2.2.6. Working bi-directional links

First, keep in mind that Hibernate does not affect normal Java semantics. How did we create a link between a Person and an Event in the unidirectional example? You add an instance of Event to the collection of event references, of an instance of Person. If you want to make this link bi-directional, you have to do the same on the other side by adding a Person reference to the collection in an Event. This process of "setting the link on both sides" is absolutely necessary with bi-directional links.
Many developers program defensively and create link management methods to correctly set both sides (for example, in Person):
    protected Set getEvents() {
        return events;

    protected void setEvents(Set events) {
        this.events = events;

    public void addToEvent(Event event) {

    public void removeFromEvent(Event event) {
The get and set methods for the collection are now protected. This allows classes in the same package and subclasses to still access the methods, but prevents everybody else from altering the collections directly. Repeat the steps for the collection on the other side.
What about the inverse mapping attribute? For you, and for Java, a bi-directional link is simply a matter of setting the references on both sides correctly. Hibernate, however, does not have enough information to correctly arrange SQL INSERT and UPDATE statements (to avoid constraint violations). Making one side of the association inverse tells Hibernate to consider it a mirror of the other side. That is all that is necessary for Hibernate to resolve any issues that arise when transforming a directional navigation model to a SQL database schema. The rules are straightforward: all bi-directional associations need one side as inverse. In a one-to-many association it has to be the many-side, and in many-to-many association you can select either side.