Ask Alice

Photo credit: Charlie Knights

My flatmate moved into a house this year with some of her course mates. She’s now very close with them, and I’m always feeling a bit sad because it seems that she doesn’t want me as a friend anymore. What can I do?

By Alice Dent

Unfortunately, feelings of exclusion don’t always leave us as we grow up. Back in the days of primary school, it wouldn’t be uncommon to see groups of children purposely leaving someone out of their games in the playground, or openly labelling one group their ‘best friends’ with little thought for any other, side-lined individuals. Just this week I watched a Facebook clip from Channel 4’s The Secret Life of 4 Year Olds, where one child told another that she didn’t want to be her friend, and that she was not invited to play with her on the slide. My heart broke! Even into Secondary School, the themes of segregation and favouritism between friends were rife. Does anyone remember the politics of choosing your Bebo top row friends? You would argue with Rebecca at school, only to sign onto your family’s desktop computer later and find that you had been relegated from 4th to 15th place. Brutal.

I should hope that as we are now older and wiser, we have learnt to understand and communicate problems with our friends directly, with a calm and measured approach. However, I understand that this is not always feasible. I have a number of tips for you to assess your own situation, and hopefully try and work towards the revival of the friendship with your former flatmate. Hopefully, you’ll be sipping VK’s at the Lash and making a guest appearance on abdul_ffb’s Instagram in no time.

Firstly, realise this may not be a purposeful exclusion, but simply a badly executed adjustment to the new stage in your friendship. As you’re no longer living together anymore, there are obvious shifts that have to be made. Instead of rolling out of bed in your pyjamas and popping to see each other in your bedrooms next door, you’re now having to actually arrange to meet up (albeit probably two streets away in Cathays). It’s quite probable that your ex-flatmate has just got caught up in the whirlwind of university life, and doesn’t mean to make you feel this way.

Fundamentally, as with most breakdowns of relationship, this issue all comes down to adequate communication. The truth is that your friend may simply be unaware that you are feeling this way. Remember that friendship is a two-way stream, so assess whether you have been reaching out to her enough, and if not, arrange to meet up and chat about your issues. It doesn’t have to be a dramatic encounter, simply a “I miss you! Shall we do something soon?” text may be more than enough. Multiple friendship groups are difficult to balance in any stage of life, so giving her a heads up may be the answer that you’re looking for.

Of course, we must consider the likelihood that once you make your feelings clear, you will continue to feel excluded. This is the worst-case scenario, and hopefully won’t happen! However, if it does, recognise your worth and try and find people that will appreciate you. As I mentioned in Issue 1105, there are people out there that will love you for who you are; I urge you to never settle for sub-par relationships. Find your own tribe who will never think of it as a chore to spend time with you.

Finally, a side note: if you happen to be reading this and realise that you can identify yourself with this person’s ex-flatmate, you are not alone and definitely not a bad person! In the process of writing this, I actually messaged one of my best friends when it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen them in over three weeks. It happens to the best of us, and with adult life comes responsibility. I understand that there’s so much pressure to up-keep constant contact with those closest to you, but checking in on your friends once in a while is definitely important. You never know who might need it the most.

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