Carolyn Hax: She’s not part of the inner moms circle

Carolyn Hax
Columnist May 11

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Hi, Carolyn:

Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997, after five years as a copy editor and news editor in Style and none as a therapist. The column includes cartoons by "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis -- Carolyn's ex-husband -- and appears in over 200 newspapers. View Archive

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

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, okay; 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.


(Nick Galifianakis/For The Washington Post)

Plus, groups have their own chemistry, to the point that it can be constructive to think of them as a person unto themselves. You can not 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 vs. 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 okay with your friends, friendships and yourself is a lot more reliable stuff.

Write to Carolyn Hax, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or tellme@washpost.com. Get her column delivered to your inbox each morning at http://bit.ly/haxpost.

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