Talk to Me: Convincing a Socially Anxious Friend to Socialize  

Q: How do I convince my friend who is afraid of social situations to come to a bar crawl with me?

A: Good question my dear reader, who may or may not be a family member that I asked to give me a question.

That can be a tricky situation. Going out and socializing with friends may be something that you love to do, but it’s not something that everyone loves. Of course, since it’s something special to you, you want to share it with someone you care about.

There are ways to assure your friend that they will have a good time, but you may need to make a few changes from your definition of fun to accommodate them.

A lot of social anxiety and introversion stems from discomfort. Obviously, since you are friends with this person, you often find yourself in situations together where they feel comfortable enough to open up and build a friendship. Try to tap into those memories with them and see what the surrounding environment was like when they opened up in this way.

Is it when you are surrounded by a lot of mutual friends? Is it when the social interaction is short or in a familiar place? Is it when there is no alcohol involved?

Bring the things that make them comfortable into the situation. Invite some of your mutual friends or tell your friend that you’ll be the designated driver and you can both leave at any time.

Offer all of these things up casually, but don’t place the reasoning on your friend. People who are already anxious about social interaction definitely do not want to feel like they are a burden.

Say things like, “You should come out with us! I’m going to bring my car and not stay too late because I have work in the morning. It would be nice to have someone to dip out and grab dinner with.”

I know, it seems like an awful lot of work just to get one friend to come along, but if you really want them there, you assume responsibility for the time they have.

I’m speaking from experience. My partner in crime would always rather hang out at our house with a couple friends than go out in public with a large group. This means whenever I plan things I have the thought, “What can I do to make this fun for him?” This isn’t because he’s needy or incapable of handling himself in social situations. It’s just that I want him to be there and if I’m going to drag him somewhere he would never choose to go in his free time, it’s my job to make sure he enjoys it.

Here’s a food metaphor, just for you, dear anonymous reader. If you offer your friend ketchup for their french fries and they say, “No thanks, I don’t like ketchup.”

Your response wouldn’t be, “But I love ketchup. So you must also love ketchup.”

No, you would get up and find them some honey mustard or BBQ sauce or whatever else barbarians who don’t eat ketchup dip their fries in.

There is also a chance, that no matter what accommodations you are willing to make, they simply do not want to go on a bar crawl. If that’s the case, don’t be offended or upset with them. They love you very much and enjoy spending time with you, just not in that setting. So, make a plan for something else you can do together and move forward.

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