How to deal with my friend's friends
July 9, 2012 2:19 AM   Subscribe

I'm not sure how to tell my friend that I would really like to keep hanging out with her--just not in a group setting. Help?

I've known this girl for over a year now, and we have never really hung out outside of a mutual activity. Now because of different circumstances, we are seeing each other a lot more often--which is great. I really like her, we can talk about stuff, and I would like to try to get to know her even better.

The issue is the setting/group dynamic. Several times now she's asked me to lunch; I said yes, only to find that what she meant was going to lunch with her and three other people and it ends up being like eight of us.

I don't see friend potential in any of these people except this girl, and I just don't enjoy these types of group outings in general. It takes forever to decide anything, and there is no leadership. They're all extraverts who are just happy to be together. Which is fine! But I am an INTJ, and that is not my style at all.

The last time this happened I ended up just making a decision and kind of abandoning ship, which I feel really bad about. I need to explain myself before she gives up on me, I don't want to say anything that could be construed as offensive as her other friends may hear about this through her.

It boils down to is this: how do I delicately tell my friend that I would like to hang out with her more, but not in this group setting? Or is this a terrible strategy and I should either give up trying to be her friend or put up with the group outings?

A script/advice would be very much appreciated!
posted by tooloudinhere to Human Relations (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have a good friend who often brings along people with her to any activity that we plan. This is less of a problem for me, firstly because I tend to already know them and secondly because I'm not shy so big groups don't really bother me. But sometimes it has annoyed me, for example if I've been looking forward to a catch-up and instead there's a bunch of other people around.

I have tended to use the nice but direct approach: "Hey, was there anyone else you were planning to bring along? Because if not, I was really looking forward to just having some quality Us-time, if that's okay." I have also selected activities that can only be done by 2 people, like a 2 for the price of 1 deal, or something else, that precludes her asking other people along.

If she's really nice I can't imagine she would be offended if you told them you wanted to hang out only with them and not with a bunch of other people.
posted by Ziggy500 at 2:26 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Why don't you invite her to lunch instead of waiting to be invited? You could even say something like "I'm kind of an introvert, I'm more comfortable in really small groups or when it's just two people" and see how that goes before deciding to give up on the friendship.
posted by betweenthebars at 2:35 AM on July 9, 2012 [17 favorites]

I have a friend who does this. Totally bugs me. Some of her friends are ool but a lot I don't care for. We are now close enough where I feel comfortable saying "can it just be us, and we can hang with the larger group at the picnic on Saturday?" And now she volunteers the info early that "Im not going to invite anyone else." Because she knows how I feel.

Ease into it. Say how you are really looking forward to telling her about X and hearing about Y. You should make the plans, ser time and place, and reservations. That way she can't add more people.
posted by manicure12 at 2:36 AM on July 9, 2012

"Hey, so I really appreciate you inviting me to lunch all the time, but I find that I'm basically only interested in talking to you during them. I don't mean this in a flirty way*, it's just that bigger groups like that kind of exhaust me and just don't really fit my mojo, my type. Nothing against your friends! I just wanted you to know that about me, for the future. However, anytime you want to grab a coffee or a beer and unwind/talk shop 1-on-1, I'm all about it!"

*Include or omit that part as you see fit.
posted by mreleganza at 3:10 AM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think that you should make an effort to see friend potential or get to know one or more of the other people. I am introverted as well and have done what you are suggesting before, and it doesn't really work. I think it puts pressure on the person you like to be your social outlet, or to be your special friend separate from all those other frivolous people (not your intent, but how it can come across). Friendly people are friendly, and they want to include new people in their existing social world. But but they're not responsible for you. Again, not saying that's your intent, but it can come off that way. I think you should trust the instincts that caused you to post this AskMe.

I don't see friend potential in any of these people except this girl,

It is possible that none of these people have anything to offer you by way of friendship, but it also may be true that because you already have your sights set on the one friend you want, you're not giving these other people a chance.
posted by headnsouth at 4:03 AM on July 9, 2012 [4 favorites]

Another thing to consider is that she might be really uncomfortable in a one on one setting and prefers to hang out in groups.

You need to find a friendship style that works for both of you. Why not invite her on some lunches - just the two of you - to balance out the group settings? There's no reason why you can't have some one on one time *and* still go to larger gatherings occasionally.
posted by sonika at 4:43 AM on July 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

Don't just come right out and say it like it's a confrontation. I think it's likely to come off very badly.

If you want to get some one on one time with her, as betweenthebars suggests, you should ask her to lunch herself. Ask her explicitly: "Hey, new friend, want to go to lunch, just you and me on Saturday?"

Going forward, if she asks you to lunch, ask her who else will be coming. If she says "oh, the usual group" or something - you can politely say "ah! Thank you for the invitation, but I think I'll pass this time - I am not feeling up to having lunch with a big crowd. Let me know if/when you'd like to go just you and me." I would not suggest you decline every time, though. Unless you really want to jump off a building every time you go to group lunch, it's a good idea to accept at least half of the invitations you receive from a person with whom you want to be friends!
posted by pazazygeek at 4:43 AM on July 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

You're making the classic introvert mistake, which is to be passive rather than active about getting your needs met.

You don't need to tell her that her friends suck. You do need to control the context of some of your meetings, and the way to do that is to actively invite her to do something, instead of passively waiting for her to invite you.

When you issue the invite, tell her you'd like it if you could get together one-on-one. If you're male, she may have concerns that you're asking her out on a date, so make sure to specify beforehand that it isn't a date - simply tell her that you're an introvert and prefer less crowded settings to get together.

One thing that I should caution you about is that this girl sounds like she is heavily extroverted, which means that she needs mental/emotional stimulation from other people (as an extrovert myself, this is a lot of the reason I prefer large groups - I can delicately shift to a new conversation if the one I'm in gets boring). That means that to make her happy with a one-on-one scenario, you need to make sure that you are an good enough conversationalist to keep her interested in you. (Assuming that my hypothesis is right and she is indeed heavily extroverted.)
posted by wolfdreams01 at 5:06 AM on July 9, 2012 [4 favorites]

Why don't you try having her hang out with your friends?
posted by modernserf at 6:40 AM on July 9, 2012

Several times now she's asked me to lunch; I said yes, only to find that what she meant was going to lunch with her and three other people and it ends up being like eight of us.

You actually now owe her at least one lunch invitation, so ask her to lunch and don't invite anyone else. Problem solved, no?
posted by DarlingBri at 6:58 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks for all the input; I have asked her to lunch before and it ended up turning into a bigger group somehow. And we have had the conversation about introversion/extroversion, funnily enough, and she did say that a group of six-eight people was comfortable for her, so that's definitely a factor.

But I will try asking her to lunch again and qualify the "just you and me" bit, and see how that goes.

Oh, and I'm a girl too, so no worries about being perceived as flirting.
posted by tooloudinhere at 7:09 AM on July 9, 2012

A friend of mine introduced to me the phrase "friend date" just for this kind of thing: where you and a friend hang out platonically, one on one.
posted by so much modern time at 7:48 AM on July 9, 2012

I was just about to suggest what so much modern time said about friend dates. I really need one-on-one face time in order to feel like I have a genuine relationship with someone because I find that group settings are difficult to really get to know or catch up on anything beyond surface stuff. When ever a friend and I decide to meet up, I usually throw in somewhere into the conversation, "I can't wait for our friend date!" or, "Can we have a friend date - just you and me?" This works pretty well.
posted by tealeaf522 at 8:34 AM on July 9, 2012

Tell her you're just not that comfortable in a group of 6 -- tell her briefly about how it affects you. It's true, and it's the kind of thing you'd tell a friend.
posted by wryly at 10:28 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Are you interested in her romantically? She may sense this and bring along a human shield to make sure that its not a date.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:40 AM on July 9, 2012

Oh, and I'm a girl too, so no worries about being perceived as flirting.


Even if you're a girl who dates guys and she knows that, she doesn't know that you're not a girl who also dates girls.

I do think that this is an unlikely reason for why she likes to do group things--it sounds like that's her preference for whatever reason--but still I wouldn't 100% rule it out just because you're the same gender.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:51 AM on July 9, 2012

. Ask her explicitly: "Hey, new friend, want to go to lunch, just you and me on Saturday?"

Unless she's 100% sure of your orientation, she's going to read this as a date invitation.
posted by spaltavian at 12:05 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Are you interested in her romantically? She may sense this and bring along a human shield to make sure that its not a date.

Yeah, I think Ironmouth's got the right of it. Especially because you do seem like you want to get her alone, she may be (rightly or wrongly) interpret it as you wanting to date her, and not want to do that. She may just want to be your friend.

I'm an extrovert, and it is /hard/ for me to remember that introverts like small groups. You may also want to specifically state that you are an introvert and this is just how things work for your kind. :)
posted by corb at 1:51 PM on July 9, 2012

lunch with her and three other people and it ends up being like eight of us.

Hmmm, 2+3=5 add 3=8

How about asking her to dinner and specifically naming two other people to come along so you all can talk without so much going on? "I'm interested in what Sam and Barb have to say, and never get much chance to talk to them when there's so many people." That way it wouldn't be a date as such, or a crowd, yet slightly less of a zoo than having six or eight people along. As well, you can control the who and where of the social event.

Perhaps you could specify "dinner at Joes, from 6 to 10, with Sam and Barbara, and suggest to her when you call that you'd like to have coffee somewhere later, just the two of you, so you could get her input on some other outing or event and who/what would work. Mention that you feel It [sometimes] takes forever to decide anything, and there is no leadership., and that you'd like to have things hammered out, with her help, prior. That way you sneakily get some time with her alone, but it doesn't sound like a date. Maybe plan a movie, and mention she could invite a few others. Do something that you can reasonably leave early afterwards.

The next time, you can invite just her to help you paint your bike, or go walk a dog--something that has a purpose and is more of a non-date type event. Mention at that point that you enjoy her company as a friend and like to be able to hang out one on one occasionally just to talk. You should be good to go once she is more comfortable with the idea you're not going to hit on her. You'll probably have to occasionally spend time with her friends (once in a while--maybe at your invite to things like movies, where you don't have to interact so much) so she doesn't think you're trying to corral her.
posted by BlueHorse at 3:24 PM on July 9, 2012

Not the direction I envisioned this thread going...but hilarious.
posted by tooloudinhere at 3:57 PM on July 9, 2012

Since when did going out to dinner with a friend one on one suggest that you are going on a date with them? I see girls going to lunch with one another all the time, I hardly think they are all dating.
posted by eq21 at 11:42 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

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