Dumped and dumb enough to ask why. Help!
March 19, 2011 5:34 PM   Subscribe

Wish I'd read Friend Dumped first. What to do if you if you've been in the same situation but screwed it up even further?

This question essentially is the same scenario that happened to me. However, I wish I'd been like the OP and asked for advice before I acted.

Recently at my new job, I was invited to be a part of a group every day for several weeks. I thought things were going well until suddenly I felt "dumped." I should have just let it go but I was dumb enough to go ask if there was an issue. I did my best to be light-hearted about it but I wish I'd read KogeLiz's advice on Friend Dumped before I opened my big mouth. If it's bad they don't want to tell you the truth, obviously.

I asked one of them in a friendly and non-confrontational way but I'm certain I got a polite lie. I've gotten invites since that seem sincere from one person in the group but really awkward from the person I asked. I've sucked it up and joined the group a couple of times since but that one person clearly feels uncomfortable around me.

I even brought another friend to join us but she felt unwelcome by this person and quickly left. I followed suit. Since then, I've been busy hanging out with other people. The friendlier person in the group keeps trying to include me and I think feels caught in the middle.

I fear that I basically made that them feel like they *have* to invite me to every friggin' thing which is not at all was I was going for. Worse, I can definitely tell that the one of them blabbed to a couple of co-workers who once liked me but now act like I'm a slimy, dead fish. I'm new I don't want to have gossip about me already! This sucks and I'm going to have to muddle through this somehow. I have to work closely with these folks and can't just avoid them. That would be weird.

Please give me advice on damage control. I don't want to screw this up further. Just so you know, I have other friends that I spent time with before and after this disaster. I don't think I was clingy but I am a little more nervous than usual around new people and I'm sure it shows. At past jobs, people would cut me some slack on this and I grew to be well-liked at work.

More importantly, how do I stop feeling like a dumbass?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Some offices are just high drama or gossipy or otherwise difficult to interface with.

Honestly, in my experience the best thing to do is just act as normally as possible and wait for it to blow over. If you actively try and rebuild burned bridges you'll probably just dig yourself in even deeper. Just be kind, friendly and easy to work with. If you're invited along for something, go along if you want and politely decline if you don't. Better yet, initiate plans yourself with the coworkers you do get along with.

Office socializing is important, but it isn't worth driving yourself crazy like this.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 5:54 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Lay low and let this blow over. Eventually Sally will come to the office with her hair dyed a fashionable shade of maroon, or Mike will decide that t-shirts featuring bikini-clad ladies are appropriate office attire, and the herd will move onto another source of gossip.

In the meantime, graciously decline invitations, citing prior engagements (no need be more specific) when you're invited to group things, and invite the one person who still seemed cool to do stuff occasionally one-on-one.

You shouldn't feel like a dumbass. You were being honest and direct, and that is generally a very good thing. If you're having a tough time not feeling stupid, try to get a little busier for the next few weeks. Plan hikes, go to that new art museum in town, and have a lot on your plate. You'd be amazed by how good that sort of thing is for helping you forget acting silly.
posted by arnicae at 6:06 PM on March 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

So sorry you are going through this, OP. It sucks.

Narrative Priorities and arnicae have it dead on, I think. Try to be very positive and keep busy and let it roll off you.
posted by griselda at 6:09 PM on March 19, 2011

Is the friendly person also a direct & honest person, or is the friendly person just polite? I mean, can you approach the friendly person and kind of explain things? Maybe that person knows the group better. But I agree with the others. I am sure it was just all a misunderstanding and that time will take care of it. Lay low, do things outside this group (but don't ignore them), and it will blow over eventually.
posted by aabbbiee at 6:50 PM on March 19, 2011

The advice above is a good way to let the bone heal, as it were, but I'd decide if you need to disinfect the wound first. How did you leave it with Awkward Person? Because (I doubt this but) if you were like "why don't you guys like me anymore?? *sob* You fucking assholes!!" then you might want to go back to them and explain that there is an emotionally volatile robot imitator impersonating you and to disregard anything out of the ordinary that "you" do or have done, and/or apologize.

But yeah, otherwise, I'd just chill and people will get over it and figure out that you're cool over time. Sorry that in the meantime you have fewer social options.
posted by salvia at 9:07 PM on March 19, 2011

It's awkward, but it's not the end of the world. It's not even the end of hanging out with these people, though it is, unfortunately, be the end of any hopes that this will be "your crew" and will lead to lasting friendships. It's not great news, but you've got to look elsewhere and find things to do, places to go, people to meet.

You've got to start turning down around 50% of invitations from this group of people. Set a goal that your excuses of "previous plans" will not be invented - get a city events calendar and find a bunch of free or cheap things that happen, set a goal involving local restaurants (i.e. find the best (clam chowder/slice of pizza/brewpub IPA) in town, visit all restaurants within an N-block radius of your apartment, etc.), locate a club that has a type of band you like and circle a few dates that you'd be willing to buy tickets, make a list of every pub that has a trivia night and go get a beer, see if a team needs help. Just make plans. Go out and do things. Don't worry about going alone, and try to be open to meeting people wherever you are.
After you're comfortable doing things alone (i.e. not when you're desperate for company and would totally glom on to anybody who accepted), consider responding to an invitation from the group with "oh, no, I can't tomorrow, Wednesdays are my pub quiz night... say, would any of you be interested in coming out with me for trivia next week?" and if there are members of that group who actually do like you, they may well accept. And if they don't, maybe they don't like trivia.

In any case, don't take it personally. Group dynamics are a much much bigger thing than whether you are a likeable fun person or a good friend. You have been screwed over by collective behavior and bad luck, and it's not worth feeling resentful or stupid over. Just try to gracefully move on.
posted by aimedwander at 8:22 AM on March 21, 2011

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