Friday, November 2, 2012

Denying Convictions

(I did enjoy the party in this picture)
Person 1: "I hated that party."
Person 2: "You didn't have any fun at all?"
Person 1: "No."
Person 2: "But there must have been something you liked?"
Person 1: "No."
Person 2: "But what about when we played games?"
Person 1: "No."
Person 2: "How about when we all danced?"
Person 1: "No."
Person 2: "But, um, there was root beer at the party!  You like root beer, right?"
Person 1: "Yeah..."
Person 2: "So you did have some fun at the party!"
Person 1: "I said no. Why can't you accept my answer?"

As silly as this may sound, it is a very, very common conversation, although most of us won't call Person 2 out on not accepting our answer.  For me, these conversations are usually about school rather than parties, but let's use the party example for now:

One of the reasons that Person 2 might be so hung up on Person 1 having fun at a party that's already happened is if Person 2 feels some sort of responsibility, like it was their fault that Person 1 didn't have fun.  Here are the possibilities of who Person 2 could be:

Host - If I were hosting a party, I would feel bad that someone hated it because I'd feel responsible for everyone's enjoyment.  I can see why a party host may try to deny their friend's feelings and insist that their friend must have liked something about the party.

Guest - If I were a guest at the party, I would feel bad if I could have helped my friend, ex: if someone was being mean or if my friend felt left out. But if my friend just didn't like party overall, I would understand that it's not everyone's thing, and let them know that it's okay if it's not theirs.

Connected - If I didn't attend the party but was very familiar with the host or the activity, I might give relevant information, like "It took me a while to get good at that game," but other than that, I wouldn't try to convince my friend that they liked the party.

Not Connected - If I had no connection to the party, I would still ask my friend why they didn't like it, but I wouldn't try to convince them that they did like it.

Unless I was hosting the party, I wouldn't have any reason to try to convince my friend that they had fun when they didn't. It's wrong to deny someone else's experience anyway, but I can understand where it's coming from if someone feels a personal responsibility for the other person's happiness.  What I don't understand is why you would deny someone else's conviction when the party wasn't your responsibility - why guests feel like hosts, why people who had no connection to the party have a stake in it.

It makes me wonder if some people really feel responsible for their friends' happiness, even when it's out of their control.  Maybe some people feel like the party host when they're not, which makes them hate to admit that someone didn't have fun.

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