How do I deal with feeling left out?
September 15, 2018 12:52 PM   Subscribe

Am I even being reasonable here? Should I just let this one go?

So I have a couple of close guy friends, let's call them Dan and Bob. I'm closer to Dan than Bob. We also used to have a friend who I'll call Nicole, and a couple other close friends I won't bother naming. Nicole went on a vacation last December with a couple of our other close friends (who are also women) and they all got into a huge fight. Our two other friends stopped speaking to Nicole, so Dan, Bob, and I stopped speaking to her as well. She was understandably very hurt. She stopped contacting all of us and unfriended me on all social media.

She could be very belligerent and has some anger problems so she was prone to these episodes of yelling at people, especially while drunk. She was basically kind of a bully, which I really did not like being around, so I thought we were all better off without her in our life. I stayed close with Dan and Bob and our other friends. We all used to go out and have fun together and for a while everything was great.

Cue a few months later, Dan and Bob started thinking that maybe it wasn't fair to just cut her out like that, so they reached out to her to apologize. She accepted and they became friends again. I wasn't a fan of Nicole still at all, but I figured if she was going to be around I should at least try to be civil, so I reached out to her as well. She did not respond, and the next time I saw her she completely gave me the silent treatment. I wanted to say hi at least but she wouldn't even look at me. If I'm around she'll typically leave to go somewhere else. Remember--I wasn't even involved with the fight she had with our other friends. We literally never had a falling out. We just stopped speaking.

The problem is, Dan in particular has gotten a lot closer to her, and he understandably feels caught in the middle. He's told me that it's her problem, not mine, and I shouldn't feel like I can't hang out when she's around (which I kind of do, because I don't want her yelling at me like she sometimes does to people). Okay, fine. I literally just want to be civil. But Dan has started hanging out with her a lot more, and he and Bob never invite me. They went out yesterday and they told me they'd tell me where they were going, but they never did. Today is Dan's birthday, and I know they're all going out, and nobody has invited me. I'm one of Dan's closest friends so this really hurts.

I've been trying to tell myself it's my problem. I've been trying to not make Dan in particular feel caught in the middle (Bob also isn't a huge fan of her, but they can at least be civil around each other). But, more and more, they all go out together and I'm stuck at home or try to make other plans. And it sucks. I feel like I'm really geting the short end of the stick. I didn't do anything different than Dan and Bob, so I feel like I'm basically being punished here when I didn't do anything wrong. I know why Nicole is so hurt, but if she won't even talk to me when I try to work things out I'm not sure what else I can do here.

To make things worse, Dan always talks about how "girls are such drama", which is frustrating because I'm trying to be as mature as possible about this. He even agrees that I've tried to handle it maturely and tells me it's Nicole's problem. Yet over and over again he and Bob don't invite me when she's there, even if it's clear that I want to see them. And it sucks.

So.... what should I do? I know it's tricky. I'm not sure there's anything I can do. Should I be expecting more from Dan here? We genuinely are very close, and I can't help but feel upset that he's not doing more to stick up for me here. I basically feel like I'm in high school again and the school bully is taking my friends away from me. I got picked on a lot in middle and high school, and that's not a feeling I want to go through again.

Is there anything I can do or should I let this one go?
posted by Amy93 to Human Relations (38 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
As gently as possible, you all sound very young.

We could build a long narrative here, but the bottom line is that if you want to see Dan and Bob, you invite them to hang out. They are entitled to their own relationship with Nicole, which has nothing to do with you. I have no idea why they would invite you when they are hanging out with Nicole, because she obviously dislikes you.

It's legitimate if you feel let down because Dan and Bob don't take the initiative to make plans with you, and you should by all means feel free to take that up with them, use your words, and don't mention Nicole.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:01 PM on September 15, 2018 [32 favorites]

I would walk away from all of this entirely. None of this sounds particularly enriching, enjoyable, supportive, or fun. It sucks to grow out of a friendship, or to grow out of a group of friends, but it happens. I would suggest trying to throw yourself into a new social hobby of some kind, and just kind of fade away from all of this.
posted by sockermom at 1:02 PM on September 15, 2018 [11 favorites]

I agree that you should be inviting Bob and Dan to hang out with you more often, and see what happens.

That said, you should probably consider cutting Dan and his sexist "girls are such drama" bs out of your life.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 1:04 PM on September 15, 2018 [23 favorites]

Really quick--I do make plans with Dan and Bob on my own as much as I can. I've tried to be as proactive as possible. The problem is I'm in school now so I really only have time on Fridays and Saturdays, which is when they typically hang out with her. So I'm really not getting an opportunity to see them at all.

This has been going on for a few months and I've been dealing with it by making plans with them separately. It's worked for a while but with my schedule now, if they don't try to see me on weekends, we're not going to be able to hang out. They are very, very well aware of this, and I think I'm just frustrated because it feels like, despite my best efforts, I'm being left out more and more.
posted by Amy93 at 1:04 PM on September 15, 2018

Well, all of this is dumb, but people pick sides and Dan and Bob picked Nicole's. I would bet that for whatever reason Nicole has declared you persona non grata and won't be around you (probably because you were obvious that you did not like her), so they pick her and not you.

Either suck up to Nicole (which I don't think she would be receptive to anyway) or give up on this bunch. I think you'll probably have to give up on this bunch though.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:09 PM on September 15, 2018 [5 favorites]

It's not tricky--your friends are acting like assholes. Find new friends.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 1:09 PM on September 15, 2018 [24 favorites]

This does sound like teenage behavior and that sucks. But really, no one is picking on you. Younger adult friendships sort of fade in and out like this, especially related to people being in new relationships. I promise that this stage of life doesn't last long. It does sound like some of your friends might be engaging in some not-so-nice behavior, but also please be cautious about attributing their behavior to things that you might not have evidence for. Like maybe people aren't intentionally ignoring you or whatever. Who knows what they're really thinking/doing.

I think that Dan and Bob are correct in that you all dropping Nicole after that fight was not very nice. But in practical terms, if the majority of your crew is angry with Nicole, it is natural that Nicole won't be invited along to group activities. Those that really like Nicole are welcome to do things with her one-on-one or in small groups though.

It sounds like you didn't like Nicole that much anyway, outside of the fight that she had with other friends. Maybe it would be good to drop her? But if you want to be able to be civil around each other, you may need to reach out and tell her that you think that it sucks that there was a fight among a bunch of your mutual friends, that you never had any ill will against her and that you hope that you two can work on mending your relationship.

But my read is that Dan is prioritizing his friendship with Nicole over his friendship with you - if it is the case that this Bob+Dan+Nicole going out without you thing has been a repeated deal over many weeks. I bet in this birthday situation he might have been torn up about who to invite because apparently you and Nicole can't be in the same place, according to some.

But you can't do much about that. You can only do things for and about yourself. How do you know that Dan (and Bob?) and Nicole are going out without you? Is it photos on social media or something? But more importantly, why are you waiting around for Bob and/or Dan to invite you out? Go make plans with other friends. Don't worry about Bob and/or Dan. Do things with other people.

If you want to spend time with Dan and/or Bob, I would strongly suggest inviting them for something special - not some sort of group hangout thing. Tell Dan and/or Bob, "I feel like we haven't hung out in really long time and I miss you. Can we get dinner/coffee/a beer/go for a run/whatever next week? Wednesday and Thursday evenings are free for me."

When Dan says "girls are such drama" perhaps you can remind him that there are adult men and women involved in this situation (a nod to "don't use the word girls" and that his statement is really immature regardless).
posted by k8t at 1:10 PM on September 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

This sounds like Dan sucks, and Bob is just along for the ride. Furthermore Dan has, either explicitly or via inaction, basically chosen Nicole over you (or more charitably, has been unwilling to fight back against Nicole's bullyish behavior so has allowed her to 'win' and disinvite you). That's shitty, absolutely, but try this: don't care as best you can. Go find some new people who don't act so much like assholes and see how that goes. You may find yourself looking back at this whole situation as a bullet dodged.
posted by axiom at 1:13 PM on September 15, 2018 [8 favorites]

Upon your update... maybe it is time to expand your friend circle? Again, this time of your life where people go out with friends multiple evenings a week... it is gonna end fairly soon. People will start getting into serious relationships, then people will start having kids, at some point in there people are going to realize that all of this money that they are spending on going out is probably better spent on investments or housing or paying down debt. And then the social gatherings will move towards being in people's homes or yards, cooking at home, buying beer at Costco, kids and pets underfoot. And they're just as fun, if not more fun. But even better, there will be a overall decrease in "drama" by everyone cuz no one has time for that. They just wanna connect with other humans that they are not legally or biologically bound to every so often.
posted by k8t at 1:13 PM on September 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Dan always talks about how "girls are such drama", which is frustrating because I'm trying to be as mature as possible about this.

There’s nothing you can do that is “mature” because Dan has already decided that everything a girl does is drama. And you already know that this group of friends tends to exclude people because they did it to Nicole back in December. Choices include:

(A) waiting for everyone to grow up
(B) waiting for Dan and Nicole to sleep together, sort of date, messily break up, and then force everyone to choose sides. At that point, Dan will need a shoulder to cry on.
(C) making new friends. Ideally these would be friends who don’t say that girls are such drama while engaging in super dramatic junior high clique behavior themselves.
posted by betweenthebars at 1:16 PM on September 15, 2018 [56 favorites]

You stopped talking to Nicole because she fell out with someone else? In a fight that was nothing to do with you? I mean, obviously D&B did the same. But they also then spontaneously reached out to her to apologise, and - given that they currently get on with her - presumably in such a way that was convincing to her that they genuinely liked her and wanted to get back on good terms. You reached out to her later, only after the others did, and only because you figured if she was going to be around it would be more convenient. And given that you obviously don't like her, might that not have been evident to her? If so, it's not like her behaviour is a total mystery.

I might be totally wrong, I'm basing this only on what you've written and all sorts of subtleties could have been left out. But it feels like a bit of a 'live by the sword, die by the sword' situation - if you make fickle, abrupt, somewhat unfair decisions about your friendships, don't be surprised when that friend group turns out make fickle, abrupt and unfair decisions about you.

Sorry if that's harsh, because I know this is a shitty position to be in, and I'm sorry you're there.

Nthing the advice to expand your friend circle to include some folk who are a little more mature.
posted by penguin pie at 1:34 PM on September 15, 2018 [47 favorites]

Dan prefers someone who has repeatedly engaged in bullying behavior and yelling at people in your friend group. That says a lot about him. And, even worse, when challenged about it, he falls back in misogynist BS about "all women being drama."

It sounds like you valued the friendship more than he did. I know it's not easy and it's also painful, but expand your friend group and find new friends who will respect you and be happy to have your company. This situation is just going to get grosser, so you might as well bail out now. Being in school is an advantage here as it provides a lot of opportunities to meet new people.
posted by quince at 1:44 PM on September 15, 2018 [5 favorites]

In addition to all of the advice above: one thing you do have going for you is that, in your update, you said that you are in school. You have an opportunity to meet new people and try out some potential friendships with those who may have a schedule that aligns better with yours. I strongly suggest you try cultivating more potential friendships. It doesn't mean that you have to drop all the other friends - it simply means that you develop meaningful relationships outside of that particular circle. One added benefit of that is if you have some kind of conflict, it doesn't spread to everyone like this particular conflict did.
posted by acidnova at 1:52 PM on September 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Prediction: I think betweenthebars nailed it. Dan & Nicole are soon to be an item, if they aren’t already. This leaves Bob soon to be the third wheel, which means he might seek you out more (but yeah, still time to find some new friends). In general it seems like the ship has sailed with Nicole and I suspect Dan won’t really be at liberty to hang out with you until their drama plays itself out. Certainly it wasn’t the nicest thing to do to just stop talking to her after something that didn’t have anything to do with you, and I can see why she hasn’t forgiven you, but it seems like her incident with the other people sort of opened your eyes to how she’s a bit of a bully. I’ve had that happen, too, where something happened to make me suddenly realize that a certain person wasn’t actually a very good friend.
posted by karbonokapi at 1:55 PM on September 15, 2018 [4 favorites]

Seconding penguin pie... it seems unclear what your actual feelings/stance is towards Nicole. You seem to be trying to go along with whatever the perceived majority want, and treating her however the perceived majority want to treat her. In that sense, you were also complicit in ganging up against her. And you definitely give the impression that you're a fair-weather friend.

1) You stopped talking to Nicole and deliberately ostracized her because she fell out with other people, in a fight that had nothing to do with you, which you weren't even there for.

2) Then, when others in the group decide they want to include Nicole again, you decide you want to resume contact with her too - because these others (Dan and Bob) want to. Why do you keep basing your own behavior on what others in the group decide? It comes across as very fickle.

3) "I didn't do anything different than Dan and Bob" Yes, you did. They came to their own conclusions about Nicole, took the initiative to apologize to her and went against the group's overall sentiment about her when they believed that they had done wrong by her. In other words, they had enough backbone to go against the group's wishes to reach out to Nicole and befriend her again. You, on the other hand, only reached out to Nicole because Dan and Bob did - because you wanted hang with the group and sensed that (due to D&B's brave actions) the group was once again ok with Nicole. In other words, you come across as very insincere, and you come across as only wanting to be friends with Nicole because D&B want to be friends with her. (And isn't that right?)
Put yourself in Nicole's shoes. Would you really want to be friends with someone who ostracizes you based on the group's decision, and only reaches out to you again when it seems like others in the group want you back?

You've been playing politics and Nicole can see through your game. It's not surprising that she would not want to have anything to do with you now.

You're talking about feeling like there's a school bully around. Might be good to consider how your actions have been bullying towards Nicole.

Nicole understandably does not trust you anymore, so if you're really trying to be as mature as possible (as you say you are), it seems best to respect her wishes and stop trying to invite yourself to their gatherings, when they've made it clear that they do not want you there.

Perhaps Dan and Bob have also realized that your attempts to reach out to Nicole are not genuine, and are motivated by a desire to go along with Dan and Bob rather than a sincerity towards Nicole. Perhaps that is why they are tacitly sending you the message that you are not welcome when they get together with Nicole.

In future, you need to decide who is worth befriending by yourself - not because of the group's decision/sentiments.
posted by aielen at 2:00 PM on September 15, 2018 [9 favorites]

Reading between the lines it seems that you have been discussing Nicole's faults with Dan and Bob. Sure, very close friends will discuss other people , especially when we are young and there is lots of drama and angst, but I've learned that it's more "mature" to keep my negative opinions of others to myself, especially if they are mutual acquaintances, or in the friend group. It sounds like Nicole was the topic of gossip. There was drama and everyone cut her off. Now she's back. Gossip always comes back to bite you in the ass.

I try to look at relationships and friendships this way:

Sometimes people grow apart. Sometimes people are pissed or have hard feelings and they don't want to hang out. Sometimes people don't or won't like you. That's all okay. You can't control how people feel. As much as it hurts the ego to be "excluded", your happiness and well-being does not depend on hanging out with these friends. You're not a fan of Nicole. Dan and Bob know this. It may be easier for them not to invite you.

I basically feel like I'm in high school again and the school bully is taking my friends away from me.

This is most likely false.

Should I be expecting more from Dan here?

No. Like what? Should he dump Nicole for you? You can't control how people feel or act. Expect nothing from others and you'll be happier. Enjoy life and people. Behave well. Have, kindness, understanding and compassion. The rest you can't control. Be like Larry David -- when someone breaks up with him he says okay and moves on with his life.

If it were me, I wouldn't contact them. Don't chase anyone (not that you're chasing). Don't discuss Nicole again. Find some more activities and hang out with different friends. Dan and Bob will come back around, or not, no hard feelings.
posted by loveandhappiness at 2:06 PM on September 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

Sounds like Dan bonded with Nicole by telling her alllllll the things you and the others were saying about her. He hit her up by making you the bad guy. Then made it all about him being so mature and you being all about girl drama.

Seriously, I used to think this friendship stage - group friendships and the politics thereof - would last forever. But no. In your update it‘s clear thst this stage is almost over for you. You‘re entering the stage of fewer but more significant friendships with people who understand more clearly what is important in their all too short lives. This is not it. Consign Dan and Bob to the realm of „somewhat shallow young men I once knew“.
posted by Omnomnom at 2:37 PM on September 15, 2018 [5 favorites]

I am quite a bit older than you and have various friends I don't hang out with much anymore because I don't care for their friends. I will say that a lot of times it has come down to drinking culture, quite a lot of these people are from the upper midwest which is apparently a heavy drinking culture (from what I've been told their families social life tends to revolve around bars) and despite being middle to upper middle class professionals they are fairly tolerant of bad drunken behavior. I did not grow up in that kind of culture and am not. At all. I have no problem with alcohol and am no prude, I do drink and when I was younger certainly got pretty dunk at parties, concerts etc. But people who drink and drive or get very drunk around their kids or get drunk at say a nice dinner party and act the fool or get angry or handsy or drink so much it impacts their health or who's entire pesonal life revolves around alcohol are not people I want to be around, and that's OK. I do meet those friends at daytime things and in circumstances I can control and I avoid the "everyone come over for a party!" invites. They are mostly in their 40s and 50s now so this behavior will not change.

So I think the "never talk to them again!!" advice is over the top but I do think you may have a long term incompatibility with these folks that you are now realizing as you age a bit. The girls who cut Nicole off for her behavior may, in fact, be much more your type of people than Dan is. Time will tell but don't be afraid to set ground rules for how people act around you. It's fine to call NIcole up and talk to her about why your cut her off and the yelling but you don't have to smooth thing over if she doesn't want to. If they don't respect that they don't respect you.
posted by fshgrl at 2:39 PM on September 15, 2018 [3 favorites]

Also realize that as a woman you will not be able to remain best friends with a young man who is looking to establish serious relationships or marriage. We all thought we could and we were all wrong. He will drop you once his GF asks him to and she will ask him to. You may be able to remain friends but you will not be his priority. Same for him when you enter a serious relationship.
posted by fshgrl at 2:43 PM on September 15, 2018 [6 favorites]

What happened to Nicole was probably incredibly painful. Maybe she brought it on herself with her bullying ways, but still, to have all your friends drop you at once? Ouch.

So, she's there, probably wondering what's wrong with her, is she really such an awful person, "but the fight wasn't my fault!" when Dan and Bob come around and say "we don't really know what happened, but we weren't involved, and we still like you." What relief!

And then there's you. You've been sitting there thinking that the group was better off without her and that you never really liked being around her. Fair enough. But now she's coming back in your space, so you reach out just enough to "be civil." "Civil!?" (she may be feeling) "Screw civil!" She just went through, like, a social apocalypse, and out of the ashes, one to two people proved to be true friends. Not you. You're just, also there. You don't even really like being around her.

And that's fine! You don't like her, and you don't have to. You did do something nice by trying to be civil, and maybe someone else would've welcomed that. But she doesn't, and that makes sense to me, too.

What I don't know is what Dan and Bob are up to. Did they deliberately leave you out of the apology mission or did you opt out? Since Dan is still saying it's her problem, not yours, then it sounds like it wasn't a deliberate move to bring her in at your expense, but nevertheless, things are kind of working out that way.

But I mean, actions have consequences, including your decision to go along with ostracizing her. I think any effort you make going forward will be more successful if you really own your role (however much of a peripheral follower role it was) and decisions in this.

And yeah, it really hurts. It sucks. I think a couple options are open to you: moving on from everyone, finding a way to actually like her and reaching out again more authentically and more apologetically, and/or having a heart-to-heart with Dan to explain how you're feeling and see what he'd suggest.

Anyway, good luck. This kind of drama is really not fun to be in the middle of. I hope you can find some more civil, non-bullying friends soon.
posted by salvia at 3:06 PM on September 15, 2018 [8 favorites]

Thanks for the replies. To clarify--I really do see what my mistakes are here and I'm not going to make excuses for it. I'm not a perfect person and I can see why she's hurt. We basically all ditched her and she has a right to be upset. I'd tell her that if she'd acknowledge my existence, but as it is, she doesn't and I dont want to push it too hard.

With that said--cutting her out was absolutely my decision and it was the right decision for me. I could tell stories to justify it but that's not the point of this question. There have been times when I have passively followed and it was absolutely a mistake. This is not one of those times. I would do it again if I had to (though I'd probably try handling some parts of it better).

I can understand why she doesn't want to be my friend and I don't expect her to be. Even if I wanted to be friends again it would be understandale if she couldn't. I just want to be civil with her. We have friends in common and I'd at least like to coexist. I'm frustrated that she stone cold refuses to allow that to happen and they're just following along. I'd like it if they at least tried inviting me and defended me if she got upset, or at least tried to be more proactive about seeing me on weekends, too. I know it's nuanced and hard for them too, though. They just seem to be passively allowing it to happen. I don't think my mistakes justify being completely pushed out like this. She made a lot of mistakes too.

I think what's tripping me up right now is it's literally Dan's birthday and it's his call who's going to be there. I know they're all hanging out because he told they'd be going out. He hasn't invited me at all. He could at least speak up and say something but he's just going along with it.

It sounds like my best bet is to just move forward and try to learn from my mistakes. Ironically I have another friend's birthday tonight, so I won't just be sitting at home sad. Thanks again.
posted by Amy93 at 3:11 PM on September 15, 2018 [8 favorites]

At first it sounded a little crappy to drop Nicole just because your friends did, but then:

She could be very belligerent and has some anger problems so she was prone to these episodes of yelling at people, especially while drunk. She was basically kind of a bully..

So it sounds like you were never really comfortable with her - with good reason, the way I'm reading this she sounds abusive - and were only friendly with her to remain in the friend group. As I see it your only error here was sticking with a friend group okay with this behavior.

Look for more friends. Even if you stay friendly with Dan and Bob (why? they've shown they prioritize Nicole over you), don't put all your social eggs in one friend group basket. Don't sit at home while they're at Dan's party - call another friend and go out, or go to a meetup, or to line dancing, or at least sign up for a few social/volunteer events within the next few days.

I'm approximately halfway through my lifespan and so far I've been in and out of many friend groups - people move, get married, have drama - social circles are always shifting. It's always hard for me, but it's okay. You'll be okay too.
posted by bunderful at 3:16 PM on September 15, 2018 [3 favorites]

It sounds like Dan is getting off on telling you all about their fun birthday plans and then not inviting you. He can conveniently avoid taking responsibility for his toxicity by saying things like "girls are such drama."

The business with Nicole is a red herring; the real bully here is Dan.
posted by basalganglia at 3:18 PM on September 15, 2018 [36 favorites]

Basalganglia makes a good point. The polite thing to do is not to tell people about events they aren't invited to, particularly when you know they would like to be invited, and especially when you have the the power to invite them. Time for new friends - friends you don't need to make excuses for.
posted by bunderful at 4:05 PM on September 15, 2018 [4 favorites]

Also realize that as a woman you will not be able to remain best friends with a young man who is looking to establish serious relationships or marriage. We all thought we could and we were all wrong

This is not true.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 6:04 PM on September 15, 2018 [28 favorites]

I know they're all hanging out because he told they'd be going out. He hasn't invited me at all.

What a dick.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:14 PM on September 15, 2018 [12 favorites]

They just seem to be passively allowing it to happen.
Your description of Dan in your update sounds very much like he is actively doing things to make this happen. I might ask why everyone is buying into Dan's story that this is "girl drama" when it seems pretty clear that it is Dan drama. Honestly, he kind of sounds like a garden-variety misogynistic prick. While it sucks to learn that someone we felt close with and whose company we once enjoyed is actually a jerk, I really think it's what's really going on here; you'll be better off without him in your life, once the sting wears off.
posted by sockermom at 7:25 PM on September 15, 2018 [12 favorites]

I'm frustrated that she stone cold refuses to allow that to happen and they're just following along.

this is not only exactly what you did to her -- follow along instead of make a principled decision -- it's exactly how you tried to pick her back up again:

I wasn't a fan of Nicole still at all, but I figured if she was going to be around I should at least try to be civil, so I reached out to her as well.

a lot of people would find that even more insulting than ditching her in the first place, because it's even less sincere. You at least had some real reasons to drop her, even if they never mattered enough to act on until someone else did it first. but you had no reason to pick her up again, it was pure crowd-following, and she very properly didn't let you. She sounds like she has very few good qualities except for self-respect, but that's huge. a strong sense of self and a strong will are invaluable even for people who aren't chores to be around.

Remember--I wasn't even involved with the fight she had with our other friends.

you say this like it's a defense, when it's the whole reason she won't forgive you. "fair-weather friend" is a cliche. this is an extremely familiar and culturally resonant way of behaving badly, there is nothing confusing or unjustified in the reactions you're getting.

Your friend Dan is sexist. neither your nor Nicole's behavior explains or excuses it. Drop him, allow Nicole to drop you, and make all your future decisions about friendship yourself. Be a real friend or don't be, stand by people or don't, for any reason you want as long as it isn't just to go along. you can't outsource friend decisions to a group consensus and doing so is always a solid way to lose other people's loyalty and trust.
posted by queenofbithynia at 7:37 PM on September 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Also realize that as a woman you will not be able to remain best friends with a young man who is looking to establish serious relationships or marriage. We all thought we could and we were all wrong

Seconding that this is nonsense.
posted by Artw at 7:55 PM on September 15, 2018 [6 favorites]

If cutting her out was your decision and good for you in the long run, then own that decision and accept that you will not be able to be places where she is. Accept also that at times she will be the one invited over you. You don't seem to like her at all anyway so just see this as avoiding all the 'drama' (I really hate that word being applied to things like this).

I don't want to be too harsh but I feel like the way Nicole is acting is understandable. She doesn't have to accept your apology (did you even apologise?) or forget about it. Personally, unless you'd come to me of your own accord with a genuine apology and we'd had a frank discussion about what had happened, I would cut you out too.
posted by thereader at 8:39 PM on September 15, 2018

You're blaming Nicole for Dan's shitty behavior. He reached out to her. He's choosing to hang out with her over you. He's choosing not to invite you to his birthday. Nicole may be asking him not to include you, but she's not making him do it. Dan isn't the passive victim of Nicole's bullying and manipulation. Maybe he likes her more, maybe he has a thing for her, or maybe he just likes the drama and power of his position. I'm sorry, it sucks and hurts a lot to be excluded, but he doesnt sound like a good friend.
posted by Mavri at 8:46 PM on September 15, 2018 [15 favorites]

Also realize that as a woman you will not be able to remain best friends with a young man who is looking to establish serious relationships or marriage. We all thought we could and we were all wrong. He will drop you once his GF asks him to and she will ask him to.

Thirding that this is nonsense, especially the last bit. That's a particularly toxic attitude, and frankly it's bi-phobic (because who the heck are bi people supposed to be friends with if they can't be friends with people who are a gender they're sexually/romantically attracted to?).

I have never and would never ask my boyfriend to drop a friend because they are a woman, not even when that friend is an ex, not even when that ex doesn't like me. I have also never had a boyfriend ask me to drop my best friend, who is a man and also an ex.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 9:44 PM on September 15, 2018 [11 favorites]

You can remain friends but best friends, default person to hang out with, most important person when making plans for a birthday, can't believe they're out having fun without me? Not gonna happen when the guy/ girl is seeing someone who sees you as a potential competition. Or if they are in a relationship as the romantic partner takes that role. It's exactly same situation with the sexes reversed or in same sex or any kind of relationship. You can normally still be friends but less close but if he's seeing Nicole and she doesn't like the op, that's not going to happen either.

I'm old, I've seen this play out many times. People don't stay super close to other potential romantic partners when they're getting into or in serious relationships if they're even slightly serious about the relationship. It's completely normal.
posted by fshgrl at 9:56 PM on September 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

I kind of second fshgrl on this: there may be some folks who are exceptions to the rule, but if Dan and Nicole are hooking up and she hates you, that's kind of it for you anyway.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:52 PM on September 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Dan is doing to you what you did to Nicole, only with more drama. Nothing passive about it. Passive-aggressive maybe, but not passive at all. He knows exactly what he's doing and Nicole isn't responsible for it in the least.
posted by headnsouth at 6:27 AM on September 16, 2018 [7 favorites]

Sorry if I missed this in my skimming, but what happened to the other women in this friend group, the ones who had the falling out with Nicole in the first place? If D and B were the ones who apologized to Nicole, then it doesn't sound like the other women did, right? Do D and B still see them? Do you still see them? Mostly rhetorical questions - either way, the writing is on the wall, and moving on from Dan/Bob/Nicole is your best, if not only option. I've been there before, and I promise that you really are better off without them. It's just that, if you're still hanging out with the other women, this sounds like a pretty straightforward "our friend group had a split, I didn't want to have to choose sides but it just worked out that way, I'm only friends with this part of the group now." Whereas, if the other women are out of the picture too, or only hang out with D and B and not you, that there might be more going on here than what we realize.
posted by storminator7 at 5:43 PM on September 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

"I've been trying to not make Dan in particular feel caught in the middle "

Based on what you have written it is absolutely clear that Dan has already put himself in the middle and has taken sides against you. He's asking you to acquiesce to her poor behavior towards you and not asking her to do the same. He has already chosen that you should be the punching bag and that you should accept it and smile while she punches you.

There are many people who will often side with the abuser simply because they think that it would be easier for them to do so. Because in their minds if they defend the victim then the abuser will cause trouble, storm off and not speak to them anymore, but if the defend the abuser they can have the best of both worlds- The abuser will speak to them AND the victim will still speak to them because the victim is more likely to be the one that wants to keep the peace. In reality they do not care about the victim at all and only about themselves. They would be happy to see you get harrassed if it means that they themselves get to avoid anyone getting mad at them. They may use tactics like acting like your enemy when the abuser is around because they think they can come to you in PRIVATE when the abuser isn't looking and convince you of their "friendship". Thereby once again giving them the best of both worlds (in their minds).

In some cases they will completely drop the victim and learn the hard way that the abuser eventually turns on them when the abuser doesn't have another punching bag around her.

There are several different ways I've seen this type of thing play out, but in all cases- the "Dan" in these types of situations is NOT YOUR FRIEND. Not at all. They may or may not be your direct enemy but they do not have your best interests at heart. I understand you are hurt by this, but many people don't understand the value of a good friend until many years after they've lost one. Sometimes they never learn the value of it. The best thing you can do for yourself (as well as for that person so that they can sooner learn their lesson) is quietly walk away and get some new friends.
posted by fantasticness at 9:04 AM on September 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

Nthing that it's silly to think that men and women can't be friends after they get into serious relationships. Saying this as a woman who had a lot of male friends in her teens and twenties and is still close with a lot of them (and their wives now too!). However, it's definitely harder for people who are really invested in traditional gender roles (like the idea that "girls are drama"), or for men who view their female friends primarily as potential hookups, or for people who enjoy playing other people off each other in games of competition and jealousy.

Which is to say, I bet Dan's not going to have a lot of female friends once he gets married.

For you, I'd say your best bet is going to be to let this friend group drop off your radar. No big breakup is needed, and, sure, still hang out with them from time to time if it works out, but I would drop any idea that they are your core friend group. I know, it's painful and it sucks. But if you make space for other people in your life, I bet you'll soon make new friends, or find previously-marginal friends become more important in your life, and this group drama won't be that important to you anymore.
posted by lunasol at 1:47 PM on October 8, 2018

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