Social media feeds resentment for friend who missed the party

Harlan Cohen

Dear Harlan,

I had what I thought was a close relationship with a friend I’ve known for years. She recently turned 40 and hosted a small gathering of people. I don’t know who organized the event; I only found out about the get together because the rest of the group posted pictures on Facebook. I was surprised that I wasn’t included. I would have loved to have been there, but I didn’t receive an invitation. I don’t know if this was intentional or deliberate, but I can only assume it was deliberate. What should I say to her?  Is there a polite way to ask about being excluded? How can I not harbor resentment toward my friend?



Dear Excluded,

The internet is a factory of assumptions, misunderstandings and hurt feelings. The only thing you really know is what you saw on social media, that’s hardly reliable. You’re making broad, sweeping assumptions based on limited information. Yes, getting excluded is painful. It fills you with resentment, which makes it hard to see the facts.  Here’s the only real fact: You have no idea what happened, or how it happened. Either you weren’t invited, were accidentally overlooked by whoever planned the event, or what you saw wasn’t a planned party. A family member could have put the party together and not included you. You could have seen pictures from an event that wasn’t a party or was a past party. You could be looking at an event where the host surprised her with a cake. You just don’t know enough about the situation to be hurt. If you want to be classy, get her a birthday card and take her to lunch. You even could get her a gift. You can mention that you saw her online and hope it was a fun birthday.

This gives her a chance to explain what happened. There isn’t a good reason to mention that you weren’t invited or that you had hurt feelings. Celebrate the relationship you have with her, and assume that you don’t know the truth.


Dear Harlan,

I’m in my 20s, and I’m spiritually drifting. I’ve wanted to date someone of the same faith, but I’m finding its hard to meet the right person. My family wants me to date someone who is of the same faith. I’m contemplating opening myself up to dating people of different religions. I have several friends in unhappy marriages who have married someone with the same faith. My parents say any person I date could become the person I marry.  How important is my faith?

Single and Struggling


Dear Single and Struggling,

I can tell that it’s still very important to you. Don’t give up yet. If you want to find someone of the same faith, commit to living a life where you are aligned with people who share your values, beliefs and faith. Make it intentional. Work as part of an association that has a religious mission. Go on a trip that has a religious spin. Volunteer, attend events and surround yourself with single people who can fix you up. Look online, too.  Make sure you have a dating profile on a religious-affiliated site for singles. Be willing to travel. Get set up. Once you’ve done everything you can do to find someone of the same faith, open yourself up to more options. Appreciate that dating takes effort, and that dating someone of the same faith takes even more time, work and effort.


Harlan is author of “Getting Naked: Five Steps to Finding the Love of Your Life (While Fully Clothed and Totally Sober)” (St. Martin’s Press). Write Harlan at harlan(at) or visit online: All letters submitted become property of the author. Send paper to Help Me, Harlan!, 3501 N. Southport Ave., Suite 226, Chicago, IL 60657.


© Harlan Cohen 2017

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