I cannot tell you how much less annoying [this part of] my life got when I stopped saying "Who wants to see [concert/comedy show/Detective Pikachu movie]?" and started saying "I'm going to see Detective Pikachu at 7pm at Palace Kino on the 23rd, if anyone wants to come with me, here's the URL to buy tickets".
Because you're never just saying "Who wants to see Detective Pikachu?" You're saying: Who wants to see it, on what day, what time, okay cool so that's 6 of us? I'll buy 6 tickets? Oh someone's cancelled. Someone else wants to change dates. Should we change dates? Okay we'll change it. Now someone wants to go back to the original date but wants to see a different movie, which you hate. Also the one person who was the most enthusiastic will cancel 10 minutes before the movie starts.
If you have the emotional wherewithal to handle this then go for it, but just making a decision to see the thing you want to see and then totally opting out of anyone's individual deliberations and vacillating is hugely refreshing.
To be clear, I'm as bad as anyone else at responding functionally to group organisation chats. But on the other side of it, I absolutely love an "I'm going to be in Place at Time, come or don't"-style invite. There's no pressure on you to decide, because their plans aren't reliant on your decision. If you cancel last minute, you won't have to send them a guilt-message, because they never knew you planned to go in the first place.
I called this only a suggestion because it's not exactly better or worse, just a different method with different costs and benefits, that won't even be possible for some people's circumstances.
Best time to use it: when it's something you're trying to push onto your friends a bit. Like a comedian you love, that they don't know, and you're trying to convince them they should give it a shot, and you know they would love it but they don't know they would love it so the wrangling is extra-difficult. Just let it go and book your tickets. Make it easy for them to book their tickets (hence the URL) but be prepared to go alone and then be surprised and delighted if you run into some friends there.
Worst time to use it: something where you would really care if your friends didn't go, like a graduation celebration or gallery opening or birthday, if these matter to you. For the love of god don't pretend to be cavalier about something you'd be hurt by them not attending. Say it'd mean a lot to you if they can make it.
In a close relationship (platonic or romantic) you have a strong obligation to protect the health of the relationship. Resentment is destructive to relationships, so protecting the relationship means protecting it from your own resentment, not just the other person's. That means not stepping up to to organise an event if organising it will make you resentful, not saying "I don't mind if you come or not" if you do mind.
Maybe the work is dealing with your unreasonable resentment, rather than asking the other person to change, but either way, only you know whether you have secret resentments, which means you are the sole guardian of that aspect of the relationship's health. You have a duty of care!
(Trust is a really complicated idea, but that's one part of trust for me: trust that they are monitoring any resentments and keeping them in check, including via asking me to change my behaviour.)
This piece was originally published in The Whippet #66 – subscribe to get the next one in your inbox!
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