The Etiquette of FOMO

FOMO (fear of missing out) is real. I know a lot of people like to say that it’s just another thing millennials or whatever generation coming up behind us likes complaining about, but it’s absolutely a thing. Two generations ago, if your friends went out without you, you either 1. wouldn’t know about it until afterward or 2. maybe would feel a little hurt but could easily ignore it. Now, often those events you’re left out of are flaunted in your face on social media, or just with people talking about them because they forget it’s sort of rude to talk about shared experiences if not everyone in the circle has shared it. It’s easier than ever to see exactly how much fun everyone is having without you, and your dumb brain naturally concludes that they’re having that much fun specifically because you’re not there. Quit it, brain!

Anyway, let’s talk about how to deal with it, both from the perspective of the person involved and the person feeling left out.

  1. Try to include everyone: This comes with a lot of caveats. Obviously in a perfect world everyone would be welcome and present everywhere, except that wouldn’t be a perfect world because that’d be fucking exhausting. You know when you go to a big party and you’re like “that was fun and now I need to wait a month before I interact with that many people again”? TOO BAD, NO WAITING PERIOD. This is all to say sometimes you just want to hang out with one or two or five people instead of every one of your friends at once, and that’s reasonable. But if you’re planning a party and invite everyone except one person in your friend group, that sends a message, so try to at least keep groups together. This changes if there’s limited space, but you know, do your best.
  2. Ask yourself if you really wanted to be invited:  If you’re feeling left out, try to figure out if it’s because it’s really something you would have enjoyed, or if you just want to be included. Maybe you weren’t invited specifically because your friends knew you wouldn’t like that particular activity, or thought you were busy and didn’t want to make you feel overwhelmed with choices.
  3. Don’t flaunt: This is tricky, because obviously you have the right to post as many picturesque mountain views or selfies with all your friends as you want, but if you know someone wasn’t invited who would have liked to be invited, or has a tendency to feel left out if they couldn’t make it to something, maybe take it easy. Because it is hard to see all your friends enjoying themselves somewhere if you didn’t know about it.
  4. Don’t whine: The temptation to call someone out and go “why wasn’t I invited?” is strong, but generally it is not a good look. Instead, talk to your friends after the fact if you’re feeling raw about it. There may be a reason why you weren’t invited (limited space, other relationship dynamics that have nothing to do with you, email problems), or you could use it as an opportunity to say it’s something you’d be interested in next time around.
  5. Plan your own shit! The easiest way to avoid FOMO is to come up with your own plans. I also think the more people who make plans, the more people understand how tricky it can be. If you email 15 friends, and 5 are gone that weekend, do you change plans for them or forge ahead? If your apartment can only fit 6 for dinner, how do you do it so no one feels left out? It’s hard! And there are no right answers but planning at least makes everyone a little more empathetic to the invitation process.
  6. Mix it up: One great social habit to pick up is to be mixing up which and how many of your friends you interact with, so it doesn’t have a chance to turn into one stagnant “group.” Of course big group parties and outings are great, but plan smaller things too. Get dinner with friends A and B, then next week see a movie with B, C and D, and later invite A and C over for drinks. That way you set a standard of not everyone being invited to everything all the time. People have a chance to get used to seeing their friends doing stuff with out them, knowing that it wasn’t because they weren’t missed, but because sometimes you just hang out in different configurations.
  7. You’re literally missing out on everything all the time: Time to get zen about it! Your friends are probably Gchatting right now. You might be Gchatting or texting or Snapchatting with them too, but they’re having their own interactions every second of the day that have nothing to do with you. And they may even be talking about you! Friends talk about friends, and let’s face it, they’ve probably noticed that weird thing you do (you know the thing). If that makes you uncomfortable, learn to live with it, because just because people you know see each other without you or talk about you when you’re not there doesn’t mean they don’t love you or want to see you. It means they’re people with their own lives and schedules and relationships that naturally look different than yours.

But if it makes you feel better totally brag those vacation Instagrams.

Do I Have to Hang Out With My Friend’s Awful Partner?

Advice does not apply for significant others that are actual demons [Via aPublic Domain Review]

Advice does not apply for significant others that are actual demons [Via Public Domain Review]

We got this question on Twitter:

If my bf and I want to go out with a friend of ours, how can we not invite his gf who we don’t like?

(Reminder to send us your etiquette questions on Twitter @ucourtesy or email us at

Victoria: Okay, and she followed up that she cheats on him and stuff too, making her legit bad and not just like, annoying. So I think this is a verrrrry tricky situation where in general, it’s going to be REALLY hard to avoid hanging out with a friends significant other.

Jaya: Absolutely.

Victoria: Especially for a couple because you can’t then frame it as “boys night” or whatever.

Jaya: Yeah, if it’s single friends that’s one thing, but saying “I can bring my SO and you can’t” is unfair. The only way I see it sort of working is if the three of them were all friends before, so it can be like “the three of us” instead of “couple and a friend.”

Victoria: Yeah, which is sounds like they might have been.

Jaya: But still tricky

Victoria: Yeah, I think you could do it OCCASIONALLY but not every time.

Jaya: And if he says “can I bring my girlfriend” you either have to say yes, or say no and risk him being really mad.

Victoria: Yeah. I mean, one way might be to get tickets to something and have a third and have there be no way to get a 4th. But that’s a lot of hoops.

Jaya: Yes, and then you risk him being like “not without my girlfriend” if it’s something she would normally wanna do/if she wants to be involved.

Victoria: Yeah. I mean, the one thing you could do if you are brave and talk to him. And be like, we love you and want to hang out with you, but we can’t stand Girlfriend. But you take a serious risk of losing your friend.

Jaya: Though I think there is an underlying thing here–if you see someone legitimately treating your friend badly, like cheating on them, do you tell them?

Victoria: I think you can! And should.

Jaya: Only if you’re really really sure.

Victoria: I mean, again, you do risk them ending your friendship. Yeah, for sure, you have to be absolutely sure.

Jaya: Also like, you know it’s cheating and not that they just have an open relationship or something.  Because if you’re like “she made out with this guy!” and he’s like “I know and it’s fine” then you’re in the place of being a dick.

Victoria: And like, if he knows about it and forgives her, then there’s also not much you can do there.

Jaya: Exactly. It’s tricky, and I think you can only really bring up not liking her if he asks first. And even then, be gentle, say something like “I’m not her biggest fan, I’m concerned with the way she treats you because of xyz” but if he says he wants to be with her say you support him and just want him to be happy.

Victoria: I mean, hopefully, he would also read social cues and realize he’s not getting as many invitations as he used to

Jaya: Yes. I think you can slyly keep inviting him to stuff and making him ask if he can bring his girlfriend, if you want to be passive aggressive about it, which I always do

Victoria; Hahahahah, love it.



I Thought We Weren’t Friends, But I’m Invited To The Wedding

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.


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.

Is This Gift A Ploy For An Invitation?


Could it be…a passive-aggressive gesture?!?!?!

Dear Uncommon Courtesy,

One of our wedding guests wanted to bring a +1 to the wedding. Initially we said no, but the guest then got us multiple nice gifts off our registry (Le Creuset, Lenox crystal…). Should we now say “yes”?


Almost at Venue Capacity


First of all, your guest is being extremely rude in requesting a +1 to your wedding. Never ever should a guest ask the host if they can bring someone to a formal event such as a wedding. We have established this. As to the gifts, it’s obviously rude to bribe someone to get them to do something you want them to do. Since this is so obviously rude, you should just assume the best and take the gifts as a simple sign of generosity.


Victoria: So this invitation bribery question…

Jaya: Yeah. Oy.

Victoria: Right!

Jaya: Though I mean really, fuck no you don’t have to invite anyone, right?

Victoria: Yeah, of course. I mean, there’s actually nothing more to say than that, except discussing feelings about it.

Jaya: Hahaha yeah. I can see where the guilt comes from, absolutely. If a stranger gets you a crystal vase worth hundreds of dollars, a nicely worded thank you note seems a little lame in return.

Victoria: Haha, a little bit!

Jaya: (My thank you notes are worth a million crystal vases.)

Victoria: Gifts have DEFINITELY gotten out of hand, but I also get it for older people who are all excited about young love and are feeling a bit flush and really are just very generous.

Jaya: Yeah, that can make sense. And that is what everyone should assume is the motive, because that should be the motive!

Victoria: Yep! And in like 90% of cases it probably is.

Jaya: I’m sure there are some sneaky people out there who think they can buy their way into a good party, but not many.

Victoria: Maybe the guest is even buying extra nice gifts to make up for their rudeness in asking! Best case scenarios!

Jaya: Yeah, and in general people need to consider their relationship to the couple. If you’re their best friend, go ahead and get them a nice gift. If you went to high school with the groom’s mom and keep in touch with her but haven’t seen her son since he was in grade school? A gift is probably not necessary, and will probably just make them feel uncomfortable and pressured to invite you.

Victoria: I think the only thing you can really do in this instance is accept the gift in the spirit of generosity in which it was offered and send a nice thank you note immediately. That’s it. What a mess.

Jaya: Yes. Write them a thank you note, figure out a way to use/return the gift, and if it’s a secret ploy for an invitation, that’s their problem, not yours.

Victoria: When in doubt, write a thank you note.

Wedding Invitations for the Guest

Make sure you know your stance on bells before RSVPing. (Via)

Make sure you know your stance on bells before RSVPing. (Via)

Welcome to our first how-to etiquette post! In this feature, we will be giving you a guideline for a basic etiquette situation. As these are guidelines, always take into account your situation and circumstances when applying them. If you have a tricky situation, write us and we will answer!

Wedding invitations have their own crazy etiquette (which we will definitely be talking about later on) that can be intimidating and confusing for the first time guest. There’s really formal language and it looks so fancy! And there are so many inserts and what’s this little stamped envelope? Should you be judging people based on their fonts? Let’s break it down:

Save The Dates

Save the Dates are sometimes sent out WAY in advance to let important people know the wedding date. They might be a cute card or a little magnet to stick on your fridge, or it might just be an email. They do not require a response, they are simply a notification of the wedding date and that you can expect an invitation. However, they are an opportunity for you to start planning. If the wedding is far away, you will want to start making travel arrangements. And if you know for a 100% fact that you won’t be able to make it on that date, let the couple know.


RSVP stands for respondez-sil-vous-plait, which is French for “please, please tell me if you are coming by the deadline posted here so I can give the caterer a headcount in time.”

There may be a little card included in the invitation with its own stamped envelope (though sometimes you will have to stamp it yourself!). On this card there might be a M___________. You are suppose to write Mr./Mrs./Miss/Ms. YourFirstName YourLastName on this line. Sometimes I forget the title in my excitement and just write my name. Or there might be a box for you to write the number of people. Just make sure your name is on there somewhere so they know exactly who it is that is coming. Send it back ASAP and definitely before the deadline if given.

If there is no response card, either call or email as directed- the important thing is to make sure they know you are or are not coming. You MUST still RSVP even if you are not coming.

If you want to be really fancy, you can write your response on your own stationery as follows (try to mirror the formatting and language from the invitation):

Ms. Honoria Snodgrass

accepts with pleasure

Mr. and Mrs. Doodly’s

kind invitation for

Saturday, May 31


Generally, the only people invited to the wedding are those listed on the invitation. If Mr. and Mrs. Chatterton are the only names on the invitation, they are not welcome to bring their 5 charming children. “Mr. and Mrs. Chatterton and Family” is sometimes used to invite the whole family, though it is nicer to write out the names of all the kids. Sometimes though, single people will be invited with an “and guest” or “plus one”. In these circumstances you are welcome to bring a date. DO NOT BRING A DATE IF YOU ARE NOT INVITED TO BRING ONE. Whew! Also, you can’t just write plus one or Ms. Tiddlywinks and Mr. Fancypants (Mr. Fancypants being your uninvited date) on your RSVP if you haven’t been given a plus one in the first place. You also cannot substitute an uninvited guest for an invited one who can’t make it- wedding invitations are not write-in ballots.

Inserts and the Wedding Website

Often an invitation will come with a bunch of inserts of information. There might be directions and hotel info or registry info. There might even be a little card with the groom’s parent’s names (this is very old fashioned and unlikely- it is used when his parent’s names aren’t on the invitation so that their side of friends and family will be reminded of who the groom is).

Nowadays, more people are putting this information on their wedding website and they will either send the address along with the invitation or will announce it or email it to you some other way.

Do I have to keep the invitation?

No! Keep it handy until the wedding so you will have the information about the time and location, but after that feel free to discard or keep as you please.