Utterly forgettable
January 23, 2009 11:05 PM   Subscribe

I tend to be forgotten between facetime sessions with friends.

If I'm in front of somebody everything is ok. There's good conversation, tons of laughing, and hours spent having a great time. Unless there's a big conspiracy I have to believe it when people say I'm personable, a good friend, and just plain fun to be around. The problem is that once the facetime is done I disappear. I don't get calls, emails, invitations, or even checked up on via the grapevine. When I ask what's up I'm told in a variety of ways that I just slip minds. This happens more often than not and the size or type of group doesn't matter. This has even happened in a small group where it seemed as though very close bonds were formed because of some very trying times. A group that you would think wouldn't forget a member.

How can I be so memorable and ok to be around and yet not?
posted by @homer to Human Relations (14 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Make calls, send emails and invitations, and check up on your friends first? If everybody waited for everybody to remember them, nobody would have friends.
posted by katillathehun at 11:28 PM on January 23, 2009 [8 favorites]

Since this bothers you and is something that only someone that interacts with you can answer, maybe a good way to find out is to participate in a skills training groups focused on social skills - to get feedback on what you're like to be with.
posted by mirileh at 11:50 PM on January 23, 2009

There's something different about you. They all drink and you don't. They're all married or seeing someone or pursuing, and you're single. They go to church and you don't. They're vegetarians and you eat bbq steak. They love soccer and you're a steelers fan.

I've seen it happen where people were cool, but the other members of a goup just imagined that person was too good for the group - like folks woild be gossiping and doing illicit stuff and of course Mary wouldn't get called because Mary is "so nice".

See if you can find the thread that ties them all together that they may mistakenly think leaves you out.

Or, maybe you have the breath and body odor of a dragon. I've had friends I dreaded hanging around even though they were nice, because they had some kind of embarrasing hygiene issue. The person is great, but the issue gets brought up behind their back and that person somehow starts getting left out cause no one initiates contact with the funk of 40,000 years. Do you have sinus issues? Gas? Do you have a thing against aluminum in deodorant?

Or, related to the first point, you're older (or perhaps younger) than them.
posted by cashman at 12:11 AM on January 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

I feel your pain. Unfortunately I want answers too.

Around my friends I seem to be pretty universally liked, probably because I am a very level kind of guy and good at making sure things go smoothly. I can listen well and I try not to say stupid things and gossip much, but once I'm gone, there's really no communication until I start asking them what they are doing/want to do. No one ever contacts me to see whats going on, even if I usually put stuff together.
posted by jellywerker at 12:13 AM on January 24, 2009

I try not to say stupid things and gossip much

Sometimes gossip and drama are what other people are looking for.
posted by benzenedream at 12:51 AM on January 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I've noticed that this happens to a particular friend of mine, but I genuinely think everyone really really likes him. He does come off a little "cooler" than everyone else- he doesn't drink, isn't a flirty party-guy, tends to steer clear of gossip & drama, and mostly talks only when he has something to say, although he's not shy. So sometimes people probably don't invite him when they're going out to indulge their baser instincts- he's not the dude you think to call when it's a wild night at the bar or you really wanna gossip, even though he wouldn't mind being around people doing either of those things. I think sometimes he feels "forgotten" too. But I will vouch that his entire social circle thinks only good things about him and genuinely cares about him.

His solutions: call around a lot and see what people are doing- then they remember to invite him, and I don't think people interpret it as him being clingy or annoying.
He always contributes- will bring snacks to hang out at friends' houses, drives people home, helps you move, etc., and I know his friends appreciate that.
Get Facebook if your friends are into that. Lots of people only do social invites via FB now and totally forget to call/email the non-FB people.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 1:01 AM on January 24, 2009

I had something like this happen once, and it turned out that these people were actually just friends of a friend of mine. Sure we hung out all the time, drinks, yadda yadda, but at the end of the day, I was just a friend of "Joe." "Joe" likes to be the center of attention, so I was just another friend in his circle, not actually friends with all of these people. By extension, all of my invites to see these people always came through "Joe." This meant I was just an incidental player and so was not an integral part. I could have been anybody.

And I asked about these people with "Joe," I did my part and was curious about them. So my main conclusion wound up being that these people were kind of dicks, already had enough friends, whatever...while I may consider them to be my friends, the feeling was not mutual. So it goes, and I decided to find new friends.
posted by rhizome at 10:12 PM on January 24, 2009

It sounds like you have several distinct groups of friends. Perhaps you are giving each group the impression that the other groups are more important in your life? If your friends assume that when you're not with them, you're hanging out with other, better friends, they won't call you for anything impromptu. And if all your friendship groups do that, well, you won't get any calls at all.

Maybe you could try letting each group know how much you enjoy their company - make it clear they're not your 'B-list' friends. Text them the next day to say "Hey, last night was awesome - thanks for coming out!" And when you plan to meet up with them, plan ahead. If you only ever call them at the last minute, they will assume you're only hanging out with them because nothing better came up. Nobody wants to be your last-resort friend.
posted by [ixia] at 10:49 PM on January 24, 2009

Seconding [ixia], I have a couple of friends that I never invite out.

One group works retail and are always working weekends. I rarely go out during the week, so they fall off the radar just for scheduling conflicts.

And there's this one couple that I think are awesome. But they're exude "OMG I've been so busy with all my friends and family and life". They never ever ever stop. I always assume they have plans weeks in advance, while I tend to decide what I'm doing Saturday night Saturday afternoon. I usually leave the ball in their court, and I'm sure that can look like I don't value the friendship.

Be aggressive. I just got done traveling for work for four months, and fell off a lot of radars. What I've been doing to ease back into a social life is seeking out a lot of one-on-one "dates". Contact people and say "hey it's been too long, let's catch up." Make them know that it's not just a social circle, it's the individual people, and they're not just "b-list" friends. Slowly but surely I'm back to getting invites.
posted by politikitty at 10:25 AM on January 25, 2009

I don't think most people are very good about keeping contact. So katillathehun nailed your problem. I've also found that people upset by other people not calling are either (a) being objectionable or (b) using their friends for an ego boost.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:28 AM on January 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Find some new friends?

I call mine based on whatever activity I'm doing. There are some that I'd never want to be around with at an art show or at a walk in the woods. There are some that I know will race to the front of the pit at a rock show with me. There are some that are totally depressed and would suck to drink with - get it?

So... I guess focus on what you want to do, call someone and if they decline go anyway - it's a lot better than waiting by the phone and developing neuroses. Plus, you are your own best friend. Sounds cliche but it means you'll never be alone (in a sense) and you can always have fun.
posted by HolyWood at 11:16 AM on January 25, 2009

Response by poster: I get things going myself. If I didn't there would be nobody around and I wouldn't have a problem. ;) It seems like the description pseudostrabismus posted pretty much describes me. I think I really don't want to seem too clingy by calling or emailing often. I don't want to go from welcomed into the realm of tolerated because "we have to invite him." I'll crank things up a little more and see what happens. It's nice to know there are others in the same situation.
posted by @homer at 1:54 PM on January 25, 2009

I think part of your problem may be that you're trying to establish and define your connection to a group (or groups) of people, instead of establishing connections with individuals. Thing is, there really isn't any such thing as a group, at least not in the sense of it being some entity you can actually have a relationship with.

People who feel like outsiders often anthropomorphize groups in this way. I've been there -- I've done it myself! From the outside, you can't see that the group actually consists of a conglomeration of individual relationships, because you're not a part of any of them. The group is a fictional entity.

You'll never be important or interesting enough to a group for the group to call you for events and activities, because a group, being fictional, has no priorities or interests, nor can it pick up the phone or send an email. Only individuals in the group can, and you have to be interesting or important enough to one of them for them to go out of their way to get in touch. Groups can't "forget a member", because groups have no minds or memories. Only individual persons do.

Like previous posters have mentioned, making contact yourself is a big help, but please don't think of yourself as connecting with a group -- be genuinely interested in the individuals you're contacting, and don't see them as mere conduits to get to be part of the group. Otherwise, they will definitely sense it, and noone likes to feel used in that way.

It can get even worse when someone so strongly believes in the fictional entity of the group that they come to depend on the group to help them out when they're in a jam, and then, whoops! Turns out you can only actually depend on individuals, and you better have cultivated a relationship with them personally if you ever need their help.
posted by slappy_pinchbottom at 6:47 AM on January 26, 2009 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I definitely see my friends as individuals and still have the same experience of being forgotten after the facetime ends. I shouldn't have stressed the group aspect as much as I did. Sorry about that.
posted by @homer at 9:31 AM on January 26, 2009

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