HerTake: Dropped From a Group of Friends

HerTake: Dropped From a Group of Friends

Today’s question comes from a college student who feels that all of her friendships are falling apart at once and she’d like to go into the next school year feeling better about herself and her social life.

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Dear Nina,

I just finished my second year of college and I’ve been noticing that a lot of my friendships are falling apart–a number that seems way larger than normal. Some of these friends are people that I saw regularly in class or on campus because we had the same schedule. And some are people I know as part of a group.

The group of friends still spends time together, but they seem to avoid me. This has occurred with at least six friends from the group who I was very close with. It’s been making me think that I’m a bad friend or a bad person. I have always tended to be someone who is worried about taking time from people or disturbing them. I understand that people change and that at points in life friends are busy and don’t have time for everyone. But after a while, even though I make time for them, they just seem to be ignoring me.


Time to Make New Friends? (Or am I over-thinking it?)


Dear Time to Make New Friends,

If you’ve read a few of my answers to friendship questions, then you might expect me to say that you’re reading into your friends’ distance. While I stand behind my tendency to err towards encouraging the benefit of the doubt, not assuming everything is about “us,” and taking more time to assess a situation before jumping to relationship-changing decisions, I find your case requires a different take. My sense is that yes, it is time to make new friends. I’m referring more to the group of friends, but I’ll get back to them in a moment.

As far as the friends from class go, I would not read too much into that situation. It’s common in college (and forever after those years) to have friends that start out of convenience and end soon after the circumstances of convenience change. If you meet a friend from class and the two of you truly click on a deep level, then it’s more likely that the friendship will exist beyond that semester’s study sessions and walks to and from class. I think it’s great when that happens, but there’s also no shame in enjoying friendships that stay in a boundary. It’s wonderful to have a buddy in a class (or at work) who makes those hours more enjoyable with no expectations from either party about what that friendship will look like outside of the circumstance that brought you together. My advice for next semester’s classes is to make a real effort with one or two people that seem like good outside-of-class friend potential, but do not assume that every friendly face and study partner will remain in your life after the semester.

Now back to the friends from the group. As I said, yes, you need to make new friends. Why such a rash answer? My feeling is that even if your friends have a good reason in their minds for giving you the cold shoulder, I would hope at least one of them would have mustered the courage and decency to tell you why. Also, I believe that our gut feelings about relationships are important and I find it hard to imagine that your sense of being left out of the group activities is completely off base. I don’t have to know you to say with certitude that you do not need that kind of drama in your life. The ganging-up-on-one-friend behavior is best left behind in junior high. Steer clear of this crew.

I know it’s painful that a group of women is not accepting you for reasons you’re not clear about, but that does not make you a bad friend or a bad person. You have not found the friends that are right for you, and the search for them next semester may not (and perhaps should not) involve a whole group. Take it one friend at a time. And remember, one or two close friends might be more than enough.

One final bit of advice, I do not want you to waste your time worrying about why this particular group wants their distance. I see too many people overanalyzing why certain friendships do not work. You still have more years of college ahead of you and this time in your life is rich with potential for new friends. You’ve asked yourself if you’re a good friend and just asking yourself that question means you’re thinking about what matters in friendship. Beyond the basics of making sure you’re doing as much (if not more) listening as talking, being trustworthy, and acting with kindness at the core of each interaction, I think it’s safe to assume you’re not doing anything wrong. The rest may be up to chemistry, which takes trial and error.

Good luck and go out there next semester with an open mind and some excitement about a fresh start.



  1. Dakota Nyght says:

    Ooooh, Time to Make New Friends, I’m sorry. That does hurt. I agree with Nina… it’s time to move on, and value yourself enough to let these “friends” fall to the wayside.

    I think finding healthy friendships and healthy romantic relationships both come back to the same root – owning your personality and knowing what you bring to the table. Believing in yourself, valuing what you have to offer, and trusting that you are deserving of good friendship (and not just what is “convenient”) is hard to do (oh, how I have been there!) but once you do it, the rewards are so rich. You may not have lots and lots of friends, but the few “besties” you make will be true, lasting, and absolutely worth it.

    All my best wishes to you on this friendship journey. I know it’s hard and feels terrible. You can do it!
    Dakota Nyght recently posted…How to Win the Worst Parent of the Year AwardMy Profile

  2. I am not sure I can add to Nina’s advice – which is excellent. But it’s true: there are many more friendship fishes in the sea who DESERVE your friendship. I really hate how mean young women and girls can be, and I’d like to say it goes away when we’re adults, but that is not always the case. As Nina says, finding a few solid friends is the key. I’ve always said that a person who can say she has ONE truly close friend in life is a lucky person. It only takes one.
    Melissa Crytzer Fry recently posted…Spring Memories ~ IIMy Profile

  3. I loved this advice in particular “I know it’s painful that a group of women is not accepting you for reasons you’re not clear about, but that does not make you a bad friend or a bad person.” When you aren’t included in a group friend dynamic, you start to question if you are the problem and many times it has nothing to do with you. You are forced to speculate on incomplete information.

    I agree with Nina and think it is best to move on and find friends who are worthy of your time. This might take some time and along the way you may hit some of the same issues, but there are empowering women who will comfort and support you. Good luck.

    Great advice as always, Nina.
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  4. Tamara says:

    Aw, my heart aches for her because I remember the turmoils of friendships in college. I’m not saying you get exempt from them through the rest of life either, though. I just know that friendship is so key to our well-being, and before we have spouses and/or children, it’s friends who get us through.. everything.
    I think your advice wasn’t rash. Or it was only rash where it needed to be.
    Tamara recently posted…Something So Right.My Profile

  5. Gail F says:

    Nina, I really appreciate this topic as I had this happen to me shortly after college. It really broke my heart. A good close friend, whom I lived in the same building and traveled with, completely cut me off and never said why. She stopped taking my calls and refused all contact with me. It wasn’t until over 15 years later that I realized I was the only one in her circle, including her mom, who knew she had an abortion, talked her through making this hard decision. The child was conceived with a married man and she wished for a relationship of her own and not to break up the marriage. Maybe she was upset that I ‘talked her into it’ or ‘knew too much about it’. Either way, I never told anyone and neither did she but I reminded her of this bad time and she needed to be done with me.

  6. Well said, Nina. Sometimes it is best to “cut your losses” and start fresh. I hope that doesn’t sound cold or callus. It’s just that life is too short to waste time trying to be friends with people who are not showing you respect and kindness. Of course it’s not easy, but in the long run you’ll reap the benefits of having more caring friends.
    Jackie Cangro recently posted…The One With Starting OverMy Profile

  7. Allie says:

    I totally agree with your advice, but I also feel for the girl. Oh, I didn’t miss being that age. I want to send her a virtual hug!

  8. Dana says:

    Your advice to not waste time worrying about why these women want their distance is great, but I know how hard that is! This certainly sounds like a case of “it’s not me, it’s them,” though, and ruminating over the whys won’t help.
    Dana recently posted…Some body to loveMy Profile

  9. I agree that moving on from these friendships is likely the right thing to do. I might step back and look at what those people have in common, and what attracted you to them in the first place. Was it that you just wanted to have someone to be around to keep from being alone? Did you have real connection? Finding one or two people that you really feel a kinship with is far better than a group of friends where you feel like the outsider all the time.
    Jennifer Wolfe recently posted…6 Ways To Stop “Future-Tripping” And Be Present In Your LifeMy Profile

  10. alexandra says:

    I’m with Nina, and her kind, sincere advice. We need to value ourselves and see what we bring to the world. As painful as rejection is, we can’t allow people to treat us badly. Hard pill to swallow, but we will be better with it.

  11. Joy says:

    Great advice as always, Nina! I particularly appreciate how you underscored the lesson of not always thinking it’s about us, as well as to avoid the temptation of overanalyzing why it didn’t work out. I can’t even begin to tell you how many years I’ve wasted doing that and it’s really very unproductive and definitely one of the most unloving things we can do to ourselves. So, amen to your words, sister! I hope Time To Make New Friends heeds your wise words!
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