I’m writing to you about a lady in my friend group who seems to dislike me very much, and makes social gatherings very uncomfortable. Some back story: I started dating my boyfriend Brad about 4 years ago, and hung out with his friend group consisting of his friend from childhood Jake, Jake’s wife Pam, Jake’s brother John, and John’s girlfriend, the lady who now won’t talk to me unless forced, Kayla. (names changed!)
For the first year Brad and I dated, everyone got along! Kayla was warm and friendly, and once when drunk told me that I was “the sister she never had.” Her, Pam, and I would go shopping, talk about comics or feminism, the whole group played cards and went out – things were fine! But then around the same time Kayla and I both moved in to the 3 bedroom apartment Jake, Pam, John, and Brad were sharing, each couple in a room sharing 2 bathrooms and a kitchen, and things deteriorated rapidly.
Simple roommate requests, like “Brad and I have done the dishes twice this week, do you mind taking care of them soon?” became big THINGS for John and Kayla. After any typical roommate issue, they would withdraw to their room, and Kayla would stop speaking to us. We ignored it, chalking it up to social awkwardness, but things got worse. Suddenly Kayla didn’t want us playing with John’s cat. (who, up until this point, was all over the apartment and playing with everyone freely) No reason was given, nothing was said, but suddenly Brad, and mostly me, got nasty looks from Kayla if we picked up the feather toy, and the cat would then be locked up in their room. Soon John and Kayla weren’t even acknowledging us when everyone was in the main room together, or if we bumped into them during the day.
Pam and Jake noticed this change and spoke to John and Kayla privately, and they really made an effort to be more sociable to us for the next few months. Kayla still wasn’t talking to us a lot, but she at least said hello and acknowledged our presence. Then, about a year after everyone moved in together, Brad and I had a small, typical-couple-stuff spat and Kayla was the only other person home. Brad went out to cool down and I was washing my face in the shared bathroom. Kayla walked by and I made a small mention of the spat, and we talked for a bit about long-term relationships; she even seemed warm towards me. Brad and I figured everything out, and everything went on as normal.
But after that day Kayla point blank refused to speak to me or even make eye contact. She was perfectly fine to everyone else in the apartment, including Brad, but now all the antisocial weirdness from before was directed solely at me. If I ran into her and John in the parking lot and said hi, she would look away and walk straight past me, even if John and I were still chatting. At one point we were all at a restaurant and when I sat down, she literally scooted into John’s lap to not sit next to me, and only came off when I moved seats. She blocked me on all social media when prior to this we had all been fairly interactive on Facebook and Twitter, but denied doing so when confronted by Jake and Pam. Jake and Pam eventually stopped inviting her to outings unless she acted nicely, and even then she would sit as far away from me as possible and responded to any attempts at conversation with one-word answers. At this point I had sent a text and also spoken with her face to face, saying that if I had done anything to make her uncomfortable or upset, that I was sorry and would like to reconcile. Over text she said “Sure!” and in person she just smiled and nodded, but nothing changed. I gave up trying to figure things out and let her be, and Brad and I tried to hand out with Pam and Jake alone more often.
Now, another two years later, all of the couples have moved into apartments of our own, but things are still distinctly weird when everyone gets together. I have tried to speak to Pam, who is close with Kayla, and she has said that Kayla tells her she likes me and everything is fine. She still has me blocked on all social media and when questioned by Pam, said she forgot to undo the blocking. However when we all hang out Kayla will ignore me in the conversation but exuberantly engage with the others. Even if I am included in the conversation, she will address them as if I am not there, even in conversations about things Brad and I now share like our apartment, car, cats, etc. I feel like I’m intruding on conversations about my own life, and it’s frustrating and hurtful. Ultimately Kayla has the right to dislike me whatever the reason, and I don’t want her do anything she doesn’t want to do. However I’d like to be able to engage with my friends about mine and Brad’s life without someone essentially denying my involvement in it.
I feel like I’ve done everything I can to address this, and to do more would just be unnecessary drama. Do you and the awkward army have any advice on how I should proceed?
It sounds like the time of “We are three close-knit couples who socialize all together” is at an end. It’s long past being at an end. In fact, it only works if everyone pretends that Kayla doesn’t hate you, and if you pretend that Kayla doesn’t hate you while she is actively hating you to your face. At a bigger event, it would be less noticeable and more bearable – it’s very possible to go to parties where you don’t like every single person and say a perfunctory heyhowyadoin to some people and focus your attention on others. But when there are only 6 people in the room, it’s impossibly awkward. Decide today: No more nightmare brunches! No more silent-treatment to your face!
What I suggest is that you and your boyfriend keep inviting Pam & Jake to do stuff, just the two of them, and maybe mix it up with some other friends you have, too. And if Pam & Jake invite you to do stuff with Kayla and John, you say “No thanks!” until they get the hint or Pam straight up asks you why and you can say “I’ve decided to stop subjecting myself to Kayla’s bullshit, thanks. I know you’re friends with her, keep enjoying that! But she is never invited to anything I plan, and I’ve decided to stop pretending for all our sakes. I don’t like how she treats me, and I don’t want to subject myself to it.”
I also suggest that you block the living shit out of Kayla on all modes of social media. It will be good for you. Unfriend her boyfriend, too while you’re at it. There’s nothing there for you. I cannot describe the peace of mind that comes when you stop subjecting yourself to a constant ambient awareness and interaction with someone who annoys the shit out of you. Be free!
You have done everything you could to make it better. You tried. You are a nice person. You don’t have anything to apologize for. She doesn’t like you. Stop engaging, and stop putting yourself in situations where you have to hang out with her. Put your energy into making other friends and seeing other friends. This isn’t fixable.
Friend Groups can be nice things to have, but they stop functioning if they stop functioning for you. You can maintain friendships with Pam and Jake and preserve the connection to that part of your life, but preserving “the group” at the expense of yourself is no fun. Disengage, disengage, disengage. And ask your boyfriend to back you up here.
Unfriend someone you dislike today!