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Advice: My neighbors didn’t come to my party

Plus, how to reclaim your belongings from roommates.

Need advice dealing with a difficult situation? Send your questions to Miss Conduct.

My wife and I recently decided to throw a party and invite, among others, people from the neighborhood that we have never had over to our house in the 26 years we’ve lived here. Not only did many of the neighbors not come, they never even responded to our RSVP. What do I say, if anything, to them when I see them in the street? To not even respond seems rude. Do I call them out or let it go?

F.S. / Swampscott

I’m so sorry that happened! Under no circumstances start “calling out” your neighbors, though. What would you hope to gain by that, for one thing? Not their unforced friendship, that’s for sure. It seems to me that what we’ve got here is failure to communicate. Your neighbors may have assumed that you were simply issuing a blanket come-one-come-all simply to be polite, so that people wouldn’t see the party and feel excluded. People may have failed to show or RSVP, in other words, not because they devalued you or your party, but because they didn’t think their presence would really matter to you. That’s what I’d think if someone I’d seen in the neighborhood for years suddenly invited me to a backyard bash. Which means that “Hey, we missed you!” is the way to go. Don’t scold — let the Party Ghosts know that yeah, you really did mean them on that invitation.

In the future, it’s not a bad idea to do a confirmation e-mail/text/call a week out for events, for folks who haven’t RSVP’d. No, we shouldn’t have to. But everyone’s more distracted and less reliable than they used to be, so we might as well adjust for it.


I’m leaving my apartment after over a decade to move in with my partner. I’ve been there longer than any of my roommates and most of the common furniture and kitchen stuff is mine. I’m starting to get concerned that my current roommates will find it financially burdensome to replace it all. These are my things, and it might create problems if I leave them and need them, but my previous struggles to replace exiting roommates is making me feel obligated. What’s appropriate?


P.R. / Waltham

This is 100 percent a “Them Problem,” but I’m not going to give you a hard time about your self-sacrificing impulse. You’re empathizing and seeing your own younger self in your soon-to-be-former roomies. And brains are weird! We are far from rational creatures, and biased toward maintaining the status quo and avoiding losses. It’s illogical to feel that you’re taking something away, but understandable.

The most important thing is to communicate ASAP about what’s going with you, so they can make plans. Roommate years are like dog years, though, you’re an ancient and unchanging institution in the minds of your roomies and they may assume many of your things are informally provided with the apartment or left behind by earlier occupants.

Miss Conduct is Robin Abrahams, a writer with a PhD in psychology.