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?