• Making Friends

Ever feel like you are an invisible friend?

Published: March 7, 2015 | By | 10 Replies Continue Reading
A mom writes that her 18-year-old daughter is always ignored at school, as if she were invisible.


I have a bright, friendly, sweet 18-year-old daughter. She is not bullied at school, for which I am thankful, but she is completely ignored.

Adults love her and no one says or does anything mean to her but last week it broke my heart when we went to a school basketball game and not one person asked her to sit with them, said hello, or started a conversation. It just seems like she was invisible. Even she acknowledged that if asked everyone at school would say, “Yeah, she’s a nice girl,” but that’s where it would begin and end.

Now, college is approaching. I want her to look at this as her chance to really shine but she is now so used to fading in the background (being a loner) that I fear it will be more of the same. Advice?



Hi Leslie,

Your daughter sounds like a great girl. What jumped out at me, when you mentioned she was ignored was that you didn’t mention whether she asked anyone to sit with her, started any conversations, or made any overtures.

Being friendly and making social advances comes easier for some people than others. Shy people sometimes wait for others to make the first moves. Sometimes they don’t even realize they can walk up to peers at a basketball game and say, “Hi, can I sit with you guys?” The most socially satisfied people I know are those who take the initiative to smile and take the reins in friendships.

Your daughter has a great opportunity to practice shining and developing proactive social skills right now, before college. She’s already known her current classmates for years so even if she experiences some awkwardness, she’ll likely overcome that discomfort by the time September rolls around.

Here are some tips for your daughter:

  • Smile
  • Make eye contact
  • Notice others the way she wants to be seen
  • Invite others
  • Ask if she can join in

Some people are more extroverted and making friends and acquaintances might seem easier. Others tend more toward introversion and are just as happy with fewer, but more intimate friends in their social circles. Whatever the case, you can help your daughter realize she has all the power to make herself shine. She already has what she needs–kindness, intelligence, sweetness. She just needs to shine the light on herself by showing these qualities.

Signed, *Amy Feld

*Amy Feld, PhD, MSW has trained and worked as a child psychologist.

Disclaimer: Nothing in this or any other post is intended to substitute for medical, psychiatric or clinical diagnosis/treatment. Rather, all posts are written as the type of advice that one friend might give to another.

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Comments (10)

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  1. DCFem says:

    Thank you for writing this Leslie. My child is very young (almost 4) and I can already see that he is an introvert. I have been so overzealous in my efforts to help him navigate the world as an introvert (as I am one and so is his dad) that I can see i need to step back and just let the kid be. I worked very hard to make it in this world where extroverts are rewarded and always looked upon more favorably and I don’t want him to have to struggle like I did. But this discussion has me thinking that maybe figuring some of this out on his own is what he will need to do to make his own way and I need to stop worrying.

  2. Maddie says:

    She will grow up and find her way through life, mom

  3. Sarah Anne says:

    I always feel like even as an adult. And when there’s a MEAN Girl/ guy I’m always the one that gets dropped.

  4. Tracy says:

    Oh- I was this girl in high school.
    It does get better- with time and positive experiences, the momentum hopefully builds and she may find herself more and more self confident in initiating conversation etc.


  5. Isabelle says:

    Hi Leslie,
    I had the same thing said about me throughout my school years. I started out shy but ended up just being introverted and a loner. I am in my 30s now, and still am a loner, and prefer my own company when it comes right down to it.

    It took me a long time to feel like something wasn’t wrong with me, though. Especially when you change schools and don’t know anyone, or go to college, how is it that you are constantly ignored, or told you are “nice” but that’s it? I have been doing a lot of thinking about this, and I think it’s because I didn’t show that I had any interests or hobbies. I kept to myself. I sometimes made the first move to invite myself somewhere with other people, but I was ignored then, too. I didn’t try to make myself a part of things, and then I was surprised when I had no friends.

    I think the advice given so far is good. I would start with that and see where it leads your daughter. If she continues to be left alone, maybe explore, with a therapist, why this might be. Shy people sometimes miss social cues unintentionally. It could also be that she hasn’t yet met her “tribe”. I didn’t meet my very select best friends until just a few years ago. That’s also when I grew into my own and became comfortable with myself. Instead of thinking, “What is wrong with me?” I thought, “What makes me unique? What can I offer other people in terms of friendship?”

    I wish the best of luck to you and your daughter.

  6. Sarah Anne says:

    I’m an introvert and dealing with this still. I think people could also help by actually trying to include people by themselves for once.

    • Sarah Anne says:

      But other people never seem to be this considerate.

      • Radhika says:

        I’m in year 8 at Ousedale and for the last two years I’ve felt lonely. My ‘friends’ always treat me like I’m invisible and don’t exist. For example, yesterday we had a pe lesson and I asked to go with a girl called piper in my form. She said ye cause all her other friends were on different courts but then as soon as Millie joins the court, she goes off with her and leaves me. This is just a little thing. My whole life at school people have used me say if they fall out with their friends or anything and then ditched me when she make up. People just think I’m this robot with no feelings or anything who doesn’t mind being with a group of people then looking down looking up and everyone being gone. I always just go up to my room and cry but no one notices that I’m their friend even and that up I exist and if you asked them who are their friends they forget me

        • Shy says:

          I think I sort of understand how you feel. The thing is that you have to think you’re important for other people to notice you by that I don’t mean be arrogant but atleast know your worth. Most of the times the way people treat us is a reflection of how we treat ourselves. So just know your worth. Also about the the girl leaving you, she could’ve assumed that you also just wanted to walk to the court and not actually hang out.

  7. ginger says:

    Hi Leslie, I feel your heartbreak. I have a lovely teenage daughter who is often alone, too. I have spent many sleepless nights worrying about her even though I’ve seen no evidence she’s depressed or even concerned about her quiet social life.
    Then I read a great book about introverts (called “the introvert advantage”)that made me realize she simply has a different social style than I do. I am a total extrovert so I couldn’t understand how she could be happy being alone. But a lot of introverts are more than fulfilled in their own company. Neither social style is right or wrong, in fact, both are necessary to nature (according to the book). A lot of great thinkers and artists are introverts and the way they “shine” isn’t publicly but rather in their own space. Perhaps this could be the case with your daughter?
    I am not a therapist but I have been in your shoes. It hurts to worry about your kid. And don’t get me wrong, I still worry even after reading that book. Just not as badly. Either way, I hope you feel better soon. I feel for you.

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