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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sticky Single Social Situations

Every activity comes with a community, even something as solitary as blogging. Of course, my blog friends never invite me to go out for drinks after a long day of blogging. And this is just fine with me (although in the early days of Singlutionary, Onely & I discussed a Singlutionary-Onely camping meetup somewhere in the USA).

The social nature of a work community can be an important one. It can also be incredibly annoying. I love my co-workers and I think they're good people but they're not my best friends. I don't want to go out after work with them to drink and I don't want to hang out with them outside of work. I am happy for them and their lives but for the most part I'm not interested in celebrating their birthdays, graduations, baby shower, moving, etc.

If I'm going to carve out social time in my life, I would prefer it be with the good friends that I rarely get to see.

What is the best way to politely decline social invitations from co-workers? I appreciate their humor and commraderie at work but I'm not interested in extending that work-friendship into what would be a social obligation outside of work.

Let me put it this way: If I'm not being paid to be around them, I wouldn't choose to be.

That is so RUDE! I know. But it is true.

So how do I avoid these social traps, these persistent invitations?

The 1st rule is: Don't start. Don't say "yes" ever. Sometimes I accept the offer once because I think that then I'll have put in my time and I won't feel so bad about saying "no" next week and the week after that and the week after that. But it doesn't work that way. I say "yes" once and suddenly there is this outside-of-work-bond, an expectation that there will be more socializing to follow.

The 2nd rule is: Always be busy. It is harder single and childless people to beg off from after work social activities. It is rude to say "Oh, I'd love to go out with you tonight but I have this book that I am really into" but it is totally OK to say "I'd love to go out tonight but my partner is waiting for me". So, as a single person, you have to make up "important" things to do that someone else will hold you accountable for the next day -- like another job or homework or some kind of volunteer activity. Or you could just tell the truth. But honestly, if we're talking about people who would be understanding of my desire to read a book rather than shoot the shit with them for 4 hours, they might actually be outside-of-work-friend material.

The 3rd rule is: Be vague. If you say, "I'd love to but I run at 6am every Saturday morning" you might find yourself with an unwelcome running companion or being asked to join every running group under the sun. Maybe this is welcome to you -- if so, great! That means that your work community is a good match for you socially. Currently, mine is not. So here is a vague answer, "I'd love to but I have to get up super early tomorrow to get some stuff done before noon".

These are my well practiced tactics for avoiding the after-work hangout but what about the facebook invite? People invite you via facebook and they act like its a real invitation. The 1st line of resistance would be to not have a facebook or have a facebook that is so secret that only your most inner circle of 5 people can find you. Of course, that totally defeats the whole purpose of facebook which is to kill time by making yourself feel depressed about how sexy and successful all your former classmates are.

I like to pretend I didn't see the facebook invite. But what do I do when I get asked about it in person? What do I do when I really do like and appreciate the person but simply don't want to spend non-work time with them when time is at such a precious premium?

I don't know. Not attend? Attend for a few minutes and then leave? Get them a card and give it to them at work in lieu of attending said celebration.

I am sure that the celebration would be fun. But it just isn't high enough up on my list of how I'd like to spend my time.

Coupled folks can always use the other person as an excuse but singles have to get creative.

There are all kinds of important relationships and work relationships have sustained me many times through out my single life. But at this particular juncture, at this particular job, I'd like to leave them at work. No matter how much I appreciate them as humans.


Anonymous said...

Well I can't help you out with how to decline invites, because I am no good at that either.

Re our camping trip, that was a good idea that never came to fruition--and now Lisa is in Beirut! When meeting people in person for the first time, though, I think I would prefer it to be somewhere away from bugs and poop shovels. . . just saying. = )

foreign affair said...

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D C Cain said...

I loved reading this! You're right -- you can never agree to go anywhere with them and I have said no for FIVE YEARS. LOL!

I'm a married woman and I can't use the hubby as an excuse either because I'm always talking about how liberated and independent I am, so they KNOW my husband is no excuse not to hang out after work. I just say, "I can't make it" and keep it moving! Sometimes I even say, "8 hours together isn't enough?" I laugh it off and keep on about my business.

The Singlutionary said...

Well said Smokie! A married friend of mine pointed out that she has even more social obligations that she has to maneuver BECAUSE she is married.

I always thought people left you alone if you said "oh, I haven't seen my partner all week!" But the truth is that the most friendly of friendlies will merely insist that you bring your partner along.

As if you want to spend quality time with your partner talking shop with the people you already endure 40 hours a week with!!!!

Adam Alvarado said...

Oh man. I know this feeling. I had the same lack of desire to be friends with my older, much more boring coworkers. But even better (for me at least) I had none of the caring about whether they knew it. My young friend there envied my skills in avoiding them, haha. It's definitely an art.