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My neighbor who lives across the hall from me in my apartment building is clearly trying to extend an olive branch of friendship. We met at a community gathering for residents a little over a month ago and got along splendidly, but due to opposing work schedules we have not seen each other since. I gather he has some social or professional contact wherein he can get free tickets to sporting events, because for the second time since we exchanged numbers, I've had to politely decline an invitation to a football game. I travel a lot for work, so I legitimately was and will be out of town on the dates in question.

Having just moved here recently, I don't have any friends and would welcome the companionship. My problem is twofold:

  1. I don't want him to think that I'm blowing him off. People who consistently refuse invites -- even with good excuses -- stop getting invitations after a while.
  2. I have a non-obvious, hard-to-explain visual impairment that makes sporting events in particular a no-go for me. It's a neurological condition that affects motion tracking and object recognition, so playing or watching sports is nearly impossible for me to enjoy. Aside from that (or maybe because of it), I'm not much of a sports guy anyway.

I want to let him know I appreciate the overture, and I figure the best thing to do would be to make a counter-proposal. But I don't really know how to do that. Personality-wise I'm an ambivert, so I do well in social situations most of the time; I just don't know how to initiate them.

  • I have a very spartan, bachelor-esque studio apartment, so inviting him across the hall is out. I don't have anywhere to entertain guests. I don't even own a TV; I work in IT for a living, so my computer provides all my entertainment needs.
  • I don't know what his interests are. Sporting events are such a stereotypical "guy" thing, so no real insight there. He's a lawyer professionally, so I don't know how our social spheres would intersect.
  • I'm a homebody by nature and a recent transplant to the area, so I don't know much about what there is to do around town. I've found a few bars and restaurants that I like, but one-on-one those options sound like a date and I don't want to make things awkward. I have no idea what his intentions are.
  • I'm rarely available on weekends, so any get-together would likely need to happen in the evening during the week. That precludes most festivals or block party-type events as those typically happen on Friday or Saturday nights.

I don't really know how to ask people to do things with me. How can I reciprocate or otherwise display that I am interested?

Also, how do I respond if he invites me to a game again and I'm actually free to go?

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    " I've found a few bars and restaurants that I like, but one-on-one those options sound like a date and I don't want to make things awkward." -- going to a bar one on one doesn't sound any more heavy than a sporting event one on one, I think... or was the sporting event as a group? -- if it was as a group, could you not enjoy it just by being with the group rather than paying attention to the event itself? I'm not a sports person either, but I enjoy going with friends on occasion because of the atmosphere/conversation. – さりげない告白 Dec 4 '19 at 1:12
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Honesty is the best policy here. He's only going to feel like you're "blowing him off" if your refusals are without reason. If you think more offers are forthcoming, your next response should be something like:

Yes!

Or, if you can't, then:

I'm sorry I keep turning down your invites, I really want to hang out but weekends are usually difficult for me. Can we do something on a weeknight instead?

As you are new in town and want to make friends, you should make an extra effort to take up this offer of friendship, no matter what the event. Unless being at a sports match is physically uncomfortable for you, why not just go along anyway and be honest - say something like "actually, I can't really follow sports because of a vision problem, but I appreciate the company". You can perhaps talk, have a few beers, and find something in common that you can bond over even if the sport doesn't hold any interest for you. In fact, most friendships/relationships rely on some give and take when it comes to choosing places to go, events to attend etc. If you are worried about the fact you've turned down his offers before, he might actually really appreciate it when he learns you came along to a sports match you can't watch properly just for the friendship.

Even if you don't think you're going to be best buddies with this guy because you have different interests, you'll soon meet other people through him, and you may get along better with them. That doesn't mean you're using him to meet people - if he attends things like the community event you met at and still wants to make new friends he sounds a pretty gregarious person that is welcoming you, not just into his life, but into his social group.

If you think you've already refused him too many times to get another invite, why not initiate contact and still say the above - that you'd like to hang, but weekends are difficult. See what happens. As he's contacted you several times with offers, he won't think it unusual that you've reached out to him.

If he suggests a one-to-one meeting rather than some social event, let him also suggest the venue - it's unlikely he will invite himself to your house, and if he suggests a bar or restaurant then it shouldn't be any place or setting that will make him feel weird. There are restaurants that feel like a date, but there are loads of places that are casual and normal places for platonic dates.

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My answers to you questions

I am one of those people readily sending invitations to new acquaintances until I am tired of getting only "No, no" 's. I made a rule out of it: You're out at three no's in a row. You know too well why:

I make him think that I'm blowing him off.

I have a second rule though: Back on track after the first invitation I get. So:

How can I reciprocate or otherwise display that I am interested?

Show interest! Send an invitation. That easy.

How do I respond if he invites me to a game again and I'm actually free to go?

Send him your point 2. Crystal clear for him. You should not let him lose his time with invitations that you can't even physiologically accept.

My own two cents on top of that

To be honest, I am quite surprised to see how long your list of expectations, requirements, wonderings or fears (?) is. I find it quite interesting too - if not quite revealing - that you managed to put eleven "don't" or "don't know" in one single post.

I don't think there are many ways to put it: Stop asking yourself too many questions. You don't go gambling with your life, you go for a nice chat with a good guy. You want to talk to him, he obviously does too, so go for it! It'll be fine.

If you really want to take all those parameters into account, here is my call: copy the link to your SE question and send it to him. You show interest. He knows what he should know. And you two can plan together your first common activity.

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  • To me this sounds a little too much like "things are easy to me so why don't you simply do it too?". You are lucky if you work this way but not everone else does. – puck Dec 7 '19 at 9:42
  • Thanks for your sincere comment! Using your words, I think my answer is rather "things can be easier than you think so why don't you try it the simple way?". I find it in turn a bit easy of you to call me lucky, that's taking any merit away from me. I have been working on it for years actually. I think that the OP concentrates too much on hurdles. "Jumping blindly into the water" might be a solution in this case. – theSameTime Dec 8 '19 at 11:36
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    Sorry I did not intent to take merit from your answer. Just to mention that people are very different when it comes to such kind of skills. I simply wasn't sure OP will be able to just do it now. Saying "lucky" was meant as a valuable gift, not to play you down. Myself I'd like to have more of this courage sometimes, so I admire those who have. – puck Dec 8 '19 at 12:18

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