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Friendship Etiquette: How To Explain Not Being Invited To Mutual Friends

Published: December 12, 2014 | Last Updated: December 9, 2021 By | 13 Replies Continue Reading
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A woman feels awkward explaining not being invited to a get-together. She wonders what to say to mutual friends.



I recently found out I wasn’t invited to a get-together at a friend’s home when one of our mutual friends asked me, why I wasn’t at the event (having expected me to be invited).

What do I do? Do I awkwardly reply that I wasn’t invited or do I just pretend that I couldn’t attend?

I’m very nervous that the whole situation will become awkward when our mutual friends find out. I really don’t care about not being invited to the get-together, per se, to be honest. I just want to avoid the awkwardness, especially the next time we all get together.

Signed, Filomena


Hi Filomena,

In this case, I think it would be best for you to be honest.

While there is no need for you to initiate a discussion on the topic, if asked, you can let your friends know that you weren’t invited. If they appear to be more concerned than you, you can allay their anxieties by letting them know it wasn’t a big deal for you. There shouldn’t be too much to discuss after that.

If you were to lie to your friends, I think you would probably feel more awkward and uncomfortable. And if the truth came out later, you would have a lot of explaining to do.

Everyone can’t be invited to everything but if there is any awkwardness, it should be on the part of the person who extended the invitations and decided whom to invite, not you.

Best, Irene

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Comments (13)

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  1. joanne says:

    I have a good friend who has met another one of my dear friends at a dinner party and a birthday party. Lately friend number one has invited my other friend to lunch an dinner and has not included me. I am upset and my feelings are hurt. My husband says I am crazy.

    I think its rude.

    • Laura says:

      I completely agree with you! I put two friends at the same table at a party I hosted and they started doing the exact same thing. This was several years ago and I’m over it but I remember how much it hurt. It especially hurt because I did it thinking of both of them who are coming to the party alone without a date. So that was the thanks I got for being thoughtful.

      • Jess says:

        So you invited your single friends to mingle because you thought they were lonely and then they became friends and you got mad? Weird.

  2. Jen says:

    Invitations or lack of can be a real problem. I’m part of a lifelong group of 6 girlfriends, all but one of us still live in the area, one is out of state. The out-of-state friend hasn’t always stayed in touch but in the last 8 years or so she has become more interested in seeing us and we all get together once a year. Two of our sons were getting married the same month. I was the mother of a groom, not the bride. It was not important to invite out-of-state to my son’s wedding and I did not include her on my guest list. As it got closer to time for the invitations to go out I started to second guess that because I didn’t want to hurt that friend’s feelings and I didn’t want to be the bad friend if the other mother of the groom invited her to their son’s wedding. She doesn’t know either boy, they could pass her on the street and not recognize her. While second guessing myself I asked another friend, “A”, in the group who now stays in touch with Out-of-town the most of any of us for her advice about not inviting her. Over the course of three days of discussing this “A” repeatedly reassured me that I didn’t need to worry about extending and invitation to Out-of-town, that she wasn’t waiting for an invitation and even if she was invited, she probably wouldn’t come anyway. Lots of reassurance from “A” that my original plan not to include her was the right plan. I even said to her that it sounded like she’d talked with out-of-town about this, did she know for sure that she wasn’t expecting an invitation? She just repeated that she knew for sure that I didn’t need to worry about it, I was making the right decision. After deciding to stick with that plan I had a conversation with the other mother-of-groom and asked what she was doing about out-of-town. She said “nothing, why would I, she doesn’t know my son. I never gave her a thought”. Whew! I was happy to hear that and she even said the words “now neither of us has to be the bad friend”. Less than a week later “A” friend called me and said she had something to tell me. Out-of-town friend really wants to come up to see everyone so “A” called the other mother-of-groom friend and asked her to invite her to her son’s wedding. Asked her to invite her! Other mother-of-groom friend said she could (she had a lot more leeway since she was planning and paying for her son’s wedding) if it wouldn’t upset me. “A” never asked me that, just went on to tell me when out-of-town was arriving and how long she was staying etc. The next day I e-mailed “A” and asked her to give me a call when she had a few minutes I wanted to talk about out-of-town’s plans because now it’s sunk in and I realize that I’m now in the exact position of being the bad friend that I tried to avoid. “A” called me and it was awful. She started out asking what I wasn’t happy about, that out-of-town just wants to come see everyone and what was wrong with that? She was screaming at me. I swear I didn’t raise my voice or say anything unpleasant. She used the F word at me several times, told me it’s not all F-ing about me and on and on. I was so stunned all I could do was to calmly ask her to please stop talking to me like that (3 times) but she continued. I once learned from a social worker that only one person can be in the crazy place at a time and I knew she was in that crazy, out of control place so there was no point arguing with her. I stayed very calm and after a few minutes I told her that the next time she wanted to call me and scream obscenities at me for no reason to please not do it. Then I cried. Three days later she sent an e-mail apologizing for using the F-word, nothing else. Not for giving me bad advice, betraying me and putting me in the exact place I’d sought her advice to avoid, for rudely asking the other mother-of-groom to invite the friend. Who ASKS someone to invite them to a wedding? How rude. It took her 5 weeks to call me and only after I’d sent some silly e-mail forwards to break the ice. She has said nothing about her behavior, her phone call, the screaming obscenities etc. Nothing. I’ve seen her twice and it’s very superficial. So sad as we were like sisters for years. The two weddings are over and out-of-town has gone back home. We were all together for the wedding and it was fine. Now “A” and the other mother-of-groom have become buddies. They’ve always been part of the larger group but never close to each other. As a matter of fact “A” has told me for years how she doesn’t feel close to her, thinks she’s selfish and spoiled and they really don’t have anything in common, that she’s really MY friend not hers etc. I’ve defended other mother-of-groom to “A” for all these years saying she is a very generous friend and always coaxed “A” to participate in things involving her. Lots of coaxing sometimes. Now they’re BFFs and I’m the one being excluded. They are going to lunch together, dinner together, etc. things they’ve never done together before, only as a group activity. I would love to enlighten other mother-of-groom friend by telling her exactly how “A” has felt about her and talked about her for the past 30 years. I could write a few chapters. It’s like mean high school girls and we’re in our fifties. I’m so hurt. The irony is all I wanted to do was enjoy my son’s special wedding time and avoid hurting out-of-town’s feelings and not come out looking like a bad friend. Go figure.

  3. Tracy says:

    I got larger group of gals to gether for a casual lunch ….a woman who isnt a friend of mine but more of an acquaintance, was asked by one of the women who did go, why she didnt attend.

    The woman who wasnt invited then sent me a vicious email calling me names and a liar. I was left shaking and really upset. She is not in my circle of friends but used to be a mutual aquaintance of mine with this other woman. She isnt someone I want to be close with, but I digress.

    Did the woman who overstepped and asked her why she didnt attend make a mistake?

    I am left looking like the bad guy and I did nothing.

    Didnt help that there was a picture on Facebook , which is why the woman found out about it in the first place.

    I have since blocked her for her attack on me , and blocked her phone number.

    The whole thing is awkward and I feel I didnt deserve to be ambushed on fb messenger. I had to firmly defend myself, and she continued to call me a liar.

    • Lauren says:

      Hi Tracy,

      What a horrible thing to happen to you. Actually, the friend who asked this acquaintance why she did’t go should not have done that. If she didn’t know whether or not this acquaintance was invited, then she should have been diplomatic and not asked that question which provoked such intense anger.
      Also, this is one of the problems with completely open FB. There are some horror stories out there. It’s good that you have blocked this acquaintance from your social media.

  4. Yes Thank you Admin 🙂

  5. Anetta says:

    I was part of a group not a clique in which I was dc not invited to because I wasnt there. Wa not called by the person like I was told ws told by 1 member bu didnt go because the person who did the arrangements of the event said absolutely nothing to me. I didnt go and the person it was given for didnt want anything to do with me . Before any of this event , I had no affliation of any of these ppl outside of the group anyway. There was no need for a discussion .I eventually let the group because of that persons actions towards me which was inexcusable!

  6. Lauren says:

    I agree that it depends on how good or how strong the friendship is between the two of you. But if you make a big deal of it to her, she might take umbrage at that and then she might decide to exclude you in future. Whatever you decide to do, I would be casual and cool about it.

    If it’s not really a totally close friend, then just play it very cool. When others ask why you did not attend, simply say that you did not get an invitation.

    As Sandra said, sometimes invitations get lost. For example, I received an invitation by email for someone else. That person has the same last name as me, but a slightly different first name. I did not think this could happen, but it did. I just forwarded the email to the correct person with a line of explanation.

    Last week I received a (snail mail) wedding invitation to my address for a completely different person. I took the time and trouble to resend it back to the originator with a little post it note inside the new envelope. So strange as it may seem, invitations do get lost!

    If the friendship is otherwise OK, I would not make a big fuss about it. Sometimes, it’s better just to play it cool, and don’t let things get out of hand.

  7. Amy F says:

    I most always choose honesty, though the completeness of that honesty depends on the situation.

    If you’re with your friends and they’re talking about the event, assuming you declined rather than weren’t invited, I’d say, “sounds like fun. I wish I’d have been there.”

    Depending on how close I was to the friend, I’d say, “I was hurt that I wasn’t invited to your party. I’m checking in to see if you had a specific reason and to make sure we’re ok.” Though if I didn’t like her much, wasn’t that close to her or relieved not to be invited to yet another jewelry party, I’d be grateful.

    With groups of friends, sometimes people have relationships independent of the group. There’s a small possibility she overlooked you. I have a Facebook group and when I do a group message for everyone but the person we’re sending a gift basket to, I inevitably forget somebody every time, even when I go off a list. There are only 20 members, it shouldn’t be that difficult, lol. The first time, before I realized a person was unintentionally hurt and I felt terrible. Now I just ask if anyone is missing from the list and hope one of the 17 others picks up on it,

    I hope things are easier than you expect next time you see her.

  8. Sandra says:

    I would definitely be upfront and honest about not being invited. There’s a chance it was an oversight on the part of the hostess (sometimes invitations get lost). But whatever the reason, the next time you get together with your friend, you will have no reason to feel awkward about lying, as Irene suggested.

    If this is a very close and longtime friend of yours, and you’re hurt by this exclusion, you might consider asking her — later — if there was a reason why you weren’t asked, especially since someone else in the group mentioned it to you. But I agree with Irene on the point that we all have different groups of friends and can’t invite everyone to every party we throw. I wouldn’t invite my best friend, for example, to a party I am having for my friends from work, etc…

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