My College:
Dear Adina

Why Has My Daughter Lost All Her Friends?

Adina Glickman


Hi Adina!

My daughter started freshman year with quite a few friends. She is starting her junior year and has literally outgrown all of her friends. This so-called friends group started with a mixed group of friends and due to no fault of my daughter’s, she has lost them all. Her male best friend fell for a girl my daughter was close to, but in the end the friends never became a couple. However, they kept it from my daughter, causing her to lose her male best friend and giving her trust issues with another because they waited months to tell her.

She lost friends because they left school or chose not to be friends with her because they wanted different things than her. Her so-called friends (two of them specifically — including the one that didn’t tell her about her male best friend liking this friend) have literally pushed everyone out of their group and now have turned on my daughter. My daughter finally spoke up for herself, but she has found that even her roommate has turned on her (she was a part of this group). She feels, hurt, lonely and isolated.

We have always told her to stand up for herself and be her true self, but this isn’t the first time she has lost a group of friends as this happened in high school also. Is it the type of friends my daughter is choosing? What can I do as a parent? I know she has to go through these type of issues as a young adult, but my heart is breaking for her and I truly wish she would finally find a good group of friends she can trust and who love her for the great person she is. Thank you!


Hi Parent!

We’ve got two challenges here. First, how to attend to your breaking heart while your daughter does the painful work of growing up and finding friends. Second, how to advise or guide her if she wants your help.

As I’ve said to every parent who feels the pain of parenting at any stage of life, your pain is yours to feel and tangle with, and you get to ask your people (partners, friends, family, coaches, therapists, clergy) for help with it. So I encourage you to reach out to any and every trusted person in your life and talk with them about what you’re going through. Connect with people who will listen, share their experiences, and neither judge nor diminish what you have to say. Most of all, approach this process by owning it completely. While compassionate ears are wonderful, no one can truly move you from feeling bad to feeling good except you.

The concept of ownership can also frame your advice to your daughter. You say she has lost friends through no fault of her own, which casts her as a bystander in this aspect of her life. Try and show her that, while she may feel like it’s all happening to and around her, she’s actually an active participant in her friendships, whether that shows up as being assertive or passive. She needs to see what part she’s playing in the dance of these relationships and discover other choices she can make that might lead to better results.

The first step in working through issues in relationships is to take blame and fault out of the paradigm entirely. We are responsible and participatory at all times and so is the other person, but trying to assign blame shifts any conflict into territory that focuses on winning and losing. Adversaries win or lose; friends communicate and work towards compromises.

Also, assigning blame when a relationship isn't working turns out to be a double-edged sword. On one hand, blaming the other person can feel empowering. “Yeah! YOU did this. I’m the victim here, and now I have some angry armor to protect how vulnerable I’m feeling.”

On the other hand, blame only increases your powerlessness and vulnerability. If the other person is responsible, you’re at their mercy. They can come back to you, break your heart again, love you up, leave again. It’s all theirs and you’re getting kicked around depending on what they’re doing.

So how does your daughter participate? Is she sitting silently? This is as much a way of participating in a relationship as being bossy. When I was in my 20s, I put up with a lot more from people than I do now; I learned that it’s not their “fault” for dumping on me if I keep offering up my head to be dumped on. It’s 100% the silent partner’s choice to be silent, and it’s 100% the bossy one who chooses to be bossy. My silence won’t make you be less bossy and your bossy-ness won’t get me talking.

Your daughter has had some setbacks and disappointments, and these hurts can be bewildering if they just get stacked up on a shelf without being examined. It’s time to help her see what she’s learning from it and what meaning she can make from it. Cue self-reflection, self-awareness, ownership, and the ability to say, “What was my part?” and “What will I do with this information?”

In college, it’s common to make friends through convenience and circumstance. A friendly roommate has friends that become her friends, or a class project brings people into her sphere that she connects with through their common academic interest. Whether or not these casual contacts lead to meaningful and sustained connections will require your daughter to check in with herself. Encourage her to ask herself some questions about her experiences:

  • What do I feel like when I’m with these people?
  • What do I feel like when I leave them?
  • Do I feel safe with them?

If her answers are “I feel nervous” or “I need to be someone else when I’m around them” or “I can’t tell them certain things” or “It’s better than being alone,” then she may want to be more purposeful in who she decides to hang out with.

Yours,

Adina Signature

Have a question? Ask Adina

Adina Glickman is the founder of Affinity Coaching Group, which offers academic, life, parenting and career coaching. She is the former director of learning strategies at Stanford University and is the co-founder and director of the Academic Resilience Consortium, an association of faculty, staff and students dedicated to understanding and promoting student resilience. Learn more at affinitycoachinggroup.com.
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    2 days ago
    CollegiateParent

    Dorm decorating has become an industry.

    There are professional dorm decorators, décor kits, Pinterest boards, etc. There are even colleges and universities with reputations for high level décor by their students.

    I’d like to share some thoughts about décor for parents and students to consider.

    Room Furnishings Policy

    Every Residence Life Department has a dorm decorating policy in place. It is so important to follow the rules to avoid fines for damages, missing items, etc. Many residence halls restrict the use of tape and adhesive products because they aren’t always removed properly and despite the “no damage” promise can damage walls and doors. Decorating policies can vary widely because they’re based on the particular building and its paint, furniture, etc.

    Furniture

    Room furniture provided by the college and university is required to remain in the room unless other arrangements have been made (for example, because of a medical accommodation). This means any furniture removed (without the school’s approval) is the responsibility of the student(s) assigned to the room. Work with the furniture in your space.

    Also, be mindful when adjusting beds because if the bed is damaged, you are responsible for the cost. Always contact staff to receive assistance. Some colleges have loft kits available to rent to raise your bed. Check your housing website or handbook for details.

    Roommates’ Décor

    Students (and their families) often get excited about decorating and want to include the roommate on the venture. While this is a friendly gesture, be mindful there may be limitations for the roommate. I recently saw a TikTok video where a parent asks their student’s roommate to purchase a certain set of bedding from Amazon. The student couldn’t afford it and the parent was upset and requested a roommate change for their student.

    While this seems extreme it’s not uncommon. Here are a few things to consider when it comes to coordinating with roommates:

    The roommate has their own style.

    Everyone doesn’t want to match their roommate’s décor.

    Everyone can’t afford the same things.

    A student can ask their roommate but there is no obligation to say yes.

    Also, a parent should never reach out to a student’s roommate without permission. If the families don’t know each other, it can cause anxiety for both students. Roommates should communicate with one another directly.

    Decorating a dorm room can be a fun, exciting experience. Of course you want to help make that space as comfortable as possible for your student! Just remember to consider the policies, be respectful of the other roommate(s), and don’t overdo the décor because sometimes space is limited. It’s best to start with a small number of items and then add if needed.

    Happy Decorating!

    - from LaTrina Rogers, The Dorm Mom
    ... See MoreSee Less

    Dorm decorating has become an industry.  There are professional dorm decorators, décor kits, Pinterest boards, etc. There are even colleges and universities with reputations for high level décor by their students.  I’d like to share some thoughts about décor for parents and students to consider.  Room Furnishings Policy  Every Residence Life Department has a dorm decorating policy in place. It is so important to follow the rules to avoid fines for damages, missing items, etc. Many residence halls restrict the use of tape and adhesive products because they aren’t always removed properly and despite the “no damage” promise can damage walls and doors. Decorating policies can vary widely because they’re based on the particular building and its paint, furniture, etc.  Furniture  Room furniture provided by the college and university is required to remain in the room unless other arrangements have been made (for example, because of a medical accommodation). This means any furniture removed (without the school’s approval) is the responsibility of the student(s) assigned to the room. Work with the furniture in your space.  Also, be mindful when adjusting beds because if the bed is damaged, you are responsible for the cost. Always contact staff to receive assistance. Some colleges have loft kits available to rent to raise your bed. Check your housing website or handbook for details.  Roommates’ Décor  Students (and their families) often get excited about decorating and want to include the roommate on the venture. While this is a friendly gesture, be mindful there may be limitations for the roommate. I recently saw a TikTok video where a parent asks their student’s roommate to purchase a certain set of bedding from Amazon. The student couldn’t afford it and the parent was upset and requested a roommate change for their student.  While this seems extreme it’s not uncommon. Here are a few things to consider when it comes to coordinating with roommates:  The roommate has their own style.  Everyone doesn’t want to match their roommate’s décor.  Everyone can’t afford the same things.  A student can ask their roommate but there is no obligation to say yes.  Also, a parent should never reach out to a student’s roommate without permission. If the families don’t know each other, it can cause anxiety for both students. Roommates should communicate with one another directly.  Decorating a dorm room can be a fun, exciting experience. Of course you want to help make that space as comfortable as possible for your student! Just remember to consider the policies, be respectful of the other roommate(s), and don’t overdo the décor because sometimes space is limited. It’s best to start with a small number of items and then add if needed.  Happy Decorating!  - from LaTrina Rogers, The Dorm Mom

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