• Keeping Friends

Left Out Of A Midlife Clique

Published: February 18, 2017 | Last Updated: February 11, 2023 By | 32 Replies Continue Reading
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A woman finds out that her midlife clique is meeting without her in secret.



I fear I have driven a good friend away. We were a foursome of friends who worked together when we were in our 50s. I found out recently that the other three women in this midlife clique have been having lunches without including me for years.

I see them individually and together, and text regularly so, of course, this upset me. I kept quiet for a while but arrangements for our next get-together made me say to one of them that I knew about the lunches I had been excluded from. I had to get it off my chest.

I wish I hadn’t said anything now as she said to me “I can never win with you” and has not replied to any of my texts. I’ve lost her friendship. This has hurt me very much.

This lady was someone I could always talk to about problems. I feel I may have worn her out with this. Do you think there is any chance we could be friends again?

Kind regards, Pat


Hi Pat,

Of course, you would be shocked to learn that you were left out of group get-togethers with three other people you thought were your friends. And it is was perfectly appropriate for you to raise the issue with this “good friend.”

For this friend to reply the way she did, suggests that she had no empathy or understanding of how being excluded might make you feel. You may have lost her friendship but I don’t think she was a true friend. In fact, her angry reaction suggests she may be the reason (or at least part of the reason) you were excluded from this midlife clique.

At this point, all you can do is try to maintain your one-on-one relationships with the two other women. You could explain that you were hurt to find out you were left out of the group but hope to remain friends with them.

I’m so sorry this happened to you. Like this midlife clique, some mean girls never grow up!

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene


Left Out Of A Friend Group After 35 Years

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

Comments (32)

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  1. loyal says:

    I agree with vast majority who have posted replies: this exclusion is unforgivable! None of the three deserve any more of your time or energy — not one whit! Jealousy is at the heart of it.

  2. Tricia says:

    Hi lovely ladies.
    Ran across this site and looks like I’m a little late

    I experience some of the same things.
    I’m am included but not to everything.

    What helps is :
    I do not share a lot that can be repeated
    I try to enjoy and look for things good in each person and focus on that
    I try to treat them well and I see that given time they themselves get into their issue’s themselves
    Which is no surprise given people

    I have gone outside this circle and made other women friends
    I do well with one on one for quality relationship

    I dont share every part of my life.
    If I share everything is it still my very own life?

    Think women have good intentions in groups but it’s inevitable that a few girls start excluding

    I wouldn’t bring it up. What for? They will get into it with each other when you are aloof to this silly childish stuff

    It’s really hard to sometimes love these girls were they are at but I do have a live for them and I tell them so

    In the past like other women I confided and told them my problems but as I’m aging I don’t find this helpful in a relationship

    It takes alot of time to really trust a person and see how they handle other peoples secrets

    I’ve learned that confidences shared and repeated can become currency

  3. pennydrop says:

    I just posted a very similar problem, I was close with 2 woman and when a third joined the group I am being iced out of the frienship. I am not sure why I think i am a good friend but things change.

    My gut feeling with my own and your situation is (in fact another poster backed this theory up) is that its not so much about how likable you are or how good a friend you are it is more to do with for whatever reason theses woman are happy to meet and exclude you. They may be mean, they may just not think about it or they may gel better together in that threesome. Its really hurtful to think you are part of something and realise that you are actually a low priority for them.

    I think this type a friend whether malicious or not is not the type of friends we need, yes friends should be able to meet up without us at certain times but we wouldn’t be posting if we didn’t feel something else was going on.

    My only thought is at this age I am in my forties making new friends is tricky but i know I am not happy with the current circle of friends and once they make that switch there is very little to be done.

    Not sure if any of tha helps but at least you know you are not the only one!!!

  4. Denise says:

    Pat, everyone here has great points. The best you can do now is leave things the way they are, begin to let go of the no-explanation frustration and focus on positive, uplifting areas in your life. I don’t think I’d be comfortable with the others, but maybe you are.

    When I’ve had no closure in situations and wondering “why”, I’ve learned to let the negative feelings and memories come while actively doing something else, the feelings pass, and finally, eventually, it hurts less until it doesn’t hurt at all.

  5. Denise says:

    Pat, this is the mysterious part:

    “which is why she was the one i approached when i found i had been excluded.
    i suppose i expected a sympathetic reply. it felt like a slap in the face when she said “i can never win with you” and then refused to answer my texts, i apologised if i had upset her but still no reply.”

    All you write before this part shows all is well then suddenly she changes. Like one day she’s friendly, and the next conversation “I can never win”

    It reads like a drastic change or missing info. Is this how it happened? One day she was friendly, then the next conversation “I can never win” ?

    Still don’t see why she can’t give you a simple, honest explanation.

    • pat says:

      Hi Denise
      Sue did suddenly change, she was always friendly and understanding to my face, I guess not always behind my back!
      She was definitely “the lead lady” of our little group.
      I found out about being excluded very soon after taking early retirement, sue had given me a lovely present and card with kind words in it.
      It really was a complete change of character.
      In hindsight I think she liked everyone at work to think highly of her, so perhaps that’s why she was kind to me. But she always insisted we were good friends and we always saw each other outside of work, individualy and in a group.
      One of the things I found out I was excluded from was her 50th birthday meal (she went out with the other two ladies), she had told me she had gone out with family! And this from a lady that said she would always be honest with me.
      It would be nice to get closure on all this, and find out why I was excluded, i’m not perfect but I consider myself a pretty decent friend.

      • pat says:

        I think she was embarrassed that I had found out. I had worked for our firm for a number of years and was respected by our boss, maybe that’s why she wanted my friendship! Sue did help me with a number of problems, my mother passing away, my son being very ill, also I was sorry to leave my job (but chose to to spend more time with my retired husband). I guess “I can never win with you” came from the fact she felt she had helped me a lot with these things, so maybe she thought I had no right to be upset about being excluded and lied to for years!
        If they had not kept things a secret I would not have minded who went out with who, it’s the being lied to that hurts!

    • Ariane says:

      Nothing changed; how she really is was brought to light. That’s all. The poster didn’t do anything wrong; this woman was just a snake in the grass and now all is out…..he fakeness and all.

      She did you a favor by showing who she really is.

      • pat says:

        yes i can see now she was a fake friend
        i wish i hadn’t invested so much in the friendship and feel sad to have wasted so many years of my life thinking otherwise.
        onwards and upwards with my life now i think!!!

        • Ariane says:

          Dear, the same thing happend to me. I was friends with a woman for 36 years before everything came to a head and she showed her true colors. Throughout the years there were situations that made me question if she was a true friend or not, but I always gave her the benefit of the doubt. You didn’t waste time. One just can’t be 100% certain of anyone in my opinion. You just hope and pray those close to you are genuine. She chooses and chose to be fake and you should really feel sorry for her because she feels it’s ok or feels the need to be a fake friend. I know this hurts and you are sad, but just take comfort in knowing you are a decent person and she isn’t.

  6. Lady Mary says:

    I’m swimming against the tide on this one. “I can never win with you” suggests a person who has gone out of their way to accomodate, only to have their efforts rejected or minimized.

    I don’t excuse rudeness. While the choice of words is not how I would put it, that phrase indicates that there’s a missing piece to this puzzle not shared here.

    The letter writer says she used to tell her problems? Did she also share the positive? Not just negative?

    She wants to know if the friendship can be saved? I feel yes, but only a one on one basis, no more lunches or outings with this group. Her presence clearly makes the others withdraw to some extent. Why would she want to detract joy from their get togethers?

    I’m an odd duck in that I’m grateful when a person’s true feelings are made known, even if it hurts me. I can move on, and adjust my expectations of that person accordingly.

    • pat says:

      this is pat i sent in the problem.
      can i start by saying i appreciate everyone who has taken the time to post advice, all of it has helped.
      thought i would share a bit more with all of you.
      the lady whose friendship i worry i have lost i will call sue.
      myself and the other two ladies were friends first [through working together] we became friends over 15 years ago, sue joined us at work about 10 years ago, we all hit it off straight away and she became a friend not just a co worker.
      we all shared the good times and the bad, including very hard times in our group, family deaths, illness, money problems. we also had some very happy times together.
      sue is a very sympathetic lady and always said to me she was always there, that i could talk to her about anything. so she became my go to friend when i did have problems , and i always said she could do the same with me.
      which is why she was the one i approached when i found i had been excluded.
      i suppose i expected a sympathetic reply. it felt like a slap in the face when she said “i can never win with you” and then refused to answer my texts, i apologised if i had upset her but still no reply.
      i have spoke to the other two ladies and they have apologised and said they are sorry if i was upset, but won’t give me any explanation to why i was excluded, or why it was kept secret, to keep it secret they have had to lie to me on several occasions, which hurts.
      i keep thinking maybe i thought i was part of the friendship but they didn’t feel i was, but before i found out the painful truth i never doubted that i was.
      at the moment i haven’t really had much contact with any of them, sue did text once[i think prompted by one of the others]but not with an apology or any kind words.
      myself and one of the other ladies have retired now, sue and the other friend still work together. i know sue was very jealous when i took early retirement.
      i miss this group of women very much.
      i would be interested in any words of advice. thank you.

      • Lizzie says:

        I think what they are doing is called “icing you out” of the friendship ( giving the cold shoulder). Painful enough when it happens, but even more so that they won’t own up to it, be grown ass women and articulate, If only as a kindness, as to what exactly happened to end it. Being that some adults (i.e. your “friends “) do not consider other people’s feelings, my best guess for you is that over time people change and outgrow friendships. Either you have outgrown them or they have outgrown you, either way something is not working for them and they did not have the common courtesy to explain this to you.

      • Ariane says:

        Dear, maybe these people were great in the beginning, but now it seems they are acting flaky. I would let these relationships drift away. As I stated in my initial response I have a hunch there’s a hint of jealousy going on here. I retired early myself and you won’t believe how much negativity I’ve received from women who are the same age as myself and still work. I suppose some of these women wished that they were in my shoes. Well, if these people aren’t mature enough to talk to about what the problem is exactly then don’t waste anymore time with them. Don’t keep approaching them or calling them or texting them trying to pry an explaination out of them. If they were true friends you wouldn’t be here posting. If they contact you and are ready and willing to explain what the heck is going on, then give them that opportunity, otherwise, don’t contact them. Sue is probably the one that stirred all this nonsense up. I wouldn’t doubt her bad-mouthing you to the other women. That’s my hunch. Find other retired women to replace these drama queens as friends.

    • Ariane says:

      Once you see people truly as they are you can make a better decision about whether they should or should not be in your life.

  7. Maddie says:

    The other women are allowed to meet without your permission. The remaining women still having lunch with you were being kind and at that point accepted you. They have the right to remain friends with whomever they want. I disagree with the mean girl categorization. Now you are down another friendship. You are correct in admitting you have worn people out. People are allowed to have lunch with others and choose whom they want to spend time with. Policing other people’s friendships that do not include you will leave you very lonely.

    • Erika says:

      I agree any group of friends can see whoever they want, but in this case it was deliberately kept secret, which is not cool.
      Especially for many years.
      If they were being “worn out” with the one person’s problems why not say so or end the friendship then instead of carrying on as if all is well.

    • Denise says:

      Your comment is mostly rude.

      There’s no hint of Pat asking or wanting permission and has not worn out anyone as far as what she wrote. She’s not policing other people’s friendships, simply found out that she’s been excluded for years with no explanation. Part of the definition of friendship is kindly telling the other person why she’s not included, not being secretive and letting her find out or figure it out.

    • Fi✨ says:

      Maddie, I can tell by your response that you’re such a twat. Yes of course she bloody well knows these women are free to meet without her. It’s the sneaking around and hiding it… then getting mad AT HER for asking why they didn’t tell her. They were NOT being nice. They are being twats just like you. I’ve never understood when there are more than 2 women getting together doing something fun, why not invite whoever wants to join?! What is this bull crap of socially isolating those who want to be connected with you? If there ARE issues, then as the friends who were “being kind” (ha, that’s a laugh), it’s up to THEM to be grownups and tell the other individual why she’s not included. If they fecking cared about her, they’d want her to improve herself to be a better person & continue as a true part of the group. To know that’s she’s sad, hurt & wanting to know “why” and then to not say anything shows a self absorbency of a low moral character. Just like the way you sound Maggie Baggie

  8. Denise says:

    Wow, to find out that for years 3 so-called friends have excluded you from lunches…So actually, years ago they stopped being your friends and wouldn’t tell you what they saw as a problem. No one thought it would be kind and considerate to talk with you about it.

    The first thing you say, I don’t believe is true: I have driven a good friend away. And for the one lady to say “I can never win with you” sounds ridiculous.

    They exclude you without explanation, leaving you in the dark to make assumptions or guess. This situation is another example where the word “friend” doesn’t apply.

    I wouldn’t try to continue a friendship with them. They’ve shown you they don’t want to include you and I hope you soon find people who actually want to spend time with you.

  9. Ariane says:

    She did you a favor by showing you who she really is. When folks show you what they are really made of believe them. Ditch this woman and the group and find folks that aren’t going to be passive aggressive with you if there is a problem. Mature, decent folks verbalize if there is a problem; they don’t use the passive aggressive route. People who do that are socially and emotionally inept meaning they have a hard time dealing with conflict directly or just dealing with conflict period. It could be a jealousy situation as well. For whatever reason or reasons these folks aren’t for you.

  10. Oh God says:

    Just let it go….their expectations are different than yours. You can’t change them but you can change YOU!

  11. True Story says:

    Someone did this to me 3 years ago. One day, I saw a photo of them on Facebook having a dinner and did stuff together. I was crushed.
    I moved on and found new friends. Their loss not mine. It is about them not me. I found out that they didn’t like the way I defend one of the staff in the office. Childish but..hey…life is too short to be bitter.

  12. Katey says:

    been there had that done to me, it hurts.
    I would just let the 3 of them go, you may be doing something they don’t like and that’s hard to think of why.

    calling it mean girl or cliquey is perhaps too easy,
    for what ever reason they don’t want to socialize with the OP, should they just to be nice and not mean girls? that’s even worse.

  13. Lua says:

    Ouch, that’s not nice! If you want to continue hanging out with these women, just let it go. But they excluded you for a reason. Are you willing to put up with that? As the saying goes, with friends like that, who needs enemies? Cliquey mean girl behavior does not go away. Sorry you are going through this. Try to find other people to hang around.

  14. Lizzie says:

    Ouch, that would definitely hurt! I think you may have to consider the painful possibility that the other two ladies in your group feel the same way… as they all agreed to met without you (for years, as you said).

    If you can truly accept this kind of ‘friendship’ from them, then a (fake) “light hearted” approach may be the best way to move forward in this situation. Pretend you do not know this painful truth and go on meeting with them, taking what they are willing to offer. You may, however, eventually want to take a step back and take a look at who these people really are, and decide if they are a good fit for YOU. Then begin the process of looking for more honest people.

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