Shabbat Scheduling Leads to Missed Opportunities

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Dear Miriam,

I have a friend who frequently invites me over to her house for Shabbat dinners, but somehow she only catches me at bad times or times when I have other commitments. I try and counter-invite her periodically instead of just saying no, but she never gets back to me about whether she is coming, even after a text, call and email. What else can I do?

Signed,

Shabbat RSVPs

Dear RSVPs,

It’s incredibly frustrating as a host to try to plan for a Shabbat meal and never quite be able to pin down your guest list. It’s also frustrating as a friend to feel ignored or rebuffed. I suspect that somehow both of you are feeling some of both of these things as your schedules never seem to line up.

I commend you for trying so persistently to pin down your friend, but for whatever reason, your methods aren’t working. Maybe you two have different schedules, so she’s never around when you call. Maybe she doesn’t have a smart phone, so she’s not quick to answer emails. Maybe she hosts big, informal meals where she never knows who is coming, so she doesn’t understand your urgency about responding to invitations.

Whatever it is, I would imagine that there is some larger divergence in communication styles between the two of you that is not only related to Shabbat invitations. Next time you want to invite her over, reach out to her more than a week in advance about something else, and see if you can connect through a more general exchange. Then, you can ask her two things: 1) What is the best way to reach you? 2) Is there a Shabbat coming up that would work for you to come over?

You can’t make someone invite you when it’s convenient for you, you can’t make someone write you back, and you can’t make someone join you for Shabbat. You can continue to reach out, but you also can’t be too invested in the reply, since I suspect that all of this trying to track her down is actually taking a toll on how much you care about the friendship.

If nothing else works, next time you send an invite, include the line, “If I don’t hear back from you by Wednesday at noon, I’ll assume you’re not coming.” Then at least you’ve let yourself off the hook from waiting for a reply.

Be well,

Miriam