Ever since I can remember, I’ve been the “planner”. You know, the friend who plans everything: the hang-outs, the parties, the cookouts, the brunches, the sleepovers – everything. Every friend group has at least one planner. But after awhile, those of us in this position find it a tiring, thankless title to maintain.
When you’ve been the planner for so long, your kindness is taken for granted, becoming an expectation rather than a welcome surprise. There is never a change in roles, and your friends become complacent that someone else will take the wheel while they sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. But is their complacency really their fault, or yours for allowing it?
You see those fleeting “We should really get together sometime!” moments as a challenge, an event to be planned. Instead of letting the comment fall on dead ears, you grab it by the horns and run. “Sure, how’s next Saturday work for you,” you ask, already setting the time, date, and location in your head. Sometimes, they’ll bite: “Works great for me!” And other times, they’re trapped into giving you a tentative “yes” to appease your inquiry. If it’s a one-on-one hang out, it usually goes off without a hitch. Group events, however, are often a different story.
For instance, you think: it sure would be nice to go to a summer barbecue! But since most of your friends live in multi-unit apartments with little to no backyards, the event planning falls to you. Now, you’ll have to plan AND host the event. No big deal though; you’re an expert planner.
First, you send out an invitation via Facebook a month to the date of your barbecue. Ample time for people to request time off, get out of familial and work obligations, or block off time on their calendars to relax. Out of 25 invitees, 10 reply immediately with a seemingly solid “yes”. Three more respond with a shaky “maybe,” and the rest leave you on seen while you try to estimate a headcount in order to start planning your shopping list.
As the date approaches, you become excited with anticipation, so you send out a poll in the event you’ve made, just to see two of the former “yes-es” change to stark “will not attends”. Flustered, you tell your friends it’s okay and you’ll see them next time! A week before, you ask for a final headcount as you’ll be going grocery shopping Tuesday after work. Another handful of people say they won’t be coming anymore, and the rest continue to ignore you as if you can’t see they’re reading what you’ve typed.
Three nights before, you sit on your couch wondering if it’s even worth going through the trouble when you only have two guaranteed attendees with the rest left as maybes – aka the “not actually going to show ups”.
Defeated, you sigh, wondering why time and time again you go through the trouble of planning a kick-ass event nobody even wants to attend. So you decide you’re not going to anymore.
You vow to yourself:
No more FB messages asking your college best friend if they want to grab lunch.
No more texts asking if your work buddy wants to get drinks Friday night.
No more event planning for holidays, birthdays, or game-watch parties.
No more, no more!
You hope that your Vow of Independence will boast grand results: friends reaching out to you, asking what day is good to hang; asking you to lunches, brunches, dinners, and drinks; inviting you over for a Bachelor in Paradise marathon with plentiful wine and popcorn…
For a few days, you feel the rush of empowerment.
You stick with your can-do attitude and convince yourself the tables are finally going to turn. But a few weeks into your new “lease on life” pass by, and you realize you’ve heard little from your friends. Sure, you still send each other the occasional meme or pose a question about something that could easily be Googled, and SURE, they say they miss you (and you them), but they still don’t ask to hang out. What gives?
Mind swirling with questions, you scroll through your Insta and see Friend 1 and Friend 2 got lunch together earlier today. And Friend 3 went out with a group of people last Friday night. Friend 4 had her other friend stay the night, and then posted a Boomerang video of their mid-afternoon margaritas at that rooftop bar you’re always talking about.
You start to wonder if you did something wrong.
Did I make so-and-so mad? Was I being selfish expecting my friends to make plans with me as I do with them? Am I overzealous in my desire to maintain active friendships?
In reality, it’s probably none of those things.
Your friends are just bad communicators and even worse planners. Their complacency with someone else always making the plans has turned them into mush-brained zombies (sorry guys, love ya!) who can’t plan events – even if their lives depended on it.
Unfortunately, for those of you who relate to being the planner, I don’t have a cut-and-dry solution for this problem; it still happens to me all the time. What I can say on the matter though is eventually you’ll find a friend who puts in as much time and effort into your friendship as you do. They’ll reach out to you and ask you on coffee dates, tell you about the hot new brunch spot they found, and ask you for fro-yo and gossip sessions on the regular.
Maintaining a friendship isn’t hard if both parties put in equal effort. You just have to find the person who will.