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Note- I used the 'United-States' tag, but this takes place on the US-Canada border.

TL;DR: There is an event that everyone is excited for but me, and I don't know how to convince people I don't want to go to it. Each member of my friend group wants me to attend for their own reasons, none of which are persuasive in the least.

At the school which I attend, there is a very large annual event. It is incredibly similar to a secondary school prom or ball, with the exception of this being larger and mounting a more general assault on the senses. I'm sorry if I take a harsh tone, but I just find events like this generally irksome and pointless. I dislike the event, and the night of it is often one which I dread, as it generally spills out, disrupting the area (or the few people in the area that aren't in attendance). I find the entire event, top to bottom, distasteful. None of my friends share this conviction. All of them are incredibly excited for this event, for varying reasons. They talk excitedly about it incessantly, which I understand- they are excited for an event they love.

However, there is one thing that they cannot seem to wrap their heads around: I don't want to go to the event. They know that I avoid social situations of pretty much any stripe, and the ones I do go to are chosen with care. They have tried in the past to coax me into more social situations, an effort which has proven largely fruitless. I simply continued in my ways until they got bored with me and moved on to other pursuits, leaving our friendship intact, unharmed, and somewhat strengthened. I was surprised by this last point, but it is undeniable that my refusal to engage in whatever inane task they are currently involved in strengthened my friendship with each one of my friends.

This situation is, in my eyes, no different from any other social event I avoid- it is another large, mindless cluster that I want no part in. But to most of my friend group, there is something that sets this event apart, which has made them redouble their efforts to convince me to attend. Initial efforts were asking me repeatedly if I intended to attend, and, when I invariably responded that I do not, they begin to question me as to why. After a few of these question-and-answer sessions that got them nowhere, they changed tactics. They attempted to put me in situations where it could be potentially embarrassing for me to say I am not going to the event. An example of this is one of them asking me for incredibly specific advice about a situation, and, once down the rabbit hole of 'what-ifs', they ask that I be there to make sure nothing goes awry with whatever they were asking about. This topic has spanned from dress color (which I was hopeless at) to chaperoning a couple (this was what tipped me off something was wrong- these people would never ask for, or want, a chaperone). These question sessions have recently slacked off, and I'm not sure what comes next, but they seem no less zealous that I attend, so something will pop up.

The personal motives of the people involved vary enormously. One person, let's call him David, has recently broken up with his girlfriend, who he believes is interested in me (this was all revealed in a rather awkward conversation recently). I question the last part, but I am generally oblivious about these things, so I don't know. He wants to go as friends, presumably so his ex-girlfriend doesn't ask me, as rejecting her advances would be awkward for everyone involved. Another friend, let's call her Jess, is convinced that I avoid social events because I don't know what I am missing. This has fed her actions to convince me to go, presumably in the hopes of making me come out of my shell, so to speak. This view is incorrect: I avoid social events precisely because I know what I am missing, and I am very glad to be missing it.

The most tricky of these motives to counter, however, belongs to returning co-stars, Alice and Bruce from this question. One way this event is similar to a secondary school prom is that it is traditional to bring a date with you to the event. They view this as an ideal way to get me and Mary (another returning guest from the link) 'together', and have set about trying to get me to attend with her. This, needless to say, will not happen, both because I am not interested in a relationship, and because I am not interested in the event. They have been proving particularly difficult to deflect, for reasons explained in the other question- basically, he refuses to accept that I don't want a relationship. He refuses to engage me in debate, and as such proves difficult to deal with (I am not accustomed to people that don't accept a well-reasoned argument). Alice is no better, as Bruce feeds off her energy. I see Alice much less, though, which makes her more manageable.

As can be seen, I have quite a problem. My entire friend group is aligned in an effort to get me to attend an event I do not wish to attend, for reasons I do not fully comprehend, in ways that cannot be accurately predicted. None of them, each for their own reasons, will accept that I do not wish to waste a night of my life being miserable. How do I effectively communicate to them that the question of my attendance is a non-negotiable no? How can I do this to the group, or, even better, to each individual person, addressing their own motives?

Questions

@catija What does it matter/what am I trying to achieve? I am trying to get them to stop asking. Several of my friends (particularly Bruce and Alice) don’t have a good sense of boundaries. I want to make sure the issue resolves in a way that does not result in anything embarrassing for me, them, or Mary.

@spagirl What have I tried? At the beginning, I went with just saying I wasn’t going, and supplying them with reasons. This is how I get out of most events. Once they moved on to the ‘advice’ part, I tried convincing them I wasn’t good at giving advice for parties. This proved fairly successful, but they have slacked off this method, so it didn’t have much time to test itself.

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    Why does it matter if you convince them that you won't go? Are you trying to get them to stop asking? If you're not going regardless, them knowing it seems secondary? – Catija Mar 15 '18 at 2:36
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    There is a lot here about what they have tried to get you to go; what have you tried to get them to stop? – Spagirl Mar 15 '18 at 8:06
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Your friends are already convinced you're not going to go.

They have tried in the past to coax me into more social situations, an effort which has proven largely fruitless. I simply continued in my ways until they got bored with me and moved on to other pursuits, leaving our friendship intact, unharmed, and somewhat strengthened. I was surprised by this last point, but it is undeniable that my refusal to engage in whatever inane task they are currently involved in strengthened my friendship with each one of my friends.

You've even commanded their respect for it.


They know what you're like and at this point they're just going out of their way to throw things at the wall to see what, if anything, sticks.

there is something that sets this event apart, which has made them redouble their efforts to convince me to attend


At this point its really whether you can withstand their pressure or not, they already know the answer and want to try something to see if they can get you to change your mind.

Perhaps you can ask them why they want you to be there so bad. You might get some better insight into their real motives.

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Don't give them ammunition. Every time you say "I don't want to go because X", they take that as a cue to debunk your concerns about X -- X isn't really true, or it's silly for you to be worried about it, or whatever.

Instead, say no in a way that leaves no loopholes:

No, I won't be attending.

If they ask why, you don't need to say anything more than:

It's not to my taste.

If they keep pestering you, just keep repeating that -- no, you're not going, it's not to your taste, and then add: please stop asking. If they are your friends, they should honor your request -- especially when you stop providing them entertainment in the form of arguments for them to counter. Think of this as a mild case of "don't feed the trolls".

This general approach works with social pressure (events, recreational substances, fads, etc), pushy salesmen, evangelists, and that nosy elderly relative who won't stop asking why you don't have a spouse/children/PhD/whatever yet.

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It should not be difficult to convince a true friend that you have made a firm decision on any matter. Friends understand each others differences. Points that you raise in your post show they are friends that have stuck with you despite these differences of opinion in the past, so you have every reason to believe they will accept your decision. I think the reason you worry that they won't accept it so easily is because you don't understand why they enjoy this event, and so you may be overestimating the importance they place upon it.

Just because they want to go doesn't mean they won't see your point of view. You find the event "distasteful", and this overrides any positive things that could be said about it. Someone else that finds it fun isn't necessarily your polar opposite - perhaps they just find that, in balance, the good outweighs the bad and there is fun to be had from it. My point is that your friends, with whom you share other things in common, aren't so different from you that they won't understand your feelings on this.

They are probably hoping that you will see their view, attend the event and get something positive out of it. It also seems like they think your social life and love life might need some help, and they see this event as the answer. So they have your best interests at heart, they just need a reminder that you can make your own decision on things and shouldn't force you to go. But keep that in mind - it is a case of them doing the wrong thing for the right reasons.

Really then, all you should need to do to convince them is state your feelings. Perhaps say something like:

I appreciate that you want me to have fun, but really, when I say I won't enjoy it I don't just mean I can't imagine how fun it might be. I really won't enjoy it, and if I go I will just feel uncomfortable. Thank you, but I have decided not to go.

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