• Keeping Friends

Feeling Left Out Of A Group Of Families

Published: July 13, 2022 | Last Updated: July 13, 2022 By | 3 Replies Continue Reading

A woman winds up feeling left out of a multi-family friendship. While relationships like this one can be fulfilling, they are also far more complicated to maintain than ordinary friendships.

QUESTION

Hello there, 

My family and I have been friends with three other families for a few years. We even traveled together as a group of families six times.

The other three families were extremely close friends for almost 30 years. When they let us into their group—when I began working with one of them—I was so happy. 

The kids got along and my husband already knew the guys. It was the most amazing family friendship. We ladies did everything together and it was everything I always wanted. (I have always been insecure about friendships and wanted more closeness).

Anyway, it’s been a few years now that they have slowly drifted away from me. I no longer work with the one who was my co-worker since I moved to a different school. My gut was telling me something had shifted but I kept a smile on my face and continued to hang out with them despite the discomfort I was feeling. 

Daily group and individual texting dwindled down to me always being the one to initiate. These ladies would talk about memories that I wasn’t a part of. I know they always spent time together without me.

Just yesterday,  we were all together (I think they invited me as a last-minute afterthought). When I asked about summer vacation plans, one told me they were all going on a one-week vacation together! 

We didn’t even get an invite. It was like taking a bullet.

Today, my daughter told me they all celebrated Canada Day together without us (the kids all track each other on their phones). We had always been invited until now.

I’m feeling left out, lonely, rejected, and just awful. I spoke to one of them about feeling left out and she simply said everything was fine and everyone is just busy. I don’t push it because I want to be classy and elegant.

How do I heal this broken heart and let go when I don’t want to? Or, how do I keep them in my life as casual friends without being so sad and abandoned?

Signed, Stella

ANSWER

Hi Stella, 

Your feelings are understandable. You enjoyed being part of this group and for whatever reason, they no longer are including you in their get-togethers. Adding insult to injury, you had no role in the decision and aren’t even privy as to the reasons why this happened.

Friendships, whether between individuals or families, always have to be reciprocal. All the parties need to be invested in maintaining the relationship.

Here are some tips to help you get over this disappointment about feeling left out.

6 Tips For Handling Feeling Left Out

1- Accept that feeling left out always hurts

Don’t let anyone minimize your feelings. When you’re excluded from a group, it’s normal and appropriate to feel hurt and rejected. But do bear in mind that it is common for people to be rejected by cliques or groups of friends. 

Remember that these couples you were friends with have a long history that preceded the one with you and your family.

No one can talk you out of your feelings but hopefully, over time, you’ll be able to get over this one-sided loss. Only you can decide whether you want to maintain a casual friendship with the group.

2- It’s okay to express your hurt and disappointment; it might even be helpful.

It was heroic for you to approach one woman in the group to see if she would offer some insight into what happened, but you probably shouldn’t confront the entire group about your feelings.

It would make them uncomfortable and they aren’t likely to be honest. It’s best to drop it at this point. 

Instead, it is okay to share your disappointment with your husband or to confide in another close friend who isn’t involved with this group. 

Talking about it to someone else and expressing your feelings will help you work through this hurt and process the loss. If you have no one to tell, write about your feelings in a diary or journal. 

3- Don’t take the rebuff too personally

Most family friendships are very complicated. As you allude to in your note, the kids have to get along, as do the men, as do the women. Then, there is the chemistry of everyone getting together as a group—and finding the time to do so.

It’s challenging for two couples to maintain a friendship, let alone two or more families. Something might be going on with the dynamics of the group that have nothing to do with you.

4- Remind yourself of your personal strengths and assets

You’ve demonstrated your ability to make new friends. “Fitting in” with a group of friends who have known each other for almost three decades would be daunting for most people. 

Temper your expectations to replicate this experience; it’s unusual. Instead, over time, you may find one other family with whom you can share good times and enjoy vacations.

5- Assess whether you may need to make a new friend or two

Could you be having a hard time getting over this friendship because you put so many eggs in this one basket?

Branch out and make an effort to make new friends, as an individual, as a couple, and/or as a family.

You haven’t mentioned the ages of your kids but both school and extracurricular activities (such as sports) offer opportunities to meet new people who share similar interests.

6- Don’t obsess over the lost friendship

Plan a night out with your husband or a summer vacation with your family. Spend time doing things you enjoy and engage in life. 

Most friendships, even very good ones, don’t last forever. That’s an important lesson for your kids to learn, too!

Hope this advice helps ease your pain.

Best, Irene


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Feeling Left Out

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Comments (3)

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  1. Stella says:

    Hi there, thank you for suggestions… we have always rotated get togethers, in fact our annual Christmas party was at my house this year! I was somewhat uncomfortable because the gap was growing but I always make an effort…
    I’m the past it was very casual, easy and open-we just naturally took turns making plans and reaching out to each. They continuously do this as we speak, just without me…
    They have been so tight for years that maybe me being with them changed the dynamic and they want to default back to each other, maybe they don’t like me anymore or I’ve done something wrong… I have no idea and no one will say anything…

  2. Sandra Ann says:

    My heart goes out to the writer of the question, and Dr. Irene’s answer is perfect. I could feel the writer’s pain as she described her hurtful situation.

    In my experience, group friendships change over the years. It’s super difficult to maintain the original momentum and closeness of the time when the group first formed.

    One thing I’ve noticed with group friendships is that somebody has to organize all the get-togethers. Are you the person who waits to be invited, or do you take an active role in how and where you meet the group? Do you initiate plans or wait to hear from the group?

    I’ve noticed that it’s usually the few people (or one person) who pick up the ball and organize meet-ups, parties, potlucks, and so on. If other people don’t step up to the plate and initiate an activity or organize a get-together, sometimes things will fizzle quickly. That happened with a dinner club in my neighborhood. The woman who organized all the nights out got tired of being the only person to make it happen. And it does takes work to keep social activities going.

    Have you tried to organize a get-together with these friends? Maybe invite them to a picnic or a potluck, or just out for coffee? Just a thought.

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