When friends disappoint

You organize a gathering, but only one friend shows up

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I spent hours creating invitations for friends to join me for a recent musical performance. I followed up with personalized email confirmations. I kept a lively Facebook group going, too. Out of 35 RSVPs, only one friend showed up. I can’t describe the terrible despair I feel. Do I not have any true friends? They all knew how important this performance was to me. Why didn’t they come through for me?

Your deep disappointment is understandable. But please don’t make this situation about you. People are more fickle than ever when it comes to following through on their word. Few grasp that an RSVP is a commitment. So be grateful for the one person who did show up as promised.

Consider having a brief phone call with each friend who missed your show. Describe how it felt to share your musical gifts and the audience’s response to your performance. Explain how much it meant to you to see that they were interested in attending. Ask if something came up that stopped them from joining you. Let them know, in a loving way, that you missed seeing them that day. Take care not to make anyone feel guilty.

It’s become more common for people to live according to their emotional whims. Some friends may not have attended simply because they weren’t feeling it. Living primarily according to our emotions makes for mercurial behavior and lots of disappointment. Accepting this reality will help you strengthen your resilience—and show up for others.

My stepfather stopped talking to me after I criticized his girlfriend’s attire at a funeral. She was wearing a pink satin dress. I said she was dressed for a high school dance. She burst into tears. My stepfather told me to “F--k off.” I left him a voice mail explaining how disturbing it was to see his girlfriend dressed to party at a somber affair. He did not return my call and blocked my number. I don’t understand why he can’t see my side of this. I was always his favorite when I was a child. What is the problem?

You may be uncomfortable expressing vulnerability and emotions such as sadness. So your mind rested within the safety of rules that governed funeral attire in the 20th century. By criticizing what your stepfather’s girlfriend wore, you attempted to position yourself above her. Perhaps you felt jealous of their affection for each other? It would be worthwhile to spend time unpacking your behavior to discover why you lashed out so harshly.

I recommend that you embrace a wider cultural perspective, too. In some countries, women do wear bright-colored dresses to funerals. Your stepfather’s girlfriend may be following a tradition outside of your own. Can your heart widen to celebrate differences?

Begin by centering your attention below the surface of things. What this woman wore to a funeral is not important. Her presence in support of your stepfather’s attendance is what you should be grateful for. Stop irritating them by leaving messages trying to prove that you were right. Apologize for being unkind and hurtful, and then move forward into a better version of yourself.

Meditation of the Week

“Time is a dressmaker specializing in alterations,” said romance fiction writer Faith Baldwin. Is it time for a nip and tuck of your judgmental attitudes?