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Originally published Monday, May 12, 2014 at 6:15 AM

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She’s not in inner circle of moms, and has hurt feelings

Dear Carolyn column


Syndicated columnist

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Why does society give women a hall pass for this kind of behavior? It transmits to our kids. These juvenile dynamics... MORE

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Dear Carolyn

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Hi, Carolyn:

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

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

— On the Outside Looking In

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

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

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

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

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

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

Re: Outside:

Don’t think of it as an “inner circle,” think “parallel circle.” You will probably form your own circle with your own friends. And, if some of those friends overlap with the other circle, then you can draw a Venn diagram!

— Anonymous

DEAR ANONYMOUS: Right — if you can’t join ’em, beat ’em with nerdy visuals.

Re: Outside:

Ask yourself why you’d want to belong to a group that seems to spend a lot of time and energy on deliberately excluding and ostracizing others.

— Anonymous 2

DEAR ANONYMOUS 2: Ehhhhhhhh I have mixed feelings about this.

Yes, some groups are deliberately exclusive, and who wants those?

But, some perfectly decent people can get into a nice groove together, with no exclusive intent, and so going out of your way to vilify them just because you’re on the outside seems needlessly petty and self-defeating. Why let them loom so large in your consciousness? Why cut people out of your life who maybe have been good to you, and who just happen to have a(nother) good thing going with some other friends?

Never attribute to middle school what can be adequately explained by coincidence. My very own razor.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com and follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax. Find her columns daily at www.seattletimes.com/living



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