When your friend group always votes to do things you hate

A reader asked:

What do you do when people keep wanting to put stuff up to a vote when it comes to like, group activities, but it always results in you doing stuff you don’t like or have no interest in?

Is it okay to protest or be aggravated when this keeps happening?

What do you alternatively to pick what to do besides voting? What do you do people vote for stuff that you’re uncomfortable with or make you miserable?

Is it okay to ask that stuff you can’t handle be left off the table?

realsocialskills said:

It depends somewhat on the situation. I don’t know what kind of situation you’re in, so it’s hard to say exactly. But here are some thoughts:

It might help to proactively invite people to do an activity that you’re interested in:

  • If you know what you want to do, it might work better to ask people if they want to do that thing with you
  • That will likely get better results than getting together to hang out, then deciding what to do
  • It helps to be very specific
  • It can also help to name a time in the near future, but not immediately, so that it doesn’t become a negotiation about what the group will do right now

For instance: 

  • “Hey, I’m going to see the new Awesome Explosions and Loud Car Chases movie when it comes out next weekend. Who else is in?“
  • “I’m having a board game night next Tuesday. You’re all invited. Let me know if you want to come.”
  • “Today is going to be the longest day ever. Too many tests. I sure don’t feel like cooking. Does anyone want to go get tacos later after we’re doing with finals?“
  • “I found out that the Incredibly Nerdy Museum has an exhibit about my obscure interest. Anyone want to go see it? I’m thinking I’ll go on Friday morning.”

It might be a good idea to hang out with some of the people separately rather than the whole group:

  • Are there other people in your friend group who are into the things the group keeps voting against?
  • If so, it’s probably a good idea to arrange to hang out with those people separately, without the people who will outvote you and get the group to do things you hate
  • Even if you are all friends, you don’t have to hang out with everyone every time
  • It’s ok for some members of the group to split off and do things they like

You might need some different friends:

  • If your friends mostly only want to do things that you hate, can’t do, or have no interest in, you probably need some other people to hang out with
  • You can’t transform your friends into people who share your interests and activity preferences, but you can find people who share your interests
  • It might be a good idea to join a club for something you’re interested in
  • Or to go to some meetups about things you care about

It’s sometimes ok to be emphatic:

  • If you like a lot of what your friends like, but they also frequently pressure you to do a thing you hate, it can be ok to be emphatic about not doing that thing
  • (It gets obnoxious if you do this about almost everything they like, though. It’s ok to be somewhat insistent that a group care about what you want. It’s not reasonable to demand that they only ever do things you like when you have very different preferences).

Some examples of this:

  • “I don’t drink. I don’t want to go to a bar. Can we please do something else?“
  • “I’m not comfortable breaking the law. Let’s do something legal.”
  • “The mall always gives me a migraine. I don’t go there anymore. Can you pick something that I can participate in?“

It might help to keep in mind that you are not a democracy:

  • People can vote on what a group activity will be 
  • That doesn’t mean that they get to vote about what you will be doing 
  • You can say no to doing something, even if the group votes and decides to do a thing
  • It’s ok to bow out of activities your friend group enjoys
  • It doesn’t make you a bad friend. It just means that you’re not doing a particular thing
  • You can’t tell the group what to do, but you can decide what you will do