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Rejecting invitations during holidays to priortize yourself doesn't damage relationships, study says

A study showcases how people overestimate the damage they are doing to their relationships by rejecting unwanted invitations.

Rejecting invitations during holidays to priortize yourself doesn't damage relationships, study says
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels | Inga Seliverstova, Good News Network | Dr. Julian Givi

Holidays are the time to unwind and finally prioritize one's self, as you don't have the responsibilities and routines of working. However, some commitments make it hard for people to enjoy their time and instead cater to others by going to certain events. Oftentimes, individuals do so to reserve their relationships in fear that if they outright reject the invitation, it will lead to a breakdown of bonds. However, as per a study by Julian Givi, these fears are unfounded. Not only is the damage to the relationship way less than what they fear, but it is also good mentally to reject unwanted invitations, per Good News Network. The study assures that there is no reason for people to pressure themselves in such scenarios.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | cottonbro studio
Representative Image Source: Pexels | cottonbro studio

Holiday burnout occurs because people get exposed to numerous stressors over a very short period throughout the holiday season, per The Print. It is unfortunate that during a time that should be filled with self-care, people overwhelm themselves thinking about how to fulfill obligations. The study proves that avoiding unnecessary engagement can have a positive impact on people's mental health. The study also concludes that the impact of rejected invitations on relationships is much less than what people anticipate. Even when the rejection comes from loved ones, the hosts do not have that much of an attachment to the issue.

The study was done with 2000 participants. As per the answers given by the participants to the attached survey, it was found that more than three-quarters of respondents (77%) accepted an invitation for an activity they did not want to attend just because they were concerned about the consequences of declining. This trend is enhanced during the holiday season, especially Christmas. “I was once invited to an event that I did not want to attend, but I attended anyways because I was nervous that the person who invited me would be upset if I did not – and that appears to be a common experience,” Dr. Julian Givi from the American Psychological Association said.

This inspired Dr. Julian Givi to conduct research into this phenomenon and its assumptions. He emphatically declared, “Our research shows, however, that the negative ramifications of saying no are much less severe than we expect.” The study involved five experiments. One of the experiments had the participants divided into two groups. They either invited friends or were invited by one of their friends to dinner on a Saturday night at a local restaurant with a celebrity chef. The invitees were asked to imagine that they declined the invitation because they already had plans or just wanted a quiet evening. Moreover, they also communicated this exact reason to their hosts. Most of them shared that they believed this action would have negative consequences for their relationship with the hosts. The participants were fearful that the hosts would feel angry and disappointed and be unlikely to invite them to attend future events. Surprisingly, none of the people in the host group had such feelings.

“Across our experiments, we consistently found that invitees overestimate the negative ramifications that arise in the eyes of inviters following an invitation decline,” said Dr. Givi. “People tend to exaggerate the degree to which the person who issued the invitation will focus on the act of the invitee declining the invitation as opposed to the thoughts that passed through their head before they declined.”

Another experiment had researchers analyze 160 people with their significant others. 74% of this pool had been together for more than 5 years. In this exercise, one party had to write an invitation and the other had to reject it for relaxation. The partners who were rejected tended to believe that this action would make their better halves think that they did not care about them. This could not be farther from the truth and the reaction was way less intense. These results prove that there is no long-term harm meted out to relationships when people prioritize themselves in holidays.

“While there have been times when I have felt a little upset with someone who declined an invitation, our research gives us quite a bit of good reason to predict people overestimate the negative ramifications for our relationships,” Dr. Givi said. “Burnout is a real thing, especially around the holidays when we are often invited to too many events. Don’t be afraid to turn down invitations here and there. But keep in mind that spending time with others is how relationships develop, so don’t decline every invitation.”

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