DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am not happy at all about COVID-19, but I confess that I am happy that no one has invited themselves over to my house lately.
In the past, I have had many guests who just announce that they are visiting, and no amount of hints get through to them. I do like day guests very much, but not overnight guests, as I hate to cook. I also have a health condition that can cause fatigue.
Mostly, I am an introvert and don’t like people invading my space for long periods. I am afraid that when the virus is no longer a threat, potential guests will resume their uninvited visits.
I have tried saying, “I’d love to see you on ‘X’ day, but I think you’d be happier in ‘Y’ hotel for nighttime.” Then the response is, “Oh, but I would feel so much more comfortable being casual and visiting longer!”
I have tried saying, “I am happy to see you, but I don’t cook.” Then they say, “I’ll cook!” but then they make a mess in my kitchen and I end up cleaning for hours.
I know I shouldn’t have to give an excuse, because excuses like my health issue just invite more unwanted, prying questions or well-meaning “solutions.”
I always prefer to stay in a hotel when I am visiting friends in another town. How do I get them to stay in a hotel?!
GENTLE READER: Presumably you sort of like these pushy people, as you do want to see them occasionally (after the pandemic). So you will have to stop hinting and start making yourself clear.
It is not impolite for a potential host to state the terms for a visit. Nor need you be defensive when guests presume to do so. Miss Manners has a few phrases for you to memorize:
“I’m sorry, I’m not having overnight guests. But if you are staying in town, I’d love to see you.” You need not offer an excuse, but if you feel you need one, turn your guest room into a gym, a sewing room or a pet menagerie, so you can state as much.
“I can’t do lunch/dinner, but please come to tea.” That involves only boiling water and putting out a snack.
“You know, I’ve gotten used to virtual visits; it seems that they are so much more focused. So please let me know when you’d be free to have one.”