In her 2011 book, Mindy Kaling posed the question, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? The answer is yes — at least some of the time — and the evidence of these hang seshes are plastered all over your Instagram feed. But if you've been noticing your pals have been regularly spending time together without you, it's easy to wonder: What gives?
"This [feeling] is totally normal, especially given the amount we use social media," says Shasta Nelson, author of the book Frientimacy: How To Deepen Friendships For Lifelong Health and Happiness. "But the truth is, we're actually more likely to feel more supported if our friends do know each other, instead of having a bunch of one-off relationships." So the fact that your friends are friends with each other is actually extremely beneficial — especially in adulthood, when people tend to have fragmented social lives."It makes for a better support system for you overall," she says. According to Nelson, this is because your pals can work together to help you through a personal issue, instead of you having to go through single avenues of support that don't really mesh.
That benefit, however, can be meaningless if you're seeing that your friends went to the farmer's market again without you. But Nelson says it's important to remember that this kind of thing might not be personal. "There are so many different dynamics that might point to why your friends are spending time without you," she says. "They could live closer together, they may have just bumped into one another, or they may think it's inconvenient for you to join them." For example, if you live in Manhattan, and your pals live in Brooklyn, they may just be thinking that you don't want to take the hour-long train ride to meet them for a quick brunch. "It's important not to take it personally," Nelson says.
But if you are feeling slighted, there are steps you can take to rectify the situation. "If this happens once, you might want to let it go," says Paulette Sherman, PsyD. "But if it becomes a pattern, you're totally within your rights to bring it up to a friend." Both she and Nelson say that the best course of action is to be as non-accusatory as possible. "You could say something like, 'I miss hanging out with you guys! But I've noticed I haven't been invited the last few times — did I do something wrong?'" Dr. Sherman says. Nelson also suggests pointing out how much fun a certain hangout session looks. "You could say, 'That concert looked like so much fun! I love that band,'" she says. "That might open the conversation up to where your friend explains why you were left out."
Nelson also points out that it's not always your friends' responsibility to set up plans — you could make plans for all of you, too. "I think the healthiest thing is to take responsibility for initiating the relationships we want to have," Nelson says. "So if you're feeling like everyone is hanging out without you, then be proactive and set up situations in which you're all together." Sure, it might feel like everyone's leaving you in the dust. But if you want in on the plans, sometimes it's better to just make them yourself.