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Slowly Being Excluded From An Adult Clique: What Could Have Happened?

Published: July 26, 2021 | Last Updated: February 11, 2023 By | 307 Replies Continue Reading
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It’s painful to be rejected by an adult clique. When the reasons aren’t obvious, you may want to dig deeper to find out what’s happened.



I am looking for some advice on an adult clique of female friends that seems to be rejecting me. I have mixed with a group of 7 or 8 women in my hometown since my oldest child was in kindergarten and she is now nine years old. 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 book my own room on recent girls weekend while 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. My 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 from this adult clique 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 like I am at the bottom of the hierarchy.

Any advice? I’m 38 years old.

Signed, Sharon


Hi Sharon,

It’s hard to know what’s going on with this adult clique. It could be that your group of friends is less welcoming and pulling away from you (although the reasons why aren’t obvious). You could also be 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 has 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

Also on The Friendship Blog:

Feeling Left Out Of A Group Of Families

Left Out Of A Friend Group After 35 Years

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Comments (307)

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  1. Becky says:

    I go through the same problem.I am 34 years old and i have been friends with a group of ladies for close to 20 years now.Throughout the years i have discovered they deliberately exclude me from outings,discussions etc.There is one in particular who seems to be the leader of the clique whereas she is the youngest amongst us.She wants everyone to love and respect her and always makes sure am kept aside.She always looks for ways to run me down or disrespect me.Several times i have come close to asking her what her problem is with me,or just plain slapping her.I have known these ladies for long how do i deal with feeling like an outsider among my own friends

    • Irene says:

      Sorry this group has turned out to be uncomfortable. One bad apple can spoil any group. The only suggestion I can give you is to try to avoid direct one-on-one contact with this individual. Also, built upon your relationships with other group members where they affection and respect is more mutual. Though I know that this hurts.

  2. Laura says:

    I’m not so sure that I agree with this advice. Her “friend group” is similar to one I’ve encountered. If something did happen and they didn’t have a mature conversation about it then it really is on them. You tell her not to pull away but is she supposed to accept this kind of treatment? “Don’t confront” well ok…but begging for time with them when they treat her as an option seems demoralizing. I wouldn’t suggest she continue investing time in this group.

  3. Lauren says:

    About 30 years ago, a group of my friends began gushing about a wedding they attended that weekend, especially the waterfront reception. It was the first I’d heard about the wedding. I’d known the couple as long as everyone else, but wasn’t invited and apparently, deliberately kept out of the loop. All these years later, they continue to have these happy couples events that get mentioned on Facebook. I can clearly see their pattern of keeping things for couples only. I’ve had some serious mental health issues over the years and wonder if that’s the reason she in particular distances me. I’ve never had a partner, struggled finding work and honestly, am the least accomplished of everyone. 63 now, everyone around me has settled into their families, children and grandchildren. Anyone that might be single and accepted among the married couples are those who 1. are partnered, 2. have children/grandchildren, 3. had a good career. I’ve none of things.

    Being excluded really is terrible.

    • Irene says:

      Hi Lauren,

      I can imagine your hurt.
      Some people tend to narrow their social ties to people who are “just like them,” whether it’s being partnered, having grandchildren, or being able to talk about their accomplishments.
      Perhaps, it would be helpful for you to take some steps to broaden your circle of friends so you don’t have to feel left out by these people.
      Thanks for writing.

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