It's me isn't it?
September 15, 2014 8:03 AM   Subscribe

SO and I are not being invited to smaller gatherings that spin off from our social circle. SO is noticing it lately and getting a little insecure while I'm pretty sure I'm to blame. Are there any remedies for this?

I'm embarrassed that I'm asking this, because in a way it reaffirms petty insecurities that I've always had about myself, and now to a further extent, my boyfriend and I as a unit.

Having met my SO through a colleague, we have since socialised as a couple amongst a very close-knitted group of couples that all work in the same field (with the occasional spouse who's an exception). It's been a good 2-3 years since we all got to know each other, and lately we've been noticing that we don't get invited to events that involve smaller sub-groups that happen when certain couples get along better and break off to do activities together. For example, we're definitely on the list for festivities like Halloween and birthday parties, but are rarely invited for someone's backyard BBQ. This has happened enough times to lead to my sweet boyfriend to start feeling insecure about being left out, and second guessing about his interactions with people. I have sincerely reassured him that there's nothing wrong with him, while at the same time sinking into this internal dread that it must be my fault, and with good reason: while he and the guys would occasionally go out for after work drinks and maybe a big night out, the women have never once invited me to their regular girly dinners or fancy drinks (although a few of them have asked me to join their workout class). On top of that these people are all still very active on Social media, despite being in their late 20s and early 30s, and would frequently comment on each other's activities.

I so hate to admit this but the situation drives me crazy! I cannot pretend that we are cool with just being a lone couple. I do enjoy going on the occasional double date with our couple friends! I was almost comfortable with being the way I am (introverted, rarely engage on social media) but this while ignored-couple dynamic has got my insecurities flaring the hardest since high school. I've gone through a lot of potential reasons in my head, picking apart what it is that I've done or acted that alienate us from these spinoff group dates that happen without us ever (could it be that I'm too introverted? Or that because they're all expats and I'm a local in the Asian city we live in?) Admittedly we don't initiate as many events as most couples do, but that hasn't stopped them from inviting our friends who do just as little as we do. I'm at a loss.

Mefites, would you have any insight into why we are potentially being shrugged off from our social circle? Hace you and your friends ever distanced yourselves from a couple for any particular reason (maybe because of one rotten half?)? Or in a more passive way, is there anything that we can do to improve the situation? Thank you...
posted by 01080591 to Human Relations (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Did you accept the invite to the exercise classes? If you didn't you may have signaled that you weren't interested in more intimate friendships. Suggest you ask if that invitation is still open and put on your sneakers!
posted by cacao at 8:07 AM on September 15, 2014 [12 favorites]

Admittedly we don't initiate as many events as most couples do, but that hasn't stopped them from inviting our friends who do just as little as we do.

I would tackle this part, because it's the thing you have the most control over. Create some spin-off events and invite the people you'd like to invite you to things.
posted by xingcat at 8:08 AM on September 15, 2014 [45 favorites]

You need to initiate more, both for couple activities, and activities with just the women (if that is also a goal). Friendships work best when reciprocal.

And honestly, I have different subsets of friends. I have a large group that get invited to all the large activities, but only a few within that subset that I would do double date/small group type things with. It is nothing against the rest of my group, it is just that I connected more strongly with some of them.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 8:09 AM on September 15, 2014 [7 favorites]

This stands out for me:

On top of that these people are all still very active on Social media, despite being in their late 20s and early 30s, and would frequently comment on each other's activities.

I'm in my mid-40's and social media is the primary way I stay in touch with my friends, because with work and kids and household obligations, social media -- particularly Facebook - helps us keep up to date on all the little things that I image my stay-at-home Grandmother talked with her neighbors about over coffee.

Start initiating things (double dates). But also, frankly, if the reason is because "they're all expats and I'm a local in the Asian city we live in" there may not be a lot you can do about it.

That being said, control what you can control -- try to engage on social media a bit more, ask one couple to join you for drinks and dinner (or whatever), invite these people to your home, join the exercise group, etc.
posted by anastasiav at 8:17 AM on September 15, 2014 [12 favorites]

They probably think you're not that interested if you a) haven't accepted the previous workout invite, b) don't initiate smaller hangouts, and c) don't engage on social media. The last one (social media) is actually not a big deal at all if you are engaging in other ways.

Do not take the lack of invites as an affront and assume they don't want you around. Friendships are a tricky thing in that people tend to gravitate towards the easier path. You have a friend who initiates smaller events? That's the person you're going to think of for a double date. What you can do is be the one to start initiating. Right now it sounds like you are waiting to get invited along. While that happens sometimes, being un-causative about friendships means they trail off into nothing. You have to actively create a friendship, and you do that by initiating smaller gatherings. It's easy as "SO and I are planning to go see movie X, would you like to go with us," "Hey Suzy and Mary and Bonnie, how about a happy hour after work," etc.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:20 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Group dynamics are weird. I kinda doubt its anything too toxic unless theres something you really didn't mention.... nose picking or autism or lack of bathing or sexism or something.

Nthing invite more and be the friend you want to be. Try not to let the anxiety run the show! Group dynamics are weird. You're on meta, so you must be a good person, and I believe you picked a good mate. Sometimes people won't want to share in that, but sometimes they do. Its ok.
posted by Jacen at 8:21 AM on September 15, 2014

Think about it, this question could have easily been written by these people as "My coworker and their SO never really invite me to parties. Is it okay if I don't invite them to as many things to make things more comfortable because clearly they don't want to hang around us?"

If you want to participate, participate. Invite them over for a party. Have a blast. When people see you as fun, then they'll want to be around you and your SO more and more.
posted by inturnaround at 8:22 AM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

(could it be ... that because they're all expats and I'm a local in the Asian city we live in?)

As an expat myself, I tend to assume (after a few early failed attempts to forge friendships) that local folks already have an established social circle, family, routines, etc. Could it be they are waiting for you to indicate interest?

I hope people in our age-range are maturing beyond intentionally exclusionary behavior.

If you're feeling very shy about this, maybe you could ask your boyfriend to bring it up in a conversational way with his male buddies? "You know, I keep telling Sarah she should go out with the girls too, but I think she's a little shy! I'm sure she'd love to..."

Also- I work with a lot of male colleagues, so I make it a conscious point to focus my attention on their partners when we're out- because I'm so used to interacting with the guys.
posted by ista at 8:32 AM on September 15, 2014 [4 favorites]

This is probably your (plural) fault but not in the way you (singular) are imagining.

First of all, you are in social debt. You need to initiate and reciprocate invitations. Second, if you want to be remembered when event inviting happens, you need to be where event inviting happens or accept you will be invited less often. If that is Facebook, that is the host's choice. Third of all, expats in many areas of the world are insular and there is a solid chance they will never invite you to all of their ladies drinks because that is where they are doing their locale bitching.

That doesn't mean you can't invite them out for drinks, though! And you should!
posted by DarlingBri at 8:35 AM on September 15, 2014 [5 favorites]

God knows I shouldn't be handing out advice about social dynamics, but the part about social media participation "despite" being in their late 20s/30s also stood out for me. If you're not on social media, you're not visible, and people now need to go completely out of their way for invites. I'm assuming many a conversation and event has started on facebook, with planning and whatnot happening within a single group chat that only the participants are aware of. This is something you're not a part of because you're dismissing the social media as something for those who are younger than your demographic. This might be worth reconsidering.
posted by cgg at 8:42 AM on September 15, 2014 [6 favorites]

Like all relationships, friendship takes work. My advice? Find new couple friends - do a meetup group or join a hobby together with that explicit goal of finding potential friends (in addition to having fun) together and find other couples. People don't just fall in your lap - you've got to initiate. And why not find new friends? It's not like you have to throw away these ones if you do.

Someone here once said, "It is none of your business what other people think or say about you." Who cares why you're not invited to these smaller things. Initiate some yourself if you'd like to do them.

And if people don't like you, try not to dwell. No sense worrying about something you have no control over.
posted by sockermom at 8:43 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I organize a couples group through Meetup. This dynamic is very common. We have 20+ couples who regularly go to events, but there are also couples who have formed "subgroups" and hang out on their own between big events. They post those impromptu events on social media, which everyone can see, and feelings are hurt. I've been on both sides of the issue - left out of an event I'd very much like to attend and part of an event others weren't invited to.

My best advice if you want to improve your chances of being part of the "in" crowd:

1. Accept every invitation you can, even if it's not something you'd particularly like to do. Participate to the best of your ability with an open and friendly attitude. Bonus points for not taking yourself seriously!
2. Offer invitations to people you feel a connection with. Start small and develop relationships with people you genuinely like.
3. When you are at events, don't be the first to leave. In fact, be the last to leave. It's often in those late moments when the group has dwindled that plans for the next impromptu event are made. If you're at home in bed, you're not included. It's not that they don't like you, but small events have to stay small or you might as well invite everyone.
4. Identify the connectors in your group and befriend them. It sounds a little calculating, but if you can get close to the couples who do the inviting, you're less likely to be left out.
5. Realize that not being invited doesn't mean they don't like you. When I look at from the perspective of being left out, it seems obvious that if they liked me enough, they'd ask me. When I look at it from the perspective of someone who puts together smaller events, it's clear that often it's a matter of logistics, timing, and happenstance more than anything else.
6. Keep showing up. It's tempting to give up when you feel like you don't fit in. If you feel like there's even a possibility of a deeper connection, just. keep. showing. up. There are several couples in our group who are introverted or just not as socially graceful as others. It takes longer than with a gregarious, outgoing couple, but eventually they find their spot. They add so much to the overall dynamic of the group. It truly would have been a shame if they had given up too soon!

Best of luck!
posted by Barnifer at 9:46 AM on September 15, 2014 [11 favorites]

they're all expats and I'm a local in the Asian city we live in

I live in a city that's about an hour from where I grew up and and about an hour (in the other direction) from the city I lived in just before I moved here. I always assume people in my current city who are from here or have lived here longer than I have are all set for local friends. I think this assumption would be about 90% stronger if we were talking about different countries, cultures, languages, etc.

Also, during my brief experience living in another country, when someone in our group started dating a local, it always seemed like that person was happier becoming permanently integrated into the life of the country we were in than hanging out with others from home.

Then again they might just not like you that much. I tend to be cynical about these things and I also believe in trusting your instincts. But sometimes instincts can be off, especially when dealing with different cultures.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 10:50 AM on September 15, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks all, they have been extremely helpful as an objective look at our situation. Looks like its pretty unanimous that we should be more proactive about this. True that it's the only thing we have control over. I did accept the invite to work out and have been going to weekly sessions for the past month, maybe it just takes more time than that for people to warm up to me :)
posted by 01080591 at 7:47 PM on September 15, 2014

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