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Riley and I are close friends, and have decided to go to a movie together while inviting a common acquaintance, Taylor, who knows Riley but whom I don't know very well. The movie theater has assigned seating, and unfortunately we couldn't be seated together, so someone would have to sit by themselves on the other side of the theater. Upon entering the theater Riley suggested that we play rock-paper-scissors and the loser has to sit by themselves. This took me by surprise, as I assumed that since we are close we would sit together. However, I did not object to the suggestion, but ended up losing, and watched the movie by myself.

This upset me, and after the movie went to confront Riley about it. In my mind, Riley should have sat with the closer friend. In Riley's mind, it was a fair thing to do and doesn't understand why I am making a big deal about it. Now that both parties are upset about this, what can we do to resolve this conflict? Also, what can we do to avoid similar situations escalating in the future?

If location matters, this is in the united states.

Note: gender-neutral names were used in an attempt to avoid gender-bias.

14

I see, both parties still upset or resented.
To be honest.
You're probably the one who's going to need to apologize.

Taylor might not be close to you or as close to Riley as you think you are. But Riley's gesture of suggesting the "rock-paper-scissors" game was a clear nice effort to cut Taylor some slack and not make them feel alienated. You can't claim hegemony over Riley's personal space everywhere you go at every time. It was just one of those things, luck chose to give Taylor and Riley a chance to be closer during this particular movie.

I almost lost a friend during elementary school for being territorial about them... I was wrong, just as you are wrong in this particular situation, that's how I know.

To avoid a situation like this happening in the future, you have two options:

  • Agree to not buying additional tickets after the first batch unless the movie theater is still fairly empty.
  • Never confront a friend about something they did to be nice to another person, specially when their effort was fair and well intended.

Best of luck with the apology.

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Just talk with them (tm).

The straight-forward way of clearing up any bad feelings between Riley and yourself is to communicate each of your feelings about the incident to each other. If you foresee these situations cropping up again, work with Riley to determine an agreed upon method for dealing with these situations. Concentrate on trying to see things from Riley's perspective, and when communicating how you felt/thought, don't try to convince them that your way is the right way, simply share the facts. Using I statements is a good place to start in regards to communicating your feelings.

That being said, I ask you to consider that, had Riley posted a question on this site asking "How do I pick who to sit with at the movies?" and presented their side of the movie seat dilemma I would have answered "Leave it to a game of chance." (Leaving aside the fact that I think that RPS is a game of some skill,) I believe that games of chance are the best solution to such dilemmas. Below I will present a short explanation of why.

Consider the alternative you presented, that Riley "sits with the closer friend." If Riley is like me, they may not clearly rank their relationships in their mind and would not be able to make a "closer friend" value judgement on the spot. Equally, if not more likely is that Riley would feel uncomfortable making such a call. Being identified as "the less close friend" is a painful experience to handle. How would you feel if Riley had taken this approach and said

Sorry OP, Taylor and I have a really strong link, we'll see you after the movie

Even if it is clear to everyone involved which relationships are stronger than others, stating it out loud can be much more hurtful than leaving it unsaid. In fact, it could commonly be viewed as very rude to state friend preferences like this. After all of this, the source of the pain and hurt and rudeness is Riley, and Riley may have one less friend after the movie.

Compare this to a game of chance. Blame falls on luck, nobody is emotionally wounded by being called out as the lesser friend. The only bad thing is that somebody is sitting alone through a movie, but that had to happen.

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