Dear Heidi: How do I tell a friend that I was hurt by her not inviting me to a recent event?
I don’t want to make a big deal about it, or start any conflict, but I can’t seem to shake it off. I want to know why, you know? What should I do?
No one likes to have their feelings hurt. No matter the reason, intentional or not, having your feelings hurt brings you back to earlier, more innocent days and usually brings up old wounds that you thought had healed.
If a friend did not extend an invitation to you, take a deep breath, and reflect on why you might not have been invited. Was your friend sending you a message, was it a simple mistake or oversight, or can you blame it on the USPS or cyberspace? How did you learn you were not invited? This could offer an insight to answer the question, “why?”
If the invitation lapse was for something casual, like yoga via Zoom with some of your circle, all of whom know you hate to exercise, then being left might be understandable. Simply reach out to your friend and let them know that even though you’re generally not into exercise, these days a yoga class on Zoom sounds fantastic--it’s more of a social outlet than exercise.
However, if you were not included in a birthday dinner for a close friend in your circle, and you learned of it when you saw pictures of all the fun they had on Instagram, (pre-pandemic, of course), then you might dig a little deeper.
First of all, ask yourself what is this relationship worth to you, and what level of hurt are you? If this friendship means a lot to you and you are really hurt, then you need to politely broach the subject with your friend. You might be feeling like you did in high school, when everyone was invited to a party, and you weren’t--hurt feelings you can’t seem to shake. But, unlike in high school, you have the maturity and grasp of social graces to know how to talk to your friend about this. At this point, you really do not know why you were excluded, so it’s time to find out.
Reach out to your friend and schedule a Zoom, Facetime, or a simple call, and respectfully say something like, “I saw on Instagram that you all went out to celebrate Mary’s birthday. It looked like so much fun.” Your friend might say, “Oh, yes, it was a great time. We would have invited you, but we thought you had mentioned how busy you’ve been lately with work and family .” You could respond, “Yes, as you know it’s been a hectic time, but I’d love to be included next time, because a night out with you all could be the stress-reliever I need.”
In this case, you were polite and respectful, and chose the high road. You helped save face for your friend, because the relationship is important to you. You learned the exclusion was not malicious, rather, your friends thought you were too busy to attend. Your friend, in turn, learned that it is always the best form to never assume something about someone else. As the host, she should have invited everyone in your circle, giving each the opportunity to accept or decline, due to whatever is happening in their life at that moment.
Never assuming and being honest are always the best policies, especially done politely.