Saying no to friends is never easy but may be necessary to save a friendship.
I have trouble making commitments when friends ask me for plans in advance especially on the weekends. I was not like this when I was younger, but I have a demanding, stressful job and like to keep my weekends open to spend time outdoors, being active and seeing local sites. Sometimes I spend time alone. I need the weekends to clear my head and refresh. Also, I am older and I never had children, so I like to spend as much time with my nieces and nephew as
I have one friend who asks me over for dinner with friends fairly regularly, and I find myself saying no a lot. I also think she would like me to invite her over for dinner to my house more often. But it is just not how I want to spend my time, especially my weekends when I would rather do other things.
I think she gets mad about this. I have developed some social anxiety, and I am not comfortable with the political confrontations when we are sitting around the table even though I am very interested and involved in politics. She likes political confrontation; for me, it is not a relaxing Saturday night after a stressful workweek.
I feel guilty, bad, and selfish that I say no, so I find myself trying to do other nice things for her – I tried to help her get a job, I buy her granddaughter presents, bring her flowers on her birthday or holidays. I have known her for many years from when we were in college together.
She is a good, caring, generous interesting person, and I care about her, but she has a strong, controlling personality, and I find that I only want to get together with her once in awhile, and for a short time. She is married, but I do not think she is that happy in her marriage now, and she does not have family in the US, because her son and granddaughter live out of the country. She does have many friends.
I think she would like me to be closer to her, but for some reason I am just not able to offer her more friendship or more time together, and I always feel that I should, but it just does not come naturally or easily.
I always feel anxious about this. If you have any advice, how I could reduce this stress, and handle this better I would appreciate it.
Saying no to friends is never easy. But if you’re working and your friend isn’t, this means there’s already an over 40-hour gap between you in terms of discretionary time.
In your downtime, you have a number of interests and enjoy being with family. You also seem to tend towards introversion; you describe yourself as the type of person who needs time to recharge and refresh from your hectic schedule. Beyond this, and probably most importantly, you aren’t interested in spending as much time with your friend as she is with you.
I’m sure it’s hard for you to continually turn down invitations and you shouldn’t allow yourself to be placed in the position of always having to say no. Since your friend hasn’t gotten the message, you need to be more direct.
Friendships are voluntary relationships that should be mutually satisfying. Deciding how to spend your time, with or without friends, isn’t selfish. If you continue to acquiesce to get-togethers when you don’t want to, you’re going to eventually become angry and resentful.
You are stressed and uncomfortable because there’s such a mismatch between your needs and those of your friend. Since you know her for so long, I suspect you want to maintain this friendship on some level rather than break up completely, but you are entitled to set boundaries that work for you.
Have an honest conversation with your friend and let her know you value her friendship and respect her. Tell her you feel uncomfortable always declining invitations, but you simply need more downtime on the weekends to spend alone and with your family.
Would you want to get together with her, or with her and the group, once a month? Every other month? Let her know what feels right to you.
It may turn out that she will appreciate your forthrightness and focus more on other friends. If this can’t be negotiated and she is unable to respect your needs, the friendship may not be salvageable.
Hope this helps.
Prior related posts on The Friendship Blog:
- 7 Tips for Saying NO
- Saying No to Friends: An Interview with Dr. Susan Newman
- 13 Ways to Make Saying No Easier
- Saying No to the Queen of Favors