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I'm approaching a social situation now where I'm straddling the line of authority figure and friend, and while I think I have a plan set to address this, I'd like some input from others, get some advice.

A group of six of my friends and I meet weekly to play Dungeons and Dragons. I am the "dungeon master", who is in charge of preparing and narrating the world, as well as preparing the various situations/puzzles/etc for the players to solve. This takes a significant portion of my limited free time each week to prepare.

My issue comes from the fact that these friends are part of a larger extended circle of friends all from the same high school and college circles. My closer friends are these six that I typically play with, however I have had extended interaction with several other members of the outer circle as well. Every week, this extended social circle is often planning events (going out to bars, barbecues, etc.) in a large WhatsApp group chat rather than individually.

During our game sessions, this group frequently discusses plans made over this group chat, parties and outings and such with Friend X or Friend Y that are group events or open to further attendees ("Oh, I think Friend Z is coming too.", etc.) The past few months have made me aware of a pattern of behavior within this group that has been occurring. Our group chat specifically for the DnD group flares up before sessions to organize, we have our session, and then the chat goes quiet again for another week.

The issue, and the source of my feelings, is that I am not invited to any of these functions, nor do any of them speak to me much outside of our weekly games. I have asked a few times to join the larger chat in socially subtle ways ("Hey, that sounds like fun, can I come? Would you add me?") to an affirmative reply and a promise to add, only for them not to after a series of similarly subtle cues to remind them ("I haven't received the invitation, by the way." etc.) The reply to this is usually an affirmative, but to this day I have not been included. The culmination of this behavior was an invitation to a birthday party via Facebook, which I only realized I had missed by one of these friends calling me the day before the scheduled event asking where I was, as the party had been moved to that day. This discussion was had over the group WhatsApp yet again.

I have about three to four hours of free time each day after work, gym, and chores have been completed. One to two of these each day, weekends included, are spent preparing for this group game every week. I don't charge for my time or services, and only want their camaraderie in return. I believe the core of why I feel hurt by this is that:

  • Most of these friends have known me since middle school (We are currently 24+)
  • I have made repeat attempts to attend or be ingratiated to social functions, only to be left out or my own invitations not responded to/ignored.
  • This group otherwise acts friendly and casual when around me, despite this behavior.
  • I don't believe I should have to work harder to be engaged in their friendship than they do with me, as that is rather exhausting to me.
  • My "best friend" is also in this circle.

My plan is to have our scheduled session on this upcoming Saturday, then before we end for the evening, bring up how I feel directly with them. I'm not entirely sure if this is the best way to go about this. Thoughts?

  • You mention that there's a WhatsApp group several times, but you don't mention if you're in that group or not? – UKMonkey Jul 3 '18 at 13:47
  • @UKMonkey Not (though I'd like to see someone edit the question to make it clear.) OP mentions the group several times before saying this: "I have asked a few times to join the larger chat" – Qsigma Jul 3 '18 at 13:51
  • Have you been invited a few times in the past and couldn't go? Then you might have become the person who can't come anyway, so no point asking. Else, be proactive, and organise an event yourself and you will get invited back. – MPS Jul 4 '18 at 7:35
  • Do you think "your best friend" considers you "his/her best friend"? – JBis Jul 7 '18 at 4:36
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My plan is to have our scheduled session on this upcoming Saturday, then before we end for the evening, bring up how I feel directly with them.

I wouldn't recommend that:

  • (In my experience) people are tired after a gaming session and may not have the time / stamina / patience / etc. for a difficult discussion around social stuff .
  • You're putting a whole group on the spot. It's not clear how they should react (and who of them should react) and that can cause panic reactions (freezing, denying everything, putting the blame on you, etc.) from them that both they and you will regret.

Rather go for a one on one talk with the one most socially adept and friendly to you separate from the gaming session. After all, it is a separate issue - it's not about the game, it's about other activities.

It's hard to predict how that will go because it depends on their reasons for not including you and their openness about them. Given that you say you already repeatedly tried to get invited and to invite them yourself, it sounds like there really is an underlying issue (even if it's just laziness to the point of carelessness).

Before you go for the one on one talk, however, consider whether you're OK with GMing at this level of effort if they don't include you in their activities. If not, consider how you would feel about reducing your game preparation time to pick up a new hobby that will let you meet new friends (sports, music, acting, volunteering, etc.). And/or consider if you could start a new gaming group with other players who may become your new friends and may actually be willing to include you in their activities. In short: think about how you can react in a constructive manner (for yourself) in the long-term when they keep excluding you from their activities.

You are not entitled to be included in all of their activities - and they are not entitled to your time and effort for preparing the game. If the friendship doesn't work for you, try finding other friends who are willing to include you.

It doesn't mean you immediately have to "break up" with the existing gaming group - just shifting the focus away from it.

A number of games I was in faded out because some members didn't care about making and sticking to dates. They never took the initiative to propose the next date, would decline proposals because they were busy but not indicated when they did have time, and when a date was set show up hours late. So the other members of the group arranged other games (not including they "busy people") and the focus shifted to those.

  • 19
    Can you elaborate more on the one-on-one talk? This is the actual answer to OP's question and yet it reads like a sidenote. Why a one-on-one? How would you go about that talk? Are there any pitfalls one should avoid? The second part of your answer doesn't have much to do with the asked question and can be removed or at least reduced ;) Thanks – Kaspar Scherrer Jul 3 '18 at 9:53
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    Comments are not for discussion. Any comment that isn't requesting clarification or suggesting improvements is likely to be deleted. – sphennings Jul 3 '18 at 18:07
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I recommend going to your "best friend" you mentioned, ask him in a 1 to 1 talk if you could be included and ask him for his honest opinion why you are not included.

I would also like you to ask yourself if you think there is anything in you that is particularly different from your friends, as to why they could be "leaving you out" of the whatsapp group. I am assuming they do not necessarily hate you, maybe they are not too comfortable with you in it yet, or if you could be sensitive to the content of the group. E.g. You are sensitive to racial jokes and maybe they joke about it inside, so in turn to protect you and themselves, they try not to include you in there. If there is, I am not saying that you should change the way you are or your principles to suit your friends, but maybe attempt to adapt if you are in anyway socially awkward with them outside of gaming.

Since you mentioned about social events such as BBQs... How about you try to organize one and invite them? If they do not invite you you can always try to invite them!

Lastly, I also hope you do not burn out about this, this is just a part of life and whatever priorities you have should still continue on... Do not stress out or be too worried about it, remember to stay the way you are!

Should you have more questions or want to address anything to my answer above, feel free to, I will be checking back.

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There's lots of good advice here. I'd add a different perspective which is that you're too "invested" in this group as it is. When your social satisfaction becomes dependent on other people inviting you to this or that, you're in trouble. If you're starting to feel resentment towards your D&D friends because they're not inviting you out to other stuff, it's time to grow a new circle. That doesn't mean you have to cut them out - in fact, the D&D sounds great - but recognize it for what it is. You're facilitating their D&D experience. Thinking of yourself as an authority figure is not right. Think of yourself instead as the author of the book they're reading.

Then consider some options:

  • Put less work into this group. You're feeling overwhelmed as it is. Throttling back is fine. Maybe someone else will pitch in. Maybe they won't. But you need to take care of yourself and give yourself time to breathe and grow in new directions.
  • Consider a new hobby; taking a class, going to a meetup, joining a hiking group, whatever. I bet there's stuff you have wanted to try but you haven't tried it yet. Give it a go. Learning new stuff is fun, and exposes you to new social circles. You mentioned you go to a gym. Maybe there's a rock climbing or bouldering option, these are very social, technical, and physically rewarding pastimes.
  • Join someone else's D&D group. Most towns have game stores that also run game clubs. Could be an easy way to expand your circle and meet new people if you decide you really want to play more D&D. And besides, this could also expand your DM capability.

Just some ideas. Good luck!

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I've been myself on a pretty similar situation. Me and three more friends always meet from 16 years every Friday to play console games. These are my childhood friend and I know them pretty well, I used to go out with them and do lot's of things.

But as time went by one of them started going out with a group of friends (which I knew and get along with them but not that closely). He stopped inviting us to the plans he was doing with this friends, unless they needed people, for example, he will not invite us to go to the club, but he will invite us to play soccer when they were in need of players.

After that I have to deal with friends being zombified by their girlfriends who didn't wanted to hang up with us nor go to cinema to see movies or things like that.

At first this hurt a lot, because I thought we were best friends and I suppose a minimum of trust, communication and loyalty.The problem here and in your case, it's not just that your friends don't invite you to these plans, but why they are doing and trying to not talk about the big pink elephant in the room.

For my experience, there's no way this will have a happy ending in the short term. You have to ask your best friend about this situation and why is happening, don't beg for invitations, and don't beg for their friendship. Just try to know because that will bring some logic to all of this and you will know how to react to the real facts.

After all of this, you don't own anything to your friends, if you don't feel like being the dungeon master for your friends, then don't be. Instead do something more that makes you happy, and maybe you can even know more people. Your friends already made a decision of not inviting you. So you should make your decision, they will always be your friends (unless they do something incredibly wrong).

Just maybe right now, your friendship needs to have different dynamics. But don't beg for invitations, you do everything right. So now, just be happy with it, and to be happy I think that you should know what is happening, so you have to talk face to face with your best friend. Don't force him, if he denies to talk sincerely, then take what he wants to answer, because that is an answer by itself. There is no point where you get invited to this meetings without it being awkward. If they invite you because you ask them, you won't feel part of this group, and maybe the other people will feel that way, don't do that to yourself.

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