How Can You Reenter a Social Group When You've Been Alienated?

So you want back in. You're going to have to forgive everyone. 

Being excluded from your social “group” can cause hurt feelings, even as an adult. It happened on The Real Housewives of New York City when Dorinda Medley didn’t invite Sonja Morgan to the Berkshires. Sonja never quite recovered from the sting. She tried to forgive, forget, and move forward, but through this last season, her hurt feelings kept rising to the surface. Now the two are barely speaking

On Married To MedicineMariah Huq was basically voted off the island by her costars, leading to a juicy new season where she returned with a desire to move forward with the group.  "It was time to start new and fresh," she said. "I had been sick [Mariah revealed that she suffered a miscarriage last season], I lost my father, I had been through so many things that are just so much heavier and have so much depth that I just felt like we're all friends and we're all grown women, so we should be able to, not necessarily forget about the past, but move on from it." 

How can you ever get back to the place you were when all was good with all the friends in your circle? How can you get past bad blood and move on to heal the friendships with your group?

Irene S. Levine, PhD, psychologist and professor of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine, and Creator/Producer of TheFriendshipBlog, has some advice for when you want to still be friends. 

If you were the one who was shunned:

“Start off slowly and don't demand too much closeness too soon,” she says of reapproaching the group, adding that the group may feel like you’re the one not speaking to them. “After all, members of the group may feel like you abandoned them.”

“If you were shunned because you said or did something wrong, don't be too big to apologize,” she adds. 

If you do reconnect, don’t keep bringing up whatever happened. 

“If you retreated from the group because you felt you or your partner was shunned at some point in the past, exercise forgiveness,” Irene says. “Try to move forward without bringing up past grievances. Focus on why you want to reconnect.”

Good advice. Figure out why exactly you’re missing them. Is it to fill the time, or do you really love them?

“Rather than waiting for an invitation, take the initiative to do the inviting,” Irene says. “Perhaps, you can invite the other couples for holiday cocktails. If the group is a large one, it might be easier to reconnect with one or two coupes at a time.”

If you’re the one who did the shunning and want to win your friends over again, offer a blanket statement, basically blaming yourself for your distance. 

“Offer some explanation so that no one takes your ‘leave of absence’ personally. You might say, ‘I really missed you guys but was so preoccupied with work and/or caregiving responsibilities,’” says Irene. 

She adds that yes, this also applies to fully grown adults

“Cliques continue beyond the high school cafeteria and even adults can be marginalized from a group,” she says. 

If it keeps happening or you’re just dealing with mean people, it may be time to find yourself a new group. 

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