Mod S2S Mentor

Feeling Like a Second Choice

“I feel like I am always the second choice for my friends at school. They always want to sit with other people or work with other people. They are not mean to me or anything and I think they do like me but I dont think they like me as much as they like anyone else. I feel like I am overreacting about this and I dont know what to do about it.”
-Ellie

Oof I know how you feel, Ellie :’( I’ve struggled with feeling like my friends’ second choice for years, it really wears down on you after awhile. But thankfully, it’s usually not true. And even if it is, there’s a few things you can do in these situations to try and figure it out:

Try to reflect and see if there are specific things they do or specific situations that makes you feel that way. For example, whenever I tried to hang out with one of my friends that went to a different highschool, she always had plans with other friends made beforehand, even if I tried to plan well in advance. Since she sees those friends more often then she sees me, this didn’t feel fair and I felt a lot like a second choice, or not even a choice at all. Or how one of my other friends never spent much time with me in band class and talked with all his other friends instead (we also barely saw each other otherwise) every day. This is a strategy I use to see if my feelings have realistic merit- not to say that your feelings may be invalid, they just may not be connected to reality, as insecurity can really twist our minds into places like that without us realizing.

Regardless if you find examples, it’s key to talk to your friends honestly about how you feel. Try not to come off as accusatory, as they’re probably not doing any of this intentionally. But tell them how these specific situations/things they do make you feel (left out, second choice, like they prefer other people to you, etc), or if you can’t think of any, just say how you feel and say you don’t know why you feel that way. Good friends will try to work through your insecurities with you and do their best to give you reassureance from time to time, which we all need in our relationships once in a while.

And also remember that it could be that you’re just as special to your friends, but in a different way than other people are to them. For me, I felt second choice a lot because my friends would prefer to hang out with more social people, but that was because I was more of the listener and they liked that they could just be quiet around me with no pressure to be socially likeable. Or they might not even realize your value as a friend! When I moved away just a couple months ago, one of my friends texted me asking if we could have a creative brainstorm session over skype, as they felt they took me for granted when I was nearby and now have no one to talk to about that kind of stuff (oh how it felt like the tables turned, haha).

Though maybe it’s true that your friends have other people they prefer at this time. They may come back to you later, as sometimes friendships drift apart for a bit just to come back stronger, but feel free to seek out other friends in the mean time. Be friendly to people yet be cautious who you let into your life (as in be careful not to be so desparate for friends that you get involved with toxic ones), and soon enough, you’ll have an awesome friend/group to rely on :) From my experience these things happen spontaneously, and you may have to go through a somewhat lonely time period before you hit gold, but it’s so worth it. As I say in a lot of my answer posts, take this time to rekindle your relationship with yourself and give yourself daily verbal/written positive reinforcement. Be your own best friend so to speak, be kind to yourself, and people will start to notice and be drawn in by that kind of positive environment. Plus, it’ll help you get through the temporary lonely times. And again, maybe your friends will come back to you! But in case they don’t, there’s other ways you can take care of yourself in the mean time.

I hope everything works out, Ellie! ;7; Feeling second choice is a really crummy feeling, but if its any reassurance, whenever I’ve felt that way it was always temporary. Good luck and take care!!

~Katharine

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