What to Do When You Feel Left Out By Friends

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“I strongly dislike the feeling of being left out, especially by someone I consider a ‘good friend.’”

~ Anonymous

What to Do When You Feel Left Out By Friends?

Feeling left out of anything sucks. It hits differently when you’re a young adult. Perhaps it’s because you’re more self-aware now that you are older.

When we’re really young, we deal with this emotion by making new friends – joining a new “squad” and carrying on for the most part. However, when you’re a young adult it isn’t nearly as easy to make new friends and join a new clique. So, feeling left out is not only painful but also extremely lonely. As an adult being left out feels more intense and never-ending. 

When you’re a 20-something, you can’t just walk up to another group of little boys or girls and ask if you can play with them. So, do you risk putting yourself back out there again by making a conscious effort to make new friends or do you address your concerns with your “ride-or-die” BFFs? Well, I suggest you take a deeper look at the situation.

What to Do When You Feel Left Out By Friends In Your 20s

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Why do you feel left out?
  2. Did something precipitate that feeling?
  3. Did you give off a vibe that you didn’t or wouldn’t want to participate?
  4. How long have you been feeling this way?
  5. Have you discussed how you feel with your friends and, if so, what were their responses?
  6. Did you ask to participate and were ignored, dismissed, or shut-out? How did you respond to that at the time?  

It’s important to determine what made you feel left out so you can accurately address the situation. Be open and honest with your friends and also tell them how it makes you feel when they leave you out of things.

Although it can be nerve-wracking to confront your friends (you probably don’t want to alienate them further), it’s important to do it – you’re not true friends if you can’t talk with them about the “hard stuff.” True friendships are not based on “fluff” and superficial factors. They are almost like “mini marriages” – you are required to be there through “thick and thin.”

So, don’t just sit there and mope – address the situation ASAP!

It may just be an oversight on your friend’s part, but it could be something more – something that you need to discuss and work through as friends. You’ll never know if you don’t broach the subject. Plus, you’ll end up feeling miserable, hostile, angry, depressed, and helpless – all of which could lead to the end of your friendship.

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Actionable Steps


Determine why you feel left out

If you feel left out, your first step should be to figure out why you feel left out. What happened to make you feel ignored or dismissed? Was it intentional or could it be an accident? Has this happened before? Do you think you can “fix” what is broken in your relationship or is it time to make new friends?

It may be helpful to start “journaling” or writing down what happened and how you feel in the journal. Journaling helps you gain a deeper perspective on what happened and how it made you feel.

It will also provide you with an opportunity to revisit the situation and how you felt at a later time, so you can look at everything with a fresh set of eyes.
If you can determine the root cause of the ‘shunning,’ it will help you decide your next steps – to try to mend what is broken in your friendship or move on and try to make new friends.

Maybe, it was intentional, but maybe it wasn’t. Perhaps, it was just a misunderstanding that will be cleared up once you talk to your friends about how you feel.


Talk to your friends about feeling excluded

Your second step should be to discuss your feelings and concerns with your pals. Don’t be afraid to tell them how it makes you feel when they shut you out. If they are your true friends, they will feel terrible about what happened, apologize, and include you in the future.
If they are not your true friends, they will most likely get defensive about the situation and refuse to acknowledge any wrongdoing.

When this happens, do not second-guess yourself, especially if you are certain that it was intentional. You deserve to be treated better than that by your friends.
Yes, friends are supposed to “check you” on bad behavior but they are supposed to enlighten you, not shun you. Regardless of the outcome, you must determine if the people you call friends are really your friends. And, the only way you can do that is to talk to them
Psychologist Tip: When sharing with friends how being left out makes you feel, try to stick to ‘I feel’ statements, such as: ‘When you huddle in a group and whisper to each other in front of me, I feel left out.’ The reason for using ‘I’ statements is to avoid blaming which will only worsen the situation.


Ask to be included

Yes, it may be that simple. Ask. As I mentioned before, it could just be a misunderstanding – i.e. a new baby, engagement or marriage, death in the family, crazy work hours, an illness, etc.

So, before you veer off the rails, give your friends the benefit of the doubt. Continue to give them the benefit of the doubt until they do something that causes you to question their loyalty, such as constantly shutting you out, talking about you behind your back, not returning your calls, or ignoring you at work or social gatherings.
So, if you feel left out, ask to be included. There’s no shame in your game when you’re with friends, right? You can say something like, “Hey, what are y’all talking about?” Or, “Hey, I want to go too! It sounds like a lot of fun!” Keep it light and playful when you ask to be included. You don’t want to sound disgruntled.

If your friends continually make excuses as to why they can’t include you, then maybe they’re not really your true friends after all.


Make a plan

Once you have determined why you feel left out and why you are being left out, you can make an informed decision on what to do next. Is your relationship “fixable” or it is time to meet new people and make new friends? If you determine that your friendship has run its course, there is no reason for you to hang around.
Look at it as a “fresh start.” You may find people who have more in common with you. You may make friends who will be honest and open with you. People may start including you again. You may start to feel good about yourself and others again. Yes, you’ll have to put yourself out there to meet new people and make new friends, but you can do it. I have faith in you!  


Read more on feeling left out

If you are interested in learning more about things you can do when you feel left out, check out the following articles: Being Excluded Can Be Just as Painful in Adulthood, When You Feel Left Out with Your Friends, and 4 Things to Do When You Feel Left Out by Your Friends.

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About the Author

Dr. R. Y. Langham

Dr. R. Y. Langham

Ph.D. in Family Psychology

Ree has a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy (M.M.F.T.) and a Ph.D. in Family Psychology. She spent over ten years counseling families, couples, individuals, and children on adjustment issues such as blended families, same-sex couples, dysfunctional family relationships, relationship issues, etc. Now she writes for famous health organizations and is a published author.
Full Bio | LinkedIn

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