The 3-Strikes Rule

Have you ever had someone who really wanted to be your best friend but you just weren’t interested? The reasons may vary. Maybe you don’t like that person because they have a bad attitude or maybe they are simply obnoxious. Maybe it’s not that you don’t like them, it’s that you really don’t have anything in common. Maybe your personalities clash (talk too much? a little wierd? a little creepy?). Maybe you just don’t have any more room or time for more friends. There’s acquaintance level friends and then there’s your besties who you hang out with regularly. Let’s be honest, you have to surround yourself with the right people in order to be truly happy in life.

You can say no, but it’s not as simple as you might think. If you don’t have time or you’re busy, they want to change things around to make sure it’s a day and time that works for you. That’s nice and all, but you’re just trying to politely decline! If you say you aren’t interested in the activity, they invite you to something else. If you aren’t interested in anything, they’ll ask you the dreaded question “What do you like to do?” and then they want to impose on your activities.

“Hey, would you like to come over to play cards with us on game night saturday?”

“No thanks.”

“Okay, we have game night every 2nd and 4th saturday. Which one would you be free for?”

“I’m not usually free, but thanks for the offer.”

“No problem, we can move it to the 1st or 3rd if that would work for you?”

“I’m usually pretty busy, but thank you.”

Geez this chick isn’t taking the hint, is she?

“I tell you what, we can move it to Friday!”

“I’m sorry, I really am not interested in playing cards. Still, I appreciate the offer.”

“Oh. That’s fine. We also have a board game afternoon on sundays.”

“I’m not into board game either. I’m sorry.”

“I understand, it’s not for everyone. I tell you what, I’m going shopping on Monday, you should come with us!”

Still not getting the hint.

“I’m broke.”

“I’ll pay!”

“I’m really not looking to go out much. I don’t like crowds.”

“Okay, then a movie night?”

“No thank you.”

“What do you like do?”

*sweat drop*

“Um. I like music, but I really should be going now.”

“Wait, what kind?”

“I like OTEP.”

“She’s in town all week. I’ll pay for concert tickets and we can go in my car!”


“Hey look, I’m super flattered that you would go through all this trouble to make time for me. I just don’t have any more space in my life for new people. I’d like to stay friends, but I can’t commit to any plans right now.”

“Oh okay. Thanks for being honest.”

You might think, if you started with the truth, things would have been fine… but you haven’t waited long enough to realized that you are wrong. When said person hears that you went to a card night with someone else, they get upset because “I thought you didn’t like card games.” They see you with a new friend at brunch or at a concert, and then they get upset “thought you didn’t have time for new people?”

Okay fine, fair enough. Let’s try it your way and be brutally honest.

“Hey, would you like to come over to play cards with us on game night saturday?”

“I appreciate the offer but I’m not interested.”

That came off a little rude, right?

“Oh. That’s fine. We also have a board game afternoon on sundays.”

“I’m not interested in hanging out with you, but thank you.”

Wow, that came off very rude. I know I would have felt slighted by that comment. Why don’t you want to hang out with me? Do you not like me? What a snob!

“Um okay. Did I do something to offend you?”

“Nooo! You’re great. It’s just that our personalities don’t fit well.”

“Like what?”

Well this has become an uncomfortable and confrontational interaction.

“Well, you are hyper and I’m really more introverted.”

“Oh, I can be more calm.” but really that lasts a day, maybe? Then later you have to deal with a bestie breakup that’s even more awkward.

“You’re just not the quiet type.”

“I was super calm. You’re just being judgmental.”

Oh look, now we’re fighting.

On second thought, I prefer the sugar coated approach of polite decline and avoidance. Some people claim to want the truth but that’s not actually the truth. If the truth is hurtful, they will react in the way you expect them to. Two good people can be a bad fit for each other. If you’re a good person, I don’t want to hurt your feelings. Even if I don’t like the person, that doesn’t mean I want to fight with them or be enemies.

Furthermore… I don’t want to be the person on the other side of this scenario. I don’t want to be the girl who couldn’t take the hint. I don’t want to be told that I’m not liked. I don’t want to believe that we can’t still be friendly acquaintances just because you aren’t interested in something more than that. I also don’t want to miss out on a potential friendship due to a misunderstanding. What if they really do want to hang out but just couldn’t?

So my solution is the 3-strikes rule. I invite them to hang out three times and then no more. After that 3rd invite, it’s up to them to extend an invitation or express interest in being invited. Then the 3-strikes rule is renewed.

“Hey, you should come our game night this friday?”

“I can’t. I have plans.”

“No problem. We have another on the 13th.”

“I actually am busy that day too, but I appreciate the offer.”

“We’ve going to the movies tomorrow. My treat! Want to join us?”

“I’d like to, but I have a date tomorrow night.”

“Okay no problem.”

I no longer offer invitations. We’re still friendly to each when we cross paths.

“Hey, so are you doing another game night? I’m free this friday.”

“Yeah! Absolutely!”

Since they expressed interest, the 3-stikes is replenished.

“Hey, I had an emergency. I can’t make it.”

“Oh too bad. I hope everything is okay! We’re doing it again next friday.”

“Thank you for the well wishes. I’ll see you next friday!”

This way, I’m not the girl who isn’t taking the hint nor am I being too defensive nor unforgiving. If I’ve done my part and they don’t ask to be invited or don’t make an effort to invite me, then I assume it’s just not meant to be. Honestly, if you can’t make time for someone, or think to invite someone out, then you either don’t have time or don’t deserve them.


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