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I want to hang out with my friend!
July 8, 2010 7:51 PM   Subscribe

I invited a friend to go to an event, and then she invited her boyfriend and other friends. I don't really want to hang out with her other friends! What do I do now?

I'm 27 and female, and my friend is too. I don't have a ton of close friends my own age, so I am providing that detail in sort of wondering if this is some kind of cultural thing I'm missing, which I think is fully possible. I had been in a pretty isolated relationship-bubble for most of my 20s, am just now beginning to interact socially with other people again, and it's freaking confusing.

I emailed this good friend about a cool event that's coming up that I'm excited about (and the event is a big public festival type thing, not like a private party or hanging out at my house to watch a movie or something), and invited her to go with me. When she wrote back, she said that she thought it sounded awesome, and that she had asked her boyfriend and some other people if they wanted to go too. I was kind of put off for a few reasons, and am needing some perspective.

This friend of mine is a really social, very outgoing, group-oriented person, so I totally understand that she invited those other friends because she likes them and thinks it would be fun to have lots of people go together. I'm not angry about it, I don't think she was trying to do something harmful to me or anything like that, but I don't want to hang out in a big group with lots of people I don't know! I am much more of a one-on-one or small groups person, and I'd invited her because I love hanging out with her and we have a lot of fun. I recently came out of a very rough breakup, I have a parent who is ill right now, I'm really stressed with work, and just want to feel the comfort and enjoyment of being with a close friend. The idea of hanging out with a bunch of people I don't know very well feels like a lot of pressure that I don't feel confident about handling gracefully. And now I'm so anxious I don't even want to go. I asked my friend to go because I was trying really hard to get myself out to have some fun, but now I'm totally shutting down at the thought of going.

Part of me is thinking to go anyway, but go by myself and just not meet up with her/her friends there. I'm not sure if I am overreacting or being overly sensitive about her inviting other people, and want to understand that a little better. Alternatively, should I try to make myself enjoy hanging out with people I don't really want to hang out with, just because it's theoretically good for me since I won't be moping around in pajamas all weekend? I'm pretty stuck in ruminative oblivion at this point... please hope me!
posted by so_gracefully to Human Relations (44 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Alternatively, should I try to make myself enjoy hanging out with people I don't really want to hang out with, just because it's theoretically good for me since I won't be moping around in pajamas all weekend?

That's it, yes. Hanging out with new people is like trying new food; it's kind of strange, but you gotta force yourself to take those first few bites or else you're that dude who just eats french fries all the time.

But you still want to hang with out with cool lady one-on-one! So ask her to do something else, just the two of you, in a couple of days. Both situations will be good for you in different ways.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:57 PM on July 8, 2010 [10 favorites]


I'm like you - I often have more fun with close friends than a mass of people, even if I sort of know them, and it's even more true when I've had a crap week. Since it is a big event, I can understand a social person inviting more people, but I think you can clarify your intentions in a neutral sort of way, not saying you don't like your friends' bf and other friends. I'd pass along what you wrote about as background to this question to your friend. Here's my quick effort of a reply email:

"Hey [friend], I'm glad you're able to come to [event], I am really looking forward to hanging out with you! And while this isn't a small party event, but I've been having a pretty rough [day/week/few weeks/month], and I was hoping to hang out there with a close friend to bring up my mood. It's not that I want to exclude your friends, it's just that I'd feel more comfortable with someone I know. Are you still up for going? Thanks for understanding -
- so_gracefully"

Or, Greg Nog could have it. Good luck!
posted by filthy light thief at 8:00 PM on July 8, 2010


I think you should just go ahead and go. It's a big public thing so there will be lots of people there anyways. Yes, I would be a bit peeved that she invited other people without asking first. But like you said - it's a big public event. Worst case scenario is that you don't enjoy yourself, claim you are tired/crowd gave you a headache/PMS cramps and leave early. Best case is you enjoy yourself or maybe even make a new friend.

Next time that you want to go hang out with just your friend maybe you should suggest something a little more personal. Shopping, dinner, popcorn and a movie at your place.

For what it's worth, I think both Greg Nog & filthy light thief make good points.
posted by Ereshkigal313 at 8:02 PM on July 8, 2010


I agree with Greg Nog; I think you should keep your plans and go. If you end up not having fun, you can split from the group, or you can use the time to get to know your friend's boyfriend or friends better.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:02 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have a few friends who chronically do this. Usually I wind up having to say, "You know, I'm sure I'd like your friends, but I'm surprisingly introverted and I'm much more comfortable hanging out with people one-on-one."

Though to be fair, through one of these friends I adopted a truly excellent new circle of friends (each of whom I now hang out with on a mostly one-on-one basis).
posted by hermitosis at 8:05 PM on July 8, 2010


Oh, and I definitely say go this time to be gracious (and maybe have fun!). But next time, don't be nervous about stating your preference, if you still have one.
posted by hermitosis at 8:07 PM on July 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't think you can ask her to un-invite her friends without being very rude and risking the friendship. Festivals are a group activity for most people and I'd be very put off if someone wanted to attend one with just me, particularly if they specifically asked me to uninvite my SO. I would almost certainly say no to them and attend the activity with my SO and the group. It's a large chunk of weekend time, which is valuable social real estate for most working folks, and it's entirely reasonable that she wants to also spend the time with her SO and other friends. Better one on one activities are things like movies, book readings, dinner or lunch, hiking, catching coffee etc.

So I think your choices are a) attend the festival with the group and try to have a good time or b) make an excuse and don't go. Any kind of request for it to just be the two of you is going to come across as needy and maybe weird.
posted by fshgrl at 8:08 PM on July 8, 2010 [10 favorites]


You know what you're comfortable with. I don't know how you can broach this subject with her to say what you've told us.

But it sounds to me like you want a few very healthy things.

You want to strengthen your friendship with this woman.

You want to enjoy this festival type thing.

And you want to build your confidence and general social skills.

Perhaps you could accomplish all three by telling her you're glad she's excited about the event, and you hope she has a great time at it. However, you were hoping to have some one on one time with her, could you too go to some other event as a friend pair (I have no idea how to word this so it doesn't sound like lesbian flirting, and she may have invited her boyfriend et al because she thought it sounded like lesbian flirting, but I'm not assuming that's the case)

With that said, I would attend the event with her group, but perhaps find a way to limit the amount of time (an hour instead of the whole day?). You'll get to meet some new people, and you'll build skills of hanging out with strangers, while respecting your boundaries. So, if you're having a great time with this group, you've made new friends. If you're miserable with them, hey, it's only an hour. And most importantly, you don't have to wonder how it would have gone. Which is what always happens to me when I stay at home in my jammies. I drive myself crazy envisioning how awful/awesome it could have been. If I'm out and miserable, I know exactly how it will feel to get home and out my jammies on.

Now, if I've misread your wants up there, you may not be well served by this advice. But I wish you luck all the same. As someone who had a similar long relationship and now the slow rebuilding of a social life.
posted by bilabial at 8:13 PM on July 8, 2010


At the end of the day you know yourself better than we do. Your dilemma is one that is familiar to me, I'm happier with a small group of people than a large one. I've lately been pushing myself to take on social situations that are outside my comfort zone, but I also know to pay attention to my limits. If I'm really dreading something, I won't go. If I can look at the situation and realize that my dislike of it will wear off after ten or fifteen minutes, I will go. Sometimes I'll go and then realize that it just won't work and I'll find a way to leave.

If you're under a lot of stress and can't handle going to this festival with the entourage, don't. Make an excuse and set up something for next weekend that will be just the two of you. Be aware that your friend likely has no idea that large groups aren't something that are easy for you - find a way to let her know this without referencing the festival in particular. Or, if you decide to go and then realize it was a bad idea, plan an escape.
posted by sciencegeek at 8:20 PM on July 8, 2010


Yeah Nthing suck it up - socialising with new people is generally a good idea; festivals are not 1-1 situations; and it sounds like you could use some extra friends anyway.

It's like going for a run on a cold morning - getting up sucks, getting dressed sucks, going outside sucks, but when you start running: weeeeeeeeeeee!
posted by smoke at 8:20 PM on July 8, 2010


I concur with fshgrl that you can't ask her to disinvite people, especially if it's a public event. Maybe next time say "just you and me," because it is a bit annoying to have *already* had her ask people without mentioning, but at this point the milk is spilled.

Think of it this way: I usually meet my friends through other friends, and that usually means that if you like friend a, you may like friends b, c, and d too. So this may be a way to get to know more people, or see if you'd like to hang out with those folks as well.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:23 PM on July 8, 2010


I wish I had a dollar for every time I thought some event or gathering or party would be lame and a waste of time and I'd hate it, only to have had the time of my life, kicking myself later for being so pessimistic.

Say nothing, and don't be surprised if you end up having an awesome time in spite of yourself.
posted by contessa at 8:25 PM on July 8, 2010 [13 favorites]


I don't know, you're having a hard time right now. Maybe it's not the best time for you to expand your circle of friends? You know yourself and your needs best. There's no reason to feel guilty about telling your friend "on second thought, I've had a rough week/month, I'm really sorry, as much as I'd love to go with you and meet everyone, I think I need a weekend to myself." Then go or don't go as you please. It was kind of thoughtless of her to invite others without telling you (though it doesn't make her a bad person or friend). And it's not like you're not leaving her in the lurch if you politely bow out.

Meeting new people through friends is great, but don't force yourself to do it if now's not a good time for you. Be honest and take care of yourself first.
posted by vincele at 8:30 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would be like you: not happy that she invited others without asking you first. I think it is rude on her part, but maybe you did not convey your idea of the evening well enough when you initially asked her, or she didn't get it. It could be she does not value your personal company as much as you do hers, something to keep in mind.

That aside, I would go anyway. You will meet new people and maybe some new friends to enjoy. Force yourself this one time. Next time if you have those intentions make it very clear the other person understands your idea of an evening or event. Try to enjoy yourself and meet some new people. I sense you will have a good time.
posted by nogero at 8:31 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Most of the time, I am fine in these group events that I half-dread and even enjoy myself. But sometimes I do not. If you do go and you find that you're not enjoying it, then you can (a) tell your friend you're a little down and would she mind just wandering with you alone for half an hour or (b) leave and go do something else you'll like. There is nothing wrong with getting there and finding that in fact it is not something you want to do. I think you should go, but I think you should give yourself an exit strategy. Make sure you can leave on your own schedule, agree that you will give it an hour and if you're not enjoying it you will go, have alternate plans that are fun -- see a movie, go eat at your favourite restaurant with a good book or crossword puzzles, whatever you happen to enjoy that is out of your house.

Next time, if you specifically want to do something one on one, you should ask her. There are people who just figure the more the merrier, and there are people who always ask in advance if they can invite someone else, and if you're friends with someone in the former group, it's easier just to warn them.
posted by jeather at 8:32 PM on July 8, 2010


I say you just give it a good ol' college try. You might end up enjoying yourself, but trust me, it's better than moping around in pjs all day! I know what you mean about dealing with people, hopefully your friend's friends won't detract from the fun of the festival for you.
posted by LaCapitana at 8:36 PM on July 8, 2010


This would piss me off at first, too, but try thinking of it this way.

Instead of you and your friend being alone, but in a sea of strange people, you are insulated from the strangers by a Secret Service of pre-approved friends-once-removed.
posted by Sallyfur at 8:41 PM on July 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


I'm 23 and female and I would totally invite some friends to come to our huge public event with us and not think twice about it. When I'm going to something, I generally am all up on Twitter saying HEY WHO WANTS TO GO TO THIS WITH ME and then I'll text up whoever I know lives in that neighborhood or is interested in that sort of event.

I'm not saying this to say "she's right and you're wrong," I'm saying this because I want you to know that this is just how some extroverts with a posse roll and that she wasn't trying to be a jerk and probably has no idea she's ruining it for you.

Now I am cringing at all the times I've sent out emails saying "Yeah, Friday sounds great! That bar is right by Alexei's house so I think he's going to meet us there if that's cool," never thinking that anyone really wanted some one on one time.

If someone wanted alone time with me, they would have to come out and say it, like "We should go to that restaurant you're always talking about, I haven't seen you alone in forever. I'm looking forward to sitting down with you and catching up on your gratuitous sex stories and gossip and filling you in on some crazy shit that's been going down with me."
posted by Juliet Banana at 8:54 PM on July 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Meeting your friends boyfriend and other friends is the next step in your friendship. Her inviting them is complimentary. I suggest going with it, and next time stipulate that you want some events to be just you and her. Step out of your comfort zone.
posted by xammerboy at 8:54 PM on July 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Inviting other friends to an event like this (even without asking first) is not strange behavior. I think you should go to the festival anyway, have fun by yourself, but put on a smile and briefly meet up with your friend and her friends. Like others above have said, you might just enjoy them! And besides, there will be plenty of distractions at the festival. It's not like you invited your friend to your place and she came over with a bunch of other friends, and now you guys are all sitting around a table with nothing to do but stare at each other. It's a festival, there will be walking and activities and food and whatnot. It's a relatively low-pressure situation, socially.

I agree with hermitosis that you should roll with this one and let your friend know your preference for future get-togethers.
posted by malapropist at 9:14 PM on July 8, 2010


I totally understand you, because I often feel the same way. My advice to you would be to go to the festival and not say anything about it. Approach it with an optimistic attitude and may have a great time and meet some new friends.

Then, invite your friend out to lunch or coffee at your treat sometime. She surely would not invite anyone else (if you tell her you want to treat her or otherwise make it clear it's just the two of you), and you two will have some alone time. It's good for friends to have one-on-one time, it's just that a public festival, especially for an extrovert, usually signifies group fun.
posted by bearette at 9:42 PM on July 8, 2010


It was rude of her to say yes & tell you she'd invited other people, leaving you little room to back out of your original invite gracefully. That sucks, esp if you're an introvert or just need one-on-one time lately.

I doubt she meant to offend, though, and either backing out or asking her to uninvite her friends would definitely ramp up the social awkwardness level. I would go, keep an open mind & try to enjoy myself, leave early (but politely) if i were uncomfortable, and specifically request "just the two of us" time in the future (if you decide that's what you want). Meeting friends of a friend is a fantastic way to expand your social circle, and maybe she wants you all to hang out because she thinks you would click. This could be a great opportunity.
posted by studioaudience at 10:15 PM on July 8, 2010


Your outgoing friend is just doing what she does - it sounds like she didn't know what you wanted out of the time together, which tends to happen when we don't tell other people what our needs are.

Go to this event, or don't... it's not a big deal. If you want to bow out gracefully, just tell your friend that you aren't feeling up to big crowds right now, and that you'd really like to make another date in the near future for just one-on-one. Don't load it up with baggage about breakups and parents and such - it's okay to feel the way you feel without having to make a scene about it.

But you also need to accept that this friend does things her way. If you don't communicate exactly what you're after, the whole thing could just repeat itself.
posted by foobario at 10:40 PM on July 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm like you pretty much, where I feel more apprehensive than excited when I end up in a social event with friends-of-friends whom I don't know. I do get a somewhat put-off feeling when those things are sprung on me. I used to actually feel mildly annoyed, even, like it was sort of rude or something. I'm an introvert so it's a bit draining to deal with new people, even if I end up liking them.

Here's some things I've realized in the past few years, though. Generally speaking, if you invite someone to a big public event sort of thing -- festivals, events, even stuff like movies -- assume from the start that they're going to invite other people. This used to throw me off and disappoint me until I came to expect it; it's not something I would ever think to do so it took me a while to realize it's pretty normal. Now I can't even invite people those things without having already accepted that I'm willing to deal with people I don't know.

Accepting it ahead of time really does help me be in the proper mindset for the social gathering when it comes around. I usually feel ambivalent about meeting the new people, but that's much better than feeling irritated or stressed.

The great thing is that once I get myself there and I'm not in a bad mood, I always have a good time and like the new people. I'm as tired as I'd expect, but it's just for that day and I'm always glad I went.

So nthing that you should just go and you'll probably be glad. It won't be the kind of outing that you had wanted but chances are good it will be worthwhile in other ways, and you can plan the kind of outing you do want more deliberately now.
posted by Nattie at 10:48 PM on July 8, 2010


I'll be a contrarian and say, "Go ahead and back out." A big crowd isn't what you wanted and you don't have to take it. I think a lot of the well-meant advice above is from people who are more extroverted than they think they are.

Hanging out with strangers can be _draining_. If that is how you're wired, that's how you're wired and it's completely valid. I don't think your friend was rude and I wouldn't even use the value-laden word thoughtless. She's probably just wired differently.

I wouldn't make a big deal out of it. Just say you're not up for it and, next time, ask her to do something, just the two of you.
posted by codswallop at 10:51 PM on July 8, 2010


but I don't want to hang out in a big group with lots of people I don't know!

Um, you're going to an event. THere will be other people there, people you don't know, in a big group. The difference is, your friend's friends probably have something in common with your friend, are trusted by your friend, and thus make better strangers to hang out with than the other people who will be there.

If you don't want to go, you don't have to go. However, if you just face your fear and get it over with, you'll be better off in the long run -- and hey, once you've been introduced, there's no reason you have to interact with everyone. Just interact with the people you feel like, and if someone tries to strike up a conversation, give it a shot, and if it doesn't go well, don't sweat it.
posted by davejay at 10:56 PM on July 8, 2010


Oh, and don't go alone, because you'll have to back out, then you'll inevitably run into them, and that would be epically awkward.
posted by davejay at 10:57 PM on July 8, 2010


I'm 26 and female. I would have done the same thing as your friend: the more, the merrier. If she is aware that you don't have many friends, she could be seeing this as an opportunity to introduce you/get you to spend time with more people who think alike and have, in a way, been "pre-screened" for you. You could try to see it as an opportunity, too.

Your statement that you feel that there is pressure on you sounds very self-centered: she and her friends will enjoy themselves regardless of how you act or feel, most likely. To me, that translates to just about no pressure whatsoever.
posted by halogen at 11:06 PM on July 8, 2010


I'm super extroverted, but I'd bail.

You're stressed - relationship break up stress, job stress, sick parent stress. It's okay to say that you don't want to add the stress of meeting new people. That's not being self centered. That's knowing your own limits.

I don't think she meant to offend. I think she was a bit clueless on the invite.
posted by 26.2 at 11:25 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just for clarity's sake: asking her to disinvite people wasn't even an option on the table, in the first place. I fully comprehend that it's a large event where lots of people will be anyway, but I don't feel any pressure to come off in some certain way to total strangers who don't have anything to do with my life. I've hung out with her and her boyfriend lots of times before, I've met a couple other people she knows before, and I've invited her to go places before, and this didn't happen any of those times.

My hesitation comes from just not feeling sure that I'm up to dealing with the stress of meeting several new people while I'm in a far-less-than-my-best state. I'm not feeling super confident, not feeling strong and funny and smart and fantastic like I might in another situation, ok. I appreciate the encouragement and help in trying to reframe the situation (that she might be wanting to encourage me to meet more people because she's my friend, that it's a good chance to meet new people who might be cool since my friend already likes them, that I could take the chance and potentially have a good time, etc.). That feedback is really helpful.
posted by so_gracefully at 11:42 PM on July 8, 2010


Haha, also, I'm not concerned that my friend:
a) is worried that I'm flirting with her or asking her out, or
b) thinks I'm weird and clingy and wants a human buffer against me.

This is a close friend who I know reciprocates my feelings that we're close friends, I just don't really get this situation. It doesn't feel like something particularly rude or against social norms, so I need further perspective from outside my own clouded head about what's actually going on and how appropriate it would be for me to react to this by giving in to the feeling of, "no, I'm scared that your friends will think I'm some sad loser, so I don't want to go anymore!"
posted by so_gracefully at 11:54 PM on July 8, 2010


Maybe you could give your friend a heads up about how you feel and that you might need some space once you're there or leave early.

On the other hand extroverts sometimes react by trying to egg you out of your shell even more and in public, which would be annoying. You know your friend best.
posted by Omnomnom at 12:48 AM on July 9, 2010


It's okay to bail, or stay just a short time. But you can also try to arrange to meet up with her beforehand for a drink to warm up to being out, and talk about the latest personal life things before joining the group. You can also ask her about the other people coming in order to discover what you may have in common with each of them and give you some ideas about what to talk about when you meet them.
posted by xo at 4:14 AM on July 9, 2010


Big public festivals are totally fair game for inviting lots of other people to come. If you want one-on-one time with your friend, your should invite her out to lunch or over to your home.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:25 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you're looking for one-on-one time with a friend, perhaps in the future you shouldn't suggest a big public event, as that's kind of misleading.

This is why sit-down coffee shops exist! It's a flirting-neutral ground for conversation, friendship and the kind of interaction you're looking for.
posted by Hiker at 4:32 AM on July 9, 2010


As an introvert that tends to attract extroverts as friends, this happens to me all the time. In fact, because I often hosted game nights at my apartment, for awhile, I suffered my friends inviting other people to my apartment without asking me first, because I said "having a few people over" and they heard "party."

At first I couldn't decide what to do. I considered putting up a stink. Then I just went with it. I also learned that with some friends, the easiest way to prevent "hey i invited the entire class!" was to include them on the plan-making. Instead of sending an email that said "want to do x?" I send one that says "Hey, I want to do x. Let's make plans to do x? Who else should we invite? I'm thinking a very small group?" Or if I want one-on-one time, I make that clear too.

I think for you, this time, you might as well just go, and if you hate it, you can leave. That's the thing about attending social events you're not sure you will like--you can leave.
posted by millipede at 4:44 AM on July 9, 2010


I've been in similar situations, and my stress was mostly over dealing with, "oh god the original plans changed and i was only prepared to deal with my close friend and now there are others AGHHH BAIL."

I understand, too, about social baby steps. First, hanging with a friend at home, then maybe dinner with a friend in public, then maybe a couple friends at home, then a couple close friends out, graduating to large gatherings of unfamiliar people.

Well, looks like you're skipping a couple steps. I found that 9 times out of 10, if I actually forced myself to stick with the (altered) plans and hang out with new people, I had a great time despite all of my anxieties.

I hope that you choose to go, and that you're comfortable with it, and that you have a wonderful time!
posted by rachaelfaith at 6:14 AM on July 9, 2010


As a formerly introverted bookish kid turned extroverted alcoholic young adult turned introverted responsible and occasionally drinking 30-year-old, stuff like this comes up in my life fairly often. A core group of about 5-6 friends have been able to make the social transition with me, understanding that when I say "hey let's go to the movies or something" that I mean just me and them, one on one. Others have not been able to handle the new/old introverted me quite as well, and are always trying to get me to pull all-nighters with a large group of friends. I tend to run like hell from these situations, because they tend to stress me out immensely, but the 1 out of 5 times I've gone along with them, I've had a fantastic time, met new people, and enjoyed every minute. Each time, it really depends on my mood immediately before I decide.

My point is that you know yourself best. If you're worried that you'll feel uncomfortable or overwhelmed, chances are you will end up feeling uncomfortable or overwhelmed, because you're worried that you might feel uncomfortable and overwhelmed, &c &c self-fulfilling prophecy &c. If you can let go of that fear/stress/worry, however temporarily, you may end up having an awesome time.

tl;dr I think you should try and go, and make sure that your friend knows that you might decide to leave halfway through, and that she should understand that your leaving in no way reflects upon her and her friends. (unless they're creepy jerks, in which case my shitty advice is to lie and say it was nice meeting them, and then consider bringing it up sometime in the future when the two of you are alone, but this is another askme completely.)
posted by elizardbits at 8:34 AM on July 9, 2010


Another possible thought process that went through your friend's mind was, "Oh an X festival! That sounds awesome, and Joe and Sally would love it even more." It's a natural, non-rude reaction in my opinion. How would you feel if you found out some other friend attended an event you would have loved, but they didn't bother to tell you about it?

I'm fairly extroverted, but I also understand the anxiety reaction of "oh god, I'm going to have to charm all these people, what if they hate me, I feel terrible about myself right now". I've also figured out that this reaction for me is a learned behavior (a parent deals with mild social anxiety). People do like me, I like people, and humans are social animals. It could be worthwhile to consider if you're really an introvert, or if you're dealing with some anxiety in this situation.

Yeah you're going to spend some extra "people interaction" mental energy that day, but I think it'll be good for you. You'll show yourself that people do like you, and maybe develop new friendships, or at least strengthen the one with your close friend.
posted by fontophilic at 8:44 AM on July 9, 2010


Oh, and another, possibly irresponsible suggestion that others may feel free to lambast:

Beer. They call it the social lubricant for a reason. When I want to do larger group activities with my introverted BF, he'll feel uptight and anxious until a beer or two.

He's not getting drunk, or even buzzed really, he's just relaxing, letting go of insecurities and being more natural with people he doesn't know. It's not his only way to relax, by any means, nor do I frequently drag him into situations he'll hate, but he's thanked me many times for taking him to events like this.
posted by fontophilic at 8:54 AM on July 9, 2010


Nthing much of what's been said earlier.

A friend of mine introduced me to a wonderful phrase, which is "friend date," which I usually use with my female friends (I'm also female). Right there, this implies that you want to hang out with the other person one-on-one, and not have the entourage follow.

Where this has happened before, I've just been upfront about it the following time we arranged plans, "I love seeing you, but it'd be great to have a friend date with you instead of the entire entourage as well."
posted by so much modern time at 9:21 AM on July 9, 2010


I'm not feeling super confident, not feeling strong and funny and smart and fantastic like I might in another situation

This is a bit tangential, but maybe you could work on this a bit before the event? I’m talking about short-term, quick fixes like a new outfit to wear that day, a new haircut etc. You could even enlist your friend’s help – maybe plan a shopping day or get lunch and a pedicure together? That would give you some one-on-one time with her AND maybe boost your mood a bit.
posted by yawper at 10:13 AM on July 9, 2010


Oh, extroverts. They're such fun, sharing people (presumably why I'm friends with so many of them despite myself.) I'm a big fan of the "it-won't-be-impossible, no one will pay me much attention with all the entertainment around, and hey, I can always say I feel ill and go home" responses above.

Also, how serious were you about shutting down at the idea of dealing with it all? Outside the grief/stress context that says "social anxiety" to me, and either way, therapy might be of use. I once dealt with a cheerful crowd of extroverts who pushed way too hard using phrases better said to a professional, and while it was comforting at the time to be treated like a porcelain doll (for years after, actually,) it would have been better to, you know, have things sorted out before they drove me bonkers.
posted by SMPA at 3:36 PM on July 9, 2010


I'm a bit surprised by the responses to this question. It sounds like you are going through a rough time and while sometimes it works out to push yourself into something new during periods of stress and change, sometimes you just end up having a shitty time because you aren't ready yet. Only you know where you are on that spectrum. If the point is to get yourself out to have fun and this does not feel fun to you on any level right now, it's not going to work out to force yourself. yuck!

I agree that it isn't weird for her to invite additional people. She sounds like an extroverted person who likes groups and is a connective sort of friend. I'm always impressed with people like this - arranging a group of people to go somewhere always feels like a daunting task for me and these people just do it effortlessly. I just don't get it, but this is natural to some people, and thank goodness or none of us less group oriented people would ever meet anyone. I'd fight the urge to take it as a rude or inconsiderate move - I imagine it was done with the best intentions and it's a part of who she is to be a connector/organizer of friends. It's not better or worse, just different.

That said, a real friend will totally get it if you are just not up to an outing with new people when you're going through a hard time. What friend would react badly to being honest about that? No one I want to know. It sounds like you may be internalizing a lot of your emotions and isolating yourself (I reference the "apartment alone in pajamas" statement). Just tell her what's up. If you want to back out and schedule something one on one, cool. If you don't and you decide to go, cool. Life happens - friends get that.
posted by amycup at 4:09 PM on July 9, 2010


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