Every so often I find myself in a situation where a friend or coworker asks if I want to do something social, and I don't want to for some non-committal reasons. By "non-committal" reasons, I'm referring to nights where I need time to myself (I'm generally an introvert), don't feel like spending money, or have various personal things I'd rather get done (maybe work on some personal projects, clean my apartment, cook a meal I've been preparing, etc). In other words, I don't have a "solid" excuse such as a previous engagement, illness, etc.
In these situations, I feel that it's unnecessary (and rather cumbersome) to go into detail in my response, so I usually say something along the lines of, "thanks for the invite but I don't really have time tonight". Depending on my relationship with the person, or the type of personality they have, this is often met with friendly peer-pressure. They'll respond with questions and statements to sort of egg me on, such as:
- "Oh come on, what else could you be doing?"
- "What, are you doing laundry or something? You can do that kind of stuff any time!"
- "It's just for a few drinks, it's not like we'll be out all night!" (with my particular friends/coworkers, it's rarely "just a few drinks")
This sort of peer-pressure, no matter how playful or well-intentioned, always frustrates me immensely. I see it as an invasion of privacy, and strongly feel that I shouldn't be expected to dive into the details of my night. With friends/coworkers that are particularly aggressive with their peer pressure, the situation usually ends in one of two ways:
- a) I give in, despite my best judgement. This is not ideal because it means I'm not taking my own needs seriously.
- b) I become openly frustrated with them, and say something mildly hostile, such as, "I said I was busy, why don't you understand that?" This is not ideal because it creates a pretty uncomfortable situation for the both of us. They are usually taken aback (they weren't expecting their playful egging-on to be met with anger), and I feel bad and somewhat ashamed with myself.
How can I better handle this situation, so that neither party feels bad in the end?
- I'm a 28 year old male
- I'm introverted but certainly not a loner or reclusive, and I feel that I socialize a healthy amount, so please no, "you just need to relax and get out more" responses.
- I understand that they're only egging me on because they enjoy my company and want to hang out, which is flattering, but doesn't make me any less frustrated.
- I do enjoy hanging out with the particular friends/coworkers I have in mind, and as long as I at least know a few days ahead of time, I'm usually happy to go out with them. The scenario I've outlined here typically occurs when I'm asked spontaneously, and is certainly not the "norm" of our social interactions.
Why this peer-pressure bothers me
As dbeer mentioned in the comments, it may be helpful to delve a little deeper into this topic. Off the top of my head, here's why I believe I become so frustrated with this type of peer-pressure:
I feel it's an invasion of privacy. I could very well not want to go out because of a highly personal matter that I'm not ready to talk about.
I find it a little disrespectful. This may be a bit overkill, but when someone tries to coerce me into going out even after I stated I couldn't, it tells me that they don't think I'm capable of making my own decisions. As a side note, I'm specifically talking about persistent egging-on. A small little, "aw, but it would be fun" isn't a big deal to me.
I'm nervous about their reaction. This ones a bit more personal. Growing up, I had some bad experiences with friends who seemed legitimately angry any time I told them I didn't feel like hanging out. Sometimes I would even find out that they gossiped about me during the social outing that I didn't attend. In retrospect, I can tell that the issue was really on their end, but some of the anxiety that caused me has definitely carried over to adulthood.