Real Simple’s Modern Manners columnist answers a reader question.
Q. I have become close with several of my boyfriend’s friends, and I was invited to a baby shower for one of them. I would love to go, but is there such a thing as a courtesy invite? I already RSVP’d, but I don’t want to show up and have her say, “Oh, we didn’t really expect you to come.”
A. While I applaud you for being supersensitive to the possibility that you might be overstepping your welcome, I think it’s unwarranted. Unless you’ve noticed some other glaring clues to suggest that this woman doesn’t want you there (for example, a note attached to your invitation saying, “We know you can’t come―we’ll miss you!”), take the invitation at face value and go knowing you have as much a right to be there as anyone else. As for whether there’s such a thing as a “courtesy invite,” that’s another story. While I’d like to think that invitations are sent out only with the most sincere of intentions, of course, we all know there are exceptions. Most of us have invited people to functions purely out of obligation, or because they’re part of our social circle and we don’t want them to feel excluded. Still, when you’re on the receiving end, you have to assume every invitation is genuine. Otherwise, we could all easily wind up in paranoid spirals of insecurity and never go to another party again.