Friend dumped?
March 17, 2011 11:04 AM   Subscribe

Have I been friend dumped, and is there anything I can do about it?

I moved to a new city less than a year ago. I had some old friends from my home state here, and I started hanging with them and their friend group, some of whom were also my colleagues at my new workplace (not people I work with directly or see every day). I felt pretty connected to this group and got lots of invitations to do things with them at first, and I really liked all of them and thought they were fun and interesting.

Now after several months it has dried up. I know I was not invited on a group weekend trip recently when I was invited to a similar one in the fall. I recently initiated one or two get-togethers where some of them attended, but no one is reciprocating anymore.

Unless it's just something about me and my personality that is harshing the group's mellow, I'm at a loss. The only other possible explanation is that my former roommate was also part of this group (she was new like me, not an established presence). When things went south with her as a roommate I covered all my responsibilities but got out quickly after I saw negative things she posted publicly about me online. She had boundary/appropriateness issues and obviously enjoys gossip and I wonder if she spread some sort of rumor about me.

Do I pull aside one of the members of the group I know best and ask what's up? I don't even need to mention crazy former roommate I think, because her issues will out themselves eventually, but I would like the opportunity to correct anything blatantly false she said about me. It's possible that they've decided not to deal with either me or former roommate if they think having either one of us around is a recipe for drama. I have been very careful not to ever say anything about her, to the point where people were surprised to learn I moved out. I guess they don't want to choose one of us since it's clear we don't hang out anymore, but I did what I could to minimize any drama from my end. I don't think they're inviting former roommate to things anymore either.

If it's just me, and these people decided they don't like me that much, then asking why I wasn't invited on the trip will just seem needy and weird and will only make it worse. Do I keep trying to stay on their radar and hope time smooths things over, or do I give up? It would suck to concede these good people to former roommate if that's what the deal is, but I don't even know.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (21 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
As a person who's moved through several circles of friends over her lifetime, indeed ending up back in with some and out again later on, I would say move on. The friends who are worth fretting about like this are the ones who don't let you just slide away, they reciprocate.

So smile, hold your head high when you run into these people and show them you still like them still, but really you'll find it more worthwhile in the long run to start fostering new friendships elsewhere. Then if these people only invite you out in a blue moon, you've got other friends to hang with as well, and you won't care as much if those old friends of yours are infrequent in your life.
posted by lizbunny at 11:09 AM on March 17, 2011 [9 favorites]

If you want to get back in with this group, make plans to hang out one-on-one with a couple of the people you were closest to. Don't grill them about the past, just get back on their radar and see what happens.
posted by milk white peacock at 11:18 AM on March 17, 2011 [3 favorites]

If it was me, I would ask. In the most drama-free way possible.

And I would do it in person, so they don't have time to collaborate with anyone on a "safe" response. I don't think there's anything wrong with saying something like: "I know it's awkward to ask, but I have felt excluded from the group's plans lately, and I just wanted to know if there's anything I can do to get on better terms with them. Or do you think I should just let it go? Please be honest."

Then again, I don't have a very good batting average for these things lately...
posted by hermitosis at 11:20 AM on March 17, 2011 [4 favorites]

I'd give it a little time for things to get back to normal (which is hard when you have possibly been wronged and can't do anything about it). Keep initiating things now and then to keep yourself in their minds. If you stop initiating, they may assume you don't want to see them. They may also be waiting to see if you restore the balance of their invites to your invites. The lack of invites could also be for unrelated reasons (logistics, etc.). Sounds like you are handling the ex-roommate well by not speaking ill of her. Try to get out and cultivate other interests/friends in the meantime. People want positive, self-sufficient types as friends. Be that person. If they don't respond, ah well.

Patience will win the day (if the day can be won).
posted by griselda at 11:20 AM on March 17, 2011

I wouldn't necessarily assume that it's anything you did. I had something similar happen to me, but then after a while got back into a bit more regular contact with one person out of the group (let's call him Sid) and he and I did a few things on our own. After a while I finally asked him "so I never hear from Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice any more, what's up with that?"

And it turned out that Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice had kind of done a slow fade on everyone, not just me; Bob and Carol just got caught up with their PhD's and Ted and Alice got married and got into their own thing ("they turned into mole people," Sid joked). As for Sid, he'd just gone through a sort of quarter-life-crisis phase and that's why he dropped out. Today I barely hear from Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, because they've all gotten into the "nesting couples" mode, and Sid and I hang out now and then, and that's just that. I periodically include Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice on any mass-mailings of "hey, who wants to see such-and-such a movie" or "hey, I'm having an open house" or whatever, and leave it at that. I stopped expecting them; if they show, it's just a nice surprise.

I'd leave the door open, including them on the occasional invite, but not hanging all your hopes on them; if someone comes back into your radar maybe you can ask, but I wouldn't be surprised if this wasn't just a "shit just happens" kind of situation.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:38 AM on March 17, 2011 [3 favorites]

Do not ask why you were not invited, just move on. If there's someone from the group who was cool who you want to hang out with, just ask them. I think it's easy to get into a habit of viewing a group of people as a unit. Some individuals may not be thrilled to hear from you but if they aren't, move on.
posted by kat518 at 12:08 PM on March 17, 2011 [6 favorites]

If i were to ask, I'd make plans with someone I felt good about, and just say," I get a weird vibe from the gang lately. Did I step on somebody's toes? I'd hate to think I behaved badly. "
posted by theora55 at 12:27 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Nthing that it could just be coincidence and timing and this might not have anything to do with the roommate drama.

Whatever the cause, sometimes people just come in and out of your life. I can't see how confronting anyone, even in the most innocuous and polite way possible, will further your cause!

Your energy is better spent finding new relationships.

Especially when you are new to a place, the folks you fall in with initially don't always end up as long-term friends. Really.

Lastly... if the roommate drama did leave a bad taste in anyone's mouth, and especially if roommate told lies about you... that train has left the station. If someone has a personal example to share where they have successfully set the record straight, I'd LOVE to hear it. 99.9% of the time, you really can't undo this sort of damage. You may have been tarnished with the same brush as your ex roommate, and there is usually little to no incentive for folks to go back in time with you and start from scratch. Your best bet is to learn from this, identify folks like your ex-roommate better in the future, and protect yourself accordingly. It's happened to everyone at one time or another. There is no shame in learning the hard way.
posted by jbenben at 12:33 PM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

I know I was not invited on a group weekend trip recently when I was invited to a similar one in the fall. I recently initiated one or two get-togethers where some of them attended, but no one is reciprocating anymore.

Give this time. When I think this, invariably, I'm basically making it up in my head. Keep having get togethers and see what happens.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:54 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Invite the people you really enjoy to get-togethers but only for the pleasure of their company, not in an attempt to prove yourself. Begin moving on from the situation.

I've been in this situation--after a breakup an ex and his friends talked trash about me to mutual friends and acquaintances and unfortunately their word was taken as good. Attempts to salvage the situation were useless and I just came off as desperate and crazy. I moved on, formed new friend groups, and stopped worrying about it. Interestingly enough, backing off and the passage of time has led some of the old acquaintances to realize the accusations were baseless. It does suck in the meantime, and you'll never be able to recover everything.
posted by schroedinger at 1:02 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would just let it go.
I would not confront the situation.

If you confronted one of them and they really just didn't care to hang out with you, they would most likely just say, "oh man, I don't know. Charlie made the plans... I didn't even know about it until the last minute" or "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't think you would enjoy it."

Then they would feel bad and invite you to something out of pity.

No one is going to say, "look man, you're really boring... and we didn't want you ruining our fun time."

Of course, I'm not saying this is the case. Sometimes stuff like this happens. I have two groups of friends... and it's always like this. I think that's mainly because we're all lazy and socially retarded though.
posted by KogeLiz at 1:13 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

maybe the group invited your roommate... and they decided not to invite you because of potential drama?
posted by KogeLiz at 1:15 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, and something to remember that helped me: if I were confronted with someone who was talking shit about one of my friends I would defend my friend, and if the accusations seriously upset me I would privately ask the friend about the situation. People who do not do that simply enjoy the drama of gossip and/or don't actually give enough of a shit about you to get your side of the story. They're not worth your time.

Similarly, if this is a "drama-avoidance" measure that turns out with them consistently hanging out with your ex-roomie over you, then again, they don't give that much of a shit and aren't worth your time.
posted by schroedinger at 1:20 PM on March 17, 2011 [4 favorites]

Are these people still friends with/hanging out with the former roommate? If that's not the case (I am guessing it might be), I suspect it's kind of a linked situation here: ex-roommate brings Teh Drama, and/or that might lead them to want to avoid you.

Honestly, I never know what to say in these situations, it's awkward if you say something (very few people will tell you that they've dropped you), and if there's work ties it's even more awkward.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:50 PM on March 17, 2011

I wonder if it's just that the new group was excited by having someone new (you) around, so invited you here and there, but then when the excitement faded, they kind of went back to their routine way of socializing mainly with each other. It's hard to tell -- you don't say how long they were a group for before you -- but I can imagine this happening; like they're married to each other but were dating you?

(Which says nothing about you, just the central gravitational pull of what the group has long been used to; that is to say, habit).
posted by PersonAndSalt at 2:24 PM on March 17, 2011

Absolutely what schroedinger said. I wouldn't care for someone talking bad about a friend and would gently figure out what the deal was, so at least I was informed on both opinions (not that I'd pick just one to be my friend, but I'd gladly tell the bitching party they aren't 100% right and the scapegoat party that I liked them and wanted them around, and if I could facilitate a cease fire, I would). But in reality, I have found that the majority of people are very, very cowardly about personal conflicts in a group and put their blinders on, continuing on the easiest and most beneficial course for them, which is usually to go with the loudest voice (which is sad, especially for introverts who tend to withdraw). If you are single or new to a group, you are operating from a position of scarcity and they are operating from a position of abundance. They don't have incentive to see that the right thing is done. Leadership, I guess. People don't want to take leadership.

It sucks that if you want friends who will stick up for you in the smallest ways, you will have a very small social circle. But perhaps it is better to find a few solid friends that have your back.
posted by griselda at 2:24 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Find some new friends. Wait. See if this resolves itself on its own.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:03 PM on March 17, 2011

if it was me in your place, i would definitely pull one person aside and calmly and undefensively ask what was up. i would want to know if my behaviour had offended someone, or if people had forgotten me, or whatever. this may change nothing, but at least you will have done everything you could. at this point, it sounds like you have nothing to lose by trying to find out what the problem is.

good luck! these things are hard.
posted by andreapandrea at 5:09 PM on March 17, 2011

I feel for you, this is a hard situation to be in. You've got nothing to lose by asking someone what happened. But if they are backing away from you, it is unlikely they will want to be honest about it. You will probably get a "safe" response and they will continue to keep their distance. Still, I think you should ask because you need to for yourself.
posted by conrad53 at 4:44 AM on March 18, 2011

I've moved around a lot and had to make new friends every few years and from my experience it's sometimes just better to cut your losses and move on to making new friendships. I am sort of going through this now - moved cross country to somewhere where I knew one friend from school, hung out with their group, ended up being roommates with 2 of them after my original friend moved out of town, but finally realized.... these people aren't really my friends. We have things in common but none of us ever really clicked as true friends and their lives are going very different directions than mine.

I don't feel like my time with that group of people was wasted or anything, and of course the roommate part adds to Teh Drama, but the sooner you move on the sooner you will find people you click with. It's hard but it's not personal. You have your life and they have theirs.
posted by bradbane at 7:44 PM on March 19, 2011

I feel that all of the "move on" "find some new friends" advice is well intentioned but easier said than done. And I completely disagree. It's HARD to find new friends when you are an adult. And if you really liked this group of people, it is kind of sad to move on and find new friends. Also this advice assumes that the O.P. is not at fault, but maybe, O.P. you have offended them in some way and you want to know about it, which is fair enough.

I think you should ask one of them who you feel most comfortable with if there is anything you have done that has pissed them off. You will never know unless you ask. And if they are great people then it's worth finding out what they think of you. You know? Ask them to be really honest, and try to listen openly to what they say.

That's how people improve themselves. It's like when all of your ex lovers have a particular complaint about you, at some point you have to take a look at yourself and say okay, I AM bossy, or I AM too critical, or whatever. (Yes I speak from personal experience!) And then if you want to be a better person, you endeavour to change that aspect of your personality.

It's extremely hard to hear negative shit about yourself, but ultimately worth it in the long run. Nobody wants to hear what their biggest problem is, but if you want people that you like to like you, sometimes you gotta do what you can to find out, and better yourself.
posted by saturn~jupiter at 7:04 AM on March 20, 2011

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