Reader Left Out writes,
I was wondering if you have some advice about being excluded from a group that used to invite you to their parties (or in general about exclusion situations). We live in a neighborhood where several families (about 7-9) get together and have parties (most of our kids are around the same age too and go to the local school together). I've kinda figured out that several of them get together more frequently and are more close knit which is ok. However, on Saturday, we drove by one of their houses and they were having a big party with almost all the neighbors attending. It seemed very obvious that we were excluded. I'm now upset and confused as what to do because there are several dynamics involved.
For one, I started working for the lady who threw the party this past year. Secondly, one of the neighbors who went I would consider one of my good friends. While talking about plans for the 4th, she never mentioned the party and acted like she had no plans. I think I might have a small inkling why we are being excluded (because my husband doesn't get along with some people in the group and may have offended them) but since I shouldn't assume and no one will say anything, I am left in this predicament. Should I say anything to either person? Should I just cut my losses with this whole group and resign from my job (I would feel uncomfortable working for someone I feel doesn't regard me favorably).
The situation has also made me have horrible anxiety (I'm also a highly sensitive introvert). Thanks so much!
It certainly hurts to be excluded from a group, as I discuss with this mom who felt excluded by the other preschool moms. However, I think that you have more than an inkling about why you and your husband weren't invited to the party; you have said that he doesn't get along with some of the other people there. I think that if you objectively consider the situation, if a bunch of people don't find it comfortable to be with one person, they will usually not invite that person. That person is your husband, and you didn't get invited as a casualty.
You have a few options, but all of them are going to require putting yourself out there, which will make you anxious, at least at first. If you don't know exactly what your husband did to offend the other people, you can have a discussion with him about it, asking what he did. If he knows and tells you, tell him how much you liked being included in the neighborhood social events and ask him to apologize for any behavior that upset the other neighbors. An apology is usually taken well, and you guys may get reinstated in the neighborhood social events.
If you feel that your husband's offensive behavior was unintentional, but you can see why the others would have been hurt, you can apologize on his behalf to your friend, and say that you wish you guys would hang out more again. Extend an invitation to spend time together that weekend, and hope that she takes you up on it.
If your attempts to repair the situation don't go well, then there are many fish in the sea, and you can make new friends. It is hard as an introvert, which is why I think you would first need to have a discussion with your husband about making sure not to offend anyone that you invite over. I don't know exactly what he has done, but if it's something he can remedy, like not joking around in an off-color or offensive way, then that would be very helpful in your friend-making and friend-keeping efforts. If all else fails, have your social life yourself, hanging out with female friends, and don't do family or couple activities unless they are with friends that he makes himself.
Please try not to impute malicious motivations to the people involved in this situation. I think your friend was trying to prevent an awkward conversation by telling you she didn't know if she had plans, and was hoping you'd be away and wouldn't see the party. And I do not think you should quit your job over this. This would be a relatively small thing to end your employment over, in the grand scheme of things, unless you think that this woman is out to get you at work because of how much she dislikes you or your husband, which doesn't seem to be the case.
I suggest that you see a counselor if your anxiety continues to impact your life and socializing. Social anxiety and fear of rejection can be passed down from parents to kids, and there are ways to learn how to be more positive and less negative and anxious in front of your kids especially.
Good luck, and I hope you get back in the social swing of things soon. Till we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist Who Says, Listen To Your Inklings.
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