The Psychological Effects of Feeling Excluded

If you’ve ever been left out and excluded in a social situation, you’ve been ostracized. It’s a common human experience, happening as often as once a day or more, but it’s not any fun. It doesn’t even have to a close friend or family member to sting—it can hurt even when a stranger excludes us.

Research in social psychology has investigated the impacts of this common unpleasant experience. What does it feel like to be ostracized? What do people do when they feel excluded? Let’s look at just some of what these studies have found.


Feeling Excluded Hurts…Literally?

punched-624751_640If you feel excluded, you might say something like “you hurt my feelings!” But when you say “hurt,” you obviously mean it metaphorically…or do you?

Emerging evidence in neuroscience has suggested that the physical feeling of pain (from, say, stubbing your toe) and the social/emotional feeling of pain (from ostracism) overlap in terms of how your brain processes it. That is to say, the same area of the brain that we know to be involved in processing physically painful feelings—the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex—is also relatively active when people have just been excluded.

Further evidence has shown that taking acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol[1]  Or paracetamol for my overseas friends.)—a common pain reliever—was capable of reducing feelings of social rejection over a three-week period, compared to placebo. Once again, as far as your brain’s chemistry is concerned, feeling ostracized seems a lot like experiencing real physical pain.

Feeling Excluded Hurts Psychologically

person-692159_1280-webObviously, being socially rejected and stubbing your toe aren’t exactly the same experience. Lots of research has established that even a brief experience of being rejected by a total stranger can make people feel sad and angry.

Even more than these negative emotions, though, feeling left out can mess with some fundamental psychological needs. For one, people feel a reduced sense of general belongingness after experiencing rejection. This is a big deal because psychologists argue that achieving a sense of social belonging is a fundamental psychological need.

It would be bad enough if ostracism just reduced feelings of belonging, but being rejected can reduce self-esteem, a sense of control, and a sense of having a meaningful existence.

What’s more, these negative reactions seem to apply regardless of who’s rejecting you. Whether it’s someone in your own group or someone who you don’t relate to, ostracism stings. Whether it’s a human or a computer who rejects you, ostracism stings. Even if you think the person who’s rejecting you is someone you despise (like a KKK member), ostracism still stings!

So regardless of who might reject us, that feeling of being excluded produces a range of harmful consequences. I think we can agree that these aren’t great outcomes. So what do people do in response to these feelings?

People Look to Be Included Again

If feeling left out makes you feel reduced social belonging, the natural thing to do is try to make social connections again. After all, you should try to restore what seems missing. A whole bunch of research has shown that this is what tends to happen.

As a simple illustration, one study found that people who were made to feel social rejection went on to express greater interest in making friends than people in control conditions. Similarly, after feeling social exclusion, people are more interested in working on a project with a partner rather than on their own, compared to people who weren’t feeling excluded.

In addition, people who have been ostracized are also better tuned to social information, more likely to conform with a group, cooperate with other people, and nonconsciously mimic a stranger (which helps establish greater rapport).

The Exclusion Conclusion

It’s clear that ostracism is a critically important concept in social psychology. I’ve written before on this blog about how important social connection is—many say it’s fundamental. So interrupting that connection can be damaging in many ways. This review is just one part of all the work that has been done. Other work has shown how people lash out with aggression in response to feeling ostracized, how rejection can impair people’s self-control, and psychologists have also considered the long-term effects of persistent social exclusion.

These effects are important to consider, especially in the domain of bullying and other everyday cases of exclusion, so keep in mind these negative impacts ostracism can have before cavalierly excluding a friend or stranger.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1.   Or paracetamol for my overseas friends.

98 thoughts on “The Psychological Effects of Feeling Excluded

  1. This to me is an extremely poignant and meaningful subject. I have only just found that my biggest trigger in terms of seeking self-medication (alcohol) was because of social/family exclusion. I have had many instances of being left out, ostracized and made to feel unworthy while ‘everyone else was included’ from a very early age….. I was amazed and comforted at the fact that this article confirms that there is a physical connection in response.
    Feeling ostracized to this day (rationally or irrationally) warrants an intensely physical sensation for me. I feel heat in my head and ears, intense nausea, increased heart-rate, and a feeling of devastation and panic override rational thoughts and processing. Id say it is what many might feel in a ‘jealous rage’…
    Coincidentally, I have been working with a rehab center to learn how to stop, consider and then act instead of allowing my triggered feelings to instantly react; falling into substance abuse. I have been able to catch most things now and I make healthy choices easily — but being ostracized is still my biggest and most painful trigger. I proved this today. I had an episode of feeling left out – frankly because I really was left out of a family situation. I had been working toward; clearing old patterns in order to live ‘in the now’ without being hijacked by my ego, my instant response or thinking patterns. Today tested my mettle. After being left out – I had all the physical responses/feelings that drove me to self-medication take me over. I am happy to say that I started to come out of this response after 45 minutes. I did not choose a bad path, as I always did, to avoid the awful feelings. I recognized something was not right in my reaction… and then, boom – I found this page. This mental/physically tangible connection you bring to light gives me great hope. I am gaining a much better understanding and ability to recognize how to stop and think/feel before reacting…I was able to work myself down off a ledge…powerful stuff — so glad I read this blog!

    • That is great! I’m so happy to hear someone else’s success. I am here because my sister and her girlfriend who my fiancé and I let live with us have decided to throw a two week long party where they invited their friends to spend then night for literally 14 days (which is against the lease technically at that point except they decided to split it up so its not… technically) even though I’m extremely uncomfortable with it. And the reason they are allowed to is because my fiancé is okay with it. So all 5 of them are having fun in the living room while I cry silently by myself in my rooms because I can’t handle being “on” for that long and “performing” aka pretending like I’m totally okay with it.. I don’t know what to do. The whole situation with them out voting me is driving a wedge between me and my fiancé because he doesn’t respect how the things they do effect me. It’s gotten so bad I don’t even know if I can even marry this man. But to them, I’m just “over reacting.” Except I know they don’t actually want me out there because I’m a Debby Downer, a Party Pooper, a Wet Blanket. The ironic thing is I’m all these thighs BECAUSE I’ve felt so left out and ostrisized by them. :'(

      • Feeling/behaving like a party pooper/wet blanket/debby downer triggered because of your feelings of being left out – this rings so so so true to me.
        I connect with you so much on this.
        Reading that there is a deep connection between feeling ostracized and fundamental psychological needs makes a lot of sense to me.
        I’ve always feel like any time I’ve felt ostracized, it’s a very painful experience. I wonder though if some people are more likely to feel left out, or if there is some sort of extrovert/introvert correlation? Or maybe a connection to social anxiety? (I am an introvert with social anxiety)
        I don’t think most people feel ostracized as often as I do. If they do, it doesn’t seem as painful. Or maybe people just aren’t taking about it.
        Are there coping techniques?

    • It is related to boundaries and being mistreated.
      A good book is charles whitfield…boundaries, protecting your self.

      It may not change the mistreatment, but can help recognise who triggers you and how best to deal with it, for your own integrity of self.

    • My lady is going through the same scenario at the moment. Nasty marriage and was self medicating as well for years. Still struggling with past emotional abuse, but getting ahead one day at a time. Love and support has helped her as she’s going ahead with her new life and that being said, we all deserve to be happy.

  2. Good Morning Universe, and all my excluded friends out there,
    Hello, my name is Liz, and I am your friend.
    I deeply emphasize with others who are chronically excluded. I know your pain.
    Actually I am a lucky person, who has encountered an odd situation with my Mom and Sister.
    I am an adult child of an alcoholic father, and divorce between my parents. My father also suffer with mental illness.
    When my sister marry into wealth, we all supported her, I am not from wealthy family. I’m My sister then took charge of rolling out all holidays, without me. For years I sent gifts hoping I could be part of things. Once in twenty years I have seen family at my mom home, which I consider my home as I don’t have my own home. So my mom has not backed me on having continuity or connections or familiarity with my sister and her family. I have a lot in common with my sister and her family.
    I have made this situation harder on myself by acting out verbally with my mom, raising my voice, and taking it all in a very negative manner.
    My sister and her family are not my favorite people, but my mom is mid eighties and I miss time with her that I will never replace.
    I move to Detroit area 3 years ago, near where my sister, brother in law live, and I ask to be included at mom eighty birthday, offer to cook brunch, and buy ingredients.
    They don’t want me over at my own mom birthday, and I have sent high end gifts into their home, I have been good to my sister over the years, sending bday cards, get well cards etc.
    They have a closed system and my mom is intimidated by my super control freak sister
    So I am odd woman out. They tell her what to do and she goes along so not to make waves , as my sister easily gets furious and irate with everyone.
    After doing research on family conflict, by the way I have asked my mom if we may please resolve our situation, I have worked with clergy at my mom church, and my own church etc,, I have also been in therapy. Anyway I have learned that being excluded is a reflection of my sister and mom behavior and actions, and I have talen all this way too hard.
    I can’t even talk to my sister for five minutes with out being verbally abused, so guess what I now avoid her serious. I would like to divorce my sister for good and be happy to have her out of my life for good.
    I have no sense of understanding why I am chronically excluded, and bullied by this other woman.
    When my sister gets irate, I can’t tell if she is a man or a woman…..she certainly doesn’t talk or act feminine.
    I am your new friend Liz, to all excluded people out there.
    I Feel Your Pain. Thanks for listening.

    • Hi Liz, I read all your story with your mom and you sister and I can relate with it 100% because I went through the same thing, the difference is that I’m Christian and I really pray and try to have a good relationship with God. Long time ago when I was single and broke, my sister invited all my family to have a nice dinner and when we arrived to the restaurant she said in front of everybody that she refuses to accept me in that dinner and wanted me to leave. Luckily one of my aunts stood up for me and defended me and rebuked her in front of all. Just imagine how I felt, and after that throughout the years my sister started to offended me every time she had the chance and my mom didn’t do anything about it. My mom always inclined to her side, so for her I was the “problem” as well. Then I really prayed to God, and he started to show me the way. I needed to be away from both of them and just keep the distance without holding grudges inside my heart. So I started talking to my mom only once a week (before it was every day) and fortunately we’re in separate countries which make it easier. My sister lives in another state and that distance is being healthy for both of us and even though they still exclude me from their activities when they’re together, I don’t feel rejected anymore because I understand that is not my problem anymore. In those family issues, sometimes is better to back off and stay away for a while but always forgiving them and still loving them. I have my own family now, and I’m raiding my kids with a godly attitude. My sister is not part of our lives not because I don’t want to, but because she decided to stay away which it has been actually a good thing for my children and their own emotional health. Sometimes Liz, there are people that are just not good to have them close to you. Forgive and forget, but also have limits. Those limits will help you being emotionally healthier and happier.

  3. Hey Liz. Kudos to you and everyone on here for sharing! I’m not ready to tell my story of exclusion because it’s too painful. With me it’s been both family and peer for many years. I don’t bother trying to establish deep connections with anyone for fear of ever feeling ostracism ever again.

  4. I placed an earlier comment but it appears that it didn’t take so I apologize if you have already seen the comment. Kudos to everyone on here for sharing! I’m new to this exchanging comments and my story is too painful to tell right now. My exclusion story is both of family and peer for an extended time. I no longer attempt to connect with others on a deep level for fear of ever feeling ostracism again. I keep all relationships shallow and simple. Thanks for listening.

    • Yeah im here with family and I feel excluded especially when everybody else is married with kids and your the only one that doesn’t have that and everybody else is talking to each other i always feel excluded with family all the time for some reason I guess im not important enough i don’t know even I try to make an effort

  5. I excluded myself from his conservative family. They let me know passively that they are not happy with me.
    It hurts so much that I decided not to spend the holidays with my in laws.
    I don’t want to throw a tantrum out of weakness and depression.
    I don’t to embarrass my husband.
    I am alone in a foreign country.

    • I know how you feel
      I sm excluded by my in laws who purposely exclude me . I now make myself do online meetings with them fortnightly and see how they react to me .they often make out they can’t hear me like I’m talking double dutch . I have realised that I am never going yo be accepted by them and now feel after 20 plus years that I now don’t care .I am going to be myself around them and not allow them to belittle me so will carry on going online with my partner their son . They are unfriendly hostile uninterested and never encouraging or positive .

  6. The problem with exclusion is that you believe others are actually “right” to exclude you: there’s something wrong with you and that’s why it hurts so much. But having people that dislike you / gossip about you / deliberately exclude you isn’t as bad as having people from your social spheres who do not even acknowledge you. Feeling invisible is a real killer of the soul and mind. And when you feel that way, I am sorry to say, you are either severely depressed and so distort everything in a very negative way, or there is something that really makes others not see and want to interact with you. So, what if others are “right”?

  7. There comes a time when a person must either choose to be a door mat or actively and deliberately refuse to be abused. We are overloaded with poor advice that basically says either “suck it up” or “get another job”. I think people should watch closely, think clearly and fight back intelligently. It’s long overdue to put bullies in their places. The tragedy is that the business, legal and law enforcement professionals will NEVER side with the victim. Currently, if the bully is part of the larger group, a member of a “protected” group or simply someone in authority, whatever happens is “OK” and those in power will simply look away.

    • There’s nothing you can do to fight the bullies, your best option really is to leave and start afresh somewhere new

    • that’s right Ed! Once must confront….not violently or aggressively but when someone, either a friend or sadly even a family member, has been the source of mental anguish for’s time to shut it down! I did and even though the family member and I are no longer actively spending time together, I was able to regain my self-esteem and balance. It felt good to address the issue and make others aware of it too….people often know what is happening and are too intimidated to intervene. I put up with so much….being excluded from photos (literally edited out) not spoken to at family events, etc…no more of that nonsense..

  8. I’m in my early 50s and have been no stranger to feeling excluded. It all started when I was a child, and my sister came along, then progressed to being bullied in school and ostracized. My sister has taken to having holidays where she bugs my mother about getting together with my brother, but never bothers asking me. My mom has since moved 1000 miles away, and it’s been nearly one year since I’ve seen her. After another holiday went by with sis calling the shots again, I decided enough was enough, and I didn’t bother showing up at their holiday – mind you, my sister had my mom come stay with her (she lives in PA and I live in RI – the farthest away from everyone – they made plans to stay over in CT the Friday and Sat. night of New Years weekend, and finally my sister only bothered saying anything to me because my mom told her to remember to invite me.. This would have meant driving 100 miles one way for a get together that started at 12:30 and ended around 5 because my brother had to get his daughters back to his ex.. I know they got together that Fri and visited because my brother sent a mass email about the “PA crew” and what they were going to do. I decided I didn’t want to be a part of the furntiture again so I blew it off, sent regrets before it.. My sister actually had the nerve to email me after and say she was ‘looking forward to seeing me and my engagement ring’ … but no one ever offered formal congrats to me – my fiance and I got engaged Dec. 10…. I was so upset about how they didn’t bother including me or really wanting to see me at all (I asked Mom when I knew in OCTOBER MIND YOU that my sister wa planning to see my brother and stay over, couldn’t they stay somewhere halfway so I could be included,), I got an airy “It has to work for everyone” from Mom.. whereupon I said I think what you MEAN to say it it has to work for BETH.. I ripped my sister a new one finally, in an email reply back and told her how hurt I was at continually being excluded, along with some other stuff that had happened over the years.. Know what I got back? “I am sorry you feel that way. ” and some crap about how they all ‘love me and want me to be happy.’ Done with them.. And it happens all the time to me.. I get tremendously hurt over it.. it’s so painful.. Wish I had a close nice family who wanted me around and some nice friends.. I do not know what the answer is.. Thank you for letting me vent. It’s been a hard day at work.

  9. My big general compassion to all who feel ostracized by someone. Most of time, I don’t even know whether am ostracized. I just know that people often just ignore received texts after reading them. I don’t do it. My one friend has texted me to not expect his replies anymore. He has told that it’s abusive how I demand replies and that I want it only my way, and that he doesn’t care about my drama. I would like to ask what exactly felt abusive to him. I’ve even tried to ask, before him rejecting me. But what a point to text again if that human has excluded me? Am not guilty for not reading minds. An admin of one FB group has accepted him as a friend and rejected me. She has told that I want too much if I want replies from people. Now, regarding that male friend: his mom calls herself a therapist. But I haven’t heard from her since summer. Tried to text her few times. Finally asked other friend to text her. Nothing. Then asked him to ask that male friend, and he has told that that male friend has told that his mom doesn’t want to talk with me. If they didn’t lie, it hurts. Though I don’t even know whether she has even received any of my texts to her. I don’t want to say their names. I just want to say that I don’t need anyone’s sorries. I just don’t know how to trust them. I don’t want to seem a chaser or a stalker. So I don’t text 1st usually. I worry whether people receive my texts, but am usually afraid to just text again or to even open their timelines. As never know who ghosts me and can take it as me chasing them. So I rather just try to reply on each received text.

  10. I have been wrestling with these feelings myself on and off throughout my life. From a very early age I can remember a feeling of desperation to ‘belong’. The anxiety of it plagued me during my childhood, adolescence, and even now in my adulthood. I could never pinpoint why I felt it, and as a result I am afraid that I became the girl/woman that ‘tries too hard’ to fit in with others. Part of me wondered if it was because I was an only child, another part wondered if it was because I was the product of a broken home, etc. (at age 5 I was astounded to learn that real mommies and daddies lived together in a house, not just on t.v. because my parents divorced when I was 2)

    Throughout my childhood I asked my mother again, and again why she divorced my father. The answer was always the same; he was an alcoholic. Finally at the age of 40, I asked my mother again. My father had passed 3 years prior and I was trying to put some unresolved feelings about him to rest. Consequently at the same time, I was entertaining the thought of leaving my husband whom I had been married to for 18 years, (at that time…we are still together 4 years later and I am still wrestling with it) and was looking to her for some guidance.

    I finally asked her what the last straw was for her. What was the tipping point? I expected that his drinking, inability to keep a job, etc. had finally worn her down to the point of her love for him being worn away over time. What I got was very different. For 8 long years my mother had spent her time most nights driving around searching for him, and praying that he hadn’t killed someone, or himself after a night at the bar. She was exhausted, and at that time the only one employed as he had once again been laid-off from his sheet metal job with the local union. (this was 1973) They had just purchased a large, beautiful home in a prominent, and sought after part of town. She worked 3 part time jobs to be able to make the mortgage, and put food in our bellies. At this time I was 4 months old. Old enough to barely know how to roll over, and maintain a sitting position on my own.

    These jobs had different schedules, and she worked 7 days a week. Sometimes the schedules of these jobs over-lapped each other, and she worked all 3 in the same day. These were days she was gone 14-18 hours. One day she got up knowing that it would be a 16-18 hour day for her. She tended to me, and said that she felt guilty that they couldn’t afford a babysitter. She had strong misgivings about leaving me with my father, but he was home, and he was free, and she felt that she had no choice. To prepare for the day she put changing supplies out and in reach of the changing table, prepped bottles, baby cereal, baby food, and extra outfits for me and left him a note regarding each. When she returned home 18 hours later, she found him passed out, and me – still in my crib…screaming hoarsely…red faced, and S T A N D I N G UP, my fists wrapped around the spindles of my crib. My diaper had never been changed, I hadn’t been fed, or had any of the bottles, and all of her careful preparations of supplies had been left untouched. She threw him out that very night, and promptly filed for divorce the next day.

    Learning that was hard, but it also helped me to identify the source of my desperate attempts to be included. To be invited to the birthday party, to be invited to the weekend kegers as a teenager, to be included in the private jokes, to not be the friend you call when there was no one else available, etc, etc. It was powerful…but my feelings of being ostracized have not abated.

    Just this week, I confronted a friend as to why I was never included in the girl’s nights anymore, etc. Had I done something? Had the grief of my 17 year old daughter (that suffers from borderline personality disorder) running away a month before her 18th birthday made me too hard to be around? Was I the person that everyone was now avoiding, but that no one had the balls to tell why? The answers I got were the usual; “don’t take it personally”, “we’re all busy, and life is impulsive sometimes intentions/plans fall through”, “you just aren’t the first person to pop into my head”, “I am a selfish creature, I only look out for myself”…but no real answer to any of my questions. It sucks. I’m 44 next week…and still feel like this. *sigh*

    I also suffer from adult ADHD, PTSD, abandonment issues (obviously), daddy issues (obviously), and clinical depression. I now wonder if what happened to me as a baby had anything to do with triggering a psychological, and physical response in my brain to bring about these maladies? Was my brain so deprived from not having regular doses of serotonin, and dopamine from itself that it regulated itself to release less? Was the prolonged exposure to anxiety, and stress enough to ‘break’ me?

    (what happened to me as a baby would be the beginning of a long line of hard stuff, and lots of disappointments, neglect, family psychological abuse from a grandmother, and my father, parentification, sexually abused at 13 by a stranger, and several social setbacks and disappointments at school, and on through my adulthood.)

    • Your story just made me burst into tears. I have a young daughter and to imagine that happening to any baby is just too much. Your mother did the best thing to get rid of your father. That shows how very much she loves you.

      I’m sorry that you have endured so much. I think that sometimes sensitive people (myself included) find ourselves in these situations of being excluded and we blame ourselves. We immediately look at the faults within us. But maybe our “friends” who are being exclusive are the ones with serious flaws and lacking any kindness and emotional intelligence. For some reason they pick up something different about us and for whatever reason (jealousy, power trip) they exclude us because it establishes a status quo and they can look like the bigger person. When in fact they are small and petty for being so horrible.

      Would you rather be alone and happy (or at least not sad) or always hanging onto friendships that bring you down? Find another place where you feel welcome and the girls nights.

  11. Came across this when searching about exclusion from FB groups. Heard about them, was always wondering what makes people to create alternative groups on the same topic/issue etc. I realise that sometimes it’s just a wish to have a group on your own terms. But I also acknowledge that sometimes it’s done by excluded members. I was excluded form a group couple of months ago, without warning. I didn’t do anything against group rules, i.e. I didn’t try to sell or promote anything. Not to be seen/caught as selling/promoting something to all group i PMd to one member who was in despair getting a proper diagnosis on NHS a short list of affordable private clinics. Then I just commented that I PMd her – as people do not always see messages from strangers. I didn’t see it coming. Yesterday I had incident on another group. All post there go past admin team and get approved – or not. Even though the rules forbid selling/promoting I posted a link to a heavily discounted food allergy test. I knew it may not be approved – but hoped the purpose of it would prevail. It was not approved – two days passed – so I was certain admin were not ok with it – and was ok about it. 2 days later there was a post addressing me – to let me know that my post was not approved because it was about sales. Forgot to mention – both groups are support groups for digestion related conditions. I objected – and was bashed badly, with quite few members taking admin side. Out of 2000 members only 1 stepped out to my defence, 2 more liked. The rest watched in silence. I was nearly kicked out – but will leave myself. Seen and experienced exclusion in may forms – it can be soul-destroying.

    • Tabulous- your story really reaonates with me. Why can’t I find friends that have had these types of experiences, I mean obviously we all exist… it’s just sad that I only find others that can relate online.. it would be so nice to have someone IRL to hang out with that understands… I feel so isolated.

    • Yes! I agree some of us notice too many facial expressions, attitudes etc even when covert. I have experienced rejection and exclusion all my life. I remember even as a young child identifying with Charlie Brown and the toys on misfit island in Rudolph haha. Definitely we experience more than the average because we sense more. Luckily I was blessed with being an introvert who has always loved solitude. I am way too grateful for small kindnesses from cashiers or passing smiles in an aisle from a stranger. Little 5 minute connections are the best. Perception is definitely key. Some never notice the rejection or exclusion incidents that happen to them so easily bypass. Others of us experience each unfriendly expression or whisper or side glance as blaring roars that add to our well stocked inventory. Empathy, forgiveness and prayer help me also more and more hermiting. Solitude is my new addiction. The more i get the more i need. Thank goodness there are no real lions or bears in my neighborhood or Id be a goner.

  12. I often feel left out.. I think sometimes it has to do with my personality but even people who I’m comfortable with seem to like me less than others … it is so painful and hurtful … I just wish there was a way not to care because no matter how hard I try to be included I get excluded

    • I often feel that way too. When I was a child I felt that my sister who was a very social person was more well liked than me. If we shared the same friends more often than not I felt that they preferred her company over mine. More than once she even told me that they did. She once said “ Rebecca says I’m more fun to hang out with than you.” There was another time we were at a party it was a going away party that our “friends” threw for us. They would say “ We are going to miss you Kathleen………..and Bronwyn.” They threw in my name as if I am no more than an after thought. She let me know it too. We moved to Leduc Alberta soon after that party and we were on a road trip to Nordegg in the moutains. A good chunk of the way there she teased me about how they were never my friends and how they added in my name after hers like as if I was nothing. I was crying my eyes out because I was deeply hurt by what she had said, although I was in a lot of pain and it was clear that I was, she mercilessly continued to make fun of me. Another time I was telling her about my love of fashion and how I fun it is to pick out outfits and she said” notice how you talk about fashion but you don’t have any friends? I would much rather be ugly and have friends than be pretty than have no friends.”

      I have been battling with feeling of social isolation and loneliness for a very long time and to this day I still feel the sting of it from time to time. When I was in high school I went through a period of extreme depression where I didn’t feel like I had the strength to carry on. I seriously considered self harm. One night I was thinking of doing something to hurt myself like swallowing pills. I was crying for a while and then my dog Brighton who was a very sweet and emphatic boy saw I was in deep sorrow and cuddled with me and I cried over his shoulder. Brighton saved me from self harm that night.

      • Hi BW
        I totally understand your situation.
        I’m a grown adult now and also am in a similar situation. My sister and I grew up together and Had a friend who lived next door. We all got married and had children but we did not see her for a few years when the children were small. During that time I was close to my sister and her family.
        In the last few years my sister came into contact with her, after the friend got divorced, and now are Inseparable. We are all close in age but they exclude me from their friendship. They go out together and even include others and I feel so left out and lonely. I had told my sister a few years ago that I wish that I was included in their outings as I have no other friends. Thinking back that’s when the exclusion really began.
        I can see there is an element of jealousy involved also. I was always the slim one, and have kept my figure, people tell my I look young for my age. They have both gained a lot of weight. My sister is abusive and passes nasty comments. I like to dress nicely but my sister will say “ look at the way you walk, is it just because you are slim, I hope you get fat one day” . I know they both find it hard to lose weight and want to, but it’s not a situation I have any control over.
        I am married into a wealthy family, ( which is probably part of their jealousy issue as her husband lost money on failed business ) my husband is a only son. Good man but should never had married him ,went out with him and due to parents being old fashioned said I should not drop him as he was such a good catch and my reputation would be ruined. My parents were strict, and basically didn’t let me out on my own, we only socialised with they’re friends. ( husband was son of their friend) Long story short, not happily married, too scared to separate.
        My son is single and moved overseas and I have no other family or friends. My sister or her family only visit when I do Christmas or Easter dinner. They ever drop by anymore as they are too buy with their family and friends. I have invited old acquaintances out but they are already in their own established social set, it’s hard to break in. I go to a local club to do excercise classes but the women are seniors and 70 plus. Women my age are still working or busy with their grandchildren and families.

        Even my son rings his dad to chat, not me . I can’t stop crying. I’m too young to be like this. I want to go out and enjoy life . For years I’ve been going out alone, but am amongst a crowd alone. Everyone is in groups. A few people notice and have said “ here you are alone again, good on you, I admire your courage to get out on your own “ …but they don’t invite me to hand out.

  13. I have a good number of friends but I still feel so upset when I feel excluded. I am part of a group for one of my son’s sports activities and I tend to feel excluded from the people who run this group. Although I have other friends I can’t help feeling blue/down/depressed when I feel excluded from these people. On a logical level it makes no sense and should not matter if these people do not see me as a friend but it does matter to me. This article helps explain these feelings.

    I wish I could find a way to not care whether or not I am part of the “in” crowd with this group. They mean no harm, they are just naturally friends and are not specifically trying to exclude me. But it hurts every time.

  14. I experience these SAME feelings quite often these past few years…I’ve had decent and plentiful friendships all my life and felt blessed. I was also not very understanding of lonely people. Well I get it now… I’m 58 and those friendships have dwindled through the years…some losses of friends with mental illnesses, some loss due to the painful decision to have to get out of some unhealthy patterns, friends having kids (we don’t) and now grandkids…I miss my friends but realistically, we have grown into different people and some of them have become so strange in these later years….sigh** I suppose I have too! The saying ‘good friends are hard to find’ always made me wonder but I understand it now. One thing I’ve noticed is I cannot bear to see people lonely. Never have been comfortable with that and now that I have experienced the pain of being excluded (even after telling a lifelong ‘friend’ I would love to join in to go to our reunion as we have done for the last thirty years yet was still excluded) I now know why I instinctually had such a sympathetic heart to it. It HURTS!! Perhaps I will take some ibuprofen and see if it really does lessen the pain effects as the research shows… ;).
    I do know there are a lot of lovely people out there to meet and it is time to build some resilience and move along. I just wish for connectedness for everyone really. But never give up and never sell yourself short – be the good company you seek and love yourself well. Not easy and Good practice! And let’s never be the ones to put others on the out like that, yes?? xoxo

  15. Well tonight I am at my sadest. I have been excluded from celebrating a close friends 60th overseas. And to add to it was not told by the friends but by their sister in law. When asked anything planned coming still not informed until asked specifically. My close friend wants me to be ok with it even though hurt. But tonight hurts the most as they all fly out tomorrow. I am at such a loss.

  16. There were plenty of times as a young child when choosing to be alone and to be comfortable more with strangers and animals than with family was no doubt the healthest way to respond. Growing older and now much older I do regret that keeping my distance has kept me distant and that I’m more at home observing those I love than joining in. And, of course, the very “adult experience” of having your kids walk you to the mirror like “Don Quixte” to remind you of all your failings also heightens the pain of exclusion; exclusion from being understood, standing and looking across a chasm of unrequited love.

    Oh well, the other side of that coin is that everything gets better and even beautiful as you learn to monitor your feelings and find healthy ways to make you feel better living in the present; like laughter, music … music especially and in my case an affinity for a sport, free-diving, where being underwater feels like dancing.

  17. I have recently found out (by chance) that earlier this year my elder sister and brother took a holiday to India together and chose not to let me know.

    Even though I am not particularly close to them anymore, (due to their unkind behaviour to me since our parents passed away) they always make a point of sending me a postcard when they are on vacation, however it is now clear that on this occasion why they didn’t – they purposefully didn’t want me to know. I had to press myself to read the article my sister had written about their adventure which is how I discovered they’d had made this trip which included the line “…. the experience left us both with enchanting memories that will last a lifetime” – I actually feel sick reliving this sentence – the feeling of being excluded/unwanted/not part of my family like this will affect me “a lifetime”.

    I was so upset by the discovery (which to this day has made me quite ill physically and mentally) that I was so unimportant to them – the fact that they could secretly plan a special holiday with each other and not let me know was like a knife running through my stomach. How could their conscience not have pricked them? They clearly were confident enough that I would never find out/know – but why?

    Background: I have pretty much been the ‘black sheep’ of the family since I was born and suffered mental bullying at the hands of my brother from the age of 2 to 18. My relationship was much closer/healthier with my sister, however looking back, more of a ‘controlling’ one by her rather than a protective one. When she had her first child she became far less interested in me (25 years ago). I don’t have children.

    My parents died some years back which changed me forever (particularly the loss of my father whom I was very close to) and I believed (in hindsight rather naively) that their passing would bring us as syblings closer together – it transpires that this void has merely strengthened their bond with each other over time and ostracised me – perhaps its because they are closer in age and intellectually superior as they went to university and I didn’t that they are so ‘in-tune’ and also they both have children. We now rarely see or hear from each other – the odd greeting card that’s it. I have gone into lock down.

    The reason I am publishing this highly personal ‘burden’ is because I am living with the question every day since I found out whether to challenge them about it and if I do – how? To be honest I could not care less they went to India but its the principle. I have toyed with the ‘poison pen’ letter approach, ‘ subtle’ approach , ’embarrass them’ approach, ‘drop a hint’ approach e.g. giving them an opportunity to tell me where they went and I just keep coming up against a brick wall – why should I give them the satisfaction that I am upset?

    Perhaps someone out there can shed some fresh light on my predicament?

    • Hello Charlotte, i have just read your note and i wonder if you have heard of Narcissistic personality disorder? i believe you will find your answer there. Your sister and brother seem treat you like a scapegoat and your brother may of being the “golden child”? Anyway once you start to read up on everything about it all i feel certain that it will all make sense to you. I am sorry that your father died as he seems to have been your secure attachment and your brother may of greatly resented that hence his appalling treatment of you when you were kids. He may be on the Narcissitic personality disordered spectrum. It would make great sense as to why he is able to control your sister now and it seems he uses her to control you too. I hope this helps you and starts you off on a journey of self discovery. It is not your fault you would know in your heart the reason they are mean if it were. Good luck and love your way.

  18. I have to a great extent had an opposite experience with my family. It has been my peers that I have had a lot of difficulty with. I spent a lot of time being bullied and harassed growing up and now I’ve lost both my parents. I’m 51 and constantly single. I don’t know how to progress from here. I’m feeling lonely and sad and can’t see why I should bother carrying on. My home life was the only thing that kept me going and now my home is empty.

  19. I have always noticed that a person is treated by the way they look, for instance if you are pleasing to the eye people will give you a chance to develop socially. But a ugly person is either ignored or made fun of. They are never given the chance to develop socially. It is a sad part of life,so if you fall into this group there are always a few people that will be your friend, or if you are lucky enough to be highly intelligent, or gifted with some can of talent you may be able to develop socially.People in general are disappointing, so do what you gotta to be happy even if it means hurting someone else now and than, cursing or swearing is fine, do not let the hurt of rejection build up, release it and you will fell better,remember you are special.

  20. I need help! I’m 50 years old and felt I never had a voice when I was a child and always left out of very family activity. Now that I’m older and married and have a child of my own. Which i thought when I had a family of my own the ostracizing would stop. But it still continues, for example:My uncle just had a kidney transplant and I was never notified that he was in the hospital,instead my sibling was notified and she called to see if I was notified. She just wanted to know if I was included by the family notification and it seems to make her happy that it wasn’t me they contacted. My sibling made sure that she contact me to make it known that she was called personally. I don’t know why she does that? It seem she wants me to feel ostracized,it s to make her happy. Please someone give so advice on how to deal with this type of hurt. I’ve done nothing for this type of treatment. I’m at the point that I need to heal and except that I don’t have a loving family and move on.

    • Hello Stacy, i have just come across this page hence the late reply and like Charlotte from early post that i just wrote too i wonder if you have heard of Narcissistic personality disorder? Your sister also seems to treat you like a scapegoat. I hope this helps you to start searching in the right direction.

  21. I also feel the hurt and the anger that others have been posted. My sister in law and her 2 daughters in particular believe they are very intelligent, caring and have it all together. Sister in law says I’m always invited, make sure you stop over for Christmas or whatever holiday it may be. My daughter and I go and barely get acknowledged. It’s kind of like school you hang around the ones you like the most. My brother has more common sensed then all of them put together and he is not a social kind of guy. So I have not gone the past 2 gatherings. I would really like to tell them how I feel, and but for my brother I would.I really don’t have any friend either and rather not have family that treats me and my daughter so inconsiderately!

    • I can relate .. I was the baby of the family with a very strong mother.. I seemed to of been always left out of things as the adults talked and left to my own devices.. I often would just go and play on my own and grew up like an only child . I felt very lonely and felt like my mother was the only one that cared about me.. As an adult I have never married. I get along with people in my work life but my private life us a mess. I am lonely and I always feel like I am watching other people living their lives.

  22. I’m a complete mess now going in to my 6th year of being deliberately ostracised by my WHOLE FAMILY incl children and grandchildren, brothers, nieces, nephews and even my father without ANY EXPLANATION WHATSOEVER!!
    The pain in my chest is constant, I’m always either fighting back tears or cry uncontrollably whether at home or shopping for one.
    I’ve lost so many social skills and haven’t been physically touched by another human in the form of a cuddle or even an understanding hand on my arm.
    To live with the knowledge that NO ONE would even miss me if I were to
    go missing or simply died here alone at home surpasses all the aching pain of deliberate exclusion to EVERY FAMILY GATHERING or special event. I’m not missed at Christmas and with 5 birthdays and Mothers Day passing now with no contact, I’m becoming unable to adequately take care of my home, my affairs, paperwork, finances ect and now even myself!

    I feel worthless, useless, detached, unimportant and of course. unloved.

    NOTHING will ever be the same, I’m deeply depressed, have lost all of my confidence and there not a hint of that ‘bubbly and vivacious girl’ left!

    They’ve killed me, I’m a walking shell of a once, happy, funny and loving human being.

    This pain is unbearable! 💔

  23. my family excludes me often. they are all on a ski trip this week and failed to invite me for the third year even though i made my wishes for inclusion very clear last year. i feel really sad and i wonder why i can’t be loved as i am. there is such a force for conformity of thought and behavior that i would have to be inauthentic to belong. why can’t we just agree to disagree. so sadly i am trying to walk away from where I’m not wanted.

    thanks everyone for listening and sharing your stories. it helps to know that i am not struggling alone. looking for my new tribe.

  24. Reading all these posts has made me feel sad and dispirited – why do close family and friends treat each other like this, it makes no sense! I have always blamed myself when things have went wrong with any relationship which in turn compounds my despair – I am going to try and work on caring for myself, for as they say, if you don’t love yourself how can you love anyone else. We cannot change how others behave towards us but we can change our reaction to it – it won’t be easy but maybe small steps towards making our lives as productive/enjoyable as we can will help us to move forward to a happier future.

  25. I agree that after years if feeling left out, its better to give up trying to have deep relationships. Be friendly at work in stores etc, but dont extend yourself unless someone does it toward you, get a loving pet, have hobbies you enjoy, spend time in nature, volunteer, the hurt just gets to much if you keep allowing it, sadly most people are shallow cruel and backstabbing, as well as sometimes envious which I have been the victim if, best of luck to all.

  26. Ostracism is soul destroying, as I sit here contemplating my own personal experiences I feel your pain. The pain is so delibitating it makes you want sink into the depths of the earth and quite frankly disappear. I am tired of the bullies and the nassasistic personalities, something that is very poignant within my own family.
    Last Easter I was invited to a camping trip, something I planned with a cousin for over 3 weeks. The day arrived for me to join them, and after several phone calls and no one answering I was eventually sent a text message saying how they forgot that I was coming and that there is no room. When I challenged my cousin about this I was very rudely told that I should have organised my own space. A space by myself where I could not camp with them. Suffice to say, I didn’t go. Not only did they ostrisice me but my six year old boy was devastated by this news that we couldn’t go camping with his cousins. I believe that their actions toward me was the result of another family member who 2 years ago decided to spread nasty rumers about me and how she apparently saw me kissing her husband. I find it very hard to understand why I am the one that is is ostracised When I am not the one spreading nasty rumers. This girls actions has destroyed friendships and relationships. A little while ago another cousin decided to send a text message to another family member about how
    Much of a f**khead I am. This family member was quite happy to share this text message with me. I think about this comment and just wonder what the hell I ever did to deserve that. Heartbreaking, soul destroying. I’m a 42 single mum and feel very alone. Lost and left out.
    To all the people out there that are treated with contempt and dislike, I hope they never have to feel the pain that their ostracism brings.

  27. This is what helps me and it’s a quote I saw on the Internet. It’s very profound in my opinion:

    ‘I learned if people don’t look for you they don’t miss you. If they don’t miss you they don’t care about you. That destiny determines who comes into our lives but we decide who stays. There are three things you can never get back: time, words, and opportunities. So value the people who value you and don’t make a priority those who make you an option.’

    • Yes!!! so true. I have learned to let those people go, as the truth is we waste too much time on those that don’t have it in them to truly love anyone let alone themselves. Find those who have open hearts.

  28. I’ve just stumbled upon this thread/blog while trying to make sense of my own hurt feelings by typing “being socially excluded into my search engine”.
    I’ve read everyone’s comments and it’s supportive to know a little more of the psychology behind my feelings.
    Also a great platform to know that my current thoughts and feeling aren’t child-like or petulant.
    I am by default, a highly charged rollcoaster of emotion. A very difficult thing for others to handle if unprepared for my knee jerk reactions.
    However, my ostracism is not born of my tempriment (or atleast I don’t think so). Mine is born by my husbands work cicles. There have been wedding, parties and other social events( leaving parties, fooball celerbrarions the list is endless) So in the last 10yrs I have been invited to 1 wedding… promptly told it was because someone backed out uoon my arrival and 2 Christmas gathering. These were preeceeded by “No partner parties.
    Am I insecure I hear you all ask? Well I should like to think no more than any other woman. I have my own sucessful business, have raised a large family and know how to flick my hair when needs must.
    But this current Birthday BBQ that my husband is going on is with people I actually know. I’ve met the birthday boys wife. Know her in working circles in my own right. Yet my husband announces yesterday… verbatim. “Oh I’m going to Nicks on the 12th August for his birthday BBQ.”
    My reaction… verbatim. “Oh yet another social gathering to be excluded from”.

    It smarts, causes me to knee jerk a reaction and reach out for new connections, makes my blood boil and most importantly question my husbands sincerity, love, desire, compassion and myself as a person. Am I not invited because he is embarrassed by me or am I just disliked?
    If I offer level headed convo regarding my feelings and why. I then feel I’m thoyght of as a manipulator or killjoy. I fear I am stuck in a no win situation.
    It’s sucks to feel this way.

  29. My significant other and I twice have spent time with friends the past year where it left me feeling hurt. The first time on a vacation with my bff from college and her husband and the second time with a friend whose going through a divorce. In both instances we spent several days together. As the days went on I felt excluded (and I think my bff’s husband did too). When we would go for walks he spent almost the whole time walking with my friend. I started feeling as though he were on a date with her and several times commented about her beauty. At first I thought he was just being nice but after a few days if this I felt I was watching him on a date with my bff. I don’t feel he was flirting. In the second situation he also commented several times to my friend about how beautiful she was. In the last day we went on a 2 hour hike, if which the majority of time I walked alone because I couldn’t keep up with their fast pace. I brought up to him in the first situation I felt I was watching him on a date and how excluded I felt and that he didn’t seen to understand boundaries. In the other situation he said he kept stopping for me. I didn’t believe he was being sincere because why not just slow down the pace or stop and wait for me. Once he prompted her to run with him. He feels I’m being jealous. I feel sad that he would behave this way. I not only feel excluded I feel disrespected. Can someone shed light in this?

  30. Regardless of our stories, our experiences are real and painful. I already learned in life to let go and move on. Live to be happy. Love yourself. Love others even when it is not reciprocated as much as you want. I also agree that you only extend when welcomed and retrain when not welcomed. We are not in control of other people, but we are of ourself. It is best not to react but to respond. Doing these saved my sanity and from more heartaches.

  31. Oh wow, reading these comments makes me sad, but yet comforted somehow because for the first time in a long time I realize I’m not alone in these feelings. I was always an odd child because I adored sci-fi, Star Wars, and superheroes. I liked to be outside playing with the boys and not doing girlie-girl things. But when I did finally want to try to belong somewhere, the girls would go out of the their way to be mean and it was tough. After a while, an introvert quits trying, when I would try to talk to my mother she would blame me somehow. Oh, and I was adopted as a baby and when I wasn’t what my mother wanted, I was just in the way until I left at 18. I also tried to contact my birth mother and found out she died of brain cancer 6 months before I found her. I did visit with her sister on-line and found out I have a half-sister, tried contacting her thinking that would be a great opportunity because I never had much for family, she also rejected me, won’t even attempt to speak to me and I did nothing. The sister told the rest of the family about me and NONE of them have made any attempt to contact me, friend me on FB, something….anything………and then I find out my mother was pregnant with me and single, but head over heels with the father, the father decided he liked her, but didn’t love her so she couldn’t bear to keep me and gave me up. But then, 6 years later, she gets pregnant by a different guy, decides to keep that one and moves to another state. She never married. So I wasn’t good enough to keep but the other one was and that one rejects me too. My daughter is now dealing with the same crap in school where two girls in two different groups just decided one day they don’t like her, so she moved to a different group and now the one in that group is trying to push her out. Honestly, I’m just so tired of the rejection from family, so-called friends and now watching my daughter try to cope with it. People really suck.

  32. Well for one I am happy I found something on the internet that I wasn’t years late to make a comment on. I read your comments and I am in the same boat with no more oars. It’s getting so hard to go through a day knowing my extremely large family is planning yet another holiday where I am not going to be invited. Family get togethers just to have fun, my grandkids birthdays, I get to see the photos on Facebook. And if I make a comment you can bett my sister’s or anyone I may have offended over stating my hurt are the first to jump in there and publicly humiliate me. I’m not a bitch about it I could say something like …looks like you guys had fun and I’m immediately attacked. I’ve come so close many times to saying I’m done and just recently my sister told me to do it. I’m poor, have no way to get out of the situation I’m in. I have no power or water no car it’s winter I live in the mountains in the snow. I could die today and nobody would ever know, and obviously wouldn’t care. The only reason I fight to be here is for my pit bull who has been with me through all of this and I could never leave him. He is my life period. Idk what to do and quite frankly who would care anyhow. I really don’t feel better for venting, I’m pretty sure I’ll be the last comment on here and I’m wasting my time trying to be included in anything…if someone reads this thanks, not that it’s gonna do any good. I pray all of you well and I pray none of this on any human. The pain is unbearable.

    • Hi Thoris, I am angry and sad for you reading you letter 🙁 How dare people treat others like this! and why i ask myself? I hear this comment often “Hurt people hurt people” and yet this is not true of all of us “Hurt people”! I for one don’t want to hurt anyone. I wish you could find your tribe, just one secure attachment would go such a long way to helping you believe in yourself. I know this is not much but i love you as a fellow human being and wish this year you find a friend worthy of your trust. So glad you have your dear dog they are the absolute best hey!

  33. 2 years ago my wife tells me she is going on a vacation for a week with her mom and 3 sisters to Vegas. I tell her that I’d like to go but she said they just wanted it to be a girls trip. I was a little nervous about letting her go as one of her sisters is divorced, one still lives with her husband but they don’t do anything together not even sleep. And the other has been to marriage counselling as they have cheated on each other. I asked why vegas and she said so mom can play the slots as she loves them. Well they go and go to a show there called thunder from down under which is an interactive male striptease show. Look it up on YouTube, quite disgusting and no place for a married woman. Then they take a group pic with the guys with my wife sitting on a shirtless male strippers lap with her arm around his neck. I was gutted when I saw the picture and couldn’t believe she would pose for a pic like that and disrespect me and our marriage. She promised she would never go on a trip without me like that again. I put it on the back burner as my dad had came down with cancer and I was dealing with that. Well my dad died a while after and my loss was terrible. In July she tells me she is going to niagra falls again with dear old mom and sisters and it’s just another girls trip with nobody else going including me. I stupidly agree to this again and this is where it gets interesting. She returns and I look at her pictures and she says her sisters are going to share there’s with her on the thing. By thing I wasn’t sure what she meant but figured I’d play along. About 2 weeks pass and I ask is there any pics yet? And she says no. I couldn’t sleep that night and the next morning I ask for her Facebook password as I figured that must be what the thing is. I log in to her account and see 4 secret Facebook groups. One intitled bring mom to Vegas that they had been planning 2 years before taking the trip with no mention of it to me. Over 900 pics of the Vegas trip that I had never seen with all the talk of there plans in Vegas with everything they were doing there including the strip show and pics of all there show tickets etc. Even her sister had posted a pic of a stripper and said hmm I wonder if I should where my wedding ring. And I’ll bring the oil to rub on him. Then there was a girls night out group with a video of them at the strip show including the guys dancing on stage and a lot of pics that they took of the guys going around. Then there was the group have sisters will travel with there plans of going to Niagra showing that my wife had purchased her ticket and booked a rental vehicle long before telling me and of course a couple hundred pics of niagra. Also a group that was selling sex toys and creams. One of her sisters had posted how grandma was famous in Vegas because apparently they had told them at the strip show of her moms recent birthday and they had taken her on stage and grouped her and danced around her and had taken her cupped hands in one of there’s and pushed them down inside his thong to get a reaction from all the woman there. Then my wife commented on her post by saying grandmas hands got a story to tell. Lol. Her exact words. I was floored that they found this funny with there dad still alive and suffering from dementia as they both are in there mid seventies. Needless to say this is not a happy Christmas season for me as my best friend, wife, lover, my reason for life has treated me this way after being together since high school 31 years as I am now 49 and her 48. She has apologized but this feeling of being excluded and being left out of her pals and basically her life has left me a nervous shell of who I was. I don’t think there is any coming back from this and separation is all I can see forthcoming from this. Why would you do? Heartbroken I Alberta.

    • Hey Shane, I have to say that as a woman, having time with my girlfriends without any blokes about is something we love to do. Not that we don’t love our partners or not like to be with them, but we like to hang out together without men! We can chat about women stuff and sometimes we like to act silly and be free (NOT CHEAT!) in our spirits, as normally we are bogged down with responsibility looking after the kids, hubby, house, animals and work! and have all but forgotten who we are. I would say that your wife has not been secretive after all she gave you her facebook account details so you could see the photos. You mistakenly think the “secret” groups on her FB is covert but it just means that it was a group that the sisters created so that they could chat about their holiday but without having everyone else in Face book see as no one else will be interested! Groups can be secret, public or closed. Secret is usually family groups….Now lets chat about the strip club, granted it is not something that i am interested, however, some women see it as a mock rebellion against men’s constant “looking” at other women or against their men not making them feel beautiful anymore. I would say very few women will be doing anything untoward at these shows and most (and i bet your wife in secret would agree) that they are not all that exciting and it is a load of hype. You also have to realize that your wife and you of course got together very young and probably never had enough fun. Rather that leave her over such a misunderstanding and lets face it a little insecurity on your part? why not take her on a fun trip and show her what fun, spontaneous guy you can be!!

    • Hey Shane, I have to say that as a woman, having time with my girlfriends without any blokes about is something we love to do. Not that we don’t love our partners or not like to be with them, but we like to hang out together without men! We can chat about women stuff and sometimes we like to act silly and be free (NOT CHEAT!) in our spirits, as normally we are bogged down with responsibility looking after the kids, hubby, house, animals and work! and have all but forgotten who we are. I would say that your wife has not been secretive after all she gave you her face book account details so you could see the photos. You mistakenly think the “secret” groups on her FB is covert but it just means that it was a group that the sisters created so that they could chat about their holiday but without having everyone else in Face book see as no one else will be interested! Groups can be secret, public or closed. Secret is usually family groups….Now lets chat about the strip club, granted it is not something that i am interested, however, some women see it as a mock rebellion against men’s constant “looking” at other women or against their men not making them feel beautiful anymore. I would say very few women will be doing anything untoward at these shows and most (and i bet your wife in secret would agree) that they are not all that exciting and it is a load of hype. You also have to realize that your wife and you of course got together very young and probably never had enough fun. Rather than leave her over such a misunderstanding and lets face it a little insecurity on your part? why not take her on a fun trip and show her what a fun, spontaneous guy you can be!!

  34. At sixteen, I was ostracized by the whole school and my church community as a result of a malicious gossip. It followed me even in college. Almost everybody shunned me. I had a friend or two because I kissed their a…., to survived. I graduated and as soon as I can I left, seven thousand miles away. I am now 66, I am still thinking about that event and can’t bring myself out of that experience. Day by day it haunts me and the pain continues.

  35. I am struck by how many people responded to this thread. This experience of being “on the outside” looking in is so universal. We can choose to focus on these negative experiences – I know I have at times. As a mother, I love the fact that our family is a unit – we care about each other and take care of one another emotionally and physically…

    To feel connected, I practice mindfulness. The “Loving Kindness” meditation includes the mantra
    May I be free from inner and outer harm and danger. May I be safe and protected.

    May I be free of mental suffering or distress.

    May I be happy.

    May I be free of physical pain and suffering.

    May I be healthy and strong.

    May I be able to live in this world happily, peacefully, joyfully, with ease.

    And then you look outward saying:

    May all living beings be safe, happy, healthy, live joyously…..

    And looking toward the future:

    May I be safe from harm.

    May I be happy just as I am.

    May I be peaceful with whatever is happening.

    May I be healthy and strong.

    May I care for myself in this ever-changing world graciously, joyously.

    Taking care of myself – especially when I feel left out is the best thing I can do to keep moving forward… I pray for those who let me down or overlooked my feelings…

  36. In my family we are 4 girls and one boy. 2 of my sisters exclude me for no reason. I have never done anything wrong. I am 62 years of age and my is still alive. He is 89. If something woul happen to him, I would not be able to contact my sister who lives not far from him. Both sisters only have answering machines. They never answer the telephone personally. They never answer e-mails where I am trying to make peace. I am a Christian and I want peace in the “fmily” which is the smallest unit of a society. They don’t even tell my father or my brother why they ostracise me. The e-mail addres of the two sisters is and suzanne.harttmann@t-online (website Can you send me an idea of what to send them or if you as a third person can send them a message which can change this horrible situation. My e-mail address is Thank you very much

  37. Oh dear Karin i really advise you to take down those email address of your sister, I wondered if you are breaking some law here, so i looked it up and it is true you are! Somehow it seems very wrong to do and very controlling.

  38. I am autistic, and had always wondered why I was so often excluded. I think the answer is that if you appear different, you will occupy a different place in other people’s minds, and so they will not think of you at the same time as thinking of everyone else.

    Here are some examples of what I have experienced:

    1 At school I would get singled out and deliberately not invited to birthday parties – the only person in the entire class to be excluded from them.

    2 When in high school, a musical was going to be taking place. I was (literally) the only person in the entire high school to not be offered a role in it.

    3 Somebody who used to send Christmas cards to (the rest of) my family would leave my name off them, while including everybody else.

    4 I once spent months signed up with a charitable organisation providing relief work to impoverished countries. Within it I was one of a team of 5, and just before the time came to go, I was told that the place had specially asked for a team of 4 people to come, the director getting the others to agree that as apparently I was the last person to join the team, the fair thing would be for me to be the one to be removed. Thank goodness I had not yet paid for my travel there (but I had been just about to)! I was the only one of 100 odd people to experience this.

    Many other things have happened as well. And to this day I sometimes experience things such as being excluded from family photos.

    Re point 2 above I believe now that the teachers had taken the attitude that they didn’t want someone who was “different” performing in their show, perhaps taking the attitude that the audience might be unhappy about it, if so projecting their own silliness onto them.

    Re point 4 above I believe that the director thought that the people in need of help might object to someone who was “different” helping them, thus again projecting her own silliness onto them. Had they really, at the last minute, suddenly asked for exactly 4 people to come and help them? Would they not have thought that the more the better?

    I think that if someone is excluded it is always because they appear different in some way from the other people around them.

  39. I think people who exclude others are dysfunctional. The idea they belong to an exclusive group, and feel the need to keep others out is an illness. It is the antithesis of love and everything that makes a society or community healthy, wholesome, and inclusive of differences. Yes, those of us who have a lifetime experience of being chronically excluded do feel and live with the brunt of it, but turn it around. Think about all of the destructive effects of being exclusive, shunning or ostracizing others. There’s a very long list of negative consequences. And remember..the persons so revered by society, the ones who become heroes, icons, looked up to through history, etc., are the very ones originally ostracized by society. It’s not to say any one of us would become the next Van Gogh, but it indicates how utterly backward our thinking is, and how wrong those who are deemed in the right can be.
    Flip it around and see what you think. Turn it on it’s head. Try to see it for what it really is. Just plain ugly.

  40. I grew up in an abusive environment. My mother probably has NPD, and my two brothers were likely sociopaths or malignant narcissists. My mother was always critical of me and physically abusive–she especially liked to humiliate me in front of others. I was a bed wetter and one time she sent me to school in the same pants I’d worn to bed the night before. All of the kids made fun of me.

    My older brother tried to shoot me in the heart with a high-powered BB gun when I was four–he was 12. I remember the terror of it. He shot up my dolls with a handgun when I was 10. When I was 12, he took me out to the country in his muscle car and drove at least 120 MPH, risking my life. And when I was thirteen, he punched me in the face and permanently blinded me in the left eye. He was in and out of prison, a repeat felon, and a drug user.

    My younger brother, eight years younger than me, often hurt me when I was a child. He was big and strong and would dig his fingernails into my arms, tearing my flesh. When I screamed out in pain, my mother would slap me. As an adult, he started conning people online. He doesn’t seem to care about or empathize with others.

    I got married at 17 and moved away with my military husband, but 12 years later, we moved back home. I quickly learned that my mother was still abusive, and so I walked away from the relationship. She and my older brother wouldn’t let me see his children and turned them against me. My mother also turned extended family against me. I became the black sheep of the family, which was painful. I dealed with it by burying myself in my career, which had a negative impact on other aspects of my life.

    Twenty years passed. My older brother died two years ago. Two of his four children, adults with children of their own, wrote to me, saying they wanted a relationship with me. I agreed and even let my mother back into my life. We had a great Christmas together, which made me feel so happy. I’d always wanted a close family, to be loved, but my mother was as self-absorbed as ever and didn’t care about me and my life. She never asked about my own children. After the holidays, they all lost interest in having a relationship with me, and I was depressed for months.

    One of my nieces abandoned me and only came back into my life to ask for money. After I helped her, she abandoned me again. My other niece only wants to have a Facebook relationship with me. She rejects my invitations to get together. My two nephews want nothing to do with me. And I find all of this rejection painful and unfair as I never did anything to them.

    I have distanced myself from them emotionally to a large degree, but when I log in to Facebook, I see photos of parties and family get-togethers, which I’m never invited to. It’s a torture to be excluded and then to have to see the photos in my feed. I find myself upset about it for several days. I would close my Facebook account, but it would hurt my online business.

    I realize that the best thing for me to do is to walk away from them all as this pain of rejection and exclusion is unbearable and interferes with my life goals.

    My husband is indifferent about it all. He can’t seem to understand why this family rejection hurts me so much.

  41. I just don’t have “it.” Meaning, the thing that makes people want to talk with me or invite me. My own family rejects me. Former bro-in-law (husband of deceased sister) didn’t invite me to Mother’s day party for my own mother. Mother won’t go out with me tomorrow (Mother’s Day) because her Mother’s Day was with former bro-in-law and her grandsons. Former bro-in-law didn’t send me a graduation invitation to nephew’s graduation because he ran out…sent them to his fiance’s family instead. Don’t get it – I’m the bio relative. I think I’m more important. Going to graduation anywa it’s a public event. I hate myself. I’d kill myself if I didn’t know better. I’m socially awkward, introvert, with Non-verbal learning disorder. People are uncomfortable around me. I don’t get promoted at work – told I was too quiet to be a manager. Don’t connect with people. My real friends left or retired. Don’t like who’s left. My stomach hurts due to feeling rejected.

  42. Yesterday evening I hosted the “family birthday” gathering for my Granddaughter’s 8th birthday. Which, happened to coincide with Mother’s day. 11 family members including my Daughter-in-laws parents, brother and his wife came to my home. The entire time they were there, the topic of conversation was an upcoming trip to the Beach that all of them, with the exception of me, are going. I’m not going, because yet again, I was not been invited. At one point, I literally felt like my heart was going to explode into a million pieces. The physical pain of feeling left out made me feel as if I might pass out right there on the spot. It took every ounce of my willpower to not go lock myself in my bedroom and sob my heart out. So instead, I took the usual path that I take which is, to fall ice-cold silent while inside I am SCREAMING.. HOW CAN YOU NOT KNOW HOW THIS MAKES ME FEEL??? I did have a total meltdown after everyone left and I could not stop crying. My son obviously felt something was up and called me later in the evening. And though, I so wanted to say how I feel, I didn’t because history has taught me that my feelings are marginalized at the very least and, my words are wasted. This is an ongoing cycle and one would think that after all of these years I would be immune… I so want to say to all of them.. even though I have become accustomed to being left out and uninvited the very least you could do is refrain from talking about your upcoming good times in my presence. But instead, I am hurt, pissed and have a burning desire to tell them all to go fuck off, sell my house and leave telling no one goodbye.. Then I read what I just wrote and feel stupid for feeling this way.. how I can get beyond feeling so wounded by continually

  43. So glad I found this site. I was & still am the BLACK SHEEP OF THE FAMILY. I was my brother’s punching bag. My Dad’s remark would be FIGHT YOUR OWN BATTLES. I have Seizures and I’m getting layed into almost daily. I was called every name that made me feel UGLY. I went through 2 Extensive Brain Surgery’s. They stopped for 17 yrs. Raised a son on my own. On a PATHETIC income. Never really fully employed. Never Married and there are days I wonder WHY my Dreams were never fulfilled. I feel like a COMPLETE INCOMPETENT FAILURE. I blame THE GOVERNMENT OUR IGNORANT SOCIETY AND FAMILIES who should NEVER MISTREAT their CHILDREN OR ALLOW SIBLINGS TO ABUSE US EMOTIONALLY SPYCOLOGICLY OR. PSYICLY. It reeks a living NIGHTMARE inside our hearts minds emotions conference. And the blame is put ALL ON US. GOD BLESS EVERYONE WHO DEALS WITH THESE FEELINGS. Denise

  44. For the last two years, my older sister has been constantly triangulating me with the other sister, letting me know repeatedly that I am excluded from events the two of them have planned. It’s gotten to the point where I truly don’t want to be around them anyway. The other sister is complicit, hosting some of the occasions in her home. I think she’s in denial and maybe she thinks she’s on the “winning” side. I am aware the dynamic has changed between the three of us and that neither one of them likes me for me. It’s a long story, but there was some truly hurtful behaviour from the older, nastier sister about two years ago. It’s never been resolved because nothing gets resolved with the ringleader of this little clique.

    I don’t let on that it hurts. I don’t want to give them the satisfaction of knowing that. The older one is definitely a narcissist and her behaviour feels like punishment. This time in my life is truly a test or exercise in discipline, patience, maturity and self-care. I say patience, because I keep thinking the other sister will someday wake up, even if it takes years, and by then it’ll be difficult for her to escape from the one who is dominating, manipulating and controlling.

  45. Ostracising someone is so cruel. I faced a particularly cruel form of it over something that never happened. I see people differently now because of it and I don´t see how to ever get any kind of justice. If you want the account of my ordeal just ask. wordspice(at)yahoo(dot)com

  46. From the above:
    People Look to Be Included Again

    If feeling left out makes you feel reduced social belonging, the natural thing to do is try to make social connections again. After all, you should try to restore what seems missing. A whole bunch of research has shown that this is what tends to happen.

    As a simple illustration, one study found that people who were made to feel social rejection went on to express greater interest in making friends than people in control conditions. Similarly, after feeling social exclusion, people are more interested in working on a project with a partner rather than on their own, compared to people who weren’t feeling excluded.

    In addition, people who have been ostracized are also better tuned to social information, more likely to conform with a group, cooperate with other people, and nonconsciously mimic a stranger (which helps establish greater rapport).

    That desperately needs the following serious amendment:
    If, when a person has been repeatedly ostracized, he / she makes efforts to re-establish positive contacts with others, he / she is then in a very vulnerable position, on account of that great need. Eventually, he / she will realize that trying to make fresh contacts just produces more pain. Solution: avoid people; became reclusive: it’s the best option.
    And yes, I know what I am talking about: it works. You eventually get used to your ‘new condition’.
    Note: I speak from personal experience of over 60 years.

  47. I have been left out ,ignored,belittled, shut out from groups and activities by groups ever since younger – probably so as i was odd and overprotected and too controlled by my parents, and somehow – as this made me mature slower than my peers -i estimate – they started to shun me and hold me at arms leangth. I was never invited, forbeach,hikes, parties, discos, outings, trips, fun adventures, nothing – not at Highschool or ever later – and girls/women – at best only let me be some kind of superficial friend before IT hit off!!!!!!!!!!

    All this pain and hurt,neglect and actual mobbing – by my parents and family, schoolmates and others – has by time matured into distatste of others,and in some subdued black dark hate for those that never let me be with them – I see no fun in never had been part of the youth and younger adult life of those fortunate people that never gave a #### about me – when all of this would have meant hundreds of times more, as of my dictatorial upbringing that actually was just looking good at the facade !

    I understand how lots of shut out people evolve into predators, criminals, alcoholics,drugusers and school( or other) shooters !!!!!!!!
    Ithink this hyper egoistic and competition rich western society creates a culture without heart or soul – if you dont fit in or are not enough,you get ousted without a seccond thought ! YOU DONT MATTER – THEY DO!

    I have become more and more cynical,angry and misantrophical – though,those at job are great and as close as friends i will probably ever get – the rest of humanity sucks,because, they have proven, they only care for themselves – not others.
    All these years of isolation and outside life – somehow has begun to warp my mind – I dont trust in others – I have learnd,no one ever want me as friend,boyfriend,lover, partner, share laughter, activities,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, nothing, ever.

    At datingsites and friendship sites – people are too full in themselves that ever to raise a brow about someone that reach out, but are not at any of their wave leangth or way of being !

    Sometimes-I just want to end it all – or take as many with me, before I go – as a revenge against this society,in wich there never was given any heart forme to share, in any way,in any time past !!!!!!!!!!!

    It had been just lovely if there would be a NW – as then all would rumble down,and the last laugh,would eventually be mine-mot theirs!

    • Seems that being a good person, caring about others, being kind, helpful, fair, understanding, loyal, genuine & generous is paradoxical, at best. I have never been more confused about how doing the right thing with consideration and a moral compass can continually lead to the wrong (or unwanted) outcome…while the people who are purposely doing the wrong things to get whatever they want, using whatever means is necessary, and not caring who it hurts, get the right (wanted) outcome. It certainly reinforces the saying “nice people finish last” and I am at a loss to find what it is I need “to work on” within myself that unintentionally invites being excluded, dismissed, second choice, ignored and not valued and getting “the shitty end of the stick”…. while the loud, opinionated, self serving, narcissistic, controlling bitch (or jerk) who uses people and aligns her/himself with those who promote her/his self image, societal rank and goals is always included, desired, even respected…. and inspires the time and efforts…even admiration…of others.
      I dont get it.
      Its like a hamster wheel that you cant get off of. The rejections of others cause you to doubt yourself, your sense of belonging and value and you get tired of rolling with it, standing up for yourself and keeping clear boundaries…and then people take advantage of this because they sense you have a need….which they fulfill in a seemingly sincere way. You start to regain confidence, sometimes because of others, sometimes because your trying your hardest to not let others bring you down….but it seems to play over and on repeat, like a viscious cycle.
      I envy people who truly dont often get their feelings hurt and who are not affected by emotions-either their own or others. Those who seem to have an invisible shield around their heart, who take what they can get and approach others with a mindset that focuses soley on what someone can do for them, how they could benefit or what they could gain from you. And over and over again I have seen money buy friendships, children, social status, relationships, options, opportunities and it certainly gives one the ability to not be isolated from life. And they have an ability to detach themselves emotionally and thus feel less hurt by the intentional or unintentional rejection of others if and when it occurs.
      I truly wish feelings had an on/off switch.

  48. So sorry to read the comments that have been posted here so far. It really hurts just to read them. I feel for every one of you. When I look back through my life I can see that same pattern there. It’s not just heart-breaking – it’s destroying.

    The latest one I can’t seem to get over is the once-in-a-lifetime event. The organisers knew how much it meant for me to be there – so they sent me an invitation so close to the date that there was no way I would be able to go. From the pictures I can see a good time was had by all. I honestly don’t know how these people have a conscience. I guess they don’t, because life seems to be carrying on for them with no consequence.

    I would disagree with the author that a person who has been ostracised will try harder to fit in next time (sorry not the exact words). It’s actually the opposite. Because after a while you stop being a glutton for punishment.

  49. I have a group of friends that my husband and I hang out with. It is us and 2 other couples, sometimes a 3rd couple. We have done everything together for 5 or 6 years – something on most weekends, even taking big trips to foreign countries together. However, one of the husbands ignores me. When he speaks he looks at everyone but me. One time in a 3 hour car ride, every time he spoke he addressed the other woman by name, starting out, “So Sara . . . (I changed the name, this is not his wife but the woman in the other couple). I have sat at a table directly across from him while he is talking. He will look at people on my left, on my right, back to the left, but will never look at me. He has completely excluded me from the group. When he does that, before you know it, everyone is doing it. This has been happening for 3+ years. At first I ignored it, but then I started getting down after each get-together. As time has gone on it’s grown into full blown depression and now I get extreme anxiety before we meet up. Then COVID hit and we couldn’t meet for months. I became really happy and realized what it was all about. We invited the group over for the first time and sure enough he did it again. We were social distancing on the patio, each couple in a corner. He had a cool picture to show when my husband happened to be inside. He walked around, showed the picture to the first couple, walked right passed me, and showed the second couple. I’ve decided it’s time to choose between my self worth and my friends. I am angry that he has put me in this position where I have to choose, but you should never come home from being with friends feeling worse about yourself. That is not a friend and I need him out of my life so I can be happy. My husband completely supports me on this because he’s tired of the stress that comes with hanging out with them. I plan to explain all this to him the next time we are together as a group. I want everyone to know why we are leaving the group so they don’t think it has to do with them. I love being with the others and will miss them dearly. We are working to find new friends, TRUE friends. This is difficult to get through (lots of tears, sometimes feeling very angry), but in the long run we will be much happier.

  50. My family rejected me when a psychiatric sister was in debt & invited me to live with them as ”part of the fsmily” / drove me to suicide & lied to my family & every single friend so skilfully it destroyed my works entirely. I lived on to take care of my dogs & since the last one died even though I have new pups I can not bear the pain at 63 to find out I never had a family or friends at all… Not a single person helped & now every book I read on recovery starts with not isolating myself & I have no option & feel so sick about it I fate read no others like that. And I have arranged a godmother for my puos and my Will to ensure their survival. Because I have tried everything I know how for 6 years now… And it’s just got more painful to the point I am too dysfunction. I cannot even eash the dishes. I want to and plan to die… If anyone knows of books that deal with that reality ( I live in rural village with no income at this stage so it’s do it alone or die) please let me know. I have ADD trouble with mingling socially… And even without that who would dare – if 63 years of familyv& friends I lived dropped me making new friends at this stage would be delusional psychosis

    • Dear Cal,

      Thank you for sharing your personal story. It really made an impression on me. I understand your struggle and to be honest it sounds really tough.

      I want you to know that you are perfect as you are.

      You are 100% complete as you are.

      Can I offer a suggestion?

      Go to your nearest park/ forest/ nature area. Go there and just sit. Sit down and notice every sound and every movement you can. Every time your thoughts take you away try to come back to your body and notice all the sensations you can.

      This could give you the power to take a break from your mind and emotions and just sit.

      I would also recommend that you try doing breath work. Wim hof is really good.

      You are magic and you have the power to create the life that you want – I know it sounds a bit out there but it is really true.

      Have a beautiful day

      • Hello everyone,
        I am rather new to this site but after reading the MANY various life situations, I realize that life is extremely Impactful and vast. Nonetheless, we are all important in our chosen paths in life. Additionally, Even if we choose to be The non active Voice in the biologically relative connections, there Is always An impact they receive from Our actions Or non-actions. In other words, anyone Who is biologically Or nonbiologically related to Someone is impacted By the actions and non actions of the biological relatives. In other words, During a conversation with relative individuals it may even seem difficult to voice an opinion of disagreement to a respected loved one and it is even more important to know that voicing the disagreeing opinion is more valuable to both people involved in order to develop a respectable relationship between the individuals. The most important points of my words are to always maintain UNDERSTANDING & RESPECT for eachother’s concerns, reasons, and perceptions. If this cannot be done words, actions, and the like are at a loss for the greater good of everyone.

  51. I meant psychpathic not psychiatric sister – an advocate with MD husband upstanding Christians with great skill & congregational adoration…. My credibility == zero

  52. We have to take care if ourselves. Go out and enjoy our lives. Participate in and plan enjoyable actuvities.

    Now I plan activities ahead of time, when my subligs exclude me. Sometimes I post on Facebook but Facebook is not reality. I continue to buy gifts for family members who exclude me (from trips and even seeing my sister in law on her deathbed). My parents are both disabled. I see them and go on holidays.
    My husband gets angry every time I respond to my siblings. We are very successful. But it’s still diffucult to be treated this way. God has healed alot in my life.

  53. My two sister-in-laws are 9 and 12 years younger than I am. It has always been my wish to be close to them, but for some reason I always end up feeling excluded. The frustrating part is that I truly believe they are unaware of it. As sisters, they are very close even though they live 400 miles apart. They try to get together when they can(and Covid has made it extra hard this year),but the thing that makes me sad is that the 22 years that I’ve been in this family, they have never once invited me to a “sisters’ weekend”. I tell myself that I shouldn’t expect an invitation because I’m not their sister, but it would be so nice to just be invited once. Feeling excluded has been a lifelong problem for me. I am trying to use coping mechanisms for the times that I feel excluded, but it takes discipline. Feeling things as deeply as I do is a blessing and a curse.

  54. An interesting article, but all the messages left here are even more interesting.

    So many people (myself included) that have had an exclusion (or various) experience(s).

    My case, the youngest child of seven. A typical situation of “older” siblings feeling entitled to control a family’s/parents’ life and exclude you out of feeling somehow better or “wiser” based on “seniority”.

    The worst part is passing this attitude to their children or family, so that you as a relative are of no relevance to them.

    The thing is, if you think about this with a cold head, only petty people (and that can include family/your parents) have this kind of excluding behavior with another human being, and even more pathetic if we are talking about family members.

    We tend to think that family is “sacred”, but they are not. There are a lot of monsters out there who are relatives. Blood does not guarantee love, respect and empathy, which are the main elements to having a healthy relationship with anyone.

    I basically stopped caring about this a long time ago, though I still maintain a kind of relationship with my older siblings, with a healthy distance.

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