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Maybe the inner circle isn’t worth the hassle
First Published May 10 2014 01:01 am • Last Updated May 10 2014 01:01 am

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn • This week I had it clearly spelled out for me that there’s an inner circle of moms in our neighborhood, and I’m not in it. The message came from someone I’d actually considered a good friend, which made it even harder to swallow. My confidence is shaken.

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While I won’t seek out any of these women in the future, it’s difficult to avoid them entirely. I would love your thoughts on how best to move forward, apart from putting on a brave smile and staying close with true friends.

Dear Outside • I have felt this exact pain, so I’m not being cavalier: I hope you’ll reconsider your scorched-earth, "I won’t seek out any of these women in the future," response. They have an inner circle, OK; you’re not in it, ouch; but that doesn’t automatically invalidate each relationship you have with each group member.

You might also ask yourself, objectively, whether you even want to run with this pack. There is great power, confidence and liberation in not caring about your social ladder position and in conducting your social life on your terms.

Plus, groups have their own chemistry, to the point that it can be constructive to think of them as a person unto themselves. You can not click with a group dynamic while fitting in really well with its member(s) one-on-one.

So while your feelings are understandably hurt, I don’t think your ego is the best force to enlist as their guardian from now on.

Take a moment to let the hardest feelings dissipate, and then let your natural comfort with each of your friends — in the group or out — be that guardian. Think of it as just doing what works for you, versus being or not being part of a club.

Finally, though not to encourage sour grapes: Groups aren’t immutable objects. An "inner circle of moms in our neighborhood" can implode, fade, reconstitute, etc., in so many ways. Being OK with your friends, friendships and yourself is a lot more reliable stuff.


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Carolyn Hax’s column runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.



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