I have a small group of friends that get together and hangout. Usually we hangout on Fridays. We usually go to the same person's home.

One person from this group (call him Bob) contacted me. He said he and one other person from the group (call him Joe) want to have a meeting with me. He said it's something best discussed over dinner at a restaurant. There really is only one or two other members of the group and I'm surprised they weren't invited.

I have a bad gut feeling about this, something seems off. Bob and Joe only gave me the vaguest idea of what the topic of the meeting is. I'm also unclear why we can't wait until the next time we normally meet. I have a paranoid feeling that Bob and Joe are going to team up on me and get mad at me for something.

Generally speaking, everyone in this group values open communication and is very approachable.

Is there a good way to address my feeling of unease? Perhaps my questions will naturally be answered in the meeting, but I would like to know why we had to meet early, why those two specific people of the group attended, and why the topic of the meeting wasn't made clear to me?

How can I ask this without making them feel defensive?

One thing that bugs me is usually meetings work best of people have a chance to prepare for them. I have already spoke to Bob over the phone but he didn't really give me any answers.

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    "get mad at me for something" that sounds like you have something in mind already. If that is the case, did you ask if the meeting is about that? – XtremeBaumer Nov 18 at 12:19
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    What is the vague topic which you were able to extract? I can't imagine that these two people wish to berate you over the course of a dinner set for a later date. If that's honestly what they end up doing then it will be safe to say that they are not your friends. If I had to guess then they might wish to present you with a proposition such as a business idea or maybe they wish to get your honest feedback about something. I would personally be quite inquisitive and ask something like "Hey, I was wondering if you could tell me why the meeting has to happen over dinner? Is it something I did?" – MonkeyZeus Nov 18 at 20:04
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    "Bob and Joe are going to team up on me and get mad at me" - do you feel there's a risk of anything worse happening? Would anything stop you from just leaving if you don't like where the conversation is headed? Why would you even want to go if you think it's bad? Can you envision anything else they might want to discuss with you (about your friends or some opportunity or whatever)? – NotThatGuy Nov 18 at 20:43
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    How do you know the meeting is about you? It's possible one of these friends has serious news to discuss with you. It's possible one these friends, or someone else you all know, is seriously ill. It's possible one of them has a business proposition for you, that the other has already agreed to. Can you tell us why you think the meeting is going to be negative and about you? – Ryan_L Nov 18 at 22:26

There's one simple fact that I think is being overlooked here: They invited you to dinner.

Generally speaking you don't invite someone to dinner if you want to have a hard conversation, because that could spoil everyone's appetite. A serious conversation, maybe, but not an accusatory one. I personally feel based on the information provided that there's nothing to worry about.

Here's the caveat: The fact that you are creeped out may mean you're seeing details that aren't communicated here, but there's no way for me to know that. You know these people better than any of us, but if these were my friends, I would think it was strange but I wouldn't be worried. YMMV.

To answer your question directly, you already tried to get more information and it was not given. You can gently step up the pressure and try again:

Hey I'd really like to know why you guys want to see me, is something wrong?

That shouldn't offend anyone. It simply show's you're concerned about everyone's well-being and you recognize that this is out of the ordinary. Be prepared for them to politely refuse again, in which case, they probably have good reason (maybe they can't talk about it at home). In any case, I don't think it's something to worry about since they want to talk over dinner.

Edit based on comments: I have personally been in situations where I've had to use a little extra pressure to get answers like this. It usually is the result of a simple miscommunication, in which case the line I suggested has cleared it up right away (someone didn't realize their request seemed strange). Once in a while a conversation like this has turned out serious. For example, one was because my friend had to admit he was in financial trouble and was selling his house. He just needed to vent about it privately away from his wife because she was stressed over it.

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    Probably from the sound of things it's not a "hard" conversation but like a "medium" one. Maybe he's doing something really embarrassing or there's gossip going on about him or something like that. It's not serious enough to deter eating, but serious enough that they want to formally discuss it at the same time. – Andrew Nov 21 at 18:10
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    That's possible, and if that's the case it sounds like these guys are trying to not lose the OP as a friend, just offering some constructive feedback to improve relations. – thanby Nov 21 at 22:59

Warning: this is an arm-twisted way of solving the situation and it could damage your relationship with them.

I have anxiety issues. Sometimes, people want me to go somewhere but, in my eyes, they aren't giving me enough information. Not having enough information can cause me a lot of (otherwise avoidable) stress and I don't like that.

That's why, when the situation arises, here is what I do:

  1. I ask the question I need answers to in order to feel less stressed. It seems like you have already tried to do that but without much success.

  2. If my first step didn't work (the other person refuses to give me answers or don't care enough to look for answers to them), then I simply refuse to come.

It's simple, if a situation is causing you too much stress, it might be better to step out of the situation entirely. Also, when people see that I'm willing to not go if they don't give me the information, they tend to be more willing to accede to my wish and give the information to me (or at least, they will give more than they gave out before).

I usually use this technique with my family and, even though they aren't thrilled about it, they also don't take much offense. They know me, they know how I am and they know that I'm not doing this to annoy them but because it's important for my well-being.

In the case of your friends, you might want to communicate just that: that not knowing is very stressing you and that you would rather have more information. You might also add that, without that, the stress will be a lot and that you would rather not come.

This way, you make it about your well being. Not about them. They might become defensive but, if they care about you, they also might understand and give you the answers you seek.

If they don't, then it's up to you to decide to meet them for that dinner or not.

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    I feel this sort of uncooperative negotiation is best reserved only for those who are well aware of your extreme difficulty dealing with anxiety else it becomes much more likely to damage the relationship as Aelis warns. If you do not struggle immensely with anxiety or the other person is not well aware of your struggles a more moderate plea for some further context might be less damaging – BKlassen Nov 18 at 16:33

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