General Question

weeveeship's avatar

How do you avoid being a fifth wheel in groups?

Asked by weeveeship (4622points) September 13th, 2010

This is an issue I keep facing.

I would join a group of people. Sometimes, they just met and sometimes they have known each other for a while. In any case, we become friends or at least acquaintances.

When we meet though for let’s say an informal lunch, they would talk about how much fun they have with each other in events where I was not invited to or present. I used to just ignore that and try to change the subject to something we all like, but then they just continue talking about what they were talking about before.

Then, I told my friends that I would be interested in joining them the next time they do the activity X they all do (e.g. go to the gym together or golfing, etc.). They will either A) say “Well, you probably won’t be interested anyways. You seem quite busy.” or B) say “Sure, we’ll call you the next time we do X.”

More often than not, I don’t get called.

When we meet again, the cycle repeats itself. They talk about fun events that I was not invited to and when I reminded them that I am interested in joining them, they just tell me “We’ll call you. We promise.”

No call. If I confront them about it, which I did once, they say “Oh, I forgot. Sorry.” That’s it. But that was the third or fourth time they have “forgotten.”

1. Should I even consider these people my friends?
2. Is there another way I can get invited to fun events without being clingy?
3. Being a studious person (but not shy), is there a way I can let people know that I know how to have fun too?

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30 Answers

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

Good friends are hard to find. And worthwhile to keep. If your “friends” are spurning you, find some real ones.

Likeradar's avatar

Instead of waiting to be invited, how about you call one of them up and invite them somewhere?

It sounds like they’re closer to each other than they are to you. And that’s fine, as long as you recognize it and don’t expect something they’re not willing to give.

nebule's avatar

Yes, quite, I’d find some new friends..but just for you’re own information I would confront them about it before you go off a hunting!! I’d like to know why people think they can treat others like this…

weeveeship's avatar

@Likeradar I understand that they might be naturally closer to each other, especially if they have been friends for a while. However, when I invite them somewhere, they will either A) say they are busy or B) join me and spend more time talking about how much fun at some event I was not invited to than participating in the actual activity.

All this is based on empirical experience and not supposition or theory.

Likeradar's avatar

@weeveeship Why do you consider these people friends?

weeveeship's avatar

@Likeradar Well, they probably won’t be my friends after spurning me multiple times. First time, yeah maybe they “forgot.” Second time, maybe, maybe not. Three times? They really must not care much.

The reason why I consider these people friends was that at least at first they appeared as such. However, their actions show otherwise.

Austinlad's avatar

I don’t try to avoid it because it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I figure I have as much to offer to the group as anyone with a mate or s/o.

janbb's avatar

Sounds like they are not as iinterested in you as they are in each other. I go with the “find some new friends” advisers. Otherwise, it gets too hurtful.

Pandora's avatar

In a group setting you may not stand out as much as the others or you may be in a power struggle with the lead of the group.
My daughter has a friend that is like that. She’s very quiet except when she feels excluded. Then she begins to complain which sounds like whinning to the others.
My daughter is a very social person so it is easy for her to fit in with any group, however her friend isn’t quite so social. Usually my daughter invites her because she wants her to loosen up but some of her friends don’t feel comfortable around her.
Talk to the person in the group you feel is most comfortable around you and ask them what kind of things they each like to do. Next time you meet arrange to go or do something you all would enjoy doing.
My daughters friend will say she wants to be included in some other activities but then she complains when its something she doesn’t like. Make sure you haven’t done the same thing.
An example. One time they invited her to go bowling. It was her first time bowling and all she did was complain how much she didn’t like it. It didn’t endear her to the group.
Another time she suggested they go site seeing in the city. None of them cared for the idea. They all at sometime have taken relatives to go site seeing and are quite over the idea.

weeveeship's avatar

@Pandora I’m usually joining others when they are having fun, provided that “fun” is not something is is likely to hurt myself or others (e.g. playing with fire, smoking pot, and doing extreme sports is out). But the people I am writing about here are not into those kinds of things anyways. The “fun” activity they talk about is usually more mundane, like going golfing or playing Monopoly

Disc2021's avatar

I’d go with 1. Find people who not only want to be around you but appreciate your company. Otherwise, these people seem like pretty expendable acquaintances.

solomio's avatar

I agree that you need to find new people to associate with. A good way to find people with interests similar to yours is to find a club/group that pursues a hobby that you like to pursue. You have to be specific, if you like to travel then join a club, which consists of others, who like to travel. Another approach is if you like to paint and or draw then consider taking an art class at your local college.
Remember the old saying, “Birds of a feather, flock together.”

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Don’t join groups. Let groups join you—sometimes, if you feel like it.

CherrySempai's avatar

I think you should new friends. :) I don’t want to be really quick to judge these “friends” you’re talking about, but I have a similar story.

My friends and I are kind of going through the same situation, but we’re on the other end. (I feel like a complete jerk because we’re trying to get a person to stop clinging to us.) It’s not that we don’t like her or anything, but every time she’s with us she hogs the conversation, argues with everyone, clings to my side the entire time, interrupts people talking, goes on rants, always has to have her way, and so on.

I’m not good with confrontation, so I can’t just tell her that we don’t want to invite her. (I know, this is really harsh.) But I know she gets the hints….it’s been almost two years, though.

My friends and I have just accepted that she’s going to cling to us for the rest of college and we do resent her for this. I don’t want this to happen to you (because we don’t consider her our friend even though she’s with us, we’ve never been close to her), so I suggest you just stay acquaintances with them and go find some true friends. :] Even if it takes awhile, once you get the right friends, it’ll mean the world to you. :)

Ben_Dover's avatar

Bring a date!

BoBo1946's avatar

I’ve always found that if i feel like “fifth wheel,” it’s only if i chose to be! Some conversations, it’s best to listen.

Pandora's avatar

@weeveeship I got it then. Your too much fun and they are boring. LOL Maybe they feel you get too much attention and they blend into thier boring monopoly seats.

MeinTeil's avatar

Hand pick your own group.

Thammuz's avatar

1. Should I even consider these people my friends? No

2. Is there another way I can get invited to fun events without being clingy? Organize them yourself, duh.

3. Being a studious person (but not shy), is there a way I can let people know that I know how to have fun too? See number 2

weeveeship's avatar

@CherrySempai Well, it certainly helps to look at the other side of the coin. As mentioned, I don’t act clingy and I get the point when people always say they’ll invite me to places but never do. I also try to be as civil as I could, and I rarely instigate or participate in arguments.

However, I do think that perhaps some of these “friends” really are not friends but they are just too polite (or too afraid) to tell me to just leave them alone. No idea why they don’t want me to join them, but I guess it’s just different strokes for different folks.

@MeinTeil How should I go around picking my own group? Most people I know are already in established friendships and when I try to join them, they often do as described in the original post. I have also tried making friends with those who are loners or who are shy, but they seem to not want to talk much for whatever reason and so I can’t really get to know them.

shadling21's avatar

You shouldn’t have to work so hard or worry so much to be their friends. I say: enjoy your time with them, be yourself, and see what happens. If they still don’t invite you to their activities, then that’s their loss. There are many other fish in the sea.

If one or two people in the group interests you more than the others, try becoming closer with them. Go for coffee or something.

This is being said by a girl who doesn’t have a solid group of friends. I’m still finding my people. With every new workplace or class, you have an opportunity to become a part of a group. Just keep testing the waters and eventually you’ll find one that’s right for you.

perspicacious's avatar

Find some new friends—I don’t like this group of imps.

mary84's avatar

These people are not your friends.
I’ve had the same experience.
Once I let go of them, they disappeared from my life, and it made me realize they were never my friends to begin with. Friends invite other friends to fun things, if they really are your friends. If they don’t, they are not your friends. Stop making an effort, if they don’t seem to miss you, well then it’s their loss.
Find some new friends.

If they really are your friends, you will be invited.

breedmitch's avatar

As an aside, the correct term is “third wheel” and it refers to being the extra person on a two person date. There was a very unfortunate dating show in the last decade called “fifth wheel” which seems to have caused this confusion. We have covered this topic here somewhere before.
Resume discussion.

weeveeship's avatar

@breedmitch Interesting. See, I always thought it was “fifth wheel” because a car has four wheels and a fifth one, well it’s just there.

Resume discussion please.

josie's avatar

If you like and admire these folks, why don’t you call?

weeveeship's avatar

Just wondering, if there is a person who joins me whenever I invite them (not the folks in the original post) but would never invite me to anything, is that person still my friend?

Disc2021's avatar

@weeveeship That’s for you to gauge, that really depends on how you define friendship. It really is up to you though, is that what you want to call a friend? There may be potential there for the friendship to expand, so it relies also on the dynamic.

Personally, for me friendship is entirely a 2-way street. Friendship that is one-sided is often more hassle than it’s worth. Problem is, rarely is it ever a 2-way/50–50 deal.

Depends on what you go for, I prefer quality over quantity. I dont mind only having 3 or 4 close friends as opposed to 20 fake ones or the ones that are only around when it’s convenient for them or they’re reaping the benefit.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I enjoy friendships. I rarely enjoyed being part of groups. Some of us are like that. We enjoy one on one interactions better than being part of groups and we function better where we are comfortable.
There is nothing wrong with this.

weeveeship's avatar

Thanks for all your advice.

I have a related question and that is: Would you consider someone who would speak to you face-to-face and perhaps even give you goodies (for nothing in return, really) but would never call, email, or Facebook you a friend?

Keep in mind that these “friends” know how to use technology quite well and would often call or text their friends. Don’t know why they don’t contact me, though. They seem nice in person.

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