We can be friends if you respect how boring I am.
June 25, 2014 5:45 PM   Subscribe

My friend would like me to go out more. I am not interested. How do I address the tensions this is causing in our friendship?

Part of the issue is that we're currently in different spaces in our lives.

She's focused on dating and finding a partner. I am a serene single.

She's a business owner who's hoping she'll find a business model that will allow her to work less than 20 hours a week. I'm an academic obsessed with my job. I find I am happier at work when I keep to a good sleeping schedule.

Her business closes at 8pm, so she likes to go out at around 10. I like to be in bed by 10.

Recently, we had a fight because I didn't feel like going out (my bad, it was after I said I would). She wanted to go out (it was 11pm) and I wanted to go home. She basically said I was boring. She also said that the reason I am single is because I never go out.

I want to address those comments. Where do begin?
posted by Milau to Human Relations (18 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I think in order to advise you on how to address these comments, it might be useful to think about what you want to accomplish. I mean, as you present it here, it's not just that you two are having a disagreement over this; it's that (again, as you tell it) she's being outright insulting and dismissive of you as a person. So do you just want her to quit bugging you (regardless of how she feels about your lack of interest in going out), or do you want her to be more genuinely understanding/respectful of your preferences?

That said, if a friend told me I was boring and threw my relationship status in my face like this, she wouldn't actually be my friend much longer.
posted by scody at 5:55 PM on June 25, 2014 [14 favorites]

Do you still want to spend time with your friend? If so I would start there and let her know that you do, but then explain the plans that work for you, like Sunday brunch, or a movie and popcorn at one of your homes before she goes out for her late night socializing. I would apologize for flaking out, not overly, just a clean, I'm sorry I did that, here's how we can make things work going forward. Then the ball is in her court. If she is not okay with that type of friendship, well, that is what you can offer and it will be clear whether you can stay friends in a "getting together" fashion. You could also compromise on trading activities, but you do not have to, you can absolutely state what you can offer, as long as you understand she has the same choice to say that does not work for her. But, I want to be clear, you should not have to apologize for having different priorities and frankly I'm a little ticked on your behalf that she doesn't respect your choice to be single, but only you know if this is a friendship you want to continue.
posted by dawg-proud at 5:56 PM on June 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would tell her what you just wrote above. Namely that you value your friendship with her, but that you're different people with different priorities, and, most importantly, different schedules. You're not going to be a late-night party girl no matter what sort of pressure she puts on you. She just needs to find a different friend to do that with. Propose brunch dates or going to the farmer's market together. Find something you both enjoy and do it at a time when both of you are available.

As for her comment about you being single, it sounds like an angry jab. First of all, you're happily single and she's not, so already you both have a difference in perspective. Second, if you're not the type of person who likes to go out late at night, you shouldn't be looking for a partner doing something you would otherwise prefer not to do. She's a night owl? She should date someone who also loves to be out late. Tell her you'll look for dates at academic conferences and she can look for dates while out on the town late at night.
posted by quince at 6:00 PM on June 25, 2014 [8 favorites]

I like to go to bed early too, so I sympathize with this. I usually invite people to hang out on the weekend during the day. But I probably wouldn't want to be friends with someone who would call me "boring." (Or anyone boring; that's just kind of rude). If she doesn't want to accommodate your schedule, maybe you should focus on finding others who share similar lifestyles (if you're in the Bay Area, I'll hang out with you). :)
posted by three_red_balloons at 6:04 PM on June 25, 2014

When my friends have different needs than I do, I respect that and look for ways to meet in the middle. I don't belittle them.

This is not how a friend acts, and you do not owe her a justification for how you choose to live your life. That would be true even if your choice was heroin and vandalism, much less early nights and hard work.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:06 PM on June 25, 2014

She can find a running buddy to go out with. You guys can get lunch and go shopping together. Just be honest, "Kathy, I love you, but I really hate going out to clubs. I still want to spend time with you so let's do fun day stuff like lunch and movies, and you can go clubbing with other friends."

You shouldn't have to go to clubs just to stay her friend .
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:34 PM on June 25, 2014 [5 favorites]

Don't say you will do something and then bail. This behavior is very disturbing to me, and typically friends who have done this more than a couple of times are now former friends. If a friend can not go out as much as I do, I understand, but if I friend makes plans with me and then cancels last minute (without an emergency reason, of course), I would have some choice words to say before I calmed down.
posted by hworth at 6:39 PM on June 25, 2014 [13 favorites]

I agree. Apologize for flaking, first of all -- since a night out at a club is apparently something she perceives to be her path to finding happiness (viz., a guy), it meant much more to her than to you.

But also explain to her that you need to find a different way to spend time with her, and point out that even if you did want to find someone, you're not going to find a compatible person at a club, because you hate clubs, so your interests in this activity really really do not align. And she should apologize for the snotty words she said in anger -- if she doesn't, the friendship isn't likely to last anyway.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:50 PM on June 25, 2014

Recently, we had a fight because I didn't feel like going out (my bad, it was after I said I would). She wanted to go out (it was 11pm) and I wanted to go home.

Yeah, apologise for baling; it's inconsiderate and inconvenient.

She basically said I was boring.

This is a pretty rude thing of your friend to say.

I suggest: "I'm cool with that. I don't like clubs and late nights. I do like sleeping. Let's get lunch instead".

She also said that the reason I am single is because I never go out.

Also very rude, and I think you should call her out on it..

"No, the reason I'm single is because I'm not looking for a relationship right now. I'm cool with that too. Look, you're my friend, and I love you. But it makes me feel bad when you call me boring. It's OK for us to like and want different things. We can meet in the middle, and still have tons of fun".

Keep in mind that she was probably way harsher than she intended to be because of the heat of the moment.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:05 PM on June 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think a lot of AskMe questions are answered right in the post's title. "We can be friends if you respect how boring I am" is an absolutely perfect thing to say. It acknowledges your differences, it asks for respect, it is low-key and humorous, and it sets a boundary.
posted by selfmedicating at 7:21 PM on June 25, 2014 [10 favorites]

As far as the night you "flaked", how firm were the plans when you made them? Was it established up front that it would be a late night, or was it more a matter of "yeah, let's get together that evening!" and then things drifted later and later until suddenly it's 11 pm and she wants to go clubbing? That would make a difference to me in terms of how much or how little groveling would seem to be appropriate. IMO, if the plans were originally "we'll go out late" then you should apologize. If plans were less-formed, maybe more of a "we didn't communicate clearly about what we expected that evening" conversation is in order.

Does she show any awareness that you two have different preferences, life circumstances, etc.? From what you've written, it doesn't sound like she's doing much to meet you midway. And trying to make you feel bad about being single… ugh.
posted by Lexica at 7:22 PM on June 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Quick devils advocate - are you taking this too personally? She was frustrated by you bailing & said "you're so boring, you never go out! You'll never find a guy if you just stay home." Sounds like she was blowing off steam not deeply critiquing your life choices.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:47 PM on June 25, 2014 [6 favorites]

I hope you won't dismiss this out of hand .. I'm 60+ years old, but I've been there.
I think the real issue is a hard fact: People grow at different rates and in different ways, especially when they're young.
I'm not disparaging her clubbing -- not at all. We all do what we want/need/are able to do. I sometimes wished I could have been more of a clubber. But I wasn't. And it sound like you're not either.
I'd cut her a break on the 'boring' comment -- she likes you, but she wasn't lying. Just file it. You'll see soon enough how important it is, to her and to you.
I've been married for many years to a non-clubber. I could say 'happily married,' but that doesn't begin to capture it.
Good advice here. Above all, be true to you. And yes, apologize for standing her up. It happens.
posted by LonnieK at 8:08 PM on June 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

I think in order to advise you on how to address these comments, it might be useful to think about what you want to accomplish.

In the past, I had a tendency to distance myself from people who I perceived as hurting me. I'd like to try a new tack and see what happens when I am upfront about my feelings and needs.

As far as the night you "flaked", how firm were the plans when you made them?

She had been feeling like going out all week and we had said we would go out either that night and/or some other night. In my mind the plans were tentative, while in hers they were firm. We went out for a dinner that ran late. She tried to convince the whole table to go out. No one was into it. I whined about being tired and not wanting to go clubbing and that is when she got upset. Her reaction surprised me. I did end up going out (and having a good time) that night. Since then, however, I'm not very comfortable with her.
posted by Milau at 3:36 AM on June 26, 2014

Sounds like there was a bit of a friend-group dynamic going on on that particular night, so perhaps it wasn't all because of you, even if she aimed it at you. I can imagine feeling a bit bristly, defensive and embarrassed (and so likely to lash out) if an entire table of friends declined my plans, and I'd been a bit too pushy trying to get them to do the thing. Maybe the fact that you did go out might have redeemed you a bit in her eyes? But yeah, if you still feel uncomfortable, I agree with a previous poster that "We can be friends if you respect how boring I am" would really be a perfect thing to stay.

I'm like you, and my housemates are like your friend. They don't club but they often stay out late doing various things, go to the pub, etc. I just say no and put up with the guilt-trip. It's tempting to agree and then back out later to make sure people don't feel bad, but I think in the long run it's always better to say "No thanks" and stick to your guns. Saves all that "you cancelled on me!" guilt, which for me is worse than the "You never come out!" guilt.
posted by mymbleth at 6:08 AM on June 26, 2014

You probably are an introvert. This essay might help you figure it out. Have your friend read it ,too.
posted by Carol Anne at 7:43 AM on June 26, 2014

Tell friend what you told us. I am a serene single. I find I am happier at work when I keep to a good sleeping schedule. I like to be in bed by 10. and maybe add Let's get together for lunch. If a friend told me I was boring, I'd probably say That's awfully critical, and makes me feel bad and see how they respond.
posted by theora55 at 9:17 AM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Let me return to this with a little sharper comment: You're growing up faster than she is. It's one of the great surprises of young adulthood.
posted by LonnieK at 5:45 PM on June 26, 2014

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