How to respond to "We Missed You"

On occasion, I’ll skip an event that a lot of friends or associates are going to–not something I’ve committed to, just something I didn’t feel like doing. All too often, I get a round of “We missed you at the party” or “We missed you at the concert” in the days afterward. What’s the most polite way to respond to this? Granted, if there really was a conflict that one had to attend to, that makes it easy–“Sorry, I was at my parents’ anniversary,” etc. What I’m looking for is a polite way to answer (without lying) if you just didn’t care to attend, especially if you’re pretty sure the person who “missed” you is just trying to guilt you into coming to events you don’t want to be a party to. Any ideas, other than that I just shouldn’t give a damn what people think?

I always reply with “Wow, I didn’t even know you were aiming at me!”
This usually stops the conversation right there.

I usually make a comment about buying a better scope.

Redirect the conversation to now, with something like, “Well, it’s good to see you today!” and then go off and running talking about the weather or asking what they’re up to or whatever. Act like you’re totally ignoring the implication that anything could have possibly been “wrong” about you not being there.

“I hope you had a good time. Tell me about it.”

Did you lead this person to believe you might attend? Hum and Ha at the invitation, instead of being open and frank? Because that would make a difference for me.

If you said/implied you’d attend, then their words are a way of chastising you for not letting them know, in advance, that you couldn’t make it. Maybe they had seats reserved, food ordered, overlooked inviting someone else because they thought you’d be there, etc.

If none of that applies, you were up front and direct, or it was an open house sort of invitation, than just smile and say, “I’m sorry I couldn’t make it, maybe next time!”, and leave it at that.

Isn’t there a famous quotation to the effect that a truly secure person can turn down a dinner invitation without making an excuse?

I just say, with a big smile, “Aw, thanks, how nice of you to think of me! How was it?” And move on from there. No one can make me feel guilty if I don’t want to.

“Sorry, I had other commitments” (with a case of beer and an epic Civ 4 marathon).

“I was there, you assholes.”

“You know how it is - had to carve out some me time for my own sanity.” Then start twitching.

Jim and I have been in a social group for eight or nine years now. One couple that we have hung out with umpteen times keeps introducing themselves to us. I think I’m just going to put it down to premature dementia - we’re not that invisible! :mad:

ETA: The kicker is that this couple is two of the most boring people in the world - our private nickname for them is “The Stiffs.”

Occasional white lies are good for social lubrication. Some examples:

“And I’m sorry I couldn’t be there.”
“Thanks! I would have liked to be there.”
“I missed you guys too. How was it?”

Say something that implies that you would have liked to at least see the people in question, 'cause that will make them feel good.

Don’t state that you had other committments or whatever. That’s obvious and leaves the door open for further guilt trips.

Unless it was something really concrete and important, in which case you can use it for an excuse. “Thanks. But I had to go to my brother’s wedding/funeral/sentencing hearing.”

“It’s nice to be missed!”
“Sorry I couldn’t make it. Did you have fun?”
“Did Uncle Bert get drunk and barf on you again?”

Maybe they can’t remember your names and are desperate for a clue?

Thanks. The concert was terrific. We missed you too.

Maybe, “What day was that again?”

Is the implication that they are, in fact, trying to make you feel guilty? I have said the same thing to many people with no ulterior motive, it is simply a fact. I invited my aunt to my son’s birthday party. She couldn’t make it. She is a close family member, funny, and great to be around. I think the party would have been all the better if she were there. I and the others there really did “miss her”. I think it is nice that they missed you. If it makes you feel better (and less guilty) maybe they could tell you, “We had a great time last night, thank God you were not there, you would have totally brought everyone down!” or “You are so insignificant that even though you were invited, we immediately ceased to think of you at all after that point and let’s be honest, you wouldn’t have contributed to the feel-good vibe anyway.” I think being missed is better. :slight_smile:

One of the things you have to learn as an adult that took me forever is how to stick to your ground. So you CAN say “I had other committments.” You do it like this:

“We missed you at X event!”
“Sorry, I had other committments.” Smile, and shut up. You can ask how it was, if you like.
If they are rude and ask you what you were doing, you kind of half drop the smile, look them in the eye, and say “Personal things.” Then you give a brief fleeting smile to soften it.

I’ve gotten pretty good at being direct with people. I myself will take the extra step and say “It’s private” or “I really don’t want to talk about it” if people keep pushing.

You just have to learn how to say no politely. Best lesson you can ever learn.

“I just wasn’t feeling up to it.”

Or. If it is a work thing:

“I have to see you fuckers all day 5 days a week, what makes you think I want to hang out with you after work?”

Great advice, folks. Special kudos to Anaamika.

And no, Elbows, I’ve not been leading anyone on. Usually it’s a case of people “working” on me to do something I don’t want to do, then giving me attitude after the fact when I do not in fact do that thing which I have politely yet firmly stated I would not do.