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Monday question: It's not you, it's them

Posted by Robin Abrahams  November 8, 2010 05:35 AM

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Here's a question that I bet a lot of folks in our overscheduled age can relate to:

How should one respond when plans with friends are suddenly changed by those friends to include strangers? More than once my husband and I have asked friends if they'd like to get together sometime during an upcoming weekend. They agree to a particular night, and we plan to talk that day to finalize the plans. In these cases, my husband and I are looking forward to a relaxing evening with people we consider our close friends, but suddenly on the day in question when we text or call to arrange things, some other couple we do not know are being included in our evening plans.

While we try to be open to meeting new people, the reality is we have never gained new friends out of one of these awkward (for us) social evenings. Our enthusiasm to see our friends and to talk personally about our lives is diminished as we instead engage in the kind of chit chat one adopts with strangers, and too often we end up feeling like WE are the interlopers into our friends' revised plans. We are left wondering if they in essence got a "better offer" and just felt obligated to include us so that they wouldn't seem too rude.

Are we wrong to consider this behavior inappropriate? Would it be best to back out of our plans when friends do this? Sometimes that's not possible as we don't even know about the change until we show up at our meeting place, but when we do have advance warning, is that the time to say something? If so, what?

What do you think, readers? I'll post my advice and response to your comments on Friday, and I'll post a topic for conversation on Wednesday--so keep coming back!

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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About Miss Conduct
Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at missconduct@globe.com.
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Who is Miss Conduct?

Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

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Curious if you should say "bless you" to a sneezing atheist? How to host a dinner party for carbophobes, vegans, and Atkins disciples—all at the same time? The finer points of regifting? Ask it here, or email missconduct@globe.com.

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