Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? Someone You Don’t Know. Surprise!

December 22, 2011 | By | Comments (5)

“Occasionally, when I invite friends to lunch or dinner, they invite another person along without speaking to me about it first,”  a reader named Carrie wrote recently.

“At times, I have something personal I want to share or discuss,” Carrie wrote, adding that she wonders if it is rude to invite someone else without asking. “Or is this the new social norm?”

It is polite to alert you, ahead of time, if an unexpected companion will be joining you. That said, I doubt your friends meant any harm. It’s more likely that they are so comfortable with you that they assume anyone they’d enjoy spending time with is someone you’d like to meet, too. Bringing a tag-a-long is a compliment to what your friends think of as your easy going, pleasant personality. If they considered you a high-strung hothouse flower who needs constant coddling, believe me, they wouldn’t introduce a stranger into the social mix. And if the setting is a casual lunch break at work, your friends may think they’re doing you a favor by introducing you and another colleague to one other.

The way to let friends know that you’d like to spend time only with them on specific occasions—perhaps because you have something personal to talk about— is to broadcast your preference ahead of time. When plans for an upcoming dinner are being discussed, say, “I’m looking forward to an evening with friends. Sometimes it seems as if close pals are the only people I want to see — and this is one of those times.”

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