The word “clique” often has a negative connotation and may bring up feelings of exclusive peers in Junior High, but adult cliques exist as well. It may not be a pleasant word, but the truth is that like-minded individuals often form social groups to discuss shared values, lifestyles, and interests. These groups can be intimidating, especially if you are looking from the outside in and would like to be a part of them. Here are some strategies to break into an adult clique:
1. Don’t Take It Personally
If you feel like you’re not in the loop with a certain group or you haven’t been invited to participate, try not to take it personally (though this is easier said than done). Remember that people often organize themselves based on commonalities (working at the same company, playing tennis, homeschooling their children, etc.), and if you don’t feel involved, it’s likely not that someone is trying to intentionally exclude you. And perhaps members of a certain clique don’t necessarily feel like they need to expand their circle, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t.
2. Get To Know One Person At A Time
If you’re trying to integrate into a certain group, try to ease in by finding an approachable person and developing a one-on-one relationship. That person can open a door to other social situations and include you, and then you can broaden your friendship groups. For example, years ago, my family moved into a neighborhood that was already very well established. I connected with a woman on my street that I had a lot in common with. After we had created a friendship, she helped me connect with others, and I began to feel like I belonged in my community.
3. Ask, Don’t Hint
If you really would like to be included in a certain group, ask to be a part of it! I am a big believer in assertiveness, and this situation calls for just that. Be direct, advocate for yourself, and ask for what you want. Saying something like “Hey, I would really love to join that Book Club. Is there room for one more?” can get you an in. You may be surprised at what you can accomplish by simply asking.
4. Give It Time
It takes time to develop friendships and feel fully integrated into a group. Try to be patient; it won’t happen overnight. Healthy relationships take time. Researcher Brené Brown uses the analogy of a “marble jar” to describe how just as we fill a jar one marble at a time, it’s little by little that we develop trust and closeness with another person.
5. Consider Your Motivation
I encourage you to look at why you want to be included in a group. Especially if you’ve been trying for a while to be part of a certain clique and don’t feel like you’re making any progress, ask yourself if you really want to be friends with people who don’t show interest in being friends with you. Sometimes we may feel desperate for connection, but respect yourself enough to spend time with others who value you. And maybe it’s even time for you to create a new circle or group.