Dear Cara,

I have a core group of friends from college that I feel are slowly slipping away as we all move forward in our lives…well some of us anyway. I’ve graduated to a good job, moved out of my hometown, and am starting an adult life I can be proud of but my friends all seem to be stuck in their high school glory days. It’s not just that though. They seem to be holding my success against me and I don’t know what to do. Isn’t it pretty evil to ditch your friends just because they haven’t quite caught up?

Public Frenemy #1


Dear Public Frenemy #1:

A clique (aka toxic friend group) is something that is usually forced. Hardly anyone I know  gets along ALL the time besides the occasional random inseparable yet shallow bffs. In my opinion, people tend to gravitate toward friend groups just so they always have set plans with a large group of people. They would rather be surrounded by humans they don’t necessarily like than do everything alone and feel like a loser.

So is there a point to having a clique? No.

Is there something wrong with you if you are not in a clique? No

People in friend groups need the guidance of others. They tend to not like to be alone and don’t feel comfortable when they are in a secluded setting. A clique, particularly the toxic kind, is usually made up of a bunch of followers. Public Frenemy #1 sounds more like a leader to me.

There is nothing wrong with having friends in other groups, or having friends that aren’t friends with each other.

Not EVERYONE is going to get along and that is what makes a toxic friend group so forced. The clique, glamorized by Hollywood, is simply something that has become the “norm.” People think this is what they are supposed to have when it really isn’t at all. The people that are left out of these “groups” feel friendless when that usually isn’t the case. A forced group of people getting together who talk badly about certain members of the group is certainly not something I would be interested in.

The pressure of being in a clique is real.

There is a constant amount of pressure when you’re a member of a toxic friend group. You absolutely HAVE to go to group events and if you happen to miss a group activity you may experience “fomo”- fear of missing out. Stress is something that is always lingering in the mind of the “groupie.” Wondering when the group may do something without them and where the members are at all times.

There is also a lingering fear of losing a group of friends or being shunned by the clique entirely. What if they get sick of you? That is a question that crosses everyone’s mind when in a group like this. It just isn’t healthy.

So if you happen to hang out with a group of people that all get along in a healthy balanced way that’s great, but seriously stop forcing the toxic “friend group.” It isn’t necessary and you can be happy with the natural connections you make with people you simply meet on your mature adult path. Ditch the clique and move on!


Do you need some advice from resident expert Cara Zimmerman? Submit your questions via the Contact Us form for the chance to be featured in our “Ask Cara” expert advice column! All names will be changed for anonymity.