Friendship, dating, and loneliness.
June 14, 2007 12:35 PM   Subscribe

Why doesn't the woman I'm dating invite me out with her friends?

I've been seeing this woman for about a month now. We are both coming out of long-term relationships, thus are a bit wary of taking things too quickly in terms of commitment and all, but, in my mind, we do have strong connections intellectually, emotionally and physically.

This new woman and I are graduate students in the same department, and so we know many of the same people. Her ex had been a long-distance relationship, and since she had a lot of time on her own and is very social and outgoing, she has formed a lot of close friendships. My ex, on the other had, did not like to socialize very much with people in my department, so because of that *I* didn't socialize a lot, and I have not formed any good friendships (except with this woman and that only since we have been dating). This has been somewhat difficult for me as I feel like I don't have many people in my life, and only socialize either a) at school or b) at big get-togethers.

I've mentioned to this woman that I do feel somewhat lonely and isolated. She's been very kind and supportive of my feelings. But, when we spend time together or talk on the phone, she often mentions going out with people whom we both know for dinner, drinks, etc., and I have never been invited.

This is something that is causing me some stress and pain. I don't really know how to interpret it. I certainly understand that she has her life, and I don't expect to spend every minute with her; she has a right to her privacy and her own time. But I don't understand why I've never been invited to any of these events. Is she embarrassed about dating me and trying to keep it a secret from others? Is she just not as into me as I thought? Or is it something else?

I'd like to raise the issue but I don't know how to do it without sounding like I'm too needy or whiny, things that are definitely not a turn-on. I especially don't want to come off as someone with too much emotional baggage. This socializing is important to me both to spend time with her and to spend time with others making better friends. I don't want to just invite myself along, but I don't want to sit alone in my home waiting for her to call when she has free time either. Should I ask her why I haven't been invited? If so, how do I do that without seeming like I'm trying to push our relationship along too quickly? How do I naturally become more of a part of her life, and make her more a part of mine? I very much like her, and I see the potential for a meaningful relationship in the future, so I don't want to scare her off. Am I just obsessing over nothing, is this all in my head?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (26 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Nah, don't ask her why you haven't been invited. Maybe you could talk to her earlier in the day and find out what she's doing and invite yourself. The last thing you want to do is come off as accusatory. She's going out to have fun, not to deal with a guilt trip. I know you said that it isn't the course of action that you want to take, but don't just sit there and tie yourself in knots over this. It's time to be active, not reactive.
posted by frecklefaerie at 12:42 PM on June 14, 2007

"Do you mind if I come along with you two next time?"
posted by demiurge at 12:44 PM on June 14, 2007

Give it some time. She probably wants to spend time with you alone because she wants to be alone with you. You've only been dating for a month--give yourselves (and her) the time to see where it's going.

Friends are a sure bet-- new relationships aren't. I'm sure she'll share you with her friends (and them with you) when she feels that you're a sure bet.

In the meantime, maybe look for ways to make some new friends of your own.

(And on preview, demiurge's advice is also good. But don't put her on the spot if she tells you she wants alone time with her friends.)
posted by idest at 12:46 PM on June 14, 2007

I don't think you're obsessing-- your feelings are hurt and that's often hard to communicate to a new partner without the fear of scaring them off. This is a very new relationship and you're still learning how to talk to one another. The next time she brings this up, mention in a non-confrontational way that it sounded like she had fun with these people you both know and you'd like it if all of you went out sometime. Maybe you can then gauge her reaction or find out why she hasn't chosen to invite you.

This is pure speculation, but you might have come across to these folks as uninterested in socializing when you were in your previous relationship and they don't think you want to get to know them better. Make the first step-- tell her what you've said above: "This socializing is important to me both to spend time with her and to spend time with others making better friends."
posted by hollisimo at 12:47 PM on June 14, 2007

You've only been dating for a month and it's not her responsibility to invite you into her circle of friends yet. What if you become part of her group of friends and then you two break up? It's not fair to her that she has to keep seeing you in the group. Give it some time. If you're still dating in six months and she still has never invited you out with her friends, ask this question again. Then it may mean something. Now? Just caution.

If you feel a need for friends you should try and make some of your own.
posted by poppo at 12:48 PM on June 14, 2007 [2 favorites]

Suggest and organise a meetup with her and her close friends. "Maybe the 4 of us could go out for coffee?"

She probably isn't embarrassed about dating you at all - it's just that she wants to be sure of you before she lets you into her life again. As it stands, you're only allowed in on part of her life. It's a way of not letting the barriers down too much too soon. It's a way of limiting the damage if the two of you don't work out. It's been a month, which isn't really a huge amount of time to get to know someone that well.

It might also be that she's not used to going out with her bf and her mates simultaneously, seeing as how she was in a LDR.

Make sure that you don't want to just piggyback her friends. Try making some of your own. This isn't easy, I know, and having a ready made circle just waiting to be tapped into probably seems like a dream come true, but they'll still be her friends first. Have your own circle. The best way I found was to organise a meet at work. You'll already know everyone there, and if you go somewhere informal like a pub, people will tend to let thier guard down a bit.
posted by Solomon at 12:50 PM on June 14, 2007

What hollismo said - she (and her friends) may have assumed that since you did not socialize with this particular group of people before, you're not interested in hanging out with them now. Or they might just think you're a loner who prefers one on one time with people rather than going out with a large group. I think you should suggest getting together with her and a few mutual acquaintences sometimes, then plan it, and have a good time.
posted by echo0720 at 12:58 PM on June 14, 2007

Plus, you know, she might just not want to be That Girl that starts dating someone and automatically starts bringing him to everything. If she's like 90% of women, she's experienced one of her friends doing this in high school or college, and was not impressed.

Really. It might not be a reflection on you at all. If you're in grad school, it should be even easier for you to take the advice above and start asking your classmates to coffee, to study groups, and to do general socializing without having to rely on your girlfriend. It'll be healthier in the long-run, anyway.
posted by iminurmefi at 1:06 PM on June 14, 2007

(Whoops, just realized I assumed you were a guy. She might also not want to be That Girl that drags her girlfriend to everything the second she starts dating someone new. My advice works for *all* orientations!)
posted by iminurmefi at 1:08 PM on June 14, 2007

If you become friends with her already close friends through her, if you break up then you will likely lose those friends. Just a caution. (That said I've found the best way to start introducing each other to friends is to find another couple that goes out together and arrange a dinner with the 4 of you.)
posted by ejaned8 at 1:14 PM on June 14, 2007

This may be too convoluted of me, but I find that people past a certain age have internalized certain dating cliches. Such as: "Men freak out if you try to involve them in the rest of your life too soon, because men are commitmentphobic and immature!"

Which is, of course, often not true for individual men, but still a lot of girls having read too many AskMe questions where the male commenters respond to EVERYTHING with "Run fast and far and don't look back!" will operate from a kind of general belief that these things are true.

So it may well be the case that this girl is thinking "I really like this guy, but you know those stories about men losing their shit if you ask him to hang out with your friend group before six months have passed and they've made some kind of declaration of intent. I better chill out."

Of course, this assumes that you're a dude. I notice that your language is (perhaps intentionally?) gender-neutral. I'm not a lesbian, so I can't speak to what a girl in a relationship with another girl might think at this point.

HOWEVER, in either case, I think it's perfectly acceptable for you to come up with a plan and invite her friends. Another couple would be ideal. "Hey, let's go see Nancy Drew this weekend! And let's invite Dan and Karen!"

Try not to come at it from a POV that she's trying to exclude you and that you're needy and lonely. If she doesn't respond at first, keep asking, in the most neutral/cheerful way you can. And of course, express interest in her friends. "Oh, did Marion end up going to Vegas last weekend? What happened?"

Personally, I think it's nice that you're interested in the rest of her life! Good luck to the both of you.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 1:29 PM on June 14, 2007 [2 favorites]

It might be that you are still seen as an outsider by your fellow students.

If you make one friend in the department on your own I think it could be a catalyst for you to integrate more with your fellow students. And then all of a sudden it would be a natural thing for your girlfriend to invite you along.
posted by BigSky at 1:31 PM on June 14, 2007

I don't know if this is likely to apply to your case, but I remember in my own similar situation, I was reluctant to introduce my sweetie to my friends because I was embarrassed of them.

They were my best pals from school and I spent a lot of time with them, but ours was a crowd that was not welcoming to strangers at all. I'd known them for years and enjoyed their company, but I was very reluctant to introduce someone new (especially someone sensitive like my sweetie) - I don't think they would know even how to start a normal conversation with someone outside our circle.
posted by cadge at 1:38 PM on June 14, 2007

"Whenever you're ready, I'd really like to meet your friends. They sound like great people."
posted by sneakin at 1:41 PM on June 14, 2007

I think you're somewhat justified in feeling left out. What's missing in the responses above is that these are people that you know already. If they were just friends of hers that you had never met or were clearly part of her own social circle, I would say let her integrate you at her own space. But since she's mentioning that she's hanging out with people from your department that you know as well, I kinda think maybe she really doesn't think you're very interested in being social like that.

The next time it happens and she mentions that she went out with x and y for dinner or drinks or whatever and you know x and y, you might want to say something along the lines of (in a very friendly way) "Hey, you should have called me; I would have loved to catch up with those two!" - and then see what she says.

I wouldn't press too hard though since, as you note, it's early in the relationship and you don't want to seem whiney.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 1:42 PM on June 14, 2007

Maybe she has been very critical of her friends' boyfriends or some of her friends have been highly critical of her past boyfriends, which might be making her afraid to introduce you to them.
posted by HotPatatta at 1:45 PM on June 14, 2007

She can hardly gush about you when you're sitting right there, can she?
posted by hermitosis at 1:49 PM on June 14, 2007 [2 favorites]

Some people just prefer one-on-one time. Maybe she thinks you don't want to go out with the girls. Maybe she wants girl's night out time. Who knows?

Ask her if she wants to do something with Bob and Sally. If she says yes, give Bob and Sally a call. You've got to take some initiative (it's not like they're TOTAL stranges if they're in your department).
posted by misanthropicsarah at 1:51 PM on June 14, 2007

How long have you been in this department? If it's several years of not socializing with people in the department, at this point people may be used to not including you.

Do you now make a point to show up to departmental social events? If you overhear people discussing some social event, do you ask more about it or invite yourself along? You have to let people know that you want to hang out with them. One way to do this is to regularly start showing up at, or even organizing, social gatherings of people in your department. It doesn't even have to be a social thing - you could organize a reading group, or some kind of regular meeting for people to discuss their research. Provide incentives for people to show up, such as providing food. Once they've been spending time with you and chitchatting, they'll start inviting you to smaller social gatherings not of the 'everybody in the department is invited' sort.

What you don't want to do is to socialize with people in your department through your girlfriend. Because if you two break up, you'll probably be left out of the social loop again.
posted by needled at 1:51 PM on June 14, 2007

Your concern is entirely reasonable. In my experience, a girl who is truly into you will want to, how can I put it, show you off to her best buddies, and then for you to get properly acquainted with them. Either she isn't that into you, or she's just a cold detached fish, or maybe she even likes running multiple flirts simultaneously and thinks you'll cramp her style: whichever way you slice it, it doesn't look good. If it were I in your situation, I'd bring it swiftly to a head: I'd say: I want a relationship in which we share our lives, not live them separately, which means going out and seeing friends together, do you want that?

Having said which, you might also make the effort to make a friend or two yourself.
posted by londongeezer at 2:38 PM on June 14, 2007

One hand: you're both out of long-term relationships. She doesn't want to rush into the next one, and until she's sure it's going to last, she doesn't want her friends to become *your* friends. She's being rational and mature, don't hold it against her.

Other hand: sometimes, people sleep with someone that they wouldn't be proud to admit they're sleeping with. You might be one of those.

Hard to say which one; why don't you ask? Specifically, say something along the lines of "It sounds like you had a lot of fun; mind if I tag along next time, or is it too soon?" In saying this, you're admitting that you realize she might not be ready to share other aspects of her life with you, and that you'll be receptive to her coming clean about it. Of course, if she's leaving you out because she's embarrassed, then she'll probably respond similarly -- but you'll have an opportunity to feel if her response rings true with sincerity or not, and that can help you judge.

Meanwhile: why don't you make friends with some of these other people, and invite a few of 'em out for lunch? Maybe they'll say yes, maybe no; maybe they'll suggest she come with, maybe not. The point here is that you need to take responsibility for meeting new friends *independently of* this relationship issue. Oh, and if you do go out with these folks, don't bring up the fact that you're dating, and if someone inquires, just change the subject.

Actually, perhaps this is another good way of figuring this out: plan a minor social event with some folks she knows, and then before the event ask: "I'm going out with a few folks you hang out with; if they ask, are you comfortable with me admitting that we're dating, or would you rather I change the subject?" Her response should give you food for thought.
posted by davejay at 4:28 PM on June 14, 2007

Some people just like to keep their various circles, activities & environments separate from each other. To give a simple model, your work colleagues, family, friends & sporting buddies really don't have a whole lotta need to be knowing or interacting with each other (altho family & close friends would be a common exception). You can also keep separate circles of friends who don't have much in common, for example.

Along those lines, I can understand how some people might like to keep their 'private' relationship life separate from one or more of their 'public' personae. Apart from not having to care about everybody knowing your personal business, this also helps insulate you from the fallout caused by breakups, as others have pointed out. It also allows you to develop and express different aspects of your personality.

It could well be that she is doing something like this. One consequence of this kind of approach is that she may be quite a different person around those friends, and maybe she just doesn't want you to see what she & her friends are like when together, or perhaps she feels that you're not entirely compatible with them. It's not as if all of one's friends are somehow magically an automatic social match with one's partner, because we can seek different kinds of things in different people, for different purposes.

Finally, it's only been a month! You need to get yourself some therapy, and she should run, run fast, and not look back!

(that last bit thrown in for obligatory consistency with every single AskMe relationship thread)
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:50 PM on June 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

I hope this doesn't come off as rude, but if a guy I had only been dating for a month expressed that he felt left out when I did things with my own friends, I would think he was kind of a freak. Like your new girlfriend, I am a gregarious person with a wide social circle. I am sure she is just living her life the way she is used to living it, plus dating a new guy. I don't think you need to overthink it or assume she is ashamed of you or her friends. This seems very normal to me.

You are lonely because you don't know enough people. This is a separate problem that you have to solve by yourself, without bringing your new girlfriend into it. Even if she starts bringing you out all the time, it's not the same thing as having friends of your own. I know it's very easy to say "make new friends", but you can't rely on your girlfriend to introduce you to people. You could always initiate things with people in the department on your own, and then invite your girlfriend to come along.
posted by alicetiara at 9:36 PM on June 14, 2007

I am sure she is just living her life the way she is used to living it, plus dating a new guy.

In a nutshell!
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:55 PM on June 14, 2007

Another thing is that she might not want to let the whole department know that you two are an item yet. If I was dating someone I and my friends interacted with frequently (like a classmate or coworker), I'd probably give it a while to make sure it was going well and going to last before shouting it from the rooftops. Moreso if I'd just gotten out of a serious relationship.

Make your own friends and give her time (at least a few more weeks) to let her feel confident enough in your relationship to parade you around in front of everyone you both know.
posted by rmless at 9:03 AM on June 15, 2007

This sounds totally normal to me. You've only been dating a month, that doesn't seem like time enough to decide to incorporate a partner into every aspect of one's life. I think it might actually still be reasonably at the point where it would be considered a bit rude to suggest group outings rather than lovey-dovey "us only" dates, but maybe that's just my introverted side talking.

I think all of the suggestions above about talking to her and letting her know, casually, that you're interested in hanging out with her friends whenever she's comfortable with that are good.

Also, and I think more importantly, your loneliness is not hers to fix. It's yours to fix. Don't saddle her with the responsibility to fix your life; it's neither fair nor healthy.
posted by occhiblu at 9:43 AM on June 15, 2007

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