my boss and my employee won’t stop asking me to spend the night at their houses

A reader writes:

I am a mid-level manager at a medium-sized company. I have worked here for four years now, and this problem has been happening since I started.

About six months after I started, my boss invited me to a Halloween party at her house. I felt like I should go because she is my boss and I was relatively new still. When I told her I was coming, she invited me (and my boyfriend) to spend the night at her house since we live a little less than an hour away and there would be alcohol. I declined and told her I would just stay sober to drive us home.

At the party, an employee who reports directly to me was there. When she saw me, she also invited my boyfriend and I to spend the night at her house so I could drink. Again I declined and just limited myself to one beer over the four hours we were there. The party was fine and uneventful. This would have been a little bit weird, but not too awkward if that had been the end of it. It was not.

The two of them are in the same social circle and seem to spend time together outside of work a lot. I tend to be a little anti-social at work. I am very good at my job, but I am a very different person in my personal life and my professional life and I prefer for the two not to cross.

Since this party, both my boss and my employee have asked if my boyfriend and I would like to spend the night at their house at least a dozen times. Each time I have declined immediately. Almost always it is under the guise of “you guys should come over and have a few drinks, then you can just spend the night if you need to” … but not always. My employee has asked if we want to go with her to her beach house for the weekend, once she asked if my whole family (two teenage kids included) would like to spend the night after a volleyball tournament that was slightly closer to her house than ours, my boss just got a new hot tub and keeps asking if I want to come over after work and get in the hot tub and have a drink then spend the night and ride into the office together the next day …

I do attend my boss’ annual Halloween party, but outside of that I have not socialized with either of them outside of work. I like them both professionally and just as people. I would most likely be friends with them if they were not my boss and my employee, but they are and it is weird.

How do I make it stop? Also. the only rational explanation for this that I can think of is that they are some kind of swingers or something? Am I wrong? I can be a little wild on the weekends (hence keeping my personal and professional life separate) but am I just reading too much into this? Is there some other reason why middle-aged people would invite other middle-aged people to spend the night so regularly?

What on earth!

They … could be swingers, I guess? But they could also just have really bad professional boundaries — which is definitely the case regardless of whether there’s swinging going on or not.

It’s not great that your boss and your employee socialize this much outside of work! That puts you in an awkward situation if you ever have serious concerns about your employee’s work, or if she asks for/expects special treatment because she assumes her relationship with your boss entitles her to it, or if other people assume she gets special treatment because of it. Even aside from all the overnight invitations, this is a problem.

I think it’s quite plausible that they’re not swingers and there’s nothing weirder going on than that they’re too close for an employee/grandboss relationship, and they assume other people will have similarly loose boundaries so they’re trying to include you in that.

Or they could be swingers. One can never write that off entirely.

You have a good chance at getting the overnight invitations to stop if you give a blanket “no” the next time they extend one — something like, “I always prefer to sleep at home” or “I’ve got kids so I’m always going to leave early enough to sleep at home.” If they invite your kids too, you can say, “We’re all more comfortable sleeping at home.”

Also, though, do you have the kind of relationship with your boss where you’d be comfortable talking about it more head-on? As in, “I appreciate how welcoming you and Jane have been with the invitations to your homes! I think I’d enjoy hanging out socially if we didn’t work together, but as long as we do, I’m never going to feel comfortable with that. It’s not personal, it’s just what helps me keep the work/life boundaries I need.” You could say something similar to your employee, too.

But … ugh. There’s a bigger discussion that needs to happen with your boss (or possibly with HR) about the complications arising from her relationship with your employee, but given how close they seem, I’m skeptical that it will change their relationship in any meaningful way. An alternative is to look at whether you are experiencing any negative side effects from it (like hesitating to give your employee feedback because of their relationship) and if you are, focus there — but it’s a clusterfudge of not insignificant proportions.

{ 401 comments… read them below }

  1. Eldritch Office Worker*

    “I think it’s quite plausible that they’re not swingers”

    The things this blog makes me read on a Monday morning I stg

    1. Stopped Using My Name*

      “Also. the only rational explanation for this that I can think of is that they are some kind of swingers or something? Am I wrong? ”

      I think you are.

        1. Rose*

          OP is 100% wrong. Lots of people sleep at friend’s houses to avoid drinking and driving.

          I don’t think her boss should be partying with her direct reports, but “the only explanation is that she’s trying to sleep with me” is an absolutely huge leap.

          1. Spero*

            Lots of ALCOHOLICS frequently sleep at someone’s house to avoid drinking and driving. But it’s extremely uncommon behavior among those who do not struggle with alcohol abuse because 1) on the rare occasions they binge drink to the point of being incapacitated, they might sleep over with someone but it’s a rare aberration not a frequent event, and 2) most non-alcoholics plan their consumption around a safe return to home, as the letter writer described (ex: I had just one drink so I can drive home). Being able to drive yourself home at the end of the night is a pretty standard activity of daily living, routinely drinking too much to do any activity of daily living is a clear indicator of alcohol abuse/alcoholism. If drinking to that level is standard practice in your social group you may want to consider assessing the standard of alcohol use you’ve accepted and the health risks involved.

      1. DontRunWithSpoonsEither*

        Or the one-time invite was just to throw OP off from thinking they were swingers, you don’t know.

      2. Three Flowers*

        I think it’s more likely that they have a drinking problem, and want to socialize with LW, but that’s predicated on everyone involved being wasted.

        1. PinaColada*

          Drinking problem is 100% what I thought. They want her to come over and socialize/bond with them in their preferred way, which is to get really drunk. They are trying to “address the objection” to drinking in advance (“You can spend the night!”) but they don’t realize how weird it makes them seem.)

          ^source: grew up with alcoholic parents so all kinds of weird things get normalized, even when there’s nothing particularly nefarious or clandestine going on.

          1. Random Dice*

            The swinger thing is funnier / creepier, but agree that it is likelier that they have serious drinking problems and exist in an alcoholic social network.

            I had no idea that Halloween was a drinking holiday, outside of college parties. I have always thought of it as a food and sugar holiday.

            (Pinterest has decided I want to see Halloween foods like edible eyeballs in stew, hot dogs carved to look like severed fingers, and apples carved to look like shrunken heads in cider. Pinterest is 100% correct in its assessment of me.)

        2. Monica*

          It’s absolutely this. I work in an industry with a drinking/party culture, and it’s assumed that any event with alcohol will inevitably result in everyone getting completely blitzed. I’ve been invited to crash on many couches over the years, and I’ve always declined for the same reason OP does.

        3. GlitterIsEverything*

          Exactly this. If every event involving alcohol assumes people aren’t safe to drive afterwards, either they have the rule I do (one drink means I’m not driving) or they expect drinking at all is drinking to excess.

          When the solution comes off as creepy, the problem is bigger than you think.

      3. ThatOtherClare*

        I agree. It seems most probable to me that they’ve just fallen victim to the classic “At our workplace we’re like a faaamily” blunder.

        If your family regularly stay over at your house, and your co-workers are family, then it makes total sense for your co-workers to regularly stay over at your house.

      4. first thought best thought*

        It’s not at all an outlandish guess that they could be swingers. Source: me, having briefly swung (and finding it personally an extremely overrated, exponentially more awkward um..playtime) been propositioned by swingers directly and more often in skeezy indirect ways. That said, their repeat, can’t take a no-requests are creepy.

      5. Random Dice*

        I also immediately thought the boss and coworker were swingers, and involved with each other.

        I love this line:

        “Or they could be swingers. One can never write that off entirely.”

        No, no one can’t. Quack quack.

      1. EMW*

        That is the ONLY reason why I stopped thinking they were swingers. It is all just so odd. I don’t even socialize with them outside of the office other than the once a year Halloween party

        1. OMG, Bees!*

          Maybe it’s just cuz I would never have that swinger life, but I find it’s far more likely for people to have boundary crossing social lives. Like, the boss and employee sound to me likely to invite everyone to a wedding (or expect an invite)

        2. Arts Akimbo*

          If only that were the case in all swinger situations. I grew up during the 70s, and I very clearly remember our family going to a pool party with tons of kids from toddlers to teens, where I later learned the adults were swingers. There was a room in the house where nonstop X-rated movies were being shown, and us kids were told, “Oh yeah, just don’t go in that room.”

          It was a wild, bizarre time to grow up.

      2. Felicia*

        I would be interested to know where this is happening and what the local culture is? Could this be southern hospitality run amok? Is OP new to the area and not picking up on it?

        1. Insert Clever Name Here*

          OP’s been at the company for *four years* so if this is a local thing it’d be very reasonable to assume they’d know.

    2. Salsa Your Face*

      “Or they could be swingers. One can never write that off entirely.”

      In an instant, these sentences have become my new worldview.

      1. tangerineRose*


        I keep thinking most swingers would have more sense than to combine that activity with co-workers, but considering the duck club, I guess you never know.

    3. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

      I made a mistake of reading this while in an on-camera meeting and had to quickly hide my snort of laughter.

    4. Rex Libris*

      I’m not saying they’re swingers, but they’re probably swingers. Or aliens. “Why not get drunk and spend the night?” Is an awkward college pickup line, not a normal suggestion from one’s boss.

      1. Nothing Happening Here*

        Or you wake up the next morning in a bathtub full of ice missing a kidney?

        Just kidding, but I am going with the swingers thing.

      2. Tinkerbell*

        “Just come spend the night, what’s the worst that could happen?” is how you get the Rocky Horror Picture Show :-D

      3. Le Sigh*

        Alien swingers?

        Now I’m picturing the aliens from Mars Attacks when they were dressed up as the pretty lady to create a decoy.

    5. EC*

      Honestly, right up until LW mentioned that they had also invited the kids, I was thinking swingers. The whole thing is so, so weird.

      1. Honestly, some people’s children!*

        Maybe the invite the kids thing is a decoy? To lure them in? This whole thing is so odd!

      2. Lucia Pacciola*

        “There’s gonna be drinking. You’re welcome to crash here if you want to indulge.”

        Not weird at all. I think LW might be making it weird.

        1. Violet*

          In regards to the initial party, maybe. But what about the continual hot tub invitations? That’s definitely weird!

          1. Lucia Pacciola*

            As a former hot tub owner who likes to drink and socialize and sit in a hot tub, I would often to invite friends over to have drinks and sit in a hot tub. It’s not weird for grown-ups to like pool parties.

            1. Rex Libris*

              It is weird and extremely inappropriate though, when the grown up is your boss, and you’ve said “no” repeatedly on top of it. This is seriously an HR nightmare.

            2. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

              No, and if this were a letter about someone saying to a friend “would you like to come over & sit in the hot tub, you can crash here if you want to drink”, then letting it go if the friend said no…

              … well, I guess then it wouldn’t be a letter, because no-one would write to an advice column about that. But it’s not LW’s friend, it’s her boss and her employee, LW has never socialised with them outside work (apart from the Hallowe’en party), and they haven’t taken the hint for FOUR YEARS! There are LEVELS of weirdness here and they are not coming from LW. Just for one, “You’ve repeatedly turned down invitations to hang out outside work, want to come to my beach house for the weekend? Or bring your whole family to stay the night at my house?” is unusual. I

        2. Sloanicota*

          Yeah to be honest, while the swingers explanation is amusing, I suspect the real issue is a strong drinking culture here, where these coworkers think it’s totally normal to get quite intoxicated and don’t want to assume you’ll be up to driving afterwards (which … good – but still!). In my experience, people who drink a lot assume everyone drinks a lot. They don’t imagine anyone would want to socialize without getting completely blitzed.

          1. DrinkingCulture*

            I was thinking this too. My best friend’s inlaws expect everyone to drink pretty heavily at meals, gatherings, parties, etc whether casual or forma, or in between. It’s weird to my never drink around kids upbringing, but I was warned before the first time I met them to always order an alcoholic drink even if I also order another drink and just sip the alcohol. I don’t know what would happen if they had to interact with a recovering alcoholic.

            1. tangerineRose*

              I’ve read advice similar to that which says something like go to the bartender and ask for a non-alcoholic drink that looks like it has alcohol in it.

          2. La Contessa*

            As a sober person, I agree that this kind of pressure is some kind of recruitment to their drinking culture because they are projecting and assuming everyone drinks like they do. Strong drinking cultures often don’t like “no” for an answer to their prodding, partly I think because it holds a mirror to their own behavior, and the less they have to look inward the more they can drink. Or they could be swingers.

          3. Shakti*

            I have to say I get a very strong party culture vibe which leads to some fuzzy boundaries especially with work. I remember when I moved from New England to Tennessee (I’ve since moved again) that it was a pretty intense culture shock especially with the blending of work and partying and people in leadership mixing with people not in leadership and yes a lot of people getting so drunk they stayed over their boss’s house and vice versus. Not my vibe either and it did affect some things at work for people for sure

        3. EC*

          If they had said it one time it wouldn’t be weird. But they apparently ask all the time. They keep asking LW to come over and get wasted in the hot tub. They ask LW to stay over when LW is doing something unrelated and is only a short drive from home. Asking LW multiple times to get drunk and stay at their house is extremely weird.

    6. Nonanon*

      It’s “where are they now month!” remember the writer concerned their coworkers were swingers?
      “Turns out yes, they are swingers, but they claim to not have been interested in me, citing professional boundaries.”

      1. Lucia Pacciola*

        I feel like after several years of these parties and invitations, word would have already gotten around to LW that sometimes the parties turn into swingin’ sleepovers.

      2. GlitterIsEverything*

        “Where are they now?”
        I kept declining offers from both people, but then went to the next Halloween party.
        This year, costumes were mandatory rather than expected. I got there, and was pleasantly surprised by the variety of costumes. A butler, a professor, a maid… At first, I thought maybe there was a Clue (movie) theme I didn’t know about. But then this rocker guy came in, followed by a guy wearing nothing but gold boxers, so I was relieved. Until my boss brought me a bra and slip and told me I should change, and told my now-husband and he should change into just his underwear.
        Yeah, you were all right. They’re alien swingers, and they were trying to get back to Transylvania.

    7. Artemesia*

      As soon as the hot tub appeared, I realized that at minimum they are going to expect you to get naked with them. And the odds they are swingers went way up. Yikes how very weird. Once after a big party, okay — plausible. But the continued focus on spending the night is very creepy. I agree you need a ‘policy’ — ‘oh we never lend our cars’, ‘oh thanks but we don’t hire friends as realtors’, ‘oh we always like to sleep in our own beds’. Sooner you make ‘oh we never do that’ your policy the easier it might become. But WOW. This would have me thinking about other job options.

      1. Lucia Pacciola*

        “As soon as the hot tub appeared, I realized that at minimum they are going to expect you to get naked with them.”

        What on earth? No! As a former hot tub owner, and frequent pool party attendee, I can assure you that it is not the norm among hot tub owners, to expect their pool party guests to get naked. Of all the hot tub pool parties I’ve ever been to, with or without alcohol, not a single one ever came with the expectation of mutual nudity. Or any nudity.

        Your “realization” is bananapants.

        1. BubbleTea*

          But presumably you don’t get in the hot tub fully dressed in office-appropriate clothes? I wouldn’t be a lot more comfortable in a swimming costume than naked with colleagues.

          1. Lucia Pacciola*

            I too am uncomfortable in swimming costume, but I darn well know the difference between wearing a modest swimsuit and prancing around in the nude. If you tell me you’re not comfortable putting on a swimsuit and hopping in the pool, I get it. You do you. No judgement here!

            If you tell me my pool party invitation makes you uncomfortable because I have a hot tub and therefore I probably expect you to get naked, I will absolutely judge you: bananapants.

            1. EME*

              Hello – I am the letter writer. I replied to a few comments earlier then I got sidetracked with my actual job. I do tell them every single time they ask, “I just do not sleep when I am not in my own bed so I will always go home unless I absolutely can’t” and they still invite me.

              I don’t actually think they are swingers, but I DID at first. I really don’t know what to think now. I do really like both of them. We all work well together. I do think that the two of them spending so much time together is problematic, but I also don’t feel like I can say anything about it. My boss is a VP so she is in charge. My boss does not seem to spend time outside of work with anyone else other than the two of us, my employee spends a lot of her time with coworkers but most of them are on the same level as her.

              My boss definitely considers me more of a friend and I have mixed feelings about that, but overall I like her as a boss and a person so I just go with it. My employee is kind of clueless and constantly trying to help or do things for people without them asking or needing things done to the point of being pushy – this is also problematic but I don’t know how to address it and no one has ever complained about it (other than me).

              The craziest one was when she tried to get my whole family to spend the night after the volleyball tournament. I do not and would not drink at any of my children’s functions and my house was only ten minutes farther away. That time she asked me several times in the office and then ever sent me multiple text messages on the day of in case I changed my mind. I was like what the hell??

              I work in a pretty niche field – there are only five companies that do what we do and I have worked for two of them before here. Overall I am very happy with my job and have been very successful with this company so I am not trying to leave or anything, it is just a very odd situation. My boyfriend and I laugh about it all the time. We have a pool in our backyard and do tend to get drunk and swim naked at parties which is why I do not EVER invite work people to my house and probably why my mind immediately jumped to the swinger thing. I will let you know if I ever figure it out.

              1. Genadriel*

                Okay, that explains why you are getting the repeated, specific invitations.

                Your employee and your boss know about parties at your house, and they want in. They know they don’t get to invite themselves to your house to get drunk and swim naked in your pool. So they figure they will first invite you to have the same kind of fun at their house instead. And I guess that they think this is more likely to happen if you stay over for the night.

                There’s no need for a hidden agenda when they are inviting you to a party activity they know you already enjoy doing. The two main problems are that they don’t understand your boundary between work and social life, and they also aren’t listening when you tell them that you can only sleep in your own bed.

                I do wonder if they are aware that work people are never invited to your parties – which appears to be a pretty firm boundary for you, OP – and if they are deliberately testing it.

                1. EMW*

                  Only they don’t know that is what happens at my house because I do not spend any time outside of work with anyone associated with my job or talk about my personal life (except for my kids) at work. At work I am a workaholic, buttoned up, go getter. I am also that way with my kids. It is only in my actual personal life with my actual very small group of friends that I party with- and I am most definitely not a swinger.

                2. Myrin*

                  Even apart from what OP said, I don’t think naked pool parties are so cool and unique and once-in-a-lifetime and irresistibly enticing that boss and report absolutely must attend one of OP’s.

        2. Statler von Waldorf*

          To counter your assertion, I’ll just state that ALL my hot tub party invites come with an expectation of mutual nudity. To be fair, these days it’s less skinny dipping and more chunky dunking.

          Then again, I just realized that I don’t count “pool parties” and “hot tub parties” as the same thing. The former is usually done dressed and sober, and children are welcome. The latter is usually done naked and tipsy, and the kids are definitely not invited.

          1. ThatOtherClare*

            To counter the counter, my parents had a hot tub when I was a teen and would regularly invite their friends over for hot tub parties. The men would be in board shorts and the women board shorts and SPF 50+ swim tops. There was alcohol but also a heavy meal and constant snacks, so nobody ever needed to stay over.

            It was definitely the sort of thing one could invite a close colleague to, but they had sensible boundaries and didn’t. They weren’t being wild enough to even embarrass a teen girl, let alone anyone getting naked. That’s the first concept I think of when someone say ‘hot tub party’ unless explicitly stated otherwise.

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            “.…these days it’s less skinny dipping and more chunky dunking.”

            OK skip the cross stitched pillow. I want this on a swm tote or beach towel.

            1. allathian*

              I used to have “I used to skinny dip but now I only chunky dunk” as my sig line on a long-defunct forum.

              That said, I’ve long since stopped chunky dunking as well, the only person I’ll voluntarily let me see less than fully clothed, never mind naked, is my husband.

          3. Spero*

            Where are you located? I grew up in the snowy midwest and hot tub parties did usually involve alcohol, but definitely not nudity. I’ve been in hot tubs hundreds of time and only one involved any nudity, and it was clearly a DATE in hot tub not a party. Now maybe somewhere warmer where hot tubs are rare, I wouldn’t be shocked that someone had one for *spicy* reasons rather than coldness reasons, and might want to get nekkid. Just like I wouldn’t assume a Scandinavian going into a sauna nude is planning to have sex in the sauna, whereas I probably would assume that of a nude sauna in other countries.

      2. Lenora Rose*

        While I have heard of naked hot tub parties (including ones which were merely nudist and not implying swinging) my sole experiences with hot tub parties were with bathing suits. (Some were even explicitly kid friendly, as the hot tub owners had a toddler).

    8. redflagday701*

      I hope people never get over the awkwardness associated with ethical nonmonogamy, because nothing is more delightful than wondering and joking about someone trying to swing with you.

      1. Tinkerbell*

        It will never be ethical when it’s a boss propositioning an employee, regardless of the dynamics of the relationship.

  2. LTR, FTP*

    I’m a GenXer, married with kids, live in the burbs. Our friends are spread out and all live an hour away. When we get together we like to have a few drinks. It’s very common for us to have a standing invitation to spend the night at all of our friends’ homes, and we have the same policy here.

    My guests don’t often take me up on the offer, but we always put it out there. We take drinking and driving seriously and we’d much rather have someone crash in the guest room than crash on the road.

    I think we’re reading too much into this offer. I think the hosts are just saying “hey don’t worry if you have a drink too many, you can always stay here rather than drive back home.”

    1. Meemur*

      Agreed, this was my first too. They’re just letting you know that if you *do* want to have a drink at a party, you can do so safely. Jumping to “Are the swingers?” seems like a wild overreaction to me

      1. Doctor Fun!*

        If it was just happening at a party, I’d agree. But OP mentions that it’s happening a lot, and that it comes attached to offers like “come to my place for some hot tubbing and drinks and then you can spend the night”, which… y’all. That is classic swinger behavior. Source: myself, having fended off exactly that kind of invite from a former manager who liked to get into sexual relationships with her employees.

        1. nopetopus*

          Yeah, the hot tub invite especially makes it honestly super reasonable to wonder about swingers. I thought we’d have to break the news that they might be coming on to LW, thankfully she already grokked it.

          1. Sloanicota*

            The hot tub was way over the line. Nobody should invite subordinate staff members to a private hot tub in my opinion. Even if that’s what you love in your downtime and it’s totally innocent on your end, that is begging for a misunderstanding, shows extremely poor judgement, and is not really defensible.

        2. Ink*

          Yeah, this is it. Party, sure, but creating a whole separate invitation for just op/family, and to *try out your hot tub* crosses the line. A hot tub is a pretty “intimate” activity imo- you’re in swimsuits in close quarters without the distance you can carve out at a pool or beach. (Intimate is a weird description, but it’s what I’ve got. When it’s your boss, that line comes into play in a way it doesn’t with family/friends)

          1. RVA Cat*

            This, and I’m cringing for the OP, their boyfriend and *their teens”. Taking up the “get drunk in the hot tub” offer to have your kids walk in on the swinging is possibly the most awkward thing ever!

              1. EMW*

                No – the invite to the beach house was for just my BF and I. When they invited my kids too it was after my daughter’s volleyball tournament. My employee asked about 10 times that time. She kept saying that traffic was going to be bad and here house was closer. Her house was 20 minutes away from the tournament and my house was 30 minutes away.

                1. Pyjamas*

                  How much do these ppl drink? My partner’s former buddies were all about getting together to just… drink. I was even scolded by a mutual “friend” for not wanting ppl to show up uninvited, drink half a bottle of whiskey and pass out until 2-3 am.

                  Note: when partner stopped drinking, they stopped wanting to socialise. Maybe you could imply you’ve become a teetotaller

            1. Cmdrshprd*

              “Taking up the “get drunk in the hot tub”” eh I don’t know that this was necessarily the offer. I think there is a range between sober, having a drink but being okay to drive, and getting drunk. I think you can have a few drinks where you are not okay to drive, but not be drunk.

          2. mango chiffon*

            The wording of the hot tub situation as “come here right after work and then go to work together” is what’s particularly alarming. It sounds like it’s more of a one on one thing and it also doesn’t sound like it’s a saunas in Finland kind of situation here

            1. Hannah Lee*

              Yeah, I think LW would have mentioned if “hang out in hot tubs after work” was a regular thing in the culture of whereever they are based.

              Personally, just about any activity that involves any combination of:
              “people I work with including boss and/or my subordinates, or even peers for that matter”
              “swimsuits” and/or “together, sitting in a container of water”
              would be an automatic NO for me, for about 20 different reasons. (two of which are attached to my chest and given to floating closer to my face than I ever prefer them to be in any work adjacent situation)

              Even at conferences or group outing days where pools, hot tubs, water slides are not the focus but just available I’m going to opt out and will likely be found gathering with people who are NOT in swimsuits or sitting in water.

              On a boat at a work event, or river rafting with co-workers I’m friendly with, sure, fine … in those situations, people are likely dressed in non-naked-adjacent ways, and legionnaires isn’t likely on the menu, and I don’t have to be separated from my street clothes in any way.

        3. Lucia Pacciola*

          “That’s classic swinger behavior.”

          Is it? I haven’t been around enough swingers to know what is and isn’t typical of that subculture.

          On the other hand, I have been someone who likes alcohol and owns a hot tub, and I feel like “come hang out in the hot tub and drink with us” is pretty normal behavior for people who like alcohol and hot tubs.

          1. JustaTech*

            Absolutely – with your friends. Great fun!
            But with your coworkers? And not just coworkers but people in your direct reporting chain?

            I have been to exactly one party with coworkers (my whole team) that involved swimming and, yeah, we as a group agreed that it was too awkward and we wouldn’t do it again.

            1. Lucia Pacciola*

              “But with your coworkers? And not just coworkers but people in your direct reporting chain?”

              Look at where we’re posting our comments. You read this blog, and “employer with poor work-life social boundaries” wasn’t your immediate thought? This blog never talks about swingers and swinger culture. Why would you go there first? I’m sure you’ve met more bosses with bad boundaries than you have met crypto-swingers with hot tubs.

        4. Alice in Spreadsheetland*

          Yeah it’s the difference between when you’re already drunk at the party and the host says, ‘why don’t you just crash here’ v when you’re just getting the invite and the host is asking you to stay the night already.

          I do plan sleepovers with my close friends but I wouldn’t sleep over at someone’s house who I wasn’t a close friend with, and especially not the first time I’m ever at their house. LW says they’ve only attended the boss’s Halloween party and that’s it.

          (Also, I personally don’t think it’s professional to be getting so drunk you have to stay the night at a coworker party, or to be regularly spending the night at a boss’s or your employee’s house regardless- if I saw my coworker having sleepovers with our boss I would really be questioning how objective the performance ratings, project assignments, and raises are)

      2. NaN*

        This is how I read it, too. How to get home from a party is a common logistical issue, and one that might prevent someone from wanting to come and enjoy themselves. These people are preemptively offering a solution to that logistics problem. I do think they have some weird ideas of professional boundaries with the quantity and nature of these events, but offering a place to sleep isn’t that weird to me on top of the other issues.

        1. lyonite*

          But it’s also a commonly-solved problem: Someone stays sober, or you get an Uber there and back. If all the parties I’ve been to, staying the night is a very unusual solution.

    2. VintageLydia*

      This is my thinking. OP is thinking in a work context but the employee and boss are thinking in a friend context, in which case this is entirely normal. Poor work boundaries but not swinger-level poor.

      1. Everything Bagel*

        Maybe it’s entirely normal if they are friends, but they’re not. It’s the entire chain of command for OP’s department. The relationship of OP’s manager and direct report is really problematic, hot tubs or not.

    3. Yup*

      I kind of feel this too. Maybe they are phrasing it wrong, but an awkward invitation to not drink and drive is still better than drinking and driving.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        I mean, that’s fine if they say to everyone “don’t worry if you have too much to drink at the Halloween party, we have plenty of room if people need to stay over”. It’s very different from “hey, LW specifically, come hang out at my house this weekend, and if you happen to drink too much, you can stay over!!”. If nothing else it feels like they want LW to get drunk, which she is not interested in, especially in a work setting. It’s weird!!

        1. Carrots*

          Sounds like boss and employee are big drinkers themselves, and can’t yet fathom that someone might *not* want to or need to get drunk at every party.

          1. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

            That’s what I was wondering too. The OP didn’t mention if the boss and employee got drunk at the party (though I’m guessing not because they said it was uneventful). My husband and I are both non-drinkers so we’ve had to deal with people getting really weird when we decline booze (so, so many times). Sometimes their weirdness can persist and show up in baffling ways that make me wonder if there’s something even weirder going on. But most of those are just consciously or unconsciously put off by someone not wanting to drink.

          2. Michaela T*

            That’s my read, I think. I think OP is just working with 2 people who have an aspect of their social lives that is normal enough to them that they don’t realize how it comes off to others.

          3. Hrodvitnir*

            People always do this, but as someone who prefers not to operate a motor vehicle unless far under the legal limit, I wish this was not the assumption.

            Too much alcohol to drive is *way* below the threshold for “drunk”, let alone very drunk.

        2. thatoneoverthere*

          I sort of thought this too. I don’t think I would think it was too weird if someone offered their couch or guest room to crash after a party they were hosting. Although I would never do it (just my own comfort level). But it is so strange about the hot tub. I don’t know why but that feels very icky to me.

        3. Hannah Lee*

          It’s the repeated focus on LW staying over at their house (and with the drinking) vs the general invitation which is making it ping “something is off” vibes.

          It’s reminding me of that one time I started dating this guy, and after our 2nd date he invited me to a party at his house. And offered that I could park my car in his garage if I wanted, instead of having to find street parking. And then when I casually declined “his kind offer” kept asking and offering and asking me why not. The first time he asked I was simply unsure what time I would get there and didn’t want to kick of a chain of people moving their cars from the driveway, or him policing the driveway to make sure I could get into the garage. By the 4th time he asked, I was like, there is NO WAY I am going to tuck my car away somewhere it is not visible from the street and blocked in by other people’s cars in case something happens and I want out of there, or worse, my roommate files a missing person report when never come home. (It turned out not to be a “murder house” party, but I left early after other stuff made me uncomfortable, and declined to ever have a date #4.)

          Sometimes the impulse to “decline” is there for a reason, and people who keep trying to chip away at your NO are tripping your spidey senses for a reason. Not sleeping at boss’s house or with co-workers somewhere that people have been drinking and their are no locks on bedroom doors is a pretty reasonable boundary to draw and a pretty odd one for a boss to want to overrule. And that’s even before you get into the overly close relationships between boss and subordinates you’ve already observed.

        4. Grith*

          I’m 100% the other way on this. If I’m going to have a few drinks and stay over, I’d much rather *plan* to do so and bring sleeping clothes, toothbrush, change of clothes for the next morning etc.

          If I do somehow “accidentally” drink too much at a work colleague’s house, that’s the point at which I’m panic-dialling taxi companies and taking the hit of an expensive journey home (and presumably back the next day to collect a car) – if a planned night at a colleague’s house is uncomfortable, surely an unplanned night there is 10x worse?

    4. The Terrible Tom*

      The difference is, you are a circle of friends and it sounds like you all have a reciprocal arrangement that probably developed over time and works for you.

      To be invited a dozen times by people you have no such relationship or history with, when you’re clearly declining and not reciprocating, is super, super, super weird.

      1. Venus*

        It’s weird, but weird because the boss and employee have bad boundaries and are pushing LW into being friends, not more.

      2. LTR, FTP*

        I dunno. I think people feel there’s a certain level of responsibility when hosting a party and serving alcohol, and saying up front that they would prefer folks not to drive if they’ve had a few doesn’t really fall under “super super super weird” to me. “Vaguely awkward” when it’s people from work, maybe.

        1. bamcheeks*

          Saying it once or twice isn’t weird. Four years on, never once accepted, but they’re still offering with increasingly detailed variations on the theme, it’s definitely heading into “weird” territory for me.

          1. Lucia Pacciola*

            “Four years on, never once accepted”

            Four years on, there are zero reports of any of these parties turning into a swinging sleepover. Why is crypto-swinging more likely than functional alcoholism or a socially awkward boss with bad work-life boundaries?

            1. bamcheeks*

              I mean, I think the swinging suggestion is mostly a joke! “Can’t imagine someone socialising without alcohol” is my guess, and whilst it’s very *common* I still think it’s fricking weird not to understand that not everyone loves booze as much as you do.

        2. Lady K*

          My take is that they both want you to drink more at their events so they offer the sleepover. I think they each are too hung up on needing to drink to have fun and they don’t want you to be the unfun designated driver.

          1. LTR, FTP*

            Yes I think this is it! Some people really cannot conceive of anyone being the DD except out of dire necessity, and assume that everyone would much rather get intoxicated at a social event than not. “OP never gets to have FUN at our parties but I’m sure she would if she stayed the night and could drink a little!”

            1. RVA Cat*

              This. Until the hot tub I figured they’re just drunks and see their workplace as a sorority for grown-ups.

            2. Irish Teacher.*

              Yeah, I’d imagine their thinking is likely to be “poor OP. She’s so afraid to put us out that she’s sitting there with a soda when she could be enjoying the party. It’s not fair that she never gets to have any fun. We need to find a way to let her get drunk.”

              There are people who don’t seem to be able to conceive of enjoying yourself while sober.

              1. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

                I have siblings like this. Sometimes I tell them that it’s way more fun being sober because then I can gather blackmail material.

                1. JustaTech*

                  I 100% said this in college (because I didn’t like to drink, and *someone* needed to be sober, or at least sober enough to identify when something was going wrong).

                2. TeaLover*

                  This was me when I was a summer associate at a big law firm. So many of the social events seemed to involve everyone (partners, associates, and summer associates) getting black-out drunk. The only sober ones were me and the managing partner, who didn’t drink at the events and made sure no one drove (and more than once listened while young associates sobbed about how much they hated their lives – so awkward.) Monday morning a continuous stream of people would come through my office asking what they had done Friday night, and I remember thinking repeatedly that they were very, very lucky I wasn’t the blackmailing type. (Well yes, you did stuff dollar bills into your coworkers pants and ask them to dance for you…good luck with that case you’re on together!)

                  I think the purpose of these events was supposed to be to make summer associates want to work there, but it did the opposite for me, and I couldn’t get out fast enough.

            3. cottagechick73*

              +1 I have been on the receiving end of the “go ahead and have a drink” even after repeatedly declining. I firmly believe this is because they are not comfortable around non-drinkers or DD’s.

              1. Hannah Lee*

                And it’s possible because they have an immature view of non-drinkers as killjoys, or they are somewhat uncomfortable with their own drinking and therefore want everyone in their presence to drink like they do to convince themselves that it’s “normal”

                None of those are reasons for LW to drink on command or spend the night.

            4. Olive*

              This is my nightmare work social situation. I used to be the only non-drinker on a heavy drinking team and I was so relieved when I got out, because even though not everyone was weird about it, enough people were pushy and obnoxious that I dreaded every social event (some happened at the end of the work day, technically the team was taking work hours to socialize, so I couldn’t easily decline altogether).

          2. Dread Pirate Roberts*

            Yeah, I started to get friendly with someone at work and have said no to a few offers to sleep over because of drinking / distance – the group of coworkers she hangs out with do that regularly. She absolutely cannot fathom that I would instead choose not to drink (she’s one of those people where I can’t just say no to a drink, I have to put my hand over my glass to prevent the liquid from going in).

            That said, the hot tub invitation is pretty out there for someone who has shown no indication they want to socialize more with you. I think swingers if far from the only possible reason – never underestimate the ability of people to have boundary issues.

            1. RVA Cat*

              Having to put your hand over your glass really shows this is a consent issue. Adults don’t get to tell other adults what to put in their bodies.

        3. AngryOctopus*

          100% fine at a party given for all work colleagues, when open to all work colleagues. Specifically asked directly to LW, despite many ‘no thank you’s’, and seeming to involve a “you know if you had too much to drink wink wink” and invites for the hot tub? No.

        4. Carrots*

          Maybe for people in their 20s. But now in my 40s…if I am hosting a party with alcohol, I trust adults to be responsible. I don’t need to constantly offer them places to stay. It would be different if I noticed that they were hammered and knew they had driven alone.

        5. EMW*

          And if it was just at the party (of if I had heard them make this offer to ANYONE else other than just me) I would agree with you, but it isn’t just at the party, I seem to be the only one the offer is being extended to, and the one time it was after my child’s volleyball tournament. Did they think I was going to get tanked at her daytime event that the were not even at?

          1. Over Analyst*

            They could also just not like driving. I have a friend and a close family member that each live about an hour drive away and generally when I visit either of them I spend the night because it’s a lot of driving to do in one day, even if we don’t drink.
            I also have a hot tub and drink in it with my friends fairly regularly, so I could see inviting someone new without thinking through how it sounds.
            I mean, they are being inappropriate in a work context, and it’s weird they keep aggressively asking you, and if you’re getting off vibes in general there could definitely be something more going on, but I could personally pass off everything you’ve mentioned as just being a little out of touch. Of course, definitely trust your guy. I don’t want to defend them necessarily because I know lots of times creeps can get brushed aside with each instance being “harmless.”

        6. Alice in Spreadsheetland*

          There are other options before ‘spending the night’ though- only having 1 drink early in the night, having a partner/friend come along as a designated driver, calling a cab, having someone pick you up, someone at the party who wasn’t drinking taking you home- the boss and employee are expecting LW to be so drunk they can’t drive at a work party and to have no alternative but to spend the night, repeatedly, despite getting no’s every time.

          Sleeping at someone’s house you don’t know well has risks too, especially when you’re heavily impaired by alcohol. “I don’t want people to drive drunk” is normal but “come get super drunk and spend the night at my place” is not.

      3. ferrina*

        Exactly this.
        It’s one thing if I’m with my friends, but with my co-workers? I generally assume that they will be responsible in their drinking and transportation. If I don’t assume that before the party starts, I don’t have alcohol at the party (because it’s a WORK function! even if it’s a personal event where you invite people from work, you don’t stop being the boss because it’s 5 o’clock. You are still an extension and representation of the company- that’s how being a manager works).

        If I see someone getting drunk and I’m worried, that’s when I’d extend the offer to sleep over or call a cab. But just “hey My Direct Report, get drunk and crash at my house!” feels way inappropriate.

    5. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      But they offered when the kids were in a volleyball tournament. Which does not include drinking (or shouldn’t).

      Also its different if your friends have a standing offer. This is just boundary crossing. Bosses shouldn’t be having their reports sleep over.

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        But they offered when the kids were in a volleyball tournament. Which does not include drinking (or shouldn’t).

        It really depends on where you live. I grew up in Louisiana and found it was uncommon to NOT have alcohol at any sporting event (regardless of the age of the players).

        1. Jillian*

          My grandkids were in a 5K Walk/Run fundraiser at their Catholic school. It was an all day thing with games, booths, and vendor. Their was a wine tent (by the glass) and it was open and booming at 10am. Different cultures look at drinking differently.

      2. KaciHall*

        I can’t couch for volleyball, but my brother did baseball tournaments all the time up to age 19. Sober adults were the minority.

        1. Anonforthis*

          Yeah, I was surprised when my kids got old enough that I started mixing with different groups of people for different kid activities to find that in some circles, there’s a default “alcohol for all events” setting. My personal/family background makes me uncomfortable mixing kids’ sporting or other events with adults consuming (sometimes a lot of) alcohol, but I get that it’s the norm for many people.

          My first encounter with this approach was a preschool parents’ event, held during the morning when preschool was in session, that involved mimosas and then … everyone hopping in their car to drive back to the preschool to pick up their kids. I wasn’t necessarily worried that anyone was driving impaired but there was absolutely no strategy employed to prevent this, and my own “drinking in the daytime when taking care of your children and driving them around” practices are zero, so it felt very odd to me. Again, other people’s mileage may vary, people may be extremely careful and responsible, but I was surprised and stuck with coffee.

        2. fhqwhgads*

          Yeah but the tournament wasn’t that far from her house and only 10 minutes closer to coworker’s. If not being sober were the issue with the volleyball invite, they’d be too drunk to go to either the coworker’s house or their own. If it were about distance, it makes no sense. Stay the night to avoid driving 10 additional minutes?
          I’m not saying they’re swingers. But what the coworker and boss are doing with these invites is weird, based on what we know. And the re-inviting 10x in one day? They’re inviting these sleepovers excessively, regardless of reason.

      3. ferrina*

        Agree- introducing the “bring your teenage kids!” adds a different, equally weird dynamic.

        OP also says that this is when the volleyball was “slightly closer to her house than ours”. This is really pushing the issue. Driving an hour to get somewhere is pretty common where I live, so I’m finding it super weird that “40 minutes (or whatever) is too far to drive!” is her reason for the invitation to stay the night.

        1. RVA Cat*

          If they are swingers, inviting the kids is thermonuclear awkward at best and…Jeffrey Epstein at worst.

      4. MigraineMonth*

        Reports also shouldn’t be having their bosses sleep over, though it’s on the
        bosses to make sure they’re shutting that down.

      5. TeaLover*

        I mean, to be fair there is no drinking at my niece’s club volleyball tournaments, but my sister generally really, really wishes there were by the fifth game of the day.

    6. BethRA*

      I’m older GenX as well, and yes my partner and I make similar offers with our friends, and vice versa – but we also don’t repeatedly encourage people to drink more than they say they plan to. And we definitely don’t – repeatedly – invite coworkers to our home to do the same.

      I don’t think anything nefarious is going on, but there is definitely some cluelessness and boundary-stomping happening.

      1. LTR, FTP*

        Totally. I mean, I wouldn’t expect someone from work to drink to the point of needing to sleep at my house, and I wouldn’t pre-emptively offer a bed to my boss. (But I WOULD offer a bed if they appeared intoxicated to me and wanted to get behind the wheel, absolutely.) I think these people are just confusing friend and work relationships, but aren’t trying to hit on the OP or anything.

        1. Kyrielle*

          Yeah, the invites including the kids after volleyball also tends to make me rule out swinging. Alas, because it would have made a glorious fic…but like you, I think this is just garden-variety boundary crossing. Well-meant, but they’re treating OP like a (potential?) dear friend rather than a coworker.

      2. Typing All The Time*

        Same. I have many friends/coworkers who don’t drink and I respect that. It seems like these people try to blend their professional and personal lives with others together. I worked with a woman like this and it got awkward when I told her I couldn’t hang out with her for valid reasons.

      3. stratospherica*

        Agreed. I think they’re not really understanding that most people don’t want that kind of relationship with their colleagues and are trying to get LW in on some inner social circle in a way that is unprofessional and unwelcome, but I don’t want to make the jump to them being creepy or predatorial in a nefarious or sexual way.

        That said, if it does end up being some kind of swingers’ duck club, I hope LW keeps us posted!

    7. Cats and Bats Rule*

      I thought that too with the first invitations during the party, but the repeated requests at work made me wonder if something else was going on. Why do these two want the OP to overnight with them so badly? It would squick me out, too.

    8. Blue*

      But they keep inviting LW to hang out with the specific intention of getting too intoxicated to drive and thus needing to stay over. The offer to stay is issued before the offer to hang is even accepted. That’s extremely weird to do with a colleague who has repeatedly rebuffed all such invitations.

      1. kiki*

        I think they want to proactively offer in case it changes LW’s calculus for coming, not realizing that it’s coming across as odd to LW. I think that to these two, offering to let guests crash is so, so normal for them and their circles that they don’t see how weird it’s coming across to LW, to the point it’s actually off-putting.

        It reminds me of a time I went to a friend’s house who was deeply southern. Her parents kept offering me cake even after I said I was not interested. I was so confused and started to get frustrated– why won’t they accept that I am not interested in the cake? What is in this cake that is making them push it on me?

        But then after a few years in the South, I learned that making sure to repeat your offer a few times is a “thing” so that people can politely refuse the first time then take you up on your offer once they’re sure the offeror is really happy for the recipient to take them up on it.

        1. Lea*

          Yes exactly! One invitation is for politeness, repeated for sincerity basically. Could be the offers to letter writer are repeated in the same sort of way

      2. Starbuck*

        I dunno, up until my pretty late twenties, this was just how me and all my friends socialized. We weren’t going blackout or throwing ragers, but any party or get together would be highly likely to combine drinking, with people who had driven in from various distances in our rural/suburban area. So it was routine for people to stay over. If that’s what you’re used to, it can feel pretty casual and like basic hosting expectations.

        I don’t disagree it appears weird if you’re not used to it! But there are definitely non-nefarious scenarios here. LW should still feel free to refuse and keep their boundaries, but it might help the work relationship if they can believe that there isn’t ill intent here.

    9. stacers*

      Yeah, I live about an hour from most of my coworkers, some who have offered to let me stay overnight if there’s a happy hour/event in the works.

      I really think OP’s coworkers just think, because they like her and sense she likes them, that the only thing keeping her from socializing with them is the distance/drive and so they always lead with ‘you can stay over.’ I think if OP made it clearer that she wasn’t interested in the socializing, it would at least diminish the offers.

    10. Cicely*

      But those are your friends. LW manages an employee who seems to heavily socialize with her grand-boss/LW’s boss.

      Yours and the LW’s are very different.

    11. kiki*

      Yeah, I feel like this is feels especially odd because these people are your coworkers, not your friends, but offering a place to crash can be kind of common party etiquette for those who live in more remote areas. I think what’s happening here is that these two have invited you to parties where they’ve made this offer to other guests who live far away because they want to discourage people from drinking and driving and make the long distance less of a barrier for anyone on the fence about going. But you’re not a normal party guest who is friends with them– you’re their coworker so it feels really strange.

      1. Grith*

        Nail on the head here. They like OP, they are open to socialising with them and are trying to remove obstacles to that. It only feels weird because OP isn’t up for that and wants to keep it professional – there’s no need to look for more sinister reasons here.

    12. Turquoisecow*

      Yeah that’s how I saw it. Sounds like they’re encouraging responsible drinking and not driving. A bit friendly for OP’s taste but not automatically swingers, unless there’s some sexual innuendos that OP is leaving out.

    13. Palliser*

      Also Gen X and while I can very much understand doing this with friends, I find it wildly out-of-bounds to be offering (bordering on pressuring) my employees to sleep at my house, with or without spouses. Many years ago, I had a manager who tried to invite our team over for a pool party. We were all horrified and managed never to be available on the same weekend.

    14. theletter*

      This is what I’m thinking as well. This isn’t about swinging, it’s about safety.

      I’m in a city with multiple pubic transit/rideshare options, but I’ve noticed any time we get out in the burbs, or are visiting friends in another town, the ‘it’s ok to spend the night’ statement is always put out there at the offchance that drinking renders driving unsafe. I think it’s about reducing potential awkwardness ahead of time so that no one feels torn between driving impaired and overstaying their welcome, if it comes to that.

      I think this is just a outcome of so many residential communties built to be car-forward, before the dangers of drunk driving became apparent.

      In situations like OP’s, where they don’t really want to get that chummy with their bosses and reports, I think you just have to establish that you’ll always have a DD, but accept that the offer is made out of habit, for safety’s sake.

      1. kiki*

        Yes, I live in a city but have friends who bought places in the suburbs. Depending on where people are coming from, that could mean 45 minutes of driving or an hour+ on transit. Even if I’m not drinking, the idea of spending an hour getting home after a party is unappealing to me. Depending on how late the party goes, public transit home might be limited or non-existent. If I need to uber, that could run me $45. Similar offers to spend the night don’t tend to come from my friends who live in the city itself because getting home is generally fast, easy, and cheap. I think this is kind of a “suburban hospitality” thing. A lot of people make sure to offer because they know otherwise some guests may not come.

    15. EMW*

      Yeah but they keep asking us over and over again even when we are not drinking and even when I have made it pretty clear that I will stay sober and drive home. These are not my friends – if they were it would not be weird. They are not even coworkers – one is my boss and I am the other one’s boss.

      1. not nice, don't care*

        Could they be having an affair and wanting you to stay over as cover for their over-closeness?

      2. Sabina*

        Yeah, I’m with you. The constant pushing to have you come drink and stay over is weird and obnoxious.

    16. Lea*

      Yes I think there is a good possibility this is just standard practice where alcohol and/or driving distances are involved? (Although the hot tub thing did give me pause)

      My mother always asks me to stay over and I always tell her I prefer to go home, which is my standard answer elsewhere with the exception of one time I was very much too drunk to drive

    17. plumerai*

      Yes, but you’re *friends*! That is normal friend behavior, and when friends have invited me to crash I have never thought they were swingers. (Rather, if I did think that, their invitation was not why!) What’s not normal is repeatedly asking to the point of insisting for a colleague.

    18. LCH*

      except those are your friends, not your coworkers. i don’t know if these people are swingers, but it feels weird to me to keep asking a coworker (a subordinate or a boss at that!). agree that once would have been fine, but they keep asking.

    19. Two Fish*

      This was my theory too – sometimes when people make the “further from the city, but can afford bigger house” tradeoff, it dampens their social life more than they expect. So they think, but we have a nice guestroom! We can just make our house party central, and still see people all the time! But discover that many people prefer a 1h drive home at night to crashing at someone’s house.

      The insistence is still pretty weird though, especially the vacation invite – that’s Close Friend level invite behavior, not Work Acquaintance.

    20. T.N.H.*

      But you shouldn’t be getting drunk in front of your boss ever. If this is the subtext, then your boss is encouraging you to have multiple drinks at a party at her house and then sleep there drunk. Such a bad idea (and really inappropriate for a manager to even offer).

    21. HonorBox*

      The large difference in what you’re suggesting – which is quite normal – is that these are your friends. These invites are being made A LOT and seem rather intentional. And they’re coming from people at work. And those people are on uneven levels. This is more about “come over and have lots to drink” versus “you look a little partied out, so you’re welcome to crash in the guest room.”

    22. Dhaskoi*

      You’re equating two different things. None of your friends are your boss (I assume) and you have personal history with them that doesn’t exist here. Also, OP has made it clear she’s not interested in the offer and her boss’s response is to try to find excuses why she should.

      I can understand why OP is weirded out.

  3. Falling Diphthong*

    I suspect that a key factor is alcohol: that they are people who believe that everyone really wants to let loose and drink a ton, and the polite and thoughtful thing to do is offer them somewhere to sleep so they don’t need to be sober enough to drive home.

    It sounds like two people with poor boundaries–which might work just fine if the people they have interacted with thus far have been kind, sensible, of good cheer, etc–and OP should continue with the polite declines of invitations.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Tend to agree – while I think they’re being a little pushy, and that it is weird that the boss and the employee hang out so much, the underlying “we always have a guest room available if you need to spend the night” isn’t SO bad.

    2. bamcheeks*

      Yeah, I think this is a combination of, socialising=alcohol, but also being responsible about driving (which we applaud!) They can’t conceive that you can be happy socialising without drinking, so they assume that tricky hour’s drive home means that you are never TRULY relaxing or enjoying yourself, and want to make absolutely triply 100% sure you know the spare room is available.

      You could try addressing this head-on: “I get the impression that you think I’m not having fun if I’m not drinking so I can drive home. I can tell you that’s really not the case! I’m not much of a drinker* and I’d always rather have one drink so I can wake up the next day in my own bed. But I appreciate the thought.”

      It’s OK if this is a lie and you are a drinker in other contexts but just don’t want to drink with co-workers! I just think that maybe calling out the drinking part and emphasising that you are not miserably wishing for a second glass and feeling victimised by geography might get through.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        Yeah, I think this is a combination of, socialising=alcohol, but also being responsible about driving (which we applaud!) They can’t conceive that you can be happy socialising without drinking, so they assume that tricky hour’s drive home means that you are never TRULY relaxing or enjoying yourself, and want to make absolutely triply 100% sure you know the spare room is available.

        That’s exactly what I think too, that they truly believe they are “failing as hosts” if any of their guests remains sober.

        1. Freya*

          They’re always going to fail as hosts for me, if that’s their underlying assumption, because alcohol combines in unexpected and inconsistent ways with my current daily medication schedule.

    3. Runcible Wintergreen*

      It sounds like it’s also a bit of peer pressure to get OP to drink more. It’s awkward to be super drunk around people who aren’t, and I imagine it’s even weirder when you’re coworkers/employees (especially with the power dynamic in both directions!). I can see them being pushy to avoid the awkwardness of being around their sober boss/employee while drunk.

      1. Pyjamas*

        Yes it sounds like peer pressure to me as well. Only think that will get it across is if OP says firmly—remember how Allison is telling us sometimes you need to be a little rude—“It’s a little weird you’re encouraging me to drink when I never have more than a single drink.” You could add: “at work events”

        This pushes my buttons bc when I moved in with my partner ten years ago, his (former) chums (1) could not believe I barely drank and (2) that he’d choose me over them & alcohol. Heavy drinking culture can be pernicious

    4. I'm just here for the cats!*

      I thought this too. That they don’t want someone drinking and driving (which is good for them) but cant understand that a person doesn’t want to drink or that they can have fun without drinking.

    5. LCH*

      also, maybe i also enjoy the same boundaries as OP, but someone from work continually asking me over for multiple drinks would also weird me out. i really don’t want to get drunk with coworkers (particularly my boss!!) on personal time. i don’t even really want to do it on company time at a company event. one drink is fine. more than that can cause unpredictable outcomes.

  4. Pastor Petty Labelle*

    Just ugh. This isn’t high school. We don’t have slumber parties with coworkers. And definitely not with bosses.

    I think you need to do a blanket no. If they still bring it up, you can make your no firmer as in, I am not going to spend the night at your house, please stop asking.

    1. RLC*

      My thoughts exactly, the ongoing insistence makes me think of teens wanting to have a sleepover. “We’re all grownups so no one’s parents can stop us!!!”
      So, so much potential awkwardness.

  5. Irish Teacher.*

    I think it’s far more likely that they are assuming everybody wants to get drunk at every event, as Falling Diphthong said than that they are swingers. I would hope swingers wouldn’t just ask people to spend the night without making it clear that they were going to suggest swinging once you were there. That is surely something that should be agreed in advance.

    I think it’s a lot more likely that they drink a lot themselves and arrange all social outings so they don’t have to drive afterwards and they are assuming you do the same and that not drinking was some major sacrifice for you that you tolerated so as not to put them out by expecting them to put you up.

    1. Czhorat*

      “”I think it’s far more likely that they are assuming everybody wants to get drunk at every event, as Falling Diphthong said than that they are swingers””

      It’s always possible that they’re both swingers AND alcoholics.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yeah, I had this thought too! Let’s hope they are careful about who does what it the hot tub if this is the case.

    2. Poly People*

      Swingers aren’t known for having great consent or negotiation. That’s more of a poly / kinky thing.

      Very different demographics and internal training / discussion.

  6. Juicebox Hero*

    Good grief, learn to take no for an answer, people! Four years is champion-level stubborn.

    I’m going to go slightly against the advice and tell you to not give any reasons why you don’t want to hang out with them, because with people this stubborn and pushy, giving reasons just gives them something to argue with. Just bring the kids with you! Bring your own pillows and blankets and it’ll be just like sleeping at home! You’d hang out with us if we didn’t work together? Great! You’re fired/I quit! Ok, the last one might be a little out there, but after reading this blog for years nothing would surprise me anymore.

    Stick to a polite “no, thanks” or channel your inner Bartleby with “I’d prefer not to.”

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Yes, asking once was fine, but the repeated invitations to overnight are pestering and intrusive.
      Boundaries, please!
      Best to avoid sleepovers with their boss or their employee and also many people don’t want to spend that much free time with any coworker, let alone in their home

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      “Bathsheba, there’s at least 50 bags of ice in your freezer. How many people did you invite??”

    2. Jam on Toast*

      I think I’ve been hanging out with agricultural types too long. I read ‘organ harvesting’ and immediately thought of a field, with lots of pipe organ pipes growing out of the ground, while a combine drove round cutting the pipes off and swathing them. :)

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        I grew up on a farm, and I have never thought this, but heretofore I will think of this every time I hear “organ harvesting.”

      2. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

        For some reason, I started picturing organ pipe cactus being harvested before it dawned on me that you meant actual organ pipes. (That only lasted a moment or two, but it was quite an image!)

    3. Full Banana Ensemble*

      Ding ding ding! The hot tub strongly suggests swingers, but inviting the kids to a swinging party seems like extremely poor judgment, even for these boundary tramplers. On the other hand, if they’re after your liver, why not grab those youthful organs, too?

      At this point, I desperately want OP to accept an invitation, because I want to know what’s going on, but I’d also feel really bad if it turned out to be some “Get Out” situation…

      On a serious note, I have friends who’ve offered to let me stay over after a party. I have friends who’ve invited me to their beach house for the weekend. FRIENDS. NEVER MY BOSS. (Only once in my life have I felt close enough to a coworker to spend the night at her house. And that was after we’d spent years hanging out outside of work and I considered her more of a friend than a coworker. Context matters!)

      And I’d still find it weird and uncomfortable if even my close friends continued to invite me after four years of my declining. But with a friend who kept asking, I’d feel comfortable saying, “Nope, never gonna happen,” in a way I would not feel comfortable saying it to a boss.

  7. Seashell*

    Maybe they think LW isn’t hanging out with them solely because drinking + driving is an issue? If it were me, I would tell them that I have trouble sleeping (which is true in my case), and it’s easier for everyone involved if I always sleep at home.

    1. Dog momma*

      +100!. first thing I thought of, even with the teens. or getting you really drunk and something horrible happening

    2. Siege*

      I’m 100% sure swingers like to invite couples – and they’re KIDS – over for a swinger party without verifying ahead of time that this would be a welcome invitation! Gotta love that Monday standup awkwardness after you proposition your coworkers and it goes wrong!


      1. Yeah…*

        Hey, even swingers are dumb sometimes (re the kids). As for swingers inviting coupkes…a couple I worked with years ago tried really hard to get me (single, not a couple) to stay over after a party. I was a really naive 19 years old and it took me a lonnnng time to realize what they had had in mind.

        1. Yeah….*

          Ps. One person in the couple (who had been dating a while) was my boss, the other was his secretary. After I didn’t work there anymore the boss asked me out and proceeded to distobe, so he at least was definitely not looking for a platonic thing.

  8. Keymaster of Gozer*

    Making the offer once that someone can stay over if they want a few bevvies is fine, in a social context when you all know each other.

    Repeatedly encouraging someone to come over and drink after NEVER accepting the offer is weird.

    I don’t know if you’re ever going to find what’s going on because I can’t understand why even the most clueless person on the planet would keep insisting you stay over when you’ve always refused.

    Even Ferengi have better manners.

    I think maybe a ‘no, and stop asking us to stay over, it’s not going to happen’ might seem nuclear but it’s been years of this. I think a little MAGNOX reactor level is okay.

  9. chickia*

    I think they are just very social people and not clueing in to the work boundaries that OP is trying to maintain. The invite to the beach house to me says that it’s just a different social dynamic than OP is used to: they are partiers and I’m guessing the parties run late and involve a lot of alcohol. (weekend beach house friends are great to have BTW! ).

  10. Cake or Death*

    As a couple others have said, I think this is about alcohol being a central part of their social lives, not because they’re swingers. For some people, drinking is a core part of their social experience, and if they build a social circle that is likeminded, they start to assume that is the norm for everyone. So offering a place to stay isn’t odd to them, because they expect everyone to be consuming alcohol.

    I think Allison’s advice to just clearly state your preference to always sleep at home will probably nip it in the bud, or at least after a few times.

  11. Czhorat*

    When you got to their house, was there an excessive amount of pineapple-themed decor? Were any of the pineapples inverted?

    Joking aside, in addition to the other weirdness they could be the kind of people who believe in alcohol consumption as a major part of socializing. If you’re going to their house *of course* you’re going to drink until you forget your own name so *of course* you’ll need to sleep over. If you’re staying sober to drive you’re depriving yourself, and they want to be SO supportive and not force you to do that.

    The way some of us – and some industries – view alcohol is unhealthy.

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      I moved offices last summer, and to help people find my new office I hung a paper pineapple on my office sign, right way up. One of my coworkers kept joking about turning it over and finally explained what an upside-down pineapple meant.

      Thanks to him I had to keep an eye out to make sure he didn’t mess with my innocent right side up pineapple, and people kept on walking right past my office anyway.

    2. 1-800-BrownCow*

      Good question with the pineapples. I’ve learned many, many, many people don’t know about this, at least in my ultra-conservative community. But yes, that would be a good clue for OP.

    3. Ann O'Nemity*

      I wouldn’t blame the LW for Googling “how to spot a swinger.” They’ve already been invited to hot tub.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        An upside-down pineapple is supposed to be a more subtle way of indicating that you swing. So is hanging specific colors of loofas on your golf cart in certain retirement communities….

      2. Honestly, some people’s children!*

        It’s like which ear is he wearing his earring? In some circles it means what you like to do. Like in the 80s in some circles the left ear means top, the right ear means bottom. (Worked in a public library in high school and this was a common question.)

    4. Generic Name*

      In one large suburb in my area, a plastic flamingo painted white is apparently the “secret” sign of…..a swinging-friendly household. I’ve also heard if your garage door is partially open? But in this area, some people have swamp coolers and this is one way to get the needed airflow, so who knows??

    5. redflagday701*

      If you have the kind of friends who are unaware of this and would find it funny, a good joke is to gift them some kind of highly visible pineapple decor—a door mat, a knickknack, a small piece of art featuring a prominent upside-down pineapple—when they’ve just moved into a new community.

  12. Gin and Tonic*

    I’d be so weirded out by these invitations. I used to work at a company with a very “work hard play hard” culture so lots of alcohol was consumed. But the assumed solution to this was that sober people would offer rides home to those who had been drinking or we would call an Uber or taxi. I don’t think the first solution to “come have a few drinks!” should ever be “sleep over at your boss’s house” because there are so many other, more appropriate ways to avoid drunk driving.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        We lived in a very rural area and my dad’s boss never once offered to let him stay at his house. It was assumed everyone was adults and would make appropriate arrangements or not drink that they couldn’t drive.

      2. Banana Pyjamas*

        Doesn’t even have to be rural. You can get rideshares to drop off to my area, but it’s very difficult to get picked up. The dealership booked a ride home for me while my car was in the shop. The dealership tried twice and I tried twice to book a ride back, but every request was cancelled by the service when no drivers would accept the ride.

      3. Generic Name*

        Living in a rural area doesn’t prevent anyone from having a designated driver or staying sober.

      4. higheredadmin*

        In my rural area experience, a lot of people just drive home after a few drinks and figure that there’s not much out there to hit. I’m not condoning this – I’m just saying that the answers to the problem are: stay at drinking location until you are sober, don’t drink, arrange a designated driver, drive drunk. (I agree that uber/taxis are not typically an option)

      5. Kella*

        Do people in rural areas only avoid drunk driving by sleeping over at each other’s houses? Is it a requirement to invite the employees you manage to your house for drinking? Regardless of the accessibility of taxis and rideshares, there are SO many options besides repeatedly asking your employee to get drunk and sleep at your house.

      6. Gin and Tonic*

        I lived in a sprawling suburban area at the time and parts of it weren’t served by Uber. So people would make sure somebody sober got them home. No one ever suggested a sleepover.

  13. Oolie*

    Going to a social event as your boss’ house and being told, “You’re welcome to stay overnight, ” is slightly nudging a boundary for me, but it’s not totally weird. Repeated invitations to come and stay, with or without children – after numerous declines – is definitely boundary crossing and definitely weird.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Yeah, the weirdest one for me is the one after the kids’ sports game that was only slight closer to the boss than to the OP’s house. Like…what? Why would I want to drive almost the same distance in the wrong direction, thus doubling my drive tomorrow, to inconveniently stay overnight somewhere that would involve packing an overnight bag, when I can drive half the distance overall and sleep in my own bed with my own things right nearby in my own house?

      It does sound to me like both the boss and the employee might just be extremely overly friendly people who like to share their homes and have a lot of people around them, and they assume that everyone else does too and can’t figure out that anyone might feel otherwise. And maybe they don’t even think about the logistics of what they’re offering (like how my geography-challenged friends don’t think of how out of the way it is for us to carpool vs meeting them at our event venue), nor do they have any idea that when they keep making the same offer over and over again it’s actually really annoying to the OP (like how my former grandboss forgot every single time we had a conference call that it takes a second for my camera to turn on so yes, she can’t see me absolutely immediately upon her calling me and yes, you don’t have to say that literally every time you call me).

      I agree that their being swingers is absolutely a possibility but definitely not the only possible explanation for this behavior. OP, you should do a little more digging on that and report back to us, because you know we all want to know!

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      It would be one thing if the LW and the boyfriend got trashed at the party, and then the boss suggested they stay the night for safety. But asking in advance – planning to get drunk and stay – is pretty weird coming from a manager.

      Repeated invitations to stay over and to HOT TUB take this to a whole other level of inappropriate weirdness. Boundary-crossing party animals at best, but I really think they’re swingers!

      If I were the LW, I’d get a lot more direct at this point. “My boyfriend and I don’t do sleepovers, so that’s going to always be a no for us.”

  14. YourFriendlyNeighborhoodCatLady*

    OP, are they pushing/crossing boundaries in other ways with you? Because I feel like the fact that they hang out a lot outside of work is already enough of an issue that this should probably be taken discreetly to HR. And if other things are happening then even more so.

    I disagree with the people saying that they probably are mainly concerned with people drinking and driving – call an Uber for your employee if they shouldn’t drive, don’t repeatedly invite them over, including times that alcohol is not involved.

  15. Kevin*

    Do people really not recognize kindness and a willingness to accommodate when it’s presented to them?

    The hosts are being nice, they enjoy your company, and they’re trying to help you out since you live an hour’s drive away. That’s all.

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      Repeatedly ignoring someone’s boundaries isn’t kind. If they really want to spend time with LW they need to actually listen to them and accept that their company is going to be “have one drink, stay for a while, and drive themself and whoever else home.”

    2. Blue*

      OP has repeatedly said no, and the hot tub offer seems pretty inappropriate to me in most reasonable workplaces. That’s not being hospitable, that’s just ignoring someone’s stated boundaries *and* reasonable professional boundaries.

      1. Czhorat*

        Yeah, even if you can shrug some of the other stuff off as overenthusiastic hospitality “come drink with us in the hottub and then come into work from our place the next day” has enough potential sexual overtones that a boss who has any sense of professional boundaries whatsoever wouldn’t even suggest it.

        Rule of thumb: if the invitation can lead reasonable people to wonder if you’re swingers then you shouldn’t make it in the workplace.

        1. Kevin*

          One thing I’ve learned having lived in many places — a lot of Americans are extremely prudish and apt to jump to incorrect conclusions with regards to social behaviour.

    3. Not A Manager*

      Do people really not recognize boundary crossing and ignoring clear no’s when it’s presented to them?

      1. Random Dice*

        It felt like a defensive comment. People who either violate boundaries or allow boundary violations tend not to like people who set boundaries.

    4. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      For FOUR years?

      This is someone who already has problem with boundaries by hanging out with someone in their chain of command. OP’s boss should not be socializing with OP’s report. Then they keep pressuring OP even though they have said no repeatedly.

      1. JustaTech*

        I wonder if part of the reason for the invitations is the boss and the report think “if OP parties with us too, then us being friends won’t be weird at work!”.
        Which, like, no, that’s not how that works, but I can see how people with poor work/friend boundaries would think that.

        1. Awkwardness*

          That’s what I thought.
          They realise that there is a differential in “closeness”, so they want to get rid of it. I cannot tell if it is about them genuinely feeling awkward about it or they want to have OP in so they cannot blame them for this inappropriately close relationship.

    5. ferrina*

      There’s kindness, then there’s pushiness disguised as kindness.

      Maybe the hosts are just extending a kind invitation. And it sounds like it only averages out to three times a year.

      But it also depends on how you say it. If someone has said no, you don’t push the issue. There’s a big difference between a “want to grab a couple beers? We’ll host” and “let’s have some drinks and you can sleep at my house!!!” I had a boss that would get pushy whenever I wore make-up (I hate make-up, so it was a rare event for me). She would be over-the-top complimentary, insist I wear make-up more, even imply that my career would be helped if I wore more make-up. Honestly, she was TOO MUCH whenever it happened. I couldn’t directly say no (she was my boss and this was clearly a Big Deal for her), but it made me way less inclined to wear make up. Maybe she thought she was trying to help me, but when I see orange flags start marching by, I don’t walk towards them to see if it’s a prelude to the red flag parade. I get sketched out and find somewhere else to be.

      1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        LOL this reminds me of the time my much-younger cousin was being SO SUBTLE when she praised my haircut… I usually wear it clipper-short and it had grown to shoulder-length for whatever reason I don’t remember, probably financial. (My thoughts: “Okay, Cousin, I get it. You’re more comfortable with standard gender presentations, because you’re a newly-minted teenager.”) This was decades ago, mind you.

    6. ?*

      Yeah, these reactions are very odd to me. I highly doubt these people are swingers. Mixing social lives and work too much, sure. The boss should take a big step back. But it seems clear that since they are very socially connected, they’re having a hard time getting that OP feels differently. I hate spending the night at other people’s houses but not everyone feels that way, even at 40. And as long as they take “no” for an answer I don’t see offering, even offering multiple times over the years, as boundary crossing.

      1. ferrina*

        I think it depends on how they ask and how they take no.
        My mom technically takes no for an answer. But she’ll check with you a thousand times to make sure that you really mean no (and to carefully wear you down). She’ll give you a lot of info about the thing you said no to. She’ll just make you put in effort to say no.

        If it really is a casual “Hey, we’re hosting drinks at our house on Saturday! Want to come? You’re welcome to use the guest room if you want! No? Cool!”
        then yeah, it’s awkward but not agregius. And it sounds like it’s a few times a year.

        Honestly, dealing with someone that at 40 doesn’t understand that not everyone has the same level as social as they do sounds….just tiring.

    7. Cicely*

      But it’s not that simple. And “help you out”? Huh?

      These people are Boss, Manager/LW, Employee. Boss and Employee keep inviting Manager/LW to socialize outside of work. Manager/LW keeps declining, which oddly falls on deaf ears, likely because drinking is their priority. As someone said above, it’s one thing to notice that Manager/LW has had too much to drink and shouldn’t drive, but it’s quite something else to set up those arrangements beforehand, as though drinking too much is the purpose behind the invitation.

      Meanwhile, as Alison notes, Manager/LW should be very concerned about how the whole thing is going to affect Manager’s ability to fairly assess Employee, since, according to Manager/LW, Boss and Employee socialize a lot.

      I can’t believe some of the comments here that focus on the drinking/driving aspect, and how “kind” it is of Boss and Employee to offer Manager/LW a place to crash, when there’s a much larger, work-based, boundary-violating picture here that to me is the most important, and most troubling, angle here.

    8. MsM*

      It’s not really helpful when not only has the person given no indication they want this kind of help, their repeated refusals should suggest they’re not going to want it in future, either.

    9. Ashley*

      Being asked more then once at a party if I want another drink when I state I am the DD and good with one is not a kindness. Accepting someone doesn’t want to drink isn’t a kindness. Constantly pushing alcohol isn’t a kindness either.
      I applaud us that as a society we agree drinking and driving is terrible. I still haven’t figured out why as a society such large segments can’t understand people who don’t want to drink all the time in all settings. (And people lose their minds when a women of child bearing years ever dares not to drink one time.)
      If this is really about drinking and driving the offer should really be we have a spare room or you can call and Uber and we can help you get your car tomorrow.

    10. Irish Teacher.*

      The thing is they are trying to help out with a problem that the LW does not have. I do think it’s very likely it was meant as kindness, but it isn’t kind to decide something is a problem for somebody and insist on helping when they don’t want you to.

      Often it can be even more difficult than somebody being mean to you because we’re socialised to feel that if somebody means well, you have to act like you appreciate it, even though what they are doing is, in effect, at best annoying and at worst, controlling.

      There does come a point at which people should realise that the other person does not want or need their help and that continuing to offer it is no longer kind. Yeah, making this offer once or twice might have been kind but going on and on after the LW has repeatedly refused…well, it’s still probably well-meant but it is based on an assumption that they know better than the LW what she wants to do and that isn’t very respectful. They seem to be assuming “of course she wants to come over, she’s just worried about getting home afterwards,” which indicates they are not listening to her.

      If you are making somebody uncomfortable, then you are not being kind.

    11. Kella*

      What are they helping OP out with exactly? If OP isn’t interested in socializing or drinking with her employee or boss, then offering to spend the night is not helpful because there is no problem. Also, there are SO many more appropriate ways to accomplish the same goals that don’t involve asking your employee to stay the night at your house. “Hey, let us pay for a taxi for you,” “Hey, let’s meet at a restaurant halfway between us so there’s less driving,” “Hey, let’s do something that doesn’t involve alcohol so driving isn’t an issue.” I think it’s disingenuous to frame their offers as purely selfless when their offers are both inappropriate and can so easily be replaced with a much more appropriate option.

    12. Dhaskoi*

      Repeated, persistent asking and offering in the face of ongoing no’s is not being nice, it’s a pressure tactic.

      And pressuring someone to drink when they don’t want to is a crappy thing to in any circumstances.

      (actually extra crappy here because of the power imbalance)

  16. Snarkus Aurelius*

    Oh, oh, oh! I can top that!

    I worked at a dysfunctional charity where the CEO and VP of Development were besties despite the latter being incompetent. The CEO hired the VP as soon as that position was open, and I quickly learned that…

    They. Vacationed. Together. All. The. Time. And. Openly. Talked. About. It.

    Eventually the VP screwed up and pissed our biggest donor off so the Board made the CEO fire her. I’d love to know how that went down!

    Anyway, there’s a user on here, whose name I can’t remember, whose boss did the same thing. Turns out that boss mentored a teen that would stay at his house to get away from his parents. This grown adult beautifully explained that she had her own place, ergo she had no need to “get away” from anything. The requests stopped.

    1. Zona the Great*

      My former boss kept trying to get me to move into his home with his wife, her sister, and a foster child they raised who was now a grown man. This was the same boss who once called me frantic asking me to come help him pack up his hotel room because he partied too hard the night before and couldn’t get it together before he needed to be out. He was very inappropriate.

    2. ferrina*

      I also had a boss who vacationed with the grandboss. The boss wasn’t great- garden variety conflict avoidant, which led to the usual issues of unaddressed performance problems (and us almost losing a major contract that would have left half the staff jobless). The grandboss wasn’t on site so I didn’t know her or her work at all, but it obviously felt off.

      Eventually corporate HQ found out about it and fired them both. Apparently there were additional issues they found (this was after I left, so I didn’t get the full details).

  17. Quiznakit*

    Or they could be swingers. One can never write that off entirely.

    And this is where I broke down into tears of laughter.

    I think it’s quite likely as others have said, that these are folks with poor boundaries who urge other people to drink as much as they are because they feel awkward and/or judged by those who don’t partake as freely. Still. They might be swingers! You just never know!

      1. Lola*

        Agreed. If it was just the annual Halloween party, okay, but the repeated asks, including a night of hot-tubbing, not attached to a party? Yep.

        1. JustaTech*

          Night of hot-tubbing on a *work night*. Like, if I’m going to be enjoying adult beverages in a hot tub it is with the full understanding that I am *not* going to work the next day (usually because I am on vacation).
          I am sure there are people who can drink enough that they’re not safe to drive home but can be bright-eye’d and bushy-tail’d for work the next day, but I am not one of them (and never have been).

    1. Happily Retired*

      Me too!

      It’s the “One can…” phrasing that I love. Sort of a neo-Victorian/Miss Manners correct grammar that just takes it to a new level.

  18. BecauseHigherEd*

    As weird as this is, I do think this could be an innocent/misguided attempt to be hospitable, especially if they live far away and think that the drive/alcohol is the thing that prevents you from coming over. My husband’s brother’s girlfriend’s parents ask this ALL THE TIME–I do not know them well at all, but they will often say, “Do you want to come over? You can spend the night and use the pool! ARE YOU SURE?! WHAT ABOUT NEXT TIME?” They are definitely not trying to pick up my husband and I–I would assume that they want to build a genuine relationship and suss out the family their daughter might be marrying into. I’d guess these folks are trying to do the same–build a relationship and make you feel like “part of the family.”

    I’d also add that there may be a cultural element at play–I’ve found that people living in rural areas that are FAR away from everywhere else are more likely to offer their home up for overnight guests.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Yeah, I worked at a place, years ago, where everyone else but a few of us was related either socially or literally, and apparently drinking was a bigger part of the social scene than it is for me (I drink but most of my friend’s get-togethers are dry or nearly dry). There just weren’t very firm boundaries, and it was in an area where most of us had a longish drive home. Nobody was creepy or anything, they just weren’t super professional. I left the job after not quite a year for other reasons, though, so I don’t know if they would have continued to offer me a place to crash after the first few times I declined.

  19. Poison I.V. drip*

    Some people are proud of their homes and genuinely enjoy entertaining, including overnight. Some people buy a place, having frequent guests in mind. Why does it have to be something kinky? Politely decline and move on. The invitations will continue because they’re those kinds of people. Just keep politely declining.

    1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      The OP doesn’t have to keep politely declining. They’ve said no. Truly nice people get a clue and stop asking.

  20. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    At first I thought everyone is probably in their 20s and not far past the college/post-college “dude, just crash on the couch” phase. But teenage kids…

    Then I was curious about OP saying the party was just fine — did OP’s boss get hammered? Other guests? When OP’s boss & OP’s subordinate hang out, do you think they are just drunk-fests? Absent anything else creepy, I’m just going to chalk this up to partying with alcohol, not partying with sex.

    1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      I want to know if boss and/or employee are so drunk each time that they don’t remember that the other times have all been turned down?

  21. AnonyLlama*

    My spouse and I are fortunate to have an empty nest with multiple empty bedrooms. We also enjoy entertaining which almost always includes making craft cocktails and picking out wine to go with dinner. Invitations to our home always include a summary of the food/drink menu and an invitation to pack a bag to spend the night so they can freely partake of whatever we’re offering. We are neither swingers nor particularly wild, but we want our guests to be safe and comfortable enjoying both a cocktail and a second glass of wine if they want.

    That it’s work people adds a dynamic but we have plenty of people in our lives who have successfully crossed over from “co-workers” to “friends”.

    1. ferrina*

      But is that your standard MO with all colleagues?

      I’m guessing if you invite a colleague several times and they say no and seem uncomfortable, you stop asking. You have gentle ways of checking in to make sure that your friend is comfortable with the level of the relationship. If they put up clear but unspoken boundaries, you try to read into that and adjust your invitations accordingly. And I’m sure you’d probably be very sensitive about the power dynamic of inviting out direct reports, and reports of direct reports.

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with extending this invitation to friends or even friends from work, but when you aren’t really friends outside of work, continuing to try to change that relationship when the other person clearly doesn’t want to is not cool.

    2. jane's nemesis*

      You make the offer to everyone and don’t pressure anyone who doesn’t want to do it, right? Different ballgame. You sound like thoughtful, considerate hosts. The OP’s boss sounds like a boundary-stomping alcoholic.

    3. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      But would you be upset or pushy if someone said “thanks, the food sounds wonderful but I don’t want anything alcoholic” or would you start thinking about mocktails?

      Also, “friend who I met at work” is a different category than “my current boss.”

    4. JustaTech*

      You sounds like lovely and delightful hosts (a menu ahead of time! I’d love to be that organized!). You also sound like the kind of lovely hosts who are comfortable with “Oh, just one glass of wine tonight”.

      The real issue with the LW’s boss and report is that they don’t seem to be paying attention to the fact that the LW always says “no thank you”, and just keep pushing.

    5. Kella*

      Do you offer your place to spend the night the first time you have a social engagement with someone before you’ve gotten to know them at all? Do you repeat the offer after they’ve already told you that they don’t want to stay the night? Do you invite people who you have direct authority over their livelihood?

      If it is more important to you that your guests feel safe and comfortable than that they stay the night, then your answer is probably no to all of those questions. OP’s boss and employee seem far more motivated by the desire for OP and her partner to spend the night than the desire to make OP feel comfortable.

  22. jef*

    As a hot tub owner, I have invited coworkers that I consider friends outside of work to join me. I would NEVER want to hang out in a hot tub with my boss or a direct report at my home. It’s just too awkward and too intimate.

  23. Valancy Stirling*

    Considering that your kids were also invited, I think it’s unlikely that this is about swingers. But holy poor boundaries, Batman.

  24. Alltheanswers*

    I have a friend who had a similar situation at work. She’s in healthcare and a couple other practitioners kept putting out equally odd invites (ironically , that’s started as a result of a holiday party!) and they did, indeed, turn out to be swingers. Apparently there was a whole gaggle of them at the hospital that had a thing going on. I can’t remember all the details of how she confirmed, but if I remember correctly it was along the lines of venting to someone who happened to know the score and was and told her.

      1. BellaStella*

        Dude I nearly spit my water out remembering that letter.
        (Search on duck club or quack here to find the letter in question)

  25. Ellis Bell*

    I think this is probably just the type of boundary crossing that comes with prioritising alcohol just a little bit too much. But, just keep saying no! It’s a perfectly polite and reasonable response to any social invitation, especially when it’s just an extension to a party you’re already at. Imagine they were offering you a food you disliked, and didn’t seem to remember you always say no to it. You’d feel fine turning it down and saying you disliked it: so just do that. Some scripts might be: “Oh, I love my own bed way too much, but that’s so sweet, thank you”, “I have a whole bedtime routine I’m looking forward to, but this has been so much fun”, “We’re so busy with family stuff in the mornings that we really need to stick to our routine most days; thanks though!” or even “I’m not really one for sleepovers! For me, the best part of going out is the getting home and relaxing afterwards”. or “Oh, I don’t like to stay out late, but thanks”. Although if it does turn out that they’re swingers, let us know!

    1. Kella*

      I actually would find it kind of rude if every time I socialized with someone they offered me a food I had already told them I dislike.

      But regardless, OP said in a comment down below that every time they asked, she was very explicit that the answer was no and would always be no and why, and yet there were times they continued to ask her multiple times within the same day she had already said no. That is WAY beyond just forgetting someone’s preferences.

  26. LisaD*

    There are some cultures, for example orthodox Jews, where adults sleeping over is very normal (“Shabbos hospitality” is when an entire family stays the night on Shabbos with a family that lives closer to the synagogue so they can walk to services). Maybe Boss and Employee both grew up in a culture where their parents had adult friends spend the night regularly, and they really don’t get that this is not how other adults were raised to view adult friendships much less coworker relationships?

    I’d feel weird about this too and probably even have the swinger thought too, personally! But it could be as innocent as two people who have the same cultural foundation feeding into each other’s assumptions about what’s typical, while a third person with different assumptions is left confused in the middle.

    But I agree they are way too close socially for anyone to feel comfortable in a workplace position in between the two of them. (I wonder if that’s why they’re trying so hard to include LW in the friendship? Misguided way of reacting to the realization that LW is in an awkward position managing the boss’s friend?)

    1. Oh yeah, Me again*

      Yeah, I think it’s very likely cultural. I was thinking Southern, and small-town, though. OP should be open to adjusting to the culture.(Not excessive drinking, though.)

    2. Oh yeah, Me again*

      Managing the boss’ friend? That’s a “small town” thing too: not many places to work, not many compatible people to choose your friends from. In a small town, you just CAN’T keep a separation between your personal and professional life – unless you live an hour away like the LW. Still, I think she’ll be happier in this job if she goes with the flow and doesn’t try to white-knuckle “professional seoaration”. It’s not practical, and may cause her to miss out on all kinds of networking and personal opportunities.

      1. Dhaskoi*

        OP (EMW) clarified in comments that it definitely isn’t a small town, but a niche industry.

        Also, it’s amazing to me the number of people here who are willing to normalise the level of pressuring and boundry crossing taking place. It doesn’t matter what the reason is, it doesn’t justify ignoring a no a dozen times in a row.

    3. Silver Robin*

      Again with the repeated declinations though.

      We can come up with all sorts of reasons to interpret Boss and Report as trying to be kind, but even in the most indirect, super-hospitable cultures, somebody who has said, “no”, for YEARS is a pretty obvious indication that future offers are futile and they should stop. There is a point where Boss and Report are being obtuse and, frankly, a bit rude, to be regularly putting OP in a position of having to find yet another way to politely decline something they have never accepted or shown desire for.

  27. Hailrobonia*

    Inspired by the movie Go, I picture Letter Writer and their spouse getting stuck at the house and the boss/employee duo then springs the surprise on them: no, not swinging, it’s recruitment into their MLM scheme!

    1. Juicebox Hero*


      If that’s the case, LW and family would be better off staying the night at the Bates Motel.

    2. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I was not expecting to see the movie Go mentioned here, and it made my day, especially since it’s that scene. Thank you, internet stranger!

  28. Jam on Toast*

    I read LW’s account and assumed alcoholics, not swingers. Many functional alcoholics normalize their drinking by having it happen during social events. They tell themselves “I don’t have a problem….everyone drinks a lot at a party!” or “I only drink on the weekend. I’m fine during the week!” But binge drinking is addictive behaviour, and if they’re pressuring you to party with them regularly, and offering you a place to stay over, it may be because they need to mask or validate their own problem drinking. It would also explain your boss and your employee’s ongoing, boundary-crossing socialization. Drinkers find drinkers, in my experience.

    1. Zona the Great*

      My father used to purposely try to get me drunk so he could then pressure (force) me to spend the night. With this boss, I’d turn down every offer for alcohol as well so there’s nothing she can point to to try to get you to stay.

        1. Zona the Great*

          He’s not a good person. Deeply narcissistic. Very abusive. I only started realizing that when I began telling people and getting reactions like yours.

    2. AAer*

      I think this is alcoholism as well. Source: I’m in AA. We talk all the time about how alcohol becomes an obsession – we built our lives around when we would go to the store, timing things so you will have the right quantities, and we find other alcoholics and normalize these practices. Assuming everyone wants to get wasted and the only obstacle is safety is definitely in line with our behaviors and twisted thinking. It goes beyond responsible and casual “you can spend the night if you accidentally overindulge” because it’s “we’re planning in advance to get you wasted and it will be so much fun and we will bond.” It fits with getting wasted after kid sports, hot tub shenanigans, beach house, all of it.

  29. Pickaduck*

    Whatever the reasoning for these constant PJ Jammy Jam invitations, the OP is smart enough to know you do not get drunk with your boss or your employee!

  30. Zona the Great*

    I seem to be one of these people that others think they can ignore or push beyond my stated boundaries. Likely because it took nearly 30 years to learn about mine. It seems like it happens so often that people try to talk me out of or into things that I got good at saying definitive things like, “that will never happen no matter how often you ask”. In this case, I’d probably say, “I never sleep outside of my own bed” and then find a chip-and-dip station and walk away.

  31. Voldemort's Cousin*

    Part of me really wants OP to accept the sleepover invitation just once, then report back as to what happened. Am I bad person? I’m a bad person.

    1. Stay-at-Homesteader*

      You’re only a bad person if it turns out to be boundary-pushing swingers (polite swingers are fine but I doubt that’s what these folks are), organ harvesting, or an MLM.

        1. Voldemort's Cousin*

          But don’t you want to earn millions working for yourself, girlie? You really only need one kidney to function.

  32. Hiring Mgr*

    Wasn’t there just a question last week where the answers were speculating about it being an open marriage? It was considered unlikely in that Q and I’d say the same now – It seems pretty remote that your boss has been trying to get you to “Swing” for four years now..

    Anyway, is your boss normal and good to work with besides this? It sounds like you’ve been saying no successfully so can you keep doing that? You’ve been there for four years so presumably things are good overall

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Wasn’t there just a question last week where the answers were speculating about it being an open marriage?

      Yes, it was the “my coworker brought sex workers back to our hotel on a business trip” letter from Feb 7. Some commenters said cheating was gross, and other commenters piped in with “maybe it’s an open marriage!” Possible, sure, but unlikely.

  33. Testing*

    Now I’m curious about what wild things OP is up to in the weekends (which apparently does not include swinging with colleagues).

      1. BellyButton*

        Friday night was the first time I was out past 10 pm in so long I can’t even remember when the last time was. Friday was for my BF’s daughter’s elementary school play. LOL We were all so tired we slept past 7 am. It was WILD.

  34. BellyButton*

    Here is a good rule of thumb if you offer something (help, beverage, food, etc) or invite someone to do something and they decline 2x, stop offering or inviting. They are not interested or don’t have time or both. By continuing to offer/invite you are putting them in an awkward position. Most people have good intentions with these offers so they do not think about how constantly declining makes the other person feel awkward, but it is on the person extended the invite to know when to stop.

    1. SarahKay*

      Two co-workers and I regularly lunch together in the staff canteen. A third co-worker usually eats in her office. We’ve invited her to join us explicitly twice; on the second time of asking and being declined I said something like “I don’t want to keep asking, but any time you do fancy joining us please do say; we’d be very happy to include you any time you want.”

  35. Sparkles McFadden*

    This happens in cases where the department culture is such that recreation = drinking heavily. They do not understand that people might only want one drink, so they keep at you, saying “We’ll make sure you get home OK. Here, have two Long Island iced teas.” And yeah…such people are very bad at taking no for an answer. That doesn’t mean you can’t give no as an answer. If you’re sick of the repeated invitations, just say your family obligations mean you don’t have a lot of schedule flexibility or some such thing.

    The actual issue is that the boss and coworker lack professional boundaries and this is just a manifestation of that. They figure you want to get blind-drunk and they are telling you they want you to feel free to do that. They’re completely ignoring the fact that no professional person wants to get drunk with their boss or coworkers (or get in a hot tub with their boss…oh hell no).

    My concern for you is that this might affect you professionally. In cases where I had a boss with no professional boundaries, I often had my workload increase as the boss’ buddies were assigned all of the easy (or high-profile) tasks. I also had vacation time canceled when a favorite wanted time off at the last minute (especially if it was to go on vacation with the boss), and you can guess who got any promotions (or had titles made up for them). That’s the real problem for you here.

    1. Ashley*

      I have wondered how much of this is drinking culture. At which point the blame your SO advice could work really well for not sleeping away from home, and bonus points if they will forgoing drinking at your work events because they gave up drinking for health reasons.
      The LW should be able to push back in a work setting professional, but these folks clearly lack some boundaries and professional behavior. The LW if they are up for could also say they enjoyed Dry January so much they decided on a dry 2024 or you got a new medicine and can’t drink and see if that helps with the invite. The LW will over course have to avoid ever telling stories or drink with co-workers. A side benefit, is a fascinating social experiment to discover the number of people who can’t understand people who don’t drink when it isn’t because you are religious, pregnant, or in AA.

    2. Generic Name*

      Yeah, this is such a good point. I enjoy drinking, but I also enjoy sleeping in my own bed. I also enjoy maintaining my composure in front of colleagues. I just attended a big work event with an after party with an open bar with beer, wine, and all kinds of liquor available. I used having to drive home as an “excuse” to not drink too much (and therefore feel like crap the next day). I suppose I could just say, “Actually, I prefer not to get blitzed” but somehow it’s easier to say something else.

  36. BellyButton*

    My experience with swingers- they aren’t this subtle. If either were interested in LW and her boyfriend, they would have said so within the 4 yrs.

  37. Oh yeah, Me again*

    I’m an outlier here, but I think you should take them up on it, at least once! It’ll give you some insights into them, and hey! free time at tthe water! I’m guessing you are in the South (or possibly California or the Southwest) in a small town, somewhere that an hours commute is considered excessive. This is the culture, of the community, and of the organization. Rigid stand-offishneess will probably do you more harm in this environment than any potential conflict that might arise out of a short visit. And the “closeness”such as it is, really shouldn’t affect your ability to be direct with either if you need to. Aren’t you capable of being direct with others you have close relationships with? Your parents, siblings? Best friends?

    1. Dog momma*

      ID be afraid they’d slip me a Mickey and what happened after that!
      this is wrong on so many levels

    2. Insert Clever Name Here*

      But OP has been there for *four years*. If that’s the culture of this area, they’d probably already know that.

    3. Nancy’s Brother*

      I’d sooner put a fork in my eye than spend an overnight as a guest of someone I barely know. Who is my boss.
      And next Halloween I ‘d suddenly have “other plans”.

    4. Kella*

      Having boundaries on who and when you socialize outside of work is not rigid stand-offishness, especially when it comes to your boss or someone that you directly manage. It sounds like maybe you haven’t read the many many stories on here of people hiring friends or family and the terrible drama that can ensue. It’s not always bad but that has more to do with luck than a given person’s skill at managing.


    This could be more insane depending on the sex of the various people.
    HR ought to realize the huge possibility of claims of sexual harrassment!

    As a cis-woman, If I had a man suggest this, I would *assume* he wanted sex.
    And I’d tell HR so.

    As a fairly open-minded person, I’d likely think the same thing if the person was a lesbian.

  39. BellaStella*

    The boss socialising with people in the chain of command to the tune of sleepovers is wrong and unprofessional.

    I am on a team where all kinds of boundaries are stomped. I am sorry you have to deal with this OP but just keep being polite and declining.

  40. The Disembodied Voice*

    I think we’re supposed to take the LW at their word, no? She said that they were getting some uncomfortable vibes from the repeated invitations, let’s not gaslight her and say it’s all in her head?

    Also a lot of comments ignoring how *repeated* the invitations are, even to the point of pressuring her to come over after a volleyball game of her child that had notttthhhing to do with the boss.

  41. Flyover Country*

    OK, so I totally get that this is inappropriate. That being said…

    …any chance you live in the midwest? While this does cross boundaries, I have been invited to stay at coworkers/bosses house more than I would consider ‘normal’ under the idea of it being cheaper than a hotel, the people are hospitable, and there’s a chance I would otherwise not be living my best life (not attend an event, not drink as much as I would like, drive really sleepy, drive during poor road conditions etc.). It would be very “on-brand” for the culture where I live.

    Again, I get that this is weird on the surface, but in a very rural location, this is something I could reasonably expect to be offered in my workplace of 100 people.

      1. Extroverted Bean Counter*

        Midwesterner reporting in – this is extremely on brand.

        Lots of folk in this comments section have described the non-problematic ways they do this in their own lives with friends and family. LW just works with people who seem to think the LW falls into the Friend category and not the Coworker category + are oblivious to the idea that a past-no might equal a future-no.

        They’re being pushy weirdos but it’s just standard “drinking too much as a social activity and being hospitable about it” stuff that’s being pushed. Not swinging lol

  42. stunning and brave*

    A dozen times in four years, so three times a year? I understand why it’s sticking in your head, but to me it seems more like the thought is, I should let LW know overnight stays are okay when invited to my place because it would make sense not to remember it from last time.

    1. RVA Cat*

      Thanks for making this Yank pull it up on YouTube. I may never look at a granite work surface the same way again….

  43. Emily of New Moon*

    If they’re swingers, they are TOTALLY going about it the wrong way. That’s sexual harassment. I’m not a swinger, but if I were, there’s no way I’d want to have a four way with my husband and my boss and his wife. Ewwwww!

  44. Kona*

    I wonder if the boss and the employee are hanging out a lot, and they want to make sure the manager in between knows that she’s invited. I wonder if LW would want to invite them to lunch/Happy Hour or other work-appropriate socializing so that she’s not left totally out of the loop.

  45. Dawn*

    Yeah I don’t think you’re off-base OP, not necessarily “swingers” as such but I’m fairly confident they’re into you. And maybe your boyfriend.

  46. WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot*

    I wonder if your boss is my mum. She constantly offers to let people stay at her house. I don’t even think anything of it anymore, but she needs the flimsiest of excuses to put it out there. She just likes being a hostess.

    My husband went out of town for two nights recently. When I mentioned it, she said, “Do you need to come up and stay with us until he gets back?”

    Dear readers, I’m 47. My kids are 13 and 15. We had school and work. And at no point did I feel the “need” to go stay at my parents’ house.

  47. Oh yeah, Me again*

    Allison always favors separation and detachment. it’s an approach that serves well in someplace, but it just isn’t possible in all communities, nor is it always desirable. Engagement and openess isn’t toxic, in and of itself, because personal connection doesn’t have to mean entangement.

    1. allathian*

      It doesn’t have to mean entaglement, necessarily, but it does mean just that more often than not.

  48. Elle by the sea*

    I don’t necessarily think they are swingers. It’s weirdly common for people these days to organise parties and sleepovers at their houses and invite coworkers or employees. It’s because they think they only friends you can have are your colleagues. But it’s wildly unprofessional!

    You can easily say no to all of those invitations and tell you want to spend time with your family instead.

    1. allathian*

      Sure, but the problem is that they won’t take no for an answer and keep inviting the LW over and over in the hopes that the answer is going to change at some point. This gets exhausting very quickly, and it’s been going on for 4 years already.

  49. irritable vowel*

    The LW’s mention that she “can be a little wild on the weekends” makes me wonder whether these overtures are because either the boss or the employee or both got wind of this somehow and think they’ve recognized a kindred spirit, not realizing that LW has appropriate work boundaries. If they think they know that LW is a party animal and figure they can get her to “loosen up” with enough repeated invites, that might explain it.

  50. Hidden Swinger*

    As a member of the swinging community, my guess is that these are clueless heavy drinkers. Thanks to the Internet, it’s easy to find other couples in the life. We don’t try subtle invitation tactics.

    The hot tub thing is super weird and gross. So is the repeated invitations. But inviting people to spend the night after a party (even coworkers) is common in my part of the country … very rural area with almost no lighting at night time.

  51. Siri Headroom*

    This seems a bit strange in an office, but I can see so many industries where this isn’t that weird! I think one of the keys here is that if they weren’t working together, LW might be friends with them. It sounds like the workplace is very blurred when it comes to work/friends/family. Perhaps a restaurant, or campgrounds, or something like that.

    And asking someone to join for drinks AND making sure they have a safe way to participate seems reasonable. I agree, after 10+ nos it’s a lot. But OTOH, I appreciate multiple invites, especially if the nos are conditional, which it sounds like they are, not because you’re not interested. So maybe there’s something there–it sounds like your Nos are specific for each invite, rather than in general. Maybe it’s a super friendly culture that has blurred into skewed norms.

    But methinks LW might be a swinger if that’s the ONLY logical reason they can come up with. No shade, no judgement.

  52. e271828*

    I would be wondering if there’s a heavy drinking thing going on at this company. Getting so drunk at a coworker’s house that you can’t drive home seems like a bad idea no matter what.

    Being drinking buddies with the boss seems like a bad idea, too. If not for the drinking buddies, then for everyone else.

    1. bamcheeks*

      IMO you don’t have to be “so drunk” to be too drunk to drive! The point where your reactions are slowed enough to be dangerous to yourself and others is long before anyone is going to notice a difference in your bearing, speech or behaviour.

  53. someone who is very particular about sleeping arrangements and only sleeps at home*

    I defer to Alison on the professional advice side (flagging the favoritism/inappropriate closeness concern) and want to emphatically second saying that you are particular about sleeping arrangements and only sleep at home. Then you’ve got the blanket refusal and they shouldn’t ask anymore (if they do, imo that is getting into contact HR territory). I have no idea why someone up thread is recommending taking them up on the offer and staying over.

    Stay firm in your very reasonable boundary of not sleeping in colleagues’ homes!

  54. Washi*

    If you have a good relationship with your boss, I would consider asking why she is doing this. If it were me it would be something like “hey, I’m curious about the invitations to sleep over. I’ve never been asked to stay so often, especially not at work, and it’s not something I’m inclined to do, but I’m wondering if I’m missing something here.”

    Who knows if this will yield a helpful answer (like I’m guessing she will not state she is a swinger) but I think I would prefer to take it all out in the open as much as possible and put it out there that this will never be a yes from me.

  55. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

    This is where teenagers earn their keep. You can say that I have teenagers and they cannot be left alone overnight. Also, teenagers have busy social lives which you need to monitor, giving them rides, attending their events etc. My daughter has no idea how many times she was my get out of jail free card.

    1. allathian*

      Wouldn’t work with my son, as he’s a pretty extreme introvert who gets enough of being with other people at school. He’s involved with the scouts, once a week, and has gone on overnight hikes and things, but it’s not as if his week is fully scheduled. He hangs out with his friends at school and online, occasionally in person. But they generally get themselves home on their own if so.

      I suppose extroverted kids are different, but I rather pity the kids whose lives are so over-scheduled that they never have the opportunity to experience boredom, which is essential for creativity to develop. Granted, in both good and bad, given the old saw about the devil and idle hands…

      1. Extroverted Bean Counter*

        The teenagers don’t need to actually corroborate the story or hang out with their parents once used as an excuse. LW can just say “oh, as you know I have teenagers at home and I always have stuff going on with them.”

  56. Not a swinger*

    I really don’t think these are swingers. I’m not a swinger, but I’ve had encounters with swinger culture through my wider social network over the years. Swingers I’ve met have been extremely clear with others about their lifestyle and not sleazy at all. They’ve been looking for other members of the lifestyle through swinger-specific Internet sites, personal ads, and events strictly confined to people interested in that, and they’ve operated on an opt-in system with clear verbal consent (which also means accepting boundaries or lack of interest).

    My best guess is that these people are trying to issue repeat invitations to be nice and not exclude OP so their friendship doesn’t seem cliquey but aren’t aware that OP is feeling real pressure to participate. I think OP should directly explain, perhaps with a friendly tone or even a laugh, “not a chance—this is a supervisory chain and I don’t mess with personal relationships outside of work!” so that they get clear social direction.

  57. Bex (in computers)*

    It’s possible your colleagues have lost someone to an impaired driving incident and are now hyper vigilant about it. It’s also clear they don’t know how to back off. Sorry.

    I’m mostly commenting to say though that coworkers should NEVER invite one another to be a part of their creepy people soup. Noooooo! Just don’t do it.

  58. Not Currently Swinging*

    As someone who knows a lot of swingers – I’d be extremely side-eye at these people if they swing. The pressure and proximity to work is way out of the norm for that social group. Most swingers are trying to keep their extracurricular activities away from work, not “oops only one bed” their boss.

    If they are trying to sneak into a one-nighter or something, the fact that they’re swingers has nothing to do with it. They just have bad boundaries.

  59. Daisy-dog*

    “I have a $2K mattress, $200 sheets, and a $100 pillow. I also fully blackout all light from my room and have 3 sleep mask options based on what I need that night. Sleep is my highest priority and being in an unfamiliar setting will lead to a bad night for me. I’m still going to have a great time, even with only 1 drink! I just know I want to be in my set-up tonight.”

    Feel free to steal my eccentricities.

    1. RVA Cat*

      LOL that’s great.
      Realistically, there’s many reasons not to spend the night with co-workers just like you wouldn’t want to share a hotel with them. Lots of people use CPAPs for example.

  60. EMW*

    Hello – I am the letter writer. I replied to a few comments earlier then I got sidetracked with my actual job. I do tell them every single time they ask, “I just do not sleep when I am not in my own bed so I will always go home unless I absolutely can’t” and they still invite me.

    I don’t actually think they are swingers, but I DID at first. I really don’t know what to think now. I do really like both of them. We all work well together. I do think that the two of them spending so much time together is problematic, but I also don’t feel like I can say anything about it. My boss is a VP so she is in charge. My boss does not seem to spend time outside of work with anyone else other than the two of us, my employee spends a lot of her time with coworkers but most of them are on the same level as her.

    My boss definitely considers me more of a friend and I have mixed feelings about that, but overall I like her as a boss and a person so I just go with it. My employee is kind of clueless and constantly trying to help or do things for people without them asking or needing things done to the point of being pushy – this is also problematic but I don’t know how to address it and no one has ever complained about it (other than me).

    The craziest one was when she tried to get my whole family to spend the night after the volleyball tournament. I do not and would not drink at any of my children’s functions and my house was only ten minutes farther away. That time she asked me several times in the office and then ever sent me multiple text messages on the day of in case I changed my mind. I was like what the hell??

    I work in a pretty niche field – there are only five companies that do what we do and I have worked for two of them before here. Overall I am very happy with my job and have been very successful with this company so I am not trying to leave or anything, it is just a very odd situation. My boyfriend and I laugh about it all the time. We have a pool in our backyard and do tend to get drunk and swim naked at parties which is why I do not EVER invite work people to my house and probably why my mind immediately jumped to the swinger thing. I will let you know if I ever figure it out.

    1. Genadriel*

      Not sure if my other reply got through, but there’s a simple explanation for all the invitations: your boss and your employee know about parties at your house, and they want an invite. No hidden agenda necessary.

      The problems are that they don’t understand your boundary between work and social life, and they don’t listen when you tell them you can only sleep in your own bed. To them, you’re a friend who has a fun social life, why won’t you socialise with them the same way? They know they can’t just invite themselves to party at your house, but “surely” you would be open to partying at theirs/the beach house/whatever. The specific details they throw in – which if you boil it down are just “hot tub” and “drinking”, are just the aspects they think you might enjoy. Unless you get the sense that they’re judging you for what you get up to on your spare time and/or they want an excuse to see you lose your inhibitions, the simplest explanation is that they just want you to share the fun.

      The bit that makes this uncomfortable is the repeated boundary-pushing. They really don’t get it, and they’re not listening when you tell them. I did notice you telling them that you have to sleep in your own bed, rather than spelling out exactly how separate you keep your work and social life. It’s possible they know, but think they should be the exception. Would you be uncomfortable laying that out for them? Or would it have work consequences for you?

    2. QuinleyThorne*

      OP, as someone who shares similar proclivities for swimming naked at parties and has an idea of how small those particular social circles can be (I promise I am not trying to be facetious and am asking this in good faith and as tactfully as I possibly can given the format): is there any possibility that your boss or employee perhaps saw you at one of these parties before you were hired? Or that you might share a mutual acquaintance?

      1. EMW*

        No there is no possible way. My boyfriend and I only socialize with a very, very small group of close friends. Maybe 10 people total all of which we have known for 20+ years. We live in a different city. We live in the inner city and still hang out with all of our blue collar friends, while both of these ladies live way out in the suburbs in giant houses and hangout with the people who live in that area with them.

        1. Rowan*

          Then I bet they consider driving into the city to be terrible, inconvenient and confusing and stressful, because that’s their experience of it, and they want to spare you from that and instead help you stay in the suburbs, which they assume all normal people find home-like and comforting. They’re not thinking of where your home actually is or the minutes it takes to get there, they’re just assuming that driving plus nighttime plus city equals a dreadful fate that anyone would prefer to avoid.

        2. QuinleyThorne*

          Ah, okay. That’s…really weird then. I guess it could be that the thought of nighttime driving into a city makes them skittish or something and they assume that must be the case for everyone? But then again…I dunno, the hot-tub invite thing is throwing me.

  61. Catsandchickens*

    Yeah, been there. Worked for a woman who kept trying to get my boyfriend and me to spend the night at her and her husband’s house. Yep. Swingers. Had a lovey convo with HR with that. Pretty sure the HR director has yet to stop blushing 25 years later.

  62. QuinleyThorne*

    It is entirely possible that they’re not swingers.

    But in my personal experience, there’s only two genres of people that mention the installation of a brand new hot-tub unprompted, and only one genre of person that mentions that in conjunction with inviting you and your S.O. over for drinks.

    Love that we got this one close to Valentine’s Day, great synergy.

  63. Jay*

    Okay, OP, this is a very important question:
    Have you, while at the office, at any point, heard what can only be described as “inexplicable quacking noises”?
    If so, you may very well have yourself a nest of Swingers on your hands ;)

  64. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

    I must live in a cave. There is more than one office that does drunk sleepovers and does them up and down the chain of command? I remember a letter from years ago.

    1. Dell*

      I’ve never written in a letter, but I absolutely worked at a place like this. Yes, the top dog appeared to have a drinking problem. In the first lockdown, she took a random junior employee with her on lunch break to go to the liquor store and buy multiple CASES of vodka because she was terrified they would close own the liquor stores for two weeks.

  65. Budgie Buddy*

    It’s interesting that there’s a few comments defending this as welcoming if a bit clueless behavior. The whole scenario is a great example of a breakdown of Ask Culture (where everything is surface level with no presumed context).

    “But they’re just being friendly! Just say no.”

    In this case these are a boss and an employee of the OP. OP can’t forget that particular context.

    Also – OP has said no. Repeatedly. This context is also being ignored as the others keep asking as if this is a totally new and neutral request.

    I hope these two learn to read the room. Just a smidge. This sounds super annoying at best, like harassment at worst.

  66. Ithinktheywanttobebesties*

    “It’s kind of you to offer, but I’m never going to accept. I just don’t. I have hard boundaries between work & home.”

    Whether they’re swingers or alcoholics or clueless overly friendly people or something else probably doesn’t matter. You just need to be really clear and direct that you are never going to sleep over.

    If they still ask you after that… something is very wrong with them.

  67. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

    My immediate thought was they are both in some sort of MLM or other kind of culture and they are trying to recruit you and your SO. Or maybe I’ve just been listening to too many true crime podcasts.

  68. Crap game*

    They might be swingers, but I’m guessing they’re just big drinkers. This is not uncommon among responsible functional alcoholics in the Midwest (I say as someone who was one). I had a room with 3 bunk beds in it just for guests who over indulged. I’ve stayed at lots of people’s houses, usually planned ahead, so that I could get drunk.

    I don’t drink much now, but I definetly had coworkers use that giant bunk bed guest room. Whoops, I can see now how that wasn’t great. But I never pressured anyone into it. I think they just want to be closer to you, and the way they do that is by getting safely drunk at home with no reason to drive.

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