No-show guests -- I give myself a 'C' for how I handled it

gellchomAugust 10, 2007

At our recent "annibirthday" party, one couple who had responded that they were coming did not show up. I did not hear from them later, either. They knew it was a catered party, because I had told them when saying no-but-thanks-for-offering to the wife's what-can-we-bring.

About a month later, I saw them. I knew I should just let it go entirely, but I didn't stop myself; I asked, "I hope everything was okay on July 4th? We missed you." Fortunately, I didn't say it snidely. The wife apologized very nicely and (to her credit, I thought) admitted that they had just simply forgotten in the confusion of July 4th and felt terrible when they remembered the next day or so. I felt bad I had said anything and assured them that it really was no problem, we've all done the same thing, and not to worry about it at all -- we are just glad to know that nothing had been wrong. (I stressed the part about how everyone, including us, has done the same thing, so they would not feel I was trying to punish them.)

So I feel bad that I even said anything, but I hope it wasn't too bad. Maybe C+, even.

I really do understand that anyone can make a mistake. I also give them points for being honest; I wouldn't fault someone for making up a less embarrassing excuse. But I have to say that IMO they really should have called or e-mailed after the party to apologize, especially because they knew that we had paid the caterer and bartender for them, and also because they knew we were celebrating a 50th birthday and 25th anniversary.

I also just remembered that this is the couple who, years ago, accepted a dinner invitation, knowing that they would be the only guests, and didn't tell us until they arrived that they are vegetarians. They said they "hadn't wanted [me] to go to any trouble" -- but I had indeed gone to the trouble of cooking a whole meal, which my husband and I certainly didn't feel comfortable eating by ourselves in front of them, and it would have been absolutely no more trouble (probably less) to have made a vegetarian meal instead; I certainly would have preferred doing that.

I really like this couple, and they are such good people, and I know they really do like us, but when it comes to entertaining them from now on -- well, that's strike two!

Oh, two and a half -- they have never invited us over, or out.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Ok, I'm going to come to your defense, gellchom! I think you were perfectly within your rights to ask about them not showing up, and in addition, I'd call it strike three since they never invite you over.

I am pretty unforgiving about people not showing up to a party without letting me know. At the very least, as you said, they should have sent their apologies after the party when they realized they forgot. When people I invite don't show and don't contact me regarding their absense, they go on the same list as people who don't RSVP -- the don't-them-again-list.

I also have a thing about people who I invite returning the invitation. And it's not just people I invite to my house but people that I initiate any kind of activity with. I don't feel that I should always be the one to say, Hey, let's get together. They have to also return the effort in order for me to feel that they wish to spend time in my company or else I quit asking them.

I think some people just don't understand that it takes effort to cultivate friendships. When they don't return the effort that I've made, at least somewhat, I figure they don't care if we continue our friendship or not. At that point, I move on.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2007 at 3:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I would call that a 3 and they would be off my list.
If I really like their company I might invite them as a one couple for dinner thing. But no more parties....they don't know how to behave!
I would have followed up the conversation about them not coming with "Oh!! Thank heavens! We were so worried that something was wrong....and then when we didn't hear....well I was afraid to call...."
You get an A in my book!
Linda C

    Bookmark   August 10, 2007 at 9:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I applaud you for mentioning it, and I give them a double F! First, for "forgetting". But especially for not calling and apologizing the minute they "remembered"!

I'm not convinced that they actually did forget. Maybe, but it ma also be that they just decided not to go and hoped that the topic would fade away.

I might've even called them myself the day after the party to make sure everything was ok.


    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 10:50AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I find that some people haven't the ability to empathize. They don't realize what ripples their actions or nonactions send out in all directions. Empathy doesn't come naturally to all people, and apparently no one taught these folks. They must be charming or influential or fascinating ...or something, for you to even bother with them. I think you handled the situation perfectly, and I would just cut them loose. Life's too short.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2007 at 12:42AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You all are being very nice to me, and I thank you for it! Everyone here is so supportive.

I'm not going to cut these people off my list. I really do like them: they are smart, fun, interesting, kind, and both give tirelessly of themselves to the community in many ways.

And really, what they did wasn't so very terrible, and it didn't really make a problem for me -- there were 70-some people there anyway. I do believe they really did forget; it happens, especially on a busy day like Fourth of July.

The only thing that I think they should have done differently was that they should have e-mailed or called when they did remember. But I don't think that their failure to do so was so awful that we can't still be friends or that we should never invite them to anything again.

I was just concerned that *I* was in the wrong for putting them on the spot mentioning it when I saw them. I could have been worse about it, but I could also have just let it go and not embarrassed them.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2007 at 2:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Gellcom...I understand where you are coming from. I have friends whom I entertain and others can you stand it...and I remind them we have been friends for lots of years and I over look the rude ness in order to experience the good things... have my ( at least) permission to cut them off...if you want to! LOL!
Amazing how people can be such rude social clods and so very altruistic and charming in other situations.
No, you "done good" they were wrong.
Linda C

    Bookmark   August 15, 2007 at 8:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think you handled it just fine. No problem mentioning something like that. Maybe it embarrassed them, but people need to know that their behavior affects others. Friends can have awkward moments amongst themselves - how else do you grow as friends?

As far as having those kinds of friends, I've had to learn that, if you don't overlook a certain amount of bad behaviors from people, as you get to know them, then you will not end up with many friends. As long as you know that that one doesn't RSVP and has to be called, or that one is a re-gifter, or that one drinks a bit too much, or that one is a little too loud in public places, or that one loves his dumb jokes - and not expect them to change. You have to ask yourself whether this person adds to your life. No one's perfect.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2007 at 5:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

gina w, you have an incredibly mature perspective. Thank you for sharing it with us. I bet you have a million friends!

It can be hard to keep that attitude when you are annoyed or inconvenienced by someone. It helps me if I remember that I have probably goofed up some other time, and they overlooked or forgave it.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2007 at 9:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think you are feeling "guilty" because etiquette says it is as much a faux pas to no-show at a party as it is to call the no-show on it.

Having said that, IMHO etiquette be darned sometimes. Just like ANY relationship, "boundaries" need to be established, and by asking your friend (and politely) you let it be known that you will question things when your boundaries are exceeded.

In your case, I see nothing wrong with it considering you paid out money based on headcount, "friend" did not follow up after with apologies - but only upon direct questioning.

I would highly suspect this friend will not do it again since they know they will be "called on it". But if they do? I wouldn't exactly call them "friend".

I give you an A+. You were polite, but with subtlety let "friend" understand that was "unexpected". Good for you!!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2007 at 9:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You definitely get an A plus; nothing less. Adults have to own up to their mistakes and what's the point of you always wondering what happened, you brought it up, since they did not, it was the only thing to do to clear the air.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 8:57AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

How to be Phony 101: After being stood up, don't mention it EVER. Just act as if nothing ever happened.

How awkward is that??? Awkward for everyone. Talk about the elephant in the room, but don't turn your nose up at the scent of his arse. I think you did just fine to bring it up without rude tone, and if they are people you enjoy then you take the good with the bad.
Etiquette rules? The queen of england had plenty of etiquette classes but you don't see anyone clamoring to party with the Queen. Perhaps your friends were born in a barn, and perhaps Miss Manners would give you a C for mentioning it, but I give you an A for 1. throwing a party, 2. being real and 3. maintaining the friendship

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 7:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"I think some people just don't understand that it takes effort to cultivate friendships."

This is so true! I live in a certain area of a large city that is fairly affluent. I'm in a book club with women some of whom have never spoken to me outside the book discussions but expect to be invited to every party we host.

We have a friend who always makes plans but forgets. I called it quits when she invited our daughter to a baseball game and forgot to pick her up. I was out of town and DH had to work that day. He had to rearrange his schedule but was glad she was forgotten at home and not at the stadium.

A close friend's daughter had a Bat Mitsvah and one family called to RSVP for their daughter who wasn't invited. That was an awkward conversation.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2007 at 1:55AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I had to post again to thank you all! The other night, the same friend said something that was rather insensitive and insulting to me. She didn't mean to do it, though, and I knew it. So should I just let it pass, or say something, and if so, what? I thought of all the good advice and insights I'd read here. I didn't want to humiliate her or make a big deal out of what I knew was not maliciously intended (or even directed toward me personally). At the same time, I realized the wisdom of several posters' advice not to dodge things with friends just to avoid a tiny bit of awkwardness, or the friendship doesn't grow.

So I very carefully and gently said just a few words to let her understand how her words had made me feel; fortunately, no one else was listening. I didn't say it in a way that required her to respond or apologize or make her feel I was angry. I think she got the point without feeling put on the defensive about it; that was my goal, anyway, and she has seemed just fine when I've seen her since. That's just the way she is, and there are many other very good and much more important things about her, so I can certainly be patient. I hope others will do the same for me!

This time I give myself a B+ or maybe even A-! Well, I'm going to make it A- for not counting it as strike three.

The reason I'm posting, though, is to thank you all for your support and for sharing your wisdom and insights.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2007 at 12:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Regarding the first situation, I think you handled it well. I'm going to take a slightly different slant on things from personal experience. My DH suffered a mental break down and stopped drinking 4 years ago (DH has been in therapy ever since). The after effect of it all is that he has a lot of social phobias, particularly if it's a new place he's never been to or there is going to be a lot of people there he doesn't know. Worst yet, my husband will say "yes" to an event and then bail out hours before we're suppose to go. Sometimes I go by myself, but I'm still left with the awkwardness of explaining why the DH didn't come with me. I tend to be quiet myself, which makes things a little more awkward for me. Quite frankly, you get tired of making the excuses. So how do you explain to someone about social phobias?

It might not be that they are being rude. They might not know or feel comfortable in certain social settings.

Kudos on how you handled the second situation!

    Bookmark   November 4, 2007 at 8:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Since you sincerely like this couple, and enjoy their company, you are doing the right thing by not letting it spoil what could be a great friendship, if you are able to roll with the flaws in human nature, that remind us that we are not perfect, and can disappoint others, when we do not really mean to.

Perhaps there were circumstances they are unwilling to share. Like they got into a huge argument and neither were in the mood to go and fake it at a party. Or they are easily distracted, and are embarrassed, because they sometimes really do "forget" and are horrified. A friend recently told me that she had a dentist appointment. The dentist called and left a reminder the day before. On the day of the appointment, the dentist office called and talked to her, to tell her they were running 1/2 hour behind, so to come at 10:30 instead of 10:00. She hung up, and left to run a couple errands. She said she was thinking about other things, (a problem with one of her kids) and totally forgot to go to the dentist, even though she had just been on the telephone an hour before. She was horrified, that she could totally "forget" when she had just talked to them. And she is only 41. When she called to reschedule, the office was miffed, and charged her for the appointment anyway. She said she was really embarrassed, and cannot imagine how she could do such a thing.

In regards to you being offended that they have never invited you to their home, you must understand that some people do not entertain in their home. There can be many reasons why. Perhaps behind the beautiful exterior, lurks a big mess, that would take hours or days to get in order. Have you seen the show "Clean Sweep, or the English ladies who come in when things are in awful shape?

The people on these shows are often attractive, and successful in other areas of their life, but cannot keep a home in order.

Many people have phobias about entertaining in their home, and do not enjoy it, or feel like it is not worth the stress and work involved. Or perhaps they do not enjoy cooking for others, because they are not very good cooks. Some people love to entertain in their homes, and others would rather have a root canal! Smile. There have been many articles written about many people who have huge fears about entertaining in their homes. So do not be offended unless you know for a fact that they entertain regularly in their home.

I once saw an interview with Martha Stewart and she talked about how others would not invite her to their homes, and she longed to be invited into the homes of others for dinner. Everyone was too intimidated, because she did everything so well. They also thought she would be judging them, and it was just too stressful to even contemplate for them. So do not take it personally, unless they entertain frequently and do not include you. They may have "personal issues" you may not be aware of. Or you may just be so awesome (like Martha Stewart) that they are afraid they could never measure up.

I think most people mean well, but they are human. And flawed. If you can accept them, flaws and all, you will be rich in friendships, throughout your life.

And isn't that a tremendous gift? Isn't it more valuable than material riches?

I have read that if when you get to the end of your life, and have one true friend, you are fortunate. But for someone able to overlook some of the flaws in human nature, and love others in spite of their shortcomings, I would imagine them surrounded with friends, and they would be fortunate indeed.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2007 at 9:28AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

bnicebkind, I completely agree. Although several posters discuss it, I never considered dropping these friends.

I can't remember ever really dropping a friend. I have sometimes dialed a relationship down a notch when I was severely disappointed in someone or when I felt that they didn't really want to be friends with me/us. But I don't recall ever just plain dumping someone, and certainly never over something so trivial. It would have to be real, gratuitous meanness.

I understand how your friend felt about the dentist. We've all done something like that. I was to be at a meeting at a friend's house one evening a few months ago, and I had just talked to her about it a few hours earlier. But in between, my husband and daughter both changed their evening plans, which caused me to have to change and juggle their dinner plans, and somehow my own plans got lost, too. My friend called me later to ask if everything was okay! You can imagine how I felt. But she wasn't mad.

I was on the opposite side of the same situation today. It wasn't really my party; I was just a "table captain" at a charity lunch today. Two people didn't show. One I had talked to from my car on the way there, so I knew she hadn't forgotten, and the other is the last person you would expect to be a no-show. Afterward, I called them both. The first one got a late start and then couldn't find where her son had parked her car until it was just too late; the other is in Chicago with her mom, who just had surgery, and she simply forgot all about the lunch. So it certainly pays not to get angry!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2007 at 9:40PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
4 letter words
We will be playing with only 4 letter words.One should...
Guests always bring along a dog
How would you handle this? My wifes long time friend...
Preparing Roasted Chicken Beforehand
Hi! I have been reading posts from here for a while,...
Two sides to every RSVP
Deleted This post was edited by Jewel654 on Sun, Dec...
Planning ahead: graduation
My oldest is graduating college in May (yeah!). His...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™