Is Friendship Avoidance The Answer?

Last night, I avoided yoga class.

I wanted to go to a 6 pm class at a nearby yoga studio–let’s call it Studio X– that I really love. I haven’t been to Studio X in a while because there’s another one closer, we’ll call it Studio C, that has a more convenient schedule. The thing is, all else being equal, I enjoy class at Studio X more. Since yesterday was a pretty lazy finale to the holiday weekend, and I needed a good stretching out after two 6 am flights (yes you read that right. Kill me), I planned to drag my butt and my mat to Studio X.

Here was the problem: I felt guilty seeing the teacher.

You see, the Sunday night yoga teacher used to be my most favorite of all yoga teachers. I went to her classes twice a week (sort of groupie-esque, but who’s judging?) and we developed a friendly rapport. We always chatted at the beginning of class. And again at the end. We were facebook friends. During my year of friending, I thought seriously about asking her on a friend-date. I didn’t, because I’ve heard that the teacher-student relationship is akin to the psychiatrist-patient relationship and I didn’t want to make it awkward. But then I got busy with all my friend-making and suddenly didn’t have the time for yoga that I used to. Despite missing this teacher, I was thrilled when Studio C opened up only 7 minutes from my house. And the classes were only 60 minutes. I put Studio X on the backburner.

I’ve gone back a few times, and whenever I see my old favorite teacher, I feel so guilty. We were sorta-friends! Should I have been more loyal? It doesn’t help that when she sees me she says “Rachel! Where have you been???”

The Jewish guilt is such a heavy burden.

I smile awkwardly, tell her I’ve been swamped and that sometimes I go to Studio C, but I feel like a cheater. A horrible no-good sorta-friend cheater.

And so last night, when I thought about going to her class, despite knowing how happy the actual class would have made me, I wimped out. I couldn’t face the “where have you been?”s and my own guilt for bailing.

I know what you’re going to say. She’s a yoga teacher. She’s not judging you. She’d be happy to see you back in class. You’re probably right, but the anticipation of that uncomfortable opening chit chat was enough to keep me home catching up on my In Style. 

I tend to feel this way a lot. If I haven’t been to the hair stylist in a while, or the gym, or apparently anyone in the service industry. Have you ever been in this situation? With a yoga teacher, or maybe a colorist, doctor, therapist, or trainer? What do you do? Remain more loyal? Avoid becoming too friendly? Or just act like an adult and have the 30-second uncomfortable conversation? Anyone do what I do–avoid, avoid, avoid? Your insight and wisdom will be much appreciated.

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18 responses to “Is Friendship Avoidance The Answer?

  1. Christina

    I’ve been in caught in friend cheating situations where I didn’t want to do a certain activity with Friend A… but I would with Friend B…. and either I accidentally would let it slip or I would actually run into Friend A… while out with Friend B.

    In your case, since you are not really friends, I would just probably just say, “Oh I just have been very, very busy” when you are asked, “Where have you been?” and just leave it at that. No more explanation is needed.

  2. I can offer no advice because I am an avoider…an excellent avoider – I even feel guilty when I can’t/don’t take a specific sub job for a teacher (or feel like I snatched it away from someone else…)

    I’ll be keeping an eye on the comments to see what people say 🙂

  3. Beth

    Oh man, i struggle with this too! My fav yoga teacher just went on maternity leave and I missed her b/c I’ve been so busy. (guilt) But previously if I missed a class I would enumerate the reasons I missed. I’m sure she doesn’t care but I have my version of guilt…catholic. I don’t even want to get in to hair stylist, that’s a whole other conversation. So I guess, I confess rather than avoid.

  4. Oh, I do this too! With my hairdresser. I found someone I like, but I wouldn’t say we’re friends. But then I decided to try a new place that specializes in cutting curly hair. While it was great there too it was THREE HOURS for a cut, and ultimately the cut wasn’t any better than my old place. But now I feel like I cheated on my hairdresser and I can’t go back and face her. So, I’m avoiding with the best of them. But really I should just go face her, and maybe, just maybe I don’t need to bring it up and can just pretend like nothing happened???

    • Well, first things first: What was the curly hair place?? Was it DevaChan in NYC? Because I went there and also found that the amount of time spent in the chair was like nothing I’d ever experienced!

      If you really need a cut, I say go face her and just pretend like nothing happened and you just haven’t gotten a cut in a while. Or, at least since you like it there better, you can say — “My friends forced me to try this special curly hair place, but you are so much better. Im back!” Flattery will get you everywhere.

  5. I am soooo guilty of this that I’ve even gotten good at fibbing as an excuse instead of confronting. Of course, I live in a city where my hair dresser is 2 blocks away and it is almost impossible to avoid walking by the floor to ceiling mirrors en route to the subway.
    We were facebook friends, but I discovered I kept complaining to my husband each time she gave me a cut and style (long/straight hair). My hairdo was not hard, but somehow not right. And, the prices were high.
    Once when she saw me and stepped out of the shop all kissy and “where have you been?” I told her my niece had taken up hair styling and makeup at beautician school. She knows I have lots of nieces, so she just nodded and had an oddly supportive smile.
    She told me if I ever needed her, she was there for me.
    What now? No one really does a good a job. Is anyone out there really thrilled with their haircut when it’s only every 8 weeks?
    I am so bad at this, yet good at confrontations in my grown up life.
    Also, the gym thing. I took a few months off from my favorite class and the teacher kept asking the one person I knew in the class if she’d seen me and if I was okay. I haven’t been back since. I don’t want to have any conversation.
    Why can’t we just come and go with privacy to places we pay for without feeling so guilty?
    I’m anxious to hear from others, too.

  6. I’ll offer the perspective from the other side. I teach at a gym. AND I’m a “real person.” Over time I’ve also become friends with some of my participants outside of the gym. I notice when my regulars miss class and I do make a point to say hello and make sure everything’s ok when they come back.

    But not because I felt slighted that they missed class, it’s because I want them to know I appreciate their friendliness. See, as the teacher, it’s often lonely up there at the front of class. People put us on a bit of a pedestal when really we’re just normal people who get paid to work out with you. It’s nice when people look beyond that and chat with you like a regular person.

    So please don’t think that we take it at all personally – we know that you have other priorities, as do we. Heck, one of the main reasons I teach is so that it forces me to work out at least twice a week!

    I can’t speak to the hairdresser thing, I’ve had similar issues there – the conversations get a little more personal in that chair than before and after working out, making it harder to make exceptions without excuses.

    But I would say that you should definitely go to Studio X when you want to and can, knowing that when your teacher inquires about you, she’s just glad to see you. And it will make her day if you say, “You know, I’ve been busy and Studio C is a lot more convenient, but it is such a treat to get to come to your class.” She knows it’s not because you don’t like her.

  7. While I am a classic avoider, I think you have actually found a perfect answer to this particular situation: take yoga at Studio C, and then make friends with the teacher at Studio X. If you are going to the closer studio, you don’t have the awkward teacher-student thing going on anymore, so you are free to ask her on a friend date. Best of both worlds.

  8. lawyerchik1

    I’m more of an avoider myself, but at the same time, I’ve also done the “I haven’t seen you lately” bit, too. From that side of the question, sometimes, it’s just a gap-filler or a verbal bridge – something you say to let the person know that you did, in fact, realize that they weren’t there and that you are glad to see them right then. In those cases, it’s offered as an opening to get re-acquainted/caught up.

    I’d totally go back to the Studio X class – you like the class, you like the teacher, and you can explain in response to the “where have you been” question that you sometimes go to Studio C, but that you do enjoy the class at Studio X, and then take it from there.

  9. Can’t wait for your book! You must be so excited for the release…’s right around the corner as my mother would say!

  10. Erica

    I have this exact same issue with a spin instructor at my gym, and after I’ve failed to go to class for a few weeks I start to feel like I need an explanation for showing up again. Except, of course, I don’t. She’s not, actually, my friend whom I’ve abandoned; she’s a friendly spin instructor whose class I sometimes attend. Even if she became my friend (which would be awesome, although I feel like she’s out of my friend-league), it would not (thank goodness) obligate me to get up at 6 a.m. every week to climb imaginary hills.

    By the way, somehow without even trying I’ve become a friend-er. I have started organizing little brunches with a group of girls I don’t know well, just because it’s nice to try new restaurants and meet new people. I have running buddies and theater buddies. I have become the person who responds to the “we should hang out sometime” facebook message with something along the lines of “okay, how about Thursday?” I actually made a friend at jury duty last month! It’s completely awesome, and even though I do not have a ton of new BFFs (yet!) I’m a total convert.

  11. Shannon

    My hairdresser has been a friend of mine since middle school, and although we went to different high schools and colleges, we managed to stay in touch over the years; admittedly some years better than others. Nonetheless, I was thrilled when I moved back to the city and she could do my hair! Well, soon enough our social visits dwindled and the only time I’d really see her is when she would do my hair. While that was great, I began feeling guilty she always had to be tending to my hair while we chatted and decided I wasn’t going to get my hair done until she and I hung out socially again first; no work involved. Well, sure enough…I haven’t had my hair cut since April! Sick! I know, I’m grossed out too. I let this weigh on my mind (and my head) for months until I finally manned up and called her! All because I wanted to avoid the awkward, “where have you been?” conversation. Silly. But I get it!! Trust me, and I think deep down you know, it’s never really as bad as we make it out to be in our heads. Better to just get it over with and enjoy the stretch! 🙂 p.s. an appt is in the books and I can’t wait!

  12. Pingback: She’s Out Of My League | MWF Seeking BFF

  13. Lindsay

    I feel like this one is easy. Next time your fav instructor says, “Hey, where have you been?” Say, “I wish I could get here more often. Truth be told, your my favorite yoga instructor. But I’m often short on time, and Studio C fits my hectic schedule better, so it’s like a bonus when I can come here and get to your class!” It’s the truth, and your yoga instructor will love to hear that she’s someone’s fav. Win. Win.

  14. I have a similar situation with a beautician, she is the best and she is my friend. But there is someone closer and she is pretty good also. It is a different and not as enjoyable experience because she is not a friend. But sometimes a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do. She appears to be glad to see me every time I go. It’s probably just you and not her. She is probably glad to see you when you are there.


    Total avoider. One of the worst is when your hair dresser goes on maternity, so you get a new one at the same place, then she comes back…what do you do? Whatever you decide one hairdresser is unhappy.

  16. I have this with our GP who’s just gone on maternity leave – I’m kind of praying we don’t get sick for the next 4 months so we don’t have to cheat on her 🙂

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