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Forced mingling at an event.

(77 Posts)
Frankie51 Fri 29-Sep-23 08:13:30

I am going to an event in two days and dreading it . It's a memorial celebration for a dear friend who died this year . My husband's best friend . There are going to be a lot of high flying people there, as our friend worked in the theatre .
His request was that we celebrated his life with a dinner and ceilidh and party.
He also stipulated that everyone should "make a lifelong friend at the event".
When we arrive we are requested not to stay with the person we came with, but mingle with strangers the whole time .
I find this daunting ,! Am I being unreasonable ?
I'm quite shy .
I'm in my 70's and I came from a very unsettled family background . I hardly went to school . I'm completely out of my depth with the other guests , there are people who work in the cinema , the BBC , theatre, art world . I have met some of them before , very charming , but I think it would be difficult to maintain social interaction with them for a length of time as we are from such different worlds.
I've also been a bit down. I'm normally cheerful and positive , but this year I've lost 6 close family and friends . I've had health problems, including an operation , nothing serious , but I've been in a fair bit of pain since the beginning of the year . This has now been resolved and I'm better .
I have very poor eyesight and was told this week I am losing the sight of one eye.
It can be operated on but it probably won't be successful. The other eye isn't great. Sorry this sounds like an awful blues record !
I just don't feel up to this "mingling", I discussed it with my husband and we feel it would be so upsetting for our friend's partner if I didn't go and it's not respecting the deceased's wishes . He is going to comply with his late friend's request and mingle . There are extensive grounds in the place the event is happening . I could slip out for a walk The event lasts most of the afternoon and evening . Am I being unreasonable to dread the event ? My husband thinks I'm being a bit of a wet lettuce and he's looking forward to it. Any ideas please anybody ?

pascal30 Fri 29-Sep-23 08:16:59

Just smile and listen... they'll love it..

Galaxy Fri 29-Sep-23 08:22:59

Do you have to go. I wouldnt go to that I would just say goodbye to my friend in my own way.

Witzend Fri 29-Sep-23 08:26:33

Poor you, I know it can be a bit of a nightmare.
The thing to do (so they say) is to ask people about themselves - anything you can think of, what they do, have they been in that job for a long time, have they come far, where they live, have they been anywhere nice on holiday lately, how did they know the deceased…. If a woman, I do like your dress/bag/necklace….

If you do go, I hope it will turn out better than you fear!

Grandmabatty Fri 29-Sep-23 08:26:42

I would hazard a guess that most of those going will stay very firmly in their comfort zone and 'mingle' with people they already know. There might be a token conversation with others but you shouldn't feel obliged to make a 'life long friend.' I would go, but leave when you've had enough.

Gingster Fri 29-Sep-23 08:28:49

How daunting for you. we are not all the same and for some people this would be out of the question to mingle with strangers. I thinks it’s quite unreasonable to expect it and request it.
Some will love it and enjoy ‘making’ new friends.
A friend of mine always says ‘give me a roomful of people I’ve never met and I’m in my element’ .
My sister in law, on the other hand is a very quiet , insular person and would literally tremble and hide in a corner .
Perhaps you’re somewhere in the middle.
As Pascal says, just smile , listen and try to enjoy it.

Iam64 Fri 29-Sep-23 08:39:31

If you feel you have to go, I’d do as others have suggested, listen.

Aldom Fri 29-Sep-23 08:39:49

I do understand how you are feeling.
Because of deafness I find noisy gatherings challenging.
I've been invited, by one of my oldest friends, to a special occasion dinner.
The majority of guests are strangers to me. Thinking about conversation with these strangers made me feel very anxious. It's so difficult not hearing what is said. I do have up to the minute hearing aids. But in large groups, plus noise I still feel isolated.
I have written to my friend and her husband declining the invitation.
They are very disappointed and have said they will keep the invitation open in case I change my mind.
It's several weeks since I wrote and I've reflected on my feelings.
It's a special time for my friends. I think I must put aside how I feel.
I'm going to tell them I shall be with them for their celebration.
It's only one day in my life. Surely I can get through it. I'll just have to mention to people that I don't hear very well. At our age, everyone has something to contend with.
Perhaps, on reflection you too could find a way to cope just for those few hours out of your life. smile

Shelflife Fri 29-Sep-23 08:52:49

I agree with Grandmabatty, I imagine that in reality most people will stick to their comfort zone. Of course theatre people are often very outgoing ( shouldn't generalize! ) however and may be happy to mingle. You are not unreasonable to dread the event! Some will be happy to mingle and others won't! I would feel very uneasy in that situation especially as I don't come from ' their world' ! If you go try and be confident, don't focus on lack of schooling or on anything else that you feel saps your confidence. Hold your head up high , smile and ask them about their career - people love talking about themselves! Yes, you can always take yourself off for a walk. If it really is too daunting, don't go! and tell your husband to enjoy the memorial. If you do go you may enjoy it more than you imagine! Good luck whatever you decide , let us know how you get on .

Redhead56 Fri 29-Sep-23 09:07:00

I’m not shy but I don’t like get togethers parties etc unless I know people. I tend to just want to spend short amounts of time with people unless it’s friends and family.

Just make polite conversation stay away from current affairs and politics that’s my advice. Mention your family and your current interests holidays etc without too much detail and smile.

We have been invited to a ‘do’ I know only the host a friend of my DH. It will be pleasant evening but I will want to make as a quick an exit as possible. Such events unless it’s of my choosing are an effort to me. I have talked about it with friends they reckon it’s lock down and they are the same. I think it’s age related I am quite happy being at home doing whatever I want these days.

Calendargirl Fri 29-Sep-23 09:13:40

To be honest, I think your husband is being a bit insensitive. He must know how you feel about this type of thing.

I think he should be supporting you more, ‘mingling’ on his own for short periods, but also keeping a watchful eye on how you are coping, ready to step over and give some moral support if you look unhappy.

The deceased friend will never know if you mingled or not.

lemsip Fri 29-Sep-23 09:16:17

rest assured you won't be the only one feeling as you do about this! look for those that look unsure of themselves like you and have a nice time.

karmalady Fri 29-Sep-23 09:20:58

exactly as pascal said. People always want someone to listen so smile, sit on a chair and listen. Don`t nod your head or reply when they get boring, they will wander off and someone new, maybe interesting, will replace them

Wenmore Fri 29-Sep-23 09:21:10

You are possibly overthinking it, although l agree it sounds horrific to me. If l had to go I'd sit and be available to the proactive minglers but not actually actively mingle myself (far too stressful). There will be many seeking out a companionable conversation so just let them find you. If you get trapped with a bore excuse yourself to the loo and return to sit elsewhere. The outside space may be your oasis, I went to a charity do once and found refuge in a tiny courtyard with a few bored partners of excited extroverts, it proved to be a pleasant stress free evening. As for the life long friend - that could be yourself, renew your acquaintance.

NotSpaghetti Fri 29-Sep-23 09:33:45

Aldom - this is a kind and generous thing to do.

If tables are having a seating plan could you ask to be seated at the edge of the room away from the entry points (say) to make hearing a bit easier?

NotSpaghetti Fri 29-Sep-23 09:37:43

Frankie51 I don't like this sort of thing personally but would go to simply support the partner.

I always expect them to be awful but each time have discovered they are never as bad as I think.

I still expect the next one to be terrible though!

Go, just ask questions and listen. I think this group may like being listened to.


Aldom Fri 29-Sep-23 09:43:24

Thank you NotSpaghetti.
I will mention your seating plan idea to my friends. smile

Chardy Fri 29-Sep-23 09:57:56

Prep beforehand with a couple of openers, either general 'Did you have to travel far?' 'When did you first meet X?'
Or specific to the person in front of you 'That's a lovely tie/dress. I had no idea what to wear today'
You might even have a crib sheet in your pocket to read in the loo! Good luck.

Cherrytree59 Fri 29-Sep-23 09:58:31

Well I would find 2 seats ( one for yourself and a vacant one) with that amount of people, someone will invariably ask is the seat is free.

Also not sure how much talking can actually be done at a Ceilidh. 🤔

eazybee Fri 29-Sep-23 09:58:46

Pwople in the theatre world are used to making conversations with the tongue-tied.
Listen to what they say and ask questions about what they are most enjoyed doing.
This is for your friend, not you.

eazybee Fri 29-Sep-23 09:59:12

People. even.

BlueBelle Fri 29-Sep-23 10:06:26

ALDOM I think your husband is wrong he should mingle with you by his side then you can leave the talking to him and just smile sweetly or if you feel you can, ask a few questions, theatre people usually love talking about themselves
But do it together
Your friend wouldn’t want you to be uncomfortable
I m pretty talkative but I d be shy when you’re put into a forced situation

Tell your husband you’re going to mingle together

tickingbird Fri 29-Sep-23 10:33:15

I dont enjoy forced socialising. As you feel uncomfortable I’d stick with your husband and just be open to anyone striking up a conversation with you.

Visgir1 Fri 29-Sep-23 10:42:14

I have found those events I don't really want to go to, turn out to be great fun.
Go don't worry about it and if its too dire, get a headache then make your excuses and go home, at least you attended.
But I reckon it would be fun, nothing lost.

Nannarose Fri 29-Sep-23 11:18:43

I think it very high-handed of your husband's friend - but then we love people in spite of their faults, don't we?
Your husband is being a bit insensitive, but I guess he is grieving, and finding it a bit odd as well.
I agree with the 'sit by an empty chair' suggestion, and the standard 'openers'.
Do it, and know, whatever happens, however you feel, you are supporting your DH in his loss.
My DH has always said that he prefers funerals to any other occasion because you're not forced to smile or pretend you're enjoying yourself (one of those 'jokes' that hide the truth in plain sight!)
Hope it goes OK - btw - I seem to come across more of these 'dictated' funerals!