Want to Cancel Dinner with FMIL

posted 3 years ago in Family
Post # 3
1734 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 1998

This is a tough one, and it’s difficult for people who don’t have it (i.e., the “suck it up” response). Are you currently seeing anyone about your anxiety? Do you know anything about relaxation techniques?

I have mild social anxiety, but have relatives (including my cousin’s wife) who have SEVERE social anxiety. There’s a great deal of social stigma attached to it – because people don’t understand it. This woman is my friend, and it does hurt to hear the gossip around my family about how she hates us/she’s lazy/she has no interest in putting forth effort for his family, etc. But I would be a liar if I said this ISN’T the prevalent view of people who do this.

I take it your in-laws aren’t aware of your SA. If you marry into this family, that’s something to really consider: on a long enough time scale, they will notice it. So, I think it may be best to be open and to do damage control ahead of time. Along with your fiance, you could both call her and explain a little about what it is:


“Jessica has social anxiety. It means that in normal situations that would make me and you very nervous, it can be disabling and very scary for her. The environment she’s in can play a role in it. For right now, I think it would be best if we had dinner in a much smaller group – just the three or four of us.”

Educating them is going to be very important – and an offer of restitution (“hey, how about we make you dinner at our place next week, mom?”) can send the message that it is NOT personal – but simply about a condition that you have.

But, your fiance has to be on board with this. That may mean educating him, too. I recommend:




Post # 4
7654 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2012

@JessicaJupiter:  The smoking part alone would make me say no because you can’t ask them not to smoke around you since it isn’t your house, but YOU don’t have to put up with it.

As far as the social anxiety goes I get it. I often want to not go becuase I hate it. Being with a small group of people I know doesn’t bother me, but if I had to go to someone else’s house with a bunch of other people that would bother me.

In your case if there is a way you can avoid the smoking (ie go out for fresh air or something) I would go. It isn’t ideal, but its only for a few hours. Or I would talk to your FI and ask that you guys sit down and have a meal with FMIL instead since that was your assumption. If he understands and wants to support you through your anxiety, he should be willing to compromise.

Post # 5
3845 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

@JessicaJupiter:   Could your FI inform her that you had both assumed it would be a small dinner at her home, with no smoking, and until that can be arranged you will be declining invitations?  Would that work?

I sympathize – I have a lung problem and cannot be anywhere near smokers.  At first it was hard for me to speak up, but now I realize people don’t mind at all.  

Post # 7
11772 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: May 2013

Could you go and leave early, saying how the smoke is bothering you?

Post # 8
7654 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2012

@JessicaJupiter:  I’m in the arctic chill too so I can commiserate on those temps 😛

I seriously wouldn’t go then, BUT I would compromise and tell your FI that you would still like to do dinner with your FMIL (even if you really don’t) but that you would like to do it with just her (and possibly her bf, if you’re willing to compromise even more).

Post # 10
3769 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: December 1999

@JessicaJupiter:  Unfortunately I don’t think there is a way to avoid this meal without offending your MIL. If this is suppose to be your “Christmas” meal and you cancel today, I would be upset as the host to have planned everything and have someone cancel at the last minute. If there is anyway you could go for a little bit I would. Have you or your DH talked with her about how you are more than shy, maybe if she knew exactly what was going on she would be able to plan things that would work better for you.

Post # 11
2385 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

@JessicaJupiter:  I understand how you feel- I have a little social anxiety as well and it is harder for me to be around ppl I don’t know than ones I do. DH is very outgoing so it can be hard to sometimes translate to him why I don’t want to do certain things. We try to compromise as much as possible and I feel like you should make an effort since it’s his mom and you said she may take ya’ll bowing out of the event the wrong way. 

I would make a game plan with FI. If he really wants to go and it would cause a stink to decline the invite you need to plan out your visit- it always helps me to know when and where my out is in situations like these. Maybe agree to go but only for an hour or two max. I try to pick one or two ppl I know and stick with them most of the event. So I would pretty much just stick with SO and his mom the whole night. Maybe you could bring a book or work or something to do for a bit so you can kind of avoid everyone but have a good reason so your not looking like a stuck up B… It’s hard to deal with ppl’s perceptions of social anxieties and alot of DH’s family thought I was a stuck up B until they got to know me better in smaller groups.Try not to psych yourself out over it, make your plan, go over it a few times, and try to keep your brain occupied on anything but the event (i found the more I think about these things the worse they get). 

Post # 12
1666 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: November 2015

@JessicaJupiter:  I have social anxiety as well. I’m also an Introvert, so being around people in general can leave me feeling very drained. And I hate cigarette smoke. I can handle being around it for a few hours, but not forever. I totally get what you’re saying and why you’re hesitating about this.

At this point, I don’t think you can completely back out without offending FMIL. I agree with @BeckyS0:  about forming a plan. It seems like your best option at the moment. Agree to stay for a certain amount of time, stick beside him and FMIL for the night, and just do your best.

After the dinner, I highly suggest you sit your FI down and explain to him just what social anxiety is and why you can’t just “suck it up” for one night. This will just keep happening until he really understands what it is you are struggling with.

Post # 13
2670 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: March 1996

As someone with very bad anxiety, I have a lot of sympathy. I think on some level that letting myself opt of social situations makes it worse. I don’t mean that I force myself to do All The Things – I do sometimes opt out depending on the circumstances – but I make a real effort. It can help to tell myself, “Yes, this is going to be scary! Really scary for me! But in life there are going to be a lot of things that scare me, and that’s okay. I can learn to get through being scared. And when it’s over I will feel relieved and proud of myself for proving that I can do things that scare me.”

That said, if the smoking is going to be a big problem, that’s not an unreasonable excuse for opting out. You just need to decide if it’s a Reason or an Excuse. Could your SO talk to his mom about how impossible the smoking is for you, and ask that the dinner be relocated to her house? Could you live with one evening at her house even though it will be scary? I definitely think your SO should talk to his mom about your social anxiety regardless, so that she understands.

Post # 14
1719 posts
Bumble bee

The smoking issue is reason enough not to go; it’s an actual health issue.

Tell her that you can’t be around the smoke. 

If she takes offense, that’s on her. You don’t have to deal with breathing issues for something as insignificant as a turkey dinner.

Besides, she left out important information; information that would have changed your decision. That’s not you fault, it’s hers. She’ll have to deal with the consequences of that. 

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