What do you do when a friend purposely leaves you out?

Having a friend deliberately exclude you from plans or activities can be very hurtful. It may leave you wondering why you were left out and what you did wrong. Dealing with this type of situation isn’t easy, but there are some things you can do to handle it in a healthy way.

Why would a friend leave you out on purpose?

There could be a few reasons why a friend may purposely exclude you:

  • They’re upset with you about something. Maybe you had an argument or did something that bothered them.
  • They prefer spending time with other friends over you. They may have grown closer to someone else.
  • You don’t share the same interests anymore. For example, if they develop a new hobby that you don’t enjoy.
  • They’re passive-aggressively trying to end the friendship. Excluding you may be their indirect way of distancing themselves.
  • They’re jealous of you for some reason. Whether it’s a relationship, achievement, or something else you have that they envy.
  • They have a perceived rivalry with you. They may see you as competition either socially or professionally.
  • Their other friends don’t like you. They may have been pressured to exclude you.
  • They have personal issues. If they’re dealing with mental health struggles like depression, it can affect their friendships.

Regardless of the reason, being purposely left out by a friend is bound to cause hurt feelings. It’s normal to feel rejected, angry, confused, or sad if it happens to you.

How to tell if you’re really being left out

Before assuming you’re definitely being excluded, take some time to reflect on the situation. Consider if:

  • They’re making plans in front of you that don’t include you. This is a fairly obvious clue.
  • They’ve suddenly become difficult to reach or hard to make plans with. Constantly blowing you off can signal deliberate exclusion.
  • You’ve heard about get-togethers after the fact. Finding out activities happened without you invites suspicion.
  • You see social media posts of them hanging out without you. Photo evidence makes it hard to deny.
  • You get the silent treatment when you ask to spend time together. A dismissive or unresponsive attitude says a lot.
  • Plans only seem to happen on nights you’re unavailable. Repeated scheduling “conflicts” are likely intentional.

Take note if you observe a pattern of exclusion or feel repeatedly left out. That likely indicates your friend’s actions are deliberate rather than coincidental.

Reach out to your friend

Don’t let speculation breed in your mind. Consider directly but casually checking in with your friend about what you’ve noticed. A text like “Hey! Seems we haven’t hung out in a while. Have you been up to anything fun lately?” can open the door to a conversation. Depending on how they respond, you may have the opportunity to ask if you did anything that bothered them or if they’d prefer more space in the friendship. Opening up the lines of communication can help provide insight into what’s going on.

Reflect on your own behavior

Think honestly about your own actions in the friendship. Have you done anything that may have upset your friend or pushed them away? Sometimes we need self-reflection to gain needed perspective. Consider if you:

  • Created drama in the friend group that embarrassed them
  • Broke a promise or commitment you made to them
  • Didn’t make time for them as much as they wanted
  • Made them feel like a lower priority friend
  • Shared private details they asked you to keep confidential
  • Made them feel uncomfortable or pressured to do things
  • Had a problematic argument or fight
  • Acted jealous or controlling
  • Criticized their relationships, interests, or other choices

If you can identify ways you contributed to the rift, apologize and show you want to fix it. Change any negative dynamics going forward.

Give them space

As hurt as deliberate exclusion makes you feel, avoid pressuring your friend to interact with you before they’re ready. They may want some distance right now, for whatever reason. Pressuring them to open up, hang out, or talk to you before they want to will likely backfire. Give them space for a little while and see if things improve.

Spend time with other supportive friends

Lean on other friends you feel good around during this time. Turn to people who make you feel valued and supported. Don’t isolate yourself just because one friendship is on shaky ground. Surround yourself with positivity and work on strengthening other relationships.

Avoid gossiping or bashing them

You may feel the urge to vent to mutual friends about the way you’ve been treated. But try your best to take the high road and avoid gossip. Talking negatively behind their back will likely get back to them, and could worsen the rift. Rise above by refraining from petty gossip, even if their behavior seems deserving of it.

Refrain from desperate attempts to reconnect

Repeatedly calling, texting, or begging to hang out can seem desperate or needy, and will likely be off-putting. As difficult as it can be, try your best not to bombard them while they likely want distance. Play it cool and don’t appear overly invested. You want them to miss the friendship, not feel smothered.

Put yourself in their shoes

Instead of focusing on your hurt feelings or confusion, empathize and consider their perspective. There may be something major going on in their life that’s caused them to withdraw from people. See if you can understand where they’re coming from, even if you’ve been slighted. Compassion opens doors that anger may keep closed.

Own up to any problematic behavior on your part

If you realize you’ve exhibited hurtful, toxic, manipulative or other damaging behaviors, own it. Make a heartfelt apology without caveats or excuses. Take steps to correct your conduct moving forward. Prove with your actions that you’re sincerely trying to be a better friend, not just offering empty platitudes.

Let the relationship evolve naturally

Some friendships are only meant to last for a period of your life. Don’t try to cling to something the other person has outgrown. Let interactions happen organically without forcing things. If your friend wants the relationship to deepen again, it will happen over time. Pushing too hard could permanently damage the chance of reconnection.

Know when to walk away

Unfortunately, not all friendships are meant to be repaired. If your attempts to reconcile are rebuked or ignored, or the exclusion continues, choose self-respect. As hard as it can be, distance yourself from one-sided relationships with no mutual benefit. Invest in relationships that make you feel appreciated.

Avoid comparisons on social media

Seeing your former friend enjoying life without you on social sites like Facebook or Instagram can worsen hurt. Resist the urge to obsessively check on them online. Also avoid the trap of comparing your life to theirs. Unfollow, unfriend or block them if necessary to avoid digital temptation during the healing process.

Don’t internalize the rejection

It’s easy to make exclusion feel like a reflection of your self-worth. But their choice to leave you out is on them, not you. Assure yourself you are fun, worthy, and deserving of real friendship. Don’t let someone else’s actions define your value.

Lean into other relationships

Rather than getting stuck in this friendship that isn’t working, put your time and effort into bonds with more reciprocal people. Strengthen the connections that boost you up and make you feel good. Surround yourself with people who prioritize you.

Seek understanding, not vindication

Getting revenge or plotting retaliation will only breed more negativity. Instead of wishing karma or consequences on them, shift your mindset to understanding. With time and space, you may gain insight into why things played out this way. Let go of bitterness and desire for vindication.

Forgive them

Holding on to resentment over how they treated you will only hurt you, not them. When you’re ready, forgive them in your heart even if you can’t say the words directly. Forgiveness is empowering and frees you from pain. It also opens the door to positive personal growth from the experience.

Reflect on lessons learned

Examine what you can take away from the experience to apply to other relationships. What positive qualities do you value more in a friend? What red flags will you watch for? What boundaries will you enforce moving forward? Find the opportunity for growth.

Express your feelings through writing

Keep a journal or notebook just to process your thoughts and emotions about the situation. Getting them out on paper can help you vent. Recording your feelings at different points in the process can reveal progress made. Look back later to see how far you’ve come.

Talk to other excluded friends

If there are other members of the friend group who got left out too, bond together over the shared experience. Get perspectives from various people on how they dealt with it. Feel comfort in not being alone in this treatment.

Practice gratitude for true friends

While one connection faded, don’t forget you still have people who love and appreciate you. Make a list of all the great friends in your life who you know have your back. Feel grateful you have relationships that make you feel valued.

Invest in yourself

Nurture your interests, hobbies, skills, health and wellness during this transition. Pursue personal goals that boost your confidence and bring you joy. Become your best possible self regardless of who accepts you.

Get professional help if needed

If feelings of depression or anxiety over the loss of the friendship persist, seek counseling. Therapists are trained to help you process the emotions, gain insight, and move forward. There’s no shame in getting support.

Cut ties if needed

In some cases, you may realize the healthiest option is no longer engaging with this person at all. Unfriend them on social media, stop contacting them, and focus on your circle of more supportive friends. Prioritize your well-being.

Avoid self-blame

Being excluded makes many people point the finger at themselves, analyzing everything they did wrong. But typically, it’s the other person’s issue, not yours. Don’t blame yourself for someone else’s behavior and choices. You deserve people who make you a priority.

Embrace other opportunities

When one door closes, another opens. This setback allows you to pursue new possibilities. Accept invites from those you usually turn down. Say yes to joining groups or clubs you’ve been curious about. Explore interests your former friend didn’t share.

Let your light shine

Rather than dimming your light to appease those who can’t handle your glow, let it shine. Be your brilliant, authentic self without apology. Those meant to bask in your radiance will be drawn to you. Release relationships with those who seem threatened by your light.


Being purposely excluded from the plans and activities of a friend is undoubtedly a painful experience. It can cause sadness, anger, resentment, jealousy, confusion, and self-blame. However, there are healthy ways to process the hurt and reframe the situation in order to move forward in a positive way. Leaning on true friends, focusing on personal growth, and releasing relationships that have run their course allows you to regain a sense of empowerment. With time, you’ll develop the insightful hindsight to be grateful this relationship provided clarity on the types of friends you really need in your life.

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