Dear Amy: Should I decline opportunities to see friends or family if it is to attend an unpleasant activity?
My friends love watching painfully terrible movies and discussing the plot and production in excruciating detail.
And my family is upset that I don’t want to attend sporting events that I no longer enjoy due to my poor vision, auditory sensitivities and overall lack of interest.
I just want to enjoy their company without these dreadful background distractions that are not in my wheelhouse, and they show disappointment when I decline or offer a quieter alternative.
I’ve tried to make the best of it, but I can’t even attend ironically.
Unironic in IL
Dear Unironic: It’s a shame you can’t attend these movie events, even ironically, because a sense of irony (or of seeing the humor) can be extremely helpful – especially when listening to others gasbag on about a terrible movie.
I wonder, also, if these friends might be interested in viewing a movie of your choosing?
Overall, if you don’t want to attend a gathering – for any reason – then don’t attend. Your best strategy is to learn to tolerate others’ disappointment if you choose not to attend a gathering where you will be uncomfortable.
Your friends and family are trying to include you, and even when declining – you should thank them for the invitation.
Dear Amy: My friend “Annie” and I are both in our mid-20s and love musicals. We decided to travel to New York in October to see a few shows.
The tickets are fairly pricey, so I was planning on saving money by staying with a friend who lives in the city. I thought my friend could probably make room for Annie, too.
After we agreed on the dates and shows, Annie sent me a screenshot with an order confirmation for her tickets, accompanied by a message saying she’d invited her husband and hoped that was OK.
I was frustrated. It was the first time in our planning she’d mentioned her husband coming. The way she did it really boxed me in.
Her husband and I are friends, but the past few times he joined us for shows he fell asleep and audibly snored.
If she had brought it up earlier, I would have pushed back.
I now have two questions. First, my friend can’t host three extra people in a tiny apartment. Is it all right if I leave Annie and her husband to find a hotel on their own?
Second, how do I express that even though I like her husband, I don’t always want him included on every trip; and that she needs to ask way earlier in the planning process if she wants to bring him?
Dear Broadway: Younger couples sometimes feel the need to do every single thing together (more seasoned couples offer one another more latitude), and I have a theory that Annie’s husband might have wheedled his way in just as she was perusing the online theater seating chart for her ticket.
But even if Annie felt danced into a corner, she absolutely should have run this change past you before committing.
You fear that your friend’s choice has transformed your fun two-person Broadway weekend into a production of Sartre’s famous three-character play “No Exit” (“Hell is other people…”), but I hope you will take this as a valuable lesson to always communicate and clarify. (Trust me, this lesson is worth the price of a Broadway ticket.)
Tell her now, “I’m frustrated. I thought this was a two-person weekend. I like your husband, but now I feel like a third wheel. I really wish you had discussed this with me beforehand. Also, unfortunately there is no way my friend can squeeze in three extra people, so can you two find a place to stay?”
After telling her this, I hope you will simply will yourself into having a fun time in New York. If you let this frustration defeat you, the weekend really will have been a waste.
Dear Amy: I am flabbergasted by the letter from “Disturbed” telling about the wedding invitation she received that was asking for donations toward the honeymoon, the wedding cake, etc.
I hope most potential newlyweds would understand how off-putting it actually is.
I had a beautiful wedding and requested nothing from my guests, except their treasured attendance!
Dear Put Off: Marrying couples may have misunderstood my off-repeated advice that they need to finance their own weddings.
(I never intended that their guests should pay.)
You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.
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