In my advice column #DearKarin I offer to help with some questions and dilemma’s. Today’s question is about what to do when we feel left out of our friendship group.
I’m having friend problems.
I’m considered one of the popular kids at my college, and I know a lot of people, but these three girls are my main group of friends. Two of the three I have known since elementary school, and the other since middle school.
They’re all such nice people, and I really enjoy spending time with them, but they are all way closer with each other than they are with me. I am often not invited to parties and they often push me out of things unintentionally.
I don’t want to give up our friendship, but I also don’t want to make it awkward by trying to force my way into the inner circle.
I know it sounds like a minor problem, but because they’ve been my main source of friendship from childhood onward, it really brings me down that they all get along so well without me around.
I feel really depressed, and especially since the problem involves only them, I feel like I have nobody to talk to. How can I get closer to them? What should I?
(20th October 2019)
Thanks for writing in and explaining a bit about what’s happening for you regards problems with your friendship group.
I hope that my response can help you to work out, how you want to approach this situation.
Here are some thoughts prompted by what you are saying. I not sure how much of this applies to your circumstances. For that I don’t know enough. But it might help you put it into perspective.
Four general points to consider
1. Growing into who we are
You did not mention your age, but I assume you may be in your late teens – early 20s? This is a formative time (like in our earlier teens) when we develop a greater sense of who we are – our identity. It can mean that we start to form different friendship connections.
That can also mean, that we may be at the receiving end of others forming different connections – with different people or changes in the friendships even with people we have known for a long time.
When that happens, we may doubt others and ourselves (eg “what’s wrong with me? …”). This can happen even when we are popular.
And there does not need to be anything “wrong” with us. Others might go through changes that attract them more to other people. And of course, that’s not nice and it can be upsetting.
Ask any adult, and they may have experienced something similar. I certainly have, and it can hurt and be confusing. And sadly such experiences can carry on throughout our life time.
It is really important how we deal with such disappointing experiences.
2. Developing self worth and self confidence
I hear you don’t want to rock the boat. You say:
- They are “nice people”, who do what they do “unintentionally”.
- You don’t want to make things “awkward” by “forcing” yourself onto them.
- This is “a minor” problem.
I wonder, are you protecting them and are afraid of conflict?
Clearly, the situation is bothering you and it is not minor, why else would you reach out for help?
I am saying this in order to encourage you to connect with your sense of self worth. Or if that is hard, then take this current experience to help you grow your sense of self worth.
That does not mean “demanding’ attention or “forcing” yourself onto them.
I means acknowledging, that what is happening is of concern to you and you are entitled to address this in the hope of finding a resolution.
3. Talking about it
If they are good friends, you have invested in the friendship and would like to keep them, then how about speaking with one or all of them about it? Letting them know how you feel?
Not in a way that can be taken as an accusation; but more as a question?
Because as you say, they may not be aware of how their actions affect you.
4. Don’t fear the truth
Sometimes we don’t want to rock the boat or see people for who they are, because it could mean having to realise and accept a difficult truth.
Perhaps what is happening is a reflection of friends growing apart. That can hurt a lot, when we are the ones “left behind”. It can make us feel isolated, uncomfortable and doubting ourselves.
But you, just like the next person, have self worth. You are valuable. But sadly this does not mean that people treat us well.
But it does mean that you can choose to make changes when you feel you deserve better.
It is our responsibility to make choices and to take care of who we are and who we want to become.
I think it is really important how you deal with this.
It can be an opportunity for you to learn an important lesson in coping with inter-personal issues. On the other hand, it can also be a moment where you can lose self confidence – if you let it.
I said earlier on, that such friendship group issues can happen throughout our life time. Therefore, dealing with them can also become a pattern. We can adopt helpful or less helpful ways of dealing with such situations.
None of it is easy, but suffering in silence and putting up with hurt can impact our emotional wellbeing and our mindset. It can damage our quality of life, our motivation, achievements and productivity. I wonder, has this impacted your performance at college?
You don’t have to suffer in silence. You, too, have choices. And perhaps it is time to start making more friends and accepting we all can have a range of different type of friendships – more or less intense.
I hope these thoughts are of some assistance, Kaiya, and I wish you well.
(27th October 2019)
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