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Background

My friend just came to visit from a foreign country. She used to live where I did, but moved away because of a job offer. Recently, when she came back, we met up with one more friend as a reunion.

Now, the two other friends have known each other much longer than I've known them, and therefore get along better and act alike.

We went to the beach, and the water was freezing cold. The two go into the water and wait for a wave. Each time a wave passes, they punch it, like they're five years old. Meanwhile, I'm a few feet back, freezing, and waiting for them to change their mind and leave the water. I also didn't punch waves, because I found it very childish and dumb.

Problem

Me not interacting with them, getting deep in the cold water, and punching waves, resulted in them thinking I'm socially awkward, and not fun.

I do not want them to think of me this way, but I couldn't tell them that I'd prefer to get out of the water and play tag on the shore, or something along those lines, because they were having a lot of fun.

Question

I want to be there and have fun with them, and hopefully get invited to more hang outs, without doing silly things.

How can I interact and have fun with my two friends that are doing things I don't enjoy?

NOTE: This occasion is not the only time that I don't fit in. They always talk about books I don't read, clubs they're both in, etc.

I am a male teen living in the U.S., and my two friends are female.

13

The situation here has three important factors that jump out at me:

  1. You want to do something that neither of the others do (or, rather, you don't know if they want to do it). I've been through this sort of thing, especially when hanging out in groups.
  2. You're looking down your nose at your friends a bit for what they're doing. You think it's a bit stupid - "immature" might be a better word.
  3. You do care about your friends. You're making your choice in part because you know they're having fun. Good for you!

I'm shy, and I've had to deal with the first problem a lot. For instance, at birthday parties as a kid, I sometimes found myself wanting to do something that was different from what the majority of the group wanted - to take a specific case, playing ping pong instead of soccer. I didn't hate soccer, but I wasn't good at it (and everyone else was), and so I had a hard time being as enthusiastic about it.

Try to be a leader.

I've dealt with that by taking the lead more in these situations. One thing I've realized is that sometimes you need to be a leader. At one of those birthday parties, for example, it turned out that other people in that group did indeed like ping pong - but they were going along with a sort of herd mentality. Had I spoken up earlier, I could have turned the activities in a different direction that most people still would have enjoyed.

In your case, yeah, your friends are having fun doing one thing. But you don't know for sure that they don't want to do another. You've got nothing to lose by simply asking, the next time around. This has the advantage that it can end up pleasing everyone, if you pick the right activity.

Phrasing

There are some different approaches you could take when you phrase things. You could ask right off the bat:

Hey, do you guys want to play tag? I think the sand would make it a bit more exciting.

or you could offer some sort of compromise:

I know the ocean's great, but can we split our time between the water and the beach? I was thinking we could play tag.

Here, you should be assertive, but not so much as to come across as bossy, by accident.

To be honest, I think the second of these might be the way to go. As I said, you care about your friends, and you're not being selfish. This option should make everyone happy.

I would, however, recommend that you ask to play tag first, if possible. Honestly, once kids get into something, it's hard to tear them away from it. You do run the risk of all getting absorbed in one activity, and then you don't have time for the other. If you think you can hold yourselves to a schedule, then by all means, do so.

Gender

Gender might very well be a factor here. Both of your friends are female, and so it's possible that that has a bearing on their actions. I have no wish to perpetuate gender stereotypes, but as adolescents, children often socialize more with members of the same gender. This isn't true all of the time, but it's often the case.

American culture does still carry the idea that girls should do "girlish" things and boys should do "boyish" things. I have no comment about whether or not tag is a "girlish" or "boyish" activity; in my experience, it's neither. However, those expectations often influence things like the books, movies and music that children and teens consume. I suspect that gender could be a factor behind the divide, and the reason they seemingly relate to one another better than they relate to you.

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    There are also playful ways to get them out of the water... like stealing their shoes. :P – Catija Sep 6 '17 at 20:32
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    @Catija Heh, my sister's done that to me in the past. :-) To be honest, in a situation like this, playfulness can be really good at some ages and not-so-good in others. For a teenager (even a young one), I'm imaging mixed reactions. – HDE 226868 Sep 6 '17 at 21:22
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Okay well first thing to note is that your friend has been away. When time has passed you have to be open to realizing that people change and sometimes you don't enjoy hanging out as much as you once did. That doesn't mean you like them less necessarily, but rather that you both have grown in ways that don't align quite as seamlessly as they once did. I am older than you, so I have been through this many times. It doesn't mean I am no longer friends with those people, but we don't really hangout. Some might still be great friends in phone calls and texts, giving updates about our lives, etc, and even have fun when we see one another in larger gatherings, but in smaller hang outs, we simply have different taste that makes it less enjoyable.

Here is a prime example. My very best friend for a decade simply started to shift in her habits, interests, activities. I did too, but it felt to me like she did more than I did. I bet she would say the same though, but I have never asked. Eventually enough shifting happened that what we both most enjoyed wasn't overlapping like it once did. She loves things like the beach and waking up at the crack of dawn to take a run, and going to bed early with a hot tea and a great book. I am more the sort that really loves to be in the city at a sidewalk cafe, around noon or so, stay up half the night, go to a wild show or a club, etc. I love art and excitement and performance and she finds that all a bit too overstimulating and you get the idea. Oddly my husband and I also have great variances. It works because we have enough overlap and we like that we have so much of our own interests. Neither of us is wired to want to be together all the time.

So essentially all this means is you have to look harder for the overlap or find a new way you do connect (such as maybe via emails, an online game you play together, etc). My best friend, despite us not hanging out really at all in 15 years is still a close friend. She was at one of my births, I was at one of hers. We are well aware of what is happening with one another generally. If I needed anything, she would show up (and she has), and same with me. A real friendship transcends such things as different habits and hobbies and interests. So I am not saying don't be friends. I am merely saying that hanging out with people that enjoy things you don't enjoy might mean you either have to look harder for what you all enjoy or you focus attention on building that friendship in ways that don't involve joint outings. The great news about friendships is they can look any way that works out for the people involved. And if someone is a solid good person, they are likely worth building the friendship in some way.

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May be it impact by gender usually is the case, this polarization come form different interesting of two side, especially in my Asian country, the place where B&G never be equal, so in your case, put more effort to understand what/why their are so enjoy that, stay on their point of view to think, this may a good alternative way to find out their reason, it is better than just look at it at silly and dump thing.

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