When You Always Have To Invite Your Friends Out First

What does it mean when you always have to be the one to invite your friends out, and they never get in touch to make plans first? Aside from it being annoying to always have to do the work of being the organizer and initiator, it can tweak your insecurities: Do your friends not like you that much? Are they mad at you? Are you growing apart? Are they waiting for you to take the hint and leave them alone, but will reluctantly agree to go out if you get in touch with them? If you weren't constantly chasing them down would you drop off their radar entirely?

If they consistently hang out with you when you ask, and you get along fine once you're together, but they're just never the ones to arrange anything, it's unlikely they hate you. If they didn't want to spend time with you they'd say 'no' or make excuses.

(Here's an article about a closely-related problem: Why Friends May Hardly Ever Initiate Contact To Chat)

Possible explanations

Explanations if it's a newer friendship

This article is about more established friendships, but quickly, if you're just getting to know someone there are several reasons they may not take more initiative:

Your friends have a personality or social style where they wait for other people to invite them out first

Some people are keen little social planners. Others go with the flow and wait to see what comes their way. If they've always had a decent social circle, and friends who did all the organizing, they may never have needed to initiate anything themselves. If they're younger they may not know any better, and never learned the unwritten guideline that a good friend won't leave the work of organizing get togethers entirely to other people.

Your friend is shy and insecure about asking you to hang out

You're not the only one who may feel insecure about the relationship. Your friend may lack confidence, worry you don't really like them, and half-suspect you'll come to your senses and drop them at any moment. They've thought about inviting you out plenty of times, but never have the guts to go through with it. What if you shoot them down or think they're a needy pest? They breathe a little sigh of relief every time you text them asking if they want to grab coffee and catch up - "Oh phew, they haven't gotten sick of me yet."

Your friends would try to organize some plans, but you always get there first

Let's say that if left to their own devices your friends would start trying to organize weekend plans on Friday morning. If you usually contact them about it on Wednesday evening, you'll never give them a chance to take the lead. If you're a naturally organized, together person, or a teensy bit needy and clingy, you'll usually try to arrange a get together earlier on, so you can feel that relief of, "Okay, I've got plans. Everything is well."

If your friends are less naturally social than you they won't be as inclined to try to arrange a get together first. People reach out to their friends when they've gone long enough without seeing them that they start to miss them. A less-social person can go longer without contact before they feel the need to connect again. Similarly, if someone is happy to spend time alone they may approach weekends with the mindset of, "If someone messages me to hang out, I'll go. Otherwise I get to stay in and have fun that way."

You've fallen into a pattern with your friends where they expect you to be the organizer, and have taken on a passive role

If you've always been the one to step up to put the plans together your friends might assume that's just how things are in the relationship. They don't realize it's making you feel resentful or insecure. If you were to suddenly stop trying to make plans they may even think you're mad at them, and never consider, "Oh, maybe it's my turn to try to set something up for once."

Your friends have busy, distracting lives, and are a bit lazy, and will happily hang out with you if you arrange it, but won't get their act together to do it themselves

This one's a grey area. If someone can forget about you like that as soon as they get busy, maybe your friendship isn't that strong. However, some people just aren't as good at juggling multiple things at once, and really don't mean anything personal by it when they get sidetracked.

Your friends know you're often busy, and so wait for you to get in touch when you're free

If you have a packed schedule your friends may realize you won't be able to accept most of the time when they make an invitation. Rather than inviting you out all the time, and usually getting a 'no', they've decided, without telling you, to back off and let you drop them a line when you have some space in your calendar.

Maybe something is wrong in the relationship

It is possible your friend's lack of initiative is a symptom of a bigger problem. I've just given several other ways to explain the same behavior, so never be too quick to assume this is the reason.

What you can do about it if you're always the one who has to make plans first

One thing that usually doesn't work is to stop trying to set up plans and see what happens. If your friends don't get in touch you won't be able to say why. If they're busy they may just be too distracted to contact you for a while. If they're used to you being the organizer they might have thought you don't want to hang out anymore, and then decided to leave you alone.

If you're actually fine being the organizer, but it just makes you feel insecure, maybe reading the mostly benign explanations above is enough to reassure you. If that's the case, keep doing what you're doing, and as long as your friends continue showing up, you can reasonably conclude everything is fine.

If your insecurities are telling you things like, "If someone's a real friend they'll get in touch to make weekend plans by Wednesday at the latest" or, "True friends always seem super eager to hang out" those expectations aren't realistic, and could stand to be questioned and replaced.

If it bugs you that you always have to do the work, you should speak up. It doesn't have to be anything fancy. Just tell them something like, "I notice I'm always the one who arranges for us to hang out. I'd like it if you sometimes suggested plans too." If they say 'okay' then give them space to do it, and realize they'll have their own plan-making style, and may get in touch later than you'd like. No need to get antsy if they haven't locked down weekend plans with you by Tuesday night.

What if you bring it up, and nothing changes? You've got to ask yourself what you're willing to accept. Is the friendship important enough to you, and enjoyable in enough other ways, that you'll accept an imbalance when it comes to putting together plans? Not every friendship is perfect or splits everything right down the middle after all. Or if your friend never takes any initiative will you conclude the relationship isn't giving you what you need and move on? There's nothing weird about wanting your friends to show at least a little enthusiasm about spending time with you, and for there to be some give and take when it comes to making plans. It's your call.