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How to tell friends that I am not comfortable in meeting up with them?

Two scenarios, same problem.

Currently I am working on my mental health and I do not want to burden myself by being in uncomfortable personal situations. At work, I have no problem in trying to push myself and intentionally being away from my comfort zone. However, in my personal life, I want to stay in my personal comfort zone and work on my fitness (mental and physical) for the next 3 months.

How do I convey this to my friends?

Scenario 1: Couple of friends want me to join them at few get-togethers where there will be few more people who I don’t know.

Scenario 2: A close friend who I had feelings for (asked her out a year ago and got rejected) is insisting me to meet her. She also wants me to meet her boyfriend and come to her housewarming party this month end.

For both the situations, I am not feeling comfortable to attend. I don’t want to offend their feelings but I am considering not meeting anyone new in my personal life for the next 3 months. This includes holding off dating as well.

Is it a valid request on my part? How do I convey this to my friends? I am 33 years old man, and I desperately want to improve my mental health and physical health before the end of this year.

Tl;dr: I am not in a mental headspace to meet a group of friends and someone whom I used have feelings for. How to tell them that I don’t want to meet them for the next couple of months?

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  1. I think you are getting some unrealistic advice so far.

    Its fine for OP to want to spend some time in isolation if they so choose, but if you spend 3 months dodging invitations with only “I’m working on myself” they’re probably going to assume you aren’t interested in the relationship – and those invites will stop coming… of course that is totally up to you, but I think its only fair to acknowledge that it could impact the friendships.

  2. I’m going to be honest with you OP. As someone who has been there.

    Firstly, three months of what essentially sounds like isolation is not going to help your personal wellness. Be honest with yourself. Are you *really* pulling away from everyone and everything for good reasons, or are you withdrawing? Are you still finding ways to be social in more intimate, safer settings? Not socializing for months is going to make doing so a lot harder.

    Secondly, if you start rejecting any and all invitations for three months, citing some vague personal wellness journey as the reason, expect there to be little to no invitations from anyone when you emerge from it. Most people will assume you are no longer interested in the friendship if you do this. Sure, you don’t owe anyone an explanation, but in turn no one is obligated to keep reaching out to you.

    Overall, this sounds very ill-advised. It’s okay to focus on yourself, obviously, but I can’t imagine a situation where turning into a recluse for the sake of avoiding negative feelings at all costs is healthy.

  3. The first thing I notice is that you are trying to avoid offending other peoples’ feelings by sacrificing your own. You matter!

    You could offer counter suggestions – “I can’t make that get together, but would you like to see a movie next weekend instead?”

  4. This was me for the past 18 months at least. I’m happy to say I’m through the worst of it now, but I strongly relate to what you’re saying.

    I’d say to tailor your approach according to who you’re speaking/ messaging with. So, with good friends, be totally upfront. Something like…’I appreciate the invitation but don’t feel in the right space to be in new social situations just now’. If you feel ok about meeting friends 1-to-1 then say so, but give boundaries such as meeting at or close to your place, for a certain amount of time.

    With scenario 2, she doesn’t need to know the ins and outs of your headspace so I’d just politely decline invitations as and when they arrive. Make up white lies if you need to.

    It’s so good that you recognise that you need this time. Protect it fiercely, impose boundaries, put yourself first, but let the friends who matter know that they still matter. Good luck, internet stranger x

  5. I would decline by saying you are very busy right now, that you working on some important things in your life, and that you hope that you will have more time for socializing in the future. Thank them for inviting you and tell them it means a lot to you that they are thinking about you.

  6. You don’t need to give a reason. Just politely decline.

    “Thank you for the invite, I’m not able to attend”

    Or “Thanks, I don’t think I’ll be able to join.”

    I wouldn’t roll out that you’re working on your mental health. That’s a bit too much info.

  7. OP, do you have any friends you can confide in about your mental health issues? Your issues are very common and most people have either experienced a mental health issue or know someone who has. If you can confide in them and they will support you that is generally an environment which will help with recovery. I am speaking as someone who has a permanent anxiety disorder and supportive friends have really helped me in times of need. I didn’t need them to spill my guts out to, but it can help to have dinner, see a movie, etc.

    Alone time is important, but too much time alone tends to exacerbate problems for the overwhelming majority of people. A mental health professional once told me that isolation was my enemy and I needed to fight it.

    With the friend you seem to have feelings for, seeing her and the new BF is a bad idea. I would recommend saying you are unwell and unable to meet, but would be open to it later. If she is not understanding, that is a reason to let her go.

    I wish you the best in your recovery. Please make a support team for yourself and get better.

  8. This is pitiful, dude. I hope you will be able to recognize that some day when you re-read what you’ve written. You will not improve hiding in your safe-space, you’re just wasting the limited time you have in your life.

    That said, going to that housewarming party would also be a waste of your time. You’ll have to find your own way to grow, but that won’t happen in hiding.

  9. As simply as you’ve put it here.

    “Thank you for the invitation. Regretfully, I’m unable to attend.”

    If they ask why, “I need to focus on myself and my personal wellness goals”. You’re not responsible for how they feel or react to these statements. If they take it personal, that’s on them to sort out.

  10. I wouldn’t mention a time limit, as you may change your mind for a catch up or two, but I’d either tell the truth or just say that I’m busy working on something at the moment, so I won’t be free then.

    Also, good for you to recognise where improvements can be made and dedicate the time and effort into self improvement. I wish you well in getting better.

  11. Hi, you sound just like my husband. He’s also having a hard time, kinda same age as you.

    This is the advice I always give to my husband whenever this happens:

    1. Be true: tell them the truth, “I’m having a difficult time now. I don’t think I’m ready for meeting a lot of new people. Sorry, this is not your fault, it just me. Let me heal first and then ask me again!”. True friends will understand this. If they’re not, cut them off.
    2. Don’t ever give yourself timeline. Why you make a deadline 3 months isolating yourself? How about learn to listen to your mental health when you need to be alone and when you need to socialize?

    Regarding your ex-crush, you can tell her the truth. “Do you think it’s a good idea I meet your boyfriend? Considering I used to have feelings for you.”

  12. You have to do what is best for YOU and your mental health. If you really care about your friends have a conversation with them and tell them how you are feeling. They should understand and if they don’t then they were never friends you want to keep. Best.

  13. You don’t owe anyone an explanation, I wouldn’t want to do those things either. It’s alright to put yourself first from time to time. Keep working on you, you’ll get there.

  14. “No, thank you.” is a complete sentence. It is 100% ok to be in control of your mental health and what you want to do.

    That said, there are ways to be a bit more thoughtful in saying it. In Scenario 1, perhaps you can suggest an alternative that you would be comfortable with. “Thanks for the invite! Big group settings aren’t really my thing right now. Would you be up for just some one-on-one coffee another time together instead?”

    Scenario 2 is very different. You should really think about if having someone who you had feelings for is a person to keep in your life. It might not be healthy for you to have those feelings put to bed if this is someone you are keeping in close contact with. Seeing them in similar social circles is one thing, but you don’t need to make time for them and risk further retraumatizing yourself over it. “Hey friend! Thanks for the invite. I’m going to have to pass for now. It’s a really busy time for me, and I’m taking my downtime to have some space for myself for the next few months. Sorry I can’t make it, but I hope the party is great!”

  15. Focusing on your mental health, and actively working on improving it if that is what you feel you need right now is the absolute best thing you can be doing and should be your main priority! Good for you. Don’t focus on what others want from you. More people should do this. Sometimes withdrawing from social interactions is needed to focus on your own growth and your own needs. This is self-care and wonderful.

    If your friends are truly good friends they will support this. If they are not, they will fall away, and that is ok. Just be honest. Anyone who feels like they are being ignored or brushed off will eventually likely come to the conclusion that there is some problem in the friendship, so you can just let them know why you need space in a general way. You will learn who your true friends are, and who to keep in your life. Honestly a lot of people don’t understand, but that is on them, not you.

    As for the girl who refused you when you asked her out, and now wants you to meet the boyfriend and celebrate her housewarming….I would just stay away from that situation altogether.

    All the best to you in your healing.

  16. “I’m not going to be available for a few months, life is hectic. I’ll hit you up when everything has settled down”

    And no other explanation is needed. You don’t need to justify yourself to anyone but yourself.

  17. I won’t speak as to whether I think isolating for 3 months is a healthy idea or not, but ultimately real friends should respect healthy boundaries when they’re presented respectfully, and if they can’t, then are they really people you want in your life in the first place?

  18. Honestly, and I say this with love, most of this sounds unhealthy. I think rather than isolating yourself, talking to a doctor about medication, therapy, or a support group might be a better option. Speaking as someone that has gone through a heavy mental health journey, nothing good will come from hiding away. I hope you’re able to find the support you need without isolation.

    Also, as far as the person you were interested in dating asking you to come to a party to meet their new partner, it’s 100% ok to decline. It’s totally acceptable to be down about the rejection and not want to meet their new partner. I’d be cool with them if you ever run into them somewhere, but you don’t have to put yourself knowingly into a situation that will make you unhappy.

    I wish you the best on your journey and making choices that are best for you.

  19. 3 months off for personal growth is extremely reasonable, and not meeting people too, I’d suggest to not meet with your ex-crush at all untill you are 100% confident or have a girl to introduce to her cos ik how it feels as a guy meeting someone you liked that now is dating someone else, it’ll become awkward too quick. BUT I would suggest that on your good days do step out and meet your close close friends (one or two) cos a good time with good people genuinely makes you feel better and gives you a confidence boost.

  20. Just tell them: no thanks, I’m going into a sorta monastic period this fall, for workout and reflection and shit, I’ll let you know when I’m ready to meet y’all again. Don’t you worry about me.

    Personally, I don’t think it’s a good idea to isolate yourself socially in the name of health. All you will achieve I think is a narrower comfort zone. But you do you. You friends will be fine.

  21. I’m a big fan of agreeing, then last minute bow out. Family emergency, not feeling well and would hate to give you something, etc. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. Also, a “shoot! Things are super hectic for me right now and I don’t think I can juggle stuff around to make it to _____ event. But I’m sending my love”

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