Dear Uncommon Courtesy,
Today I got an email from a person from college I’ve “broken up with,” by which I mean I haven’t talked to them in years and de friended them on Facebook because they are generally a NOPE person these days. This person just sent an email asking for my address to send their wedding invitation.
WHAT DO I DO.
I mean, there’s been no contact at all and I was sort of hoping they’d get the picture by now. Do I send my address and then decline the invitation to not ruffle feathers at this junction, or will that just seem to invite them to try to rekindle the relationship which DO NOT WANT. Or can I ignore it and hope I don’t have to ever deal with it and they get the picture without me having to be like “we’re not friends anymore please stop.” Because clearly I’ve been avoiding that talk.
Miss Manners says that declining an invitation needn’t include any explanation as to why (for instance, because you do not want to be friends any more), and Emily Post agrees. However, most of the advice is for after you’ve received an invitation, and assumes you have slightly-fond feelings toward the person sending it.
Jaya: I know this is why the “friendship fadeout” is bad, so let that be a lesson to us all. Even though I’ll probably keep doing it.
Victoria: Man, this type of person will just not give up. I have someone like that from High School. He just repeatedly tries to get in touch and I am not having it.
Jaya: I think the lowest-impact option is to just send your address (plainly, with no “oooh congrats, so exciting!” or anything), and decline the invitation when it comes. As much as you might want to, a wedding is not the time to have the “actually we’re not friends” talk. Though, if this behavior continues post-wedding, that may have to happen.
Victoria: I’d also consider not sending a gift or card. Although, that might be a good reason to advocate emailing a “thanks but no thanks” since a wedding invitation generallllly requires a gift.
Jaya: A gift is a gift, not a requirement!
Victoria: Yesss, but in our culture there’s an idea that you should send a gift even if you can’t attend. The couple shouldn’t EXPECT it, but it’s a firm Miss Manners rule that invitation=gift.
Jaya: Yeah but that’s why we’re here, to discuss and dispel these rules. Anyway, I do think not sending a gift sends the intended hint that the friendship is over.
Victoria: Though it’s less strong if the person hasn’t been picking up on these hints in the first place.
Jaya: Right? It feels weird to say this, but in our modern times I think de-friending on Facebook is a pretty accepted hint.
Victoria: Back to the fadeout. I think it’s good for friends who are far away who you don’t want to keep in touch with. As much as it’d be nice to end things cleanly, those sorts of conversations can be really hurtful. But if it’s someone you see all the time, a direct conversation needs to happen.
Jaya: I don’t know about living far away. I have a lot of friends from college who live in different cities now, and sometimes we won’t talk for a while, but then we’ll see each other and it’s like nothing has changed. I think it would be easy to mistake an intentional fadeout with “oh we just don’t talk sometimes but we’re still close.”
Victoria: Yeah, although I think the de-Facebooking would be a pretty big hint. Ideally you can tell the difference with a fadeout in that the person will just not respond to you.