• Handling Breakups

Is it okay to retract an invitation to a friend?

Published: April 3, 2016 | Last Updated: April 3, 2016 By | 9 Replies Continue Reading
Retracting an invitation is never easy but friendships and circumstances change–especially in middle school.



I actually have a question related to my 14-year-old daughter. She received concert tickets for her birthday last November for a concert this coming summer. She was super excited when she got the tickets and immediately mentioned it to her BFF at the time and made plans to take her.

Well, as you can imagine with middle school, the girls aren’t so close anymore. My question is, would it be okay if my daughter were to ask another friend to the concert? I told her that we can wait until three or four weeks prior to the concert to see how things are with this “friend,” but assuming things remain the same or worse, would it be horrible for her to tell this girl she would prefer not to take her given their friendship is no longer the same?

These tickets were very expensive and I know my daughter would like to take a best friend. I hate to be the bad guy and disappoint another girl, but given the recent “mean girl” behavior and exclusion of my daughter, it wouldn’t seem right to take this other girl. What are your thoughts?

Signed, Betty


Hi Betty,

This is a tricky “friend-i-quette” question to be sure—so I can understand why you and your daughter would be having a hard time figuring out what to do. Yes, friendships can be transient in middle school as kids move in and out of different cliques.

I’m glad to hear that you are considering the fairness and consequences of this decision with your daughter.  My opinion:

It’s always nice to keep commitments and you don’t want to disappoint someone but this concert was intended as a celebration of your daughter’s birthday. You’ve mentioned that she has been looking forward to it for many months. If she feels uncomfortable going with this girl, I don’t think she should be saddled with an invitation she extended months ago under different circumstances.

It’s better for your daughter to let her ex-friend know she’s changed her mind—sooner rather than later. She needs to tell her that although they previously spoke about going together, their friendship is no longer the same and she is going to invite someone else to help her celebrate her birthday. She can also mention that she hopes they remain friends.

It’s likely that the other girl will be upset and may act out—even if she realizes the reasonableness of this decision. On the other hand, it may give her reason to rethink her “mean girl” behavior. Wishing your daughter a happy birthday!

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Category: Relationships with ex-friends

Comments (9)

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  1. JB says:

    wow, reading this makes me realize i have some friends that are still functioning at the emotional level of a junior high school student.

    or maybe it’s something about highly sought after concert tickets?

    recently a friend of 5 yrs gave the concert ticket i paid her for to her boyfriend, she’s almost 30 yrs old. one of those “beg for forgiveness after”-type situations


    now i’m left asking her boyfriend to pay me back, and instead of a girls weekend away to see Beyonce in Concert as we initially planned, she’s going with her boyfriend, and me, im now going with my mom.

    yes, i definitely need to be more assertive, i’ve read the book Ben mentions above, if anyone else has a good “Assertiveness” book, please reply. i did confront this friend about her decision to give my ticket away, but she saw nothing wrong with her behaviour and maintains she “didn’t do anything”.

    i’ll make sure i get the $$ from her bf.


  2. Amy F says:

    What a difficult situation. If the two girls are no longer friends, going go the concert together doesn’t make sense. If the girls are on and off friends, uninviting her will solidify that the relationship is over, beyond repair. Your daughter will be metaphorically putting the final nail in the coffin of the friendship, even though the decision wasn’t made in a vacuum.

    If she goes to a small school, she’s going to have to face her former friend for a number of more years, so that could be more difficult than if she’s at a larger school with more opportunities to find new friends and avoid her former friend. Also, if your daughter asks a mutual friend, that could cause difficulty for her too.

    Have her make a list of the positive and negative reasons for uninviting, so that she can look at her decision from more sides and predict short and long term consequences. The more prepared she is for fallout, the better she’ll be able to cope. Also have her view the situation from her former friend’s POV so she can break the news in the kindest manner, whether or not the kindness is deserved.

    Fortunately, the concert is happening in the summer, so there will be a natural cooling off period without daily contact. I’d have your daughter wait until after school is over to give her former friend the message, no matter how much time before the concert, to avoid bringing the drama to school. This means she can’t another friend before then or talk about it to potential invitees.

  3. Linda says:

    Sticky situation, and one to learn from … Yes, your daughter has a right to change her mind, especially given the unfairness of the other girl’s treatment. At this point it’s likely that the other girl — the mean girl– wouldn’t want to go, anyway, and you don’t want to be stuck with an unused ticket. As long as your daughter is 100% sure that this friendship is over, and that the falling out isn’t temporary, she should retract the invitation. She could wait until 3 weeks before the concert, if that seems safer … but it would be good for her to consider who she will invite instead.

    As for “how to” to retract the invitation with the mean girl? I would tell you daughter to keep her explantation VERY brief and simple. Tell her to be as neutral and courteous as possible, and to avoid any angry exchange. The mean friend probably “gets” why — or maybe she has forgotten about the date — and she doesn’t need a long explanation. Your daughter could simply say, “The plans for the concert have changed, so I wanted to let you know not to plan on it.” The less said, the better, in my view.

    • Linda says:

      I meant to say, that it’s unlikely that the mean girl would want to go anyway. Sorry about the typo.

  4. Lisa says:

    Ben, well said!!!

  5. Salstarat says:

    That so-called “friend” of your daughter’s has NOT earned the right to such a privilege! I wouldn’t hesitate in getting your daughter to ask someone else. There is no need to even mention it to the other girl because, as Ben said, anyone in their right mind would inherently KNOW that she has treated your daughter in a mean, cruel fashion and, therefore, cannot possibly expect to be REWARDED for such behaviour! Besides, even if that action finally severs what remains of this one-sided toxic friendship, your daughter can be relieved that she has rid herself of someone that will only make her unhappy – your daughter should enjoy the company of someone who REALLY cares about her and then move on. With friends like that, who needs enemies? Life is too short to hang around with people who do not treat you with respect. Perhaps missing out on this concert is the WAKE-UP CALL that this spiteful girl needs.

  6. Jared says:

    Ben, that’s an interesting sounding book. I just looked it up on Amazon, and it has a list of assertive rights. I, too, often feel guilty about saying no.

    In general, I think it’s important to keep your word. I’ve had numerous friends that agree to do something TOMORROW and then change their mind and don’t bother to tell me, leaving me hanging. I don’t think that’s appropriate either.

    In this case, I agree with Ben’s advice. I also think what the mom said about waiting three or four weeks before the concert. In Middle School, things change rapidly. This same situation could happen again where a new friend is asked, and then the next month, they aren’t friends anymore. The time frame the mother gave is an important factor.

  7. Ben says:

    In addition to what Irene said I doubt highly that any person with half a sense of self-awareness expects to spend time with someone they have treated badly. Unless the person that was earlier promised a concert is a sociopath they probably already assume the date is off. There is a good book I read when I was 18 entitled “When I Say No, I Feel Guilty.” It’s still available in paperback and a good read. The premise of the book is that all of us have the right to change our minds for any reason. We do not have to justify it to anyone else. Is it preferable to keep our word? Yes. Is it preferable to treat others with kindness? Yes. Who among us have not had to retract a decision because of changes that go on? Employers do it. Parents do it. We do it. A good lesson for your child to exercise her right to change her mind and let the other girl know things have changed. It’s her right.

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