Examples Of Various Ways To Invite People To Hang Out
To form a social life an important step is to take the initiative to try to make plans with potential friends, and not to wait around and hope they invite you out first. Some people say they're not exactly sure how to ask someone to hang out. This article will give a bunch of examples of different ways to do that.
Things to know beforehand
Don't stress too much over the phrasing of your invitations
Some people who are new to inviting people out worry that they'll get rejected and be seen as creepy or desperate if they don't word their request in the exact right way. The specific phrasing you use is a small factor in whether someone will accept or not. What's more important is if they like your company, and if the get together you're proposing works for them.
Similarly, don't fret if some of the examples below seem like something you could never say. For one, conversation examples often seem clumsy. If you find yourself reading the ideas below and thinking, "Oh, I couldn't say that. That wouldn't work. That's too forward/presumptuous/needy" then it might be more of a reflection of your overall discomfort with inviting people out and risking rejection, or your doubts about whether it would work out with a particular person. People have successfully invited friends out using all the variations I lay out below. You may want to check out this article: Worries People Often Have About Making Friends And Plans
Methods of inviting people out
You can invite people out face to face, over the phone, by texting, by email/app message, or through a chat window. If you're arranging a larger gathering you can naturally also use a mix of these methods. I'd say one isn't better than the others. Of course, text messages can hit more people at once, and creating a Facebook event thread creates a spot where people can discuss and coordinate the plan. Again, what will really determine whether people accept is if they think they activity will be fun and that it fits their schedule, not if you invite them out in person or through a text message.
The tone of the invitation
However you invite someone out, ask in a tone that suggests, "It'd be great if you came, but if not, no worries." Basically, don't come across as too pressuring. This isn't to say you need to be paranoid about seeming desperate and needy. Inviting people out is just a friendly social thing to do. But still, phrase your invitation in a casual way.
How many times should you try to invite someone out before giving up?
About three times, especially if they haven't made any effort to invite you to anything themselves. If you give it three tries and they haven't accepted you can conclude they either aren't interested or they're legitimately too busy. You often won't know which it is, as most people will make polite excuses rather than reject someone to their face. Either way, you should direct your friend-making energy elsewhere. Not everyone you seem to click with will be up for a closer relationship.
The 'about three tries' rule is simplistic, and sometimes accidentally screens out people who could have been friends, but just happened to have other plans each time you invited them out. However, if someone really wanted to befriend you they'd find a way. Most of the time the rule keeps you from wasting too much time on people who aren't a good fit.
Note that just because someone isn't up for a closer friendship with you, it doesn't necessarily mean they totally hate you. They may like chatting to you at work or at larger get togethers, but just don't think you have quite enough in common to be tighter one-on-one buddies. You don't have to start avoiding them completely. You can stay friendly on a more casual level.
Inviting a single person out to do something one-on-one
Even though it's a really common way for two friends to spend time together, inviting someone to hang out one-on-one for the first time often makes people the most nervous. What if they say no? What if the person agrees to go out, but then things are awkward and you struggle to make conversation with each other? What if you think you'll get along with them, but aren't entirely sure? Should you risk hanging out with them anyway to find out, or just play it safe and not ask in the first place?
If you do go ahead and invite the person out, here are some examples of ways someone might do it. Assuming the other person is inclined to accept your invitation, each way probably works as well as the others. It depends more on the context you've gotten to know them in than anything. If I had to pick one way though, I'd go with the 'Suggesting a Specific Plan' option. That way puts it all on the table right away, and the other person has to accept or bow out.
What you ask them to do will depend on what you sense they'd be interested in doing. Like for one person, in one situation, it may seem totally natural to invite them over to your place to hang out on the first occasion you spend time with them. With someone else you may get the feeling that wouldn't be as appropriate:
Here you're gauging the other person's interest in hanging out. If they say yes, then you can work out the details soon after (one mistake to avoid is getting a yes, and then leaving the other person hanging by not following through).
- "Do you want to grab coffee/a drink some time?"
- "Do you want to go for a bike ride one day?"
- "We should go check out that new store some time."
- "Do you want to meet up to work out together one day?"
- "What days are you usually free? Want to hang out some time?"
- "We should get together outside of this class some time."
Open-ended, but a little more specific
Here you're presenting a somewhat more solid plan, but you're still leaving it a bit open about when you'll do it.
- "Do you feel like getting coffee one day after class?"
- "Want to go for a bike ride one Saturday fairly soon?"
- "Want to come chill out at my place after work sometime soon?"
- "Do you want to go see that movie in the next week or so?"
If you make a more general offer to hang out, and the other person isn't interested, they may say something like, "Yeah sure, maybe we could do that sometime soon", but then they'll change the subject, and they won't follow up later. They'll be "busy" if you later try to nail them down in the future. The other way they could turn you down would be to say, "Hm, maybe... I don't know. I'm kind of busy these days" when you initially ask.
On the other hand, they may actually be up for hanging out, but you've just caught them in a hectic patch of their lives. You could always try again later. Usually you'll have a clearer answer once you've asked about three times. You can ask a second time fairly soon, then if they still say no, give it some time before trying once or twice more. If they still can't make it either they're politely brushing you off, or they've shown they've got too much going on to have time for new or closer friends.
This is when your suggestion is pretty solid. The other person has to consider your invitation and let you know their answer fairly soon.
- "What are you up to this Thursday? Do you want to get something to eat after our evening class?"
- "I'm going to go see (some band) when they come to town in three weeks. Tickets are cheap. Want to come with me?"
- "Are you doing anything tonight? Want to hang out at my place and watch some TV?"
Here the person may turn you down by pointing out some aspect of the proposed plan that doesn't work for them ("Oh, I have to work that night", "I've got plans to see that movie with my boyfriend", "I don't know... I don't have much money to spend on concerts these days.") Of course, this is totally confusing because their excuse may be legitimate. Again, you'll get a better sense of their intentions once you've invited them to hang out a couple of times.
Immediate / spontaneous
This is when you're asking them to do something with you right now, or fairly soon. It can feel a little less nerve-racking to invite someone out this way. When you suggest something spontaneously you can't always expect the other person will be available to go, so it doesn't sting as much if they say no. You can also save face because you can play the whole thing off like it was some idea that just popped into your head, rather than that you've been planning for two weeks to ask the person to hang out, and you ever so hope they like you.
- (at the end of the work day, or as class is getting out) "What are you doing right now? Feel like grabbing a coffee?"
- (to a neighbor in your building) "It's so nice outside I've decided to go for a walk. Want to join me?"
- "My phone's been acting weird all day. I gotta go to the mall to see if they can fix it. Want to keep me company?"
- "What are you up to right now? I'm kinda bored. Want to do something?"
What not to do: Asking if someone is free at a certain time without telling them what you have in mind
For example, "Are you free this Sunday?", "Yep", "Do you want to see a movie?" This approach can make people act cagey and evasive. They figure you want to invite them out, but don't know if it's to something they'd be interested in, so they'll hesitate to say they're free for fear of feeling "trapped" into accepting if they admit they're available. At worst they'll panic and lie about being busy, just to guard against the off chance that you'll try to corner them into an event they don't want to go to. It's better to lead off with the activity you have in mind.
Inviting a group of people to hang out
The group of people you're inviting out could all know each other fairly well already, and you're trying to join their clique. Or everyone could be fairly new to each other, and you're doing your part to try to form a new social circle. The actual act of inviting a group out is similar to asking a single person to do something. Some people also find trying to organize a group event less scary, since if it doesn't work out the rejection is more diffuse. It feels like the suggestion itself fizzled, rather than one person specifically declining to spend time with you. Everyone wasn't just turning you down either, they were also saying they didn't want to spend time with each other (you can even phrase invitations as "We're doing X, want to come?"). Alternatively, some people find extending an invitation to a group more stressful, since if their suggestion goes nowhere, they feel like a whole bunch of people is passing judgment on them.
What's different with group invitations is what happens after they start considering the plan. When you invite one person out they either say yes or no. If they say yes then you've only go to work out the specifics of the get together with them. When you invite a group more goes into getting the plan fleshed out. Some people may say yes, some might say no. The plan may go through a few different permutations before everyone agrees on it.
- "Do you guys want to get together sometime soon?"
- "We should all hang out outside of work."
- "What does everyone think of getting something to eat after swing lessons one day?"
- "Maybe we could all check out that new restaurant before we all get busy with exams."
- "I'm thinking of having some people over this Friday. What do you guys think?"
- "Does everyone want to go to 80's Night at (some club) this Saturday?"
- "There's a fair coming to town this weekend. Who's up for it?"
Immediate / Spontaneous
- "Anyone feel like coming back to my place now? We could play some video games or watch a movie or something."
- "Do you guys want to go downtown after class gets out?"
Inviting one or more people to do something with your existing friends
If you don't have much of an existing social circle you can't do this. However, if you have this option it's probably the lowest stakes way to extend someone an invitation. You're not asking from any kind of position of neediness. If anything you're the one offering them an opportunity. If they say no, you were still going to hang out with your other friends anyway. If you're not sure if you'll click with them you're also not stuck with them one-on-one if it turns out you really don't have that much chemistry. They may even feel the same way, and know they can chat to your friends if you don't have much to say to each other as you might have thought.
- "My friends and I are going out on Saturday. We'd be happy to have you along."
- "My buddies and I get together every Thursday evening to play poker. You should come out one week.
- "I'm going to (some pub) this Wednesday to see my friend's band play. Want to join?"
- "I go jogging with some friends every Saturday morning. You're welcome to come whenever you'd like."
- "I go to a book club every other week. If you want to come check it out, we're open to new people attending."
If you go this route, someone may turn you down just because they're not comfortable with the idea of meeting a whole bunch of people they don't know and feeling they have to make a good impression on them.
Inviting an existing friend who you haven't seen in a while to hang out
Once they've hung out with someone a few times, and the new friendship feels more solid, I think most people are okay with making further invitations. One place where they can get nervous is if they haven't talked to someone in a while. Even after as little as a few weeks they may feel weird contacting them again and seeing if they want to do something. They may worry about whether the relationship has changed, or if the pause in contact has had a negative effect. Most of those worries don't amount to much though, and inviting the person to hang out again is pretty straightforward. You can quickly acknowledge you haven't spoken in a bit, then invite them to do something like you normally would.
- "What have you been up to lately? Do you want to get lunch and catch up?"
- "Wow, we've both been busy this month. I'm free next week. Want to come over to my place? We can throw some food on the BBQ and fill each other in on what we've been doing?"
This article covers a similar topic:
Inviting yourself to someone's event
It's mainly in another article that I cover the tricky issue of inviting yourself to things. Basically, you've got to be really careful, but there are times when it can be okay to do it. For example, if you've been getting along with someone in one of your classes, and he mentions often getting together with some friends to play card games every week, and he gives the impression it's an 'everybody is welcome' kind of thing, you could say something like, "So you and your friends play cards every Saturday, right? I'm actually into that too. Would it be okay if I joined you one day?"