Making plans with friends
November 19, 2012 4:58 PM   Subscribe

How do grownups make plans?

I like socializing with people, especially one-on-one or in small groups, but I don't do it anywhere near as much as I'd like. All sorts of people recommend fixing this by being the one to make plans. But I guess I missed that lesson: I don't know how to ask friends to do something with me.

Not dates, not Big Events, just going to grab a coffee, or my wife and I going out for dinner with another couple, or going to see a concert with someone, or whatever. It even seems weird to say "Hey, want to go grab a coffee sometime" -- but I know the thing about making plans is making specific plans, like "let's go for coffee on Saturday afternoon".

Somehow this seems harder than asking someone out on a date, because at least there's a script for that. How, if I don't already have a routine of meeting up with someone to do a thing, do I ask? How do you make plans with friends?

(In case it matters, I'm a guy.)
posted by mendel to Human Relations (20 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe do it by text, phone, or email, or while at work with coworkers you get along with?
posted by Autumn89 at 5:00 PM on November 19, 2012

Follow the same script you would use to ask someone for a date. It really is that simple.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:01 PM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I mean, unless your script for asking people for a date includes the phrase "and then after that we shall retire to my apartment to re-enact the Bunny Licking Its Fur Pose from the Kama Sutra", I'd leave that part out maybe.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:02 PM on November 19, 2012 [18 favorites]

Response by poster: Whew, that was close.
posted by mendel at 5:06 PM on November 19, 2012 [18 favorites]

Hey Mendel,

Do you and Mrs. Mendel wanna catch up sometime? Mrs. Advicepig and I are free after 6:30 on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday next week. We were thinking about checking out that new Thai place.

Let me know,
posted by advicepig at 5:07 PM on November 19, 2012 [19 favorites]

I think the thing to remember is that this is mildly awkward for just about everyone. Once you realize that, and just take it upon yourself to be the one assuming the awkward burden, it gets a little easier.

I think there's also something to be said about bringing up things that you specifically have in common. Like, if you have a friend from work who you usually talk about horror movies with, and there's a new horror movie coming out, it's a natural transition from "Hey have you seen BUNNIES FROM HELL yet? It looks so good!" to "Let's go see it this weekend!".

I think when you're first starting to hang out with someone new, it's easier to bring up specific, timely events (like a museum exhibit or a wine tasting or a movie), rather than just a nebulous "let's get coffee". To me, it's easier to play it off like "oh man, I really want to do this cool thing and need somebody to go with me, want it to be you?" than "Do you like me as a friend YES/NO circle one!"
posted by itsamermaid at 5:09 PM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

It's easier when there's a specific thing, and it's a thing you're going to do whether the other person/people come with you or not. So "wife & I are going to winefest this weekend, you should come with us!" or "the American Idol runner-up road show is coming to town on the 15th, we're going for sure, want to make a night of it?"
posted by headnsouth at 5:25 PM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I just met this woman in my neighborhood last week who I have lots in common with and would like to friends with and I just emailed this exact thing to her tonight:

"Hey [woman]! Hope things are good with you! I'm sure things are crazy right now with the holiday, but when things calm down next week, wanna get together for a drink in the neighborhood? Let me know if you're down!"

That's it!
posted by greta simone at 5:34 PM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Texts/emails/fb I have sent/received in the last couple of weeks:

- Dude! Lunch! Wednesday!
- We miss you guys, want to come over for dinner on Friday?
- Wanna grab a beer tonight?
- Wanna grab dinner tonight?
- We're getting married in a bar on Saturday! Come have beer and sign our marriage certificate! (this one may be pretty specific)

It doesn't have to be a big thing. Most people would probably love to just grab a beer or a coffee. I feel like every adult I know says they don't know how to make friends so they probably feel awkward too.
posted by magnetsphere at 5:34 PM on November 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

This is really not just need to get over the hump and DO IT. Practice makes perfect...
posted by pearlybob at 5:36 PM on November 19, 2012

This is significantly harder during the time of year when the sun sets before most people get home from work, so it's not just you. I have a lot of friends that I'd like to see more of and I am also not that great at it. Here are things that work for me.

- for people who aren't near me, a "Hey I'm going to be coming through your town/neighborhood at X date around Y time. Want to get a cup of coffee and catch up?" message over facebook, email or text
- for friends who live in my neighborhood, I'll often email "Been a while since I've seen you, would you like to come over for dinner on Friday? We're making tacos and just got this new beer/movie/bananagrams we'd like to try out"
- for people I don't know so well in my neighborhood, I'll usually ping them on facebook or email or ask if I run into them in person "Hey the Mud Season Variety Show is coming up. Are you going to that? Do you want to meet up for dinner beforehand?"

I have good local friends who have routines and a lot of our get togethers center on these routines. I usually am on Trivia Thursday night and invite people out. My friend walks her dog after work and often invites me out. I have a friend who is usually around in the afternoon and we borrow tools from each other and chat over a cup of coffee for a bit. When the weather is nicer there is a Wednesday night running club. If you're part of a couple already it's easier to say "Hey we are already doing this and we'd like you to come" this is a little more formal and specific than the also-useful "Hey it's taco night at our place on Wednesdays" where there is a standing invite and whoever shows up shows up. Worst case it's you and the missus, best case, you get to hang out with a few friends and introduce them to each other as well. Interaction tends to beget more interaction, but it's challenging to get started. Sometimes just having a routine can be the start of getting other people to meet with you or join you in it.
posted by jessamyn at 5:37 PM on November 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

Email or phone. "Hey, me and the missus are going to X event/grab a bite at that cool new place this Saturday lunch time. Fancy joining us?"
posted by Decani at 5:46 PM on November 19, 2012

I find it helpful to remember that people like to be invited to social events! Even if they can't make it for some reason, none of your friends will be all, "ugh, I can't believe they want to go get tacos with me!?!?! WHAT THE HELL1!!1!" People like their friends to make an effort to see them, and people like getting invited to do fun stuff. Remembering that helps keep the awkward at bay, I think.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 6:00 PM on November 19, 2012 [5 favorites]

Hey, mendel,

I'd love to get together for coffee/ice cream/dinner/a walk in the woods/a museum tour/whatever. I'm free these times; 3-5 proposed times. Do any of those work for you? Or would you be interested in something else? I look forward to seeing you soon in any case!

posted by rosa at 6:01 PM on November 19, 2012

You have good scripts here for inviting people to specific events so I'll address how to invite your friends who you already spend time with, over just to 'hang out'.

I have a lot of friends who I'll talk with about movies or TV shows we like. So it's easy to ask them later, "Hey, want to come over on Tuesday and watch that show?" Then we can get a regular thing going.

My usual email or chat/text script for other get-togethers looks like, "Hey, I haven't gotten the chance to hang out with you in a while - want to get dinner sometime next week?" [yeah, sure!] "Which days work for you? I'm free every day but Tuesday." [How about Thursday, at 7:30 so I can avoid rush hour?] "Great, got a place in mind? We've got great Thai and Mexican food nearby." [Ooh, Thai sounds good] "OK, see you at the Thai place at 7:30 on Thursday!"

The only thing I would recommend being careful about is giving them plenty of flexibility about when and what, and not pressuring them to hang out with you _all the time_. But once a week or so is pretty reasonable to at least try to hang out.
posted by Lady Li at 6:18 PM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

With social networking, you can create an informal event, set a date, and then just add people you know to it. (i.e. Facebook events).

When it comes to even more informal plans sometimes I'll just shoot a text to a friend that could be as simple as: "Coffee?" or "Drinks tonight?" or "DOCTOR WHO MARATHON BITCHESSSSS!! P.S. Bring beer."

That's usually a starter to them asking the questions and you just providing information.

A lot of the time they'll say they're busy or something though, but don't let that get you down.

Just keep it simple. Don't stress. Don't overthink it.
posted by Peregrin5 at 7:59 PM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree with much of the advice above. I especially think it's a good idea to ask to meet at a specific time and place and/or do something that involves a mutual interest.

I also think making plans get easier the more you do it. When you get in a rhythm of hanging out with people, it doesn't feel as weird to ask them if they're free. At this point, I have a few friends that are my go-to for various things--the friend who organizes pub quiz, the one who shares my interest in good cheap concerts, the one who likes to try out new restaurants, etc. I tend to ask if they'd like to get dinner if I haven't heard from them for a month or so, or email them if I see an event I know they'd like, and they're usually up for it. (Of course, it helps that I'm the one who's notorious for knowing where all the good restaurants are...)
posted by mlle valentine at 8:38 PM on November 19, 2012

Recently when hanging out with the parents of our 3-year-old's daycare friend, we were doing the normal parents-of-small-children-small-talk stuff, which usually gets into what kind of activities the kids enjoy, etc.

We were talking about how much we like taking the ferry (instead of the train) into San Francisco, and how much the kids like it, which naturally progressed to "let's all go do that some time."
posted by colin_l at 5:56 AM on November 20, 2012

My "strategy" for this sort of thing is to be so caught up in the exciting prospect of what I'm suggesting that I don't think too much about things like strategy.

"Hey! [Awesome band] is playing at [place] next month! Wanna come?"
"This place does cathead biscuit sandwiches for brunch - what on earth is a cathead biscuit? ...Well, if you don't know either, shall we come back on Sunday and find out?"
"Ohmygod, there's a squirrel migration going on? That's so cool! Wanna go see it?"
"You said you'd never seen Rocky Horror, right? They're playing it at [cinema], and I think you'd love it. How's next Thursday night for you?"
"That was a fantastic night - thanks so much for coming out with us! Want to make this a regular thing?"

It'd probably be really disingenuous to try and do this as a manipulative thing, but genuine enthusiasm tends to be infectious.

Also, as Countess Sandwich says, people like being invited to things! I find that if people are really thrilled by the thought of doing something - and doing it with me - I'm receptive to it even if it's not an activity I'd seek out on my own. Loving what you're doing makes it easier to get people to join you doing what you love.
posted by Someone Else's Story at 12:46 PM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: This is ALL SO HELPFUL and you are all WONDERFUL and I started marking best answers but then it got silly so I stopped but seriously so helpful. Yay!
posted by mendel at 7:42 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

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