I had been busy, I can admit that. Between adjusting to a new job with longer hours, caring for my family, and dealing with an onslaught of health issues, I found it increasingly difficult to simply “make time” for my friends. Frankly, I struggled to make time to sleep.
I used to attend every get-together. I used to host a steady stream of visitors.
But as my responsibilities and stress levels increased, I found myself saying no to my friends more often. I felt I had to, if not for my family’s sake, for the sake of my own mental and physical health.
And then it happened. Invites slowed down.
Then they stopped altogether.
Then I started overhearing stories, and stumbling across pictures, of the fantastic times my friends were enjoying together. They were smiling and laughing, in their homes, out at events.
It was the old gang…just without me. I hadn’t even heard they were doing anything that night.
And frankly, it stung. At a time when I needed support the most, when I winced every time I had to say no, longing to go but hating and bowing to my circumstances, when I had assumed they understood…what else could I do, right?…my friends moved on with their lives.
The circle closed. And I wasn’t inside of it.
Maybe you can relate to my experience. Maybe you’re on the other side, insisting you deserve better than an endless chorus of no thank yous. Whichever side you’re on, here’s why I strongly believe we should all keep inviting that friend who always says no.
Keep Inviting That Friend Because They Deserve the Benefit of the Doubt
- You likely don’t know the full extent of their circumstances. Sure, you know your friend is busy planning her child’s graduation. Did she also inform you she’s developed severe anxiety over the thought of her baby leaving home? That it’s spilling out into every aspect of her life, and making it incredibly difficult to leave her house? Even if it’s to visit you? Did she share she’s been seeing a psychiatrist, starting a new medication? Sure, not every case of a friend saying no is so severe. But it might be. It’s okay to give your friend the benefit of the doubt, even if doing so inconveniences you.
- Your friend is not you, and can’t always be held to your standards. I struggled with this myself, not understanding how a friend felt so overwhelmed by so few activities in her life. I knew if I were in her shoes, I could juggle her circumstances with ease…organize, make a plan, knock it out in a week or two, and move on with my life. But I finally realized, after years of frustration, that she wasn’t me. We each possess our own unique activity tolerance levels, stress triggers, and coping mechanisms. And the fact that I could juggle two jobs, homework, and more, didn’t give me any right to trivialize the stress and overwhelm she was experiencing at her one job. Our friends’ feelings are valid, even if we have a difficult time relating.
Keep Inviting That Friend Because You’re an Understanding Person
- Solid friendships weather all seasons. Between family, work, school activities, volunteering, and trying to squeeze in a hot second for themselves, your friend might sincerely be struggling to pencil you in. And believe me, they’re not happy about that. They’re agonizing over how it might hurt you, praying you’ll understand, that you won’t pile guilt on top of the guilt that’s already drowning them. Their life was obviously not so busy and overwhelming at one point, if they were spending more time with you. And it will likely not be this busy forever. Your friend’s unavailability could very likely reflect a season, rather than a lack of commitment to your friendship. And solid friendships patiently trudge through winters, trusting that the spring will return again.
- Their family will, and should, come first. I get it…you make time for the people you care about, right? But what if your time is incredibly limited? I make no apologies when I say if it comes down to grabbing a coffee with a friend or spending that hour with my daughter, who’s having a heck of a time adjusting to her momma’s return to work, my daughter will win. Every time. And she should. We cannot expect our friends to neglect their families in favor of a girls night out…not if we care about their family’s wellbeing. Sure, there are times when their family will just have to deal with it. But that’s your friend’s decision to make, not yours. We should not and cannot make our friends feel bad for making their family a priority.
- It’s what you hope someone would do for you. If you’ve considered ending your invitations, it’s likely their other friends are considering it too, or already have. Maybe you’re thinking that’s what they get for always saying no. But try turning the tables for just a moment. Imagine you’re going through a difficult season. You’re desperate for support, but have been physically and/or mentally unable to reciprocate your friendships the way you would like. And now you have no friends, no support system…in the middle of the hardest season of your life. “Deserved” or not, how would you feel? If for no other reason, keep inviting that friend because it’s what you hope someone would do for you, were the tables turned.
Keep Inviting That Friend Because It’s Just Not That Hard
- It doesn’t take that much effort. How long does it take to send a text? “Hey friend, we’re meeting for burgers at 6…wanna join?” And if your friend declines the invite, or doesn’t see/answer it until 8? Will it cut your heart in two? Will you weep into your tater tots? Probably not. Leaving the door open for your friend requires less than a minute of your time. You know they’ll probably say no, so prepare your heart for that as you’re tapping send. But just knowing that you’re there? That you still care about them even when they can’t make it out? That knowledge alone could save a life. At the very least, it could turn your friend’s day around. Is that outcome not worth 10 seconds of your time?
Wrap It Up
I’ll say it again for those in the back – keep inviting that friend who always says no! You don’t know the full extent of their circumstances, so trust they’re doing their best. Friendships are made to weather the seasons, you’d want the same for yourself, and let’s be honest…it just doesn’t take that much time or effort.
So what are your thoughts? Should you keep inviting that friend who always says no? Be sure to sound off in the comments!
P.S. Feeling overwhelmed yourself? Be sure to download our free guide to stress, to help you develop a game-changing stress management plan!
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