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

November 13, 2012 | By | 152 Replies Continue Reading
When something doesn’t make obvious sense, you may have to dig deeper to find out what’s happened.

QUESTION

Hello,

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.

Signed,
Sharon

ANSWER

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 (152)

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  1. 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.

    Help.

    • 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”.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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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