Declining an invite - do you feel you must give a reason?

I’m not talking about a wedding invitation or an audience with the pope. I’m talking about everyday, casual invitations to watch the game, come over for a swim, attend an after hours work gathering, or come to little Susie’s birthday party.

Someone I know very well absolutely cannot turn down such an invite without providing an explanation. Put another way, without *lying *about why we won’t be attending.

My position is this: I am obligated to communicate whether or not I will attend. I am under no obligation to explain or attempt to justify my non-appearance.

Her answer is usually something like this: “Well, we’ll see. I think we’re going to Edgar’s bagpipe recital that day, and there is probably an after-party with snacks and drinks. That probably won’t end until 9:00, and I also think Hector is coming down with something. So, we’ll let you know.”

Keep in mind that this is all said knowing fuck well we are not attending and are likely going to stay home that evening and catch up on Better Call Saul.

My answer: “I’m sorry, we won’t be able to make it, but thanks.”

So, when declining an invite, do you feel it necessary to provide an explanation along with your answer?


Especially if it’s going to be a “bad” excuse, better to just skip it.

Maybe it depends on how close you are with the person though.


I don’t feel obligated to give an a reason, but I often do, especially if it something I would have liked to attend. “I would have loved to attend, but I have concert tickets that night.”

Depending on who asks, I will give the honest reason why I don’t want to go: I’m tired, I’m in a funk, etc. or I will just say, Sorry, can’t make it.

“I’m sorry but we can’t make it.” That should cover you.

If they persist, you could always say, “We’ve already made other plans.” You don’t have to tell them what the other plans are. Even if the other plans are merely never, ever getting together with whoever, ever again.

I mean, you have made other plans. Catching up on Better Call Saul, that’s a plan.

Obligated, no.
But most of our invites come from friends, of the “Let’s get together and grill dinner” sort.
For those, I’ll happily tell them why. They pretty much know what’s going on in our lives anyway.

I usually don’t. If it is work related, and I get pushback, then I understand that it is highly suggested that I attend.

Miss Manners (Judith Martin) says you do not have to give a reason. If pressed for a reason, you can say, “I’m sorry, but it’s just impossible,” and don’t elaborate further.

No, no obligation at all and I’d never make anything up. Telling somebody a “we’ll let you know” instead of an immediate “no” is just messing them about, IMO. Why should they have you as a “maybe” because you don’t have the nerve to tell them you’re a “no”?

I’m overly honest. "No, I will not be attending because I hate bagpipes even when done professionally. Listening to your fuck trophy slaughter what is already terrible sounds like the worst thing ever. I might meet you for drinks, but will probably leave when hector shows up because of that…unpleasantness…that happened that one time. Thanks for the invite, but please try to remember my interests before bothering to invite me on future outings.

Also, dont call me. Just text."


If you’re close to them or you like them, you always have the option to say more. But you never have to.

Really? Remember your interests? Text, don’t call? My reply would be “ok” and then delete your contact info.

If you explain once, then you’re seeing a precedent. Sooner or later, you’ll get backed into a corner.

Well, I was going to write a response to this thread, but then I realized I’m pretty busy checking my daughter’s homework. You know, the summer stuff before school starts again. It’s not that I don’t think this thread is interesting, in fact, it jumped out at me! But my son also needs to have me help me with a science project and I’m not sure we’ll get done in time.

Nah. I just tell people I’m sorry and that I can’t do it.

You are taking all this much too literally. This is social grease we’re talking about, not investigative journalism.

The people who do this are trying to differentiate their refusal from a snub. Going to the trouble of arranging a social event and then being refused is quite painful. It also leaves them wondering whether they should stop inviting you to things. By providing the excuse, you are signaling “I really would like to, but I’ve got X going on this time.” It’s just a social convention that maintains the relationship.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m an introvert and large gatherings are not my cup of tea. So I’ll just give the truth most of the time “Don’t count on me, but I’m very grateful for the invitation.” I do go for an hour or so if I can, because I know what it’s like to throw a party and have a very sparse showing. But it’s hard for me.

I think giving a ridiculous convoluted blah blah story “excuse” and leaving the person dangling is extremely rude. Not wanting to come is acceptable to me; lying to me and messing me about would get the relationship severed, not telling me truthfully ASAP that you aren’t going to come.

No obligation. However, note that if you repeatedly turn down invitations from the same person with no reason given, you are not likely to keep getting invitations from that person. Which is maybe OK with you if you keep turning them down.

I’m usually Ok giving just the, “sorry, I can’t make it but thanks for the invite” response. However, I have one particular coworker who is constantly trying to arrange after-work drinks and dinners. If I decline, he will demand to know the reason. And it’s not uncommon for him to say, “well, how about Thursday instead?” And so on.

Yeah, I usually go with “Sorry, I have a previous obligation.”

I have heard people I know talk about going to an event they dread “because they have to”. I have never understood this. An invitation is not a summons. If you just don’t want to go then decline.

Just don’t say yes and then don’t show up, especially to anything catered. Those are the real monsters.

There are some events you have to attend that you don’t want to. Some are for work: It’s very strongly suggested in my work group to attend the summer social and the holiday party. No, there’s not a gun to your head but missing both of the parties consistently will get you labeled as ‘not a team player’ and is a career killer.

Also, sometimes you just have to do things to keep the peace with family/spouse/bf/gf. Suffering through a dinner is better than endless guilt trips.