November 11, 2011 - submitted by Laila, Egypt


Two of my best friends, whom I've known for the past 7 years, keep asking me to hang out with them every weekend. But I really don't like hanging out with them cause it always involves doing something crazy and drinking. I always lie and tell them that my parents wouldn't let me go out that day or that I'm busy studying. Eventually they'll stop trying to be friends with me. They don't understand that I don't like doing what they do every week. Now that I don't have any classes with the both of them at school anymore, we don't spend much time together. So in order for me to see them, I have to go out with them. I just don't know what to do. Help? Laila

The Oracle replies:

Laila you're in a vicious circle because seeing them means going out with them which means being around when they're doing stuff you don't like so forgive me for being blunt but why bother seeing them at all? Given you spend most of your time avoiding them I'm not sure why you don't just cut all ties with them completely. 7 years is a long time but you have outgrown your friends and I think it's time to be honest. You're putting yourself through unnecessary stress. I think you will feel better once you have talked to them. If you can find the right time to sit down with them both and have a casual chat. You don't have to make a big thing out of it, just tell them you feel uncomfortable being around some of the things they do. If you think there's something that can be salvaged, ask if there's anything the 3 of you could do together that doesn't involve them drinking etc. They may surprise you and compromise. If they're not willing to then at least you've been heard and can walk away and they will know why. It is your decision and it's mature of you to not get dragged into their world. It takes a lot not to give into peer pressure; you should be very proud - that's not meant to be patronizing, most of us know how hard it is.
You've got this far so stay true to yourself by just explaining why you don't spend time with them as much as you used to. If they're as mature as you and value the friendship, they will accept who you are and the ethics you live by.
Over to you.

Laila, I completely understand your problem. I have friends the same way. I can't hang out with them without the cops eventually having to get involved. It's hard trying to be friends when they're always doing the wrong thing. See, what you need to do, is tell them the truth. After knowing you're not into that kind of stuff, they will either try to do things less, how do I put this... Troublesome. Or, they'll just, not invite you anymore. No matter what you do, someone's feelings will be hurt, but with friends like that, they aren't too trustworthy. Montana

Laila, I actually went through something similar to what you are experiencing now when I was in college. I remember hitting a point where I didn't want to continue to be around many of the friends I had had from aged seven though they were still dear to me because of the excessive drinking/other things they would do whenever we all hung out. It can be a painful and confusing time. It seems like perhaps your life is growing in a different direction than your friends' lives. That is fine and is actually just part of growing and being human. But the good news is that you do have some options. You can explain to your friends that you are interested in doing something different for a change and you can invite them along. This may give you all a chance to reconnect around something other than drinking. You may give this a chance and find that they are not interested. If that is the case, it does not mean that you will not continue to keep in touch with them or that you will not even reconnect years from now. But I say give it a try because the fact that they call you to hand out all the time shows that they are interested in being your friend. And, you never know, but maybe you will reconnect around something you all can have fun with. Just continue to follow your heart. When I experienced this same thing, I ended up finding a group of amazing new friends. Ten years later, I have remained in with all of these people, both the old and the new friends. Take care. Susannah.

I understand your tricky and difficult situation. As they are your close friends it would be better to be honest with them even if it will be difficult. Talking about it with them can make the situation easier to handle once they understand your point of view. You could try and reach a compromise with them by hanging out with them but suggest doing something that you know you would be more comfortable with. This way you get to see them but you don't have to do something you don't want to do. This also lets them know that you do want to stay in touch with them but you just don't want to do what they do every week because you aren't comfortable with it. The best of luck. Gurveena.

Here is my advice. I know that you love these people, but it is clear you guys are going in different directions. I'm glad you are deciding to make smart decisions and avoid drinking and partying all the time. I'm 19 and I had a good friend that I had been in contact with for all of junior high and high school, when senior year hit, he got really into partying and drinking and things just changed. I knew I wanted to be friends, but I wasn't sure how. I figured a good way to be friends with him was to call him with a plan already in mind. So I would suggest meeting up for lunch or going to see a movie, that way, after it was over, we could go our separate ways and I would still be happy that we spent some time together doing something worthwhile that didn't involve partying! I'm sorry you are going through this, it's really hard! Just remember that friendships change over the years and something new will come soon enough. You can stay friends with these girls, but just make smart decisions. Good luck! Paige.

It must hurt to be in that situation, because you care about your friends, but you don't care for what they do. I know how that feels, a little bit. I'm a freshman at college and it seems like so many people here like to go out and get drunk, and I don't really want to at all. I think it's awesome that you try to avoid that kind of atmosphere because, all fun aside, drinking often gets us into problems. Last month my friend woke up after a binge lying in a stranger's driveway without his shoes. He has no clue how it happened.
Now, if you're wondering what to do, you don't have to hang out with these people. You may really love them as friends, especially because you've known them for so long, but if you no longer feel comfortable with them, they're not the best friends for you. A true friend doesn't pressure you into anything. Even if they drink, they really should never expect you to or make you. My best advice is, find some new friends. I'm not suggesting you completely disown your old ones. Try inviting them to lunch on the weekends, or out for coffee, or study together, settings far removed from wild parties. Meanwhile, look for people who share your values and interests. It sounds obscenely cliched, but really, join a club or something similar. Or grow close to the other friends you already have. It will be painful to let go of your old friends, but I promise it will be worth it. Amber.

Keeping secrets is a difficult and trying thing to do. I think you need to tell your friends how you feel. Perhaps say, in passing, that you would rather go to the movies or something instead of partying. You could even have them round to your house and then tell them you much prefer hanging out with them to partying. Once you let them know how you feel, they may simply acquiesce. If you can present it to them casually they'll see it that way, too. Be sure to stand your ground though: don't let them convince you to do something you don't want to do. If they insist, just say you'll have to hang out with them another time. And if your friends can't respect your wishes, they certainly aren't the right friends for you. Try to make some new friends in classes; it sounds like you are quite lonely in class and meeting new people is never a bad thing! Take this time away from them to meet people that like to do the same things as you. Good luck Laila. I know these sorts of things can be quite difficult but I promise that it will pass! Elspeth, Toronto.

Your friends have chosen a different way than yours, to spend their weekends. You're a reasonable person, you know that it's not good at all to drink alcohol so why don't you tell them the true reason which is yours. Although you have known your friends for the past seven years, you are growing up differently but if they listen to you and care for you then it is time to help them stop drinking and doing bad things as you tell me. If they keep on that way, their health will get worse and you know it. The three of you have teenage dreams and no need to drink alcohol and do 'bad things' to have a good time. Whether they trust you and are really your friends in order to share good weekends with you, or they are becoming just different, then I sincerely wish that you won't follow them and have the kind of friends you deserve who care for you and love you, such as a treasure you are. Dominique.

First of all, Laila, this is a difficult situation to be in, and I sympathize with you completely. I recently went through the same kind of experience, as I recognized the friends that I grew up with were pulling me into a cycle I did not want to be in. It can be difficult saying no, because ultimately, you could actually end up parting company with your friends. Some people use drinking and partying as an escape when they are young, presumably out of an attempt to "live life to the fullest" or "enjoy their youth". While this might be how some people celebrate their lives, it doesn't sound like you feel the same way. It sounds like you value intellectual achievement, education, personal growth, and clear experience over escape; and in the end, if you follow your own path, these things will honour your youth more than late nights and "good times" ever will. It is sad that we all go our own way as we get older, but it is even more sad to sacrifice your own unique path to keep other people happy, even if they used to be your friends.
Who knows, maybe if you stop going out, they might stop as well. Their reaction might reveal to you how much you mean to them. Remember, it is your life and it will always be your own decision. All the best, Jesse.

I think the best for all of you is to tell your friends the truth about your feelings. Tell them in all your honesty, that you do like hanging out with them but you don't like the drinking and crazy parts of it. If you keep being gentile and calm during your "speech", I think they will understand your feelings. You can also propose to meet somewhere where they aren't able to drink much, such as the cinema or having dinner together. This way you show them you do like hanging out together and it is a solution for your problem, because you do meet them but they won't drink too much. Good luck, Renske.

It sounds like these friends are important to you. When you say that your parents won't let you go out, that just give you an excuse to avoid what you are really afraid of telling them the truth. You've been friends with them for 7 years, and being friends, they should understand your point of view. I know you might feel they don't understand, but if you explain why you don't feel comfortable drinking or rather spend time with someone else, hopefully they will understand. Therefore, maybe suggest just hanging out at your house, going to the mall, or going out to dinner.
Something you may want to ask yourself and in general: is this friendship causing you more happiness or anxiety. If not, there is little happiness, and in order to find people with similar interests hang out with others and form new friendships. Easier said than done, but you don't know until you try! Devorah.

I can relate to you in this situation, a group of people I hung around with would keep trying to convince me to do things I was uncomfortable doing, like drinking, and I would even tell them I couldn't go to their parties where they got heavily intoxicated, because my mother wouldn't let me.
The people I fell in with then were my friends from childhood, but when they got involved in alcohol, it changed them. Eventually I couldn't put up with it anymore, and I got mixed in with a group of people I could relate to, and that did things I was comfortable doing.
Laila, you don't need to let them force you into doing anything you do not want to do, you need to tell them you aren't into going to crazy parties, if they're your friends, then they'll understand, but if not, there are plenty of people who can relate to you.
Best wishes, Bradley H.

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