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How to deal with an extroverted best friend?
August 4, 2012 8:05 PM   Subscribe

How to deal with an extroverted best friend?

One of my closest and longest high school friends is an extrovert, while I consider myself a social extrovert. We are now both in our late twenties and she has been living abroad for some time to create some "space" between us. However, recently she has come back to visit the US. While I have been excited and appreciative of having time to spend together and hang out, I find her annoying in certain regards. I enjoy her enthusiasm, and because she is extroverted, I want to become more like her in some regards, but I often feel like I get pressured into doing things that I don't really want to do. For instance, she invites me to social events and it's not that I don't want to go to them, but I don't really care for them. And while I don't necessarily have bigger or better plans on that particular night, I feel pressured and annoyed to simply say yes. I even have said the excuse that I don't want to go for the following reasons but she will continue to say, you can go afterwards or meet me there. While it's nice to get outside my comfort zone, I am starting to get upset inside that she won't just let me say "no" and while I can go and then feel like it's fun afterwards, I am starting to build resentment towards her pressure.

I still care about her and our friendship a lot, but I realize it does get on my nerves. I would much rather just take some personal time and read or just pretty much chill out at home. Honestly, too it's not like I have better suggestions on what to do, but I feel like she continues to control the situation and I just follow along because it's fun or of course it's something to do.

Is an effective way to figure out how to handle these situations? And how can I communicate this with her? I don't want to end up having to make-up excuses but I feel like that's the only way to really let her respect my space. She just has this extroverted nature and I feel like I'm the default person she goes to do things with, or like her pseudo boyfriend. I don't want to start getting mean and treating her poorly for such a silly and psychological thing on my part, but already I can feel myself annoyed.

Any advice or personal experience would help. Thanks in advance.
posted by proficiency101 to Human Relations (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Honestly, it sounds like you two really aren't compatible as best friends anymore. It happens a lot! And it's totally okay to realize that you can test your friendships with people here and there by calling them on actions and behaviors that irritate you. You can say stuff like, "Babe, I love you, but you are hella irritating right now. Quit being pushy about X event. I'll hang out with you another time. Bye!"

And if she's not the type of person who can gracefully accept a response like, "That's just not my scene. What about doing X on Y day? I'll catch you then." then she's transformed from the person you once knew and loved into somebody no longer worth your time. Plain and simple.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 8:14 PM on August 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


This doesn't sound like a problem with your friend being extroverted. This sounds like a problem with your friend not understanding what you want.

By letting her badger you into doing things and then acknowledging afterwards that you had a good time, you've communicated to her that her behavior is acceptable -- maybe even positive! She may feel that by explaining ways to attend in the face of your objections (e.g. "you can go afterwards"), she's helping you to have a good social life and therefore making you happy.

You may wish to have a "resetting" conversation with her. You can explain how you feel and let her know that sometimes even when you don't have other plans, you still don't want to go out and she needs to leave it at that. You're allowed to have time to yourself, and she should respect that you're different from her in this regard without taking it as a belittlement of her lifestyle or your friendship. Her response to your communication of your (legitimate) needs and feelings will likely tell you a lot about what kind of friend she can continue to be to you.
posted by cranberry_nut at 8:46 PM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


While it's nice to get outside my comfort zone, I am starting to get upset inside that she won't just let me say "no" and while I can go and then feel like it's fun afterwards, I am starting to build resentment towards her pressure.

She continues to pressure you because she knows (whether consciously or subconsciously) that you will reward that behavior by giving in, therefore reinforcing that pressure equals her getting her way. Stop rolling over. If you stop rewarding her behavior by caving in, she'll eventually learn that trying to wear you down is futile.

Ultimately, you need to realize that she doesn't have the power to "let" you say no. You have the power to say yes or no to whatever you want. I know it's blunt and it might be hard and ugly the first few times you try it, but if you don't want to go out, just tell her you don't want to go out, and if she persists, continue to say no. Don't play games or make excuses, because that only complicates things. Just tell her flat out you aren't interested, sorry, reading a book tonight, don't feel like it, whatever.

I don't want to start getting mean and treating her poorly for such a silly and psychological thing on my part, but already I can feel myself annoyed.

You should be a little annoyed because she's not respecting you, but you've kind of taught her that badgering you will get her what she wants, so you can't blame her too much if she keeps doing it. Just stand up for yourself. Being assertive doesn't necessarily mean being nasty, aggressive, or impolite.
posted by MegoSteve at 9:27 PM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, but this is all you. She's been traveling and now is in to some other stuff that you guys didn't discover together, so your tastes are diverging. Better to start having your own lives a little than to judge them and cause a ton of drama that negatively affects the long-term aspects of a friendship that you value. Consider she might feel compelled to invite you the same way you feel compelled to go, that she's having trouble letting go a little as well. Maybe she wants your tacit OK in that lizard-brain way to go by herself or with her other into-it acquaintances. You can still go "sometimes," I'm sure.

Disclosure: I have a since-elementary-school best friend who is a total NASCAR with a burglar-alarm industry job to my creative techno-nerd. We both started out as skatepunks.
posted by rhizome at 9:50 PM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just say no. Tell her you need a night off, then say bye! and hang up the phone. Don't answer it if she calls again. She'll get the picture.
posted by fshgrl at 9:52 PM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sometimes go out with her, sometimes tell her "I love you to death, but I really don't feel like being very social tonight, call me on Wednesday and tell me about it." AND MEAN IT
posted by edgeways at 10:05 PM on August 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Tell her all this, minus the "I find her annoying in certain regards." She probably understands life and socializing differently than you, and has a hard time understanding what other people are coming from (I am slowly coming to terms with this in regards to my really introverted friend.) So explain it to her. That allows you to have a grand old time hanging out with her with a mutual understanding that you're not just blowing her off when you don't really want to go to some guy's housewarming party or whatever.
posted by Grandysaur at 10:20 PM on August 4, 2012


I don't necessarily have bigger or better plans on that particular night
Sure you do. If you're an introvert, sometimes hanging out at home IS the bigger or better plan. Perhaps looking at your personality differences without attaching the Extroversion = Good/Introversion = Bad baggage to it will make it easier for you to express your needs to her and stand by your decision.
posted by camyram at 10:28 PM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


she has been living abroad for some time to create some "space" between us.

Well, that's quite the jawdropper--and said so casually! You do this--maybe--if you are ex-spouses after a terribly acrimonious divorce where one party is harassing the other. If you both are/were so intertwined that this seemed like a natural remedy, no wonder you feel so suffocated. You both may have outgrown the relationship.**

**but not because one of you has matured/progressed more than the other, but that your personalities and preferences are developing in different directions.
posted by availablelight at 10:31 PM on August 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


i'm an extrovert, friends with some introverts. i often invite people out to dance parties, gatherings, etc. because i think it's the most fun thing ever and i want my friends to have fun, too. if one of my friends says, "i really want to go, but i have to do x and y," then i say, "oh, well why don't you meet up after you finish doing x and y?"

i'm not trying to pressure them into doing something they don't want to do--my assumption is that they're telling the truth, and that they do want to go, except for [insert hindrance here], so i get into "let's solve this problem and figure out a way for you to be able to go!" kind of mode. i think this is what your friend is doing when you give her an excuse and she keeps asking you--she isn't pressuring you, she's trying to help solve the problem--you say you want to go to this thing with her, but you've got this obstacle.

if my friends say they don't want to go , that's cool with me. i was just trying to facilitate some good times, and i will still go, or find someone else, and have no hard feelings....i bet your friend would feel the same.

so i think the solution to this stuff with your friend is to take it down to face value: she asks if you want to go to a party, you say, no, sorry, i'm not into parties. don't read obligation into her invitations--you're never obligated, it's always just an offer.
posted by iahtl at 12:22 AM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am starting to get upset inside that she won't just let me say "no"

You're not saying no, you're saying you have scheduling conflicts. Because you are not clear about what you want, your friend infers that you need her help finding a solution. Which works, because you go to the event and have fun. So you have reinforced in her mind the idea that you want her help to organize your social life for you.

Your friend can't read your mind, and it's unfair of you to resent her for doing something you've asked her to do. If you don't want to go somewhere/do something, say "no, but thanks for the invitation!"

she has been living abroad for some time to create some "space" between us.

What in the world is that about?
posted by headnsouth at 5:53 AM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's something off about this question. Between

she has been living abroad for some time to create some "space" between us

and

She just has this extroverted nature and I feel like I'm the default person she goes to do things with, or like her pseudo boyfriend

it sounds like you had an intense close bond that she's trying to recreate in some degree, but that you two have probably grown apart. You also are being incredibly unclear and back-and-forthy in your question about what you do want, so I imagine that you are probably not being very clear with her, too. You are never obligated to go somewhere just because she invited you, but when you give excuses or give in to her request and feel resentful -- instead of saying "I'm not really into "x", how about we do "y" instead?"-- you do both of you a disservice.
posted by sm1tten at 12:59 PM on August 5, 2012


Saying No is a really useful skill, which requires practice.
Let's get together Friday; I don't want to go out tonight.
Why not? I don't want to go out tonight, but a movie Friday would be terrific; how about Star Wars: Hello Kitty Takes Yoda?
Oh, c'mon, you'll have fun. Don't be an old poop. Or did you want to see Beneath the Planet of Hello Kitty?
Blah blah I know, I'm harshing your groove, but I'll be up for a movie Friday, or we could go to happy hour at Jello Shot Kitty. OMG, did you hear about some thing that some person did?
Be calm, persistent and cheerful. You don't have to justify your choices or your life. You can value and enjoy your friend, and still say No some of the time. And you'll get better at a critical life skill.

posted by theora55 at 10:57 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


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