What To Do When Your Friends Aren’t Really Friends

friends aren't really friends

Dear Blush,

At the moment, I’ve been wondering whether my friends are the best friends for me. I have heard them talking about me behind my back and when I have asked them if they are free, they say no but then I find out a couple of them are hanging out together. I feel like I am always chasing them to catch up and they just ignore me. It gets so frustrating!

Also, we were buying tickets to go to Shawn Mendes and I don’t know him that well but I like his music. Anyway, we were getting pre-sale tickets and you can only get a maximum of 4 tickets at once so we had to split up but they kept on saying to me, “Are you sure you want to go? Because you said you don’t like him.” But I do!!! I really like my friends but these past few weeks they have really changed. I don’t know whether I have done something to upset them but I don’t want to ask. I already ask heaps if they’re free and it’s just getting so frustrating because they say they’re not free but they’re at home watching Netflix. That means I can’t go out and do the stuff I want because I don’t have anyone to do it with. Also if I left our friendship group, I don’t know who I would go to. Please help me. I don’t know whether to wait it out a bit longer and see if it clears up because they are really great most of the time and it’s really fun when we actually do catch up.

Do I need New Friends? -Australia

Hi Australia!

I have some good news and bad news for you. 

The bad news: These girls are not your friends.

The good news: It can only get better from here.

Chasing after affection, attention, respect, admiration, or anything of the like is exhausting. It sounds like you have been giving it your ALL to appease and acquiesce your “friends” with hardly any response back (to your face) other than a “are you really sure you want to come?” If you have done something to bother them, I would hope that real friends would have the courtesy to notify you. And if these girls were actually your friends, I would hope you would have the courage to ask. But since neither is happening, I find it hard to believe that these relationships are in fact friendships.

I understand how daunting it can feel to leave behind a “comfort” zone (I use quotations considering this zone is about as comfortable as a lion’s den) and branch out to find new relationships. I suggest you have an open and honest conversation about your observations over the past few weeks. There is a *slim* chance this could have been a misunderstanding. There is a slight chance that you did something to upset these girls. There is a profound chance that this group abides by clique rules and it’s not any fun unless someone feels left out. But at least giving them the option to defend their behavior and offer an explanation could clear the air. And it can give you practice on proper confrontation and communication skills.

Walking away without confrontation will only leave unanswered questions swirling through your mind and the lack of verbal evidence will clearly impact your willingness to stay. It doesn’t matter how old you are – losing a group of friends is devastating, even if they mistreated you. You girls obviously shared some fun memories and at one point in time got along rather well. There’s a reason you gravitated towards them in the first place. So if you want to turn lemons into lemonade, bookmark those attractive qualities and let them guide you in your search for new friends. But also take heed of the reason(s) it feel apart: the avoidance, the game playing, the passive aggression….ew. No thank you. These tactics deserve no place in friendships and should be called out religiously.

Speaking of…standing up for yourself is a habit that I would like for you to implement into your life today. It’s true that not everybody is going to want to be your best friend, that’s just how life goes. One of my favorite quotes in the WORLD is by Dita Von Teese: “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” No matter how fabulous or entertaining you might be, you’re not going to click with everyone. But this does not excuse poor behavior from others, and this does not excuse your responsibility to stand up for yourself.

If you cannot be honest about your feelings in a relationship, then the relationship is mimicking more of an acquaintance than an actual friendship. A cornerstone of true connection is the ability to have difficult conversations. And this goes for ALL of your relationships. If you find this to be a pattern in your life, we’d love to help you work through it. If this lack of communication is an anomaly circling this one particular friendship group, then you already have your answer.

What that being said, it seems like one of two things are preventing you from speaking up: a) you are assuming you already know the end result of the conversation and don’t want to endure it or b) You don’t feel comfortable putting yourself out there out of fear they will reject you.

If it’s the former, then it’s up to you whether you want to have the conversation or not. I usually stand in favor of good practice, so I would encourage you to rip the bandaid off and give it a whirl. The worst that can happen is you have final closure that it’s time to move on. If it’s the latter, then this isn’t about THEM not being good friends to YOU, it’s about YOU understanding that this isn’t a good match. Friendships rely on authenticity within each party. If you can’t be yourself around your friends, then what’s the point?

Overall, the fickle tendency of this clique drives me to side with the inevitability that this friendship group is not worth saving. There’s no reason to believe this pattern won’t continue in the future, and I think everyone deserves friendships that encourage feelings of self-confidence, love, respect, and happiness. So even if this is a big giant misunderstanding – the coping mechanisms being employed right now make me incredibly dubious that this dynamic would ever be healthy.

Another thing I noticed you are worried about is pursuing fun activities by yourself. I would love for you to try as hard as you can to get over that fear.

Being alone is not the same as being lonely. I understand that all of us want companionship, but a great way to meet friends is by actually going out into the world solo. Think about the things that you’d like to do but “can’t” without this group. You can go to concerts by yourself. You can go to the movies by yourself. You can volunteer by yourself. In fact you can seriously do anything by yourself – but it takes courage and it takes confidence. However, it can also lead you to friendships that already have a strong commonality: hobbies! If you are bold enough to be alone, you are bold enough to attract friendships that VALUE you. And that’s really what you’re looking for, after all.

Never wait for others to give you permission to do what you love. You deserve to pursue entertaining experiences whether or not this group wants to come along or not (which by the way it doesn’t seem like they have been accompanying you anyway so you might as well go for it).

I know this sucks, but again, there was some good news. Think about all of the headspace you will save by not fixating on whether or not you’ll have plans for this Friday night. You won’t obsess over the rude comments being made behind your back and you won’t wonder how you are going to cope with the disappointment of being left out again. Your energy can be focused on ANYTHING else. Yes, the initial amount of space in the beginning might be terrifying, but I promise you’ll fill it up quickly. There are too many events, books, people, and places to justify feeling lonely against your will. You just have to give yourself the opportunity to pursue a new life. And by letting go of these friendships, that is exactly what you’ll be doing.

Australia, I hope this helps your predicament and gives you the energy to fight for your confidence. We are here for you if you need more help navigating this clique and finding people who bring out the light in you. We wish you the absolute best.

Blush you!

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