Friend or Frenemy? Ask Bea
Editor’s Note: Welcome to our advice column in which Bea will offer wisdom in response to your most compelling life questions. Provided below is a recent query with which Bea was presented, along with Bea’s answer. Should you wish to seek out sage and direct advice, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and put “Bea” in the subject line. Kindly tell us in your communication if you wish for your name to be kept anonymous. We reserve the right to edit for any reasons, including clarity and brevity.
Bea is not professionally qualified to offer advice. Bea has no advanced degrees in psychology, sociology, or any related field, has never been trained to counsel individuals, and–save for extraordinarily rich life experiences dealing with…unique situations–possesses not a single, solitary qualification to weigh in with the advice being sought in this column. Nevertheless, Bea is doing exactly that, and warns anyone who consumes this column to consult a professional to supplement or override what may be unorthodox, direct, and possibly flat-out wrong advice from our dearest Bea.
Names may be changed by request.
I am in my early 40s with two young kids. My social circle is composed mostly of “mommy friends” who I know through my children. The six of us are on a group text thread and arrange get-togethers that way. A couple weeks ago I heard that the other five moms all went to one of the local yacht club pools together with the kids, and I was not included. I’m the only one who doesn’t belong to that (or any) club, and was very hurt that someone didn’t invite me as a guest. I am especially close to one of the women, Cricket. In fact, originally I introduced her to the others. So last week I brought it up to Cricket, and she shifted in her seat and deflected, saying the pool date had come up last minute and wasn’t a big deal. Then she changed the subject. What do you think I should do? Is it me? Is it them? Am I overreacting?
Little is as unsettling as being excluded. Even at advanced ages of adulthood, it can feel shattering to realize you’re being singled out for exclusion. What I like to start with in such cases is an inward look, and move outward from there to see if you are overreacting or focusing on the wrong culprit(s). For instance, are you and/or your children behaving in an off-putting way? Often it is difficult to self-assess, as you are so close to the situation. In an ideal world, you have a trusted friend (who is not Cricket), and you could ask her/him if there is a consistently unpleasant behavior in which you or your children engage. A checklist could include:
1) Do I talk over people and not listen well?
2) Do I never ask others about their lives but only talk about myself and/or my children?
3) Do my children behave like entitled brats? For instance, do they rarely share their toys but expect others to share with them?
4) Do I fail to discipline my children and act like their poor behavior is adorable?
If you are unable to find an honest friend who will level with you about your own behavior, take a deep breath and go through the above checklist yourself, attempting to be honest about yourself and your progeny. This exercise could serve you and your children well here and in other cases in which you’re left scratching your head about exclusion.
Provided that none of the above is answered “yes,” it is time to look outward at your group of Yacht Club Mommy Pals (“YCMP”) to determine if they are actually Yacht Club Mommy Frenemies (“YCMF”). Telltale signs include, but are not limited to:
1) An up-and-down look at what you are wearing when you are with them followed by a, “you look so cute” comment said in a quiet voice;
2) Passive-aggressive statements like, “I love your house, Wanda! It’s such a great starter home”;
3) Frequent discussions of the importance of organic food followed by unironic recommendations for local Botox and lip filler providers;
4) Social media posts of “girls’ nights out” in which those pictured are holding an alcoholic beverage in one hand and have the other placed strategically on their hips, sometimes with a caption that reads, “It’s Wine O’Clock somewhere” or “#BFFs”;
5) Knowing looks exchanged by two or more of the YCMPs when you walk in.
If one or more of the above is met, your YCMPs are actually YCMFs, and your next step is figuring out a plan for some PsyOps, which is a discussion for another time.