I love my friends. I've been close with them since middle school, and spending time with them really makes me happy. However, I'm starting to notice more and more that none of them invite me to get together. I would invite them to hang out, but I'm too afraid that the problem is that they don't like me anymore!
Have you ever gotten to a four-way stop at the same time as another car, decided to let them go first, and then found yourself wasting time because the other driver had adopted your same strategy? Neither car wanted to be rude by making the first move, but in turn, you were both stuck, awkwardly, in the same place.
Making plans with friends is kind of the same story. Oftentimes, we don’t ask people to do things with us because we’re worried we’ll be rejected, or we just want the satisfaction and self-esteem boost of having been asked first. Remember that everyone has felt this way at one time or another, including the friends who are leaving you out. There’s a good chance that one of them is waiting for you to dictate the weekend plans. If you both keep politely waiting at the stop sign, nobody’s going to get anywhere.
Another possibility is that, by trying not to seem hurt about having been ignored in the past, you’ve said or done something that suggests to your friends that you’re not interested in being invited, or like you have better things to do. Obviously, you shouldn’t sit around moping and making puppy-dog eyes at them if they go to a movie without you, but acting too indignant could just perpetuate the problem. If you overhear them discussing an event they went to, try saying something like, “Oh, I actually stayed home kind of bored on Saturday. I wish I’d have known that was going on.” Their response might explain why you were left out—maybe they went together because their parents know each other, or maybe they were seeing a band they didn’t realize you’d be interested in.
But if it turns out that your friends are keeping you uninformed about plans for different reasons, the best way to squash those hurt feelings is by finding something fun to do without them this time. If you see someone wearing a t-shirt for a show you like, strike up a conversation and maybe ask them to come over and watch it with you sometime. It might feel awkward and forced at first, but you never know who else is bored and looking for a new friend to spend time with. This doesn’t mean you need to block out your other friends—in fact, ignoring them or trying to make them jealous will only cause more issues and ensure that you feel even more left out than before—but meeting new people is a lot more fun than looking at Facebook pictures of parties you weren’t at.
While I can only address one question a week, keep in mind that every comment is read and considered, and an answer to your question might pop up at any time. If you’re seeking advice, leave your topic suggestion on this post. Also, if you have anything to add (agreeing or disagreeing with my advice!) or personal stories to share with the writer of today’s question, I encourage you to leave a comment. Be good to each other, be good to yourself, and be a presence!