News, Culture & Society

Help! I know my friends are leaving me out

Novelist, grandmother of four and former Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis, 61, answers your questions …

Q: I recently introduced two friends but now I’m worried they are leaving me out.

It all started when an old university friend moved to the town I live in. She didn’t know anyone nearby, and I wanted to make her feel welcome, so I hosted a dinner party to introduce her to my friends.

It was a huge success and she got on particularly well with a woman I know from tennis.

A reader asks Janet for advice on what to do when they feel that their friends are leaving them out (file image)

While I was initially very pleased, I have just found out they have since been going on regular lunches and making other plans behind my back.

At 52, I know how childish this sounds but cannot help feeling a little hurt. What should I do?

A: You are entitled to feel miffed. You have been a very thoughtful friend and this seems a poor way to repay you.

It is rewarding when you introduce friends and they get on. And it’s natural that, at some point, a large group of friends splinters into clusters as people discover mutual interests or matching timetables.

These two wouldn’t necessarily have expected you to keep providing a place and time to meet, and took the initiative. Their first approach to each other was probably well-intentioned. They may have felt you wouldn’t want to sit in on a ‘getting to know you’ session and decided to meet — once — to swap stories. Unfortunately, this has set a pattern.

They will have felt excited to discover they had so much in common — but they seem to have bypassed loyalty.

Janet urges the reader to avoid jumping to assumptions but rather to get in touch with their friends (file image)

Janet urges the reader to avoid jumping to assumptions but rather to get in touch with their friends (file image)

I note that you haven’t seen these two since introducing them. If enough time has elapsed for them to have had several meetings before you found out, then they may not consider themselves your closest friends. The question is: why do you mind them meeting without you? Do you feel left out of a trio, or are you not as close to either of them as they seem to be to each other?

If you feel childish, it’s probably because there is some un-grown-up behaviour going on all round. It’s interesting you found out about their meetings through someone else. The motives of that bearer of bad tidings are a little suspect, too. It may not be intentional, but forming little gangs and leaving people out (then sneaking about it) is the stuff of the playground — but you’re an adult and can stand up for yourself.

If you want to see your friends together, don’t let what you’ve heard stop you getting in touch. The same applies if you see them individually. When you do, keep it light; don’t give them an opportunity to sulk. These meetings may not have been as frequent as you’ve been told.

Assume they didn’t plan to leave you out but just didn’t include you. There is a difference. That they didn’t think you’d mind may be because you don’t make a fuss about things.

Perhaps you tend to be the provider. Well, now it’s your turn to make demands. It’s true that these two owe you — and not just for dinner.