the possible hint? — UNINVITED GUEST?

DEAR U.G.: It’s not a hint you’re missing, it’s an actual invitation. Anyone in the world can view her website and I doubt everyone in the world is invited to her holiday party. I suppose I can understand why you’ve attended in the past but if she specifically invites certain people (not you), you’re not on the “most wanted” list. If you think you can have a good time despite not being invited, go and live it up. But as a general rule, if you have to wonder whether a host wants you at the party…Cat’s Call: It doesn’t reflect well on you to attend.

DEAR CAT: I think my fiancé’s mom is experiencing empty nest syndrome. He was dependent on her until a year ago (he made a few bad choices but has recently straightened out his life) and now it’s like she is upset that he doesn’t run to her every time he has a problem. I am very independent and have coached him to be the same. But she’s done many evil things to me, such as: While he was away and I was living at his house, she would come in with her emergency key, uninvited, clearly trying to catch me doing something “wrong”. She complains that she never sees him “because of me,” even though he works two jobs and I work three. When we got engaged, she told him, “I’m happy for you, even if no one else is.” What should I do? I love this man completely but I know this will only get worse as time goes on and it is so hard for me to bite my tongue sometimes. — DOOMED DAUGHTER IN LAW?

DEAR D.D.I.L.: The problem is not only yours, it’s your fiancé’s. He needs to stand up to her, or you’re in for a lifetime of battles with both of them. You love him, but he’s only been independent of his mother for a year, and only with your “coaching.” Is he mature enough to understand marriage? Will he put you first, respect you, protect your interests, and challenge anyone – including his own mother – who attacks you? Stop biting your tongue, let it lash out with all that independence. Cat’s Call: I bet she’ll back off, and he’ll grow up.

  1. I pretty much agree with your call about going to the party but my call is: I don’t agree with how the woman goes about inviting some people and not others. But maybe she only emails certain people about it because they don’t visit her website and she wants to make sure they know about it. It still seems off because she could use e-vite or something and not have any confusion.

    — mmay, chicago    12/16/2008    Reply

  2. I don’t know what that girl is worried about re the party. If she put it up on her website that’s an open invitation, and she’s gone before without incident. I do think that if you don’t feel welcome at a party, why go?

    — anonymous, pittsburgh    12/16/2008    Reply

  3. For the doomed daughter in-law, all I have to say is, RUN!!!!!!!! It will not get better and you will have to compromise and suffer. His mother being this intrusive before the wedding will only get worse once she thinks of you as her “daughter.” RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN!

    — LIZ THOMAS, PITTSBURGH    12/16/2008    Reply

  4. Hey Cat,

    Good call on Doomed Daughter In Law. I have seen this situation many times and every time it has ended in divorce. The fiance needs to stand up to his mother, but I doubt it will ever happen. And she will face many years of this treatment.

    — jenny    12/16/2008    Reply

  5. I thought one stops crashing parties once out of college. If you are not invited don’t go. What is this person missing.

    — Mia    12/16/2008    Reply

  6. My question: why is she sweating the party this year but not past years? Let’s say she’s right and the hostess doesn’t really want her there. Why is the party this year any different?

    — LTB, pgh    12/16/2008    Reply

  7. Ten bucks says she goes to the party.

    — anonymous chicago    12/16/2008    Reply

  8. The Uninvited woman sounds kind of “socially desperate.” The host is someone she USED to work with and obviously doesn’t communicate with very often. If she does go to the party (I’d put money on that outcome) she should bring a nice gift and make herself invitation worthy for next year.

    — anonymous pgh, pa    12/16/2008    Reply

  9. Not to overanalyze complete strangers,but question #1) You’ve gone to her parties before and she still doesn’t invite you, take the hint! Question #2) Your fiance is a wimp and his mother knows it! Even if you tell her off things will never change. You said so yourself! Find a real man who doesn’t need a “coach” with a mother who has her own life.

    — LAM, nyc    12/16/2008    Reply

  10. To No. 1: The message is fairly clear. The fact that you’ve never received an invitation isn’t a mistake. It didn’t get lost in the ethernet (or in the mail). You’re not on the “A” list … or any list. Skip that party.

    To No. 2: If you think the mother is intrusive now, wait until you get married. It’s going to be 24×7, “Mom says this …,” “Mom thinks that …”

    — Always confused, Pittsburgh    12/16/2008    Reply

  11. Doomed Daughter In Law is playing out a typical insecure (controlling) new wife role. She is attracted to a weak-man because she thinks she can take over. She wants to cut-out his support group (esp. his mother) and make clear that access will be only granted through her…the new boss. Low and behold, his friends and family don’t like her or her behavior. He’ll sit back and passively let the two women slug it out until only one is standing. Sounds like fun for all. Doomed should dump her tactics and consider reaching out to her guy’s mother. That’s called being an adult and showing respect. It’s a ritual all new spouses are obliged to perform.

    — Mark, Freeport PA    12/16/2008    Reply

  12. I think all the other posters are being a little harsh on the Uninvited Guest. I agree, that without a proper invitation I would feel awkward attending the party, but that certainly doesn’t mean she’s unwelcome. In my opinion, if there is an open ended invitation on her PUBLIC website and the former coworker has never made it uncomfortable for her to attend then there shouldn’t be a problem. Just go to the party and have fun like you have in the past. Why question this now if you haven’t before?

    — Lindsay, Pittsburgh PA    12/16/2008    Reply

  13. I don’t think people are being too harsh on Uninvited Guest. Why is she making a big deal about THIS party? I think it shows that she hasn’t felt welcome all along. I have never worried if someone wants me at their party (maybe in high school but that’s the point). And she even said that some of the people who are invited don’t go. She’s stressing about whether she should attend a party she wasn’t even invited to, one where some of the invitees don’t bother attending.

    — Sarah, Pgh    12/16/2008    Reply

  14. You’re way off Cat on the invite. I believe this person emails certain people fearing they wouldn’t read the website and thus wouldn’t come. I believe the people she thought do or would read the website didn’t need an email as well.

    — Eddie, Pittsburgh    12/16/2008    Reply

  15. It’s one mode to verbally invite you to a party with, “tell your friends” or “bring others if you want.” At least you’ve been invited. But when they just write on their personal website, “everyone is welcome,” that’s just a way to be holiday-like and friendly. It doesn’t really mean for everyone you’ve ever known or worked with to show up.

    — David, (San Fran, CA)    12/16/2008    Reply

  16. I don’t agree with Mark from Freeport’s comment. How is the doomed daughter-in-law controlling if she helped her fiance to get on his own two feet? But, in all honesty, it may be better to try and work things out with the mother-in-law. Maybe sit down and talk to her about things. Tell her that you value you her opinion as a mother, but that the two of you can make choices on your own.

    — Doesn't Agree, Pgh    12/17/2008    Reply

  17. I was the uninvited guest who asked Cat about the party. I want to add that I was on the email distribution list for a number of years, and for whatever reason, I was not part of it the last two years. I figured it was just an oversight last year since I don’t go every year, but when it happened again this year, and I found out a coworker who had not gone for a few years was still on the list, that is when I questioned it. Believe me, if I never got an invite, I am not that desperate to continue to go. I did end up going (unfortunately Cat’s column appeared the weekend after the party), and I made a donation to a cause the host supports. As usual the host was very gracious, and it was good to see some former coworkers. But since reading Cat’s column and others comments, I have decided not to go to future parties. Maybe it is an oversight that I am not on the email list, and the host does know I go to her website, but I am not willing to go on that assumption any more.

    — T, Pittsburgh    12/23/2008    Reply

  18. I fall off my best friend’s e-mail list sometimes, but I know we’re still best friends. So the e-mail list shouldn’t be your defining factor… I also go to many parties I’m not invited to specifically, because even though most of these parties are among close circles of friends, I know that friends of friends are welcome, and I don’t feel unwelcome. So, uninvited guest, I think you should not base your decision on whether you’re on an e-mail list, but rather on how you feel at the party. Do you feel welcome? Do you have a good time? Do you feel you bring something appropriate to contribute (whether gift or the donation you gave)? Do you know people there who are happy to see you? Then by all means, continue to go!

    — N, Pittsburgh    12/30/2008    Reply

Back to top