Life Advice


Health & Spirit

I need advice on how to handle an unanswered invite

Carolyn Hax on

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Hi, Carolyn:

How can I gracefully put a deadline on getting an answer to an invitation? I'm uncomfortable having an invitation hanging open indefinitely, or hearing back at the last minute after I've switched gears.

Say I want to go to a movie or a hike on Saturday. It's happened that on Tuesday, I'll text Friend A and ask her if she wants to join me on Saturday. If I don't hear anything back for a couple of days, I assume she's not interested, and by Thursday I want to try Friend B, C or D until I get Saturday plans lined up.

Do I follow up with Friend A first -- which feels like pestering, since it's an unsolicited invitation that's being ignored -- or do I move on with the assumption that I'm free to ask around?

And also ... what do I say if Friend A responds on Saturday and says she wants to hike, but I've already gotten a commitment from Friend B, or have changed my mind about how to spend the day?


Thank you for any help you can give me! By the way, this happens with very good people, so I trust it's not game-y. I just want an answer one way or another, or to free myself from my own invitation.

-- Freeing Myself

I think it's fine to move on with other people or other plans after a day or so of not hearing back -- though it depends, of course, on the amount of planning something involves and therefore how inconvenient it would be to remain in limbo.

If you then hear from Friend A, after you have moved on to something else, say, "When I didn't hear back from you, I assumed you weren't interested and made other plans," and immediately suggest something else: "How about next Saturday for a hike?" That is, assuming your patience hasn't run out with this particular friend. You are not a hostage to anyone's bad manners.


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