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 }

sj July 7, 2011 at 10:37 am

While it’s strange that you haven’t been invited, Admin is right that it’s totally her prerogative. If she is a friend and you enjoy her company, then, by all means, continue inviting her.

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Sarah Jane July 7, 2011 at 10:49 am

I would feel just as you do. If a friend of mine suddenly stopped including me in her plans for no apparent reason, but continued to accept my invitations, I’d feel as if she were hiding something from me. That would make me uncomfortable around her, and I’d probably stop inviting her.

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Jillybean July 7, 2011 at 10:56 am

I agree with the aspect that A has made it clear that she is not building a relationship with you, merely using your invitations to further her relationship with others. I would stop inviting her. Or invite her less frequently. Oh – and kudos to the OP for not revealing the snub when told they were missed. Enjoying a quiet evening at home – what a lovely response.

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Pixie July 7, 2011 at 11:02 am

Maybe have a test run where she isn’t invited. If the gathering feels lacking or you feel guilty afterwards, then maybe just keep inviting her and let it be. She may have perfectly good reasons that have nothing to do with intentionally leaving you out.

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The Other Amber July 7, 2011 at 11:26 am

Just a thought – have you been to A’s place before? Do you know what size it is? It’s entirely possible that she only has room to accommodate a certain number of people, especially for something like a dinner party. If she already has an established group and can’t really comfortably fit more people in, then it’s possible that she’s not excluding you because she doesn’t wish to have you over but just simply because there’s no room and inviting you would mean excluding someone else.

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LonelyHound July 7, 2011 at 11:27 am

I have to agree with the Admin on this one. She is under no obligation to invite you to her parties and you are under no obligation to invite her to yours. If, like the Admin said, you are inviting her to cultivate a relationship with her I would say that due to her lack of inviting you to parties she appears not to be interested in the relationship. After being snubbed as many times as you have I, personally, would stop inviting her to your parties. However, I do agree with sj. If you enjoy her company nothing should hold you back from inviting her.

The long and short of it is… I see nothing petty in not inviting her to any of your future get togethers.

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AS July 7, 2011 at 11:29 am

It is a dicey situation for you, OP.

I think the Admin is right – if you want her friendship, she doesn’t seem to be interested. But if you only want to have fun, and A is fun to be around, by all means continue to invite her.

It depends on what kind of party (parties) you host. I have some friends who invite everyone they know for their house parties. But I like to host smaller groups, which means I’ll call only close friends. Hence, I don’t have to invite all my friends, even if they invited me to the big parties at their home (as a side note – the big party hosts are actually good friends of mine, and hence they do get invited). But on the other hand, if friends I invited don’t include me in any of their house parties – small or big, I’ll take that as an indication that they are not interested in being friends with me, and I’ll slowly stop inviting them. I don’t know if it is an etiquette breach or too sly. But as the admin put it, parties I host are because I want to bond with some people, and I usually take a lot of time and effort to make it enjoyable and I usually cook everything (vs potlucks that lot of people host). So, I don’t need to invite someone who does not wish to be friends (more than just being acquaintances) with me.

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Xtina July 7, 2011 at 11:48 am

If that were me, I would probably be a little hurt and puzzled as well—there’s technically no reason why A should be expected to include the OP in her party plans, but if they are friendly and run in the same circles, it is certainly a normal reaction to feel slighted by A’s decision not to! I think A’s actions are likely indicating that she’s more interested in the OP’s connections than in a relationship with the OP—if A will not be missed at the OP’s gatherings, then I would not feel bad at all about quietly dropping him or her from my invitation list.

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Enna July 7, 2011 at 12:04 pm

It is strange behaviour. If A does only have a small space to entertain then she should vary her guests so as not to leave people out. I would be inclinded not to invite her if she couldn’t return the favour.

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Cat July 7, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Most friendships require some sort of balance in invitations and reciprocity to survive and grow. If A’s space is too small to include the whole gang, then at some point she should do someone else for the OP and husband. A treat at a restaurant, a really exceptional hostess gift or tickets to an event are all ways for people who have difficulty entertaining to reciprocate hospitality.

Because A has seemingly made no effort to create balance in this relationship, she should be gently dropped from OP’s guest list, but still greeted cheerfully at any event they encounter her at.

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Ruth July 7, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Sounds like you’ve handled it very gracefully. I like the admin’s suggestions about figuring out why you might/might not want her there, and also another commenter’s suggestion that you try not inviting her sometime and see how that feels.

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Louise July 7, 2011 at 12:21 pm

I agree with the admin. It sounds as though A isn’t interested in furthering a relationship with you, OP, so I think you have to decide if her company makes up for that.

I personally would stop inviting her, or invite her a lot less; but I’m big on reciprocity. I find it hurtful when people don’t extend to my boyfriend and I the invitations we extend to them. It makes me feel like they’re more interested in eating our food, watching our movies and playing our games than enjoying our company, and I’d rather not be used like that.

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SS July 7, 2011 at 12:50 pm

My question to you is whether you are EVER invited to an event at her house, or if you are saying you are getting some invitations but being excluded from some (or most) events. If she is not extending any invitations to you, then she obviously prefers the company of the others and she may be accepting your invitations simply for the opportunity to enjoy the evening with the other people you’ve invited and I would not bother inviting her any more since she prefers their company without you present. However, if you are still receiving invitations sometimes, but not other times, then she is likely rotating her guest list and still is making an effort to include you as well and then it WOULD be petty to start disinviting her.

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Alexis July 7, 2011 at 12:50 pm

I could understand if this person never hosted anyone for parties or dinners. I would simply assume she couldn’t afford to, or maybe was ashamed of her home, or perhaps just has a controlling spouse, SOMETHING anyway. I wouldn’t give it a second thought. I enjoy treating my friends and entertaining them and do so gladly. However, a person who DOES entertain people, just not you and your husband, despite enjoying YOUR hospitality whevever the occassion arises, is just another gimmee pig. No, no-one is obligated to invite anyone over his/her house for dinner or parties, but neither is anyone obligated to attend events hosted by people who, for one reason or another are not up to his/her fine standards. I wouldn’t put this person on the spot and ask why (though I might be sorely tempted!) but I would not invite her to my home anymore either.

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noph July 7, 2011 at 12:54 pm

There’s an episode of “That 70s Show” where the mother is upset and hurt that the neighbors are having some sort of shindig and she and her husband (the dad on the show) have not been invited to. Once the neighbor party is going, mom, with husband in tow, knocks on the neighbors door. She’s worked it up in head that she has been totally snubbed by people she’s been kind to. The male neighbor answers the door nude with a pillow or some other prop covering the not safe for TV bits. He looks at his neighbors sheepishly. Dialogue follows where it is established the party if for “nudists” (I believe it is implied this is actually a “Swingers” party). The mom, a bit embarrassed at her intentions of making the neighbor feel bad for not including her and her husband, awkwardly says something about being glad she wasn’t invited and marches herself and husband home.

I am aquainted with a lovely woman professionally. She frequently invites me to very classy sit down dinner parties at her home. If I am able, I RSVP promptly and bring a nice bottle of wine or flowers. I always decline the thoughtful invitation she extends my boyfriend of several years and I have never ever invited her to any social event in our home. I have taken her out for lunch (as in I paid) many times since our offices are very close to each other. Why on earth would I not “return the favor” of inviting her to a party? Simple. I live in two worlds. My close friends are a very very rowdy rough hard drinking crowd. Parties at our home often contain at least one natural yet still illegal smokeable substance, lots of gross cheap beer, and loud loud music. My wonderful man has several interesting tattoos, including one on his calf that quotes a well known NWA song along with an illustration (“F the Police” is the song for those of you not familiar with Easy-E). The majority of my friends are loudly anti-religion. Now, this lovely woman I know has a brother who is a police man (and he frequently attends her events along with his police woman wife.) She is a practising Catholic. The other guests in her home are usually very conservative people. I usually find myself slightly uncomfortable around most of her other guests, but I truly like this woman despite our differences. She met me professionally via our jobs. She never met the early twenties, shaved head and ripped fishnets version of me. That version still exists, just not at work. I love where I fit into the world….I feel like a comic book character: by day mild mannered small business owner, by night- obnoxious punk. Often my close friends tease me a little about “selling out” if they see me in my work clothes…until they discover they need my professional help! I honestly feel that inviting this woman to a social event at my house would do more damage to our relationship that not inviting her. So maybe, just maybe, your friend, A, isn’t trying to snub you and your husband or just stay “in the loop” of your social circle. Perhaps she knows you would be very uncomfortable at her gatherings.

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lkb July 7, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Thank you for posting this discussion. I’d been encountering the same situation, except in terms of Facebook friendship. I had been FB “friends” with someone I knew in high school (not really close friends then but we hung out with the same people, sort of). I began noticing that while I’d respond to many of her FB posts, I got absolutely no response from her to mine, including (especially?) important news. I finally quietly unfriended her but felt vaguely guilty about it.

Based on this discussion, I’ve concluded that I need not feel guilty for not inviting this woman to my FB “get togethers.” We’ve grown apart and really have nothing in common anymore (and we had little enough in common to begin with).

Sorry, don’t mean to hijack the discussion, just applying it to a different situation. Still, thank you.

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The Elf July 7, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Do you enjoy her company? If yes, then invite her and think no more on it. If no, then stop inviting her and think no more on it. You don’t have to worry much about what she thinks about a freeze-out considering that she wasn’t inviting you to her events.

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kudeebee July 7, 2011 at 2:20 pm

“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.”

The trouble is she is part of your group of friends who get together on a regular basis, but she doesn’t consider YOU to be a part of HER GROUP. Sounds like she attends your gatherings to spend time with the other 3 couples, the ones that she invites to her parties. She has made it clear how she feels about your and her relationship, you just need to fully recognize the clue and act on it as your instinct is telling you to.

Even if she has a small home, she could be inviting you and dh and perhaps one other couple over occasionally, but she doesn’t even do that. So the truth is she considers you an acquaintance, one whose parties she will attend to see her friends; she doesn’t consider you a friend.

I would stop inviting her to your smaller, close friends parties right now. Be prepared to bean dip when one of the other couples asks where she is.

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Wink-n-Smile July 7, 2011 at 3:16 pm

You might try inviting ONLY A over for a dinner with you. If she accepts, and you enjoy the evening with her, then continue to invite her, as you know you’ll get something out of it – the pleasure of her company. That is, if the pleasure of her company is enough for you. Some people are so enjoyable as to be worth it.

However, if she declines the invitation (make clear that it’s just her being invited), or if she comes and you find you just don’t suit, then go ahead and drop her from your guest lists in future.

No need to make a drama of it. That’s just fodder for the rumor mill. If you drop her, then be pleasant to her whenever you meet. It’s just a case of a friendship dying a natural death, because you found you didn’t suit as well as you thought you did.

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Wink-n-Smile July 7, 2011 at 3:28 pm

I do not understand the use of “bean dip” as a verb. Will someone please enlighten me? I’ve seen it used here a few times.

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Shannon July 7, 2011 at 3:39 pm

My husband and I are the usual hosts in our group of friends, but recently decided to stop hosting large parties.

This sort of situation was definitely a factor: we’d invite guests (or wind up with guests of guests) who were more than happy to show up and drink our beer and make a mess of our home, and make all sorts of new friends through us. However, the social reciprocity was noticeably lacking. We sometimes it felt like too many of these people only got in touch with us at party time, but didn’t really fall into our orbit or care about what sort of day we had unless free beer was involved.

It’s sad, because I love hosting, but I’ve gotten tired of feeling like my friends are taking advantage of my hospitality.

It’s pretty clear to me that A is a bit of a user – happy to come to your home and avail herself of your hospitality, but not interested in reciprocating. I’d drop her off your invite list – if she’s hosting events, your mutual friends will have plenty of opportunities to socialize with her.

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Butterfly July 7, 2011 at 4:00 pm

There always comes a point when you realize certain friends are just your “party friends”. There are definitely a few people in my acquaintance that fall into this category – best friends while the music is playing and drinks are in hand, but once the party’s over we go back to our separate lives.

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SHOEGAL July 7, 2011 at 4:26 pm

I agree that A is under absolutely no obligation to invite you and your husband to any of her gatherings. You also shouldn’t feel obligated about inviting her to any of your gatherings. But I also suspect that perhaps there is a fairly good reason why she doesn’t – in that her parties are perhaps different in nature to yours and she doesn’t believe that you and your husband would enjoy them. If that is not the case, then it is just hurtful.

My husband and I sometimes socialize with a group of neighbors and when we are invited to attend a function – we go and sometimes hear how they all were out together at another time. Obviously this was an event that my husband and I didn’t know about and weren’t invited. Instead of being offended, I kind of realized that we aren’t great close friends with these people – and they are fun to be around and we enjoy their company but there is really nothing beyond that. I don’t know their kids, or what is going on in their day to day lives – so it doesn’t matter that I’m not invited to their kid’s graduation or birthday party and it doesn’t matter that they all went out together and didn’t include us. I’m happy to see them when I do.

On the flip side, I have hosted an annual fall bonfire for a number of years. I would invite people from work who would flip flop about coming. I just got tired of it. It was very political too – making sure I didn’t offend anyone by not inviting them. I stopped inviting altogether and I don’t feel bad at all. I thought – nobody there invites me to their homes for parties – I won’t feel obligated to invite them to mine.

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Kovitlac July 7, 2011 at 6:13 pm

I’d simply stop inviting her at that point. If she was enjoying your company, she’d extend the same hospitality toward you that you have to her. She hasn’t, so I take that to mean you aren’t very high on her list of friends. Do her the favor of excluding her from any future events.

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acr July 7, 2011 at 7:44 pm

However, a person who DOES entertain people, just not you and your husband, despite enjoying YOUR hospitality whevever the occassion arises, is just another gimmee pig.

This! Unless she is reciprocating in other ways – like a really nice hostess gift or help in some area, I would personally drop her.

Entertaining is supposed to be just that – for YOU as well as for your guests. Even if she’s done nothing wrong (and I think she has, personally) her presence makes you feel bad. So, why should you invite her?

Even if she doesn’t want you at her parties (maybe she only hosts swingers parties or nudist parties or something) she should take you to dinner or find SOME way to reciprocate.

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Marno July 7, 2011 at 8:41 pm

One of the reasons behind reciprocity of invitations is that it is a way to show gratitude for the initial invitation. Has this woman ever shown ANY appreciation for being entertained by her hosts? Does she write a thank you note afterwards? E-mail or call? Bring a hostess gift to the event? If she doesn’t do anything, being invited to her parties is just a symptom of a larger issue.

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Calli Arcale July 7, 2011 at 8:49 pm

lkb — there is a potentially innocent explanation for why a Facebook friend stopped responding to your status updates, even though you responded to hers. Actually, a couple of possibilities. One is that Facebook has changed the way updates appear several times; it took me a while to figure out why I wasn’t seeing some of my dear friends updates anymore, and I realized it was because if I hadn’t had any activity in their accounts recently (nor them in mine), they’d be superceded by people with fresher or more numerous activity between the two of us. The more friends you have (and the more talkative they are), the more quickly this will happen. There seems to be more to the algorithm than just this, but I don’t know the details. You can choose to view all updates, but it’s not the default view.

So it may not be malicious at all. In fact, it’s probably not. Some people I am quite good friends with have dropped off of my “Top News” list for no reason that was immediately obvious to me, and only when I realized I hadn’t heard from them in a while did I click “Most Recent” and voila, there was all their activity.

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Bint July 8, 2011 at 1:43 am

I’m with Alexis. A is under no obligation, blah blah, but unlike the punk poster, for example, the OP makes no mention that A ever reciprocates in any way, which is probably why she is hurt by it. If A brought wine with her etc, the OP would know she appreciated being there regardless of her own guest lists.

She just sounds like a greedy user and I would drop her.

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lkb July 8, 2011 at 4:18 am

@Calli Arcale: Thank you. Yes, I realized that about FB and now check both “top news” and “most recent”. However, over the years I had noticed this about the person in question: She’d call me and yammer on and on and on, barely allowing me to get a word in edgewise. Except for when my children were born, she never, ever asked how we were doing or acknowledged in any way that there was a life other than hers. She would post on FB many times during the course of a day. I wouldn’t always respond, just when I had something to contribute, but never, ever on mine. (While it could be that she simply didn’t see my posts, I also think it was a bit of her self-centeredness and also that we really do have nothing in common.)

I don’t think there’s any maliciousness in this situation. I just don’t there’s any interest at all.

Again, sorry. Didn’t mean to hijack.

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Hollanda, UK July 8, 2011 at 5:59 am

Wink N Smile – Bean Dip – How I Understand It

To bean dip is to change the subject seamlessly and effortlessly when the conversation makes you feel uncomfortable and you do not want to discuss it further. It is an EHell approved way of removing oneself from a potentially inflammatory situation.

Example:

“You have put on weight! Your hair needs a cut as well.”
“Ok…um, hey, there’s Auntie Alison, I wonder if she’s brought her new bean-dip with her? I’ve been meaning to ask her for the recipe…”

Of course, it doesn’t have to be about bean dips. It can be any way you can think of to change the subject away from whatever you do not want to discuss. People usually have an inkling of what is happening, espeecially if the pattern is repeated every time that subject is brought up, but not always.

Stick around here at EHell, Wink n Smile, and you will soon learn the many different ways we learn to cope with people who just have no idea of etiquette! :) I’m a newbie, learning all the time in which situation to apply which response!!

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MellowedOne July 8, 2011 at 6:55 am

I must admit I am a bit bewildered by the majority of replies posted. The answers are based on an ‘assumption’ of what A did/felt. This could lead to incorrect action.

I liked Wink-n-Smile’s reply. You want to know A’s intentions, invite her over solely. Her response/attitude will be sufficient to make an informed decision.

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Jai July 8, 2011 at 7:34 am

Wink-n-Smile – Re: Bean Dip. Meaning: To change the subject. Example: “Why don’t you have kids yet?” “I don’t care to discuss that. Would you like some bean dip?” See also: “Hey, how about those Yankees?” :)

There are much better examples (and a whole section) of bean dipping over on the forum. I used to find it confusing, but I now have a whole new E-Hell language and can bean-dip with the best of them!

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Xtina July 8, 2011 at 7:55 am

On bean-dipping: I think the history behind how the term came to be was that the example that our E-hell Dame would often provide was being at a party and finding the conversation heading down a bad road, and you would quickly change the subject with, “hey, have you tried this great bean dip?” in order to divert attention to something else. It morphed into a verb, bean dipping, to be a catch-all term for any clever diversionary tactic or phrase that re-routes conversation to some other subject, but it could be about anything you can dream up, not literally just asking someone to try bean dip.

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livvy July 8, 2011 at 8:18 am

I’m with Alexis too: this woman does entertain. She entertains many (most?) of the same people she sees at OP’s house, so there isn’t a social divide like in noph’s reasonable explanation. Unless her parties are based on some focal point (such as religion) that divides the OP from A, there isn’t any good reason to exclude them, or not include them on some rotational basis, if space/funds limit the guest list. Also, if that were the case, there are other ways to reciprocate, such as separate lunches (which nopf did), etc., but there’s no mention of that here. I think she’s a gimme pig too, for accepting hospitality again and again without giving any back. You aren’t a public serving house, to provide a venue for her to meet up with her “real” friends.

As Admin said, unless she’s the life of the party, and you truly enjoy her company regardless of her reciprocation, I’d drop her from your invite list.

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karma July 8, 2011 at 10:07 am

Well said, Kudebee. You nailed it.

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Enna July 8, 2011 at 11:30 am

@ Norph, I do see where you are coming from – but although you don’t “return the favour” in the same kind you still are a good guest for bringing along wine, flowers and taking her out for lunch and paying for it. To me that is you returning the same level of hopsitallity towards the host.

Now if this guest contributes to the party – she doesn’t just turn up to eat and drink that would be a bit different. I also think OP and the guest having mutral firends it does seem to be a bit strange, espcially considering one mutral firend was surprised the OP wasn’t at A’s party and that this has been noticed by others too, so much so that it’s not mentioned anymore. To me that doesn’t sound like there are serious differences in lifestyle or attitudes or religion.

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gramma dishes July 8, 2011 at 11:54 am

I think *kudeebee* hit it on the head.

She already was a part of your friends’ group. So she sees you as being a friend of theirs, not necessarily a friend of hers.

You’re sort of like circle B in a venn diagram. Some places the circles intersect, but for the most part they are separate.

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Wink-n-Smile July 8, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Thanks for the explanation of bean-dipping. That makes sense.

My typical diversionary tactic is to discuss the weather. Depending on my audience, I can be enthusiastic (with optimists), or complain (with pessimists). “Hey! It’s so sunny today!” is great for people who are naturally cheerful. Whereas those who actually enjoy complaining will have fun talking about the drought. Likewise if it’s rainy – “Hey! We have rain! We sure needed it!” and the cheerful people can be grateful for the rain, while the uncheerful ones can complain about it. Remarkably, everyone always has something to say on it, one way or another. And we ALWAYS have weather.

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Staci July 8, 2011 at 3:52 pm

@noph: It sounds to me like this lady you work with considers you “good enough” to invite you to her home to meet her other friends, but you don’t think she’s “bad enough” to attend one of your parties with your “real” friends.

You may be enjoying your “comic book character” status, but it sounds a bit phony to me.

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Cat July 8, 2011 at 6:01 pm

I had this happen to me. Former friends stopped inviting me to do anything but gladly came to my house for dinner and to pick oranges from my prime orange tree. They happily regailed me with stories of the parties they had and what they did with their friends like watching videos and eating popcorn at their home. The wife explained that her husband didn’t want her around me because, “I made her spend too much money!” I had bought a house and was furnishing it. As a married woman in her thirties she wanted a house and furniture too. Her husband wanted a furnished apartment and for her to spend her time watching him play baseball. He gave her a catcher’s mitt for their fifteenth anniverary.

I decided that a one sided friendship was out of balance. There are three billion people in the world. You can get along without one or two of them.

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SV July 9, 2011 at 8:30 am

Kudebee has it perfectly. It sounds as though she considers you the addition to her group of friends, not the other way around, and enjoys your company enough to accept invitations from you but not quite enough to extend them. It doesn’t mean she dislikes you, just that she is not very interested in fostering a relationship that is separate from your mutual friendships. Although she is under no obligation to include you I certainly understand why you would feel uncomfortable and hurt by her decision to EXCLUDE you. These are mutual friends she is hosting, not an entirely different social set whom the OP has never met. My advice would be this: If you can put aside your feelings and simply enjoy A’s company for what it is, a very casual social relationship, then by all means continue to invite her and accept that not only will she never reciprocate but that she will actively choose not to involve you in her gatherings. If you are unable to get past this ( and I must say that I would be unable to get past it- every time she was in my home I would feel like things were tarnished by the elephant in the room) then you should quietly and without fanfare stop inviting her. You should not put yourself in a situation that makes you feel bad. And my admiration on the gracious way you handled things initially!

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Etah July 9, 2011 at 8:50 am

@Staci What an assumption to make! Enna was spot on with her description of Noph as being a good guest for reciprocating hospitality. There is absolutely nothing phony about revealing different aspects of your personality at work than those you would at play.

I work with a woman of the generation between my mother and my grandmother. My family has been invited to her home for Thanksgiving, barbecues, and the like, and we have accepted and always brought a gift for her, food, or a bottle of her favorite spirits. We have a wonderful friendship and she is by no means straitlaced; however, I feel that to invite her to a party at my house with my circle of friends might be incredibly uncomfortable for her. While she and I have several common ground interests, there are many I know that she doesn’t like: heavy metal music, video gaming, and tabletop role-playing games to name a few. It’s not uncommon for some or all of these to be present at one of my parties, and I forgo the invitation because I know she would feel completely out of place. Part of being a good hostess is knowing whom not to invite because they would feel awkward or excluded.

I agree with previous posters that OP is under absolutely no obligation to invite someone into her home simply because she’s done it before. Nobody should feel “entitled” to an invitation to a party, and it’s well within her right to remove her from future guest lists.

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karma July 9, 2011 at 10:29 am

Come on, Staci. You realize you just totally busted on noph for liking what she likes and doing what she does? What, you don’t know anyone who has a persona they keep separate from the workplace–nobody who does drag? goth? comic con? Renfest-y?
You wrote:
“… but you don’t think she’s “bad enough” to attend one of your parties with your “real” friends. You may be enjoying your “comic book character” status, but it sounds a bit phony to me.

Hey, props to noph for having the foresight and awareness to suspect when someone would be uncomfortable. That’s as much part of hosting skills as anything else–knowing when *not* to invite someone. It’s not phony to know which friends would mix well and which wouldn’t.

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Enna July 10, 2011 at 11:47 am

Staci, it’s not fake what Norph is doing. Some personalities class, and some personalities can get along with two personalities that would normally clash. Norph is one of these indivdiuals who can get along with different personalities provided they aren’t in the same room, otherwise there is a fight/argurement going on. Norph shows she values her collegue as a firend by taking her to lunch. I can actually see a comic elemant in Staci’s statement that the collegue is “not bad enough” that made me giggle.

Just a question Norph what would you do if your collegue asked about you bringing your other half to the next do?

I think Wink-a-Smile’s idea is also good.

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starstruck July 10, 2011 at 6:28 pm

my husband and i went through a similar situation with one of our guy friends. we had a group of about ten of us who got together and suddenly this one guy just stopped inviting any of us to any of his parties he had with his new friends. it didn’t take long for all of us to stop inviting him . people who don’t want you around make it obvious and this seems pretty obvious . especially since you are in the same circle of friends as this women. she had to know it would get back to you. and as far as the small house theory, bull. she could alternate the guest list. you one party, someone else the next. what makes it worse is that she still attends your gatherings , then goes home wanting nothing to do with you. i would feel used.

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anonymous July 10, 2011 at 8:48 pm

I agree that nobody is ever owed an invitation to anything, and that the OP can continue inviting this person or not based on her own desires. Feeling excluded from her social circle would cause me to not enjoy her company enough to keep inviting her – I’d always be wondering in the back of my head what the deal was, and that would hamper my enjoyment of her company.

So…I would simply stop the invitations. I don’t have time for hand-wringing drama and if someone is causing it, then I pull away. “Ooh, ooh why didn’t she invite me? I know I’m not owed an invite but everyone else got one, did I do something? Or is it not personal? I don’t know!!” is, to me, hand-wringing drama and my two choices would be (a) let it go or (b) let her go. I’d choose (b), but I greatly respect those who choose (a).

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anonymous July 10, 2011 at 9:05 pm

And, you know, Norph is definitely doing the right thing by her thinking through her invitations and reciprocating to her professional/conservative friend in different ways.

I’m not quite as out there as Norph in terms of divergent work and life personalities, but there is definitely a divide. At work I look sharp, speak crisply, act professional and am careful about social interaction. In my down-time I drink, swear, will talk about anything and am happy to debate controversial topics (with good friends only). I can be very loud and raucous. My professional acquaintances would probably be…maybe not shocked, but definitely feel a bit uncomfortable around the Social Me. I simply do not naturally have a Professional World personality, so to work in the professional world, I have to put up something of a front. I wish that weren’t the case, but it is.

So I go out to lunch or dinner with my professional friends but they aren’t invited to the long nights of drinking and pool with friends.

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Enna July 11, 2011 at 5:44 am

Starstruck, I think you are right, whilst no one is obligated to invite people it is good manners to the host to include them or demostrate that they appricate the host’s hospitiatlity: it can make people feel used and excluded.

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JCS July 11, 2011 at 8:10 am

I disagree that bringing a bottle of wine or other hostess gift lets her off the hook for inviting OP to her parties. A hostess gift or thank you letter is a way of expressing gratitude for being entertained. Gratitude is not the same as reciprocation. I think quietly dropping and at least lessening the number of times A is invited will make OP feel better. The mutual friends have obviously noticed the breach in the relationship already since they have stopped talking about A’s parties in front of OP.

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Enna July 11, 2011 at 3:29 pm

@ JCS, it can be seen as gratitude, but surly showing graitutdte is better then nothing? If I was in OP’s position I would feel left out and used but if the guest showed me enough gratitude I would be more inclinded to forgive it.

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