Always Planning Trips
August 9, 2022 12:09 PM   Subscribe

I have a friend who is always planning trips. Some are doable, but frankly with family and other commitments, it's just too much. How would you address this?

It's nice they want to travel with me, I get that. But every hang out has an inevitable, "we should go to...." conversation. This includes suggestions of weekend getaways close and far. Truthfully, it is stressing me out to have this conversation multiple times, as I give a non-committal "that'd be nice" and move onto the next topic.

Why? Since COVID, I really value my personal time and frankly would rather travel with or to see out of town family, stay in town or take a vacation with my wife. The latest is a trip next year. After seeing my parents this past weekend, he brought up with them that they should join a trip with him and his parents next year. That train is rolling down the tracks based on a text message just received. I think my parents were just being polite about wanting to do this particular trip next year. As was I, as I'm not too thrilled about it with the dates / direct ask now on the table.

Am I being ridiculous? Would you address this? If so, how?
posted by glaucon to Human Relations (37 answers total)
Not ridiculous. In fact totally ok. You probably need to tell your friend what you just told us.
posted by rd45 at 12:11 PM on August 9, 2022 [3 favorites]

If you don’t think it would be nice, why are you saying it would be nice? This person is presumably not psychic. Don’t get mad at them for taking you at your word.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:16 PM on August 9, 2022 [39 favorites]

It might just be their hobby.

I have planned multiple family trips in the past few years -- dates, tickets, daily itineraries -- that we had no hope of taking! :7) And I know it: I just like to day-dream that way. I get to watch silent walking tours on YouTube, and browse travel forums, and make lists & maps. It's better than smoking cigarettes at a sports bar, you know?

I am realistic about it. Maybe you just need to be realistic with your friend, who probably will be fine with the news....and go on to start planning another Maybe/Someday/Never vacation...
posted by wenestvedt at 12:16 PM on August 9, 2022 [8 favorites]

This sounds like a lot! But it's happening because you're having a communication breakdown. Your friend is taking your polite noncommittal noises as a green light to forge ahead with planning, so you need to be clearer when these hypotheticals come up. Instead of just saying "That'd be nice," say "That sounds fun, but I don't have any vacation days left this year" or "I wish I could, but my wife and I have already planned a trip to Narnia."

Same goes for your parents - they should reach out and say that they aren't sure what next year is going to look like and can't plan any trips right now, or something like that. You're not being ridiculous, at all, but you know for a fact that your friend takes polite small talk as indications of definite interest, so you should all change the way you're responding to him before you get too frustrated with him.
posted by superfluousm at 12:23 PM on August 9, 2022 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: If you don’t think it would be nice, why are you saying it would be nice? This person is presumably not psychic. Don’t get mad at them for taking you at your word.

Very fair point. A combination of people pleasing plus growing up in Guess Culture where the actual answer isn’t given until the actual proposal is in front of you. It’s anxiety inducing, that’s for sure.

With people closer to me, voicing minor frustrations (ie at the time of asking) is very difficult for me. I can do it but I really struggle. I grew up in a home where there was anger and frustration voiced frequently at me.

So I think I’ve adjusted to try and keep conversation light and to give minor indications I’m actually probably not on board. Since I am not practiced in giving a direct answer, this leads to me addressing it later once there is something tangible (after much anguish on how to reply).

So, yeah. I guess any help on just being more direct generally is welcomed, too.
posted by glaucon at 12:25 PM on August 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Upon further reflection, I have also given other answers besides “that would be nice.” But they’re really soft answers and do hinge on availability, etc…

I think the bigger conversation I’ve been delaying is “stop planning trips every time we hang out” and this is making that very apparent
posted by glaucon at 12:28 PM on August 9, 2022 [2 favorites]

"It's a nice idea, but my travel budget's already completely tapped out. Let me know if you end up going yourself though, I'd love to hear the stories!"
posted by cgg at 12:29 PM on August 9, 2022 [13 favorites]

Hi! I plan a lot of trips. I always invite people, but what really helps me is when someone says, as early in the planning process: "Sorry, can't join you on this one!"
Really. it saves me so much time & stress. So just say that.
posted by haplesschild at 12:31 PM on August 9, 2022 [22 favorites]

Initially I thought "what's the problem with them planning trips", but then I saw that you meant they are planning trips for you to join them on.

I think a general note to them that "hey, I really am not all that big on traveling, but you go on and tell me all about it" or whatever might help here.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:33 PM on August 9, 2022 [5 favorites]

It seems like you are taking your friend inviting you to take trips with him as an imposition or obligation. Unless you know based on experience that he takes a friendly "not this time" as an insult and devastating rejection (which is not a normal healthy response), might I suggest that he's offering a gift, not issuing a demand? He is inviting you to things because he likes doing things with you, likes planning things, and thinks you would enjoy the experience. It's not rude of him to ask. He's trying to do a nice thing.

If you want to be his friend but just aren't up for so many trips, just communicate that. You don't have to say, "Stop planning trips with me every time we hang out," like he has done something wrong by asking you to go on trips "too much." Better options: "Hey, I've had fun doing things like this but doing a lot of trips is a bit much for me right now, I am trying to have more alone time." "Hey, I don't think I'm going to have time for X thing you suggested, but how about doing Y instead?" If a friend told me that and suggested what would work better for then I would be happy, I don't want them to do stuff with me because they felt like they couldn't say no.

In other words you don't have a problem here, you have a friend that likes hanging out with you and is generous enough to put in the work of planning.
posted by Mistaken for Strangers at 12:41 PM on August 9, 2022 [13 favorites]

Have you gone on any trips with them? If not, then they're not always planning trips, they're always planning a trip, because they would like to go on a trip with you, and are trying to hit on the sort of trip that you would be interested in / say yes to.

So if you're not interested in going on a trip, period, or not in the forseeable future, then that's what you need to say. You can be appreciative that they want to spend time with you and share their travel hobby with you - you can even say it sounds like fun, if what they're proposing actually does sound fun - but in a way that shows that you value what they're offering, while making it clear that right now you're just not putting travel on your list of things you're making time to do.
posted by Mchelly at 12:44 PM on August 9, 2022 [4 favorites]

With people closer to me, voicing minor frustrations (ie at the time of asking) is very difficult for me.

You don't need to express any frustration at all here. You don't need to tell them you find this habit frustrating, you just need to say: "It's sweet that you always think of me when you're thinking about trips, but I must admit, don't really feel as into travelling as I used to, so I'm afraid it'll be a no from me from now on, sorry about that!" Maybe add: "I might take a few family trips, but that's about all I'm up for these days," if you think he might see you going somewhere with family and assume you're back into travelling.

If he persists in asking, you can just repeat: "Sounds cool, but like I said, I'm really not up for travelling much these days." After a few repeats I imagine he'll get the message.

You're actually not helping him by being vague or pretending you like the idea when you don't, it's much more useful for him to know what your preference is rather than having to guess.
posted by penguin pie at 12:44 PM on August 9, 2022 [15 favorites]

> growing up in Guess Culture where the actual answer isn’t given until the actual proposal is in front of you

But being honest isn't the same as giving a hard no before you're asked. Like I understand that shutting people down with "No I do not wish to go on the trip," is in contravention of Guess Culture, and even normal rules of politeness since you haven't been given a formal invitation, but when you're in these conversations, you could easily say, "Oof, the very thought of traveling feels exhausting to me rn, I'm so overwhelmed," or "OMG that sounds like such a cool plan! I wish I had the energy to go with you!" This type of tactful honesty is never in contravention of Guess Culture rules, and in fact it's MANDATORY in order for Guess Culture to ever work as a healthy mode of relating to other people.

The way you phrased this question is rubbing me the wrong way, tbh. You talk about "addressing this" as if your friend is engaged in some kind of transgressive behavior. They are not. You don't have to "address this" at all. There is nothing to address with your friend.

If I were to guess, what you are hinting at is that your friend ought to magically read your mind about how stressed you are and how much you hate their plan when all the time you're telling them the exact opposite of the truth: "that sounds nice" or "if I'm not busy then sure". Obviously when I spell things out like this it sounds ridiculous, but that's what you were saying in your post, right? Your friend's inability to read your mind about how stressed you are is the behavior you wanted to know how to "address". I hope you can see why that's not the right attitude to have here.
posted by MiraK at 12:44 PM on August 9, 2022 [22 favorites]

are you looking for a word track?

"I'm tapped out on travel these days. Don't have the energy. But I want to hear all about it when you get back!"
posted by fingersandtoes at 12:49 PM on August 9, 2022 [4 favorites]

You don't need to express any frustration at all here. You don't need to tell them you find this habit frustrating, you just need to say: "It's sweet that you always think of me when you're thinking about trips, but I must admit, don't really feel as into travelling as I used to, so I'm afraid it'll be a no from me from now on, sorry about that!"

Totally agree. And it would be helpful if you realized your frustration here is not his fault; it sounds like it's based more on your upbringing and triggers with that. He hasn't done anything wrong by not reading your mind, so don't treat him like he did , just find a nice way to say no. (If you are close, you could also have a heart to heart about how you find it hard to say no to things and what's going on with that, as long as you're clear about the fact that it's your issue, not his.)
posted by Mistaken for Strangers at 12:53 PM on August 9, 2022 [2 favorites]

Do you like the trips in any capacity? If so, maybe you can clear with yourself on how many trips per year you would like to take (if any) and get clear with your friend on that by bringing it up in a proactive way. If this friend is important to you and you are worried about rejecting them, maybe you can be proactive about suggesting an activity you both will enjoy and inviting them to it.
posted by bearette at 12:57 PM on August 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you for the thoughts. There is more to this that perhaps is affecting how I am viewing it.

During 2020 and early 2021, friend and his wife were very lax with COVID rules. They would frequently invite us over to hang, but this stopped early in 2020 immediately after one hang when it was clear his wife was visiting friends, family and tons of other people regularly despite the pandemic. My wife was not happy we were invited over under the impression they were taking precautions, when conversation that night revealed otherwise. We were outside for that last visit, we didn't get sick, but we decided from then on we wouldn't be hanging with them in our bubble, which was very, very small. The rest of our bubble were people we'd hang with on the porch, or family we needed to see due to events in 2020 and were indeed taking precautions (skipping holidays and Christmas, I'll note).

So, throughout COVID from that one hang, we would get regular invitations we would decline. If push came to shove, I would see him outside in a park, masked and at a distance, which for me was the only comfortable way of spending time together.

As things have relaxed, he's inquired once or twice when drinking at bars if my wife doesn't like his wife or something (and he's onto something, as she's not a fan from the COVID experiences. But as mentioned above, I'm not going to say that directly in a conversation and I demur, especially after a few drinks). So it's been clear that many of these trips are offered as a "let's bring everybody together" kind of thing. He's explicitly said so, in fact.

So there is history here. I skipped it in the original ask to get to what I thought was the heart of the matter, but on reading some of your input I thought background might be needed on why it was such a "big deal."
posted by glaucon at 1:00 PM on August 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

It sounds to me like you're trying hard to be nice, that you like your friend and don't want them to feel rejected, and that their enthusiasm has carried things forward in the past.

I'm not sure you need a formal "stop doing this" kind of conversation to curtail this. I think you can just increase the firmness and generality of your refusal. I'm an Ask person and these statements would get me to stop trying to get you to go on trips with me, at least for a while:
"I've earmarked my budget/time off work for travel for the rest of the year [or another time frame, or for the foreseeable future]"
"I don't really have the energy for travel beyond family trips I already have planned these days"
"The travel I've done recently is exhausting and I'm excited to keep things local for a while"

As others have included in their scripts, it's nice to cushion this with admiration for their energy, reassurance you've enjoyed previous trips with them, and suggestions for other things you can do together locally. You can still keep this light, just maintain a "you do you" sort of smiley attitude about it.
posted by rabbitbookworm at 1:00 PM on August 9, 2022

My BFF and I do this all the time with each other-send each other resorts we find, great travelzooo deals, etc. is our version of “what would I do if I won the lottery”-it’s fun, no expectation that it means we are doing the thing. She started including a third friend sometimes and it stresses that friend out! She clearly saw it as -I want to do this trip, let’s make a date-similarly, when my BFF would send delicious recipes, which we frequently share, sometimes cook-this friend saw it as a request to make that thing for dinner tonight.

So yes, TLDR, communication is key.
posted by purenitrous at 1:04 PM on August 9, 2022

> I think the bigger conversation I’ve been delaying is “stop planning trips every time we hang out”

If you say this, it's going to cause a lot of hurt feelings for your friend, and it will be your fault. Why? Because this would be the very first indication you're giving them that you don't absolutely love and enjoy it when they plan trips. And nobody, not even the Monarch of Ask Culture Mountain, would be cool with communicating your needs in this particular manner, because this is cruel and hurtful.

If you had a time machine, then the Monarch of Ask Culture Mountain would suggest going back in time and speaking up to say, "Nah, that's not my jam, mate," from literally the very first time your friend made a travel plan that you didn't like. Since you don't have a time machine, the Monarch of Ask Culture might advise you to say something like, "Listen, buddy, there's something I've been meaning to tell you but I keep chickening out because I get anxious. It stresses me out when you plan trips for us when we hang out. IDK what it is, maybe it's the pandemic, maybe it's my anxiety, but I'm always internally freaking out when you want to plan a trip for us. I love you and I love how travel plans make you come alive! You're not doing anything wrong! But for the sake of my out of control stress response, can you please not plan trips with me anymore?" --- i.e. direct communication without hedging or hinting, taking responsibility for your own feelings as well as your own mistakes.

If you are Overlord of Guess Culture Ocean, then you might want to avoid that big speech entirely and stick to communicating your honest feelings in the moment every time your friend brings up travel plans. "Oh, good heavens, the idea of adding travel plans to my plate is stressing me out!" or "It's so weird, here you are describing a fun trip but I'm over here almost having a panic attack about your plan. Sorry for being a Debbie downer. Jeez. What a weird stress response I'm having!" If you're really committed to Guess Culture, then you're not allowed to hold grudges against your friend for trying again next time or two. You keep communicating your honest feelings in the moment again and again, and hopefully your friend takes the hint that travel talk stresses you out.

> As things have relaxed, he's inquired once or twice when drinking at bars if my wife doesn't like his wife or something (and he's onto something, as she's not a fan from the COVID experiences. But as mentioned above, I'm not going to say that directly in a conversation

.... do you get that this is kind of cruel? It really is. Your friend is trying so hard to be your friend. They have noticed something is wrong, and they are trying to fix whatever is wrong between the both of you (and/or your spouses). AND YOU ARE DELIBERATELY FRUSTRATING THEIR EFFORTS. Please find a way to communicate honestly with them, or else just make up your mind that you cannot be their friend (you aren't, right now) and stop hanging out!
posted by MiraK at 1:07 PM on August 9, 2022 [28 favorites]

Are you sharing the COVID-era history because you actually don't like these folks much and are looking for a reason to explain that?

It sounds like this guy is a lot more invested in the friendship than you are, and you have all these reasons why you and your wife don't want to hang out with them. If so, that's fine, but you should just slow fade rather than continuing to present yourself as friends who would be getting together more but for the logistics.

If you like the guy but your wife doesn't want to do couple stuff with them, it's fine to say "Mindy's not much for couples stuff, she likes our time together to be just us."
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:08 PM on August 9, 2022 [11 favorites]

I'm a little surprised at the responses here, as this is plainly behavior I would find annoying / make me uncomfortable coming from a friend, as a bunch of trip proposals feel like an imposition to me (I imagine our family dynamics may have been similar). Furthermore with the added context I would probably have been be pissed off like your wife and refusing to hang out again with people who did that in the pandemic. Anyway, if your friend is trying to bring everyone back together and your wife is not down (which maybe deserves its own conversation -- if it's an important friend for you would she be down to hang again with these people on occasion?) then you need to deflect a little more clearly and I think a lot of the scripts above are great, making it sound like you love the idea but for *reasons* it just isn't going to work out this time, or that time, or that time. If it comes down to it, you can also come up with many wife-related excuses too, if you want. Anyway, it doesn't sound like this is the sorta guy who will take any one proposal rejection super personally, so if part of your anxiety is about that, try to push through that one because even though the same thing might make you (or definitely me) feel bad, it probably isn't so for him, because otherwise he wouldn't be so persistent.
posted by internet of pillows at 1:20 PM on August 9, 2022 [2 favorites]

It’s completely fine to say “My travel plans are already set for the foreseeable future, but that sounds fun, tell me all about it when you get back!” And to completely bow out of managing or caring about whether your parents go travelling with them.

You don’t need to have a “we will never travel with you” conversation when that’s not your style, just make it very clear that you aren’t *currently* up for travel planning and don’t expect to be anytime soon.

More generally, if COVID revealed to you that these are not people you feel comfortable or safe with, or whose values around honesty and/or community responsibility don’t mesh with yours, it’s completely okay to fade the friendship or end the friendship. But what you’re doing now, stringing your friend along just enough to make him unsure whether you’re distancing yourself or not, without being honest about any of what you’re thinking, feels like the cruelest option.
posted by Stacey at 1:22 PM on August 9, 2022 [2 favorites]

The only real advise I can give you here is to evaluate the friendship. Are you happy and comfortable being this person's friend? Is it time to get busy with more compatible people and more interesting things, and slowly ease away without a dramatic break-up? Friendships end all the time, maybe it's time this one did too.
posted by Stuka at 1:26 PM on August 9, 2022

Just to clarify, what I said above re: that it's cruel to never tell your friend what went wrong, it is not because I side with your friend on their Covid behavior. I don't think their behavior during Covid was acceptable at all.

What I'm saying is, when you're mad at your friend, it's basic decency to tell them why you're mad at them. Or you can stop being their friend (that does not make you a bad person in the least - it's quite understandable to stop being someone's friend when they have put you at risk for Covid!).

It's cruel to carry secret grudges and pile up resentments against people you call your friends, be it "they behaved atrociously during Covid!" or "ugh why can't they read my mind about how much their travel plans stress me out," or anything else. It's extra cruel when your friend has clearly sensed that they've pissed you off somehow and is asking you what it is, and you keep saying "Nope everything's fine! Haha! All cool, bestie!"
posted by MiraK at 1:27 PM on August 9, 2022 [8 favorites]

Re. your update: You could still be more honest without having to be confrontational: "To be honest, we've come out of the past couple of years feeling very Covid-cautious, we're seeing a lot fewer people than we used to, mostly outdoors, and it tends to be with people who we know for sure have a similar level of Covid-cautiousness to us, just makes us feel comfortable enough to relax. Same thing means I don't really feel excited about taking trips any more, I'm afraid. Nothing personal about you guys but we're definitely less sociable than we were - sorry."

You can own your own position and describe it clearly without it being a criticism of them. People are different from one another, and people's habits and preferences change over time. Maybe it would be easier if you frame it for yourself it as describing your current preferences, rather than rebuffing him or setting right a historical awkwardness?
posted by penguin pie at 1:27 PM on August 9, 2022 [10 favorites]

Response by poster: To be fair, the thing about covid I am personally mostly over, but it's complicated. And being in that middle place means I am balancing for myself feelings that I need to let some of it go - the past is over, it's not healthy to hold onto - and also be aware that in the zombie movie, they would hide the bite.

You say it's cruel, and I think that's maybe true, but there are complications here as well. He is a good friend. And guess what? I generally try to be a good friend back and show reciprocity. I am grateful to him as he's introduced me to a lot of people when we moved here, so I'm not ok with just letting this friendship go.

But I'm also not going to answer a question from him about past issues (yes, even as recent as covid) between our wives when we're drinking. To me, if they're not close, they're not close. It's not his responsibility to manufacture friendship between them. And frankly, I see some value in letting that time get behind us and not focus on that myself so the four of us can just hang out without some expectation that our wives need to become bestie besties.

To say "my wife isn't a fan" doesn't actually mean full on "no" from her to hang with them, either. She'll hang with them now, and does. But I know a weekend trip probably isn't something she'd be thrilled about.

So, why I provided the covid background stuff is because it does explain what he said directly: That those feelings on his part (that there's a potential issue) drive a lot of his trip planning suggestions.

I'd just rather grab drinks, dinner and conversation here where we live than to have to hear yet again about another trip idea. My wife will grab dinner, drinks and conversation with them, too.
posted by glaucon at 1:41 PM on August 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: And MiraK, know that I really do appreciate your perspective because it is challenging, and it's making me think through it more deeply. I think some of your perspective is lacking context (my fault, and the general medium's fault) but it is sharp and insightful in a helpful way.

There are issues generally I need to deal with for myself and you (among others) cut to the heart of it pretty quickly. Thank you.
posted by glaucon at 1:44 PM on August 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

My wife has started planning a lot of trips. There are a couple of reasons why, but the key thing is that she only works a four-day work week, and this is the last summer before my oldest kid starts kindergarten, so this is the last time we'll get to do long weekends. Except... I don't get long weekends. If I do something on a Friday, I have to take PTO, and I only have so much PTO in a year. It's gotten to the point where I couldn't take a whole week to visit my mom, because I don't have enough PTO - I had to shorten an already-planned vacation to take these long weekends. So I finally talked to my wife about it. I explained that I sincerely do like these long weekend trips we take, and I'd love to be able to do more, but given the limited PTO resources, I can't say yes to everything, or even very many things.

Your constraints are different, but you can do mostly the same thing. Explain that you would like to travel with your friend, but you have limited resources, and you'd prefer to prioritize family. If you're willing, maybe suggest a shorter, weekend trip with him to show that it's nothing personal.
posted by kevinbelt at 2:12 PM on August 9, 2022

I think you're mixing three issues. Your life will be easier if you separate them.

1. You don't want to go on a trip.
2. You're annoyed at your friend about the persistent planning convos.
3. You're mad at your friend about the covid thing.

You're avoiding giving answers about #1 because you think your feelings from #2 and #3 will bleed into the conversation. That doesn't have to happen. Just give a simple factual (white lie if needed) answer to #1. It doesn't need to have any emotion attached and it doesn't need to be a hint or a lie, and it won't hurt a regular person's feelings.

"Oh that sounds cool but I'm out of vacation days!"
"Oh that sounds cool but we'll be visiting family around that time."
"Oh that sounds cool but we're still uncomfortable on planes."

Once you've said no, if you want, you can be "extra nice" by offering to hang out in a way you like, or just with a compliment. Like at the end of the hangout, say, "It was so good to see you!" or "We should [do activity] next month some time!" That shows them you still like them and models how you DO want to interact.

Personally I wouldn't scold or correct friend about #2 (constant planning), just stop saying "yes" to travel and they'll stop asking. They keep asking because you keep saying yes. So just stop doing that. An answer like this is probably your best bet:

"Oh that sounds cool but actually our recent trip surprised me in that it was kinda exhausting, I think I need a break from thinking about travel for a while."

And for #3, their covid safety history, I would let bygones be bygones with how they acted in the past, no need to call them out, but just continue to be clear on your own boundaries.

"Oh sounds fun, but we're only doing outdoor hangs!"
"Oh sounds fun, but I'm kinda uncomfortable with air travel."

As for the wife questions:
"Ha, I have no idea, we haven't talked about it! You'd have to ask her. (small pause) Wow, this burger is delicious."
posted by nouvelle-personne at 2:21 PM on August 9, 2022 [7 favorites]

“You know what, during the pandemic we realized we’re not really feeling up for group travel anymore. Hah, guess we’re getting old! Oh man, remember that time when we went to X and did Y? That was awesome…”
posted by CtrlAltDelete at 2:32 PM on August 9, 2022 [2 favorites]

My thoughts based on my own experiences:

This is less a question about trips than a question of "how do I extricate myself from this friendship that I'm not feeling anymore while my friend (perhaps sensing that I'm growing distant) is doing their level best to reel me back in?"
You honestly sound like you're in the "bitch eating crackers" phase of a dying friendship.

You're mad because it feels like he's using the rules of politeness that you follow against you and planning you into a corner.

So I don't know, last time I was in your situation I blew up and broke up with my friend in a way that was probably traumatic for her and very not good for me, either - I basically force fed her 10 years of pent up resentment, then friends-dumped her.

Obviously, I don't recommend that. Maybe follow one of the scripts above to put an end to the trip planning.

Think about how much of this friend you can handle. If it's "honestly, none at all", maybe stop having time for him? If it's once a month, maybe have a conversation that you'd like the kind of friendship where you do X every month and how does he feel about it?

I'll tell you what not to do: Don't feel so guilty about secretly wanting out of this friendship that you get buzzed , agree to go on a trip after all, then resent the shit out of him for the whole trip, then feel even more guilty etc.

Best of luck, do better than me!
posted by Omnomnom at 2:53 PM on August 9, 2022 [12 favorites]

Based on all of your updates, I think the kind thing to say is, similar to what others have suggested, a slight lie "Hey friend, I appreciate you're big on planning trips lately and I'm touched you want to include me, but the fact is, me and [wife's name] are not really interested in much travel these days, and we prefer to keep trips to just the two of us - we find the logistics of group trips to be stressful - which sorta goes against the point of vacation!"

As for this:
But I'm also not going to answer a question from him about past issues (yes, even as recent as covid) between our wives when we're drinking. To me, if they're not close, they're not close. It's not his responsibility to manufacture friendship between them.

I agree that you don't want to betray your wife's confidence here. But there are ways of making your position clear that are not rude - it sounds like your wife was never very close with his wife? Then you can just affirm "Yes, it's too bad they never clicked like we have, but that's life!" I agree with MiraK that it's a bit cruel to act like you have no idea what he's talking about in the name of being polite - you can affirm that his observations are correct without getting into it, and you always can demur "Oh, I have no idea why they haven't clicked, I've just also observed it and figured it's best not to force anything."


and also be aware that in the zombie movie, they would hide the bite.

I want to gently challenge you a bit here, but not in any way that condones your friend or takes sides. Rather to point out that based on your own narration (which perhaps is missing a key detail), you found out that your friend's behavior didn't match your own in 2020 based on things they told you. I think most people have learned since 2020 that when people say "I'm taking precautions" what they mean is "I'm taking precautions based on my own understanding of the risks + my own risk tolerance" and not "I'm taking precautions identical to your own." I don't see anything sneaky (like a hidden zombie bite), which of course some people did do during the pandemic - but a lot of misunderstandings happened between friends/family during the pandemic given the human tendency to define "precautions" in personal terms. So I'd say the lesson here with your friend is less they'll 'hide the bite' and more that in the future, you'll need to ask specific questions like "How much time to you spend with people unmasked per week?" etc. and not trust that their risk tolerance (and thus, understanding of 'precautions') matches your own.
posted by coffeecat at 3:41 PM on August 9, 2022 [7 favorites]

“Wife and I have a lot on at the moment and when we get downtime we really just want to hang at home and recharge instead of travelling. I’ll let you know if that changes though and I’d love to hear about your trip when you get back.”

That covers wife not wanting to go out with them that much and you not wanting to travel. You’ll have to have some kind of conversation to nip this in the bud so best to make it about you and your capacity to catch up rather than about them.
posted by Jubey at 6:25 PM on August 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

Just a small thing that I suspect might be useful. Can you imagine yourself saying no to requests without first being angry?

Sometimes if the act of rejecting someone else's idea or expressing a preference is scary, it can mean we have to work ourselves into a strong enough emotional state before we are "allowed", or before your own feelings start to weigh as important.

It's very liberating and very strange to reach an emotional place where you can honestly say, "no, I'd prefer if we stuck to just getting together for these evenings the two of us" without also being mad at the asker for "making" you be the bad guy.
posted by Lady Li at 12:45 AM on August 10, 2022 [11 favorites]

Mod note: OP, Ask Metafilter isn't meant to be a discussion space (talk out all aspects of a given issue) but rather a place to ask a concrete question and get various suggestions. It's okay and expected that not all answers will be the right solution, but you can just relax and just take them in and choose what seems best to you. It's also fine to respond to questions and offer clarifications if needed, but there's no need to "answer" every suggestion.
posted by taz (staff) at 1:09 AM on August 10, 2022

The kindest way to get out of this cycle is to own up to your behavior, not get mad at him for his.

"I know I always say I'm interested in trips but when it comes down to it I find them exhausting. Too much going on. These days dinner or drinks sound good to me."

Anyone would understand
posted by jello at 4:03 PM on August 11, 2022

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