The Non-Reciprocating Guest

by admin on July 7, 2011

I don’t believe this is an example of bad manners or breach of etiquette.  Rather, I need some advice.

When my husband and I graduated from college, new jobs took us far away from friends and family.  To meet people in our new town we started inviting co-workers and neighbors over for barbeques, dinner parties, football games, etc.  Over the years we were fortunate enough to develop very close relationships with three other couples.  Of course, we don’t do everything together, but we usually get together at least once a month to celebrate birthdays, holidays, etc.

We met A at a party hosted by one of the couples in our group.  She was interesting and fun to be around, so we started inviting her to our home.  Fairly soon she was one of the group and was included in our gatherings.

About a year ago, one of our friends mentioned how much my husband and I had been missed at A’s party.  I had not been aware that A had hosted a party as my husband and I had not been invited.  I told our friend that we had been enjoying a quiet evening at home.  A has since hosted several other activities and has not invited my husband and I.  Once it became clear that A was not including us in her invitations, our friends very kindly stopped discussing it around us.

Just to be clear – A is entitled to invite whomever she wishes and our friends are entitled to accept her hospitality.  We are not aware of anything that either of us has said or done to upset A, and she still accepts invitations to our home and behaves pleasantly.  We have not questioned A about why she doesn’t invite us – nobody likes to be put in the uncomfortable position of having unwanted guests begging for invitations or having rude people question your guest list.

My question is this – would it be petty if my husband and I stopped including A in invitations to our home?  While we understand that we have the same right as A to invite whomever we choose, my husband thinks it would be immature to not invite her simply because she does not reciprocate.  I certainly don’t wish to become involved in adolescent tit-for-tat over party invitations, but knowing she excludes us is actually a little painful and makes it less enjoyable to entertain her.  In fact, I’ve noticed that we haven’t been entertaining as much simply to avoid the question of whether to invite A or not.

Advice/input would be appreciated. 0706-11

I firmly believe that no one is owed an invitation to another person’s event.  Potential guests should not have an expectation that they will or should be invited to dinners, parties,  weddings, etc.  even though the theory of reciprocity would hint that a return invitation should be forthcoming.

I’d wait a few more months, maybe compiling a 2 year history of hospitality exclusion before concluding that you and your husband are definitely being shunned from A’s parties.    The question you should ask yourself is, “Why do we entertain and extend hospitality?”    If it’s to build friendships, one must ponder what is being accomplished with the inclusion of A to your guest list if she’s making it clear that her desire for friendship is not reciprocal.  I suspect she attends your parties more to be socially involved with the shared friends than any real desire to build upon the friendship between you, your husband and A.

If you host parties to merely have an evening’s worth of fun and A facilitates that goal by being quite entertaining to have around, continue inviting her with the realistic understanding that she is nothing more than a temporary means to an end.

{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

JCS July 13, 2011 at 8:17 am

@Enna,

If A wasn’t entertaining at all or wasn’t entertaining their mutual friends, I could see being satisfied with thank you notes or hostess gifts. However, this is calculated exclusion of the OP.

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Allie July 28, 2011 at 5:53 pm

If A is not reciprocating your hospitality, I would stop inviting her. I don’t think it’s petty or immature. It’s just the way things work.

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