Carolyn Hax: Take control of your social life

May 12, 2014 

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Hi, Carolyn: This week I had it clearly spelled out for me that there's an inner circle of moms in our neighborhood, and I'm not in it. The message came from someone I'd actually considered a good friend, which made it even harder to swallow.

While I won't seek out any of these women in the future, it's difficult to avoid them entirely. I would love your thoughts on how best to move forward, apart from putting on a brave smile and staying close with true friends.

ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN

I have felt this exact pain, so I'm not being cavalier: I hope you'll reconsider your scorched-earth, "I won't seek out any of these women in the future," response. They have an inner circle, OK; you're not in it, ouch; but that doesn't automatically invalidate each relationship you have with each group member.

You might also ask yourself, objectively, whether you even want to run with this pack. There is great power, confidence and liberation in not caring about your social ladder position and in conducting your social life on your terms.

Plus, groups have their own chemistry, to the point that it can be constructive to think of them as a person unto themselves. You can not click with a group dynamic while fitting in really well with its member(s) one-on-one.

Re: Outside: Ask yourself why you'd want to belong to a group that seems to spend a lot of time and energy on deliberately excluding and ostracizing others.

ANONYMOUS

Ehhhhhhhh I have mixed feelings about this.

Yes, some groups are deliberately exclusive, and who wants those?

But, some perfectly decent people can get into a nice groove together, with no exclusive intent, and so going out of your way to vilify them just because you're on the outside seems needlessly petty and self-defeating.

Email tellme@washpost.com. Chat online at 10 a.m. Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.

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