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Handling Pushy Overbearing Friends

Published: May 7, 2022 | Last Updated: January 18, 2024 By | Reply Continue Reading
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A reader asks how to deal with pushy overbearing friends that make her feel like she’s pushed into a corner.


Hi Dr. Irene,

A few years ago, my husband and I met another couple in a community group. We’re not especially close to Jim and Libby but we have enjoyed going out for dinner with them occasionally. (We always get separate checks and pay for our own meals.) 

Here’s the awkward issue: My husband and I live close to all the restaurants and entertainment spots in our community, so Jim and Libby always end up coming to our house first, and we drive together to the restaurant (which Jim usually picks). 

Lately, Jim (who’s always been pushy) has been in the habit of texting us beforehand to ask if he and Libby can come early to our house “for a quick glass of wine” before we go for dinner. It always puts us on the spot — and it’s assumed or expected that my husband and I will provide this pre-dinner “happy hour” for them. That means opening a bottle of white wine for Jim and a bottle of red for Libby. 

The first time this happened, I thought it was quirky, but when it happened a second and third time, I thought it was rude. I started feeling resentful and cornered. How do you politely refuse people who invite themselves over for a glass of wine before going to dinner? It’s an awkward situation.

We didn’t go out as much during the pandemic, but Jim recently texted us to ask if we’d like to try a new bistro on our side of town next weekend. We’re not even sure we want to go out with this couple again. If we do, we wonder how to avoid being cornered into another happy hour in our own home. I’d appreciate your advice, Dr. Irene!

Thank you,



Hi Ellen,

When you have made a habit of giving in to the whims of overbearing pushy friends, it’s hard to break the cycle. So I understand the angst you are feeling about turning things around.

Yes, it is pushy and presumptuous for friends to repeatedly invite themselves to your home for a glass of wine before dinner. It’s your home and you should be the ones making the invitation. Doing it once might be okay but making it a pattern suggests that Jim (and Libby) are a bit pushy and overbearing. 

If you feel cornered and uncomfortable saying no, I suspect that you worry that Jim won’t hear you or won’t take no for an answer. I’m not sure why you would want to continue to place yourself in such a stressful situation. Good friendships are voluntary, mutually supportive and should enhance your life rather than be one more thing to worry about.  

You’ve raised two issues here:

  • Now that you’ve gotten to know what this couple is like, you aren’t sure you want to continue the relationship with them.
  • If you do, you don’t want to continue the to be cornered into hosting the happy hour.

You have to determine whether on balance, this friendship is worth the stress it causes. 

The pandemic provided a fortuitous hiatus and break in the routine. One way you could “politely” get out of hosting is just to say that you would rather meet at the restaurant. You don’t owe Jim an excuse for dispensing with the happy hour.

You could use the pandemic as an excuse for taking a longer hiatus from dinner dates. You can simply tell your friends that you haven’t been going out as often as you used to, and will let them know when you’re up to seeing them again. Suspending or ending this friendship will give you the time and energy to develop other relationships that feel less draining.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene  

Also on The Friendship Blog:

How Do I Deal WIth A Pushy Person?

Avoiding A One-Sided Friendship

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Handling Pushy Overbearing Friends

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Category: Creating and maintaining boundaries

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