Just dropped from birthday party invitation... am I chopped liver?
January 18, 2019 2:37 AM   Subscribe

An acquaintance whom I occasionally hang out with invited me to their birthday. They had a lunch planned, after which we were supposed to head back to their place for an evening of movies and a home dinner. I replied the next day that I could only make it to lunch, and I was simply given a reply that they're no longer doing lunch, and also sent over the list of people who were going and that their place was maxed out for the evening. And that was it.

I was a bit stunned, and I just replied have a good birthday.

This interaction made me feel like I was just a warm body to fill a space, and if their closer friends are there... well. I'm out of the running.

In addition they've never expressed any interest in my work or hobbies etc, and they love to unload their crap on me. I think it's time to cut bait.

Was I expecting too much? If I only wanted to join them for lunch, should I have declined if I can't spend the whole day with them?

Is it worth it to express what I feel before I conclude this "friendship"?
posted by TrinsicWS to Human Relations (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You were not expecting too much. This person was incredibly rude. You were fine and did nothing wrong. I'm sorry this happened to you.

Probably not worth saying anything to them about it. What they did was so beyond normal behavior (they sent you a list of all the people who are going? What is that?!) that I really wouldn't expend a drop more energy on them.

I'm sorry this happened. This is them and not you. I don't know what their deal is, but it's not worth your time to try and figure it out.
posted by sockermom at 3:01 AM on January 18 [57 favorites]

Wow, you're not chopped liver, but they are. That's appalling. Assuming you weren't somehow rude or entitled in your response to the original invitation, I can't think of any excuse for them to act like that. So many social no-no's here.

What it would come down to for me is that one should trust their instincts when it comes to this kind of early-stage relationship. If you've noticed that they express little interest in you and use you to vent their own drama, this is a pretty clear indication that you should keep them at arm's length if not cut them out completely.

Whether you express how you feel probably depends on what you expect to get out of it. Do you want them to change their behavior to you or others in the future, and do you really think they're the kind of person who would make that change? Are they somehow important enough (socially, professionally, whatever) that you hope to preserve some kind of relationship? That's up to you to decide, but go with you gut.

Not directly applicable to your situation, but a comparable thing happened to me recently. A couple months ago, a new-ish but very sympatico friend invited me to their birthday party, which was to include a smaller dinner at their place and then drinks at the bar they work at. Due to some last minute work drama, the drinks at the bar ended up not happening, and I was very apologetically told that they had to change who was invited to dinner because immediate family and lifelong friends took priority, and I might not "make the cut" (his place is a shoebox of an apartment). I emphasize this all happened VERY apologetically. And that was fine with me, because this is someone I generally trust not to be a dick. In the end, I was re-invited and it was a lovely time and he thanked me profusely for coming and putting up with his shenanigans.

If a disinvitation has to happen, it should be with absolute humility. Otherwise it shows that this person doesn't care about you and doesn't value your presence. That's not someone I would invest much energy in, whether in the form of a continued friendship or the form of seeking closure.
posted by wakannai at 3:14 AM on January 18 [11 favorites]

You RSVPed the day after you received the invitation, but elements of the party had already been canceled and other parts “maxed out”? With all due respect, I wonder if there is some information missing here... I would love to see the exchange between you and the acquaintance. The whole interaction just seems so odd. But based on the information you’ve provided, this acquaintance certainly seems to have acted rudely. If the issue is that you couldn’t attend their entire, what, 8 hour? birthday party, then perhaps they need to adjust their expectations. But given that this person wasn’t a great friend to you to begin with, it sounds like this is a sign that it’s time to move on.
posted by amro at 3:35 AM on January 18 [8 favorites]

Tacky. Rude. Don’t bother “expressing what you feel” - that’s never productive. Just move on.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:36 AM on January 18 [10 favorites]

There's no point in saying anything to someone you won't be having a further relationship with. Just walk away.
posted by HotToddy at 6:11 AM on January 18 [2 favorites]

This acquaintance's behavior says nothing about you, and everything about them. Don't bother to give this person the slightest bit of your energy, starting right now.
posted by Dolley at 6:15 AM on January 18 [2 favorites]

Is it worth it to express what I feel before I conclude this "friendship"?

It virtually never is. This is the kind of thing where it makes sense to vent to one of your real friends about it for a bit... then move on. These confrontations are basically never as satisfying in the real world as your brain (and my brain) insists they ought to be. So it's not that your feelings about this are in any way invalid or that they were anything less than horrifically rude, just... spare yourself the extra drama.
posted by Sequence at 6:17 AM on January 18 [13 favorites]

It sounds like you had already said you weren’t available for the evening. It seems a bit odd that they sent you the list of people, but you had already declined evening plans, so maybe it’s not so strange that they didn’t invite you for the evening a second time.

It sounds like this isn’t really about the birthday, though.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:08 AM on January 18 [4 favorites]

In addition they've never expressed any interest in my work or hobbies etc, and they love to unload their crap on me. I think it's time to cut bait.
Is it worth it to express what I feel before I conclude this "friendship"?

If this person were acting like a friend in other ways, it might be worth talking about. But in this case, there's really no point. Someone who has no interest in your work or hobbies isn't going to be interested in your feelings about that person being rude (and it was rude).
Also nthing you did nothing wrong here.
posted by FencingGal at 7:15 AM on January 18 [2 favorites]

If I was invited to an adult's birthday celebration that included multiple activities and locations, I would read it as "please come to all or some or one of these activities." I don't think you did anything wrong here, and agree with others that this relationship isn't worth any more of your time.
posted by sk932 at 7:25 AM on January 18 [1 favorite]

Agreed with all of the above, but I'd like to present an alternate, generous interpretation of their actions--

1. OP is invited to a birthday lunch and a homecooked dinner. (This is nice!)
2. OP declines dinner, but can make lunch. (Understandable)
3. Birthday Friend has something come up that cancels lunch (Understandable).
4. Meanwhile, RSVPs come in and max out dinner, because Birthday Friend can only cook/host for so many. (Understandable)
5. Birthday Friend feels bad that they have to tell OP that lunch is cancelled, but also can't suggest that they should really come to dinner now, because it's filled. (They are in a tough social situation.)
6. They panic, and try to explain the dinner situation, to make OP understand that it's not about OP, it's that they really can't have any more people come to dinner-- look at this big guest list! (Rude)

While it does sound like the person is a jerk, they also could have expected a poor response rate and got overwhelmed by the amount of people coming and didn't handle it well.
posted by matrixclown at 7:48 AM on January 18 [24 favorites]

It doesn’t sound at all like they uninvited you. It sounds like they were maybe reassuring you that it is okay not to make the second half. Some people feel guilty if they can’t make a birthday celebration. “It’s okay, I won’t be alone, don’t worry about it” is a decent way to reassure someone. Weird in this level of detail but not aggressive. Or it could have just been some random facts they were excited about. (Do you know the people listed? Is it a small circle? If so, this makes even more sense.) Canceling lunch sucks but I wouldn’t take it personally.

Tbh this sounds like the kind of non sequitor my autistic ex would send when he could tell that emotions were happening but had no understanding of what to do or how to help.

THAT ALL SAID: if you’re not into this person, you’re not, and that’s okay.

Tl;dr: I think you’re reading way way more aggression and rejection into this than is necessary. Even so, you don’t need to be friends with someone who you don’t like.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 7:48 AM on January 18 [24 favorites]

The added benefit of Rock 'em Sock 'em's interpretation is that if you choose that one, you no longer have to give a shit.

It's a flag that this person isn't super-good at managing the dynamics of group situations. Most people aren't. If you really value that as a quality in friends, this potential friend doesn't have it.

I was particularly sensitive to this kind of thing in my late teens, and over the last decade or so I've gradually come to realize that it almost never actually has anything to do with me.
posted by aspersioncast at 8:07 AM on January 18 [1 favorite]

It seems like you left it politely with your Happy Birthday wish? Pretty cool of you. Probably leave the initiation of any further activities on them; if they value the relationship they'll find something to involve you in. If they don't, just let it die out. Either way, don't devote a lot of worry to it. People sometimes / often / usually do awkward things unintentionally.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:16 AM on January 18 [10 favorites]

this is so extremely awkward that it reads to me less as intentionally rude, and more as flustered/clueless.

A more experienced/gracious host would have called you and said "I feel terrible, but after I invited you, a bunch of people I didn't expect decided they were coming, so my attendees list jumped unexpectedly and I don't have room to host all the friends I wanted to see. I'm embarrassed, will you forgive me? I hope we can get together another time. Maybe we could have lunch the following week?"

You'd have felt ok if it had been phrased that way, no? This person is just not... polished. But I would expect more of the same from them, and so I wouldn't pursue the friendship. If they want to call you, you can cross that bridge when you come to it.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:44 AM on January 18 [3 favorites]

In addition they've never expressed any interest in my work or hobbies etc, and they love to unload their crap on me. I think it's time to cut bait.

Yup. Slow fade.
posted by jgirl at 8:57 AM on January 18 [5 favorites]

I'm going to suggest taking a more moderate view. Plenty of people just simply don't have social graces nailed down for this sort of thing. The number of people nowadays who have literally never entertained in their homes is staggering to me. But people who don't have experience in this sort of thing are likely to view a lot of this as "no big deal" informal organizing. I actually had a couple simply not show up with no notification to a multi-course home-cooked formal Thanksgiving dinner in my home because, as they explained days later, they were "tired out from shopping that afternoon." They clearly thought this was no big deal, because otherwise they wouldn't have done it.

What I read out of your description is that your acquaintance invited a bunch of people to a lunch outing followed by movies and dinner in their home, and that the responses indicated not much interest in the lunch part and much more interest than expected in the movies/dinner at home part. This resulted in your acquaintance canceling the lunch due to a lack of critical mass and maxing out their home space due to an unexpected overabundance of RSVPs. Neither of these things is unreasonable, especially for someone who doesn't entertain much and doesn't understand the etiquette of extending invitations. What is too bad is your acquaintance's way of responding, which again I would tend to chalk up to a lack of social graces.

What if your acquaintance had said, "I'm sorry you can't make the gathering at my home, but to be honest way more people said they wanted to come to that and we've run out of space. Unfortunately, practically no one said yes to the lunch so we're going to have to cancel that. Sorry to be missing you."? Would you have felt differently? Because that's effectively what your acquaintance seems to be saying, albeit in a ham-fisted and not particularly gracious way.
posted by slkinsey at 9:17 AM on January 18 [3 favorites]

I think you are expecting too much from a person that you describe as not being a particularly polite person in the first place.
posted by sm1tten at 10:53 AM on January 18

given that you didn’t ask to change your mind about dinner, i think your friend giving you any more of a response than “i’m afraid something’s come up and the lunch has to be cancelled/postponed, so sorry to miss you this time” is weird and overexplainy. but a lot of people feel obligated to overexplain irrelevant shit in this world, especially when they feel socially awkward. model what your friend should have, and recognize that this is a great time to talk less (instead of more).
posted by amelioration at 12:19 PM on January 18 [1 favorite]

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