to offer a different perspective on the "clique" thing

(300 Posts)
CailinDana Fri 21-Mar-14 15:18:57

I sympathise with people who struggle to make friends. It's hard, and loneliness is horrible. I've been in situations where I've struggled to make friends and it was extremely frustrating.

But. I always saw my lack of friends as my problem or the product of circumstances rather than the fault of "cliquey" others who wouldn't include me.

Aren't "cliques" just friendship groups that you don't happen to be part of? And surely it's not their duty to include you if they don't want to? It's up to them who they want to be friends with and it seems odd to get angry at them for not just insiscriminately including everyone.

Definitely, some peope are just Not Nice. But why want to be friends with them anyway? Everyone else is just bumbling along getting by. If they happen to have a group of friends they laugh with at the school gate, good for them.

Don't look to others to validate you. They just don't have the time or inclination to do that.

Timetoask Fri 21-Mar-14 15:48:24

Insecure and anxious, really? Oh dear, I have no hope.
The thing is though, its like a chicken and egg situation. You an insecure because no one includes you and no one includes you because you come across an insecure.
It takes just a couple of really nice people who give you a chance, despite whatever insecurity you are projecting, to help you come out of it. And it is so difficult to find really nice no agenda selfless people.

CailinDana Fri 21-Mar-14 15:49:10

But Nancy do people actually want to be in a clique? To me it appears that like minded people become friends and then others see it as a clique while the friends just see it as hanging out with people they like.

Dahlen Fri 21-Mar-14 15:49:10

I think it's probably a bit of both. <fence sitter>

A lot of the time when there's a supposed clique - let's use the school gates scenario - it's all about perception. As a PP said, people tend to gravitate towards people they know which gives the appearance of a clique, when mostly what's happening is no one wants to be stood in the middle of the playground on their own looking like billy no mates. If you don't know anyone, it looks as though everyone else is part of a group but you.

The only solution to this is to strike up a conversation with someone. 9x out of 10 people are friendly. But if you don't make the effort, most people are so wrapped up in their own lives that they won't even notice you. And if they don't notice you, how can they be intentionally excluding you? However, if they do notice you and you stand there on your own day after day, they may well conclude that you're a bit unfriendly and standoffish and avoid you. Catch 22.

Some people possess excellent social skills and perception, are lovely and see it as their personal mission to help others. They will notice a lonely person in the playground and make the effort to bring them into the fold. Most of us, however, are just getting through our own lives day by day and are simply making idle chit chat while waiting to send our DC in to school or collect them without even registering who else is in the playground other than the first person we recognised that we were happy to chat to.

Throw in a bit of bitchy resting face... wink

All that said, while I can't claim to be actively on the lookout for newcomers, I make a point of trying to include anyone I notice who is new or appears ill at ease. I've spent a large part of my life being the new person in town and remember how grateful I was for that first friendly smile and series of introductions. I think most decent people should/would do the same - if they notice you.

And that's the rub. Make yourself noticed and give the first hello. Most people will meet you in kind.

FreudiansSlipper Fri 21-Mar-14 15:51:27

I have had people try to pull me into a clique only picking certain people I would rather not sped time with them on their own they may be quite different

WorraLiberty Fri 21-Mar-14 15:51:43

Also I think some people forget that just because you happened to choose to send your child to the same school, it doesn't mean you have anything remotely in common with some people.

CailinDana Fri 21-Mar-14 15:55:13

Timetoask - while I sympathise, I have to say that everyone has their own life going on and it's not really healthy ir sensible to expect someone "selfless" to come along and put in all the effort of seeing the real you. Friendship should be a fun, two-way thing, not a situation where one person is chasing another trying to get them to open up.

EEatingSoupForLunch Fri 21-Mar-14 15:55:47

Real friends is one thing. But NCT groups/toddler groups/mums you meet on maternity leave/people at the school pick up - why on earth not include people? It's not like these are soul mates with whom you can bare your inmost secrets. I always like to try to include people who look a bit left out, because it might just make them happier, which would be good, and if not, nothing lost.

Cobain Fri 21-Mar-14 15:58:15

The problem with the playground is the influence on children. I went into the school drop naively believing I could wander in drop dc off and be on my merry way. I had no idea that I had to become friends with other mums to ensure inclusion of my child. I have made mainly acquaintances and not friendships at the school gates as they are formed around my DCs and not myself and the other person. This is very common on threads I want to invite child A as I am friends with mother but child wants to invite child B what shall I do. If your child does not fit the groups specification then you can be excluded.

WorraLiberty Fri 21-Mar-14 15:59:55

I'm the same EEatingSoup regarding trying to include people.

But some people have given no indication at all that they'd like to chat to some of the groups you see in the playground.

Yet they've stood there moaning about cliques.

No-one's a mind reader.

cheeseandfickle Fri 21-Mar-14 16:00:18

To me, a clique is a group of people that gossip about others and are bitchy, cold and unfriendly to newcomers.

I've never come across any cliques in the playground at school, but then I've never been one to bother with trying to make friends on the school run, and any that I have made have been individual friends, rather than a group. I couldn't be bothered to stand around outside the gates chatting until 10am every morning.

I did go to a spin class for a few weeks and it was what I would describe as cliquey; everyone very chummy with each other but cold and offhand with newcomers, lots of "in" jokes that weren't shared with newcomers, lots of "X normally sits on that bike, you'll have to move" so that I ended up with a broken bike on my first week.

Cliques tend to be led by Wendies IME

CailinDana Fri 21-Mar-14 16:01:40

EE -I run a toddler group and I make it an absolute priority to know everyone's name and say at least "hi" to everyone at every session. But then I do chat to my friends quite a bit. What I find is that some mums will chat when I initiate conversation but make no effort of their own. It is very tiring to have to constantly be the one trying to include others.

Quangle Fri 21-Mar-14 16:04:38

timetoask the thing about your post and perhaps about the whole discussion is the bit about people in cliques needing to "give you a chance". As if they actually have something to give you. As if they are an employer and you are a desperate, unemployed person, who needs a chance to show they can do the job.

Friendship isn't like that. If you think someone else needs to "give you a chance" (to impress them or please them somehow?) then it's already all wrong and weirdly transactional. You please them and they bestow on you friendship in return...that's not how it works.

disclaimer: I am not surrounded by friends. I have few friends. I am not particularly popular and I am happy being not particularly popular. So am definitely not saying this as some sort of Queen Bee Empress of Clique.

Timetoask Fri 21-Mar-14 16:08:52

To the posters that replied to me: A couple of years ago I would have agreed with you, but, it has actually happened to me. I tried to befriend people, it was very tough. One lovely lady decided to give me a chance, she has involved me, she has grown to appreciate me, and therefore I am now part of the plans (not all but some plans) that take place around this particular group of women. Without her, I definitely would be friendless.

CailinDana Fri 21-Mar-14 16:12:46

What you say is exactly right though Quangle. I am quite "popular" in the sense that I know a lot of people but I hate the feeling that people are looking for my approval or will be upset if I'm in my own world and fail to say "hi." In short I hate when my opinions counts for too much because I'm gallible and insecure like everyone else and I just don't want the responsibility.

CailinDana Fri 21-Mar-14 16:16:37

I'm fallible

dammitsue Fri 21-Mar-14 16:17:27

I guess by friendship gang I mean clique.... A group who enjoy being seen together and known to be 'in' the clique. Anyone who finds smug satisfaction just by being seen with her 'gang' is childish.

CailinDana Fri 21-Mar-14 16:19:09

Don't you think that's a lot of power to give one person timetoask? Do you feel you have an equal friendship with her?

CailinDana Fri 21-Mar-14 16:19:54

Do you know people like that dammit?

cheeseandfickle Fri 21-Mar-14 16:23:47

I don't think I would want to get into the position where I would be friendless if it wasn't for one person

dammitsue Fri 21-Mar-14 16:28:34

No, not since high school! All mums at my groups mingle indiscriminately chatting to whoever they end up near. Maybe I'm in for a shock when my ds starts school!?!?

Thetallesttower Fri 21-Mar-14 16:30:00

I have had a couple of bad encounters with groups of women, one my NCT group. I don't mind people not being friends with me and don't try to ingratiate myself particularly, but in this instance, they gave the appearance of inclusivity and inviting everyone, but were rather nasty with a core group who obviously preferred each other. So, why not just hang out with each other then? That was a nasty clique because they seemed to bond through being a bit bitchy about other members who weren't in the core group.

Group of friends who like each other, hang out, chat and don't turn around and include me- absolutely fine.

Group of friends who like each other, hang out, chat and include me and then be nasty/roll eyes/generally make you feel unwelcome- not fine at all and very cliquey in the worst sense.

Most of the posts on MN I see though are about groups changing from the former to the latter, not about being excluded in the playground. Often the poor OP doesn't know what they've done to suddenly be dropped or excluded.

bonesarecoralmade Fri 21-Mar-14 16:30:44

I feel like there are so many subtle shades of meaning.

I am kind of "clique-tolerant" (not "nastiness-tolerant") in the sense that I am particular about whom I spend my time with and I don't expect everyone to want me around any more than I want everyone around. I probably have about 5 or 6 real friends, tops (excluding dp and family). I am happy to see them each a few times a year and we have a lovely time but I don't want people muscling in who are boring, self centred or stupid, when I am having a precious catch up with a dear friend.

On the other hand, at things like school events, todder groups, I don't go into those with the mindset of expecting to meet or spend time with soul mates. honestly, I don't expect to like or enjoy the company of the people there much, they will probably be perfectly nice people who will bore the pants off me, so the more the merrier, I don't care who approaches me and I will approach anyone. However as others do seem to make real friends in these environments, I tend to be wary of muscling in, in case I am making the sort of faux pas I talk about above.

there are people who like to gather a certain type about them and (bizarrely) I have occasionally been subject to being courted by them (when my oddness is occasionally fashionable for some reason) and it confuses me and I find it difficult because I can't understand why this person has asked for my phone number and is all up in my face all the time when we have so little in common. I am more usually utterly ignored by that type and we're both happier that way. It is wilfully blithe to pretend that people don't go in for self-seeking social engineering. But it doesn't matter, unless you absolutely can't stand being alone, and it hurts you that you don't have anyone to stand / sit with on certain occasions.

CailinDana Fri 21-Mar-14 16:44:19

Does anyone know someone who goes in for "self-seeking social enggineering"? I know a lot of people but have never come across this.

CailinDana Fri 21-Mar-14 16:46:53

My friend wa in a not very nice NCT group. But the issue was one very insecure wpman with no filter - rveryone tiptoed around her to avoid her comments. Everyone else was nice. I've seen that happen a lot.

cheeseandfickle Fri 21-Mar-14 16:48:43

I've seen that scenario several times CailinDana; Once at a new mothers group that I went to when my eldest DD was tiny, and then a couple of times in groups of acquaintances in recent years.

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