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Slowly being excluded from an adult clique: What could have happened?

November 13, 2012 | By | 195 Replies Continue Reading
When something doesn’t make obvious sense, you may have to dig deeper to find out what’s happened.



I am looking for some advice on adult female friendship cliques. I have mixed with a group of 7 or 8 women in my hometown since my oldest child was at kindergarten and she is now nine. I have been closer to some more than others and fluctuations in the intimacy of these friendships have occurred, which is probably normal.

Recently, however, I have felt excluded by multiple members of the group. For example, this is what’s happened:

  • Having to have own room on recent girls weekend; everyone else was paired up
  • Conversations going on around me based on previous chats that I’m not aware of (with no attempt by others to involve me in the discussion)
  • Ignoring me when I try to initiate discussions
  • Waking up on a girls’ weekend to a friend knocking on my door telling me the others were all were ready to go for walk (while only inviting me at the last minute.) The other six women were all outside waiting.
  • Sitting at dinner feeling distanced by people’s body language and verbal communication. For 45 minutes, I watched the clock as conversation flowed around me without anyone asking me a question.
  • Awkward seating arrangement when we’re out together. I sit down first and the other six arrange themselves to my left so no one sits directly opposite me.

I could go on. As a result I have been incredibly quiet which has then attracted mild interest about what’s wrong but with little follow up. The closest friend has even sent regular texts, one stating she wanted to talk because she was concerned about what was going on with me. One week later there were invitations to group activities but no 1:1. Since I told her I felt excluded and on the fringe, she has acted as if I haven’t said that and keeps saying she doesn’t want to converse through text. But she hasn’t suggested a time to chat (she was the initiator about needing to talk)—which I find odd.

I’m not sure whether to distance myself or confront. Other friends have been cold since the weekend away. I feel strong alliances and cliques have developed and I don’t have a position anymore. In fact I feel I am at the bottom of the hierarchy.

Any advice? I’m 38.



Hi Sharon,

It’s hard to know what’s going on. It could be that your group of friends is less welcoming and pulling away from you (although the reasons why aren’t obvious); it could also be that you are pulling away from the group (because you feel rejected); or it could be some combination of the two—which is probably the most likely scenario.

When a group of women have been friends for four or five years, it’s natural that the relationships between individuals and among the group would change over time. But like you, I’m not sure why they would suddenly cast one person in the role of an outsider unless something happened of which you are unaware.

Since your value these relationships and your participation in the group, I think you want to get a better notion of what has happened. Distancing yourself would only exacerbate the problem; confronting the group might give the impression that you feel wronged and put them on the defensive.

Your initial impulse to speak to one person was correct but don’t let the situation drag on any longer. Follow up with your closest friend. Invite her to join you for coffee or tea and tell her how awkward and uncomfortable you have been feeling with the group. Maybe there is something she wants to communicate that she hasn’t felt comfortable putting in writing. A text message might be misunderstood or forwarded to other people.

If this friend isn’t willing to meet, try to see if there is another person to whom you feel comfortable speaking. Is there any possibility that this schism could have to do with the kids rather than the adults? Understandably, at this point, you seem very hurt, sensitive and hypervigilant to slights, so try to give your friends the benefit of the doubt that this can be worked out.

Stay in touch and let us know what transpires.

Best, Irene

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Category: Dealing with threesomes and groups of friends

Comments (195)

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  1. lysee says:

    This happened to me a few times a while back and I had to take a hard look at myself While for some reason some women feel better about themselves being exclusive, the fact is that if this has happened more than once than some of the blame has to fall on you.

    When it happened to me for the third time I decided to change the ways I was handling friendships and groups that I was involved in. Frankly, the groups that let me go I really wasn’t enjoying either (for the same reasons stated above, being left out, not being talked to, and so on) and it was time to move on – but I lingered hoping things would change instead of removing myself and keeping some dignity.

    So I took a cue from a man writing about the same thing and looked at this as a opportunity to remove myself from toxic groups that were affecting my self esteem. I could also reinvent myself. Now when I am with friends I do the following, try to always be positive, don’t gossip, keep secrets and treat everyone well. And that seems to be working for me. I also am respectful of their time, show up to my commitments, and if I feel there is someone toxic in the group then I remove myself quickly. This has really worked for me and I have found myself with a great group of girlfriends and no longer worry that I am the loser of the group. And if I can learn it in my 40’s so can you. And by the way – this happens to everyone, how you handle it is what makes the difference.

  2. JAM says:

    Having “lots” of friends is overrated. Work at a few good/genuine ones, and be friendly when you go places in general. Being able to forget about the rest is a blessing.


  3. Daniela says:

    I can relate to your post on so many levels and do know the pain -it is just awful. The older that I get the less tolerance I have for this -even with long term relationships. I would keep my distance from anyone at this point who makes you feel this way. I’d rather stand alone than to be in a group where I am feeling alone. I’m so very sorry…I know this is a late late late follow up, but if you are still in this same boat, I would change my traffic patterns and start the process of doing what you like to do and finding new friends along the way.

  4. Genevieve says:

    I can certainly relate to all of your posts. When I was in college 30 years ago I introduced my college roommate to a friend I had known for years. I considered her my mentor she and her husband had shared the Gospel with me. Next thing I know I have psycho roommate accusing me of leaving lipstick stains on a glass when I had been on vacation out of town for a month (please tell me she had washed dishes in that span of time). My old friend announced it was her lipstick on the glass and then all was right with the world. A month later the roommate moved out and I never heard from my old friend again 30 years later I learned that old friend was having martial problems, and the real kicker she didn’t even remember my psycho roommate. Sometimes we just get caught in the middle of other folks drama laden lives. Recently there was a woman who became friends with my boyfriend. He was always,wanting me to meet her. But when I felt up to it after my hair had grown back from the chemo. I found out the woman was upset because I had not died from Cancer, she was going around town grilling everyone I knew,wanting to know my doctor’s name. The final straw was when my now former boyfriend told me I should ease her doubts by showing her my medical reports. Well I didn’t show her my report a but I did show him the door At 54 I’ve decided friendships are highly overrated. I go to work I come home and that’s enough

  5. DeborahM says:

    I am a 64 year old woman who has found myself in the same place as others.

    Due to a dysfunctional family, believe it or not, my husband and I were not spoken to for three years because my Narcissistic Mother (now deceased) had accused us of leaving her (since we had lived near her) and moving 23 miles away. She did not want to move….

    I found some friends in the area we moved to two couples who had known each other for 30 something years. For the most part I felt equal but lately I am not being asked to do things with the group. Since I had become to feel they were family, this behavior hurts.

    I came from a family where rejection was the treatment as well as the silent treatment so when I am in these situations it brings up all that behavior from the past.

    I would love to not feel this feeling with friends anymore. I don’t think threes work….

    I put out most of the effort, outdoor parties, arranging outings and move of the time everyone responds.

    I just don’t like this feeling anymore….and I have been in this situation before. I have never had close friends.

    • Courtney says:

      Dear Deborah,

      I was sad to read your post, only because I keep hoping that with each passing decade, these sort of toxic-inducing relationships would cease, or people learn to be more inclusive and kind (I am approaching 50).

      What struck me in reading your post, though, is something my now deceased mother, a family systems counselor, might have had to offer. She would often say that we surround ourselves with people at times in our life who trigger our childhood and family issues so we can work through them. In other words, friends serve us for a reason, a season, or a lifetime (or sometimes more than one purpose), and we, in turn, serve them in similar ways. Life is a journey of life lessons, and people in our journeys help us work through those lessons. Having worked with a clinical narcissist once for only two years, I cannot imagine having been raised by someone who suffers from such immense, manipulative behavior. That must have been one heck of a ride with your mother and family. People who choose not to speak to others instead of communicating through issues are dysfunctional — big time.

      It may be that your friendships, and the current feelings of being pushed away or not included, despite all the effort you appear to be putting forward, might be asking of you to work through some unfinished “business” with your mother and family — as you said, those feelings of rejection. Maybe these situations are asking you to respond differently than you would have in the past — in other words, you might be called to re-wire your existing “tapes” — the ones that play over and over and over in your mind and don’t seem to change — the ones that cause you to doubt your worth or value or likability. I don’t mean you might be asked to work on your relationship with your family — rather you might be asked to respond differently internally to those similar triggers that your family relationships produced for you for so many years.

      I had similar issues that played out in the last decade with at first, a group of three (you are right — threes are terrible sometimes!). I realized a few things and offer this to ponder in your own situation. I have a very good relationship with my husband. He is my best friend. My other two friends have wonderful husbands, but they aren’t as emotionally “available” as mine is, and as such, they are very dependent on one another (and others) to help fill what is missing. As such, they spent a lot of time together. In retrospect, I think what I perceived as an exclusion by them, might have been something they needed from each other (their life lessons). I now wish I could have simply blessed that quietly, in my heart, and not taken it as personally. The group of three has expanded a bit, and what is interesting, is that all the women in this group have similar relationships with their husbands — good men, but emotionally perhaps different or less available than my husband. They are, as a group, an odd pairing of personalities. I think the reality of it is, my husband and I are a bit different and perhaps not the ideal fit.

      I ask you to contemplate that about your own pairings as well. Is it a good fit among the three women, but not ideal with the spouses? You also mention that they have a 30-year bond. Maybe they are simply missing some of that one-on-one time they had together before you entered their circle.

      Here is what worked for me that may not be applicable, but perhaps helpful.

      1) Ask yourself if your response to the rejection reminds you of your childhood responses. If so, you might be being called to change these responses, even if they are simply internal conversations you are having with and about yourself.

      2) Do you feel good about yourself in the presence of these couples if you were not being excluded? Do they enhance your life, lift your spirits? If yes, then you may not want to rid yourself of them (yet). If it isn’t ideal, you have to ask if you are connecting with people who are repeating your childhood patterns.

      3) Are there other people you can seek out to do things with to fill the gap and give you something to do in your community (with and without your spouse)? I would encourage you to branch out. I did that, and it flipped my mental ‘tapes.’ I know that I am not dependent on this group of people for my happiness or my engagement with others. It allows me to enjoy the time with them when I am included and to respond differently when I am not (I am still saddened and hurt, but it doesn’t last as long as it did)!

      4) Can you make time with one of them at a time? Invite one pair for dinner or another activity (or you ask just the female) and then invite the other pair for another event? Maybe you connect with one more than another and they might be receptive to doing something with you on occasion.

      5) If they continue to exclude you more regularly than including you, it is time to move on and find others. If they are manipulating in this tug of war, then it is re-creating your dysfunctional history and you don’t need that baggage in your life. If they are kind, but simply doing more together, you need to decide if they are worth trying to arrange time with, or if your lesson is simply to learn to more ideally respond to rejection so that the next friendships you make will be even more enriching.

      I have tried these recommendations in my own situation. I meet weekly with one of the women in the original triangle and it has been wonderful. I know that I bring as much to her life as she does mine. I do not see the other in the triangle as much or regularly. I decided she really didn’t life my spirits and I found her to be the more dysfunctional in our group, though I can love her as another soul with a bruised childhood on her own journey as well. When the big group gets together, I anticipate that I will find out I was excluded from some recent event, or trip, etc. But now, I have a few other friends I do things with as well, so I am in “control” ultimately of my happiness. I focus instead on how I can be a good friend to the members of this group when I am with them.

      I wish you the very best; you will make friends. God/Spirit/Universe will come through!

  6. Gabby says:

    Hi Sharon,

    I found this website as I was looking online some reasons for exactly the same case you have at the moment, by reading the comments I find out I’m not the only one who pass through this, which is exactly what many times we think, that this just happen to us.
    I’m new on a city (countryside) in England moved recently from London with a newborn baby, I decided to make new friends so I joined the local group of new mums and mums to be and thought it would be easier meet new people, being that we all have something in common, Babies!! How wrong I was!! I was welcome by a very nice girl who i can feel she could become a real and close friend, she introduced me to all the group and there was me giving my big smile and getting my warm Latin American personality to all of them!! Coffees and meetings and I felt like a fool everyone talking about something I wasn’t aware of, 3 months later of coffees and more reunions I was finally invited to their whatsapp group, obviously I understand why I never knew what was going on before. So there was me happy like if I was invited and accepted to the most exclusive group after being on probation! Sadly to say things hasn’t changed at all! Messages from everyone are back and forwards I can read them and just 2 or 3 of the 9 girls reply to mine, what is worst just been back from the weekly reunion and one if them was giving invitations to everyone on the table for a summer event, yes the Christening of one of the babies, surprise surprise I didn’t get one! I felt so excluded and fool thinking I was a friend to them but obviously I’m not to all!

    So there my reason to look up online about this topic and by reading your experienced I can just think that if they want to exclude me I don’t have to feel bad, guess life is like that some people will like you others don’t! I will continue with the group but I’ll tried to make new friends, not sure if for being a foreigner is a reason but I can just feel pleased with myself that I was friendly and I really tried to be nice to all of them, if some don’t like me, we’ll I guess that’s their choice and I’ll respect that, we clearly have different personalities, some we are up and ready to make new friends others simply can’t or don’t want it! :-)

    • Kirsty says:

      I am honestly crying reading this. I know its old but i felt the need to comment.
      I’m 26 and have been having real problems with the group I hang with.
      Dozens of times they’ve done things without me, when pictures are posted i’m literally cut out, i’m not included in the whatsapp group but they happily discuss it in front of me and most recently one of them got married and i was the only one not invited.
      I am feeling quite distraught by it all.
      I’ve been reading online about it and most advise is to ignore it and move onto other people/make new friends.
      I find it hard to cut myself off from friendships that i’ve put a lot of effort into for the last five years. What i think hurts most is that I clearly didn’t mean as much to them as they did to me. :(

      • Hannah says:

        I can relate to this.
        Feeling like a silly teen crying my eyes out because I was on a walk with my eldest daughter today and happened to pass my ‘best friend’s’ house to find her, 2 of my other friends and their husbands and children all getting ready to leave for a picnic/ boating trip which we were not invited to!
        I don’t know what I have done wrong. I am devastated. It had not even been mentioned to me. When they say me walking past they asked me if I wanted to join but I said I had to work.
        We had all been out together the night before for a birthday party but no one mentioned they were all going out together today.
        Upset for me but so sad for my kids who have grown up with these people butbhave this last year been excluded from so many events which I find out about later via Facebook pictures saying what a great time they all had together.
        I thought after high school all this crap was supposed to go away.

  7. Cyn says:

    Yes, mean girls exist into their thirties, forties and fifties. A reality we all have to face as women at some time or another. It has never been difficult for me to separate myself from such nonsense. I move on and I fill my life with the things that bring me contentment and enjoyment. I spent the afternoon at the Book Store writing in my journal, people watching, drinking my Flat White and eating my Cannoli at Starbucks. I spend a lot of time alone, but with that said. I do not have to deal with drama, jealousy and idle gossip. I have come to realize that not everyone want’s to make new connections, it is their loss. I am not the kind of person who will infuse myself into Cliques. There are women who never get over HS. I guess coming from NYC, all of my friends have moved on to different phases of their lives, have made new connections. I still remain friends with people I have known since Elementary and HS but have also managed to make new connections and have gained personal growth in the process. I have removed people from my life who are fair weather friends, those women who keep me at arms length. Those who call me a friend but whose actions speak otherwise. I am not the friend you have on the side when you have nobody else to hang with, the girls shopping trips, the weekend movie trips. I have seen it all, grown women who are exclusive to only a certain circle of people. I thought I left the HS mentality when I graduated, but I see the mentality still exists way beyond the HS lunch table. I am lucky, I have my ex husband who is wonderful, he is a wonderful father and has tried to make my life here just a little bit easier. I would like to move back to NYC, I have heard from an apartment complex in NYC that I applied for two years ago, a lottery. The apartments in luxury buildings in Manhattan. I was contacted off of the list and told that within a year or so, I may have a place in Manhattan to live. I am seriously considering it. I miss home, although Cheyenne is where I reside. NYC is my home, a person is never alone in her own company. In NYC I had so much to do and so much to occupy my time. I worked, was working on my Masters Degree. I would like to finish what I started years ago.

    • Cyn says:

      I have an Autistic son who is going to be 19, it is hard but he is my priority. I am not a weekend alcoholic, not my style. I see a great deal of this kind of childish behavior from women my age. I am 52 not 22 and I have no time for the man trolling and over excessive weekend binges. Not my style at all.

      • Jennifer Anne says:

        at least you have friends from school mine all stated to me on facebook that they never cared for me in the first place. I also feel your pain about going to a public place alone and getting the gossip girl vibe from others while your peacefully just trying for your day. I hope the best for you just a friendly nudge. (btw people hate seeing content and happy that’s why you get the cold shoulder) my own life experiences

        • morcika says:

          i was also thinking about this “people hate seeing content and happy” thing. what i surely know is that i hear a lot of complaining around me. sure, it is good to be able to share one’s problems, but is life only about problems? and yes, extremely good things don’t happen every single day either, but let’s not forget that for some sad reason we always notice bad more easily, so we’ll say “oh my, i met such an idiot on the road!” much more easily/likely, than for example “imagine, i saw such a beautiful house today, i just loved it!” with great enthusiasm.

          at that point i always think that why can’t we just do something together? share an experience? it can be the simplest one. let’s cook something together. or just go for a bike ride. or a walk. or watch a movie. or go to the theater. or if you have some work to do in your garden and i happen to have time, let me help. (or the other way round.) and then afterwards we’ll have an ice-cream, because we deserve it. :) somehow i feel that sharing these experiences is out of fashion. or maybe i am wrong. but i think these make one content and happy, and even happier if shared with someone. … i still have absolutely no clue why it seems to work for some, why it doesn’t for others, and why there are circles where it seems to work but it actually doesn’t, because though they are together, nothing else keeps them that way but gossip and complaining.

          • Lovey says:

            Hi Morcika,

            I really enjoyed reading your post. For what it’s worth …. I understand and agree with every word you said. Perhaps it’s more of a personality thing, or maybe a learnt behaviour from watching too much “reality” TV, but I do notice that many women are all about drama and problems, and don’t seem interested in sharing positive experiences. I could no sooner be close friends with a drama queen than a weekend binge drinker. That’s just not who I am and we would not be a good fit.

            I had a very dear friend (she passed away a few years ago), and she would be so enthusiastic about the most mundane things … like the incredibly beautiful pork roast she found at the butcher for dinner tonight. LOL That was one of her most appealing personality traits, she shared her enjoyment about the little things. I’m sure some people thought she was a little eccentric, but her many, many friends thought it was great. The rare time she had something negative to say, you paid serious attention because it didn’t happen often.

            When you said take a walk, or garden and then treat ourselves to ice cream, you were speaking my language. The people who enjoy sharing experiences and simple pleasures are out there, and if we don’t spend our all precious socializing time with the drama queens, we might just meet the ice cream friends. :)

            • morcika says:

              hi Lovey,

              thanks for your compliments. :)
              i hope you are right, and those people are really out there. :)

              take care.

  8. Tanya says:

    I have a similar situation to many I have read here. I have (or maybe had is a better term) a group of female friends had noticed I’d been excluded from several activities.

    What astounded me is that in a world of social media where people post their lives on various sites, if asked “what have you been up to” they respond “nothing” when you’ve been seeing pictures and posts of all of their recent activities – makes me wonder if they think I’m stupid or terribly naive.

    I got together with one of these ladies for coffee, and mentioned that I had not heard much from anyone, and it seemed like my invitations to get together were always being declined. If there was a reason why I would have like to know, especially if someone felt I had somehow been unkind to them. She didn’t really respond and changed the subject to her personal dating life.

    Interestingly before getting together I had noticed that this lady and a couple of others from this group had signed up as a team for a charity event I had participated in with them in the past. I could have brought it up, but based on how quickly she changed the topic when I asked about the decline in communication, I decided to just let it go.

    I’ve come to realize that relationships change, and you cannot hang on to the past. If you spend too much time dwelling on why some people are excluding you life may just pass you by. Time is better spent on activities you enjoy, get involved, and maybe you will make some new friends.

    • Hannah says:

      See yes i have exactly the same thing with my ‘friends’.
      I don’t understand what I am doing wrong.
      Glad you feel able to let go and move past it. I hope I can too one day. Right now its too raw and I just want to cry like a silly teenage girl.

  9. Janet says:

    I have 2 friends that live in other parts of the country. We only see each other for a day or so a year. when we meet up they have these lengthy involved discussions about stuff they did in the past or plans for the figure and completely leave me out. One time they started to plan a trip together while I sat there seemingly invisible. Finally I blurted out “what am I? Chopped liver? I would like to go too? They just looked at me then carried on as if I wasn’t serious because I don’t have as much money as them. Last year a similar thing went on despite the fact that I had been invited along ziplining. So there we 3 are up hundreds of feet in the forest and they are rabbiting on about some topic they both were fully informed about and I knew nothing. I would try to interject but eventually I have up. They used to live with each other so they have a more intimate level of relationship than with me. I get that but it’s still really blatantly ignorant and it hurts quite a bit as I don’t have a lot of good friends. I’m afraid to bring it up because I don’t want to cause a wedge of resentment and have them feel they have to be careful around me. If I get a good opportunity when we meet up in a couple of weeks I will bring it up because I’m pretty sure they don’t know how hurt I feel about it.

    • Tara says:

      I completely understand your situation. I too am the third wheel in a friendship with two other ladies. Although I have on many occasion made mention of the fact that I was not involved in the origins of something they are discussing, so have no history, they usually just keep talking.

      I’ve come to realize I’m never going to have the same type of friendship with either of these ladies that they have with each other. That realization was something of an epiphany for me, and I accept this friendship for what it is.

      You mentioned you only see these ladies a few times a year, hopefully you have other friends you see more regularly who make you feel more included. If not then I can only suggest getting involved in something you enjoy and maybe you will meet some new friends that share your interests.

  10. Penny says:

    Hi, I have never had a group of friends that hang out and do stuff together. When I met my hubby he became my best friend. He had a group and we met occasionally even though I was an outsider. The girls were a clique but it didn’t bother me. After kids we moved countries and had to start afresh. We met people through our kids. As the kids grew up we met and made a great group of couples, all similar minded and with similar professions and at a similar stage in life. 2 yrs later, one couple distanced themselves and the one I was closest to started hanging out with my sister more than me. I had introduced them! My sister went on holidays with the women and excluded me. I cried tears of blood! I also fell sick and was diagnosed with an auto immune condition. My husband was in his own world and we have been distant for a few years. My illness and the drugs have played havoc on my body. I am 40.kgs heavier and often upset. I now drink too much at parties and have started smoking to ease the pain. The group soon fell apart and 2 couples have separated. I live in a small place. Other people have formed their cliques and its hard to penetrate. We sometimes get invited and sometimes not, but still the women ostracized me from conversation and get togethers. My sister apologised and spent some time with me and just when I thought I had a special sister/buddy, went to a concert and didn’t breathe a word of it to me. She clearly didn’t want me there. I am alone. Its hard to make friends, everyone else has their groups and won’t include you and those that do are not like minded at all. Hubby is aloof and distant. So no friendship there. He likes active stuff to do and my illness stops me from doing things and he gets frustrated and impatient with me. I feel alone and sometimes am overcome with so much grief, I just don’t know where to start and how to handle and fix my life. Help

    • Gwen says:


      My story is similar in some ways. I did a few things to change my life around because it sucked and it was sucking the life out of me! Made a point to get more sleep and more exercise, walked outdoors more, drank less, cleaned my house more, took better care of myself, joined a Facebook (closed) support group for my auto immune disease (huge help-you are not alone!). Biggest thing, I found a friend who is anti clique, very friendly, doesn’t get involved in any drama. It was someone I knew casually to say hello to for a long time . I pushed myself one day and in the supermarket, said “ff you ever want to go for a walk, call me, here’s my #! Many woman are going through the same thing you are. Keep busy and don’t feel sorry for yourself. Anyone would be lucky to have you as a friend. When you start believing it, the connections will slowly turn into friendships. Hang in there. Big hug. It’s the year of the better you!

    • MT says:

      I am sorry to hear of your situation. I have never been a fan of large female groups of friends. There is always trouble with women. Having one or two true friends, if anyone actually has that many would be great. I have a work situation, where I have been working with a group of people for nearly 20 years. It is a small group and everyone bumped along with he occasional upset. However lately we have some new staff members and a female member of staff who I would have regarded as a work friend is now excluding me, for no apparent reason. Coffee breaks are organised quietly as are lunch breaks. If this person slips up by mentioning lunch or coffee in my presence she immediately covers up by saying she is not taking either break. It is now at the stage that I feel totally excluded in the workplace, I am not made aware of what is happening in my workplace and eventually find out after the fact – what goes on in the workplace is vital to me as I play a fairly central role. I know it is not just my imagination as I have one older work colleague who feels the same – we go for coffee together when we can, but when that person is not in work then I am excluded by the others as they go on their breaks. Of course a woman is central to this situation. I was getting very upset by this situation, but I have to ignore them and just deal with them on a professional basis, but it is hard as we spend almost more time in work than with our loved ones. I do have a life outside of work, but it is a quiet one and this horrible feeling does come home with me some days. I hope you can overcome your grief and maybe try to find some group to help you deal with your illness. Can you try to talk to your husband and tell him how it affects you and how you feel? Maybe he could do something less strenuous with you!

  11. Madison says:

    Thank you for your post. There are many great replies.

    I have experienced the same thing, and as a teacher I have seen it in my classrooms. I doubt you are just making it up in your head or causing it. Unfortunately, these things happen.

    The best solution I have found is to not think about it and not be around those people. Measure who you want to be around by how you FEEL when you are with and after you are with them. It can be hard to be “solo” but ultimately it is so rewarding. Find people you connect with and like; start your own group. You don’t need to discuss it with others. That usually doesn’t work and only makes you look weaker. For whatever reason: they don’t want to accept you. Painful, right? But that is what many women do. Trying to gain their acceptance or understand who the leaders are and what they need to involve you, is often just a waste of energy. Instead: pull back. Don’t go to the parties you are invited to, don’t return messages as quickly.

    Yes, it probably will be the end of those relationships. But: new ones will begin. They will. If you don’t feel wanted somewhere–why be there? Why put yourself in those situations? I used to try and endure them and be as kind as possible or give attention to the one who seemed to need it the most (the likely cause), but that grew tiring. I have found that other women see and experience the same thing, and those are probably the ones you could be friends with.

    Create your own world Read books, watch TV, hang with your family. It’s powerful. It is good to have a group of girlfriends you have fun with, but many women don’t. Find groups centered around your hobbies. Don’t engage too much or give too much personal info. Unfortunately people seems to use it against each other or share inappropriately at some point. Be in control.

    When you show distance the ones who really care will reach out. I used to promote communicating about what was bothering you, but with many women it just doesn’t work. Just say you are busy with “a million things to do” (don’t explain what) and be very cautious. One on one meetings you can proceed with but say no to group activities for awhile. Maybe permanently. Establish your own peace and let those who like the clique–indeed thrive and survive on it–do so on their own. You don’t really want to be a part of that, anyhow. Surely, they have hurt many others.

    It is a sad thing more women can’t be inclusive. It is one of the most obvious sources of pain that I see. Don’t allow it, yourself. Don’t promote it, and don’t support people who do it.

    • Stacey says:

      Hi Madison,

      Thank you. Those words really resonated with me. I have been rather hyper-sensitive to being excluded for years. (Probably related to early attachment issues). At 44 I am now working on having resilience in these situations. I have a theory that we are more the same than different and that some exclude people as a way of feeling MORE secure in the group. This is the classic girl bully tactic that lots of women don’t out-grow.

      All the best to you,

      • Sara says:


        Thank you so much for these words. I recently found out that I was excluded from a girls weekend that most of my circle of friends. This came totally out of the blue and had to find out from a husband of a friend. I have dealt with being excluded from a group of friends a lot growing up but thought this doesn’t happen to adult women. Obviously I was wrong. Your advice about measure who I want to be around by how I feel instead of being caught up in being with the right group. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

    • Rachel says:


      Perfect advice, perfect timing for me. Thank you!!!


  12. Kay says:

    I had a similar situation with my group of friends, but it really seemed like one girl who was taking everything I say out of context, shooting me dirty looks, and jumping on me the minute I said anything she perceived as offensive. I tried to mention it to others in the group to see if they noticed but they didn’t say much and I felt like I was being the catty one by bringing it up. The thing is, this woman is incredibly insecure. As I’d show up to parties that she was throwing, she would always act rude and I’d wonder why she invited me. Usually she greeted me kindly but after several cocktails her attitude would change. Her friends would all enjoy my company and friend me on Facebook which I think further aggrivated her. I never did confront her, because I feel like it’s her issue. I am just going to be me and keep swatting away her snarky remarks and attempts to fight when she misunderstands things. I feel like she has growing up to do and the rest of the group will eventually notice it and notice me being the bigger person. I hate to be passive but I’m not going to feed into her drama. I believe she wants to get under my skin and create an awkwardness so that I’ll be left out. Its unfortunate your scenario involves a group. Some people just follow like sheep though.

    • stacey says:

      Thank you for sharing that. It does put painful exclusion in perspective when you hear that others experience it.

  13. Elaine says:

    Exclusion is bullying and it is the one that hurts the most. I see it all the time in my job. (I am an elementary school teacher.) Little girls exclude and PTA mommies exclude too. If you aren’t with the “in” teacher or on the invite list for their “fund raising” parties or mom’s night out…. ugh.

    I also experience it as an adult with an athletic group I am part of. It seems to be a female problem for the most part and it hurts.

    So unnecessary.

    • Jennifer says:


      Crazy! I totally could have written what you wrote. So painful to watch it in the school setting. You are spot on! The herd mentality is alive and well in the upper-middle class social circles.

      I too have been part of a running group for years. I float in and out of the group because the effort to go is so emotionally draining for me… It is hard to run with people for years and years and miles and miles when it is so clear I am not REALLY part of it.

      And… the parties they plan! Sometimes they plan them when I am running right along with them. If I “like” a picture on FB of one of their parties…. it mysteriously disappears. I am ok with not being invited now, but the censoring makes me feel “red flagged” and self conscious.

      What really hurts is I am never invited to run with anyone outside the group…. ever. I am not ever invited to run the same away races either or when I do end up running an away race a sub group of the group is doing, they might invite me to a pre or post race activity or meal only to make it painfully obvious that they don’t really want me there. (My husband and my sister have witnessed it.) Now I am just doing my own thing at races… I would rather be alone. They just make it clear that they don’t care if I am around.

      When I am running with the group, I run alone in the crowd or I with people who are new to the group… that is until they become part of the group and avoid me…or so it feels.

      I have friends outside of running and a super husband, so I am taken care of. It is just a bummer to be such an outcast with my running group. It makes for a lot of lonely miles.

      • Mary says:

        Jennifer, You are very thick skinned to be able to continue with that running group. I wonder if you would be better off running alone and socializing in other ways with anyone other than these people.

        • Jennifer says:


          Yup. I have thick skin when I am training for something. I can’t do the paces I need to do without others around to pull or push me along.

          None of my real friends run like I do. So, it just is what it is… I am not the only outsider in this group I have found. It doesn’t make it any easier…really. It is amazing to watch the group do the same thing to others though. Crazy. Who needs reality TV?

  14. Maggie says:

    Adults who behave like this have either never left high school or are so insecure they need to put others (usually successful, attractive, etc. but good hearted and reasonable making them ideal targets) down to make themselves feel superior.
    Wouldn’t be surprised if some have sociopathic tendencies. Best to be alone than to associate with poisonous people. This, however, does not work with the kids. It is essential to their development to have close friendships. As a mom, a teacher, and someone who has experienced unfair ostracism myself I strongly advise you to help your kiddos make friends outside of school. Sports
    , dance, drama, etc. can all be found outside of a school setting. Also, the time that could have been spent kowtowing to some group of controlling women/girls can be spent working on improving onself. This time can also be spent with your daughter teaching her new things and providing new experiences while forging a close relationship with her. Like Joan said, ditch them. You and your children are not there for their entertInment and usage. Don’t worry. They will find some other victim soon enough. There is so much sadness in this world I find
    It staggering to think there are those who go out and make more Ll the while ensconced in their protective cocoons. Pathetic, really.

  15. Susan Braithwaite says:

    My situation is very similar to the initial post and some other.I’m 50 and have been friends with and hanging within groups of friends under a online social network. They all are much younger than me. I’ve separated from some of these groups of friends, or cliques as I felt I was starting to be excluded from things. Sometimes I’d still getinvited to parties ( that everyone was invited to), sometimes forgotten off a list but then was excluded from smaller gatherings, casual hangouts wheni was constantly asking people what was going on via text, social networking, etc. I dont think it was deliberate but when people hung out it seems I was never thought of, whenI was always looking to hang out.
    Lately I’d been hanging with the one last group I thought i could rely on as friends; I’ve been good friends with one guy in this group ever since he began hosting parties over the last 4-5 years.dinner parties, etc at his house. Outside of him most, if not all the people in this group are women. Since then he’sbecome engaged to one of the women, some of have moved away but always come back to visit and stay at their place and when they all get together, Im not included. This past New Years they all went out together, I had been told byone of the girls she was going to an event but I didnt know they all were going. We’ve all hung out NYE for like last3 or 4 years.I couldnt really afford the event they were going to and I think they all know that but it still wouldve been nice to be asked.The other part of this is that my my friends fiance doesnt seem comfortable with me when we’ve all been out or at their house and I’m talking closely to him, as friends do. When we’re at their house and I go to get a glass from the cabinet for a drink, like everyone else does it seems she appears and sometimes says things like ‘what are you looking for’? She forgets that I’ve been coming to the house for like 4 years..even before she knew or was with my friend. I thought I was previously friends with her, too, before she knew or was dating this guy as she was also holding dinner and game parties and was invinting me. Oh, how things have changed. I dont know if its because Im so much older, because I seem to needy some in the past have said I complain to much ( my older friends,peers) never say this..if people want to be my friend they should overlook this, as I over look their character flaws. IIt seems like with younger adults they want o be with people who are all positive and pefect, when no one is. I’m now figuring out the differences and trying to hang moreso with people my age but it still hurts the way I feel I’m beign treated by ‘young folk’

  16. Jack says:

    I’ve been having a problem with a group of adult friends that has made me feel like I am a teenager again.

    Over the past six months, I have slowly drifted apart from the people I considered to be close friends. I fell ill and all of a sudden my friends were no where to be seen. When I recovered, I went for drinks with my friends and discovered that I was completely alone. No one had a conversation with me. No one sat next to me or wanted to be near me. Events like this continued and I slowly felt myself come away from the group.

    I have tried to stay in touch and include myself, but have got nothing back. It has now been two months since I saw any of them. I have accepted that the friendships are probably over, but part of me feels like I am owed some sort of explanation. What is the best way of going about that without being confrontational?

    • Gigi says:

      I’m sorry to hear that your going through a hard time with these people. A wise person once told me that “there are a lot of children running around in adult bodies”. Some of us revert back to cliques and groups as a way to feel safe and included. It was a way to survive during our younger years. We all want to socialize and have people around us, if not just a few. The important thing here is that you want quality people. People that accept you for the way you are. These people are showing you how they are. It’s important to decide if these are the type of relationships that you want or do you want people that make you feel good, not people that you have to fit in, that you can belong to.

      I’ve had the same happen to me over decades and in my forties still have a challenge with it. When people stop talking to you without an explanation or ignore you, it’s an action. You need to decide if this action is something that is worth an explanation for these sorts or to move on and find quality people that are adults and mature to welcome you into their lives.

      Sometimes this road to “belong” takes sometime and it can be lonely. There are so many reasons why people stop talking to us. It can be because of us, because of them or neither of the two.

      I know it hurts when were rejected without cause. Our minds question why and how did this happen and what did we do. I’ve learned to determine if the friendship is one to keep trying for or to move on, even it’s alone for a while.

      If you need an explanation and don’t want to be confrontational, ask someone that you believe is non confrontational in the group. You have nothing to lose with asking this question but confidence will pull you through when they answer if it’s a negative response. Good Luck to you.

      • Rachel says:

        Wow…so many of these stories are similar to my recent experiences. Regarding what Gigi said: I don’t know if it’s worth asking for an explanation of “exclusion bullying.” Having been in the exact situation (more than once), I’ve found that the Adult Mean Girls deny the whole thing…claiming to have “just been really busy,” then post scads of photos of them on camping trips, out for drinks, going to concerts, and other things I used to be invited to.

        One of the many brilliant women who have shared their stories/feedback here said something along the lines of not being invited/called to be a statement unto itself. It’s taken me awhile to come to the acceptance that these “friendships” are over. But it’s still painful, and triggers lonely memories of being “the odd girl out” when I was ten years old.

        Time to live in the present and surround ourselves with light!

  17. Donna says:

    I’m looking for advice on how to deal with being asked for an apology for something I didn’t do, for something I was perceived as doing and for something taken out-of-context. A once cherished friendship may be irretrievable but if there is a way to deal with this and regain the friendship,without compromising my ideals, I’d like to try.

    At a recent birthday party of a friend, I tried to strike up a conversation with someone I did not know but it went nowhere. The individual didn’t look at me and used no words to respond but simply nodded their head in fast succession. After a couple of attempts and getting the same response, I partially turned to listen to a conversation happening where everyone was sharing and laughing. The host, a good friend, ignored me for months and then asked me to come to her. I was blindsided with a reprimand. Apparently I should have known the head nodder was shy and continued to try to talk to them. To add insult to injury, I was also reprimanded for talking to another guest who apparently has serious issues. I didn’t know the head nodder or the serious issue guest before the birthday party and did not receive a list of names and personalities with my invite. This was brought to the hosts attention by another of the guests who also attributed a supposed insult that in fact, were words that guest took out of context.


    • morcika says:

      i do not know what happened, i only see your side and it is difficult to say who’s right and who’s wrong in such a case. but let me ask you something: are you sure that the friendship and your friend is really what and who you thought it was? things sometimes exist only in our heads, and because of those pictures we refuse to see the reality. or we are fooled simply.

      of course i do not know that either, because i can imagine a situation where someone is totally “okay” and “normal”, only makes a mistake by for example believing some b******t from someone else and taking it out on people they actually care about. and then it may be difficult to make them see the truth.

      sounds complex, i know.

      in my opinion the best you can do is be honest and straightforward. saying that you didn’t mean to hurt anyone and you are sorry if anyone took your actions that way (as for me, i know that without any bad intentions we can hurt others’ feelings, and i do say sorry for that, though i emphasize that it was not my intention and i had absolutely no clue about it). of course then i would probably need an apology myself for being accused, so most likely i would also say how bad it felt being accused. and if people are “normal”, the story should really end at that point.

      if not? *sigh* that’s when relationships turn sad. :( … but i hope it will not happen to you. i wish you good luck!

      • Donna says:

        Your words match my thoughts and at present I am still too hurt by the third party acusations to do anything more having already explained my actions were not done with the intention of hurting anyone. It’s a tough one as a true apology doesn’t come with caveats yet I do feel that I am now also owed an apology.

        I’m grateful for your input and especially as you are being fair in letting me know you are offering your words knowing only one side of the story. You have also pointed out a harsh fact, that maybe I didn’t see the true nature of the friendship before.

        • morcika says:

          hi donna,

          first of all, you are very welcome. :) i like to be fair and i like to examine all sides of every story all the time, because i have learnt in life that we see things so differently, but also that we do not always (rather usually not) say all our thoughts out loud. and all that can lead to very bad misunderstandings.

          sometimes the “holding-back” derives from games and ill-will, which is more than sad, and to be honest, it still surprises (and shocks) me how certain people can think the way they think and be convinced of their being right at the same time.

          i went through a lot of “friendship pain” lately, and i had it all.

          i had the ones who said bad things about me because of … well, i will probably never know their motivation. i have different scenarios in my head because i was looking for answers to my why’s, but no-one came to me and admitted honestly that “honey, you know, i just don’t like you” or “you know i was jealous” or “well, i frankly thought you were a weirdo and what i said about you was right” or i don’t really know what people have in their head. (and that’s for the best, i guess. :) )

          then i had the dear friend who believed what others said, and kinda turned against me. of course it didn’t help that i got pretty angry because injustice makes me very angry, but i said all the apologies (almost on knees, with a little bit of exaggeration) and i got not one back. only blame and pointing fingers when i actually pointed out other people’s lies.

          sad, huh?

          in the end i lost my friend, because i cannot change someone’s mind, if they decide they don’t want to change it. i lost the rest, too, who, i had to realize, were not even my friends.

          so i can relate to your pain. i just hope that your story will turn out differently. i really wish that from my heart.

          as for the pain part: well, it does paralyse me and it’s horrible, believe me, but i know — in theory :) — that the best cure is if one occupies their mind and time with something totally out of context. :)

          all the best.

    • Gwen says:

      The hostess sounds very controlling and so does her “wingman”.

  18. Ann says:

    Deborah, The same thing is happening to my daughter. She has entered 6th grade and like your daughter doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. She is not overly empathetic, but she is similarly considerate of others feelings and would never say unkind things about others.—- For me I think the Moms (even Dads) also see me as a bit different as I am at least a good ten years older than many of them, I have some gray hair, I don’t belong to many social clubs (like our city’s “Woman’s Club). I am outdoorsy, athletic, and don’t like idle gossip. —- I moved back to my hometown at age 41 and then had my kids at age 42 and 44…it is my “second life.” Many of the families here cling to their friendships from childhood, and so it goes that their kids hang with their friends’ kids. It is a very exclusionary situation. I can see in very subtle ways that my athletic daughter is not as readily accepted for these reasons. She was voted “Most Athletic” girl at the end of sixth grade and that seemed to ruffle some feathers. Oh my goodness…. She is not invited to many parties because, I feel, her parents aren’t part of the “sport parents” clique, and don’t have those ties with the parents that seem a requirement for streamlined acceptance of the offspring! Fortunately she is a very strong self assured girl so far. I only hope this keeps up. I hope she doesn’t become like her mother and let this behavior drive her nuts…. I dream of moving away from this, but I think I am kidding myself…..the same dynamics will establish themselves elsewhere.

  19. Gwen says:

    The same thing happened to me and I felt horrible for my daughter. We both learned a lot from the experience.

    My daughter is better off making true friendships on her own. Last year when we were at a former cliques family party, I watched as my daughter was told “Sorry you aren’t part of this group” and the door shut in her face. We left the party early. We have discussed it many times as a life lesson on how to treat people the way you would like to be treated and how much exclusion hurts.

    • lomagirl says:

      I”m frustrated by how my daughter is being treated as well. I am online looking for advice on how to disarm cliques. Most of the information is about hazing and bullying- but I think a lot of what is going on isn’t even intentional- just more thoughtless and changing friendships. There is certainly no plan to exclude me daughter, that I know of, but more just a sometimes people are friendly but when the girls are all together, they band together and exclude others.
      I wish there was some good advice on this! I told my daughter that she has to worry about her behavior- she can’t change theirs- and that she should quit trying to be friends with them and focus on the other people who want to be her friends.

      • Jane says:

        Hello lomagirl,
        Your daughter needs to learn that the high praise of others is just as fake and destructive as the mean gossip and rumors. It’s lies. To get their way. Unless you like yourself and learn to be ok alone, you will never find peace. Teach your daughter that it’s what you give others that counts. Perhaps if she beams at everyone she meets throughout her day she will feel a happiness that doesn’t come with trying to ” fit in”. Generally speaking, the people with the most friend in life are the people most devoid of truth and morals.

  20. Tina says:

    Same thing has happened to me, I work full time with 2children. One of my daughter’s friends of approximately 4 years has kept me a “friend” on FB, but has blocked me from seeing her tags and posts. Ashamed to say I’ve lost sleep trying to understand why?

    She’s successful, attractive and I actually like her, so I’m confused? Should I let it go or confront her? :(

    • jo says:

      Don’t lose sleep. She my have blocked you from seeing her stuff because you are her friend’s mother. She may not want to offend you or she does not want you to see her party pictures, etc.

      I have several different lists on FB. If I am posting political stuff only friends who share my politics get to see those posts, etc. everyone else is blocked. I am very particular about who gets to see my stuff and I have often unfriended people if they comment on my posts in ways I do not like.

      Of course if it really bugs you, unfriend her and move on. Why allow her to have control over your life.

  21. Claire says:

    The same thing just happened to me. With my antenatal group. Everyone (9 of us ) used to meet at each other’s houses. As some went back to work the group changed. Then when 2nd kids came along the group re formed. We kept in touch on FB but things have gone weird. One decided to question my integrity over an issue that was 100% NOT my fault. I defended myself and it all turned ugly. She defriended me. Didn’t care. Now months later for no reason at all after normal FB communication another one from our group in her late 30’s has defriended me. Do I care – NO. There are lots of nice women out there and you don’t deserve to be treated badly. This was my first time in a group of girls and I hated it. Give me a few great girlfriends who don’t hang out in a group and I’m far happier. Life is too short to be excluded and ostracised. Find people who treat you as you deserve to be treated

  22. Teresa says:

    Is this still going on?
    It my be envy, it may be contempt… The best thing is always to find other people and be “independent” of them.

  23. Joan Durtz says:

    Ditch them. They’re a bunch of insecure, troubled clowns. They’re all probably unhappily married, freaked out about aging, and self absorbed. Why bother with them? Especially if they don’t make you feel good about yourself. You’re too old to go back to high school.

  24. nancy says:

    i started working in a new company after graduating, i met a girl(A) who introduced me to another girl(B). I was really close to girl A and was on friendly terms with girl B. After a year i introduced two new girls (C and D) to the other girls hoping to form a group of friends since i never had a group of friends just friends that weren’t friends with each other.Anyways after a year I moved to another company but I still made the effort to talk to them everyday just so I know what is going on with them, made an effort to come to everyone’s birthdays and events. Starting this year girl A has been attacking me every few months for not coming to couple get togethers even though she knew about my hectic schedule, then told me that she felt ignored when i sat next to girl D at our table. Just little things then she didnt want one of my other friends to stop joining our get togethers because she didnt want to have outsiders in our group even though that friend had joined us a couple times and was constant in touch with girl A because girl A wanted her to introduce her to some guy. all these four girls are living by themselves and have dont have much to do after work so I realize that they have gotten more closer. I ended up in an argument with girl A, then the girl B and C decided to back her up and started attacking me,we were supposed to go to an event together so we ended up going separately. By unfortunate fate I happened to be standing right behind them in a line and they started making faces at me to show that what was i doing here, girl a even pretended to get a phone call.Feeling uncomfortable i tried to make a small conversation with them but that didnt work. After we went our separate ways I texted them saying thanks for ignoring me, you seriously made my day. then the next day girl a and b text me saying happy birthday and then girl b decides to tell me that she no longer wants to be my friend because she found my ignoring text insulting. I feel awful that I even introduced these girls to each other, I feel like I shouldnt have introduced my friends. because of one person i will be losing 3 of my friends because they feel girl A is more precious to them than me.

    • Katie says:

      There is some comfort in knowing that others have issues like me. I have been excluded from a group also and it is a huge blow to my self confidence. The worst of it is that the mature aged mothers that decided they dislike me have been excluding my daughter from sporting groups that she has previously been a part of. She is good at sport and I think their may be some jealousy involved but mostly it is just to get back at me. We are quiet people and my daughter is very shy. Her sport is how she makes friends and it breaks my heart that adults can be so vindictive towards a child.

      • Deborah says:

        I have a similar problem. I have a daughter who seriously doesn’t have a mean bone in her body, that gets excluded because I think the other moms don’t like me. It’s gotten ridiculous. I feel like I’m in the Harper Valley PTA. I don’t care if I have b any friends, but to take out your hatred on a 9 year old is disgusting. Sorry, this is probably the wrong forum for this!

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