Feeling excluded in a friendship

I'm worried my friend might be getting closer with someone else.Adolescence can be a challenging time. It’s a time when you’re learning more about how to be a friend, and what to expect in return from your friends too. Sometimes friends can feel unhappy in a friendship. One of the reasons for this could be if they feel jealous of a friend, or if they feel like someone else, like another friend or a boyfriend or girlfriend is coming between them. These feelings can be challenging, so it’s important to learn how to deal with them so that you can develop healthy friendships that add to your life.

How does it feel when you’re not secure in a friendship?

If you’re worried that you might be losing a close friend, or that someone or something is coming between you, you might experience many different feelings. One of these feelings could be jealousy. You might also feel:

  • Angry
  • Sad
  • Lonely
  • Embarrassed
  • Worried

These feelings can be really strong, and can negatively affect your life. That’s why it’s important to learn how to cope.

Take this quiz on healthy friendships to learn more about how healthy your friendships are and for tips on improving them.

What can I do about it?

If you’re feeling excluded in a friendship, here are some ways you can deal with it:

Work on your self-esteem

  • When you don’t feel good about yourself, it can be hard to believe that your friends will want to stick by you. You can feel betrayed very easily, by something as simple as a friend sitting beside another friend instead of you at a school event, when these things might not have anything to do with you at all.
  • Remember that you’re not alone – we all doubt ourselves sometimes. Try to focus on the things you like about yourself, and being kind to yourself about the things that you don’t like so much.
  • You can also read more on self-esteem here. You might also find it helpful to play Self Quest.

Change your expectations

  • Do you think that there is only one specific person who you can be best friends with? If you rely on one person for all of your friendship needs, you are more likely to feel jealous of things that could come between you and that person.
  • Ask yourself: What do I need from my friends? Take a look at how the different people in your life could fulfill those needs. For example, if you need fun and caring from your friends, think about other people, besides your current friend, who could fulfill this need. This way, when this friend is not available (or cannot meet your needs) you have others you can turn to.

Talk about it

  • If your friend seems open to it, consider talking to them about how you’ve been feeling. It’s important that you don’t accuse or blame them for your feelings, and that you let them know that you are working on ways of feeling better about the friendship. This shows your friend that you are still interested in the friendship and that you care enough that you want to work through it.

Be open to making new friends

  • Try to make new friends. This will take your focus off of feeling left out. It will also help you to feel better about yourself and more included.
  • Is there anyone in your life who you would like to become better friends with? Often times, when we grow apart from one friend in our social circle, we grow closer to another. Read the Making friends section for more tips.

Express your feelings in healthy ways

  • Try to avoid expressing your feelings with sarcasm, sulking, threatening to end the friendship, making the other person feel guilty or giving your friend the silent treatment. These things are not only unhelpful, they are hurtful to both you and your friend.
  • Try to avoid striking back at your friend through gossip, leaving them out, or trying to intimidate your friend in other ways.
  • For more tips on how to cope if you’re feeling excluded, please read more in our loneliness section.

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Last Reviewed August 2013 by the Kids Help Phone Counselling Team

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