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.

WorraLiberty Fri 21-Mar-14 15:22:44

This has been said many times and I totally agree.

Often the person calling a friendship group a 'clique' is quite bitter and resentful...or at least that's how they come across.

In my experience, there's two kinds of friendship groups, the cliquey and the non-cliquey. I've come across both.

The non-cliquey will talk to, and are interested in getting to know new people. They are the ones who are generally open to other people joining in. The cliquey are closed, unwelcoming and not interested.

In the hols there are two places I can take my DS who has SN. One isn't cliquey and even though I don't get to go that often, people are always friendly and welcoming and will say hi. I even get invited on group events, even though I'm not a regular of the group.

The other, I can go and no one will talk to me the whole time I'm there and if I try to make conversation I don't get very far.

There's a definite difference.

dammitsue Fri 21-Mar-14 15:24:11

I find being in friendship gangs over the age of 15 childish.

caruthers Fri 21-Mar-14 15:25:03

People just have to accept that some people don't like them and other people do.

Not everyone likes you and expecting them to is pretty unreasonable.

CailinDana Fri 21-Mar-14 15:27:25

Dammit - what do you mean by "friendship gangs"?

Keema, is there a co ordinator who should be managing the group or is it just a sort yourself out sort of thing?

QuacksForDoughnuts Fri 21-Mar-14 15:27:54

Depends who you are talking about. If it's five people in a six-person office who consciously exclude the remaining person, talk loudly about what great friends they are and make loud plans for social events that person 6 is categorically not invited to and lie to the boss when they fuck up so person 6 gets the blame, then let's not give them the benefit of the doubt. If it's any group of people who act like they have shite under their nose when they have to talk to someone outside the group, that strikes me as a bit unhealthy. If it's five people in a large company, college, whatever who happen to have a lot in common that's different - basically if people who are excluded by that group don't have their face rubbed in the exclusion all the time. (and also it is nice if group members don't get sniffy about other group members' partners for no reason, but that's a side issue here)

Pootles2010 Fri 21-Mar-14 15:28:00

I agree entirely - I think the need to be liked all the time has a large part to play too.

Why do we seem to have this pathological need to be loved by all, all the time? And feel it to be such a personal rejection if someone gets along with someone else better than us?

Sillysarah49 Fri 21-Mar-14 15:29:42

I agree Cailin. It just seems such a recurring theme on here about people saying women are mean/unfriendly/cold etc. Sure some are. But we all have our likes and dislikes and sometimes we become friendly with other women purely because of our children and if it wasn't for them we wouldn't be friends. Also friendships ebb and flow and we outgrow our baby/toddler circle and move on. Its normal and I wish we could all try to accept this rhythm to friendships - I get the feeling men are much more accepting of this.

CailinDana Fri 21-Mar-14 15:30:14

That's bullying though Quacks, which is an entirely different thing.

Summerblaze Fri 21-Mar-14 15:30:24

I've never understand this either. In the playground there are a group of Mums that I generally stand with and chat to as my eldest and their dc are friends. There are 5 of us.

Does this mean I am in a "cliquey" group?

I do speak and say hello to lots of other people though who I know from ds's year group or other reasons. Some people I just don't know though, so don't go out of my way to talk to them as surely then I would end up with hundreds of "friends".

AngelaDaviesHair Fri 21-Mar-14 15:32:36

Some people are insecure and anxious and it makes them tend to look for the slights and the exclusion before they've happened. People then pick up on these negative signals and avoid them, because they come across badly. I know, I was that woman for years.

Pootles2010 Fri 21-Mar-14 15:33:46

Oh god Angela I fear that might be me too... how do you get out of it?

WooWooOwl Fri 21-Mar-14 15:34:16

I agree too.

And I think it's ok to not want to get to know yet another Mum from school, and to not want to make small talk with them for the sake of it.

By the time my second child was starting reception, I had enough friends through my children, work, school days etc, and it was hard enough finding the time to catch up with all of them regularly, without adding more to the mix just for the sake of not being seen as cliquey.

QuacksForDoughnuts Fri 21-Mar-14 15:34:24

I don't need to be liked all the time/loved by all, in fact I do a job that may completely bugger the chance of this happening. But I have better professional interactions with people who aren't always whispering in corners or attempting to demarcate certain others as their territory, and I am more likely to go back to the (for example) dance class where the other participants are friendly to a new person than one where they are not.

QuacksForDoughnuts Fri 21-Mar-14 15:35:35

Xpost - no, it isn't a different thing. 'Clique' covers a spectrum from 'friendship group you happen not to be in' to the stuff I described.

yegodsandlittlefishes Fri 21-Mar-14 15:38:28

I've come to the conclusion that friendship groups are vastly overrated. Or rather, that true friendship groups of locals are bloody fantastic but most people are far too high maintenence or self obsessed for the friendships to properly function, let alone last. There. I am in a clique of one. Sod the lot of you.

(No, not you; them.)

AngelaDaviesHair Fri 21-Mar-14 15:40:28

In my case, Pootles, therapy, being happier, great husband. He's similar, we talk each other out of it, and psyche each other up to socialising.

Not being lonely any more means each encounter is less important, if you see what I mean (you aren't pinning all hopes on making new friends at your latest evening class, for example) and so it gets easier.

Quangle Fri 21-Mar-14 15:41:20

Agree with the OP and with this:

Some people are insecure and anxious and it makes them tend to look for the slights and the exclusion before they've happened

I'm not the most Pollyanna-ish person in the world but I often find that people will automatically rush to put the worst possible interpretation on something, perhaps out of their own sense of powerlessness, than just to think "oh that could have been one of a thousand things...ho hum..." and carry on with their day. This is especially the case in AIBU where there's lots of "this mum said I was lucky to be having a girl/boy and now I feel she was getting at me because boys/girls are not as valued as girls/boys so she must be a bitch" and so on and so on.

I tend to think (and just extrapolating from my own actions here) that on the whole people aren't trying to be mean but they also don't really care that much and are just passing the time of day or making a mindless remark or rushing to get to work and haven't realised that someone else is interpreting all these actions as being all about them and targeted at them.

bluepen Fri 21-Mar-14 15:43:00

Groups are inclusive. Cliques are exclusive.
Groups include people. Cliques exclude people.

CailinDana Fri 21-Mar-14 15:43:29

So you don't count that as bullying then Quacks?

Nancy66 Fri 21-Mar-14 15:44:55

I can't imagine anyone over the age of 15 wanting to be in a 'clique'

Not saying they don't happen, just find it baffling that adult women want to behave like the cast of Mean Girls

WorraLiberty Fri 21-Mar-14 15:48:17

Groups are inclusive but surely they're only going to include people the group members like?

If a really nice group of people don't want someone they can't stand joining them, that doesn't suddenly make them a clique.

It just makes them not two faced.

HoneyDragon Fri 21-Mar-14 15:48:18

There is the social convention of clique, I just think a amount of social groups are labelled as such unnecessarily.

CoffeeTea103 Fri 21-Mar-14 15:48:19

I couldn't agree with your post more. Yes there are groups of people who just get along better with others, it doesn't mean that they're bad. Often the one trying desperately to become apart of this group sees it as being cliquey.

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.

LizzieVereker Fri 21-Mar-14 16:52:03

I find this really interesting, and what I'm about to say/ type is just me sort of "thinking aloud" - honestly not a dig at anyone else's point of view.

I taught at a girls' secondary school for 10 years, and would often need to deal with issues between groups/ cliques and individuals who felt excluded or lonely. Whenever you raised the issue, the first girl to speak, always, would be the centre of the "coolest" group, and she would always (this was uncannily regular) say "I don't think anyone's deliberately excluding anyone, it's just that some groups are happy as they are and don't need anyone new. But we're not horrible to anyone".

I also remember having the Mum of Alpha Girl complaining that Shy Girl had said she felt upset, and excluded, and it wasn't fair on Alpha Girl to be blamed for this, and that "in our house if we want something or are upset by something we just say so". And I had to explain (to an adult confused) that not all families operate like that, that Shy Girl might not feel able to do that.

Alpha Girls always attracted others by appearing not to care, and the less effort they made the more others wanted their attention. Sometimes this was done consciously, others not. So whilst they didn't actively bully anyone, they could perhaps have been kinder by trying to draw timid or new people in. But I'm talking about teenagers, how that translates to adults, I'm not sure - you've only got time for so many friends I suppose.

I think friendship groups which are healthy are willing to grow and change, and I agree that negative "cliques" are usually bonded by negativity / being mean about others.

ClaudetteWyms Fri 21-Mar-14 16:56:44

Thetallesttower wow the scenario in your first paragraph has happened to me quite recently - except it wasn't a NCT group and they bitched about a wide range of women. I agree totally that there is a difference between cliques and friendship groups, and I have seen both (and been in the latter).

There is a group of cliquey mums in DC's class, they add to their numbers now and again but have a core group of members who have been quite rude and unpleasant to others. They bitch about other women - I know as they (briefly) tried to include me in their gang (and I failed miserably at giving a fuck about them and have been on the outside ever since).

So OP, what I am trying to say is - YANBU in offering a different perspective, but YABU if you truly think these cliques are a myth.

cheeseandfickle Fri 21-Mar-14 16:57:19

I've found the same principles apply to adult queen bees too. They don't care about anyone else and consequently have people falling over themselves to be their friend.

ClaudetteWyms Fri 21-Mar-14 16:59:09

"Self-seeking social engineering" - yes I know people who go in for this. In choosing their "friends" and who their DC play with at weekends/playdates etc.

whyyougottabe Fri 21-Mar-14 16:59:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CailinDana Fri 21-Mar-14 17:05:37

Lizzie, if there is no actual bullying going on do you not think it's unfair to dictate who the "Alpha girls" have as friends?

cheeseandfickle Fri 21-Mar-14 17:10:18

From my experience, the 'popular' ringleader girls at school were all mean and manipulative. They were just extremely clever about how and when they did it

CailinDana Fri 21-Mar-14 17:10:31

I have honestly never met a "queen bee." Maybe others see me as one? What makes a "queen bee"?

bonesarecoralmade Fri 21-Mar-14 17:13:15

You can't expect people to be friends with other people, but there are ways of being nice and accommodating to other people who are forced to share your space (colleagues, classmates, etc) that not all alphas do.

I was once in a group for a hobby where certain of the members had private jokes and giggled all the time. it was very childish but made me very uncomfortable. Only in wild moments of paranoia did it occur to me that they might be laughing at me (or at least I told myself it was wild paranoia) but their insistence on prioritising their private joke above more general group dynamics was uncomfortable because we were all supposed to be working together. I didn't expect them to be friends with me - they all knew each other outside the group - but I did feel like the group as a whole deserved a bit more respect as people.

If you had asked them about it they would have said "we can't help it, we aren't being mean to anyone, we are friends outside this activity and share a sense of humour and just want to have fun on our evenings spare time, why shouldn't we have a laugh while we do this, do you want us to sit in silence?"

All reasonable

yet - it wasn't very nice.

cheeseandfickle Fri 21-Mar-14 17:13:47

The queen bees I have known have all been quite attractive, very confident, and not bothered at all about whether others like them or about other peoples feelings. I haven't known many but they have all been quite similar

CailinDana Fri 21-Mar-14 17:15:15

Why do people want to be friends with them cheese?

cheeseandfickle Fri 21-Mar-14 17:18:44

Popular/beautiful by association perhaps?

Quangle Fri 21-Mar-14 17:19:55

bones that also sounds like the other thread where DH wasn't happy that DW and DMIL spoke in their shared foreign language in front of him and he felt excluded because he couldn't speak it. In that instance, everybody rushed to say "they are just being relaxed together and YABU and possibly unPC to even raise it" but I did think it sounded a bit unnecessary and as if they were, as you put it, prioritising their private relationship over the wider family relationship.

bonesarecoralmade Fri 21-Mar-14 17:20:00

I don't think all queen bees are nasty. Maybe you are one, Cailin, in the sense that you are so intrinsically attractive socially that people flock to you. (You need not be nasty or manipulative for this to happen! I am not having a go at you)

I know a group which contains an "unconscious queen bee". She is very beautiful, extremely sociable, and very kind. She has a lot of energy and is always involved in interesting projects. She loves having people around and has made many friends from many different contexts. I would guess that she has very positively affected the dynamic of the group by making bitching look really bad! - if anyone ever thought of bitching (maybe they never did) it can't really be done when the most charismatic and compelling person would be distinctly unimpressed by it.

Cailin, maybe you are like this and so you have influenced the dynamic around you so that you have never come across bitchiness?

bonesarecoralmade Fri 21-Mar-14 17:22:52

Quangle, in that case I think it is different because a woman and her mother have a right to a one-to-one relationship at one of their homes, whereas a hobby group is a bit different - special friendships can be pursued outside the group context.

cheeseandfickle Fri 21-Mar-14 17:29:53

To me, someone who isn't bitchy and manipulative isn't a queen bee, they're just popular and well liked.

I would only consider someone a queen bee if they were an unpleasant person

LizzieVereker Fri 21-Mar-14 17:31:29

Cailin - that's a tricky one. I don't think it is fair to dictate who is friends with who, no. But I do think that (not all)most of the teenage Alphas got a little kick out of people being drawn to them, and were often not actively horrible, but very short with / disinterested in others. I wouldn't expect teenagers to have the emotional maturity to negotiate this successfully every time, but I would hope that adults could usually be sensitive to other people's needs.

That's very simplistic of me of course, as we are all sometimes just too busy/ preoccupied/ putting a brave face on over something to take time to be friendly.

To my mind, a Queen Bee has a certain reserve, is the person to whom dialogue/ questions are directed. She rarely initiates conversation or asks questions of others unless she needs something. Alpha males tend to be much noisier! Both are usually conventionally attractive by the standards of whatever social group they inhabit. Sounds trite, but reflects my personal experience of many years of dedicated people watching.

whyyougottabe Fri 21-Mar-14 17:33:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

whyyougottabe Fri 21-Mar-14 17:33:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

cheeseandfickle Fri 21-Mar-14 17:34:19

Ah yes, the old 'I don't want to get involved, but....' They are usually the pivotal and most involved person in it all

cheeseandfickle Fri 21-Mar-14 17:34:52

Ooh I've just started reading the hive today

whyyougottabe Fri 21-Mar-14 17:38:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CailinDana Fri 21-Mar-14 17:42:52

Hmm. People do seem to have a somewhat odd "respectful" reaction to me. So for example at school a girl was distraught I might think badly of her. A teacher said I must find it hard to be around people who were so much less mature than me and another girl said I "reminded her of Helen Burns" (from Jane Eyre) confused. When I pulled a friend up on bad behaviour he cried his eyes out. Not what I wanted at all. I don't particularly like being on such a pedestal - there is far to fall.

It is something that I've thought about, having moved across the country about a year and a half ago, so had to start over again in terms of making friends (coincided with DS starting school). I'm the kind of person who is friendly, but a bit shy. So in moving here, I've had to put myself way out of my comfort zone in order to make friends and I've had to put in loads of effort to grow friendships (it's worked - got lots of 'coffee' friends and even some closer friends).

I was musing to my DH about it how it always seems to be me making the first moves - no one came up to me at school gate to start a conversation, it was always me going up to someone else. And its always me who 'friends' people on facebook, and me who first invites people out for a coffee etc. And he pointed out that if I had stayed in our original location, where I had a large group of friends, who I was very close to and very happy with, I wouldn't have been looking for 'new' friends so (while I would never be rude, and would always reciprocate a friendly overture) I wouldn't have done the running trying to include a new person in my group/social circle. So that is what I am up against in making new friends here, most nice, therefore popular, people, have a good circle of friends and aren't as desperate as an outsider to make friends.

Takenforgranted76 Fri 21-Mar-14 17:51:30

At school the popular girls were definitely fashionable, attractive but not always pretty, outspoken and leaders. Their peers flocked to them like sheep, desperate to be accepted as part of their clan. They had 'friends' and 'hangers on'.

One of my friends grew close with the popular girls and wanted to hang out with them at lunchtimes. I felt so uncomfortable around them. I hardly spoke and was too self conscious. I truly believed I did not belong. Slowly, I drew away and made friends with peers I felt were on my spectrum.

I lack social skills but hide it well and struggle to speak to groups of women. I am far better at one on one, especially with strangers. I wait for people to speak to me which stems back to school where my peers would go from speaking to me to ridiculing me and ignoring me. I often pretend not to see a school mum, giving them the opportunity to say hi. If not nothing is lost.

kungfupannda Fri 21-Mar-14 17:53:29

I think the whole clique/friendship group comes down to the personalities involved. I'm quite prepared to accept that there are groups who get a bit of a kick out of being the "in crowd" but I've personally not come across this at the school gates.

I'd read so much about the cliquey school gate mums on MN that I was quite paranoid about DS1 starting school, but I've actually made a small group of genuine friends there. I'm not very good at making friends in artificial situations - e.g. toddler groups etc. I tend to start talking to someone spontaneously somewhere random, like soft play or in the park, and hit it off, rather than deliberately setting out to meet new friends, if that makes sense.

I met one other school mum outside school and found we shared an interest. She introduced me to another friend of hers, through whom we met another one. I then started chatting to another mum who turned out to share the same interest, and to be friends with one of the others. We all got on, went out for a drink and are now friends.

We always gravitate towards one another in the playground as we all do different school runs so don't see much of one another, and therefore make the most of the opportunity to chat and catch up. I wonder if some people think we're a clique because we always stand together and talk to each other.

I think there probably are genuine cliques out there, but I do think, reading some posts on MN, that some of the groups being described might well just be a handful of people who are friends, and who want to talk to each other when they see each other.

If I was aware of someone who was new and didn't know anyone, I would probably say hello and make an effort, but I have slight face blindness, so I'd probably be entirely oblivious. There are 60 people in DS1's year, and I know about 8 mums by name, another 4 or 5 by who their child is, and vaguely recognise maybe half a dozen more. I could probably pass the rest in the street and not recognise them, or have a faint sense that I'd seen them somewhere but not know where.

CailinDana Fri 21-Mar-14 18:12:28

Perhaps it all comes down to confidence. I couldn't give two hoots if someone doesn't want to be my friend. I find the idea of people talking about me, even negatively, strangely thrilling - it means they're interested in you, doesn't it? I never think anyone is talking about me though, I can't see why they would.

cheeseandfickle Fri 21-Mar-14 18:17:11

I think people do pick up on confidence, and it makes them less likely to treat you badly. A counsellor once said to me that it's basically survival of the fittest; if people can find a weakness in someone's self esteem or confidence then they will treat that person as being beneath them.

It may be too that you have a good group of lovely friends and so you give off the impression that you simply are not bothered about making new ones, therefore people are drawn to you because of this.

bluepen Fri 21-Mar-14 18:24:07

But if you are a nice group, you will want everyone to join, surely?
They are the only groups I want to be part of.

CailinDana Fri 21-Mar-14 18:25:43

Basically I like people and find most people very interesting. So I suppose that comes across.

CailinDana Fri 21-Mar-14 18:27:28

Of course blue. But I'm not going to drag someone in and make them talk. They have to get involved and show their desire to join in. It's a two-way street.

90sthrowback Fri 21-Mar-14 18:33:05

After 9 years in one playground at a very small school I pretty much knew everyone, and am always a say hello to everyone type.

Then we moved and I was the new girl. I did the school tour at the same time as another Mum who was joining the school. As we had DCs in different key stages who came out of different entrances I didn't see her often, so I knew nobody. I am naturally shy but had to put myself out there and bit by bit got to know DCs friends parents and have a pretty big group of people that I am on friendly terms with.

I bumped into the other Mum a term later at a function and she said she hated the school as no-one would talk to her, it was cliquey etc. Her expectation was that people would come up to her and introduce themselves and invite her to things.

Just a difference of perception I guess.

Greenmug Fri 21-Mar-14 18:34:28

I think it depends on the kind of people in the group too. I was friendly with 4 other women and one in particular loved to arrange everything like meals out etc, the rest of us were prob too busy/lazy so at first really appreciated it. We would ask others to come along sometimes but we soon realised that this woman would invite people then uninvite them and tell people that we had invited that the date/time had changed. A chance comment made me realise that we were seen as this bitchy group of unfriendly women. I was mortified. It all kicked off anyway and the group is fractured beyond repair but I am still very close to two of the women.

CailinDana Fri 21-Mar-14 18:36:07

As an example, there's a mum at playgroup who I like a lot. She is from another country snd though she's been here a while she doesn't have many friends and is lonely. I've invited her to my house numerous time and asked her to join the playgroup committee. She flipflopped on the decision about the committee and has turned diwn quige a few invitations. Plus she has only invited me to her house once. I get the impression she wants to be my friend - she has cooked food for me, lent me things and asked my advice but she just won't play ball in getting the friendship going. I've tried. A lot. But there's only so much I can do.

cheeseandfickle Fri 21-Mar-14 19:14:22

Going back to the confidence thing, cailin, I think too that if you are c

cheeseandfickle Fri 21-Mar-14 19:15:04

Confident then you are able to suss people out and are less likely to get involved with piss takers and bitches as you realise quite early on what they are like

bonesarecoralmade Fri 21-Mar-14 19:16:29

90sthrowback (ha, me too) - you don't know what the other mum was like though, it might not be just that you made the effort to approach people and she didn't. maybe she said things that put people off.

Eg I have an unusual name that sounds like another and every time I introduce myself to someone I have to say it twice. Fine. but every now and then someone:

1 - tries to convince me my name is actually the one it sounds a bit like (like I have made a mistake)
2 - goes into a fucking tedious interrogation about my ethnic background and why I should have such a name (not a brief probe, but a scrunchy-faced need to hear me recite my family tree)
3 - this usually involves me needing to say where I am actually from. When I do, this kind of person invariably wants to know "what happened to my accent"

People like that bore and tire me so intensely within 5 minutes of meeting them I am making excuses to get away, not arranging to go down the pub with them.
Maybe she was that kind of person.

bonesarecoralmade Fri 21-Mar-14 19:19:30

So this is why I kind of sit on the fence - while there is such a thing as unwelcoming behaviour in some sort of public sphere, I reserve the right not to have my daily life blighted by dickheads like that, or people who have stupid opinions about redheads, or people who want to talk about what was in the Mail, or people who keep floating vaguely racist stuff hoping that someone will join in and they can pile in, or people who I just don't like

whyyougottabe Fri 21-Mar-14 19:25:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CailinDana Fri 21-Mar-14 19:27:04

Unfortunately some people just have terrible social skills.

rollonthesummer Fri 21-Mar-14 19:30:41

I often stand and chat to the same mums whist I'm waiting for DD (YR) to come out that I used to stand with on previous years, waiting for our older children. It just so happens that we have younger ones in the same year. We're all busy with other kids/working so when we do see each other, it's nice to catch up. To mums for whom this is their eldest/first child-this might seem like a clique?

RachelWatts Fri 21-Mar-14 20:07:52

The first time I went to my local Sure Start Centre, I arrived before anyone else and settled myself and 3 week old DS1 on the playmat. The resident clique arrived en mass, ignored my "hello" and sat on the other side of the room with their backs to me, making it very clear they were not in the market for new friends. I mentioned to the centre manager that I had been made to feel very unwelcome - she was shocked.

CailinDana Fri 21-Mar-14 20:21:09

Thing is Rachel, there is actually no requirement for them to talk to you. As far as they were concerned they were meeting up for a chat, they felt no obligation to talk to you. Not exactly nice, but not shocking either IMO.

bonesarecoralmade Fri 21-Mar-14 20:43:15

Actually I am not sure it's so cut and dried because "meeting up for a chat" in a surestart centre is not the same as "meeting up for a chat" by appointment in a coffee shop. I think when you go a stay and play at a surestart centre you should go with the expectation that some other parents will not know anyone and will be looking to meet people. If you aren't up for that, you don't have to be, by law or anything, but you could just invite your friends to your house and those tiresome strangers wouldn't bother you.

It's all about context. we interpret contexts differently - I send my child to school to get educated and because I have to by law, not because I think the parents of the other children there provide a ready-made community that should accept me with love - here I differ from some others, I think. I go to work to earn a living, not to make friends, but because we all work together I expect people to be superficially friendly and welcoming to each other, at least, even if they don't all hang out at the weekends. I think a surestart centre is a bit like a work place in that circumstances have brought you together and you have a sort of responsibility to make some effort to get on.

going to the cinema - getting the bus - things like this - are all things where you should reasonably expect to be able to do them alone as if in a bubble

FudgefaceMcZ Fri 21-Mar-14 21:06:37

See I don't give an actual fuck about who chats with who in the playground, because I usually don't have time to stand about and gab all morning due to having a job and things, but I object to the very premise of your post which is that no one has any obligation to another human being unless they are related or paid to do something. This is false and inhuman. You have a duty to all other humans, particularly vulnerable or lonely ones. That's the whole point of society. Since your starting point is so alien to me, I don't see it as answering anything regarding supposed cliques, whether or not those exist for adults (they shouldn't, surely?).

Also I think the solution to some people being dicks is that they stop being dicks, not that other people go through some charade of pretending not to care about their isolation in order to make a point/seem 'cool'.

bluepen Fri 21-Mar-14 21:10:50

Are newbies welcomed or talked and gossiped and put down?

If you buy a book on the subject, you will soon see what constitutes a clique.

MorrisZapp Fri 21-Mar-14 21:13:15

Totally agree with OP. I have two close friends, we do stuff as a group of three. We each have other friends and acquaintances but the three of us together aren't looking for new close friends. I'm sorry that other people are lonely, but friendship should be based upon mutual enjoyment of a persons company, not on feeling sorry for somebody or doing the right thing.

RachelWatts Fri 21-Mar-14 21:32:04

Maybe no requirement to be friendly, but I still think they were rude.

If someone is at a playgroup by themselves and makes the effort to try to start a conversation, I think the least they can do is be pleasant and reply. Instead they looked at me like something they'd scrape off their shoe, went into their little huddle and shot me dirty looks from across the room.

CailinDana Fri 21-Mar-14 21:49:42

Fair enough, shooting dirty looks was rude. But then you could argue that it was better that they showed their true colours straight off the bat.

CailinDana Fri 21-Mar-14 21:54:08

Fudge I disagree that I've said that "no one has any obligation to any other human." Of course everyone should be kind and courteous. But surely it's normal to choose your friends? Or should everyone be friends with everyone else?

CailinDana Fri 21-Mar-14 21:56:24

Also if I decide I simply don't like someone, does that make me a dick?

RachelWatts Fri 21-Mar-14 21:59:38

True, at least they weren't two-faced in any way!

The dirty looks may have been because of DS1's screaming, but he was 3 weeks old!

gordyslovesheep Fri 21-Mar-14 22:00:23

I'm with you OP - I have never ever come across a clique in real life - I have come across close knit groups of friends and people who didn't like me - as well as people I didn't like - it's life

I honestly think a lot of the 'clique' stuff comes from either a belief that you are so wonderful everyone everywhere would just love you and those who don't must be bitches OR from seeing slights in everything

I am a cantankerous enough old twat that I am well aware lots of people don't want to be my best mate - and thick skinned enough to not really notice if people dont

bluepen Fri 21-Mar-14 22:32:51

CailinDana. Do you think that you may have been in a clique once?

PortofinoRevisited Fri 21-Mar-14 22:50:15

I have never done the school gate thing, but did move abroad where I knew no-one and it took at lot of effort to meet people. It is horrid when you try and people can't even be bothered to be civil to you. I was part of a NCT group once and it was obvious my face didn't fit. It can be extremely hurtful and I DO think it was really rude of them.

We organised a MN meetup in Brussels and I met some LOVELY people. We now have a FB group and try to extend a welcome to everyone who posts on here asking advice about moving. Of COURSE it is not obligatory that everyone has to like each other, but some solid friendships have formed. I would hate it if anyone came here feeling that they had no-one to talk to. It can be extremely isolating.

CailinDana Fri 21-Mar-14 23:10:46

I don't think so blue.

CailinDana Fri 21-Mar-14 23:13:43

Rachel are you sure they were dirty looks? IME crying always draws looks, it seems automatic. Of course a group looking at you silently will always feel oppressive.

PortofinoRevisited Fri 21-Mar-14 23:22:54

The point is Cailin, is that they know this person is new and probably feels vulnerable, and not one of them makes any effort to engage, chat, make her feel welcome? That is HORRIBLE.

cheeseandfickle Fri 21-Mar-14 23:23:29

Rachel, I think it's really mean that a group of them just sat there and watched you with a screaming newborn and didn't say a word. When my DCs were younger I always approached anyone and everyone at groups, especially if they were on their own and/or looked like they might be struggling with their little one.

As others have said, I think something like a toddler group is a place where I would try to get on with everyone and to just keep things as smooth and as friendly as possible. It's not really a place for people to arrange a meet up with their best buddies and ignore everyone else.

PortofinoRevisited Fri 21-Mar-14 23:25:18

"Are you sure they were dirty looks" Well they may or more not have been. The idea that crying will "attract attention" will draw looks....well I am flabbergasted! Is this how you and your friends treat new mothers?

PortofinoRevisited Fri 21-Mar-14 23:30:00

And how do you decide if you don't like someone without making the barest effort to speak to them?

CailinDana Fri 21-Mar-14 23:32:32

No of course not Portofino I've already said I run a toddler group and talk to everyone at every single session. I know the name of every single adult and child who has attended and that's over 70 people. I've been ignored by groups at surestart but it didn't bother me.

cheeseandfickle Fri 21-Mar-14 23:32:32

I agree with everything that Portofino has said.

Some of you on this thread seem very sure of your friendships and that you don't 'need' to make new friendships or get to know new people, but who knows what will happen in the future? You might get Wendied out of your current group of good friends. You might have a bad fall out with them and want no more to do with them, or vice versa. They might move away. One day you could be in the situation of wanting/needing to make new friends.

cheeseandfickle Fri 21-Mar-14 23:33:48

It probably doesn't bother you though Cailin as you have already said that you are both confident and popular. The woman at the group Rachel attended may have been in a different situation and could have done with a friendly chat with someone, or even for someone to just bring her a coffee over whilst she fed her baby. It could have made all the difference to her day.

CailinDana Fri 21-Mar-14 23:37:34

I don't decide I don't like people without talking to them first.

There are two mums who come together to my group and speak to each other and me but no one else. That's fine by me. There is no requirement for anyone to interact with anyone else if they don't want to.

cheeseandfickle Fri 21-Mar-14 23:39:16

I guess I'd feel uncomfortable going along to a group and seeing anyone sitting alone with no one to talk to. It's no big deal or effort for me to have a quick chat with them. Everyone is different though, and like you say there is no requirement for anyone to interact with anyone else. It's just sometimes the nice, and decent thing to do

CailinDana Fri 21-Mar-14 23:41:01

Cheese do you talk often to strangers who you feel might need your company?

trappedinsuburbia Fri 21-Mar-14 23:45:40

I think its all other people's perceptions.
If I see a group talking I just presume they've been friends already and not just from school gate.
I'll quite happily chat to people I know if we're in the same part of playground, I wouldn't make a special effort to walk to the other end just to stand with someone.
I know some people just to pass the time with through sil, childminder or because they've said hello as the dcs are friendly.
I really don't get this clique or queen bee shite, im quite happy to stand on my own, I only arrive a minute or so before the bell anyway.

cheeseandfickle Fri 21-Mar-14 23:46:32

I don't just approach random strangers in the street, no.

I just think, as someone else has mentioned, that a group is somewhere where it's important to try to get along with everyone and to create a nice atmosphere. Being at a group is different to, say, going to a soft play centre with a group of friends, or going to a restaurant.

CailinDana Fri 21-Mar-14 23:49:31

So if you went to surestart with a group of good friends would you go and talk to a person there on her own? Genuine question.

cheeseandfickle Fri 21-Mar-14 23:51:31

In all honesty yes I probably would, Cailin.

Especially if it was someone who looked like they could do with some company and a chat.

Nocomet Fri 21-Mar-14 23:51:57

There is not instantly clicking with, not wanting to be best friends with, and there is being down right rude!

Talking over people, letting people interrupt when you are talking to them organising parties at toddlers when your the only person in the room not invited.

Behaviour we wouldn't tolerate in our DCs, but which seems absolutely fine amongst adult women.

trappedinsuburbia Fri 21-Mar-14 23:53:16

If I was in that situation then of course I would make an effort, if only to get a cuddle off a newborn grin
I wouldn't sit in a group in a room and leave someone isolated, thats just nasty!

Takenforgranted76 Fri 21-Mar-14 23:53:22

Cheeseandfickle your statement said by counsellor has made me think. My peers at school definitely saw my insecurities and lack of confidence. I was too young and inexperienced to hide it as I try to do now.

I think that some women have never experienced being on the edge/outside of social groups so lack compassion for those that have.

Depression and lack of self esteem affects your perception. When a group of people laugh anywhere near me I have to convince myself they are not laughing at me.

I know some women who believe everyone loves them and enjoys their company. They are confident enough to feel they make a difference. They are treated accordingly. Other women struggle to feel accepted by others. The bullying I endured 20 odd years ago means I often feel I do not make a difference/have nothing to say worth listening to.

cheeseandfickle Fri 21-Mar-14 23:55:57

TakenforGranted, I'm sorry to hear you had a horrible time at school sad

I totally agree that some women do believe everyone loves them. Many others then pick up on that vibe and treat them accordingly. Each of the queen bees that I have known have always had doting parents that spoil them rotten, which I think is one of the factors that makes someone into that type of person.

CailinDana Sat 22-Mar-14 00:01:13

Taken, it's a real chicken and egg situation I think. If you're anxious it can make you come across badly which puts pople off which makes you more anxious...

Btw I was bullied, sexually abused, raped, and have had two serious bouts of depression. Being confident doesn't mean you haven't experienced hardship.

cheeseandfickle Sat 22-Mar-14 00:04:06

I totally agree about the anxiety cycle. I also think that if someone is over keen to be friends then the other person picks up on it and it is offputting. Popularity breeds popularity IMO

Takenforgranted76 Sat 22-Mar-14 00:27:36

Cheeseandfickle thanks thanks

hunreeeal Sat 22-Mar-14 00:37:39

It's kind and courteous to include people and chat to others, even if they're not your main friends. Just being friendly and non-cliquey isn't going to mean 1000 extra people are desperate to join your group.

I agree with Nocomet that some people are just rude in ignoring people they don't know who've come along to the same group etc. A smile and a friendly hello cost nothing.

Some people seem to protest too much that they're "not cliquey" when really they just can't be bothered to talk to anyone except their current group of friends.

CailinDana Sat 22-Mar-14 00:42:55

So do you chat to everyone around you in a social situation hun?

mustbetimefortea Sat 22-Mar-14 01:42:04

I moved to a new area. Local mums were initially friendly but then I was occasionally invited for coffee only to be told at length of trips, outings, parties where they'd all had a great time. Despite inviting people round for coffee or offering lifts or to help with various events - never taken up - I was getting increasingly lonely.

Posters on MN suggested telling people I was lonely but this only led to being told that my ds would be my friend. I have got used to my own company but it still hurts to see other newcomers welcomed fully into the fold.

You can't force friendships and you wouldn't want to break up existing close friendships. Sadly this does mean in small communities that some people get excluded and if

mustbetimefortea Sat 22-Mar-14 01:44:03

..moving isn't an option you're stuck.

daisychain01 Sat 22-Mar-14 06:42:14

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

Yup, that's what you would be encouraged to think, if you went along to a cognitive behavioural therapist.

It's all about perception.

Octopusinabunchofdaffodils Sat 22-Mar-14 06:58:05

It's easy to blame the clique, but generally it's me and not them. They're an established group of friends (rather than a clique) and probably don't want to upset the balance by adding somebody new. To be honest I don't bother making an effort any more, my youngest changes schools in September so there won't be any more school runs where I will get to stand in the playground and so the chance to try and make friends will disappear with that.
I'm OK with that, I think it is best all round if I try not to make friends and carry on the way I am with my own life.

Ilovexmastime Sat 22-Mar-14 08:55:27

Sorry to hear about your past experiences Cailin.

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

Yup, that's what you would be encouraged to think, if you went along to a cognitive behavioural therapist.It's all about perception.

I absolutely agree with this. I have spent many years trying to overcome my shyness and insecurities and imo this is such an important lesson to learn.

Regarding the situation at the surestart centre. No, it wasn't nice of them to ignore you and glare, but why on earth would you want to be froends with people like that anyway? I would have perceived it as a lucky escape. Much better to know from the start that they wrren't my type of people than to have got chatting to them only to have to spend the next few years trying to avoid them.

90sthrowback Sat 22-Mar-14 09:28:36

I think the dynamics of a group can make a difference as to whether they are likely to include new people or not.

I have four friends that are parents of DS' friends, we often meet for coffee after drop off and invite all and sundry.

But we also often go out as couples / dinner parties, as our husbands all happen to get on well, so that might feel like we are excluding others, but if we included everyone then finding a night that suited everyone, and a restaurant that could accommodate 20 would make it a logistical nightmare. Not to mention that we wouldn't be able to chat to our close friends if there were lots of others that didn't know anyone and needed to be included.

Similarly with getting together in the holidays, we all have a similar age gap with our DCs, so to include others who are new to the school and probably have much younger DCs would make it complicated as the older ones want to go to Alton Towers / Bullring shopping, whereas those with younger ones would prefer soft play.

So if at coffee someone (innocently but possibly tactlessly) says "Oh what time are we meeting on Saturday?" it could result in others feeling left out, but for valid, but not unfriendly reasons.

bonesarecoralmade Sat 22-Mar-14 10:38:09

Cailin, what inspired this thread?

I blame Facebook. I think it is quite legitimate to invite certain people to certain things - not every event has to be an "everyone you know" affair - but the habit of facebooking everything has made this very tricky to manage discreetly.

but I do think there are contexts in which it is kind to be nice and inclusive to people you don't want to be friends with. Surestart centres aren't about meeting people you want to go on holiday with, they are about propping up the woman whose husband works away and has a colicky baby and hasn't spoken to an adult for days.

I have very high quality control about actual friends. But I hope I can manage to be nice to all sorts of people I will never be real friends with.

CailinDana Sat 22-Mar-14 11:25:16

This thread was inspired by the threads that crop up regularly with people saying "I can't make friends, everyone is so cliquey." Also I notice a couple of mums at my playgroup tend to sit alone every week and sometimes look quite miserable. I have tried and tried to get them to join in and it annoys me to think they might be going home thinking "the people in that group are so hard to make friends with" when in fact it is totally their own lack of engagement that's standing in their way.

I also notice that when on the threads about struggling to make friends I suggest ways to improve things it mostly gets ignored. That makes me think that effectively it's just a misery-fest and people prefer to blame others for being nasty and "cliquey" than to examine the ways in which their own behaviour contributes to their friendlessness.

bluepen Sat 22-Mar-14 13:38:00

tbh, I think that if you have never encountered one, you will not know what the rest of us are going on about.

All the stuff that you describe op, are nowhere near cliques.

cheeseandfickle Sat 22-Mar-14 14:09:30

I agree, bluepen

There are definitely some groups of friends around that are bitchy and unpleasant, and it is those that I would define as a clique

BratinghamPalace Sat 22-Mar-14 16:38:04

I have moved quite a lot in the last few years. Unhappily for me, we moved just when we had children so feeling lonely and alienated in a foreign culture near school gates was quite large. However I agree with OP. Some people chat, some don't. I come off as confident and aloof. I am actually embarrassed and awkward but no one knows that!
My observation of the clique thing is that it usually involves immature people who come off as whispering, giggling types. Does that make sense? I have found that most people have full lives, with extended families, professional lives and downtime to fit in. Nobody has enough time. And it is usually as simple as that! My tupence worth!

cheeseandfickle Sat 22-Mar-14 16:50:49

I do think too that some groups of friends operate on a "your face doesn't fit" basis, which I think can be quite mean.

I have had experience of that in the past, and of suddenly being treated as if my face doesn't fit. It's hurtful.

CailinDana Sat 22-Mar-14 17:59:48

What does "y

CailinDana Sat 22-Mar-14 18:03:59

What does "your face doesn't fit" mean?

cheeseandfickle Sat 22-Mar-14 18:06:46

When a group suddenly starts to exclude someone for no apparent reason. I have had that done to me before by a group of 6 women that I thought were my friends.

CailinDana Sat 22-Mar-14 18:12:01

Did you ever ask what was going on?

cheeseandfickle Sat 22-Mar-14 18:16:12

Yes but no one would ever shed any light on it.

At risk of outing myself; I met these women on a parenting forum when I had my youngest child. The group dwindled over the years and there were a few of us left on a FB group. I thought I got on well with everyone.

Then a group of us had a spa weekend together, which I really enjoyed and felt that I got on fine with everyone. I am quite quiet though and it was quite dominated by a couple of louder women. When we got back, all but one of them just stopped talking to me, and started ignoring my posts on the group.

I wondered at first whether I was being oversensitive, but I tried speaking to 3 of them individually and they all denied that anything was going on.

I don't think that I behaved badly or in an unlikeable way that weekend at all. I just think it was a case of my face not fitting any longer.

PortofinoRevisited Sat 22-Mar-14 18:30:28

When I first moved abroad, I was in a NCT evening meet up group with a lot of Embassy wives. They were perfectly lovely and polite and inclusive even. But it became very clear after 2 or 3 meet ups that I was never going to be clutched to their inner bosom because my life was so different to theirs. I could not join in with conversations about where to buy a ball gown, or which (expensive) gym was the best. It was clear my face didn't fit there, so I moved on and looked for friends in other directions.

That is entirely different to a new mum going to a local baby group or someone in a school playground being entirely blanked by other people. You don't have to become bosom buddies, but it is perfectly possible to say hi and smile or make some general chit chat before moving on to catch up with your mate. Especially if you are a confident person that CAN chat to others at ease. It's just the nice thing to do!

HolidayCriminal Sat 22-Mar-14 18:30:49

The type of clique that upsets me is one where if you fall out with one member, the whole rest of the gang become cold, unfriendly, hostile even. Ugh.

PortofinoRevisited Sat 22-Mar-14 18:40:14

I know Holiday - as part of an expat community we make special efforts not to let individual fall outs affect the wider group, as it is just not fair. In fact I think it makes us face up to stuff and resolve problems, rather than cut someone off and bitch about them behind their back. Isn't that what grown ups should do? It's what I tell my dd. If you have hassle with someone - ignore as much as possible, apologise if you are in the wrong, remain polite.

CailinDana Sat 22-Mar-14 19:09:16

Hmm I know "quiet" can come across as aloof and unfriendly or even snobbish. If they felt you were like that then they couldn't say "we don't like you." Not that that excuses the way they treated you.

CailinDana Sat 22-Mar-14 19:11:36

Would you argue Portofino that it's ok for shy people to keep to themselves while confident people have a sort of duty to talk to everyone?

cheeseandfickle Sat 22-Mar-14 19:13:22

Yeah but they knew me online before that.

I'm not mousy 'wouldn't say boo to a goose' quiet, but I'm not a loudmouth, and a couple of the group were extremely loud and talkative and it was quite hard to get a word in edgeways.

It's hard to get it right really isn't it? People don't like loudmouths, quieter people are judged as being aloof and unfriendly. I just try to be me these days.

PortofinoRevisited Sat 22-Mar-14 19:22:26

I think that people need to recognise that what might come across as "aloof and snobbish" could actually be sheer terror, vulnerability, discomfort. How would you even know if you don't make the effort to try to get to know someone? If you look at the new person in the corner, chatting to her baby and putting a (very) brave face on it - how can you know she is a snob? Or aloof. She might be very unconfident - and lets face it many new mothers are for many reasons. I had dd at 35. I worked FT til that point. None of my friends had kids. I was like a duck out of water. The mother and baby groups TERRIFIED me.

PortofinoRevisited Sat 22-Mar-14 19:24:25

And shy people probably wouldn't "keep themselves to themselves" if the the confident people actually made an effort. It's not about duty - it's about community spirit and being welcoming to newcomers. It is very sad that you see it as such.

PortofinoRevisited Sat 22-Mar-14 19:27:28

And dare I say it, someone earlier asked if you were in a clique. Going on your responses I would say you come across as very much wanting to defend the position that it is fine to only talk to who YOU want to, and why should anyone ask you to even try to be nice to anyone else. To me that is clique. I would have a long hard think about this to be honest. God forbid you should find yourself wendied.

CailinDana Sat 22-Mar-14 19:29:40

But IMO there is no "getting it right." It's not a competition. Either people like you or they don't.

cheeseandfickle Sat 22-Mar-14 19:32:30

Exactly, Cailin

PortofinoRevisited Sat 22-Mar-14 19:32:59

Of course. But you are making excuses not to even SPEAK to people. How do you know if you like them or not, if you don't give them a chance?

CailinDana Sat 22-Mar-14 19:33:02

Porto I'll say it for the third time: I run a toddler group and speak to every single person at every single session.

PortofinoRevisited Sat 22-Mar-14 19:33:46

Or if they like you?

cheeseandfickle Sat 22-Mar-14 19:34:55

I agree, Portofino

If you are popular and confident, as CailinDana has alluded to being, then you generally have your pick of people to talk to and to be friends with, as everyone makes the effort for you. Also Cailin sounds as though she is lucky enough to have a good group of longstanding friends, therefore there isn't that need there to get to know new people.

CailinDana Sat 22-Mar-14 19:36:54

I make new friends all the time, I love seeing a new face at the group.

PortofinoRevisited Sat 22-Mar-14 19:37:04

Yes - you say you speak to them. Do you engage with them? Do you introduce them to others? Do you try to include them in conversation if they are looking a bit a lost? Do you give them a role to make them feel involved? There is a BIG difference between saying "Oh hello X, hasn't Y grown this week" and actually trying to include them in what is going on.

You may well do this, but your responses scream to me that you don't.

cheeseandfickle Sat 22-Mar-14 19:39:26

Cailin, to put a slightly different slant on things, what do you do if someone tries to befriend you, for example at the school or at an exercise class or something? Do you chat to them and try to get to know them or do you immediately dismiss someone because you have enough friends already?

PortofinoRevisited Sat 22-Mar-14 19:46:01

"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."

This was in your OP. Now you say you run a Toddler group. It is your responsibility then to ensure that people who attend your group are not subjected to this. Everyone should be MORE than welcome. hmm

CailinDana Sat 22-Mar-14 19:46:48

I absolutely love it if someone tries to befriend me. I think it's a huge compliment. But, I will not force a friendship if we don't really see eye to eye.

And yes Porto, I chat, get people involved etc. But again I will not plough effort in indefinitely if the person doesn't reciprocate.

CailinDana Sat 22-Mar-14 19:53:57

Subjected to what Porto? Genuine question.

bluepen Sat 22-Mar-14 20:06:47

You sound as if you feel guilty for what you are doing. But you are in no way acting cliquey. hth.

PortofinoRevisited Sat 22-Mar-14 20:07:59

You have expressed the attitude that you should only be friends with who you want. Fair enough. But if people are unconfident, aloof or appearing snobbish, then they deserve it if people don't want to make friends with them. And no-one should feel it their duty to make an effort with such people. So I presume that is your general attitude. Nice.

CailinDana Sat 22-Mar-14 20:10:57

Ok Porto, that's not what I'm trying to say but I'd rather not argue with you.

PortofinoRevisited Sat 22-Mar-14 20:12:43

What does a person who does not reciprocate look like? If you are running a toddler group I would say you ARE duty bound to keep trying. Unless they are a genuinely horrible person that it is unpleasant to others.

CailinDana Sat 22-Mar-14 20:16:40

In terms of not reciprocating - one mum has said she is lonely so I've invited her to my house numerous times, asked her to join the committee of the playgroup, talked to her at length about her worries etc. And she hasn't done anything to keep the friendship going and still acts like we barely know each other after a year. So I feel defeated.

Cailin, I completely agree with your OP.

There us a big group of mums at school who always go out in s group, on holiday together. Etc.

They are nice enough, and it is not as if they refuse to talk to other people, they do often discuss last week's party and then I don't get involved in theconversation. It is their business. I don't feel personally slighted by the fact that friendship grouos exist that I am nit a part of!

PortofinoRevisited Sat 22-Mar-14 20:16:55

I don't want to argue either. There needs to be a MN campaign about generally being NICE to people in the playground. Being welcoming and inclusive. And for Baby groups too. It is when we are at our most vulnerable. When we MOST need the support of others.

CailinDana Sat 22-Mar-14 20:19:06

Other people - I talk to them every single week but get one word answers. Having spoken to them 10 or 15 times I have to assume that's as far as it will go. Perhaps they don't want to talk to me.

bluepen Sat 22-Mar-14 20:22:23

I think that you need to stop stressing CD. It sounds to me like you are being nice.

CailinDana Sat 22-Mar-14 20:24:23

In terms of being nice in the playground - if a shy person walks in, head down, should a confident person step in front of them a force eye contact? Until I actually talk to someone I don't know if they're shy and desperate to be befriended or just want to be left alone. So the shy person has to at least make a small effort to signal their openness to being approached.

CailinDana Sat 22-Mar-14 20:27:19

At the toddler group though I just assume everyone wants to at least chat. Even then though it can be a struggle to get people to respond.

bluepen Sat 22-Mar-14 20:29:58

You could start a new thread and ask that.

What you are asking now is totally different to your op. The posters on this thread may not necessarily be the ones to have those answers.

CailinDana Sat 22-Mar-14 21:43:49

I'm curious to know what Porto thinks.

baggytshirt Sat 22-Mar-14 22:02:57

A group of friends is a bunch of people with things in common, yes. But a clique is a group of insecure people who feel the need to make themselves feel better by putting other people down, either among themselves or openly. This is actually damaging to them because they're showing themselves that they're not very nice.

bluepen Sat 22-Mar-14 22:08:31

Does Porto's opinion and other named posters' opinions mean more than names that you do not recognise?

CailinDana Sat 22-Mar-14 22:09:25

No blue.

bluepen Sat 22-Mar-14 22:09:57

Now that might make you unpopular.

bluepen Sat 22-Mar-14 22:10:12


PortofinoRevisited Sat 22-Mar-14 22:45:51

Hmm. I am not trying to have a go at you Caillin or anything, Just trying to understand why this stuff goes on. Your OP implies that there are groups of friends and that it the fault of the newcomer that she is not necessarily accepted, because she is maybe snobbish, shy, standoffish, aloof etc. I have tried to put forward some reasons why the newcomber might be like that, and why the existing group SHOULD make extra efforts to include newbies.

scottishmummy Sat 22-Mar-14 22:49:49

Cliques aren't merely associated acquaintances,they have inclusion/exclusion criteria
And that's rub,the inclusion and exclusion.and feelings that exclusion can evoke
No cliques aren't simply loose set of pals,cliques are groups with Norns and rules

PortofinoRevisited Sat 22-Mar-14 22:53:08


CailinDana Sat 22-Mar-14 22:53:23

No Porto I said being "quiet" might come across as being snobbish but that doesn't excuse bad treatment. My overriding point is that some people are genuinely not nice and it's just not worth being friends with them. They may be in "cliques" but there's no point in worrying about them. For people who struggle to make friends it might be worth remembering that people aren't necessarily deliberately excluding them but rather just hanging out with their friends.

SallyMcgally Sun 23-Mar-14 00:48:19

I think some of the misperceptions occur when people in a clique are convinced that outsiders/ newcomers immediately want to be their best friend, and that's when you get the aloof, distant behaviour. There have been times in a new playground (which is where it usually happens) that I want to tell them that if they smile and say hello I won't be found that very night on their doorsteps grinning like a loon and wanting to gate crash their social events. I'd leave it at least a fortnight.

evelynj Sun 23-Mar-14 01:09:18

I think it's very hard, esp for first time mums to go out to groups, it adds to an already stressful time. It's perfectly obvious if the rest of the mums don't bother to make an effort if the mum has no other acquaintances at said event. IMO, nobody is looking for a new BFF but exchanging pleasantries is the most basic of interactions from individuals In a 'clique'. If everyone takes their turn so to speak, then it's not bitchy. Anything else is acting superior IMO. Just because someone doesn't ome attached to another group, doesn't mean they aren't worth speaking to,

cheeseandfickle Sun 23-Mar-14 10:03:05

I think that people who have the attitude of "I have enough friends" and only spend time with one specific group run the risk of being very lonely at some stage if they get Wendied or if the group ends up dispersing. They will have burnt their bridges with casual acquaintances by being dismissive and unfriendly, so will find it hard to make new friends.

TheSmallClanger Sun 23-Mar-14 10:30:05

I have a bit of a theory about clique behaviour. It mostly comes from the workplace, rather than school gates, which I didn't spend much time around. By the sound of it, that was a good judgement call.

If you are out in a group in a "closed" situation, such as a dinner out together, or a party at someone's house, or, in the workplace, sitting together in a private office with the door shut, it's fine to expect a degree of "exclusivity". Other people might drop by or perhaps say hello, but it;s your gathering really.

If you expect this sort of "exclusivity" of contact among your group only, in "open" situations, such as a school gate, or a workplace break room (especially one with limited space), you are being precious, probably rude and definitely a bit of a dick.

The kind of behaviour I'm talking about is ignoring people when they say hello, accusing others of "interrupting" or "butting in" when they engage in normal social chat without a specific invitation to do so (which no-one outside of Victorian novels does anyway), and getting all pissy about "private conversations" when you are standing on the pavement/in the canteen/in a busy corridor somewhere, so not remotely in private.

CailinDana Sun 23-Mar-14 10:31:12

There is that risk definitely cheese but I don't blame people people for sometimes limiting their social group. Maintaining friendships takes time and effort.

TheSmallClanger Sun 23-Mar-14 10:37:44

There is a difference between maintaining a close friendship, and being on friendly terms with people you like and see regularly. Keeping up friendly relations, especially when you see someone all the time, is easy.

ComposHat Sun 23-Mar-14 10:46:38

When it cones to cliques, I hate the fact thst a large number of people are seemingly unable to pronounce the word properly.

ComposHat Sun 23-Mar-14 10:47:55

And the fact I'm unable to master auto correct on this phone is probably aa equally annoying.

CailinDana Sun 23-Mar-14 10:48:24

Hmm Clanger I have to admit at times when I am tired or not well I would like to just sit and vegetate at playgroup and not have the effort of smiling and chatting to everyone. But that's a special case I suppose as it's my "job" and there are a lot of people to be friendly to. Out and about in the local area I say hi to everyone but that's an Irish thing I think - it would feel very rude to pass someone on a path and not say hi.

TheSmallClanger Sun 23-Mar-14 10:55:46

Wanting to sit and veg on your own is different to having silly little private conversations in public, like schoolgirls. Especially if you are under the weather.

JennyBendy Sun 23-Mar-14 11:21:14

OP I totally agree. Totally. I've found the most unpopular and lonely women are the ones who either don't give anything back, not even a smile (possibly because they're so SELF-conscious that they can't) or the ones who barge in and talk about themselves all the time.

When my eldest started school there were invitations to a party put in some of the children's post holes. My DD got one and when I saw the mum concerned I thanked her and said we'd love to go. I didn't know her and hadn't spoken before. She replied and said my DD (who has a v common name!) wasn't the child she had meant, and could I put it in the other child's post hole! No apology, no thinking in her feet and saying nothing, just "oh that's a mistake, or wasn't for your DD."
Stunned, I told everyone. Unsurprisingly, the mother isn't v popular, is seen as odd, and refuses to acknowledge the presence of anyone other than a couple of people. She doesn't seem to have the social fluency to deal with people. That's no one else's fault and I don't think anyone should feel guilty for avoiding people like this. And yet she bleats regularly on fb about how clicky the school is!

CailinDana Sun 23-Mar-14 11:31:09

Clanger do you feel parents at the school gate shouldn't have personal conversations with each other?

It is definitely the case that some people who lament their lack of friends unfortunately lack social skills.

TheSmallClanger Sun 23-Mar-14 11:54:59

My own general rule is that if I want to have a personal, private conversation with someone, I don't do it in a busy social space, such as the canteen, the middle of the room at someone else's party or somewhere where lots of other people I/we know will be milling about. I am not that self-important to think that other people should defer to my conversation instead of pursuing normal social activites.

If it's properly private, it normally happens over the phone.

TBH the most school gate chat I ever did was things like "hello" and "how are you and your kids" and sometimes arranging activities. DH did the school pickup and dropoff when DD was little and sometimes said that the school gate "wasn't a very male-friendly space".

CailinDana Sun 23-Mar-14 12:07:06

I sometimes see parents having clearly private conversations at playgroup. I just assume they have no other opportunity to have the conversation and I'm glad they have someone to offload to.

TheSmallClanger Sun 23-Mar-14 12:16:25

It all depends on what else happens. If a mutual friend of theirs came along and said "hi", and they exchanged pleasantries before getting back to what they were talking about, fine. If the friend then got a load of huffing and tutting about "interRUPting a private converSAYSHUN!", then they are acting like mardy schoolgirls and being self-important dicks.

The keyword is "private". If it's really private, don't do it in public.

CailinDana Sun 23-Mar-14 12:43:06

Do people really do that Clanger? And if they do then it's no great loss to leave them to it, surely, seeing as they are so idiotic?

blanchedeveraux Sun 23-Mar-14 13:08:45

I think friendships that grow organically and are formed on mutual interests and sense of humour etc. can develop from school pick ups very well. It happened to me with both DD and DS. Perhaps we were perceived as a "clique" by onlookers, but it was never intended and I certainly never felt I excluded anyone who was kind and pleasant. I did however blank a couple of women who were known to be troublemakers and stirrers and had caused heartache for a good friend.

I don't get this "Wendy" thing either. If you introduce a friend to an established group, you have to accept that their friendship might take off in ways you didn't expect. Nobody has copyright or ownership of a friend and shouldn't expect them to defer to the original friend every time they want to make an arrangement.

bluepen Sun 23-Mar-14 13:42:46

CailinDana. Read books about cliques. Then you will understand all you need to know about them.
Since you are so confused about the matter, and because of your job, I think that that is what you need to do - for your own piece of mind, rather than for anything else.

Bahhhhhumbug Sun 23-Mar-14 14:18:43

I was bullied terribly at school so had a very unhappy upbringing with a mother who would never stick up for me/rock the boat at school or even be supportive when I was upset, so it carried on. I grew up therefore thinking I must have deserved this treatment I seemed to draw from others.
I am ok now and know I didn't deserve it and that it wasn't my fault and that my mum just was of the generation that didn't make a fuss to a teacher or doctor and generally bowed down to authority and not falling out with the neighbours blah blah and didn't like to stick their head above the parapet/make a fuss.
But in a nano second of walking into an office where there is a 'cliquey' atmosphere or to a party where I only know the host and everyone else is in groups and no-one is taking any notice of me (and yes I do smile/say hello etc etc) I can become that five year old girl again. I have tried to rationalise it as you have OP that these people are just a group of good friends but I don't think unless you have been in my situation or similar that you can truly understand exactly how hostile this 'cliquey' behaviour can feel to the outsider.
I wish more people would try like you do OP to say 'come on in' to the shy or quiet ones. I would've bit your hand off had I been in your group.

CailinDana Sun 23-Mar-14 16:05:55

Bluepen you seem keen to direct me elsewhere. But I'm happy here, I'm finding the thread interesting. If you have any light to shed on cliques I'd be interested to hear it. I say the playgroup is my "job" but in fact it's entirely voluntary. I also have a paid job.

bluepen Sun 23-Mar-14 16:08:08

I had assumed that your looking for answers were genuine.

CailinDana Sun 23-Mar-14 16:09:59

Yes it is bluepen. I am also enjoying the thread.

CailinDana Sun 23-Mar-14 16:12:12

Bahhhhumbug has explained the issue very well.

cheeseandfickle Sun 23-Mar-14 16:21:18

I, too, am really enjoying this thread and finding it very interesting.

I think that self esteem can definitely play a huge part in peoples' perception about friendship groups.

thegreatgatsby101 Sun 23-Mar-14 16:22:15

I find the idea of cliques baffling over he age of about 14. However some people are just fucking bitchy.

Having said that I do SORT of agree with some of the elements of the OP and other posts. A girl I know, for example is always whinging on fb that nobody cares about her/her baby/her life yet and expects people to constantly want to be her friend. She's nice enough but just because I'm not asking her a thousand times a day how she is doesn't mean I don't care/am a bitch/don't want to be her friend.
I find people who need constant reassurance and approval of the friendship fucking exhausting and they are always the ones who cry 'clique!'

cheeseandfickle Sun 23-Mar-14 16:25:36

Good points there, greatgatsby.

Yes, some people are most definitely fucking bitchy. And as we all tend to seek out like minded individuals to be friends with, it makes sense that there are groups (cliques!!) of bitchy friends.

I too am not keen on friends that want constant validation and reassurance. It's draining. I had to distance myself from a friend that wanted daily contact (text/facebook message/long phone calls), and was so demanding and such hard work that it was almost like having a 2nd relationship to juggle and balance each day.

CailinDana Sun 23-Mar-14 17:00:46

There seems to be something of a double standard too - shy and quiet people can suit themselves in terms of who they talk to and when they are sociable whereas confident peoplehave a duty to include everyone and make an effort to form friendships.

cheeseandfickle Sun 23-Mar-14 17:06:04

I think some super-shy people do just sit back and wait for others' to make the effort, but I am guessing it is just lack of confidence that makes them that way?

I have a friend who is very quiet and shy, and is absolutely lovely. However the only time I see her is when I make arrangements. She is just very unconfident and would never make plans with people for fear of rejection I guess. We've been friends now for nearly 10 years, and I am virtually her only friend but she just finds it too hard to make any effort herself.

CailinDana Sun 23-Mar-14 17:15:31

I sympathise with very shy people, it must be very hard. But it does irk me when someone makes little or no effort and then acts like it's everyone else's fault that they don't have friends.

cheeseandfickle Sun 23-Mar-14 17:18:32

Actually come to think of it my friend is a little like this. She doesn't moan about cliques but it's more things of "I'd like to have a night out but no one invites me" and that kind of thing.

Like I said earlier in the thread, I am fairly quiet compared to very loud people, but I do try to make the effort and to chat to people etc.

CailinDana Sun 23-Mar-14 17:23:28

I'm not loud but I am confident. However that does not mean I am totally thick-skinned and immune to rejection. I won't plough effort into getting to know someone indefinitely with no reciprocation.

almondcake Sun 23-Mar-14 18:07:06

I have various friendship groups from work, my old work, school gates and a hobby. This is because I havelived in one place a long time. I am introverted and extremely anxious. I have very poor social perception. I find it hard enough to be a reasonable friend to the people I already know. I really don't have the ability to spot who feels left out or the emotional resources to deal with more people other than on a level of basic courtesy. People who already know me well accept I may make no contact for a while and not take it personally. Some of the examples mentioned on here of people needing constant attention to feel included I just could not deal with. The fact that I have friends and am not shy doesn't stop me having all the issues of being an extreme introvert. There are a lot of assumptions about the character of strangers on this thread.

QuacksForDoughnuts Sun 23-Mar-14 18:08:22

Cheese, does your friend maybe think that she would be intruding on your time by trying to make plans? Because I have had the same criticism, that I don't initiate plans enough and expect other people to. The problem is, I have had a few experiences of what I thought were happy friendships but which have turned into the other person (or another of their friends) ranting about how needy and demanding I am, that I don't want subsequent friendships to go the same way. It's hard to strike a balance when you have been given grief for straying a tiny bit too far either way.

CailinDana Sun 23-Mar-14 18:18:26

Quacks I've had people ranting at me about things too. It hurts but it doesn't change my behaviour. Now, if a friend comes to me and says "look when you did this I felt this..." I am totally happy to listen and make adjustments if I can. But ranting or telling me I'm this way or that way? Fuck off thank you. No one has the right to say "you're needy." They have every right to say your behaviour makes them uncomfortable but it's not for them to pass judgement on your personality.

hunreeeal Mon 24-Mar-14 09:13:26

> Yup, that's what you would be encouraged to think, if you went along to a cognitive behavioural therapist.

I don't like CBT. It tries to get you to see things in a different way even if what you thought in the first place was actually unpleasant, but correct.

hunreeeal Mon 24-Mar-14 09:18:29

> Would you argue Portofino that it's ok for shy people to keep to themselves while confident people have a sort of duty to talk to everyone?

I'd argue that if shy people are expected to make an effort to be more outgoing, then outgoing people should in return make an effort to see things from a shy person's point of view as well. It shouldn't just be one-sided and neither personality is better/worse than the other.

Laura0806 Mon 24-Mar-14 10:07:20

Interesting that so many people have responded to this thread. Its hard, I have a few friends that Im very close to at the school gate but we try not to stand together all the time so we don't become cliquey and we always talk to whoever is around. However, we do ( the four of us) meet up on our own every so often without inviting the other mums we know and like just because there are private things we only feel comfortable discussing between ourselves. We do however do nights out with others aswell. I am friendly to everyone and will always make an effort with anyone standing alone but it is also hard when you have a busy life and are desperate to catch up with....... to always do the right thing and scan for people being on their own. I do also think its a joint responsibility. As someone that isn't socially shy, I do make a big effort with those that are but I do get a bit fed up with all the 'its alright for you coments' you have lots of friends that I sometimes get. It is a 2 way street, noone should leave anyone out deliberately but by the same token everyone should make the effort. There are some people who are deliberately unpleasant unfortunately but I think they are in the minority; most people have no desire to leave anyone out or cause upset but don't have the time to continually chase people who are shy and maybe have been burnt before.

bonesarecoralmade Mon 24-Mar-14 10:07:21

Cailin, I think you are being encouraged to read books on this because it is the case that cliques and actively exlusionary behaviour do exist, and you seem to be asserting that they don't, and that all instances of apparent cliquishness are actually quite alright and explainable. Given that social scientists have put the work in to write about this, and given that you might find it easier to take it in when quantified rather than the dismissive "lack of social skills" hand waving that can wave away anecdotal accounts of people being subject to nastiness and cliquiness, it might help you to read them.

It might be the case that you have never come across or noticed genuine cliquiness but it does exist and I think there is a level of frustration from some that you appear to be insisting it doesn't.

What is odd about this is that you make it clear that you are quite proud of not being cliquey - you have repeatedly made it clear that you could never be accused of anything like this, making the effort at toddler group even when you are not well etc - yet at the same time as highlighting this as something which takes effort and is to be proud of, you seem to be implying that the opposite never ever happens, oh no, never, not by you, nor by anyone else. Make your mind up, which is it?

As with everything of course, so many cases are a case of 6 of one and half a dozen of the other - but that doesn't mean that cliqueiness doesn't exist. It does.

On another subject - CBT - I believe, giving it the benefit of the doubt, that done properly it doesn't try to make you believe things that aren't true. However, as hunreeeal says, I think it is very often used to discredit genuine concerns and for some patients this is very very bad. I think where guilt is a part of depression CBT, done in a certain way, is actively harmful because it can be "heard" by the patient to be sending messages like: it's all your fault; you are seeing things wrongly and you are wrong; if you worked harder to think "right", you wouldn't be like this.

There is some research that shows that statistically most people over estimate their talents and attributes, ie, something like 80% of people believe themselves to be above average at social skills. This is of course statistically impossible. Depressed people tend to have a more realistic view of things. I think rose tinted glasses are perhaps a necessary part of being functional. But it doesn't mean that arguing yourself into seeing rose-tinted means that you are seeing what is really there, and the loss of authenticity required to do this can in itself be pyschologically damaging

Laura0806 Mon 24-Mar-14 10:12:15

by the way CBT carried out properly ( ie not by someone who has just done a CBT course) should never discredit genuine concerns. Where it does , it is being carried out by an inexperienced or poor therapist......

FriendlyLadybird Mon 24-Mar-14 10:20:10

I think you're right OP. I don't think that I have ever encountered a clique, not even when I was at school myself.

Yet to read MN you'd think they were everywhere. As an easygoing and inclusive sort of person, who doesn't much mind whether people like me or not (I've got friends and family enough) I suspect that I just don't interpret groups of friends as cliques.

whyisthishappening Mon 24-Mar-14 10:30:47

All the 'cliches don't really exist' remarks seem very similar to the 'there's no bullying at this school' statements made by two of the parents of children that were actually involved in bullying my child; one of which had been spoken to by the headteacher after a serious incident of bullying.

Her son is 'a strong character' according to the mum. Not a bully that destroys my daughters work and possessions, steals from her and knocks her over.

Perhaps for her, her child isn't bullied therefore there is no bullying at the school?

And is it pronounced 'click' or a 'cleek'?

bluepen Mon 24-Mar-14 10:38:45

All the books written and studies done, but since the op has not come across one, they dont exist.

whyisthishappening Mon 24-Mar-14 10:43:23

cliques not cliches....

my spelling is appalling!

blueballoon79 Mon 24-Mar-14 11:12:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Laura0806 Mon 24-Mar-14 11:16:42

blueballoon, so sorry you've encountered this. Glad you've been able to move on. I can't understand what motivates women to behave in that way and whilst I still believe they are in the minority, they def exist!

blueballoon79 Mon 24-Mar-14 11:26:20

Thank you Laura, I agree they definitely exist! Thankfully though you're right and they do appear to be in the minority. The other Mums I speak to have friendship groups but they don't exclude everyone else who isn't a part of it and are friendly to everyone. It's not a big deal to just smile and say hello to others.

The thing that really helped me get over it was by telling myself I was better than them grin

There's no way I would ever stoop so low as to treat someone so badly and in such a childish way. At the time though there's no denying it affected me terribly.

bluepen Mon 24-Mar-14 11:32:21

For the record I have only come across one.
Someone I know[not me] found themselves on the outskirts of one. Didnt quite understand at first what was going on. Bought a book. Then understood the whole thing.

bonesarecoralmade Mon 24-Mar-14 11:35:31

Blueballoon, this strikes me as really extreme:

" For two days I pretended my daughter was ill and didn't take her to the school as I couldn't bear the exclusion by this group."

It seems to me that maybe people who enjoy running this sort of clique can identify people who will be hurt by it and make them targets. Other people - the shruggers - may never become aware that people can behave like this.

I am somewhere in between. I am definitely a shrugger now. I have changed and become more confident and whether through cause and effect, chicken or egg, am never troubled these days by feelings of exclusion etc. I am too busy apart from anything else, to have any time to notice that people aren't including me.

It is a very long time since I would have avoided going somewhere because of a feeling of not being liked. Nowadays, if I had time, I think I would wind that group up. I would take delight in exposing their patheticness; get all up in their faces, asking endless chirpy questions about their weekends, pretending not to know what was going on. (on some level they must know this and this is why things like this don't happen to me)

At one time I would have had to psych myself up to facing them, would have dressed very carefully and had knots in my stomach and would have timed things to have to overlap with them as little as possible. Actually taking your daughter out of school for two days is extreme. In the nicest possible way, have you had any help with this?

bluepen Mon 24-Mar-14 11:40:37

Oh they definitely target the vulnerable.

Burren Mon 24-Mar-14 13:01:55

I don't think anyone's claiming that there is no such thing as a clique, ever, only that accusations of cliquishness, and the misery and anger caused by a perception of other people's cliquish behaviour, are over-represented statistically on Mn in a way that has become a slightly self-fulfilling prophecy, I think, just because the term has become something of a buzz-word and has given people a vocab to slot their experiences into. (Which is both good for obvious reasons, and also bad, because I think it can lead to over-perception of exclusionary behaviour, maybe...?)

I thought CailinDana's perspective was interesting, even refreshing, for a change, as she was speaking from within the 'in-group', but in a way that suggested both a basic kind-heartedness and social generosity AND a desire to place responsibility for social dynamics on everyone's shoulders, including those inside and outside the group.

(I say this as someone who has moved around the world for large chunks of my adult life, and has recently been experiencing the strange world of baby and toddler groups in Middle England - I am by definition an outsider rather than an insider, and am used to arriving in a new place where I know no one at all.

I have the advantage over many other people in that I've made my way many times before and know I can do it again, and that I'm a self-reliant person who is pleased by welcoming behaviour, but never expects it - but I do feel it is no one's responsibility to ease my path socially in a new situation.)

I don't want to do a social version of victim blaming, but I do think people grant the idea of the 'in-group' or clique far too much power in their own minds.

lottieandmia Mon 24-Mar-14 13:05:16

To me, cliquey is deliberately ignoring people not in your 'group' who you haven't even given a chance to get to know.

That is just narrow minded and unfriendly IMO.

kerala Mon 24-Mar-14 13:25:02

I am on the PTA (I know I know) and we have been accused of being cliquey. This is unfair - there are about 5 of us that are daft enough to go along to the meetings so get landed with organising events/fund raising. We didn't know each other before and only speak about school stuff we are arranging, we don't socialise together or anything really. Feedback from some parents (big school 500 kids) is that in order to appear non cliquey the PTA (ie me) has to go around and personally speak to every parent and ask them personally to volunteer.

I am quite socially confident but this fills me with dread shock. Thought of this OP and her question as to how far are those perceived as being in a "clique" are required to go to befriend/involve others?

CailinDana Mon 24-Mar-14 13:28:55

Blue I'm a psychologist by background and have studied in group and outgroup behaviour. I think Burren actually stated my thoughts a lot more clearly. However I seem to be upsetting you which I definitely don't want to do so I'm not sure going into the more indepth psychological stuff around this is helpful?

Fwiw I dislike CBT and never advocated for it on this thread.

CailinDana Mon 24-Mar-14 13:34:31

To be clear the previous message was for blue*pen*.

Blue balloon what you experienced was downright nasty bullying behaviour. So maybe that's more what "clique" refers to - a bunch of bullies?

Bullying in schools most definitely does exist.

BorderBinLiner Mon 24-Mar-14 14:09:15

In DD1's year, there are knots of parents who are friends, they overlap here and there and everyone seems to smile, say hello, exhange pleasantries with each other and the various childminders, grandparents, etc that use see over the course of the term.

In DD2's year there is one particular group of mothers who have a lot in common, clearly socialise outside the school run but ignore wider society at the school gate. I suspect a lot of their bonding is through gossiping about others - housing, income, child rearing, etc. I don't want to be their best friend but since my daughter goes to the same after school stuff, I am clearly not a stranger. Why can they not even say hello when you pass them on the cycle path during the holidays? How can they find you to avoid a birthday party clash but greet you with a blank face at the supermarket. So rude but the aloofness does work and many insecureothers are desperate for an invite to the wider social events with them.

Bahhhhhumbug Mon 24-Mar-14 14:23:02

Thank you Callin I like to give a balanced view despite my experience. I do accept that I am or have been disproportionately bothered by 'cliques' because of my history at the hands of one. I do wonder whether other people who unfairly or too readily cry foul at any formation of close friends or exclusive group also share similar baggage to me and need help with dealing with their perception of other peoples behaviour and their self confidence.
I would never wish to blame the victim that is a pet hate of mine but I think the old adage 'Smile and the world smiles with you , cry and you cry alone ' (or whatever it is) is also very true to a degree and if you are visibly down and feeling negative around a group of people you are much less likely to be embraced by them unless there is one perceptive empathic one among them. Like you ! I think many people are basically lazy in forming friendships , so if you look in any way 'hard work' they will give you a swerve , I'm afraid.

Bahhhhhumbug Mon 24-Mar-14 14:24:25

their own self confidence , not the 'cliques' that is obv.

kerala Mon 24-Mar-14 14:28:18

Agree Bahhumbug my sister is very cheerful and good fun when she started a new job I asked her how it was going she was quite low key and said it was ok but very cliquey. Saw her again a few weeks later she was much happier - asked how the job was "fine still cliquey but now Im in all the cliques!"

Bahhhhhumbug Mon 24-Mar-14 14:34:46

grin yes kerala that is a good tactic and one I have employed instead of trying in vain to get in one 'clique' or coming home from work in tears every night wondering what was wrong with me (in my late twenties /early thirties this happened a lot) I started to just be friendly to everyone and one day sit with one group or a fellow loner and the next day a different group or person and widen my options really. It is true that people can be unwittingly very cruel if you walk round looking miserable and I myself have been described as a miserable cow or stuck up etc etc. when I was actually just feeling left out.

bonesarecoralmade Mon 24-Mar-14 14:40:47

Some people like organising people. Just being around them isn't enough. It isn't always (maybe not even usually) done with malicious intent, but it is fascinating to me, because I really don't care what everyone else does and when you are in a milieu where someone has taken it upon themselves to run tings socially, their personality has a huge effect on the general group dynamic.

for instance - I used to work with someone who liked to go out for fag breaks quite often. He used to email a group of smokers and ask if they wanted to go to, or not even ask - sort of prompt them - and they all went. There were a lot more breaks and a different, lazier atmosphere after he started. He would get people leaving for lunch 5 minutes early, back 10 minutes late, on the regular. He didn't like me and I wasn't part of all this and over time I really felt a. excluded, which I didn't care about because I don't go to work to make friends, but b. really up against it in challenging all the new breaks and sloppiness, because while I was the boss of the dept he was basically the sort of socially alpha personality. I can't explain what I mean by that - he wasn't nasty, or manipulating people to do things against their will, he was just a natural leader and he made people do things to his mould in a way that I never make people do them to mine. But this was a problem as I was supposed to be running the dept and attempting to do that brought me into direct conflict with him, and his need to be a sort of pied piper.

In that case, he did form a group, he did exclude me (his natural enemy, being the boss - this is how he thought) and he did "imprint" the group with his personality (a bit lazy). Had he been nasty, I would have been in trouble.

CailinDana Mon 24-Mar-14 14:41:58

A useful thing to remember is that while you're worrying what everyone else thinks of you they're worrying what you think of them. Confident or not one can only form an opinion of others based on what they present to the world. A person might be feeling left out but be unwittingly be giving off unfriendly vibes. I rely a lot on facial expression and eye contact in connecting with others. If a person is very inexpressive or avoids eye contact I struggle to connect.

blueballoon79 Mon 24-Mar-14 14:49:39

Burren, yes taking my daughter out of school was very extreme. It only served to make me feel worse about myself and have even less confidence in myself. I found myself thinking what kind of pathetic person behaves like this.

I suffer from depression a lot and have a lot on my plate generally as I raise two disabled children entirely alone.

When I first moved to the area I didn't know a soul and would spend weeks alone without even speaking to another adult- the way the group treated me only served to plummet me into a complete downward spiral.

I've not had help, no. I worked on myself. I got a new job, took up voluntary work and am now much more confident and happy.

Burren Mon 24-Mar-14 15:00:51

Blueballoon, I think you're confusing me with someone else? I'm sorry you had a hard time, though - I know exactly what you mean about spending weeks at a time without talking to another adult. I am a rural-living writer, and many days the postman is the only other adult I see...

blueballoon79 Mon 24-Mar-14 15:06:00

Whoops, sorry! blush
My response was to bonesarecoralmade

blueballoon79 Mon 24-Mar-14 15:09:05

Burren until I moved to this area I'd never experienced being alone so much. The loneliness began to consume me and the treatment from this clique only amplified it all.

I was the same in that some days it would only be the postman I'd see. I'd go for weeks without having even a conversation with anyone. Sometimes I'd walk to the shop just for a chance to interact with people.

It's all changing now slowly for the better, but at first I found it unbearably hard.

Comeatmefam Mon 24-Mar-14 15:11:49

Cailin I agree with you completely (I've come to this thread rather late!) and in fact say the same thing time and time again on all the 'school gate mums are a bunch of bitches' threads.

It's ridiculous and actually utterly unfair to call women in a friendship groups bitchy if they dare not to include you in all conversations or - shock horror - leave you out of a trip to Starbucks.

And most of all I agree that not everyone will like you and you need to etiher shrug and accept that OR if it's a recurring theme (people not wanting to befriend you), look to yourself and your own behaviour, not everyone else's.

blueballoon79 Mon 24-Mar-14 15:15:29

Comeeatfam What do you suggest I should have done with the situation I described?

I understand they didn't have to like me, but to be so rude and ignorant was hurtful.

I did look at my own behaviour long and hard. I picked over everything and wondered what on earth I'd done, but I still am clueless as to why I was treated like that.

Comeatmefam Mon 24-Mar-14 15:23:09

I haven't read your post blueballoon. I will do.

SallyMcgally Mon 24-Mar-14 15:25:25

comeatmefam It really does depend on the individual situation and context. There are some groups who make a point of being exclusive and of cold-shouldering those they don't want to befriend. That is bitchy behaviour.
Of course it's ridiculous to expect to be invited to every single social event. Of course a group of three of four mothers who are friends should feel able to go off to Starbucks on their own, and not have to invite all and sundry. But don't make a point of announcing it loudly, making sure that those who aren't going can hear and know that they aren't to be invited (which is not at all the same thing as saying it normally and simply being overheard.)
Clique behaviour includes deliberately ensuring that those who are left out must be aware of the fact, so that they can admire the superiority of the gang and feel smaller themselves as a consequence.

ElenorRigby Mon 24-Mar-14 15:31:33

" no one wants to be stood in the middle of the playground on their own looking like billy no mates"
"Unfortunately some people just have terrible social skills."

<hand up>
Oh that's me!! gringrin

After years of crippling social anxiety disorder, I don't give a rats anymore.

People have never gravitated to me.
Maybe I'm partially autistic, maybe I've an odd face, maybe I project anxiety/aloof-ness or whatever. Maybe I don't have the time or patience to get involved. Who knows. maybe its the name

I will never be the life n soul, little miss popular. I will never for certain know what people think about me or if they think about me at all, so why bother.

It's a whole waste of time.

My sister lord bless her thinks I should get to know parents, get on the PTA, be a popular mum for the sake of DD. I'm getting the anxiety just thinking about!

SallyMcgally Mon 24-Mar-14 15:36:23

Much healthier not to give a rats, Elenor!
I'll merrily join you as billy-no-mates in the playground, and it doesn't bother me one bit either, as it no longer has any impact on my children.
I have a lovely network of friends from school, church, music groups and work. If the clique of mums in the playground really think I sob into my pillow because they've made it clear they're ignoring me, or openly laughing at the cakes I make for the PTA sale then they're deluded. I actually find them v funny (except insofar as they do upset others.)

ElenorRigby Mon 24-Mar-14 15:55:55

"Much healthier not to give a rats, Elenor!"

It took me a long time to learn! smile

Worrying about other people made me very ill, I'm not back there I can tell you!

Comeatmefam Mon 24-Mar-14 16:03:34


I've said this many times on MN. I'm 47, have three daughters, a big family and lots of friends ie I have known many women and groups of women over the years. I have NEVER come across a clique! Only women who are friends. It only feels like a clique if you are not in it! 'Exclusion' and 'bitchiness' and 'cold shouldering' = 'don't really want to be friends with you so not making the effort/inviting you', that is all.

Don't you have people you don't like, don't want to bother with too much, think they are ok but don't click with? If so, if they were actively persuing a friendship with you, you'd just go along with that would you? You would go to coffee, pub, dinner etc with someone you don't particularly like or find interesting?

I do concede however, that being unfriendly (not smiling, say hi or having a 2 minute chat to someone who comes over or you bump into) is horrible, unnecessary and mean spirited. Again, I have never seen a group of women actively ignore someone! Maybe you all live in different universes to me.


Ok read it.

Sorry it was tough for you.

I think it was about your (understandable) anxiety and stress about moving to a new place and you put way too much truck on becoming part of or being accepted this group.

Maybe they were rude and 'bitchy' but maybe they just had a group of mates and, while not disliking you, didn't really want to hang out with you? Maybe they didn't like you enough to befriend you - we all have people we click with and people we don't.

I agree there is no need to be unfriendly but it sounds like a friendly hello and a quick chat was not just what you were after. You wanted proper friends and they didn't want that. That's not a crime you know.

You might have come across as too intense and nervous which made them feel uncomfortable? They might have misread that as you being nosy or interupting them or you being too talkative (out of nerves).

As Cailin and others have said, you do know we all feel insecure, left out, paranoid, excluded with certain people at certain times? I do sometimes for sure. So you shouldn't feel like this was a failure or you were in some way terribly unusual.

You ask what you should have done? Well just given up trying sooner, I think. And not then labelled them as bitches!!

cheeseandfickle Mon 24-Mar-14 16:08:04

I am another who doesn't really care about standing on my own at the school either. In fact I just thought of this thread an hour ago when I went to pick up my DCs.

I often just stand on my own at the front of the crowd at picking up time. There do seem to be lots of groups of mums but tbh although I am on friendly terms with the mums from DS's year group, I actually prefer to just stand on my own and have a bit of a think before DS comes running out.

Like I said, I am on friendly terms with anyone, but I don't have the 'must stand with X every day' mentality that some seem to have. Very few people actually come over and talk to me at pick up, I must have a "fuck off" type face on grin

Comeatmefam Mon 24-Mar-14 16:21:01

I don't care either about standing on my own.

Some days I'll see mums I like and feel comfortable with and can have a laugh or chat with.

Other days there will be mums who don't chat to me or are engaged in a chat with someone else or maybe I don't really like them, so I just stand on my own and fiddle with my phone!

SallyMcgally Mon 24-Mar-14 16:23:28

I have NEVER come across a clique! Only women who are friends. It only feels like a clique if you are not in it!
So - are all the psychologists writing about the phenomenon making it up, then, in your view?

Don't you have people you don't like, don't want to bother with too much, think they are ok but don't click with? If so, if they were actively persuing a friendship with you, you'd just go along with that would you? You would go to coffee, pub, dinner etc with someone you don't particularly like or find interesting?
I'd go for coffee if it was someone new, and they were trying to find their feet, yes. Certainly wouldn't go for dinner. Most importantly I would say hello to them, introduce them to other people in the group, and make some effort until they had found their feet. You seem to think that the problem is with those who feel excluded because they're looking for really good friends. It's just as much the case that those in cliques could relax a little bit and not assume that because somebody wants to say hello they want to start going out to the pub all the time or intruding on an established friendship.

Maybe you all live in different universes to me. This does seem quite a likely explanation.

ElenorRigby Mon 24-Mar-14 16:36:37

If you have to fiddle your phone if you are alone, it looks like you really aren't comfortable to be by yourself in that situation.

ElenorRigby Mon 24-Mar-14 16:38:01

LOL Cheeseandfikle!
You have a fuck off face too! grin

Comeatmefam Mon 24-Mar-14 16:38:20

I'd go for coffee with someone new too - done it a million times. If we don't click or I don't really like them I wouldn't want to do it again but would remain friendly in terms of playground chats etc of course.

Then do I become a 'cliquey bitch who only wants to hang out with my band of cliquey bitches' when I avoid doing it again or do I become friends with them and have regular arrangements with them against my will?

I said above, it's horrible to be rude and unfriendly to someone. It's not rude to decide not to spend time with someone you're not interested in. But according to some on here, any kind of avoidance and non inclusion is snubbing and cruel and mean.

Yes I think a lot of it's bullshit since you ask (re psychologists).

Comeatmefam Mon 24-Mar-14 16:41:19


I'm not always comfortable. I'm self consious sometimes. I'm ok with being (and looking) uncomfortable sometimes. I said that above. I'd rather stand on my own feeling a bit of a lemon than muscle in on convos or talk to people just for the sake of it.

SallyMcgally Mon 24-Mar-14 16:50:16

If we don't click or I don't really like them I wouldn't want to do it again but would remain friendly in terms of playground chats etc of course. Well to me that's the crucial point - if you remain friendly, then you're not being cliquey. Of course you're not expected to shackle yourself socially to someone you don't especially like. But there's a big difference between politely declining future invitations once you've done your bit, and coldly and pointedly ignoring somebody. And that's the behaviour which I find objectionable.
I'll give you an example of the 'cliquey' behaviour I mean which I've put on Mnet before under a different name. Church held a wreath making afternoon before Christmas to which loads of schoolchildren and their parents went. I was placed on a table with three other mothers who knew each other well. I said hello and smiled at them and was ignored. They began talking about general things and I interjected a couple of pleasantries which met with stony silence. Then one of their daughters came up, pointed at my wreath, and said how crap it was (which was true). All three then began to talk about how poor my wreath was as if I wasn't there. Eventually I gave up and joined a different table and just chatted to the other women there. I actually found the episode very funny. I don't want to socialise with the three of them or do more than say a civil hello. But the efforts that they went to to make me know that I wouldn't be allowed to are nothing short of bizarre. And I'm perfectly comfortable with labelling that behaviour bitchy, as well as downright weird.

ElenorRigby Mon 24-Mar-14 16:52:06

Well of course you shouldn't impose yourself on anyone. smile

It does sound like you need to be with/be seen with people to be comfortable though.

Flip side to that is being like me!

blueballoon79 Mon 24-Mar-14 16:53:04

Comeeatfam actually a friendly hello and a quick chat was JUST what I was after.

Unfortunately this group of women can't even bear to say hello to me. I was thinking of this thread today when I saw one of them and she started walking quickly away from me to avoid me and I actually thought I don't know why she's walking so quickly as now I don't even want to talk to her anyway.

Perhaps I did come across as too intense, perhaps they did think I wanted to be friends and this made them feel they should ignore me as I didn't want that. Who knows?

I don't care anymore though about why they acted this way- they just do. I now chat to many other Mums and many different friendship groups who aren't taken to ignoring others and will say hello.

Comeatmefam Mon 24-Mar-14 17:19:58

No I don't need to be seen with people, Elenor. I can be awkward and shy with some people. With my friends or like minded mums I love chatting with, I would appear the complete opposite of shy (I don't care who's observing that or not though wink).

Blueballoon - that's so unfriendly sad. What the hell does it take to jsut say hello and have a two minute chat? How bloody rude. Glad you have other mum friends now - that's what I meant. Just give up on rude people - and quick. Give up on people who don't want to be mates. They may or may not be horrible, but either way they are a waste of your time.

Comeatmefam Mon 24-Mar-14 17:28:05

Sally I don't know what to say about the weird, bitchy trio at the craft thingy. Maybe they are completely mad, completely horrible or maybe you just came across differently than you think you did?

When my eldest dd was little I was so nervous and on edge with mums at nursery school. I overthought every interjection, every smile or move I made. Later I found out people thought I was scary and unfriendly. I was trying to be the complete opposite but my intent to be included just made me look very serious and I was sort of barking out comments!

It didn't suprise me though when I heard they thought that because my shyness has been seen as rudeness or stand offishness since I was a child.

That's why I now gravitate towards like minded people who I instinctively know I'll get on with OR with established friends (AKA 'cliques' wink).

SallyMcgally Mon 24-Mar-14 17:34:37

Comeme You could be right, and there are times when I come over as standoffish, I'm sure, but I really don't think that that was the case on this occasion, not least because even if that were the case, it's really not OK to agree with your kid that someone else's work is crap. And I was trying to be quite friendly and smiley.
I don't think you sound cliquey at all smile. When I use that word I mean behaviour such as I've described, or as blueballoon describes. That's v different to just not wanting to be friends.

oohlalabonbons Mon 24-Mar-14 17:37:19

Have enjoyed reading this thread and have been inspired to text three friends that I've been feeling a bit 'woe is me' about. I have a tendency to be so nervous I shut off and am often thought to be aloof and snobbish. My dd starts school in September so I'm mentally gearing myself up already - my biggest fear is that she'll be as bad at making friends as me sad. So....must not project my own nerves onto her!

ElenorRigby Mon 24-Mar-14 17:56:16

"my biggest fear is that she'll be as bad at making friends as me sad. So....must not project my own nerves onto her!"

I totally get that.
It has been my mission that DD is not like me ie a shy, socially awkward and anxious.

Thank goodness, she is not like me in that way.

Fierce, confident, precocious she is. smile

blueballoon79 Mon 24-Mar-14 18:14:11

I agree SallyMcgally at my DD's school there are parents in friendship groups who will smile at me, say hello and chat, then there are the clique I spoke about who ignore me.

Perhaps Comeme is correct in thinking that they are happy with their own group and found it unnerving having someone else interact with them. I suppose if you're not used to social interaction outside your own little group it might be frightening having somebody you don't know talking to you.

My DD will often clam up and be shy around people she doesn't know and refuse to say hello. I'm encouraging her to at least say hello no matter how shy she feels and am hoping that as she matures she will grow out of it. Perhaps these women never did?

CailinDana Mon 24-Mar-14 18:25:26

That's great bonbons!

archshoes Mon 24-Mar-14 18:36:37

Cliques shun.
They are bullying, but it is subtle or not so subtle emotional stuff.
Dont think that it is physical?

oohlalabonbons Mon 24-Mar-14 18:37:25

Thanks, Cailin!

ElenorRigby - any tips?! What did your mission consist of?!

PortofinoRevisited Mon 24-Mar-14 18:50:56

i really do think this "blanking" thing is very sad, and not at all becoming to adult women. It really does not hurt to be friendly and polite to other people. Heck, a guy came and asked me for money on my way to get the bus tonight after work(sadly lots of homeless people in that area). I said, I was sorry - I didn't have any (true actually) but did stop, smile and speak to him politely, rather than ignore him and rush away. He is still a human being.

CailinDana Mon 24-Mar-14 19:08:39

What if someone blanks because they're shy Porto?

PortofinoRevisited Mon 24-Mar-14 19:53:16

That is not the scenario that was being discussed though.

PortofinoRevisited Mon 24-Mar-14 19:59:13

And as someone who has been very shy and unconfident in the past, I don't think I would have blanked and turned away from a friendly person who spoke to me directly. I would have been very grateful.

PortofinoRevisited Mon 24-Mar-14 20:02:52

You seem to be determined that this is all the fault of shy people - it's THEIR OWN fault they have no friends sort of thing. I am a great believer that everyone needs to make an effort. Be it the shy ones taking a deep breath and getting on with it, but ALSO the not so shy ones not being fucking rude to people.

PortofinoRevisited Mon 24-Mar-14 20:03:33

There is a middle ground where politeness and good manners rule.

archshoes Mon 24-Mar-14 20:32:28

If you dont experience something, do you ever think that it is true?

blueballoon79 Mon 24-Mar-14 20:33:27

I agree Portofino I have been incredibly shy in the past but have never been so rude as to blank somebody.

There's no excuse for blanking people and being rude to them and it is nothing short of bitchy, childish behaviour to do so.

You don't have to be friends with everyone, of course not, but to blank people and not even say hello to them is rude.

CailinDana Mon 24-Mar-14 21:35:21

I am not saying it's all the fault of shy people - I have said a few times that there are nasty people and bullies out there. But they're not worth knowing. There is a sense I am getting from your posts though Porto (perhaps wrongly) that you feel confident people because they are confident should overlook the behaviour of shy people that may appear rude and persist in trying to make friends with them even if the shy person gives very little response to their efforts. That's a lot to ask of confident people IMO. Even with basic courtesy - I'm not going to continually be the one to say hello every time.

PortofinoRevisited Mon 24-Mar-14 22:20:53

No that it not what I am saying at all. Some people aren't friendly at all. But many newbies at baby groups or school gates ARE just shy. They might appear aloof when they are probably just scared. Many people have given examples of being blanked or disregarded by the existing friendship groups. Who has given an example of a someone who refuses to talk to anyone when approached in a friendly manner? If I met someone like that a new baby group I would worry about PND and would be trying even harder.

PortofinoRevisited Mon 24-Mar-14 22:23:52

It is just polite to say hello every time though. It costs you nothing. As I said before I do think that people need to make efforts, And that goes for the shy as much as it does for the uber confident.

SallyMcgally Mon 24-Mar-14 22:46:12

It's my experience that shy people are usually very pleased and relieved to catch your eye, and exchange a smile and a hello. Nobody's asking for more than that.

CailinDana Mon 24-Mar-14 22:50:17

What I mean about saying hello is that I'm not going to say hello indefinitely to someone who would just pass me by if I didn't say it first every single time.

Plus I do always make an effort with quiet people but for example there's a mum who's been coming to our group for 11 months and I've forced conversation after conversation, introduced her to other people etc and yet she still sits on her own every week and never initiates conversation. She may be shy or quiet but I have to assume that after nearly a year of trying to get her to mix unsuccessfully that she just isn't interested surely? I have considered asking her directly but I'm wary of putting her on the spot.

archshoes Mon 24-Mar-14 22:53:04

But you are missing the point.
It is not about individuals. It is about a group.

And you, on your own, are not a group.

Unless there are a whole bunch of you that has been called a clique, and this has made you wonder?

CailinDana Mon 24-Mar-14 23:00:57

No what I wonder is if the woman I referred to sees the various groups of other parents chatting as cliques. She seems quite miserable but from what I can see her friendlessness is not down to the group being "cliquey" but due to the fact that she makes zero effort.

archshoes Mon 24-Mar-14 23:05:44

Are you perhaps worried about a problem that doesnt exist? Because it doesnt sound like there are cliques where you volunteer?

If the group is not shunning, or blanking or excluding etc, then it is up to her whether she chooses to join or not.

SallyMcgally Mon 24-Mar-14 23:07:31

Well unless she's actually said something there's no reason to think that she does think you're cliquey. That's different from those of us who have experienced cliquiness and can describe it.

SlowlorisIncognito Mon 24-Mar-14 23:27:02

I'm doing a degree at the moment, and I know a lot of the people on my course would describe our course as a bit cliquey- that is, we have our circles of friends made in first year, and while we are all polite to each other, we don't make that much effort to socialise outside our groups except on big nights like after the last exam.

However, I would say that we have just gravitated to people we have more in common with. For example, my group contains me and two others who are a bit older than most of the other students and commute in. Some groups are mainly international students. That sort of thing.

I would say I am fairly confident in myself- for example I do one optional module with one other friend and if she's not in, I am happy to sit by myself. I don't quite have the level of confidence to talk to strangers (even those who look a bit lonely) in a lot of contexts. I did do it at freshers, and will occassionally do it, but I'm not brave enough to do it all the time. I guess in some ways that must make me come across as cliquey.

I think a lot of people do struggle with percieved cliques at uni. The problem is that making friends really relies on you putting yourself out there in the first few weeks, making a big effort and saying yes to everything, and maybe joining a few societies too. For some people, this is obviously really difficult on top of moving out for the first time and everything else. But as friendship groups get more established, they have to do more of the running, until they feel like everyone is actively excluding them. Most of the time, I would say they're not, but they also aren't in "strike up a conversation with every stranger they meet" mode anymore.

Confidence probably does have a lot to do with it. I made friends easily possibly because I didn't care that much about making friends. I also still have the group of friends I had from my town before going to uni, and meet up with them semi-regularly. So I wasn't desperate for a support network like some people are.

I do think some people believe they are entitled to friendship whilst putting in exactly no effort. I mostly drop these people because I assume they don't want to be my friend if they never reciprocate to invites and stuff, and then they can get upset. However, obviously groups do exist that get their entertainment from gossiping about and excluding others, so it is difficult.

On the flipside of this, I once cut a man out of my life who was very sexually pushy, and was called a bitch and told I was an awful person for this. I don't really care that he's socially awkward, or depressed or whatever. I had broken up with his friend a few months before, so there really wasn't a reason for me to keep seeing him, and I didn't enjoy his company. I don't think anyone has a duty to be friends with anyone else.

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