One way friends
November 7, 2017 8:09 AM   Subscribe

Kinda embarrased by this question: As an extrovert who is slightly awkward: I'm having a little trouble dealing with the fact that 75% of my social hangouts are instigated by me. Logically, it should be ok-- when I reach out, more times than not, people want to hang out. Folks seem to have fun and repeat. But I feel like maybe I need to 'slow my roll?' I don't want to be awkward and overbearing. Am I thinking this way too much? Snowflakey details inside:

Couple snowflaky things that may color your answer:

- My wife and I moved to NYC around a year and a half ago.
- Most of these friends we knew before we came to the city.
- None live in my neighborhood
- They all are disparate (live different parts of city, different groups, etc)
- I travel for work during week often (about 6 days a month) and out of town at least every three weekends
- Wife has tremendous social ability but needs less social interaction than me (can go days without seeing other people-- ideally need other people most days of the week).
posted by sandmanwv to Society & Culture (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If your friends know that you travel a lot, they may be expecting you to reach out when you have availability, since they don't know your schedule. When I was working a job with a much more demanding schedule, I had to do most of my own social organizing because I simply couldn't commit to plans made by other people. (It should have been torture for me as an introvert, but I was so shellshocked it barely registered.)
posted by praemunire at 8:14 AM on November 7, 2017 [9 favorites]

As a person with social anxiety, I really appreciate it when other people do all the scheduling. I assume that people will ask me if they want to see me and that if they haven't asked it's because they actively don't want to see me (and I don't want to ask unless I know the person is already keen because I assume they'll reject me if I don't already have a reasonable level of certainty as to their keenness, and I will go out of my way to avoid even casual rejection). That plus your travel schedule would mean that if we were friends I would be expecting you to state when you can do stuff and I'd be seeing if I could fit in with that.

I realise that this is screwy and not easy to predict/understand without explanation if you're the person on the other end of it, and I'm actively trying to get better at putting myself out there, but that's a process and in the meantime I do rely on other people a lot for "let's get together" cues.

Given that your friends tend to say yes (and I assume you're not getting subtle cues that they feel over-scheduled by you?), and the fact that they have low insight into when you're travelling and when you're not, I say carry on doing what you're doing if it's working for you, or consider having a conversation with them about how you'd like them to do some of the scheduling/organising if it's not working for you.
posted by terretu at 8:37 AM on November 7, 2017 [19 favorites]

Man, that sucks. And it‘s also self-perpetuating, because the more you do the organizing, the more other people lean back and let you do it, because it‘s work.

I‘d be inclined to pull back so I don‘t feel used. But then you‘ll see less of your friends.

Maybe institute a regular event, like a Friday movie night? Then everyone knows it‘s going to happen and no one is the host/organiser and it‘ll be fun even if you end up only two of you.
posted by Omnomnom at 8:43 AM on November 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

Yeah, I think that's just fine (as long as you don't mind the burden of doing all the initiation) -- as long as people are saying yes, it means they want to see you. I'm introverted and bad at logistics, and friends who are willing to make all the plans are the best, because I never want to. I would guess that your friends don't think you're overbearing, they think you're delightful.
posted by LizardBreath at 8:44 AM on November 7, 2017 [17 favorites]

Does doing the planning bother you other than concerns about being awkward and overbearing? As a people-loving extrovert who is also just terrible at planning and putting things together (and honestly has a lot of anxiety about rejection if I do make plans), I really appreciate my planning-oriented friends. My best and most meaningful friendships in life have always been with people I naturally see often (roommates, schoolmates, etc) or people that were planners themselves so that we actually hung out and deepen our relationship. I know it's a personal failing of mine, but I don't think it's too unusual.

If you're concerned, there's no shame in asking your friends "I feel like I might reach out with plans too much. Is that true? Does it bother you? What's best for you?" and then taking that to heart. They may be like me and honestly welcome it.
posted by mosst at 8:47 AM on November 7, 2017 [4 favorites]

Do you want to do it ? (planning/organizing).

I'm the organizer for a handful of friend-groups. They may organize their own 1:1 things, but I tend to be the one who gets the larger group together. They openly appreciate that I do it, and realize without, would either not, or barely ever, see one another. I enjoy doing it, and I enjoy seeing them.

I schedule (or try, with kids and activities) both set things (once a month, usually a Thursday) and keep open space for spontaneous things (neighbors, coworkers, whatever - a "hey, lets go ___" event). Unsure if that fits your schedule.
posted by k5.user at 9:00 AM on November 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

Are they really your friends? I have had several one way friends that as soon as I stop instigating communications & events just cease being friends entirely.
posted by TheAdamist at 9:19 AM on November 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

When you say they are disparate and that you were friends with most of them before moving to your current location... does that imply that most of these hangouts are large group hangouts where most of the invitees only know each other through you?

I would try adding more individual hangouts with one of them at a time, or you and your wife hanging out with one couple at a time. This style is more conducive to back and forth reciprocity, alternating locations convenient to you with locations convenient to them, for example. It also addresses the possibility that some of these folks might like to hang with *you* more, while they may just not be that into some others in the group.
posted by Former Congressional Representative Lenny Lemming at 9:33 AM on November 7, 2017

If people are coming and having fun, I think you are fine! I agree with the other commenters that say they appreciate it when others do planning or suggest things because it is hard for them to do so for a variety of reasons. You would have a different problem if you were constantly suggesting things that no one showed to or you didn't get responses for. It takes effort for people to agree to come to something and then actually show up and hang out. I think a sense of obligation to do that would fade out pretty quick and the attendance rate would reflect that sentiment (especially in NY when you have a million excuses at your fingertips). So I think you have real friends who like hanging out with you. If you don't mind doing the planning, just keep rolling with it.

As someone who also feels they do a lot of heavy lifting in friendships, I really liked the way a recent episode of the podcast Heavyweight ended:

"Maybe in all friendships if you ask, 'Who's getting the raw end of the deal?' the answer is inevitably, 'I am.' But if the friendship has a fighting chance of lasting...that answer will also contain some version of 'but it's worth it.'"
posted by LKWorking at 10:04 AM on November 7, 2017 [5 favorites]

Yeah I am bad about scheduling because I have a more flexible schedule than most of my friends, so I always feel like I'm intruding or imposing when I suggest something, even though this is dumb. I try to be more proactive about it but it's frankly a relief when I have a Type A friend who takes over the plan-making!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:09 AM on November 7, 2017

I'm also that person. My book group, coffee dates, game nights -- it's me almost all of the time. But I accept that a) people will say "no" if they don't actually like me, and b) I get to say we're meeting at the bar that's in walking distance of my house, or that we get pizza from my favorite spot (again, I presume people will speak up if they're not happy).

It's flattering to be invited to do things, but there are advantages to doing the inviting.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:23 AM on November 7, 2017 [6 favorites]

Every friend group needs this person! I've become a lot more introverted (or maybe just accepted my introverted nature) in the past few years, and even before that, I basically made zero plans and took no initiative in friend hangouts. I LOVE my friends! I love seeing my friends! But I like staying in and doing my own thing too, so it's more natural for me to take people up on invitations. I get to do fun things with people I know are also game, and still maintain my rigorous schedule of staying home and making art/working on side projects/reading/playing video games. I find in my post-college existence, my life is mostly oriented around work and personal projects/hobbies, which makes friend time more scarce in general. I assume most of my friends are similar. I often don't even think to make plans because there are so many other things I feel like I could or should be doing, but it's 100% not for lack of interest in friend time!

It's usually not too difficult, once you're looking, to suss out whether or not a person is just being polite and isn't interested in a friendship with you (especially if they bail a lot). If they're accepting your invites and you're having a good time together, you're most likely golden!

NYC addition: I lived in Brooklyn for most of 2016 and it was absolutely exhausting for me. I went out with friends on weekends and did the occasional after-work dinner or drinks, but the daily commute alone really sapped a ton of my energy. I work from home now farther upstate and am pretty happy seeing friends maybe once a week/on the weekends. I can only speak for myself, but NYC added a thick layer of tired-and-want-to-go-home on top of that. It's very possible people are full up with city livin' stuff and find it a relief when others want to make the plans!
posted by caitcadieux at 10:52 AM on November 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

I am ambiverted, so while I love socializing it also exhausts me, plus I tend to hide when at all stressed, which sometimes means ignoring invitations and always means not instigating hangouts. I am SO SO SO grateful to friends who take the initiative to get together!
posted by pseudostrabismus at 11:51 AM on November 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

I swear there is something about NYC that makes people not do things. I had dear friends that I saw every other month, and geographical issues made it worse. Lots of people spend so much time on the subway for commuting that the thought of getting back on the train and then back on again to go home can be a deal killer.

I think you have to just take it on faith that your friends want to see you and will say no if they don't. "Slow your roll" is more of an issue in new friendships. But really one of the keys to happiness in NYC, I started to think in my last few years there (living in fucking Inwood) is having friends in the neighborhood, and having standing dates (like pub trivia night or whatever, something weekly maybe.)
posted by Smearcase at 12:54 PM on November 7, 2017

Same here. People think you are resourceful and so they rely on you.
posted by Kwadeng at 7:18 AM on November 8, 2017

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