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Carolyn Hax: They said she could invite a friend — and then changed their minds

(Nick Galifianakis for The Washington Post)

Adapted from an online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: This is going to sound like a high school question, but I swear I'm in my (late!) 40s.

I've been getting together with a group of college girlfriends about twice a year for at least 10 years.

Since last year, we've talked about going away for our 50th birthdays. One other friend hasn't really kept in touch — I'm the only one to really stay close to her.

"Erin" asked me to let her know if we started planning a trip in earnest.

Before I did that, however, I asked the group in our regular text chat if it was okay to include Erin, too. I said she'd asked, and I knew she'd gone through a particularly tough time personally and could use some friendly faces. Two people said, "sure thing." That was the only response.

So I told Erin about the trip. Well, a few days later, one after another said they didn't want her there.

I was stunned. I was told I should have waited longer to tell her.

And one even said she didn't want Erin's "issues" to put a damper on the long weekend. I was so disappointed at their lack of generosity and hurt they'd put me in the position of having to retract the invite.

I tried to appeal to their sense of empathy, but they didn't budge.

The two who said it was okay started to waffle. I was on my own.

I had to tell Erin what happened as kindly as I could and that she was no longer invited.

I also told the group I was no longer interested in going myself.

Did I do the right thing here? Background, I am the only one who lives out of state, and I've had to make all the effort over the years.

So this tells me the relationships were more one-sided than I even realized. I don't want to lose an entire group of friends over this. But maybe I should.

— Disappointed Friend

Disappointed Friend: This does seem to have accelerated the inevitable: ending not-so-great friendships with some not-so-great people.

But, just in case someone else spends 10 years seeing a group twice a year and then makes an effort to include another friend and gets the preliminary okay and issues an invite only to get pushback from the group to the point of being asked to disinvite the new person, I’ll answer anyway whether you did the right thing:


The right thing was to refuse to retract the invitation. To say: “I asked around, waited for your replies, got nothing but two yesses, then invited Erin in good faith. If you don’t want her there, then you can tell her she’s not welcome. If you do that, though, then I also won’t be coming. Let me know what you decide.”

It’s a two-part, right-thing flow chart: 1. Refuse to be rude, then see what happens. 2. If they choose to be rude, then opt out of a group that’s exclusive.

They had their chance to nix Erin kindly but didn’t. They own this.

Again — for, um, next time.

Re: Erin: I'm sorry. What a crappy situation, for you and (especially) Erin. I hope you and Erin take a fabulous trip together and enjoy your release from unworthy relationships.

— Anonymous