my coworkers all hang out without me

A reader writes:

I know you’ve talked before about people who don’t want to invite coworkers to social events outside of work, but what happens when you’re that coworker?

I’ve worked for the same company for two years in a small department of six women. Between the six of us, we are all within a variety of life stages (married, dating, married with kids, etc.), and probably have about 15 years in between us all. I was the third person to get hired and the newest member of our team was hired a year ago, so I am not the newcomer.

The other women have always alluded to hanging out in the past. Recently they’ve been posting pictures on social media of them hanging out (even some sent directly to me on Snapchat). This week was particularly hard because they talked about one of these events in front of me all week. I also found out accidentally that there’s a group chat going on that I’m not a part of when one of the women texted everyone in it some big news that we all had been cheering her on for (I had made a point of reaching out on multiple occasions to inquire about it and be encouraging). I only saw it because another coworker was showing me a photo on her phone at the time.

I understand that they’re not required to hang out with me outside of work. They’re all friendly with me at work, which I appreciate. I eat lunch with them regularly at work. However, it’s hard not to have my feelings hurt that, out of everyone, I’m the one not invited to these outings. I’ve limited a lot of my social media use for a lot of reasons, but also to help decrease these feelings of being the odd one out. But it’s hard to ignore when they talk about it in front of me.

Do you have advice on how not take this personally when it feels very personal?

I’m sorry — that really sucks. There might be perfectly innocent reasons for why this is happening, but regardless of the explanation, it still feels awful if you seem to be the one person left out of social relationships. That’s especially true at work, since you spend so much time around your co-workers.

But the reality is that not everyone clicks with everyone else. At times, you’ve probably experienced that from the other side yourself, where you connected strongly with some people in a group but not with others. That didn’t mean you necessarily disliked the people you didn’t click with or thought they were bad people. For whatever reason, you just didn’t develop a deeper connection with them. And frankly, sometimes guessing who will become good friends can be just as mysterious as knowing which two people will pair off romantically.

But of course, even when you know that intellectually, it can be tough when you feel like no one is connecting with you — and especially when everyone else is getting along great and you’re the odd one out.

I’m curious if there are any obvious differences in your situations that might be at the root of this. For example, are you by chance the youngest or the oldest of the group? Or the only one who’s married, or the only one who’s single? Or the only one who doesn’t go to their church or the only one who’s not from the area originally, or anything else you can identify that differentiates you from them in some way? Sometimes those sorts of differences can “other” you in ways you might not have anticipated. And if that’s the case, it could be that they like you just fine, but the thing they have in common gives them a special connection to each other on top of the normal work friendship they have with you.

And it does sound like you have pretty good work friendships with them! If you didn’t know about the group chat or the outside-of-work socializing, it sounds like you might be perfectly happy with these relationships. These colleagues are friendly with you, they’re sending you photos on Snapchat and showing you pictures on their phones, you eat lunch together, you’re talking about each other’s big pieces of news … that sounds pretty solid, as far as work friendships go!

So it might help to focus on the fact that you actually have what sounds like fairly warm relationships with your co-workers when you’re at work — which is a pretty great thing, especially considering all the terrible co-workers you could have gotten stuck with instead. It might be that if you decide to just appreciate those relationships for what they are — pleasant companions for eight hours a day while you’re working — you could take some of the sting out of this.

I also wonder if you’ve tried making social overtures of your own. If you click with one or two of the group better than with the others, what about asking them to grab coffee with you or suggesting drinks after work? Or the next time they send you photos of them doing something social together, you could say, “That looks like so much fun! I’d love to come along if you do it again.” It’s generally true that you shouldn’t invite yourself along to someone else’s plans — but they’re talking to you about it and showing you photos! In that context, there’s nothing wrong with mentioning as they’re talking to you about the fun thing they did that you’d be interested in joining them if there’s a next time.

And who knows, they may not have realized that you’d want to come. Or maybe they’ve gotten in a rut of inviting the same people each time and haven’t given it much thought. Or yes, it is possible that they’re intentionally leaving you out because they don’t want to hang out with you — but showing you photos and talking with you about their plans isn’t typical behavior of people who are trying to leave you out. It’s much more the behavior of people who for some reason haven’t realized you’d be interested in joining them.

But I don’t want to be overly Pollyannaish. Maybe it’s true that they like you just fine at work but don’t feel the kind of friendship with you that they feel with each other. If that’s the case, that’s okay! It would be nice to make those sorts of friendships at work, but it’s also nice to have co-workers who are warm and friendly to you while you’re at work, even if it doesn’t go farther than that. And there can be upsides to having boundaries on work friendships — like making it easier to leave work at work when you go home in the evenings, and not getting caught between loyalty to a friend and the demands of your work.

You didn’t mention what the your social support system looks like outside of work, but now might be the time to lean into it. Initiate a few more plans with your friends, reconnect with people you haven’t talked with in a while, schedule more time for hobbies or classes or whatever else brings you satisfaction, and generally try to fill up your social universe with people and activities that make you happy. If you feel good about how you’re spending your time outside of work, the work friendships may carry less weight.

Originally published at New York Magazine.

{ 206 comments… read them below }

  1. ContentWrangler*

    OP, you don’t describe these co-workers as petty or immature, so I think Alison is right – maybe they don’t realize you would want to join in/aren’t really thinking about it.

    If they are purposefully excluding you and then talking about it constantly in front of you, that would be unkind. But since overall, you’ve described your coworkers as nice, it seems like it would be out of character for them to do something so mean-girl.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      It seems weird that they are friendly with OP and so open about the group texting and the group outings. It’s almost like they’re waiting for OP to ask to join them. If they didn’t like her, I feel like they’d be more discreet about it.

      1. Washi*

        Yeah, I was in this situation in my first job where there were a lot of early 20-somethings who hung out together. My coworkers kept talking about their hangouts in front of me, showing me pictures, etc and it was very confusing because it was like extreme friendliness and extreme exclusion simultaneously. Eventually I worked up the courage to ask my coworker I was closest to, and it turned out that since I never drank at all at any company events, they didn’t think I would be interested in their hangouts, which mainly involved grabbing drinks followed by spontaneous adventures. And I think it’s also important to note that even after I cleared up that I am happy to drink in social situations (though still not a big drinker) it still took me a few times of inviting myself along and initiating plans for things to kind of click.

        I made a lot of local friends through that job, but at the time it also made things complicated when I had developed a good friendship in these hangouts, and then a work conflict would happen and I didn’t feel like I could be as assertive because this person had become a friend. In my next jobs I ended up not prioritizing building outside friendships as much because it just felt too fraught, so that may be something else for the OP to consider.

        1. Close Bracket*

          “since I never drank at all at any company events, they didn’t think I would be interested in their hangouts, which mainly involved grabbing drinks followed by spontaneous adventures.”

          Assumptions about non-drinkers are so interesting. I didn’t drink at all for year, and I don’t drink to intoxication now, but I am totally up for spontaneous adventures!

          1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

            Agreed. Joined a fun (not sanctioned) bowling league Fall of 2017 with three of my friends. They were the only people I knew and we all ended up on different teams. It was fun. We met new people and still got to hang out. The league had 20 teams and only ran 18 weeks. We didn’t even bowl every team, so I didn’t meet everyone. We joined again this season, again on different teams. Second week, a guy on the team I’m bowling against raises his beer and looks at me, “you don’t drink at all, do you?” Followed by “that’s cool, I mean, I just noticed.”
            There are like 80 people in the league and he noticed me. Trust me, other than that, I am not notable in any way!
            Just like, wow.

            1. Bea*

              This made me chuckle. On our old league we stood out because we were the only team who drank. Not to intoxicating levels but enjoyed a beer with our dinners. But the league was all old enough to be my grandma…I bowled with my mom, so LOL yeah.

          2. Been There, Done That*

            On the money about assumptions about non-drinkers. I seldom drink because I can’t stand the stuff and it makes me feel like crap in even tiny amounts. At a recent office party at a nice restaurant, the company was buying the drinks and when I ordered a nonalcoholic beverage one of the managers pointedly asked me if I didn’t drink. Like, geez, dude, boss or no boss, it’s none of your beeswax.

      2. Lyssa*

        Yeah, I wonder if there’s actually some kind of miscommunication here. Like, for some reason, they think that they have extended an open invitation and the LW’s not accepted it.

        1. LSP*

          Ah the open invitation!

          My husband is a big fan of this. He’ll say, “but there’s an open invitation” for whoever to hang out, but many people (including my husband, funnily enough) who feel like if they don’t get a clear and specific invitation to join in something that they are not really wanted.

          I think this may very well be the case with OP, and someone, somewhere along the line made some vague overture that OP didn’t pick up on, and no one has bothered clarifying on either end.

          Use your words, people!

          1. Anon From Here*

            Oh, em, gee, Mr. Anon From Here sometimes needs a freaking engraved invitation on heavy ivory cardstock before he really truly feels that he was actually invited to an event or gathering. Drives me nuts. Of course, there’s “don’t invite yourself along to someone’s date” or whatever, but there’s definitely a happy medium between awkwardly inserting yourself in an unwelcome way, and waiting for the literal, explicit invitation.

            1. LSP*

              We’ve tried to have his godfather over for dinner several times during our 8 year relationship, and Mr. LSP just says, “Come over for dinner sometime.” And of course, his godfather doesn’t.

              Meanwhile, when he hears his friends, people he has known for 20 years, talking about something they are thinking about doing, he’ll sulk rather than just ask if he can tag along. These people were at our wedding (some of them were IN our wedding). They have been a part of his life since high school. We have all helped each other move at one time or another. But Mr. LSP *still* can’t bring himself to ask if he can come along.

            2. ThursdaysGeek*

              I had the awkward occurrence where a non-work friend and a work friend, who were both invited to my anniversary party, were talking about it in front of a work acquaintance, who thought she was also invited and wanted a copy of the invitation. I wasn’t the one sending out the invitations, but I got one to her, because it would be hurtful to not invite her after that. She missed the social cues, but had a good time at our party. I’m glad I didn’t exclude her.

            3. Nita*

              Ha, my brother-in-law is like that! My parents often host family parties because they have more room. Sooo if we tell him there’s a party and he’s invited, that’s not good enough. My mom has to call and personally invite him. Which doesn’t always happen till the last minute because (1) she knows we passed along the invitation and (2) she’s kind of busy cooking. Then he gets all miffed and refuses to go, because he was not invited/was invited as an afterthought. So silly!

              1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                I have to chime in on this — I knew someone who did the other way around. She’d forward the invitation to others. In one case, the host was totally flabbergasted because he only had 5 chairs and 5 steaks to put on the barbecue. My policy is now to make sure that the invitation comes from the actual host.

            4. Elemeno P.*

              Oh no, I have relatives like that! They’re very sensitive to being left out of things that they’re not being left out of. When I visit, I stay with one relative and either ask people to do things or just invite myself to things that people mention in front of me; they’re my family, so it’s not weird.

              During a recent visit, someone mentioned brunch at another relative’s house. I understood this as “you are invited to brunch” as intended, and the two sensitive relatives made a huff about not being invited. But…they were! Right then! Mentioning the brunch was the invitation!

              1. Nita*

                Maybe they have a point about not inviting themselves. I have a couple of relatives that do this, and it’s the worst. They’re close family, so I have to see a lot of them. I try to not mention any plans in front of them, but sometimes I’m talking to my husband and they’ll overhear. Bam! They’ve invited themselves. At which point they don’t get “it’s mostly for kids” or “we’re leaving too early and you’ll be asleep” or “it’s too much walking for you, let’s catch up another time.” We’re not exactly on great terms, so whenever they join in, the day is ruined for me – but trying to evade them after they’ve gotten half a whiff of plans is so emotionally exhausting, I’m not sure it’s worth it.

                I’m not saying you’re being like my relative at all, you know your family better! Just saying that not inviting yourself isn’t that weird either, and your relatives may feel they’re being thoughtful :) I suppose just telling them that they should come will solve the problem.

          2. chi type*

            Yeah, there has been debate on this board before about open invitations (to happy hour or whatnot) and whether they are inclusive enough or not.
            I also think it’s definitely possible that they think she isn’t interested. As other have said- is she a non-drinker? Or did she have to decline a few times early on and they just gave up?
            It does seem like if they’re cruel enough to rub it in her face that would come out elsewhere.

      3. boo bot*

        Yeah, I’m kind of wondering if they think they actually are inviting her/have invited her, or there’s some sort of non-emergency bystander effect going on, where they all assume someone else has made it clear she’s welcome to join them.

        Showing you photos of their activities and sending them directly to you on Snapchat, talking about outings in front of you, and having lunch with you regularly are behaviors that suggest they want to include you more, or at least that they assume you know you’re welcome (because otherwise all this would be breathtakingly rude).

        There is, of course, always the possibility that they’re just breathtakingly rude, but it seems like they’re otherwise friendly! (Also, if they know you’re limiting social media, they might not invite you to the group text for that reason – I would probably think of it as being part of what you’re trying to avoid.)

        1. Lil Fidget*

          Yeah if they were so rude as to be deliberately snubbing OP to her face, she’d probably have other clues that they’re this kind of group, IMO.

      4. TakingTheFifth*

        I wouldn’t bet on it. I had a co-worker who was always friendly at work and I thought we got along great. She announced a party she was having in the middle of the office & started talking to other people about it. Assuming everyone was invited, I made a comment about looking forward to it. She got very quiet and informed me that it wasn’t anything I would be interested in. Ever since she has pointedly let me know that I’m not invited to any social event she talks about in the office. All the while being friendly & warm about everything else. Some people just suck.

  2. batman*

    Oof, that’s a tough situation to be in. I’m pretty sensitive to being left out because of things that happened during my childhood and adolescence, so I feel you. I also have a tendency to wait for people to invite me to things rather than inviting them. I agree with Allison’s suggestion to try initiating social events. I hope you’re able to either become closer to your coworkers or become content with the situation as it is!

    1. Blue_eyes*

      Same here on all counts. I never want to feel like I’m imposing my presence on people who don’t want me there, so I’ll always wait for a concrete invitation.

      BUT, just this weekend I got up the courage to invite myself to a regular gathering that some of my friends have, and it went really well! In fact, some of the friends had already talked to each other about inviting me, because I’m friends with all of them. I just haven’t been invited in the past because the group sort of crystallized and they just kept inviting whoever had been there the first time.

  3. Delphine*

    It’s a bit unkind not to invite you but still send you direct updates on social media. My most generous interpretation is that it’s possible all of them think one of the others in the group invited you at some point.

    1. Archaeopteryx*

      Yeah, an Instagram post is one thing, but a direct Snapchat of them hanging out without her is an oddly insensitive choice.

      1. Jadelyn*

        That’s the one that makes the most sense in a situation of “I thought X invited her/X thought Y invited her/Y thought Z…etc” – it’s not a slap in the face then, it’s “I assume you were invited and just couldn’t make it, so I wanted to make you feel included even though you couldn’t be here.”

        Though the group chat…I’m not sure what to make of that one still.

        1. Random Commenter*

          Yes I agree! That detail also points me towards either: they all think someone else invited her, OR, they assume she knows she’s welcome to join when she wants to.

          As an introvert and person with anxiety I’ve made this mistake, of feeling excluded when people assumed I knew I was invited, many times until I started to get the hang of it. From the description from OP, this sounds like one of those situations.

    1. BeautifulVoid*

      I know. I’d like to think I’d be able to think things through rationally and take all of Alison’s great advice, but I’d still feel like a total piece of poop.

      1. nonymous*

        I think the practical reality is that this dynamic transforms the workplace from a place where the bulk of labors are focused on the work one is being paid to do into one where there is a significant amount of emotional labor involved. Depending on OP’s natural personality – is she an introvert? – to have to deliberately manage interactions with intentional effort may be doubly penalizing.

        My advice to OP is to find a social “thing” that she shares with coworkers and own it. Regional sports? New local restaurants? Travel? 5Ks/10K? Civic activities? Makeup? Movies? Laugh/cry memes about kids? Animal rescue? etc. Curating a personal social media channel is the new small talk and forms the foundation of many lightweight friendships.

    2. Alfonzo Mango*

      I would feel very hurt getting Snapchats of them hanging out without me. That seems so obtuse and rude.

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        Same here. If I got one of those after a glass or 2 of wine I’d probably reply all and call them all assholes for excluding me.

    3. ComputerD00D*


      I would be sitting there locked in my head scouring through every single interaction ever with them, trying to figure out What I Did Wrong. My sympathies, OP. I seriously hope this works out for you!

      1. Spreadsheets are cool*

        Same. This happened to me at my first job out of college and I still have the scars 15 years later.

    4. someone*

      Me too. My lizard brain would have a field day with this and Id have to spend every night analyzing everything they said and did as well as what I said and did to make these people behave this way towards me.

  4. Greg NY*

    I would unsubscribe (unfriend, whatever the term is, depending on which social media it is) and distance yourself from them once you have made it clear to them that you want to hang out with them and they still aren’t receptive. Just like in out of work situations, you can’t force someone to be your friend or want to spend time with you. Sometimes you are the odd person out, sometimes you are viewed as different than everyone else. Your best bet is to hang out with your existing groups of friends or find new groups in which you share a common desire to spend time together.

    1. uranus wars*

      But I don’t see where she has made it clear that she wants to hang out. I would definitely do so, and then take your route if they still don’t.

      On the texting thing, this happens in my family a lot. I’ll grab a note that I sent to one group without checking to make sure EVERYONE is included and inevitably someone gets left out. It sucks, but something that can happen innocently, too.

      1. Yojo*

        If nothing else, she was initially part of an optimistic conversation about the coworker’s “big news” that moved to the chat, at which point she was excluded.

        And they think she’s “interested” enough to send her pictures of the hangouts and include her in conversations about them. If those conversations have never included “you should come next time!” or something to that effect, it’s pretty telling.

  5. Lisa Babs*

    I might be a pollyanna like Alison but I agree that it most likely be innocent. Like OP is the only one with kids so they assumed she would be busy. OR they invited her once 2 years ago and she declined and didn’t invite her again. There are so many innocent reasons.

    1. JSPA*

      Or they are including her using the wrong facebook handle, and from that, the wrong personal email, and they wonder why she doesn’t ever join in, but don’t want to be rude about it. (You may think it sounds unlikely…but I have a name that looks like a typo, and there are people whose names are the non-typo variant of mine who have received not only friends’ messages but emails from lawyers and accountants and bosses and other people who really should know better.) Is there maybe a Kathy Smithe when she’s Katy Smithe (both pronounced Cathy, and both officially Katherine) who’s wondering why the people from the department in the building next door are so very, very chummy with her, and who occasionally sends a smiley, but not much more (or ignores the whole thing entirely)?

      1. Ama*

        Heh, this reminded me of when I had to nicely reply to the (I’m assuming) college student who kept texting my phone with invitations to hang out at various campus locations that she seemed to have saved the wrong number in her phone. I think a lot of people would just block the number and never say anything but I wanted her to know the person she thought she was texting wasn’t ignoring her intentionally.

        I also once had a boss who spent the first six months sending emails meant for me to the wrong email address (she assumed I had the standard “firstname.lastname” email but there was an existing employee with that email, who I guess never bothered to tell my boss she was emailing the wrong person). Of course because she was kind of a crappy boss she never quite forgave me for “ignoring” her even after it was pointed out to her that it was her mistake.

        1. Jadelyn*

          My grandboss – now my direct boss actually – does this sometimes. I don’t know how he got my personal email in his phone but he has multiple times sent time-sensitive documents or assignments to my firstname.lastname@gmail address instead of my flastname@company address – and since that particular gmail is one I mostly only used for school when I was still in college, and for job-searching before I got this job nailed down, I don’t check it daily anymore. I had to set up a forwarding rule in that gmail account to send anything from his email address on to my work email in order to not miss anything else after the third or fourth time of “Have you taken care of X?” “What are you talking about? What X? When did this happen?”

          1. CupcakeCounter*

            I had this at NewJob for a couple days – because we were sending emails back and forth about the offer, start date, etc…my personal email was the default in his Outlook when I started.

      2. BF50*

        I was not invited to my own bridal shower because of a misspelled email address. A week or so before hand I finally called the woman who had volunteered to throw one to see if there was still going to be a party and she finally fixed it.

        But 10 years later she still says things like “I know you can never come to my chili cook off”. Well, I’ve never been invited so I only hear about it the day before the event. I actually don’t know if she’s just not inviting me or still sending invites to the wrong email.

      3. EvilQueenRegina*

        My cousin once invited some random guy to his wedding that way (our uncle has an uncommon spelling of his name and my cousin had sent something to the more common spelling of it).

      4. Lalaith*

        Yup. One time a friend sent out evites to her annual holiday party, and mistakenly sent mine to lastname@gmail instead of flastname@gmail. And whoever lastname was, they replied “No”! So mutual friends asked if I was going, I said I hadn’t been invited, they said that’s weird and asked the host, and the whole thing was cleared up and I was invited. We all had a good laugh about it at the party. lastname isn’t invited to anything any more ;P

        Also, my husband had the same first initial and last name as someone else at his last school, and they would get stuff for each other all. the. time.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      OR they invited her once 2 years ago and she declined and didn’t invite her again.

      This was my first thought. Personal experience, I was an active member of several social groups (including coworkers) when I met a man who I went on to have a relationship with for two years. The guy was not my best or wisest choice (first serious relationship after a long marriage); among his other hangups, he LOVED spending time with his group of friends, but refused to meet with any of my groups more than once. I’d take him to a group event, he’d suffer through it and then never want to meet with that group again, repeat with the next group, and so on. So during the two years he and I were together, I said no to a lot of invites, because I was with him and he did not want to go or had other plans for us that evening. It was not until after he ended things that I realized that I was no longer being invited anywhere by anyone. All of my friend groups got tired of being blown off, and stopped inviting. It took several years and a combination of apologizing, asking people if I could join them for things, and going out and making new friends, to rebuild my social life pretty much from scratch. TL;DR: when you decline several invites, people are going to assume you don’t want them to invite you, and stop. OP, since they seem nice otherwise, and don’t appear to be intentionally freezing you out of the events, I would ask them. It does sound like it is likely innocent.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I have a very good, dear friend who was in a similar situation. Her husband wanted her to be home all the time. He would occasionally join the group for bigger parties, but for the most part, it was just the two of them and their kids together, every weekend. I always kind of liked her but never considered us close because she NEVER came out. Sometimes we would do stuff one on one. Then they separated, and she was all in, asking to be invited to things, joining more smaller group activities like drinks after work or Sunday brunch. We welcomed her, but it was a bit strange to us at first. Then she told us what had gone on and not a single one of us had realized it when it was happening; she seemed perfectly content, just kind of off doing her own thing. Now we’re really tight even though I moved several states away.

        So yes, it might be a miscommunication somewhere along the line. If the OP had very young kids at one point, or maybe an ill relative, or a new partner, or something that kept her kind of wrapped up in other things, it’s possible these women just haven’t realized that she now wants to join in. And they sound nice, so I would push her to ask to join, or even to organize her own thing.

  6. Doug Judy*

    I have some experience with this except it was with neighbors, not coworkers. I got a long with them all but then I would see on Facebook that they all got together for things, held a “round robin” style holiday dinner, etc. It was hard not to feel excluded since we had lived there almost as long as the other families, our kids went to the same school. I always felt bad, especially after the holiday one, because I would hear them outside going from house to house. It sucked. But I never said anything.

    Then something at work happened that changed my perspective. I always went to lunch with two other cowokers, Rachel and Monica on Fridays. It wasn’t something we planned really, we just fell into the habit. Then one day it Pheobe mentioned was hurt that we never asked her to go. I thought “Well, you never asked!” We had fallen into the habit at work of going to lunch, we we’rent deliberately excluding her, we just didn’t think about inviting her because we had a routine. Then I realized, it was the same as our neighborhood. I had never actually said I would like to be included, so how could they know? So the next time they posted something, I said “Hey, that looks fun! If you ever do it again, let me know! I’d like to try X!” And it worked. We are now invited to all the things, it’s just that a few people started it with the people they were closest to, and no one ever thought of who they were leaving out.

    So OP, just speak up like Allison suggests. Chances are they haven’t considered the fact they are leaving you out.

    1. Cosette*

      Very insightful of you to recognize your role in excluding and turn it around so you could use it where you were being excluded. Most of the time it really is a matter of “use your words.”

      1. Doug Judy*

        Thank you, it was a big life lesson. It’s taught me to speak up more when I want something, but also to be more aware of others and try to be more inclusive. We live in our own bubble sometimes and don’t always see the people who are right outside.

    2. Lexi Kate*

      I think that would be great for OP to try next time they talk about it say hey next time you do so and so let me know.

    3. irene adler*

      Good point in showing that there was absolutely no vindictiveness behind the non-invite. Just never thought to include Pheobe.

    4. Potato Girl*

      Is it generally appropriate nowdays to ask for an invitation? I’m in my mid-30s and I was raised to never fish for invitations, and certainly never to invite myself to things. To ask for an invitation or invite oneself was considered appallingly rude because it puts the person in the awkward position of either being rude by saying no, or being silently unhappy because they didn’t want to invite you. Is this no longer the case?

      (TBF, it was also considered appallingly rude and/or a deliberate slight to talk about a social gathering in front of people who weren’t invited, which also seems to no longer be the case. I blame Facebook.)

      1. Washi*

        I was raised the same way, and missed out on a lot in college because I never asked to join anything ever. I think the key is distinguishing between a low-key group hangout and a more intimate (ugh, don’t know what other word to use) gathering. Like you don’t invite yourself to someone’s standing brunch date with their best friend, but a bunch of people are talking vaguely about getting drinks later, I think it’s generally cool/expected even to say that you want to come too, especially at work!

      2. Lily Rowan*

        I’m sure the people going out wouldn’t think of it as anything needing An Invitation.

      3. Nonny*

        I think what makes this work is that the self-invite is more abstract. If you say “I’d love to try that!” and I really don’t want you to come, it’s easy for me to not actually follow up when next time comes around… which sounds really cruel now that I say it like that!

      4. Archaeopteryx*

        +1 to that, I abide by those rules as well. People should be considerate in extending invitations, and if there’s someone whose company you would enjoy, don’t wait for them to ask if they can be included.

      5. LinesInTheSand*

        I was raised the same way, and my perspective is if it’s casual enough to talk about on social media publicly, it’s ok to express interest, with the understanding that you may not get the invite. And then, if people keep talking about stuff that they refuse to invite you to, block their feeds.

        There’s a difference between single events and ongoing, repeated happenings. “Why didn’t you invite me to your once a year formal sit down dinner?” is a lot different than “Hey, it looks like there’s a lunch group. May I join?”

      6. Holly*

        Two things in my opinion – first you have to have some social intelligence and know when it’s appropriate to “invite yourself” or not (i.e. not a meeting you weren’t invited to, or seems more like a date between the two than a platonic event). Second, the language OP uses: “Hey, that looks fun! If you ever do it again, let me know! I’d like to try X!” is not inviting yourself to something specific, it’s just voicing that you’d LIKE to be invited.

        1. Close Bracket*

          “first you have to have some social intelligence and know when it’s appropriate to “invite yourself” or not ”

          This is tough for a lot of people. It’s tougher for me than for some bc I am on the spectrum. I am aware that there are invitations that you are supposed to know to turn down, but I don’t know how to tell them apart from invitations you can accept. I only know they exist bc I made the mistake of accepting the kind you are supposed to turn down too many times. Boy are people harsh when you break the social contract. I won’t do anything unless someone specifically invites me.

          1. Tassie Tiger*

            Oh goodness! I’m on the spectrum as well and I didn’t realize there are some invitations you are supposed to turn down. Would you mind tossing out an example or two for me to learn from?

            1. misspiggy*

              A classic one in the UK is when your neighbour says, ‘You must come round for a drink sometime!’ but doesn’t then offer a specific date when you show interest. It’s just meant as a show of warmth rather than a real invitation. Or possibly some people do mean it while they’re saying it, but then realise how much hassle it would be and clam up.

              1. Way Anon*

                At least in Canada, when someone tosses out a non-specific invite like that, you don’t act on it immediately – doing so is kind of like inviting yourself to their place. At some later date, either they will invite you over or you’ll invite them to do something on your turf; whether one of these things happens, and whether you take each other up on the offer will tell you if it was just empty politeness.

            2. Ophelia*

              Hmm. The one thing I can think of offhand is when there are two people that you know/are friends with are starting a romantic relationship with each other – they might have plans that aren’t quite a date, and so if the topic of evening plans comes up, they might offer, “Oh, you should come along…” but there is sort of an unspoken Thing, where it’s expected that you’ll be “busy” or whatever to subtly acknowledge that they aren’t doing a Regular Social Thing without them having to say, “we’re kind of going on a date.” I’ll be honest, though – this is one of those things that even those of us who are neurotypical and are generally good at reading social cues can get wrong.

            3. Rusty Shackelford*

              The more vague the invitation is, the more likely you are expected to turn it down.

              “We should go grab dinner sometime.”
              “You should stop by when you’re in town.”

              These people are not expecting you to say “Great! When do you want to do that?” An equally vague response, that shows interest without pressure, is appropriate. “I’d love to do that. Let me know if you ever have a good time.”

              If someone actually gives a date/time, it’s probably a true invitation.

              “We’re getting drinks after work.”
              “You should come see my new swimming pool this Saturday.”

              1. Rusty Shackelford*

                Or if someone is talking about something in front of you, and suddenly realizes, and invites you along, in an unenthusiastic manner. Along the lines of “you can come too if you want” instead of “ooooh, why don’t you come with us?”

                1. Tassie Tiger*

                  Aaah, that gave me a chuckle! Thanks for explaining this, I’ll keep in mind for next time!

              2. bonkerballs*

                I don’t know that I agree with that. At least, I would never consider saying “I’d love to do that. Let me know if you ever have a good time” as turning someone down. Sure, sometimes is more of a social nicety in that you know neither of you will actually follow through with planning anything, but it’s not turning someone down.

                1. Rusty Shackelford*

                  You’re right; that one’s more “accept that this isn’t an actual invitation at this time and don’t push to make it happen.”

          2. Jan*

            Well I’m neurotypical, and all this read-between-the-lines stuff drives me batty at times! I believe 99% of the world’s problems wouldn’t be as much of a problem if people just said what they meant.

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          Second, the language OP uses: “Hey, that looks fun! If you ever do it again, let me know! I’d like to try X!” is not inviting yourself to something specific, it’s just voicing that you’d LIKE to be invited.

          This is key. There’s a huge difference between “Oh, you’re having a party, can I come?” and “Oh, those pics from your party looked like fun, if you guys do that again I’d love to join in.” It gives the party host an easier out, and lets the asker save face, if the answer is going to be no – all they have to do is continue not inviting you, instead of explicitly telling you no.

          1. Lis*

            It also lets them know that you would like to get involved so if they are (as it seems) sharing because they assume you don’t want to go but they are sharing because they want to share with you because they see you as a friend who wants to know what they were doing. The alternative is so mean girls it seems unlikely to me. Like members of my team tell me about their socializing together because I love hearing about it but we are on different continents. I totally get the not turning up if not explicitly invited, I do that because of how I was raised but lots pf people asdume that if they mention something you should assume you are invited. In this case they don’t mention before but they might be trying not to pressure OP to attend and not realise they are making OP feel bad (if she wanted to come she would mention it) I feel you OP this coild easily be me.

          2. thankful for AAM*

            I once tried the vague, I’m new here and would love to go to yard sales with you sometime, let me know if you ever have space for me. They shut me down so hard. I thought I was doing the version where they could say a vague, sure, and never ask me. But they basically said, no, we have a tight group and dont have room for you. So I tried, could you tell me if one city is better to go to or avoid or any pointers. Nope. It was hard. I went in the bathroom and cried.

      7. Doug Judy*

        I think you can do it without saying “Hey can you invite me next time?” I never would have asked to go to the holiday party they held, that was over stepping because that was exclusive to neighbors. I think what I broke the ice with it was there’s this kite festival some of them would go to, which I never knew when it was or what it was called until they posted something after the fact. I think I said more along the lines of “My kid would love this! Can you let me know when they set the dates for the festival next year?” So I wasn’t asking about an event they were hosting, it was a public event, and I wasn’t asking to go with them. Things built from there and we started getting invited to stuff. They just never knew I was interested.

      8. Kathleen_A*

        It could be rude, sure, but when someone is showing you photos of an activity featuring people that both of you know and actually showing you how much fun they were having, it is not now nor has it ever (AFAIK) been rude to say, “That looks like fun. Maybe next time I can join you?” In that case, you’re not inviting yourself. You’re asking if you can join them the next time. How can that be rude? I mean, if they really don’t want to invite you the next time, all they have to do is not invite you the next time – oh, and quit sharing photos with you on Facebook or Snapchat or wherever.

        1. Potato Girl*

          Aha! Sounds like the common thread here is that showing interest in being invited can be totally okay based on things like casual/formal and now/later. That makes the scripts sound a whole lot more comfortable.

      9. kc89*

        I think the difference is “oh monica and I are going to see that movie after work today!” “cool, can I come?”


        “monica and I saw that movie yesterday!” “I love going to the movies! Let me know if you’re ever down to see something”

        it’s the difference between inviting yourself to something that’s already planned vs. letting them know you’d love to be included in the future

      10. Nita*

        I feel like it’s kind of rude to invite yourself to a specific event, but OK to say “I’d love to join in sometime” and hope you’ll get an invitation in the future. It gives the other person an opening to ask (or not ask) you.

      11. Anonymous Ampersand*

        It’s ask vs guess culture. I’d be gutted if one of my friends was hurt about being left out of a casual gathering and didn’t say anything.

      12. chi type*

        I think the size of the group also matters. If it’s just two people you risk butting into their intimate gathering. But if the whole office seems to be in on it, odds are they just missed inviting you personally.

    5. your favorite person*

      This kind of thing has happened in our friend group. One night, a pal invited several of us to go to a movie under the stars event. She posted a photo of us on Facebook. One of our other friends was sad she wasn’t invited- I had assumed my other friend invited her, but I realized they weren’t as close as we were. I created a ‘friends group’ facebook group for everyone that we regularly hang out with. If there’s an event/party going on, we post it on there so everyone knows they are all invited. It has been MAGICAL. So much easier than text/facebook messaging. We actually end up doing more things because it’s easier to coordinate. Some friends still do individual things but open-invite stuff gets put on the ‘friends group.’

  7. Tessa Ryan*

    I’ve been in this position before, and it’s not fun. I actually believe it’s mostly innocent- except for the fact that they are sending you snaps of them hanging out without you (kinda weird but hey maybe this is their way of including you?) And maybe they thought someone else had invited you, or you had overheard them talking about future plans to hang outside of work, and figured if you wanted to join in you would say so. Invite them out sometime is what I would do. If they are trying to exclude you, they’ll find ways to duck out of it.

    1. $!$!*

      I think this is the weird part. Publishing snaps to your story is different then sending a direct snap bragging about your good time with someone who wasn’t invited.

      1. your favorite person*

        I’m choosing to believe it’s a ‘wish you were here!’ snap, rather than a brag snap.

        1. bonkerballs*

          Yeah, my friends and I do this all the time. Wish you were, this thing made me think of you, aren’t you glad you weren’t also coerced into this weird social situation I don’t want to be in, etc. It’s not a bragging, exclusionary thing, it can actually be a way to include people who aren’t there.

    2. R*

      “(kinda weird but hey maybe this is their way of including you?) ”

      That’s exactly what I thought. I was in college when snapchat was becoming really popular, and people definitely used it in this way (especially at the bars). I know people who still do this – almost as a “Wish you were here!” kind of thing.

      But I can definitely see how it would be perceived badly if the recipient didn’t feel like they were invited in the first place.

      I wonder if somewhere there was a miscommunication, and the coworkers are under the impression that OP doesn’t want to attend these gatherings? I know sometimes if you turn down even just one or two invitations, that person stops asking because they feel like they’re pestering you.

    3. Gracie*

      Me too – I was in the same situation. I didn’t bother with a group of work friends after I realised I was being hurt by their behaviour. I was upset as they continued to wave their good times in front of my face but not invite me out anywhere. I’m so happy I came to this realisation and decision to step back and be a friendly co-worker and nothing more. In my opinion (and some may disagree), people are at work to get paid. If you strike a friendship that’s great and a bonus. But if not, don’t worry. I think maybe consider finding other friends or interests outside of this group.

  8. Alfonzo Mango*

    Next time just ask ‘Where was my invite?”. Especiallyif they’re sending you Snapchats of them hanging out with out you. Just ask to be included – if they balk, there’s your answer. If they invite you, problem solved!

    1. Could be Anyone*

      I have to say that I find it REALLY awkward when people say this! I think a less needy response would be to do the initiating/inviting yourself next time.

      1. Alfonzo Mango*

        It’s really awkward to get photos of people hanging out without you! I understand it is a little aggressive, but that’s what this situation needs. OP needs to stand up for themselves, since waiting on an invitation is taking too long!

        1. Washi*

          I think Could Be Anyone means that “why didn’t you invite me” feels more awkward than “looks fun! I’d love to come the next time you do this.” And I agree, I think framing it in a future-oriented way is less likely to put people on the defensive than implying they need to explain why they didn’t invite you.

          1. bonkerballs*

            Exactly. If I got some kind of aggressive “where was my invite?” that would in no way make me inclined to include you. Whereas “that looks fun, i’d love to join with you guys sometime” would.

        2. Grapey*

          There’s a step inbetween of “Next time, let me know when you all go!” so it doesn’t focus on how much of a sad sack you are over not getting invited *this* time. You can’t change the past.

          It also allows the “inviters” to show their true colors and you can see if they actually do invite you next time.

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        I posted something below and I never really said anything because I originally thought it was just a particular group of people who grew up together (granted my husband was part of that group but not part of the original core group of friends). I have since learned otherwise (and it is pretty much only my husband and I that aren’t invited) but it has been going on for so many years now that while I wouldn’t necessarily say it is a deliberate snub it is obvious we aren’t part of the club.

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      I’d probably go with this approach as well. Or even a, “Looks fun! I’d love to join you all next time!” Something easy breezy.

      The not knowing would kill me. I’d go back and forth wondering was I deliberately excluded? Why I wasn’t invited? Which ones didn’t like me? Did they all talk about me behind my back? Why did they send me snaps – were they trying to rub it in? Were they the most oblivious people on the planet? etc etc etc.

      1. Alfonzo Mango*

        Requesting the invite over text or Snapchat replies keeps it casual and less confrontational too.

      1. Holly*

        That also sounds, I guess, not as socially aware as instead saying “wow that looks fun, I’d love to join next time!” Because your suggestion forces a response, it comes off as, well, forced.

    3. Starbuck*

      Not a good move to ask why you weren’t invited last time – much less aggressive to say ‘sounds fun, would love to join you next time, just give me a heads up’

  9. grey*

    I’ve been there, completely, with not being invited. I had to start reaching out to others and inviting others out. And that helps. But there are co-workers with whom we are perfectly pleasant to each other in the office, but with whom I would not want to hang out with outside of the office, outside of a group wide event. I’m usually the type of person who will purposely reach out to the outsiders to pull them in and to help them feel included, but still have to draw the line sometimes.

  10. Madame Secretary*

    While I love that Allison gives the coworkers the benefit of the doubt, I deal with a similar situation in my office with my team members and I’m not so sure there isn’t an element of mean girl excluding behavior going on. I have dealt with this on several occasions. Any time there’s been an after-work thing that I wasn’t included in, there’s one woman who has been the common denominator. My boss has a photo in his office of everyone on our team and many others from our office that was taken at an event to which I was not invited. They look beautiful and happy. It stings to see it. I enjoy very warm relationships with my coworkers and bosses otherwise. I can’t help but think, though, what’s so bad about me that I’m not included? I have too much pride to ever bring it up. So I’ve culled my social media exposure so I don’t have to see all the fun being had without me. What I don’t know can’t hurt me, right? And I make a point to be kind to everyone here because I know how much it sucks to be left out. Trust me, I wish I didn’t feel this way. I wish I could ignore it easily and go about my life. I’m working on that.

    1. Micromanagered*

      The fact that your boss is included jumped out at me. Once I had a job where my entire team would go out for drinks every-other-Friday-ish and I was the only one not included. I was so hurt and I began to think one woman in particular was behind it, because she was not very friendly to me.

      I later learned that my supervisor (also included in the happy hours) was the one stopping me from being invited because I was the only one who was new to the team since he’d been promoted. (He was a first-time manager, I was the only one with whom he’d never been peers, and he didn’t know how to navigate that.) Eventually, I got invited to one that he could not make, and it came out that they’d all felt terrible about not inviting me (supervisor included) and there was zero malice intended. Eventually they all told our supervisor to get over it or quit coming, and he opted to get over it. :)

      1. Madame Secretary*

        I don’t believe it’s my boss who is excluding me. It’s not his way. He doesn’t mistreat me in any other way. He’s invited me to his home for parties at holidays and such. If he is guilty of anything it’s favoritism of the women in the group.

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      Go read the post by Doug Judy above. It’s possible that you are being overlooked in a non-malicious way (that woman has an address list she always just grabs, and doesn’t notice that you’re not on it; you said no some time back and she thinks you don’t want to hang with her). Maybe there’s nothing wrong with you at all – they all like you, but think you don’t want to come, and don’t know how to invite you now. Let someone know that you’d like to be invited to the next X event they have. Because pride can also separate and hurt you, when it doesn’t need to be that way. What you don’t know IS hurting you – you sound very hurt, and I wish it weren’t so. Maybe, just maybe, your co-workers would feel terrible if they knew, and wish they knew how to include you.

    3. So long and thanks for all the fish*

      While it’s definitely useful to remember people are far more likely to be oblivious than malicious, I also wish she’d included advice for scenarios that are either iffier or outright exclusionary. I was in a situation a couple years ago where, on my four-person team, two of them would sometimes invite us other two, sometimes only invite the one that wasn’t me, and sometimes would just have events with just them and other friends, but they would talk about the events in each of the scenarios the same way. While of course they had every right to be closer than they feel they are with the rest of the team, I would have appreciated scripts to say “if you didn’t invite the whole class, keep it to yourself” in a way that wasn’t so hostile.

      1. Kay*

        The thing is, there’s basically no not-rude way to say “if you don’t invite me, don’t even talk about this event.” It’s always going to sound chilly and frankly a bit sensitive, even if it’s a completely valid feeling to have. Maybe it’s just me, but the idea of telling my coworkers “this hurts my feelings and makes me feel left out” makes my skin crawl! Anyway, the point is I think Alison’s advice about how to keep perspective and enjoy the relationships you do have (while limiting your social media feed) is spot on here.

        1. Madame Secretary*

          This. When I say I have pride, I mean I have too much dignity. (There’s a sarcastic meme out there, which says something like, “Tell me more about the event you didn’t invite me to.”)

  11. Mirea*

    In our small department, several hang out together outside of work in various configurations and there is one person who is usually left out. We don’t exclude her to be unkind. On the contrary, we’ve made a point of making sure she knows we’re going to do a Sunday morning dog hike (we all have dogs) or pub trivia or something. Historically she has always been enthusiastic and then cancelled shortly before the event. Every single time. We started to feel like we were imposing. Maybe she didn’t really want to socialize but wasn’t comfortable turning the invites down all the time and then she had to come up with reasons to back out. So we stopped. Now we’re in a position where we want to plan something and we don’t know if we’re annoying her by inviting or making her feel bad by not inviting.

    So LW, this may or may not be similar to your experience but one thing to consider is if you’ve declined a lot in the past. They may be reading into that, fairly or not.

    1. Cobol*

      Maybe, but does it hurt to invite her? There could be a bunch of reasons from extreme anxiety, financial issues, sick family who need last second care.
      I get it if you make reservations for 4 and incur a financial cost if it’s only 3, or if there’s limited space so inviting her means you can’t invite somebody else, but otherwise nothing is lost by inviting her.

      1. Lissa*

        Hmm, not sure I agree with this. I do see this advice given a lot – “invite people even they keep saying no”, but there’s also an emotional cost to being rejected/bailed on again and again. Unless someone directly says to me “I love to be invited but can’t usually do it because of Reason” I am going to feel a bit rejected myself after a time and stop inviting them.

        1. Bee*

          God, yes. I have a friend who bails last-minute about half the time we have plans, and it’s really hurt my trust in her. So I’ve just stopped trying. If I don’t invite her to things, I don’t have to feel like she doesn’t think it’s worthwhile to spend time with me!

          1. CupcakeCounter*

            We have some neighbors who do this. They will stop at the end of our driveway when going by to chat and then make a comment about getting together and doing something so texts will go back and forth and we’ll make loose plans for a cocktail. They will no call/no show and then I will hear from them the next day “Oops – we ended up meeting so and so at X kid event and went out to dinner with them and totally forgot” or I’ll get a pic from another neighbor about the fire the night before and why weren’t we there. I don’t make plans with either neighbor anymore which is a bummer because my Hubs gets along with their husbands very well (and he needs more friends).

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          I think inviting her to group outings, where there’s no negative impact if she cancels, would be kind.

        3. wherewolf*

          I agree. It takes a lot of time, energy, and social/emotional effort to organize something and it’s disrespectful of that friendship to bail over and over. I’ve noticed that flaky friends are never the ones who arrange the next get-together to make it up to you.

      2. Roscoe*

        Yeah, if I invite you a lot and you either say no or bail, I’m going to stop inviting you. Invitations work both ways as well. So I’ll assume if you want to go, then you’ll at some point invite me to go someplace

        1. Mirea*

          I have, actually. She said she does. She still begs off at the last minute, after she was supposed to be there or just doesn’t show up. The last outing (and they’re infrequent) was the last straw as we were left standing around, wondering how long we should wait and trying to get in touch with her. We got the message, whether it’s the one she intended to send or not, and stopped. If it hurts her feelings, I can’t help that anymore.

          And I’m afraid I’ve gotten off topic but just wanted to illustrate a situation where someone like my coworker could argue that she’s not included in stuff and without the context of history, would look like the victim of a mean clique when it’s really not the case. Sometimes these things spring from cliquishness, sometimes it’s miscommunication, sometimes it’s just chemistry, and sometimes it’s a natural result of past actions.

        2. Lis*

          Yes but there is the social anxiety of wondering if by asking again and again that you are causing them distress by making them have to keep making excuses if they don’t want to attend. You are harassing them if it is the last thing in the world they want to do.

    2. kc89*

      I think you’ve done your part in inviting her and now it’s fine to stop inviting her

      if she gets upset about that she needs to start showing up to things, “I want to be invited but I don’t want to go” doesn’t really fly!

  12. Melody*

    Is it possible you’ve turned down a few invites, maybe to something that felt salesy like a Mary Kay or Pampered Chef party or to something that felt too big, like a wedding?

    After a while people just assume you don’t want to socialize outside of work – even the reasons you didn’t go to the other things aren’t reasons you’d turn down coffee.

  13. CupcakeCounter*

    I have a very similar situation but it is with a social network not work and it really, REALLY sucks. After a few years of being the only couple not invited to certain things, I’ve gotten pretty bitchy about it to be honest. It has absolutely soured me on the organizer and while I will never be mean or anything I know that she apparently doesn’t see me as a real friend.
    Not gonna lie, I was kind of an ass recently when my new SIL asked why my husband and I never attend any of the events I responded with “We would love to but as we have never been invited and obviously aren’t wanted, crashing the party seems really rude.” I apologized to her later but I was pretty hurt when she asked since everyone in our age group was talking about the party (she was the 4th person who had made a comment to me about the party although the others probably didn’t realize we weren’t invited) and it was pretty obvious that it had been planned for a while and everyone except us was invited.

    As to your situation…outside of a few casual “that looked really fun – I’d love to do that sometime” or “that wine tasting looked great – have you ever tried X winery? Its my favorite” maybe try setting something up and see what happens.

    1. Anonymous this time*

      Same here. It’s hard not to take it personally when everyone seems to be up-to-date on the goings-on of each other’s lives and I can’t seem to break through. Far more awkward when I had an event, invited everyone, and no one (from this group) showed. In this case, the only “other” element in this group is that I’m Jewish and everyone else is some form of Christian, save for a few people (other Jews who have blended just fine…go figure).

      Point is, OP, I 100% feel you and know what it’s like to think “it must be something wrong with me.” Honestly, I think a lot of people just make assumptions about whether or not someone would come to something/would want to hang out/etc. and need to be reminded to expand their circles. I hope you find your way into this group. :)

    2. Madame Secretary*

      You’re not alone. I get so hurt and angry when it’s happened to me, first at them and then myself. It makes you want to insulate yourself.

    3. Lissa*

      To be perfectly honest I don’t think you saying something to your SIL was wrong. I mean maybe you didn’t go about “correctly” or were more harsh but in a case like this I would really want to know what’s going on! “Well, we would love to but we are never invited to events that Furgalina organizes! We’re not sure what’s going on with that, but we’d love to be included more.” it’s totally fine. The fact that nobody else seems to realize you’re not invited makes me think this is not something people realize, which is a really different situation than just the whole group not feeling that close. If my sister in law/close friend whatever were never invited to big group things I’d want to know what was going on and could possibly find out if it was an oversight, or maybe something had happened, etc. (I realize that can also cause drama of course.) But if the non-organizer people know you’d like to be included then they might see it differently, whereas from what you described these four people just thought you weren’t interested.

  14. MB*

    I also don’t want to be Pollyannaish — it may be they’re not interested in an outside friendship. However, I had this happen at work. The caveat is that my entire team was young men, and I’m a young woman. They were quite friendly with me at work for my first few months, but didn’t make an effort to include me with outside social things, though they did frequently mention them at work. I found it quite difficult but didn’t make overtures to plan my own after works drinks, etc. Then, one day, one of them asked me directly to come to a birthday party that weekend, and we’ve all been friends ever since. I learned several months later that they ~thought~ they were inviting me to things by talking about them in front of me. I thought they were just being insensitive! It was only when they were discussing my not joining in with a girlfriend, and she asked if they had directly invited me to anything, that they tried a new strategy.

    I would definitely plan a lowkey gathering for drinks or a movie and invite at least a handful of them to go. If that goes poorly, maybe you have your answer that they aren’t very interested in being friends. But that’s okay; it’s great to have work friends, but work friends tend not to have a great staying power in the grand scheme of things, in my opinion.

    1. Close Bracket*

      “I learned several months later that they ~thought~ they were inviting me to things by talking about them in front of me. ”

      I’ve had the opposite happen. The group of guys asked generally who wanted to go to lunch, I said I did, and they really hadn’t expected that. They made it a point to make lunch plans more quietly and ask people individually after that.

      It’s all about the particular group of people. Even with gendered differences, you can’t make a prediction about other people’s intentions.

  15. voyager1*

    They have a separate group chat without you in it that you didn’t know about.

    There’s your answer. The question is it one person leaving you out or a group of them.

    My guess is one of them doesn’t like you, think hard to how things were before when you were the newest hire and when did the socializing make an up tick and that is maybe your person who doesn’t like you.

    1. Doug Judy*

      No necessarily. It could be that the group chat was started for X reason, like a run or some event that OP wasn’t participating in and then they just got in the habit of communicating that way, not consciously aware that OP wasn’t on it.

      When I was in grad school a few of us started a group chat for a project but then continued in through to other classes to just have random conversations. We were talking about it in one class and a classmate of ours, who was a friend, mentioned “WTF guys, I want in on that!” We just totally didn’t think to add them because the original purpose of the chat thread wasn’t relevant to them and had evolved to something else.

      1. Peachywithasideofkeen*

        I’ve had this happen too, both ways! I have one group of friends with about 8 of us. We don’t all live in the same place and see each other a few times a year, but it’s usually not all 8 of us for each event. I’ve been left off of a group text and I’ve also left someone else off because it was started for reason A and continued to be about B, but we never added the people doing B who didn’t do A. It can definitely happen innocently!

        1. Lily Rowan*

          Yeah, same. I have a similarly-sized friend group that often gets screwy with the group-text groupings. Not on purpose!

        2. bonkerballs*

          Not only the group text, but even the group outings can start in such a way (everyone who had to work late on this one project would go and get drinks together after the late night for example) and then organically morph into friendship and outside of work socialization. Nothing nefarious and also nothing rigidly planned.

      2. chi type*

        I’ve had something similar happen at work where I couldn’t get the @llamawranglers list updated (stupid incompetent IT department) and couldn’t for the life of me remember to add Jane to the emails. Not surprisingly, she stopped participating in the llama wrangler committee and I felt very very guilty (and cursed our incompetent IT department).

      3. media monkey*

        agree. i have a Whats App group of 6 of us who all regularly go to the same gym class and share lifts. we all get on very well, and so in addition to “who is going/ who is driving tomorrow?” there is general chatting/ cheering each other on for job interviews/ commiserating over sick kids.

        There’s another girl (S) who we are perfectly friendly with who is included in another what’s app group for nights out. She lives in a different area and so always drives separately. So just a functional difference with no intent to exclude S. but maybe it feels like it to her?

    2. Anne (with an “e”)*

      ^^ This.

      Also, I can relate to the OP. I remember being asked about going to a particular get together at a coworker’s house during December. I just replied, “I wasn’t invited. I hope you have fun though.” I remember going home after work and just feeling miserable. I wondered who had been there and who hadn’t. I wondered why I had not been invited. I felt terrible.

    3. Airy*

      This kind of speculation and analysis of past events is likely to make OP feel worse – and even if they narrow it down to one person, what are they supposed to do about that, challenge them to a duel?

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        If they determine that one person is leaving them out, it might make them feel better knowing that it’s not the whole group. And they know which person *not* to go to when they want to say “that looks like fun, I’d love to join in some time.”

      2. Anonymous Ampersand*

        If OP challenges someone to a duel, I REALLY want to read the challengee’s letter.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Dear Alison – my coworker slapped me in the face with a leather glove and said she’d meet me on the dueling grounds at dawn. Is that legal? Should I get overtime for this meeting?

      3. Smarty Boots*

        Because then you will know not to try being friendly or asking to be invited with that preson. I have a colleague who is sweet as pie to your face, but is quite willing to undermine you with the boss. Sweetly.

    4. kay*

      I’m not sure that’s true. I have about 50 different whatsapp groups on my phone- they get started for a specific reason, or related to a specific conversation, or was created on a certain night out. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s being done on purpose to leave the OP out.

  16. Brett*

    This makes me think of an odd occurrence I had in my 20s.

    I did nothing social in high school. Never went to parties, dances, proms, homecoming, etc. Never really hung out with anyone ever. I thought I was just an unpopular social outsider.

    Fast forward to about age 24. I’m back visiting home and, at a coffee shop, I run into a woman who was one of the super popular people in high school. I mention to her how my high school existence always seemed so isolated and anti-social and she replies, “You know, we always wondered what was up with you in high school. You were so popular, but you never came to anyone’s parties and none of us really knew why you didn’t. Everyone just figured you had other things you were doing.”

    I think maybe OP should just let her co-workers know she would like to socialize with them.

    1. Myrin*

      That’s so fascinating! If you’re willing to talk more about this – I’m surprised she said you were “so popular” as opposed to something like “the cool, mature loner” or similar. To me, popularity has mostly to do with having a big social group, which doesn’t sound like it was the case for you, so do you think she definded “popular” differently, like “a person everyone finds interesting, regardless of their relationship with them” or something? Or is my definition the weird one?
      (Also, fistbump of solidarity from one person who never did anything social during school to another.)

      1. kc89*

        In a big school I think you can be well known and well liked in all of your classes (so people might think you’re “popular”) but not really have any close friends, I don’t think that could slide by in a smaller school though.

      2. Brett*

        Kinda like kc89 said, people knew me from class and saw me as a likeable person there.

        I think what made it weird is that a lot of social interaction took place at lunch (we had a closed campus), but I never ate lunch with anyone. Basically, I was cutting weight (wrestling) from September (start of pre-season) to May (end of nationals) every year and hanging around a bunch of people eating was tough to do. I spent nearly every lunch period from 7th grade on running, weight lifting, or doing homework. All of my close friends were people I knew from elementary school before I started doing sports 50+ hours a week.

        (On top of that, I had a strict home life that only my close friends knew about. I was not allowed to do things like drive, go to sports events unaccompanied, go to dances, etc. While people knew that I studied and practiced like crazy and figured that was what made me so busy, they did not know that I studied and practiced like crazy because I could not do much else. My teachers knew my parents and did know what was going on, so they gave me a lot of leeway to socialize in class.)

    2. Close Bracket*

      you never came to anyone’s parties

      Did they invite you to the parties? It’s not a great mystery why you wouldn’t go to stuff you aren’t invited to.

      1. Brett*

        I think that was exactly it. No one was invited to parties. If you knew about them, you went, no invite needed. I did not understand this, so I did not go.
        (I also had a home life where going was not an option, but only a handful of people knew that.)

    3. ThursdaysGeek*

      My high school life was similar, although I’m pretty sure I was not popular. I was known: it was a small school and I’d been in the same classes for years with many of them. But I was mostly a loner who felt excluded.

      As I matured, I found out how to care about other people. I would go to them, include them – I can’t be excluded when I’m making the overtures. (Not in a creepy overpowering way, of course.) And after several years of caring about other people first, I realized that I had become popular. People want to be wanted, to have someone care about them. And if you can sincerely do that, people will respond.

    4. Sometimes Wallflower*

      Oh man, this happened to me too, and not just once. Several people from high school connected with me years later on social media and said something very similar, that I was generally well-liked but seemed unapproachable and disinterested.

      The deal was that my parents were super strict and having a social life was a huge hassle that involved really uncool things like them meeting people’s parents before letting me go to their houses, or seeing them drive before they’d let me get in a car with them, so I just kind of … opted out. It never bothered me that much really, but with my peers it was easier to appear unavailable than it was to explain the lameness of my parents. And now that I think about it, my own lameness, because truth be told I was probably also kind of using that as an excuse — I’m an introvert that often opts out of social gatherings now.

      I do make sure I speak up if I’m interested in something I overhear people talking about that I’d like to do too. The worst thing they can say is no, and if they do then maybe it’s something I’d rather do with my non-work friends anyway.

      Also, I just recently found out, when I decided to give an acquaintance of mine a hard time about never inviting me to anything — because we get along fabulously every time we see each other — she has been inviting me to things and I haven’t been showing up for years. She organizes everything on FB and I only log into that account about once a year. I had no idea, and she just assumed I wasn’t interested in hanging out with her more!

    5. ThursdaysGeek*

      That reminds me of a story my sister told me. She was painfully shy in high school and was afraid to talk to anyone. One day she was getting a drink at the water fountain and overheard two girls as they walked past: “There’s Kathy, she’s so stuck up she won’t talk to any of us.”

  17. It's that girl*

    Oh, gosh, I’m literally living this right now, so no advice, just feels…

    I work for a 100% remote company that gets together a few times a year to connect. We are right now at one of these get togethers, where the 40-ish people on my team are all at a hotel together. Every night I’ve watched as people group up and wander off, leaving me alone. Eventually, I head back up to my room, feeling more than a bit left out.

    Thing is, I’m well over a decade older than most of my coworkers, and I don’t really social media, and I’ve never been a drinker or other indulgences user, so that separates me as well. I’m friendly enough with these people at work, but I haven’t been able to make any real connections, and I’m too shy and awkward to feel comfortable making overtures when the wandering off happens in front of me.

    Is it possible, OP, it isn’t an intentional exclusion as others have suggested above, but instead is just they don’t think you want to be involved in the group and don’t know different?

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      That happened to me years back at a training. Coworker #1 and I were supposed to go together and then BitchBoss got wind and decided to trade training sessions with Coworker #1. BitchBoss and Coworker #2 both have family and friends in the area of the training while Coworker #1 and I do not. I ended up spending the entire week alone once the training ended each night since BitchBoss went out with friends/family right after (we wouldn’t even drive to the training center from the hotel together each morning since she would be leaving right after the session ended). Almost all of the other attendees of that training either were local or were from the same branch so had things already set up.

    2. Lily Rowan*

      That’s so hard. But I have finally come to the realization that I either have to make a point of grouping up with people myself, or be comfortable with being alone. I can totally see no one wanting to ask you for a drink if they know you don’t drink, but you might be surprised if you suggested going to the hotel bar yourself (or whatever – you can have a soda water as easily as a glass of wine), that people would be more than happy to spend another couple of hours with you!

  18. Close Bracket*

    (even some sent directly to me on Snapchat)

    Folks, don’t do this. You don’t have to be friends with everybody, but don’t flaunt your friendships to the people you don’t include. I have been on the receiving end of this, and it is so hurtful.

    1. sunshyne84*

      Yea none of the explanations people have made about this have made any sense. If their intent is to get OP to invite themselves it’s obviously not working, just say you should come! I think OP should respond and say “great but idk why I keep getting shown pictures and not getting invited” and see what they have to say.

  19. Lissa*

    I can think of three possibilities for why they don’t hang out with you. 1) They are being intentionally horrible. 2) They find you irritating/problematic for some reason and are trying to dodge you. 3) Some variant of oversight/miscommunication.

    You say they are nice and not generally mean, so intentionally horrible seems unlikely. 2) is what I’d think in many cases, sometimes people just don’t click, but if that were the case it seems really unlikely they’d be Snapchatting you about their group outings. When I am the person who doesn’t want to hang out with one person, I get really awkward and try to not make it known. So I think 3 makes the most sense given the facts you’ve laid out.

  20. LSP*

    I once hosted a Christmas brunch for my husband’s side of the family (parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.) about a week before Christmas because his parents were going to be out of town for the holidays. The entire time, all my guests were “whispering” (not really) about the gathering they were having at my husband’s aunt’s house later that day, to which we and our then 1 year-old son were apparently not invited.

    OP, my in-laws are rude and selfish people, and I know them to be rude and selfish people in other aspects of our relationship, which I why, while I was a little stunned by how brazenly they were discussing this in my home during an event I had planned and done exclusively for them to see my son before Christmas, I was not, on the whole surprised. I have not hosted that group of people in my home since then, and I don’t plan to.

    If your coworkers are otherwise kind and thoughtful, I would give them the benefit of the doubt here. Most people are not as bold-facedly rude as my in-laws.

  21. DCGirl*

    I think back to fourth grade and my mother telling me not to talk about my birthday party at school since I wasn’t inviting everyone in my class. You just don’t let people know that they’ve been excluded; it’s just not right. Two jobs ago, I watched someone walk around and put invitations to her bridal shower on every desk but mine. I will admit that I would have been unlikely to go to it, as this coworker treated me like something she’d stepped in from the minute I was hired, but it’s just a crappy thing to do.

  22. Yojo*

    What about talking to just one of them, very very casually? Pick something they’ve made sure you’re aware of–like one of the hangouts they sent you on Snapchat–and say something like “that looked like a lot of fun! Was it just a spontaneous thing?” It would make them aware that you might be interested and immediately absolve them of intentionally excluding you.* You’d still be leaving the ball in their court, but that might be for the best.

    *Which they may or may not have done, but accusing them, even implicitly, is not going to do your working relationship any good.

  23. ElleKat*

    Oh OP. I have been there. Go ahead and let dangle like you’re interested like Allison suggests, in case it is innocent. But, I also advise to do your best to guard yourself emotionally. In my case, almost my entire peer group at OldJob (about 10 people) went so far as to organize an overseas trip, taking time off together and everything. I was totally left out, which given the close quarters we worked in they must have worked hard at. My (at the time) best work friend went too, but never mentioned it to me even though we talked several times a day, every day, about a lot of stuff going on in her life. I halfway understood why the larger group left me out (they were their own clique that I never really broke into) but that friend’s actions really crushed me. I know friendship isn’t “favor in, favor out” but I’d put a LOT of my time and political capital into helping her when she struggled at work. When she came back from the trip I immediately put some new boundaries down. So Allison has more good advice — cultivate relationships outside of work too! Good luck!

    1. Tassie Tiger*

      Ouch! That sounds crushing, but I’m proud of how you handled it. Are you comfortable telling us what some of the helpful new boundaries you put down were?

      1. ElleKat*

        Basically I downshifted from being friends to work colleagues. I was (still am!) professional, say hi and smile and such with her. But, I stopped coming to her desk to chat and was always busy when she came to mine, I stopped checking if she wanted to get lunch or dinner or share a cab home when we both worked late, I stopped defending her to bosses who got frustrated with her, I stopped going out of my way to help her with her work (even our bosses had gotten used to her leaning on me to pick up her slack, so this was the hardest).

        1. TassieTiger*

          Thank you so much for sharing that! I think I may have to start doing something similar at my job. It’s not even really comparable to your situation, it’s just that a coworker that I had gotten close to is now a bit more emotionally distant and I think I need to match that distance so I don’t become hurt and disappointed.

          Calibrating emotional closeness and turning the concept of vague “levels” of emotions into concrete actions can be very complex, so I appreciate the strategies you shared!

  24. Not Tom, just Petty*

    OP, hope you see this. It’s about what Alison writes about shared something. I went to grad school when I was in my 30s and working full time. I hoped to make some classmate friends to study/work on projects with. I met one woman and we took the same two evening classes and were able to study together. Group project came up. I asked her and someone else who was our age and working full time asked us and we had our team. We scheduled a work session for 1 PM on a Saturday. I was hoping we could get some food after. I am at the library first and they came in. They had gone to lunch and then come to the meeting. I was genuinely hurt. It’s stupid, but I felt how I felt. We started the project and while working together, I discovered that they had been friends for years in another city and re-met here at school. Well that explained that and I’m still friends with both because I initiated some things and they invited me to others. Without some big ah ha moment, or what about me?! scene.

  25. ThursdaysGeek*

    My method for not being hurt or offended by the actions of others is as follows. There are two types of people. One type is not deliberately offending, but is caught up in their own issues, has overlooked something, has said something they regret – whatever they have done that offends me was not deliberate. And I’m not going to be offended if no offense was meant. The other type is much more rare, and actually did mean to offend and hurt. And they aren’t worth being offended by. I will give them no power over my feelings, no power in my life.

    (And as I write that, I realize I need to take my own advice in one case. It is a lot easier said than done.)

  26. Nita*

    I don’t know, unless you’ve repeatedly declined invitations in the past, it doesn’t seem accidental. It’s odd that they’ve never once asked if you’d like to come. Since it’s bothering you, you could ask to be invited next time just to be sure it’s not a miscommunication… but try not to take it too personally if you get a vague “sure, I’ll let you know” and the invitation never materializes. In the end, they’re coworkers. It’s awesome when your coworkers end up becoming your friends, but it doesn’t always happen and it can’t be forced.

  27. Lucille2*

    I’m sorry to hear you’re feeling left out. I’ve been there and it can really shake your confidence. Like Alison says, it sounds unintentional. Perhaps you’ve left some nonverbal cues that you’re not available/interested in socializing after work? Like you have young kids you need to pick up/go home to right after work, or you have a well-known outside work obligation, evening classes you attend/teach, a very active social/family life? Or are you on a career track for management? Perhaps they are respecting that boundary.

    I’ve also worked in a couple of places where there was an exclusive social group. The kind where you had to have an in to be invited and risk being mean-girled out of the group if you made a misstep. After experiencing that kind of work environment, I personally, have no issue with being excluded from coworker social hour. This isn’t likely the case in your workplace, but if it is, consider it a bullet dodged.

  28. TicketTaker*

    This happened to me in college – I worked in a tiny on-campus office with about 8 other students where we rotated shifts, so I worked with everyone, just not every shift. I thought we all got along great, and then I started hearing about group events after they happened – like bowling, drinks, dinner outings, etc. where the ENTIRE OFFICE, INCLUDING MY BOSS (who was like, 24? 25?) would get together outside of work, and I was the only one excluded.
    I was super confused and really hurt, and I finally talked to the co-worker I was closest to. I didn’t ask why I was excluded (because no one wants to hear people explaining why they don’t like you!), but just said I kept hearing about the events, was sad to be excluded, and would really like to join them for future events.

    She smiled, nodded, and …. literally nothing changed. I didn’t pursue it further or talk to my boss because I didn’t want everyone to dislike me more by forcing myself in on their events. I just learned the hard lesson that not everyone likes you, you won’t be included in all things, and spent my time with my real friends as opposed to my coworkers.

    (Strangely this situation has come back up as a grown-ass adult, where my husband and I are kinda on the outer part of a circle of friends… we are sometimes included, sometimes not. He gets really upset about it, and, while I’m still sad to be excluded sometimes, I don’t get really upset – probably because I went through this in college already!)

  29. Roscoe*

    The biggest piece of advice I would say is try to do some invitations yourself. It doesn’t have to be anything big, just “hey I heard about this bar that has a great happy hour, would any of you want to go this week” or something like that. Sometimes, a bit of effort on your part goes a long way.

    I’ll admit, I’m often an organizer in my group of friends. There are some people I’m not really that close with personally (more like friends of friends, but we end up at many of the same events, even if we don’t really talk much ourselves), and I don’t always think to invite them. But, what would make me think to invite them more is if they ever initated plans with me.

    Also, I get that everyone isn’t wired that way. But I’ll just say, you can’t just expect all the effort to come from other people if you want to hang with them.

  30. From the High Tower on the Hill*

    I am going through something a little similar. It was my coworker’s birthday and the office (there is only four of us) invited me out to drinks (assuming out of obligation). They were all finishing up their beers and I had just ordered another so they said that they were all going to head home while I finished up mine. I was walking home and walked past the bar next door and they were all there drinking and having a good time. I was really upset about it initially just because I have always been the ugly duckling in school, work, basically all things and have been regularly left out. It has taken me a while, but I guess its okay to just be coworkers and not always friends.

    1. Blue_eyes*

      Wow. That is stupendously rude! (on the part of your coworkers). Even if you weren’t their favorite person to have a beer with, they could have sucked it up for that one evening and then not invited you in the future.

    2. AnaEatsEverything*

      What an incredibly awful thing to do to you! :( I’m so sorry that happened, and I admire your ability to be the better person here. Sending virtual good vibes your way.

    3. From the High Tower on the Hill*

      Thank you both. Like I said, I was very upset initially and cried the whole way home. I did hold a grudge, even at work, despite my better judgement. It is a little better now, I know the boundaries of our relationship so I don’t try to be friends with them anymore (that isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be friendly). It works out better in the end because honestly I have no desire to be friends with people that would do something like that and are genuinely just mean to me day in and out.

    4. MrsCHX*

      Ok, THAT sucks. I think that’s super rude because they plain lied. And there’s no good reason for that.

    5. megan*

      wow… just wow. I think this would just GUT me. not to make you feel worse, but just to validate your being upset, if that makes sense. i would literally cry myself to sleep if this happened to me- AFTER calling my mom. people are AWFUL. i’m sorry this happened to you, and i hope you have way better out of work friends /hobbies/family :( :(

  31. WMM*

    I would be so hurt by this kind of behavior that I doubt I could let it go without addressing it. I’d pick whoever I was closest to for lunch or coffee, and I’d have to point blank ask. “I see the 5 of you getting together for lots of fun stuff. I hate to put you on the spot, but is there a particular reason I haven’t been invited? If I’ve hurt or offended someone, I’d love to know so I can try to make it up to her.”

    Being the only person left off a group chat would also frustrate me to the point that I would rather have a bad coworker, because at least then, I wouldn’t be second guessing myself or wondering where I went wrong.

  32. Tye*

    I don’t think this letter is about my workplace, but I can at least describe how and why a version of this manifests at my office.

    We do exclude one of our coworkers, who I’ll call Chris, from most, but not all, of the purely social events many of us get together for. (As in: If we go out for drinks after work, Chris is invited, but if a few of us are going to a movie on Sunday, Chris is not.) The reason is that while Chris is a kind and well-intentioned person, they dominate conversations, are terrifically pedantic, endlessly pessimistic, and tend toward graphic TMI/over-share. I like Chris at work and in small doses outside of work, but I do not want to spend much time with Chris outside of work, and my coworkers feel the same way. Chris has a full social calendar that does not involve me or my co-workers, and I don’t feel an obligation to include Chris in my social life or to tell Chris that they have to change they way they think, talk, and behave in order to hang out with me. I’m sure it’s possible that some of our coworkers who attend but don’t organize social events have sent texts or Snapchats to Chris when we are hanging out together without Chris, possibly because they didn’t realize Chris hadn’t been invited.

    Not everybody has to like everybody else. If Chris asked me why they hadn’t been invited to social events, I would be honest with them, but I’m not going to preemptively (and presumptuously) tell Chris to change for me (nor do I want Chris to do so). This would be different if Chris were a close friend or family member — I have absolutely offered, when asked, feedback like “Timford, you do have a tendency to talk over people,” or “Berthcilla, we don’t like to play board games with you because you are overly competitive.”

    So, LW: If you have a friend or family member you really trust, it might be worth posing this question to them for some insight on how you interact with people socially, which might help you think about what types of people and environments you mesh well with, and maybe more importantly, who YOU want to hang out with. Because I did note that while you describe not liking the feeling of being left out (which is entirely understandable), you don’t really articulate a strong desire *to hang out* with these folks, or talk about why you find the prospect of hanging out with them so appealing. Do you really want to be friends with these people, or do you need them to like you because you, like most people, like to be liked, and feel that you aren’t in this circumstance? What’s your social circle like outside of work? Do you rely on work to operate as a form of social glue for you? Is there a way to mitigate that if it looks like this group of coworkers is not going to facilitate that for you? etc.

    1. Roscoe*

      While I don’t have this particular situation, everything you say rings so true in my opinion. Sometimes you just don’t . like hanging out wiht people outside of work for whatever reason. Doesn’t mean they are a bad person, just not your cup of tea. As you said, everyone doesn’t have to like everyone.

      Also, I got the same read as you. They want to be invited just to be invited, but it doesn’t seem like they really have a big desire to go. As in, I want to be wanted, but also want to be able to turn it down if I don’t want to go.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      But the difference is, you’re not showing Chris these events on Snapchat. The fact that the LW’s coworkers are friendly with her and yet are sharing all of their activities with her makes me think they’re either gleefully Machiavellian or, more likely, they don’t know that she would (a) like to join, or (b) feels uninvited.

    3. Way Anon*

      Everything you’re saying is spot on, but perhaps not with the LW’s situation in mind. People are excluded intentionally because they’re difficult to be around like Chris or unintentionally because they’ve sent some signals that they wouldn’t be interested. Socially anxious people sometimes fall into the second category but spend a lot of time afraid that they’re examples of the first category; the LW sounds more like one of those unintentionally excluded people, given that her colleagues aren’t otherwise going out of their way to avoid her. It’s sad because incorrectly assuming that you’re lonely because you’re unpleasant to spend time with is a vicious cycle that prevents adults from making valuable connections.

    4. Amy*

      Tye I can’t help but think you’re on to something. I work with a lot of women my age and we occasionally get together outside of work. There is one coworker who is extremely unpleasant and never gets invited because we are all so exhausted from being nice to her at work that we don’t have the energy to do so on unpaid time. She probably thinks we all like her a lot but in reality we are just kind people who don’t want to exclude her at work even though her pessimism and know-it-allism is slowly killing us all inside.

      Self reflection is difficult but necessary! We are not all naturally pleasant to be around. I had to work hard at it myself and learn the hard way when I said something that people got offended by and started acting distant. It’s worth thinking about at least.

  33. MrsCHX*

    Many moons ago, I worked at a small company in a 5-person department, including the manager. 3 of the 4 of us lived on the same street name but spread out a bit and all along about a 1.5 mile stretch of this street. We would sometimes get together on weekends and have breakfast. We never talked about in coworker 4’s face though.

    Part of the reason we got together was proximity. The other part is because coworker 4 was awful. She was self-centered (everything was about how much money they had and the boat and the cabin and the designer bags and…) and had really bad habits (your coworkers do not 1) need to know about your sex life 2) shouldn’t have to see/experience you cutting your toenails in your cubicle, etc).

    She got wind of it though and complained to HR that we were creating a “hostile work environment”. Our HR Manager was new to the field and the company. I tried to explain that that did not mean what she thought it meant but it resulted in her (HRM) getting in my face (literally) and yelling at me (literally). I didn’t work there much longer but I’m pretty sure we all received official reprimands in our files and were told we couldn’t meet without inviting her.

  34. Anonama doo doo doo doo do*

    When I first came to my workplace 6 years ago, I was put off when I found out many of them were going to a happy hour nearby. No one invited me, but I’d hear about it. One afternoon as we were leaving, coworker A asks coworker B if they are going. Answer is yes. After some group talk, they turn to me, “ well, aren’t you coming ?” I said um yeah ok. Once we get there, everyone who is there already demands to know why I never come! They all thought I didn’t like them! I said I hadn’t been asked and I didn’t know what the “rules”were. Well turns out that whoever is around just goes up to the bar to see who is there. No invitations.

    Now I make sure any new people explicitly know that anyone is welcome at the spot. Just show up. Maybe your coworkers are waiting for you to show interest and that’s why they include you. Say that you’d love to join them in the future. Who knows?

    1. Lissa*

      Yeah this is a really awkward divide. Some people operate in a “of course you’re included” way, and others “explicit invitations only.” Neither is wrong but both groups tend to assume their way is the default and I’ve seen it go really south both ways.

  35. Flash Bristow*

    Hi OP! This does sound quite inconsiderate and somewhat squashing, so I’m impressed that you haven’t resorted to a snarky comment on a bad day!

    I don’t like the idea of unsubtle hinting that you’d like to join – I’ve had people do that to me in the past and it just comes over a bit pathetic, fawning, and almost clingy. You know – “oh WOWWWW that looks SOOOOO cool I WIIIIIISH IIIII had friends who do that with me you are SOOOOO LUUUUUUUCKY…” (UGH).

    But I can’t see any harm in a more direct approach, especially as you’re all on friendly terms at lunch and so forth. I think in your case I’d say something like this, while keeping tone as light as possible: “Well hey, that does look really fun! But just a thought, since I wasn’t invited with you all isn’t it a teensy bit inconsiderate to show it all off? Heh. Anyway, looks great, hope the next social goes just as well!” and then swiftly move on so there’s no hanging silence or cloying awkwardness.

    I’ve been in that situation and it sucks, but if you make it A Thing you’ll never know whether any subsequent invites you do get come out of obligation or because they’ve twigged that actually, its the kinda thing you’d enjoy, and whoops for misreading in the past!

    And obvs if you do get a future invite, go along, have fun, fit in and ensure that everyone will want to include you in future! Maybe take some cupcakes or something (a friendly gesture nice but not trying tooooo hard?)

    I hope the group start inviting you, and everyone has a good time at the socials going forward. ✌

  36. Doctor Schmoctor*

    I know the feeling. It sucks, but then I remind myself that it’s perfectly OK to not be friends with everybody.
    And maybe you won’t like hanging out with them after hours. There was a group at work who I got along with well… at work. It felt a bit shitty that I was never invited to their weekend stuff, but then I realised I’m just not part of their group. It’s not personal. We get along fine, but we’re not friends, and that’s OK.

  37. Office Black Sheep*

    This is me. My coworkers all hang out together. There is one a big clique. I have tried to become friends with them, but I am always left out. It makes me miserable. I have to go to morning coffee and hear all about their outings (I have to go because when I don’t go I miss important work stuff that does not distributed in other ways.)

    While I have tried to make friends outside of work and stopped following them on social media, it still absolutely sucks. I am still not cool enough to hang with the cool kids in high school.

    I also love when they talk about how great our department is and how we are one big happy family.

  38. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    Sometimes you don’t WANT to join in.

    Many years ago, I worked in an office – in a group of six. They were all single or divorced. Except for me.

    Home in the ‘burbs, one child, six rooms, two cats, a lawn to mow – and a family to go home to at night.

    I quickly realized that I didn’t really fit into their world. I also realized that their job/life/the office IS their world. For me, it was only a vehicle for me to get the other things I really wanted in life.

    Sometimes one has to step back and realize that.

    1. Way Anon*

      You realize this comes across as a bit nasty towards people who don’t have the same marital/family status as you, right?

  39. Bennett*

    Everyone is being very generous toward the coworkers in assuming it’s an oversight.

    That would be nice, but it’s likely it’s not.

    Years ago I worked in a job where I started with three other people, all around my age. It was – seemed to be – a friendly office. I was actually relieved to find that people were friendly, since walking into a new situation, due to school issues (cliche, but true) was terrifying to me. But everyone was friendly, and I thought we were getting on great.

    Then one afternoon, a woman who I’d have said I was on good terms with came over to speak to someone else on my team. They were talking about an office paintball game they’d planned, where they were apparently short of people. About the email that had been sent around to ‘everyone’ to see who wanted to go. I’ve never forgotten this woman, standing within six feet of me and bemoaning the fact that there was ‘literally nobody, like nobody’ left to invite.

    I tried to assume I’d been missed by accident, that I’d missed the email or something and that she was actually trying to hint that I should go. So I pushed through the sinking feeling in my gut and started to say something, only for her to pointedly turn her back and repeat to the other person “There’s NOBODY”.

    Right up until that point I’d have thought that I’d be invited to things. Never assumed that again. Now I don’t make friends, or expect to make friends, with coworkers. Ever.

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