Asking for a Friend: Help! My friends have replaced me. What should I do?

  • Each week, we respond to a question from our readers and give advice and resources they can turn to
  • This week, we help a student who feels like they have been ditched for someone else - their cousin
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What should you do when you feel left out? Photo: Shutterstock

Need an answer to a personal question that you’ve never mustered the courage to ask? We’ve been there. Whether it is about school, family issues or social life, share your thoughts with us. If you have a question you’d like answered (about anything at all), please fill out this Google Form. Don’t worry – you will remain anonymous!

Dear Friend,

I introduced my favourite cousin to my friends. Now, my friends seem to have replaced me with her, and it feels like I have been forgotten. Should I confront my cousin? What do I do?

Sincerely, Replaced

My best friend and I have grown apart - what should I do?

Dear Replaced,

We’re sorry that you’re feeling insecure about your friendships. But long-term negative thoughts and feelings can cause a lot of tension, internally and with other people, and damage your mental health. Here’s some advice we hope can help:

Acknowledge your pain

Name your negative feelings when they come up. Don’t try to judge them, justify them or change them – your focus is on naming them. Write your thoughts down in a journal; even just seeing them written can give you a sense of relief. Remind yourself that these feelings won’t last forever; you can say, “I am feeling hurt, but I can get past this.” You can also reflect on the role you play in your friendship group. Do you want to talk to your cousin or your friends? They may not even realise they are favouring your cousin over you.

It can be frustrating to feel like you don’t belong, or that people are leaving you out on purpose. Photo: Shutterstock

Concentrate on your confidence

Self-confidence is crucial for overcoming insecurity. Take some time to appreciate your charisma and personality, which attracted your friends in the first place, and recall the happy times you spent together; this may boost your self-esteem and reduce the sense of threat. You said it seems like they have forgotten you – are they still inviting you to hang out? You could be proactive and ask them what they are doing over the weekend or offer to plan activities you could all do together.

How to maintain a friendship

Address the issue

It’s entirely possible that your friends and cousin have no idea what they’re doing or that they are leaving you out. Your friends could also be trying to make your cousin feel welcome in the friend group. It may help to talk to your cousin and one or two friends separately. Make sure you’re calm when you speak to them – take a few deep breaths before initiating the conversation. State how you feel and be clear about what you need from them, without being accusatory, and actively listen to the other person’s words or feelings.

You might not get the answers you’re looking for, and your friend may not want to chat about the issue. If that’s the case, you’ll have to let it go and maybe re-examine that relationship.

Hope that helps, Friend of a Friend

If you need further support, please consider the online resources below:

Open Up online service

Student Health Service - Winning magic to friendship building

The question was answered by clinical psychologists from the Department of Health under Shall We Talk, a mental health initiative launched with the Advisory Committee on Mental Health.

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