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My friends excluded me from their amazing journey. That I have to do? – UnlistedNews

I am part of a group of friends with four other women. They’re going on an amazing international trip and they didn’t invite me. I have traveled successfully with one of the women and less successfully with the tour organizer. (That led to some distance between us, which we have since mended.) I am really hurt and deflated by my exclusion. I love to travel, but my partner can’t afford trips like this, so I rely on my friends as travel companions. I also like and respect these women, even if they are not my closest friends. But this experience makes me feel like I’m not important to any of them. What is my best move? Talk to the organizer? Confront each of them? Or walk away from the group?


I know you want a specific result here: board that plane in a group of five. However, that is probably not happening. (Sorry. I know it hurts to be left out.) But if you look beyond this journey, you may see other opportunities and, more importantly, decide that these women are still your friends.

Logistically, traveling as a foursome is much easier than as a fivesome. Tables for four are more common in restaurants than tables for five (which are actually tables for six). Four people can fit in a taxi and share two hotel rooms. Also, traveling well with other people often comes down to personal rhythms: when do we like to wake up? How active are we? How much alone time do we need? However, these factors, and even your bad trip with the organizer, say little about the quality of relationships. Your friends’ (possibly pragmatic) decision is not evidence of displeasure.

Now, you say that your partner cannot afford international travel. So why not plan an amazing national trip? You also hint at closer friends. Hello? They sound promising. There’s certainly nothing wrong with telling international travelers that you’d like to join them next time. Honor your hurt feelings, but don’t overdo this episode, okay?

I’m planning our annual backyard party to celebrate my children’s birthdays: my son turns 7 and my daughter turns 4. We’re inviting a dozen families. I would like to inform our guests about our 529 college savings plans for children and the option to contribute to them as an alternative to buying gifts. My kids don’t need any more toys, and it pains me to see a $50 toy go ignored when that same $50 could help pay their tuition one day. Is there a polite way to inform guests about this?


I applaud your foresight: planning for the escalating costs of college with a tax-advantaged 529 savings plan is a smart move. Let me also point out that I am not the party czar. You can make this call yourself. In your place, I would probably feel comfortable telling family and very close friends about the accounts.

But I don’t think a toddler’s backyard birthday party is the right place to solicit contributions to college savings plans. I may be out of step here: I wouldn’t give the kids $50 gifts either. (Put me a book or a fun craft project at $20 each.) Personally, I’d save the 529 option for more momentous occasions: elementary school graduations and other rites of passage.

I remember when waiting for friends to look at a stack of vacation photos was considered rude. Isn’t it just as rude, if not more so, to shove an iPhone in a friend’s face to get them to look at vacation photos? “Look at the lobby of our hotel in Naples!” “Look what we had for lunch in Rome!” How do I get out of this situation without ruining friendships?


I wish this annoyance was limited to travel photos! I’m frequently shown photos of ordinary kitchen renovations, run-of-the-mill lunches, and kids at all the activities. (And don’t forget the down time while friends search through their camera rolls for the perfect shot.) Still, criticizing people for their common behavior, even politely, is rarely successful.

This is my script: “Please put your phone away! I look at screens all day. I’m interested in you. Tell me more about your trip. You can send me the photos later.” Note: Sometimes it works.

A friend of ours asks, every time we invite him, if he can bring his cat. He is real? We don’t want his cat in our house. How bad is it that we say no every time? We can’t honestly say we have allergies, but we will if he helps.


Do you mean bring the cat in a cage? I have never heard of bringing a free-range cat to a social event. Still, the ordinary rules apply: As hosts, you have the right to create your guest list. It can be hard to turn down your friend repeatedly, but you’re not doing anything wrong. Just say, “We’d rather not have your cat.” Even if your friend declines your invitations, everyone will live to purr another day.

For help with your awkward situation, send a question to SocialQ@nytimes.com, to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip On twitter.


Sara Marcus
Sara Marcushttps://unlistednews.com
Meet Sara Marcus, our newest addition to the Unlisted News team! Sara is a talented author and cultural critic, whose work has appeared in a variety of publications. Sara's writing style is characterized by its incisiveness and thought-provoking nature, and her insightful commentary on music, politics, and social justice is sure to captivate our readers. We are thrilled to have her join our team and look forward to sharing her work with our readers.


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