There’s some kind of deep-rooted self-esteem issues that cause many of us to struggle to say “no” to our friends. Whether it’s out of fear that you’re going to be earmarked as the killjoy who stomped over everyone else’s fun, or that you simply don’t have the capacity to reject anyone without feeling a crippling sense of guilt, there’s nothing worse than having to turn down a friend and then live with the consequences of you not wanting to do something that they wanted to do. It’s a modern tragedy, we know.
But there are easy ways to set limits with them, and to ensure that you can live your life as you want to without offending them. Take a look at our tips:
When he keeps asking you to go out drinking but you don’t have the time.
Look, you’re an adult now, and as much as you’d like to spend the rest of eternity in a drunken stupor, life has changed. You have bills to pay now. You’re living on your own two feet. Your hairline is receding. Everything is basically much worse than it was when you were 20, but that’s the way things are now and so you have to grin and bear it. You cannot jovially accompany your buddy every time he wants to prop up a bar and drink himself into oblivion. That’s not the way things work.
So when he drops you a text asking you to go drink with him for the umpteenth time this month, you need him to know that this routine is no longer possible, but you’ll want to do so in the least condescending way possible. Don’t put a dent in his self-esteem by informing him that you have more important stuff to do now. Instead reply by suggesting something else you both can do later on in the week that won’t involve you marching into work with a hangover, because you’re old now and you can’t drink alcohol of any form without being struck by a brutal headache. Ah, life…
When he won’t leave your apartment.
When you were younger the idea of moving into a shared accommodation with all of your friends seemed like the dream, and while you still enjoy their company, this isn’t a ’90s sitcom and you cannot spend a copious amount of time with them without wanting to rip their heads off.
When your buddy starts to outstay his welcome, you need to lay down the law and ensure that he doesn’t begin routinely traipsing through your personal time. If he is the kind of man who doesn’t understand body language and has failed to respond to your subtle ways of telling him to leave your apartment, such as you standing next to your front door and pointing at it while grimacing, then you’re going to need to pretend to him that you’re not in the next time he tries to visit you. If he’s the kind of person who calls before he visits, tell him that you’re out. If he’s the kind of person who turns up unannounced, hide underneath your bed and put your phone on silent, waiting for him to leave. It’s the only way.
When you feel like he’s taking advantage of you.
If you’re a people pleaser (which, given that you’re reading an article about how to “no” to people, you probably are), then you’ll likely often find yourself thrust into scenarios that you don’t particularly enjoy, simply because it makes someone else happy. If you have a friend who’s more than willing to take advantage of this by engaging in a series of irritating practices such as routinely asking you for money, consistently staying at your place and hogging all your food or asking for favors every other week, then it’s time to put your foot down.
While it would be easy to feel awkward about telling your friend that you can no longer keep opening your wallet or front door for him, or that you’ve become more than a little tired of him calling upon you to help him out with every event in his life, you have to consider that he doesn’t feel awkward relying on you all the time, so why should you feel discomfort in telling him to back off? Go to Chipotle with him, sit him down in front of a burrito bowl and tell him, in the nicest way possible, that he needs to back off otherwise you’re going to have a mental breakdown. That should do it.
When you realize that you no longer share the same interests.
The majority of your friends are ones that you have had in your life for years, with you cultivating your relationship with them in your younger years. As you grow older and you’re no longer the person that you once were, you slowly begin to consider that maybe you aren’t into the same kind of things that you used to be, thus meaning that the interests you once shared in common with your friends are no longer present. When you come to this realization there’s always that uncomfortable period of time when you are still trying to enjoy the same things that they are, feigning excitement at whatever they’re excited about and generally doing everything you hate now just to appease other people. Eventually that period of time will come to an end, but in order for this to happen without you losing touch with your old friends, you’ve gotta have “the conversation.”
The conversation needn’t be limited to just one uncomfortable sit-down talk. You don’t need to sit your friends down like a husband on the brink of divorce and tell them that you should start seeing other people. Instead, you should simply politely inform them during your next venture that maybe wearing vests and listening to EDM is no longer your “thing,” until eventually they come to the realization that there are certain things that they do that you don’t gain enjoyment out of anymore, and you begin to journey down your own paths in life with you meeting up with them more infrequently, but that when you do so it will no longer be due to you feeling like you have a responsibility to do so.
It’s depressing, sure, but so is pretending to enjoy the same lifestyle for 8 years straight.
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