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Soon, I'll be going on a trip for one weekend; "Friend B", who is planning this trip, wants to exclude "Friend A" who will likely ask me sometime during the trip what I'm up to.

"Friend B" reiterated to me to not tell "Friend A";

This same scenario happened in the past and I openly said to "Friend A" what I was doing at the time, which upset "Friend B".

This time, I would rather not conceal or lie about the situation. My goal: How can I tell "Friend A" about our future trip without upsetting "Friend B"?


About my friends and the ongoing situation: I'm only somewhat sure why "Friend B" has had an ongoing vendetta toward "Friend A", but I'll ask "Friend B" next time I'm with him why he wants to exclude "Friend A". They are very different people. "Friend B" has great conversational skills, is jokey, and thrives in group settings.

"Friend A" likely has Asperger's syndrome. He often misses social cues and interrupts the flow of conversation with something random. I believe that "Friend B" is impatient with these tendencies and thinks "Friend A" is often intentionally arrogant when he's really instead socially unaware in small ways.

"Friend A" did not get invited in the first place, as "Friend B" is organizing the trip. As suggested, I might just say I'm out of town. There is someone else in the trip group that "Friend B" has been playing tennis with more, so there is a decent chance he will have to say he's out of town too. I doubt he would have any issue saying it himself, but "Friend A" might try to pry deeper upon finding that we're both unavailable because we're both out of town. We could make sure that what we say is plausible and different, but I'm averse to that sort of thing which is why I've asked here.

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Perhaps it might help if you sit down with Friend B and explain that you are not comfortable with deception, and you do not feel it is your responsibility to help him hide the truth from Friend A. Tell him that you will not volunteer the information, but if asked directly you will not lie.

If Friend B wants to make plans that exclude Friend A, then he must bear the consequences of that decisions, not you. What he is doing is, essentially, trying to duck out of those consequences and shift some of the responsibility for the deception to you. If you agree to hide the truth from Friend A then you become complicit.

It sounds like Friend B may have a difficult time with confrontation. You may want to offer to help him break the news. Perhaps you could plan a casual get-together and bring the trip up, not in a confrontational way, but just as a matter of course. Friend B might be more comfortable dealing with the consequences of his choice if he has support.

You mentioned in your comment that you suspect Friend A might have Asperger's. I have several friends with Asperger's, and one thing I have noticed about them is that they are aware that they are not aware of social cues, and they are more open to having things pointed out to them than a non-Asperger's person might be. They don't seem to take it quite so personally. Having the situation come out in the open might take a lot of the pressure off all of you.

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    That's exactly what I was going to answer. Do not act as the middle man. If Friend B wants to exclude Friend A, they need to own their decision and the consequences of it. – Juliana Karasawa Souza Oct 3 at 7:49
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As I suggested in the comments, just say:

Hey, I'm out of town this weekend, I'll catch you up on Monday

You replied that:

"Friend A" might try to pry deeper upon finding that we're both unavailable because we're both out of town. We could make sure that what we say is plausible and different, but I'm averse to that sort of thing

What you're averse of is actually called as a "pro-social deception" or "white lie".

As Tinkeringbell said in a answer (great read):

These are lies that are designed to benefit the person lied to or lied about.

In a normal situation, if I was "Friend A", I wouldn't mind if you're both off for the weekend but in this scenario, a white lie will benefit "Friend B" and not making him upset about not being invited to the trip.

Furthermore, "Friend A" was never invited to the trip so you're not actually excluding him. It's just a weekend you're off so it's hardly a big deal and doesn't upset anyone.

As an additional note, if "Friend B" is organizing the trip, he is the one that should announce the trip to "Friend A" so you can ask him what to say to "Friend A" if you want to avoid "lying" to him.

I've tried this on some occasions where I have a group of friends where some people don't get entertained on going out for a drink (even if they accept to go) so we either tell them nothing or a simple sentence to show you're busy doing something else, again, just to benefit them.

  • What makes you think this lie is to protect friend A ? There's nothing in the question that indicates A was hurt the first time, or that this is the motivation of B. My read is it's more about B not being so proud about excluding A and protecting their own feelings/image, instead of protecting A's feelings. – MlleMei Oct 4 at 7:51
  • @MlleMei thanks for the input. Friend A wasn't hurt but upset the first time which might hurt him. While OP might think Friend A was excluded I disagree with that and it's pointless to make both upset and ending up not enjoying the trip. – CaldeiraG Oct 4 at 12:27
  • From post : "I openly said to "Friend A" what I was doing at the time, which upset "Friend B"." It's not A (the excluded) who was upset, but B (the one doing the exclusion), hence my first post :-) If B only wants to lie to protect his own feelings, while making OP very uncomfortable, is it still a simple white lie and is it still OK ? – MlleMei Oct 4 at 12:45
  • @MlleMei We don't know if A was upset from not being in the previous trip but I would say a bit hurt. B doesn't like confrontation so the OP is left out saying the truth or not. Is it okay to tell a white lie? Maybe, it's just a weekend so probably is not a big issue on my approach. Helping B to tell the truth to A falls off of the goal IMO. – CaldeiraG Oct 4 at 13:45
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    Obviously, what kind of trip this is matters, but the problems show up when the small white lie starts to blow up into "keeping our stories straight" or hiding photos whenever the excluded friend is around. Especially if the excluded friend does react badly, then the OP gets caught in the fire. I don't think the bar example quite works, as people tend to care less what you did last night than if they hear you went on a trip. – pboss3010 Oct 4 at 18:56
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How can I tell "Friend A" about our future trip without upsetting "Friend B"?

I don't know if you can achieve both. B has already told you he doesn't want A to know, and has already gotten upset when you did tell A about a previous trip.

Your best bet is to talk to B, and ask them why they don't want A to know. Maybe you'll hear how A has a tendency to have strong reactions (anger, hurt) when he's left out and you might decide to make more of an effort to hide the trip from A. Or you'll hear nothing convincing and plan on not lying. In either case, tell friend B how you plan on handling the situation. There's a lot of guessing and assumptions in your post, so it might help you (and B) to better understand where you're both coming from. But from what you're describing, it wouldn't surprise me that B doesn't want A to know because they're uncomfortable with their own reasons and doesn't want to be confronted about them.

I'm in a group of friends who see each other quite regularly. Some people mesh better which each other and some only spend time together because they have friends in common. So when someone organizes a party, or a holiday, they don't necessarily invite everyone. And this is normal ! This is not a sitcom where the same tight-knit group of friends do everything with the same group of people every time. When this happens, the unwritten rules everyone seems to follow is :

  • Don't talk about the party/outing/holiday when people who are not invited are there : this is not to hide and lie, it's just polite and avoid awkwardness
  • If the party/outing/holiday is brought up, don't make it more awkward by being awkward or making stuff up, quickly acknowledge the party/... and then change subjects, preferably something everyone enjoys

People are a little hurt when they're feeling left out, it's normal. But reasonable people get over that quickly. Being lied to however tends to rub people the wrong way, even more so if they didn't do anything that warrants being lied to.

Here are my two cents : if A reacted normally when you told him about the previous trip, I would not lie to him to cajole B. It's your prerogative to invite who you want to what you want, but you don't get to dictate to other people to who and how they get to talk about it. Until more information, B is the one being unreasonable here, and unreasonable people don't become less so by giving in to their unreasonableness.

  • "He often misses social cues and interrupts the flow of conversation with something random. I believe that "Friend B" is impatient with these tendencies and thinks "Friend A" is often intentionally arrogant when he's really instead socially unaware in small ways." - I think this is the reason why B doesn't want A to know about the trip. – CaldeiraG Oct 4 at 13:39
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    @CaldeiraG I agree, and I also think they're maybe not comfortable with that reason being addressed, which they fear they might have to do if A comes to them and asks why they weren't invited. OP is also assuming things here, which is why I suggest having a broader talk, so they can find a compromise on how to handle this. – MlleMei Oct 4 at 14:14
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It sounds to me like Friend A being invited or not doesn't really have anything to do with you. So first and foremost I suggest not worrying so much about Friend A and if you should or shouldn't lie to them and just enjoy your weekend trip.

Friend B is responsible for excluding A, not you, so particularly with your goal of conflict-aversion I see no reason to cause unnecessary conflict by going on Friend B's behalf to communicate something that is only going to upset both of your friends. That being said, not being invited for one weekend trip is hardly a big deal so although I'm saying it might "upset" them... we are talking peanuts here.

With one exception. If you wanted to help Friend A out, then I think you would be perfectly justified in having a chat with them and in the process telling them about the weekend. The chat should not focus on what they missed out on or about informing them that they are unliked. Instead you could try to help your (possibly Aspergers) friend understand their relationship with Friend B better.

Look, Friend B likes you just fine. I feel like together, as fun as it is we often rub strangers the wrong way and it makes B worried and tense. Normally this is fine but I think for the trip he wanted to kick back and relax as much as possible on his time off from work.

Basically I've just tried to avoid blaming Friend A, while letting him know why B might not want him around in a more friendly context of something he can consciously watch out for.

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I could have been your friend A.

First and foremost: Please don't lie about this to A. That can hurt so much more than it does good in this situation.

I have experienced these situations and am experiencing them still. Some of my friends have started to become friends with others, with whom I don't (and in some cases do now!) have a connection. It felt like those outsiders were stealing my friends. It also happened that they had events together, where I wasn't invited. I understood that, because we all have other friends. However, when these were hid from me, that hurt. But I noticed that they were not hid from me intentionally. That took some time to realize, but it helped me understand that my friends have other friends and it's not a big deal. I now invest more time in 1 to 1 contact with some of my friends, and some of them do the same. (And a few of them are just not the ones for 1 on 1 contact.)

Let's break down the situation. This is what the three players want:

You: Join trip with B, without upsetting A, or losing trust of B
B: Join trip with you, avoiding conflict with A
A: Maintain friendship with you

And as a sidenote: A is unaware of this situation, but might (very likely) become aware.

This is a dilemma

Because the only way for B to avoid conflict, and you to not lose B's trust is by lying to A. That's a very high risk and could do much more damage than being honest would. You already mention yourself that yu do not feel comfortable doing this. I just want to emphasize this even more. Consider the opposite: your friend doesn't invite you to a 1 on 1 event with a random other friend. Would you be upset? Probably not. And if they did everything in the world to cover it up, until you see the photos on Facebook?
So, we cannot get a perfect score in this dilemma. But I think we can get a very high score.

Besides lying to A about your weekend plans, another BAD option would be:
-Not going on the trip: failing both your demands and B's demands. It would be overreaction, too.
They are both bad because they are based on assumptions you make about how A would react.

The only thing A wants in this dilemma is to be friends with you and feel that way. Since lying is not an option, A should become aware of the trip. This could be after the trip. But I would recommend doing it on beforehand. For you, to not feel awkward about the situation. And for A, because it's a key turning point in how long you are holding back information. The later they become aware, the more painful it can be. Personally, I would think: They already went on that trip? We must have seen each other at least 10 times before they made plans, how did I not hear about this?

So how to do this: Don't sit down to have a "good" conversation about this with A. Mention it briefly, but don't talk over it or change the topic of the conversation quickly. Make sure it lands. You know A best, but I would say something like this during your regular get-together: [related topic] is something B and will probably do next weekend. We're going to check out [location of visit], the two of us. Should be fun. If you feel it's necessary then show that you realize that A might feel left out or share your (true) intentions of also doing something like that with A, but do not make this bigger than it is. Trust that they will understand that you can have fun with others, too. Just emphasize that A is also your friend and consider spending some quality time with them, too. For me, knowing that my friend has 1 on 1 events both with someone else, but with me too, makes me consider them a better friend than a person who has none of these events.

For your relationship with friend B, I reference the answer by Jesse: you are not responsible to avoid awkward situations between A and B. It's not your problem. That is, unless you lie to A. But I do think that you can be the solution. And I don't think B HAS to pay the highest price because they are the "biggest jerk" (from a perspective you draw). Here, I would be clear to B, whenever he next asks you to hide this from A: Look, A is my friend and I'm not going to lie to him. I won't make a big deal about is, but if they ask about i'm just going to say we're going to have fun next weekend, the two of us. I'm sure they'll understand.

Let's go back to the dilemma: All outcomes are met, except conflict aversion of B to A (indirectly). And the trust of B to you. I think that these prices are much lower than that of losing a friendship.

Notes: I didn't mention the Aspergers. That's because I don't think it changes the situation. As you mention, it could be why B has difficulty being around A, and therefore the reason that this dilemma started. For the solution, just be clear that the points you want to make are received. A will hopefully realize that you are their friend and this situation doesn't change that.

You didn't mention if A wants to be friends with B. I don't think that's possible if B feels so strongly about A. But it's also not your concern. It would prevent these dilemma's, but if it's not there then it's not there.

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