Saving Throw Against Depression
September 5, 2014 4:11 PM   Subscribe

Inadvertently/accidentally more-or-less kicked out of gaming group. How to deal with it?

For the last four years or so I've been playing in a weekly RPG group. Recently our GM was forced to move away, and as such we began the task of figuring out "what's next?" This past week, while I was out of town and unable to attend, they decided (among other things) without me to change the night from one I could make with some regularity to one which would make it a lot harder, and impossible for the next month or so: from thursdays to fridays (I'm the only single person in the group, so it affects me the greatest). This has devastated me as I consider them good friends, and I already have a surfeit of social anxieties and insecurities. I was told that it may only last six months or so, but really... at that point hasn't the damage been done?

What really upsets me is the fact that they didn't tell me anything about it until I sent an email asking if we were playing on the previously set day. I wonder if I ever would have heard about it.

I've already told them in no uncertain terms how upsetting and frankly inconsiderate I find the situation, since I wasn't given a chance to react or inform them of how hard it would be for me to play... not to mention how it puts me in a position of being dictated to if I want to continue playing. I am trying not to take it personally, but I'm having trouble not doing so. I honestly don't think they did it on purpose.. I just don't think they were thinking of how it may have affected me. It hasn't stopped me from crying an inordinate amount, however.

As I said I have a number of social anxieties around new people (I only got introduced to this group through another friend who is in the group), so I'm hesitant to try joining a new group especially since finding a good, compatible gaming group can be a bit of a chore. I really just want to play with them, especially because as I said I consider(ed?) them good friends and I rarely get to see them outside of gaming due to their family lives, etc.

I'm just not sure of next steps or how to handle this. I'm kind of beside myself, and don't know how to proceed.
posted by BecauseIHadFiveDollars to Human Relations (22 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If they're all married and have family lives, it could be that playing on a weeknight was very difficult for them. Given that they made this change right after the new school year started lends even more weight to that theory. Monday-Thursday nights are generally shitty for anyone with adult responsibilities.

So while yeah, it's inconvenient for you, it still make sense for the group to play on the night that works best for the majority of the members. A weekend night is going to allow them to play later without shortchanging their kids, spouses, jobs, etc.

If continuing to game with this group is such a priority to you, why can't you free up your Friday nights? The fact that you don't mention work as the reason that Fridays don't work for you but instead mention that you're single suggests to me that you're just scheduling dates on those nights? Why do you feel like your love life should take priority over several other people's family responsibilities?
posted by Jacqueline at 4:35 PM on September 5, 2014 [13 favorites]

So, you seem to be taking this awfully personally. It's not about you---it's not like they decided "let's exclude BecauseIHadFiveDollars by scheduling it for Friday nights". My guess is that they decided hey, we're grownups, and Friday's work/school suffers if we stay up late on Thursday night, so let's do it on a night when we can stay up a little later and don't have to worry about going to work tomorrow.

You get to decide if playing in the gaming group is how you want to spend your Fridays, or if you'd whatever else it is that you have planned for Fridays. That's pretty much how to handle it. But throwing a fit and "[telling them] in no uncertain terms how upsetting and frankly inconsiderate I find the situation" probably didn't help.

Me, I'd probably figure on playing with the gaming group, and then if I had a date, I'd skip that week. But you don't have to go on dates on Fridays either.

I agree it was inconsiderate for them to have not let you know, but, you know, someone probably forgot that you weren't there when they changed things, since usually you're a regular.
posted by leahwrenn at 4:38 PM on September 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

How did they respond when you reached out to them? I think that determines what happens next. FWIW (and obviously, we don't have exactly what you said), telling people "in no uncertain terms" how "frankly inconsiderate" they have been kinda throws down the gauntlet. You give the aggrieving party either the option to take the charged response on the chin and just say "oops, my bad," and change course, or they double down. If they really were not acting out of malice to freeze you out, it's really 50-50 odds whether they apologize or whether they feel blindsided.

In any event, it's either a vote (in which case you'd be voted down) or a fiat; it's hard to plan for a group otherwise. But I think we've all been on the short end of that stick before--I certainly have. It hurts, but 1) friends, even good friends, do dumb things sometimes, and 2) friends have every right to organize their lives and relationships outside of their relationship with you. We're all just fellow travelers. Good luck.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 4:39 PM on September 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

I really struggle with the idea people move in and out of our lives, and when they do move out, if often has nothing to do with us even if it seems so personal. A group has to make decisions together, and sometimes that means a minority is not going to agree. It feels personal, it sucks, but it's actually not personal at all.

Honestly, this brings up not so great memories for me. So I get it more than I wish I did. I feel less hurt though when I seperate myself from the situation and remember it's not about me, just a change in what is good for the group.

What you do from here is up to you. Maybe the stress of figuring out how to come more often isn't worth it, and you decide to stop. Maybe you decide you will view this group more casually and when you can make it, you come but if you miss several meetings, oh well. Or maybe you re-prioritize and try to make it every friday. You know what's best for you. I honestly try to step back and reevaluate my state of mind and my relationships with the involved people when this happens. The stress of not feeling included is often not worth it for me.
posted by Aranquis at 4:55 PM on September 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

I totally understand that this is hard on you, but the world doesn't revolve around you. Your needs as someone with social anxiety do not give you some sort of clout that negates the needs of everyone else in the game. You are choosing to live your life as a victim right now; how different would your perception of this situation be if you stopped doing that and chose a more neutral, impersonal stance about what's happened? I bet you'd find that the degree to which you've allowed yourself to view yourself as victimized by social situations would suddenly seem much less helpful and conducive to living your life as fully and wholly as you can. Your stuff is your stuff to deal with it. You're being immature right now, and your response, while understandable given your history and background, is still a gross overreaction to what is still a salvageable situation! Put yourself in their shoes and start considering all the possible non-rude reasons why this happened on their end. Don't let social anxiety take over this particular part of your life right now.
posted by Hermione Granger at 4:57 PM on September 5, 2014 [26 favorites]

I'm a little confused as to why being single means you suddenly can't make it on Fridays. If hanging out with these people is a priority, then maybe if you want to ask someone out you ask them if they're free on Saturday? But yeah, this seems to be taking it weirdly personally. My gaming group met on Sundays for awhile. Then we ended up on Saturdays for a bit and one person, R, was always working and couldn't come. And now we're back on Sundays and R's back. I get that it's hard to lose one part of your social life if you don't have a lot of social life and you have some level of anxiety, I'm much the same way, but the way to fix this is by not having all your eggs in one basket, not by expecting them to accommodate you over other people.
posted by Sequence at 5:00 PM on September 5, 2014 [6 favorites]

Telling them "in no uncertain terms how upsetting and frankly inconsiderate" they were could make it harder for anyone to respond. They might get defensive.

Is there one member of the group you could talk to privately, to let them know how hurt you were by the change, and how it plays into your social anxieties? It might be easier to deescalate and resolve things that way, and find something mutually agreeable.
posted by alms at 5:01 PM on September 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also, you weren't kicked out of the group. You have a scheduling incompatibility that is going to make it difficult for you to attend for a while. Don't make leaps of logic in order to reach extreme conclusions.
posted by Hermione Granger at 5:02 PM on September 5, 2014 [29 favorites]

Ok first, no matter what happened, you are in emotional pain and should take care of yourself. Make sure you practice self-care right now. Treat yourself to a movie. Call and spend time with people who 100% care about you. Buy yourself that book that just came out by your favorite author.

So there are a couple things going on here. One is the logistical problem, one is the emotional problem.

Re: the logistical problem, it sounds like a major social activity in your life is going away, at least for a while. Acknowledge this fact and figure out a new fun thing you can do instead on Thursday nights. This can be a good opportunity to diversify your social life a bit so you're not so dependent on a group of people who, at the very least, aren't super thoughtful.

Re: the emotional problem - this is the harder and more subjective issue. This could have been a clueless oversight, a brain fart on their part. (Maybe they thought, Friday nights are free for everyone, so BecauseIHadFiveDollars will definitely be able to come!) Or it could have been a passive-aggressive dis that came after months of below-the-radar exclusion that you could never pinpoint but nonetheless felt. None of us can tell you which it was. However, it seems like you chose the second conclusion immediately and had a publicly emotional response. This assumption of bad intentions may have solidified any "us versus BecauseIHadFiveDollars" vibes that were already happening in the group and put the group members on the defensive. If I was in the group and my clueless mistake resulted in you assuming that I meant ill towards you (and telling me in an emotional way), I would be really reluctant to engage with you again.

My advice would be to privately talk to the friend who invited you to join the group -- without expressing more emotion than "Gee, I really love the RPG group and I'll miss the meetings -- what do you think happened to get to this point?" and get their take on the situation. If that friend assures you that the decision was not personal, and the group members continue to email you about group meetings/include you in their games, I think you should take them at their word and come when you can. If the group does a slow fade over the next few months, chalk this up to a learning experience and find people who deserve your awesomeness!
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 5:02 PM on September 5, 2014 [16 favorites]

BTW I want to acknowledge the possibility that group members *did* have ill intentions. I don't think it's particularly helpful to roll my eyes and assure you that the group didn't mean to exclude you. Exclusive behavior by groups is a thing that happens sometimes. I've encountered exclusionary behavior before that is so subtle that it's impossible to describe -- but it's there. And it hurts. So if that's really the case, you're better off without them. However, you said you "already have a surfeit of social anxieties and insecurities" so it sounds like there's a better chance that they mean well, just executed clumsily.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 5:09 PM on September 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

It does seem pretty inconsiderate to not talk to everyone involved before moving the time. If I were you, I'd be upset, too. It would make me feel invisible and not wanted- even if they didn't seek to exclude me, they didn't consider that they might be doing exactly that. Of course this speaks to my own social anxieties.

rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto covers everything I would have said. It's very good advice.
posted by BungaDunga at 5:34 PM on September 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Try to avoid assuming anything bad about people's motives. The wouldn't have changed the day of the meetings unless at least 50% were in favor. Since they have similar demands on their time, it's unlikely that the vote would have gone your way if you'd been there.

I do think it was really inconsiderate that nobody thought to let you know. My feelings would be hurt if I'd been in your shoes. But if you bring it up, somebody's going to say, "Well, you did find out, though, so there's no harm done." If that sort of slight is common in the group, you'd want to weigh whether the good outweighs the bad. If group members generally treat you as they'd like to be treated, then you ought to just let this go.

Since you're not going to be with them for an entire month, communicate with one group member, say you're going to join back up in 4 weeks, and ask them if they'd let you know if any more changes happen during that time. Then contact that person the week before you plan to go to another meeting.

All said, this is just one example of how the schedules of the single often don't mesh well with those of the married-with-children...and vice versa.
posted by wryly at 5:34 PM on September 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

I am trying not to take it personally, but I'm having trouble not doing so.
I think the focus should not be on what to do about the group, and more on figuring out why you're framing this as you have and how you can manage this sort of thing with less intensity in the future. Easier said than done, I know, I've been there. But this is really more part of your problem with anxiety, not just a problem with the group.
posted by sm1tten at 5:37 PM on September 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

I think this sounds like a "majority ruled" thing. Also, you have a lot more freedom (or so they say) to reschedule or not than those who can cite children and families as a problem. It sucks, but you may just have to put up with it for awhile.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:41 PM on September 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

If you don't *know* that something's personal, try to assume it's not personal. Just for your own peace of mind. I mean, it might actually be personal! But if it is, you'll find out soon enough. And you've been with this group for four years -- if they wanted to kick you out, I don't think they'd wait years and years to do it, PLUS, someone INVITED you to this group in the first place. It sounds like they actually have a looooong track record of wanting you there?

I will say that I seriously doubt anyone said, "BecauseIHadFiveDollars is single, will this make his/her dating life hard?" That would be a really weird leap to make, that they need to make sure you've got time for a dating life. Anyway, I think you're kind of catastrophizing about the dating issue, because you can just go out on one of the six other nights of the week, including another weekend night. Or on a weekend afternoon, or whenever. I mean, it's hard to adjust your schedule for this month because the change *just* happened, but now that you know to plan around it, is it really going to be a huge problem going forward? (Or maybe it is, I don't know, but it doesn't sound like it is to me, because the scheduling problems you bring up in the post are so vague and are only for the next month anyway).

Since you don't work on Fridays, they probably figured Fridays would be easier for you than a weeknight for the same reason it's going to be easier for them -- it's a weekend rather than a weeknight. Try to ascribe good motives instead of malicious ones -- these are your friends, they've been your friends for years, so it sounds like they've earned at least that much.

I think that you're having a ton of anxiety about this scheduling change and it's making you think the worst about everyone, about your ability to stay with the group, about your ability to meet an SO, about your entire social life etc etc etc. It's OK to be anxious! But not only are your fears extremely unlikely to come to pass (this will probably not divorce you from the group, if you don't want it to, and this will probably have zero effect on you meeting an SO or having additional friends), but since the other members of your group presumably don't have identical anxieties as you do, they probably couldn't have predicted that this change would cause an anxiety spiral for you and so didn't handle the change with kid gloves in terms of including you in the vote, prepping you for it, telling you the news, etc. They were casual about the change because to them, it probably IS a casual change. I think it's not that they're being callous, it's that they have more faith in the resilience of the group than you do and had no idea that a relatively minor scheduling change could cause it to splinter.

I think that you probably were doing the YOU CAN'T DUMP ME I'M DUMPING YOU thing when you contacted them saying that you're angry/upset about this change. That was your freak-out over being excluded talking. But they're probably *not* excluding you, so you don't have to do that. I think that to *you* things were already falling apart and dire and ruined and so you were responding in kind, but to them, your response probably felt really over the top.

If I were in your place, and these were close friends of mine, I'd honestly just be upfront about having a little anxiety spiral and thinking that they were kicking me out of the group, but that in the bright light of day that doesn't seem true anymore and -- you'll see them on Friday (on 10/3 or whenever the next date you can make it is) and you're sorry and no hard feelings? I mean, they might have some hard feelings, and they might rib you over it, but if these are really your friends, this will probably not be a big deal. Especially since these are people who have known you at least four years, longer for the friend who brought you into the game in the first place, so it's probably not going to be news to them that you can get high strung sometimes (and I say this as someone who also can be high strung sometimes).
posted by rue72 at 5:58 PM on September 5, 2014

I'm a little confused as to why being single means you suddenly can't make it on Fridays.

Totally agree...why, exactly, are Fridays impossible because you're single? Go when you can, and if the group is a priority to you, schedule other things on other nights. Not only is this not a slight towards you, it doesn't even make sense to me (and probably not to them either) why you think it is.
posted by three_red_balloons at 6:21 PM on September 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Time for some "tough love".

...I'm the only single person in the group, so it affects me the greatest. ... I rarely get to see them outside of gaming due to their family lives, etc.

This is what you wrote. Think about what it means ... people with family have a lot more time constraints than single individuals.

Your question reads like a typical "drama queen/king" diatribe. Not everything is about you. Once you realize that, you might find some peace.
posted by aroberge at 6:24 PM on September 5, 2014 [6 favorites]

By far the trickiest part of a tabletop RPG group is finding the time slot. I have been part of a dozen or twenty groups that foundered on the Shoals of Logistics. Unless there is more enmity here than you are telling us about, I wouldn't be so quick to conclude that it was a calculated effort to exclude you. Most of my gamer pals have combinations of work and family obligations that make Friday and Saturday evenings the optimum slot (as do I), and we cannot be alone in this.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:02 PM on September 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

>I'm the only single person in the group, so it affects me the greatest

As someone with a family whose gaming group just changed to a night where only one parent at a time can go, I would have assumed that it affected you the *least*, since you don't have to schedule around the immovable objects that are karate or band practice or grocery shopping for a pack of teenagers. In my mind, a single person has the luxury to just go out to wherever the cool people are hanging out these days, every day, and make friends. Whereas most families I know manage to get the kind of adult time you're talking about once a week or once a month, barely enough to sustain old friendships much less create new ones.

You say yourself that you don't get to see them as often as you like because of their schedules, not yours, and also that you currently attend with "some regularity". They may see their game night as a lifeline for them and as one of many social options for you. I mean, it's possible that they knew Fridays were bad for you and planned accordingly but it's more likely that they assumed your schedule was more flexible than theirs, and likeliest of all that they weren't thinking of much of anything except the faces in front of them.

In short, your post is the anxiety talking, your accusations are the anxiety talking, and if your anxiety tries to make a casual fun group whoever-can-make-it thing all about you again, don't let it.
posted by tchemgrrl at 7:06 PM on September 5, 2014 [11 favorites]

You kind of didn't ask a question. I am not seeing a real clear statement about exactly what you want answered here, whether you are saying "How do I cope emotionally with being de facto excluded?" or whether you are saying "Is there some way to convince these folks to change it to Thursday night for my personal convenience, ignoring the context that they have kids, etc?" So I am going to use this as my starting place for my answer:

Saving Throw Against Depression

Part of why I am not just batshit insane and deeply bitter about my life is because when something happens that is relatively random-ish and also clearly not "aimed" at me by anyone, I tend to be pretty philosophical about it and I tend to interpret it in spiritual/religious/woo terms as "well, I guess The Universe is giving me a hint that I didn't need that in my life and it is time to move on."

So when a tree fell on my car on a windy day some years back and busted out the windshield, I went "Well, I guess The Universe is hinting that we should sell this car, not the other car." We already had plans to sell one of our two cars and downsize to one. I just took this unfortunate event very philosophically as "message from The Universe: Yes, you are going down to only one car, but it's not the one you thought it was! K? thx" (I pretty much said that to the apartment manager who had to deliver the bad news to me and he was pleasantly shocked that I wasn't yelling at him about how HIS TREE ate my car!! grar!!!)

I generally think The Universe doesn't actually hate me, so I tend to view it as "yeah, this icky thing you don't like: We are just being helpful."

To be clear, I wouldn't view it that way if you had indicated you felt your friends were intentionally excluding you. But you have indicated that you simply weren't there, your input simply didn't happen, you are the only one with your specific circumstance, so you are kind of out of step with the others, and you don't think they were intentionally excluding you. So it might have gone differently had you been there to give your 2 cents worth (or it might not, but you weren't there, so I wouldn't spend a lot of time dwelling on that -- it happened the way it happened). But it is what it is and the actual problem here is what to do going forward while assuming you probably won't be continuing to play with these folks. (I have been a gamer: If you are gone too much, it gets hard to stay involved in ongoing campaigns. So it might not be realistic to try to stay in this group.)

For me, the saving throw against depression in the face of Random Shit Happens is "welp, obviously, that door closing is because there is a new thing coming and I need to focus on that, not on the closed door." That is what works for me.

I don't know what all is going on in your life that you might look at for deciding what to do next. But that's how I view random events of this sort.
“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”

-- Helen Keller
posted by Michele in California at 10:56 AM on September 6, 2014

Even the best gaming group situation will come to an end or have a major change at some point. Especially when members get married and have family responsibilities. My longest running group has been playing together in different forms for almost 15 years, but I don't think it is a coincidence that those of us who still get together to play are neither married or have kids. We also average playing about once a month, which we plan out months in advance on our shared calendar. Eventually there may come a time when we are skipping two or three months between games ... and then we might just stop ... That's how it goes.

It sucks that they made this decision without you. You can take it two ways. You can see it as evidence that they did not think of you as a friend and valued gaming partner and snubbed you. Or you can see it as a situation that came to a natural (if unfortunate) end - which opens you to expanding your social circle. Really depends on how you prefer to feel about it. If you are prone to social anxiety you may lean strongly to the first option, but it really is your choice.

If you are unhappily single, you may be projecting some internal resentment onto your coupled friends. I know I have certainly made that mistake! I actually got pretty ticked off at a good friend who had to have gaming sessions end early so she could go home to her husband. It caused a scheduling conflict with other single friend such that the single friend could not play. It really pissed me off that the married friend could just shrug her shoulders at the single friend, when the single friend needed the social interaction of the group and the married friend could go home and get snuggles on tap. And the other married gamers sided with the married friend, and the single friend was left out. I was single at the time and I was vocal that I thought it was super shitty. But I don't know I would have been as upset if I were part of a couple. It just kinda adds an extra sting when you are single and keenly aware of your need for social interaction. Like seeing the married people at a banquet when you are eating crusts. When you've been with a group for four years, you depend on that shot of camaraderie once a week. But be careful that you aren't coasting and using the reliable presence of the gaming group as an excuse to avoid seek out new social circles. I mean, are you really going to miss the group or do you just really not want to do the hard work of making new friends? 'Cause there are lots of interesting people in the world to meet.

If the group gets back to you, just let them know that you really enjoyed playing with them and if they are ever interested in rescheduling to get in touch and you will rejoin them. You may be surprised to find they do get in touch with you down the line and say that they really miss you and want to work out something. A good group is hard to find, but so is a good player (also if you are a player who regularly brings snacks and such - extra hard to replace).

Just for kicks, here are some solutions to scheduling conflicts I have found while playing with various groups:

- Run two campaigns, alternating each week. So you could have game A on thursday and then game B on friday of the next week. You can play in game A and skip game B. So you play every other week but you still have a foot in the group. It works well if you have a group who likes variety and maybe someone waiting in the wings who is itching to GM something.

- is an online gaming resource. You can play in a group over webcam. It actually works pretty well - I have been playing online with different resources and works the best. You can look for a new group to play with and you are not limited by your location.

Good luck - I suspect if you take the chance to find a new group or some other activity, in the long run you won't be sorry about this group coming to an end.
posted by griselda at 11:27 PM on September 6, 2014

Just popped in to say that my gaming group gave up on weekly games, and now we have monthly games. It's easier to schedule one game a month around kids, work, social lives, etc. Even so, some busy months we give up and skip the game until the next month. Maybe this would work for your group.
posted by rakaidan at 7:46 AM on September 7, 2014

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