Help me survive this spontaneous girl's night out.
October 26, 2007 5:08 AM   Subscribe

Help me be a more carefree person on a roadtrip, with someone who is having post-breakup depression, and who has always had terrible taste in music.

So a good friend of mine decided she wants a little overnight trip out of town to get her mind off her ex-boyfriend (it was a long time coming, but she's still not over it.) Our last road-trip didn't go so well, but I attributed that to the length, rather than anything else. This is only an overnight, but already the little details are grating on my nerves.

Additionally, I inherited my emotional skills from my father and thus can only deal with one type of meltdown: physical plants. When I say stuff it sounds fake. Still, for her sake I am trying to be a decent, human friend, and so I need to learn how to not care about these stupid little details (like the safety of the hotel, or the fact that I'm driving, or her texting obsession) for 36 hours. I am trying to be a good friend, but frankly, I don't have great people skills. I need some coping mechanisms for me, although suggestions on how to distrac/help her are welcome as well.
posted by cobaltnine to Human Relations (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like at least some of your irritation may be legitimate. I've rarely felt the hotel safety worry, but I do know that I wouldn't be excited about road-tripping with a companion who spent the time texting while I chauffeured them around. Being a friend doesn't mean you work for this girl, or that you can be supportive of her while ignoring your own needs. Being there for her doesn't mean giving her everything she wants.
posted by jon1270 at 5:39 AM on October 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

You drive, you pick the music.

And yeah, if she's texting people as you're driving her around, that's really obnoxious. Frankly, I find people typing on their phones to be much more obnoxious that just making a real cellphone call. At least when they're on the phone for real, there's no pretense of politeness, no "oh yeah I'm paying attention" but really they aren't because they're busy typing crap.

Not sure what you can do about that -- maybe sneak up in the middle of the night and unplug her phone from the charger? (Okay, that's probably not very nice, but sometimes obnoxious behaviors demand direct action.)

Maybe you just have to insist that a condition of the road trip is that you both keep the cell phones in the trunk of the car in order to maintain that carefree vibe? Both of your phones, not just hers.
posted by Kadin2048 at 5:56 AM on October 26, 2007

May not sound as fake as you think. You are the snrink of choice here.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:22 AM on October 26, 2007

Best answer: Okay, she is "hurting right now" and this is a big 36-hour pity party for her and that's great, and by the way it's really a nice thing you're doing. Props. If it's all about her to the point that you resent her, though, then you should take steps, because that's dangerous to the relationship. Furthermore, it's potentially dangerous to you guys's physical safety, if you're being driven mad while trying to drive.

All non-driving people should know better than to be irritating to their drivers. It's so basic. Doing all the driving is infuriating in itself without having to tolerate clownery from one's passenger.

Just lay it out, like this (tone down where necessary): we are going on this trip for you to, whatever, decompress, or that thing that people do when they are emotional--I am unfamiliar. My primary role as I see it is to get you to your decompression zone. I can't do that peacefully if you're going to be all rude and make me enraged. So I pick the music and the hotel and you turn off your phone. I want to be a decent human friend because I am glad you're my friend and sorry you are going through this crap, so while we're riding along if I say anything that sounds insensitive, please don't get mad at me--I care about you and want to help but I'm trying to do something I'm not so good at, here. Thank you, and feel free to hand over money for gas when you get a moment.
posted by Don Pepino at 6:46 AM on October 26, 2007

Why do you let this stuff annoy you? Other than your issue with trying to be helpful to your friend, this stuff will eat you up over time. Don't sweat the small stuff, not just on the trip, but all the time, and over time it will get easier to do and you will be happier for it. As for the trip, remember, it is all about her this trip. She needs support, so focus on making her feel better and with that in mind you will go in knowing that you won't be getting your way most of the trip and it won't annoy you so much.
posted by caddis at 7:22 AM on October 26, 2007

Best answer: It seems like there are two different but related problems here, both connected to communication.

First, you seem uncomfortable with telling her upfront what your preferences are related to daily conditions of communal living, like music and texting and where you're going to sleep. Asserting your preferences makes you tense because it brings you into conflict with her. But if you don't assert your preferences, you're going to be annoyed, pout, then blowup. That's bad. Instead, you should learn that you can't have harmony living in close quarters UNLESS you speak up directly about your preferences. A corrolary is that the world will not fall apart if you get momentarily annoyed with each other. Say this: "Dude, your techno music is annoying the shit out of me! Let's put on some Engelbert Humperdink now." Humor, frankness, and self-deprication also go a long way in helping you be direct: "I know I'm a paranoid beyotch, but I'm scared to stay in that Bates Motel. Do you mind if we stay at the Comfort Suites down the road instead?"

Second, you seem uncomfortable with the emotional support you'll be giving your friend in conversation. But the point of the trip isn't to make any particular verbal formulations -- it's to be together and get out of town. Just listen and try to understand. Maybe approach it like a scientific investigation: "Why did you like him so much? Why do you think you let him get away with [x] for so long? What would you have done differently in retrospect?" And don't be afraid to talk about yourself too.
posted by footnote at 7:23 AM on October 26, 2007

Best answer: Don't be afraid to lay down some ground rules. Especially if you are the one doing the driving: you definitely don't want your driver in a bad mood. It doesn't have to be done in a harsh way at all, you're just letting her know what you like and don't like when you are stuck in a car with another person for hours.

If you don't want to go as far as dictating the music because you are driving, let her know you have to compromise, and no one can complain while the other one's music is playing.

Little to no texting. Her job as passenger is to keep you company. Why go on a road trip together if she's going to be ignoring you? You can tell her you really enjoy her comapny and would prefer that she keep her texting to a minimum, if you want to sugarcoat it.

As for the safety of the hotel, I guess I have only felt that when the place is really sketchy. But, again, you guys need to compromise on that. If you simply don't feel good about a place, then she needs to respect that.

All in all, your friend sounds a little bit wrapped up in herself -- help her unwrap herself a bit. If she acts the way she always does during this trip, then all you're doing is putting physical distance between Point A and Point B, and not "getting away" in the true sense of the phrase.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 7:26 AM on October 26, 2007

Do you two like the same sorts of books? If so, get a recording by an author you're both enjoy.
posted by brujita at 7:51 AM on October 26, 2007

YOU both
posted by brujita at 7:51 AM on October 26, 2007

Since you are dreading the trip already, cancel. Life is too short.
posted by Carol Anne at 9:12 AM on October 26, 2007

You don't have to say anything - just listen and be sympathetic (or fake it).

Books on tape are a great suggestion if you run out of conversation but if she's still hurting she may be able to go on for quite some time.
posted by MiffyCLB at 9:17 AM on October 26, 2007

Response by poster: t-30 minutes until I leave...
I've marked the ones with the most usable pieces of advice. Those of you who say 'just chill' can hang out with my partner and your natural Zen, which I am lacking but have been working on with that nice Australian CBT site. (Ironically, I do chill out very well in the car of all places - I don't understand road rage at all.)

Part of the reason I agreed in theory to go on this trip (it was a theoretical trip until Thursday night) was because I kind of want to go to the place we're going, and she's one of the few people who will go to relatively silly places with me.

But maybe you're right. Maybe I don't sound so fake - maybe I'm passing. Maybe I'm really not her last choice (I kind of feel like it sometimes.) I'll update on Sunday.
posted by cobaltnine at 2:46 PM on October 26, 2007

We are looking forward to the update.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 5:32 PM on October 27, 2007

Response by poster: Well, I learned a few things:

The non-talking uses of the phone are myriad and a lost cause, ("Maybe it's not working because it doesn't want to work in a restaurant." "No, I can get it to work." grrr.) but I decided that as long as the phone was in use in the car, I get to sing along to King Diamond songs, falsetto and everything.

She can't give me concrete answers to why she misses him. But she does have an appointment with a therapist. Maybe the therapist will be better at getting it out of her.

We were up in a town that is very big for Halloween and went to a psychic fair for the fun of it (frankly, I was hoping for an anthropological cure to psychic illness, or something along those lines...) Her psychic told her to seek medical attention. I tipped him when she was texting someone.
posted by cobaltnine at 6:24 AM on October 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

well, congratulations, you survived, you didn't kill your friend, and you learned some concrete advice along the way.

and holy CRAP, from the little you've mentioned in this post, if this is the way this person goes through daily life, then, um...

man, are you ever patient. No, scratch that, you are a freaking saint.


and this girl wonders why she's single? therapy, indeed!
posted by lonefrontranger at 5:33 PM on October 28, 2007

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