• Keeping Friends

Friend Poaching: It’s Complicated

Published: July 12, 2010 | Last Updated: April 2, 2016 By | 14 Replies Continue Reading


Dear Irene,

I’m 45 years old and feel like a 7th grader due to a mutual friend situation. I have been good friends with two neighbors for over 10 years. I introduced them last year and they hit it off great. I was so happy for them because they both have a lot of time on their hands and now they have each other. It kind of took the pressure off of me because I don’t have a lot of free time.

However, lately, they invite me to some parties but sometimes make plans and do not include me ☹. It is mostly Friend #1 who likes to tell me they have dinner plans but doesn’t even bother to invite me—while knowing I have no plans for the night. Friend #2 always asks if Friend #1 called and invited me. Because I know them both more than they know each other I would think they would include me. Friend #1 goes out of her way to say she made plans with the other friend.

If I had a free night I would never think of inviting one without the other. It isn’t that Friend #1 prefers to be with Friend #2; she does the same twosome thing with me, excluding friend #2. She explains that she likes her “alone time” with her friends and doesn’t see anything wrong with it. I guess I don’t understand. We all get along great and I think its kind of rude when I have a free night but sit home alone because she wants her alone time.

Tomorrow is Friend #2’s birthday and I asked Friend #1 what the plans were. She said she made plans to go out with our mutual friend but never even asked if I wanted to go. Why wouldn’t I? It’s my friend’s B-day too!

Friend #1 says I am acting like a teenager but I think it’s the other way around. I don’t care how old you are. Everyone likes to be included—although it doesn’t have to be all the time. It is very hurtful, especially when all three of us get along great. What kind of friend is she? She does this with all her friends! It’s so frustrating! What do you think? Any suggestions?




Dear Laura,

Under these circumstances, feeling hurt is understandable whether you’re in seventh grade or in your seventh decade. You introduced two long-time friends to each other and suddenly you’re on the outside looking in.

Several other readers have written to me about friend poaching and each time, I realize that the “rules” for how to handle it are rather murky. Because this situation is fairly common, I discuss friend poaching in my book and have also addressed it in these prior posts:

  • A Friend Poached One Too Many Times

With regard to your specific situation, Friend #1 has the right to prefer twosomes to groups. That’s okay. And once you introduced her to Friend #2, it is acceptable for them to have a separate relationship. To her credit, she has been upfront with you about what she’s doing but she also seems self-centered and insensitive to your feelings. Leaving you out of the birthday bash is taking things too far. Telling you that you’re acting like a teenager compounds the hurt because she is, in essence, saying that it’s inappropriate for you to feel the way you do. I disagree.

In acquiescing to the preferences of Friend #1, Friend #2 has also been somewhat insensitive to your feelings—particularly, given your long history.

Both friends already know you feel hurt. I don’t think there’s anything more you can say to make Friend #1 change her mind or to Friend #2, who seems to follow along with the program. As I see it, your only choice is to accept these relationships as they are and/or use this as an opportunity to seek out new relationships that are more inclusive and hassle-free.

I realize that your dilemma isn’t an easy one and that this has to be incredibly uncomfortable since they’re both your neighbors.

I hope this is somewhat helpful.


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Category: Dealing with threesomes and groups of friends, KEEPING FRIENDS

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  1. You’ve been friend poached! - The Friendship Blog : The Friendship Blog | December 28, 2015
  1. Jana says:

    I’m the more the merrier type I like when my friends are friends that said here are the unspoken rules:

    1. Friend Poaching is a problem when one is excluded from normal activity or normal time they used to do with either of the friend.
    A)If you used to get together for happy hour every Friday night and now you spend Friday nights alone while they go out, not cool.
    B) you always talked about trying this new restaurant, going on a cruise ship, seeing a play and your “friends” plan it without you / don’t include you, Not Okay.

    2. It is not ok to forbid friends you introduced from hanging out without you. IF.
    A) If the two of them have a common Hobby that you don’t enjoy, do they play tennis and you don’t? do they like seafood and you don’t? let them enjoy each other.
    B) If the time they spend together makes no difference to your weekly get together who cares.

    When your friends get manicures and don’t include you…
    When your friends go to the movies and don”t include you…
    When your friends go out to eat and don’t include you…
    Things that you used to do Together before you introduce them to each other…

    This is hurtful Behavior and it’s okay to ask them why they don’t include you. Tell them you’re feeling left out and hurt.
    If they still don’t include you, you’ve said your peace – walk away with your head held high and don’t bother them again. Its their loss and hopefully Karma will be swift.

  2. Joanna says:

    My situation is slightly different, but still makes me feel excluded and left out. A couple years ago a gay male
    couple moved into my condo building. They moved here to make friends and be connected. We are all retired
    and in our 60s. I am a single/divorced female. The one gay guy kept asking me over for dinner and at
    one of the dinners, he introduced his long-time girl friend fron their former building. I subsequently started
    reciprocating and hosting the three of them for dinner. Fast forward to now, that same best gf ended up
    recently moving to our building, which I thought was wonderful. He recently told me that they get together at one
    another’s homes for dinner TWICE a week! He followed that up with a comment that he was tired of having
    to cook, blah blah blah. I don’t believe he is trying to hurt my feelings, but do believe he feels guilty
    since he has only included me in his dinner invites twice last year!! And his gf had me over once in 2014
    and once in 2015. I am now wondering why she has not reciprocated my many dinner invitations.
    What can I say… Makes me want to get a puppy and call it a day. LOL!

  3. Jan says:

    . I believe there are times to exclude a mutual friend from a get together
    I have two friends who are also mutual friends. For a couple of years we did many things together. It became a common experience to get a flood of emails after these outings with each of them critisizing something the other had said or done. Some of these occurrences were very time consuming and energy draining. I finally told them that I just could not handle the drama and that I would prefer to see them separately or not at all. It has worked better but I still get probing questions carefullly designed to seem like casual remarks as if they are attempting to “catch” me lying? Frankly I’m at the point where I get stressed just anticipating the she said,she said emails. I have made it clear why I feel more comfortable seeing them one at a time (I also have some degree of permanent hearing loss, I prefer the company of one one time even with my adult children) and I’m at the point where I feel I’m going to have to stop seeing both of them. It seems so juvinile to me. I encouraged them to exclude me when they had plans as well. Any suggestions?

  4. Claire says:

    Some women never get out of Middle School & behave like mean, insecure 13 yr old girls! Maybe it gives them a sense of power to poach friends & interact with them while leaving you out. Who knows what their motivation is!? But with so little character, they’re not worthy of your friendship. Small consolation, I know! It’s incredibly painful being betrayed by a friend, especially one of long standing. A book called Women’s Inhumanity to Women by Phyllis Chesler might be helpful in realizing that you are not alone, & you did nothing wrong, but some women just get off on being hurtful. The friend who was poached may find herself on the sidelines eventually, when the poacher moves on to someone else. I hope you can find new friends & have a happy life!

    • Charlotte says:

      I had this exact thing happen to me with 2 long time friends. Actually, it happened twice with one of them, she poached my own cousin as well as my high school friend! All 3 are not in my life anymore. Though I’m still getting over the hurt..I am moving on.

      I realized that they are not my true friends (or family) after telling them several times how
      hurt I am by what they are doing and it continued to happen it means they don’t care so I don’t care anymore. It’s not something I would do to anyone.

  5. Susan61 says:

    I am experiencing this presently. Two years ago I brought a woman friend, “Melinda” I knew separately into my social group, a loosely knit group of men/women I met through my ex-boyfriend. Melinda by her own admission has a hard time making/keeping friends. I won’t go into all the details. She does have a boyfriend, who is very friendly. Melinda is quite stunning physically but not very friendly. I try not to judge and at this point, just accept people the way they are. She does have some very good qualities, however, she has since poached my friend “Laura” who I’ve known for about 12 years. I checked some old emails from Melinda and just two years ago she told me I had “nice friends” and suggested we do something with Laura. She also did this with another friend of mine, “Paula” who since got engaged and moved away.

    I wouldn’t mind but in emails “Melinda” blithely mentions plans she has made with “Laura”, doesn’t invite me and doesn’t seem to understand why this would be hurtful. Laura doesn’t invite me either.

    My policy is to try to not take it personally and not confront but the other night I was losing sleep about this. We are in our 50’s. Just goes to show some women are just clueless and insensitive. I am single, they both have boyfriends but still….I don’t get it.

    If it continues I guess if I don’t say anything, I have no choice but to swallow my pride, let them do what they want, and make new friends. Having made it to 50 plus, I have found that confrontation with friends, romantic interests, and family members really doesn’t make things better and often makes things worse.

  6. Tanya says:

    hello. i am new here and have found this website by accident as i am struggling with this situation currently and feel left out by two of my friends. I keep reading about how we are all grown ups and people can choose who they are friends with, but for me it is about respect and boundaries. i think it is different if two friends hit it off then contact you to say i think so and so is great, would you mind if i contacted them etc. or when you just in passing conversation find out they have gone out together and are making plans without you when you have been friends with each of them for years and they have no other connections other than you. This situation can be ok if it is done sensitively and with respect to the friend who has introduced you, if it’s not then it’s a problem. I don’t think this is mentioned enough.

  7. Elise says:

    Thank you for sharing this story. I have been struggling with friend poaching since moving to a new city last year. Immediately upon moving here, my husband and I met several people through our networks who were also new to the city. We were thrilled and didn’t hesitate introducing them to one another thinking we’d have this great group of friends we could get together with like in our old town. Well, we do get together as a group sometimes, but I also discovered that many of the women are getting together one-on-one and not inviting me. I personally find it rude and hurtful considering I’m the one who introduced them. I personally wouldn’t jump right into trying to develop a one-on-one friendship with someone else’s friend without many times hanging out as a group. I feel hurt and left out, and it makes me regret ever introducing them in the first place. It also makes me feel insecure – did I do something wrong? Do they not like me? Am I over-reacting? Perhaps that’s a bit childish of an outlook, but nonetheless, friend poaching is rude.

  8. Excluded says:

    I have friends I introduced to one another. One is my closest friend of over 25 years, another a long friendship as well, and yet a 3rd friend who plays into things. These friends I introduced over time, and in the context of events in which I brought one or another of them to; these friends all met through me. The 2nd closest friend began excluding me from a shared activity with friend 3,the same activity in which I introduced her to that friend; all of a sudden I was odd man out.I discussed that with friend 3, but did not realize that friend 2 was probably the instigator of it until years later(bringing me to present). Over the past couple of years, the 2nd friend also has begun a friendship with the closest friend I first mentioned. I realized they were spending time together, although neither one of them has spent any time with me in over a year, especially friend 2. I have probably called her at least 10+times over the past year, and she has yet to return a call to me. The only time we have even gotten together is if her husband has called or my husband and I have called and initiated an event as couples; she has totally stopped initiating any contact with me.

    When my husband and I were out with friend 2 and her husband, we all ran into friend 1 in a store. I realized that this was a terribly awkward conversation,and it dawned on me that I was the 3rd wheel. I never have awkward conversations with friend 1, and had even discussed with her last summer her friendship with friend 2. Bottom line,I really don’t care if they have a friendship with one another, either with me along or not; the issue is the friendship either of those friends has with me.

    I finally got it: friend 2 has poached friend 3 long ago(that friendship has never recovered), and now has went on to poach friend 1, my closest friend for years. At the same time, she has totally dropped me as her friend. So what this really means is my 2 closest friends have developed a close friendship, but have totally excluded me in their lives. I guess the end of this friendship with both of them has been the realization that I am loyal and trustworthy, and if I were in either position of #1 or #2, this never would have occured; I would not do something so hurtful to my friends. I am a much better friend than that. I don’t understand the mindset of friend 2,but when I really step back and examine this over a period of years, I see what she has done.I am the only one who has ever talked with either of these friends about this, and realize now that the damage is done, as am I. Does any of this ring true to anyone else? Advice?

  9. Leanne says:

    Hi jaynie.. I couldn’t believe it when I read your post today.. I’m going through the exact same hurt with my friend of 35yrs. Mine is a very long story but has ended in me two days ago finishing the friendship completely. I had to take some sort of control back as after making so many attempts to sort it (the original argument she started) i got fed up with waiting, looking at my phone to see if she replied, writing a final tex to her but not sending etc she finally replied saying she had a lot on and couldn’t meet up just yet. That was it for me as I’d tried so many times but if after 35yrs I didn’t mean enough to her then i should walk away. Believe me it has been the hardest most painful decision I’ve made and I am heartbroken. I did put everything down on my final text to her, got everything off my chest and it has made me feel so much better, although she didn’t even bother to reply I knew she had read it. I can’t come to terms with how I’ve meant so little. The friendship obviously meant more to me than it did to her. My friend (ex) has some new, younger, fun friends and she has no need for me now. I have blocked her on FB and if I were you I’d do the same as there is nothing worse than someone rubbing your face in it. Would be good to discuss this with you further if thats ok with you, it’s such a relief to finally find someone who knows exactly what I’m talking about .

  10. jaynie says:

    I have been friend poached and its painful im 52 and been accused of needing to grow up maybe i do but it would make little difference as to how i feel and been treated – Friend 1 (f1) has been my friend for 40 years schooled/ college and onwards only having one arguement in all these years (sadly she felt threatened by me with ‘her’ friends) but eventually we resolved things.I introduced f1 to my dart team and friends including f2 and we have had good times. Friend 2 (f2) has been my friend for 10 years we have been very close. Recently f2 got offended by a petty nothing i put it aside but when i went out that night she ignored me all night i tried 3 attempts to speak to her but she continued to snub me according to her at the end of the evening we were all chatting and laughing together i know thats not the case because by that time i no longer would have been willing to speak to her. I was very upset. Also where as she was drunk i was sober and know exactly what happened. I got home to another horrible message throwing up all sorts of stuff , i replied but her messages kept coming it seemed she could say all she liked about me but didnt like me putting her straight on how things actually were i repeatedly asked her to stop throwing other stuff in to the arguement. it finally came to a head i stopped going to darts and we no longer speak. F1 jumped in to my shoes like a shot through out this she supported f2 even though i hadnt caused the issue, as to the ignoring me she also supported her in that saying f2 had been upset i explained i was upset but i hadnt gone out and ignored her and despite what she said she never spoke to me at the end of the evening and i just went home to more messages. since then f1 of 40 years has left me to get on with things whilst off out with f2 she plays darts which i understand she didnt want to leave even though i would have done for her, but she now goes out to meals with her they go shopping together and other events im discluded. its not f2 that causes me problems its the betrayal of f1 40 years of friendship and i clearly mean nothing. I have not fallen out with her i think that should i confront her i will be accused of jealousy (i hasten to add ive never been a jealous person) and i know i would get the blame for any break up despite their behaviour Im so disappointed in f1 and saddened. how could she treat me that way i did nothing wrong. It was bad enough f2 getting annoyed over nothing and i still dont really know why and that our friendship meant so little that she would ignore me as she did i thought we had a better friendship than that we were so close. But f1 has devistated me i feel i cant trust her ever again i avoid her company where i can without being rude because of the hurt NO i cant tell her, i know her well enough to know telling her about how i feel shes treated me would become my fault and would end the so called friendship to a final end with no chance of resolving anything. I have since spoken to f2 and agreed to put things aside, but this has not meant that anything has really changed its just made it more sociably acceptable for her as we go to the same venues etc. personally i was ok in social circles as i am well known. One thing i cant work out is with f1 she posted on fb photos of her with MY friend (albeit ex friend) all they were doing knowing i would see knowing it would cause me pain continually backing f2’s twisted accounts i really cant believe she could do that to me so even without falling out with f1 i dont feel i can any longer call her friend. 🙁 🙁

  11. Anonymous says:

    I disagree with Irene in the rules being murky. If there was nothing wrong with it- so many people wouldn’t be upset by it- though I agree that being up-front is better than being sneaky.

    Its also worse when certain friends, mine your social network, poach your friends, but always avoid and prevent as far as possible your interaction with other friends.

    I have one more thing to say to Laura: such people are not your friends. Friends just don’t act that way, and that insensitively.

    Its not as grey or murky as Irene thinks it is

    They are either your friends, or they are not- their actions show that they are not. Period.

    Find better friends, Life is way too short.

    -poached many a time
    I make no excuses for “so called’ friends devcoid of social, and emotional morals.

    • greta says:

      Hi Anonymous,
      Wish I was too..
      PEOPLE are SO unpredictable!!! I had a GOOD friend F1, who also had Other friends,who liked me,asked to visit me,have dinner, go out together and many times All of us went. Sometimes the f2 came to me secretly cos we knew he would be jealous.We ALL felt awful.
      Anyway, he F1 is a rather neurotic person, and one day at a party at his house, he threw a tantrum, broke furniture, Police came..etc etc. F2 was there at his house, and he threw everyone out. Next day F2 came to visit me and told me about the drama and I said. well, He is a bit Neurotic….. Guess What?… F2 went and told him, to get back in his good books! He called me and was screaming down the phone.. like a lunatic.. repeating the story from F2. And I said, well, Yes, you Are a bit? Arent you? and treated it lightly it… He went mad. He came to my house well, flat and rang the bell nonstop!!! Luckily I lived on the 8 floor so I could see from my balcony who was at the door… He was shouting all kinds of abuse! and really creating outside the building, that the neighbours told him to give it a rest, and clear off before they called the coppers.He came EVERYDAY to do this!! In the end I had to move away, because it was getting scary. What the moral of this story is… I dont know.. Jealousy,betrayal,Unreasonable behaviour??? Diffiicult…

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