How do I get out of unpleasant in-law gatherings?

Hi Gentle Butch,
I need better excuses to get out of socializing with my inlaws. There are get-togethers about once a month and I can only be sick so often, believably. I can’t blame allergies because they clean better than I do and have fewer pets. They aren’t horrible people, but the gatherings are really dull and a couple of them are pretty open about how weird they think I am (in a “we tolerate and are amused by you” way which they think is generous, and I like less all the time). 

There are relationships here I don’t want to blow up for my partner’s sake. But I also don’t want to go anymore. 

— Sick of being amusing and ‘weird’

Dear SBAW,

Just to be clear, if the gatherings were merely boring I’d tell you to suck it up, go every other time, and vividly imagine interesting and painful things happening to everyone you have to talk to, because they are family and sometimes family are boring AF and that’s just life.

Sometimes at boring gatherings I collect particularly banal sayings and create an epic poem out of them; somehow these statements become hilarious when all grouped together. Gives me something to do with my brain rather then just letting it slowly die.

But they are being assholes on top of being boring.

So. An invitation isn’t a summons. Just: “I can’t make it; thanks for the invite” is perfectly polite. That said, everyone is a rude motherfucker and they think that they have a right to a REASON you are not coming to their apparently compulsory event. I suggest:

  1. Meeting for your nonprofit board
  2. Threw out your back
  3. Friend needs help
  4. Want to get in a really deep cleaning while the kids are out of the house (dull people think this is important)
  5. Webinar!
  6. Snakes

I think since they are family you should probably go suffer around every 4-5 months.

If they haven’t gotten the hint by month nine you have to kill them all, of course, but that’s a different letter.


Or maybe ‘or.’

Do they realize they are treating you condescendingly and othering you and hurting your feelings?

Do you care for them to realize it?

Why doesn’t your husband stick up for you when people pull this shit?

There might be very legitimate reasons for this: you have told him not to because you don’t GAF about any further interactions with them, and calling someone on their bullshit is often an invitation for more intimacy.

But they are family, and you are stuck with them for a long, long time. If the reasons are any of the following, dude needs to step up:

  1. He also doesn’t seem to realize this is happening
  2. You both fear ‘making a scene’
  3. You don’t think your feelings here are important
  4. You have tried to address this and the fuckfaces continue to do it because they think ‘humor’ is ‘light abuse,’ like many boring people do, so you gave up
  5. He is afraid to speak up to his family

None of the above reasons are acceptable for not stopping this shit from his family. Not a single one.

So many people get away with condescending abuse because everyone else is afraid of making a scene, or they are genuinely too fucking oblivious to their own effect on others that they think they’re connecting with you or some garbage.

Mild bullying is still bullying, and it’s his job to stick up for his partner.

If he’s worried about immediately saying: “Wow! That sure was condescending!” and putting the dipshit on the spot (I don’t see why you wouldn’t; they are putting YOU on the spot) He can pull the person aside and quietly speak with them about it, explaining that if they think you are weird they can keep it to themselves; after all, you think they are dull and you keep it to YOURself.

Whichever approach you decide on, stick to your guns. Your reasons for not attending don’t have to be believable; you owe them nothing. And if you demand kind treatment, then you have to refuse to back down.

Either way, you and your time and your feelings are worth the effort and consistency.

2 thoughts on “How do I get out of unpleasant in-law gatherings?

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