Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Real Talk With Rachel: Getting Left Out of the Group; Too Much Tweezing?

By Rachel Kurzius

Dear Rachel,

I am young woman who moved to Washington DC two months ago. Many good
friends, though no best friends, already lived here, including two girls who I was relatively close with growing up. I’ve noticed that they are part of a larger group of girls that hang out seemingly all of the time. I am rarely invited to join them. When I do spend time with all of them, I normally feel left out because they all talk about memories I don’t share with them. I feel a little bitter that they haven’t reached out to me more, but I also don’t think this tight-knit group of friends is my style. Should I confront them?

Not Clicking with the Clique

Dear Not Clicking with the Clique,

Your quandary is rather cut and dry: you’re not spending much time with people whose company you don’t enjoy. Doesn’t actually seem like much of a quandary at all, to me. The only way this is an issue is if your ego makes it one.

Think about it this way: your friends are doing you a favor by not inviting you along because you don’t have fun when you spend time with these people. Sure, your feelings are hurt that this group didn’t welcome you with open arms, and that’s natural, but it’s time to dismiss your ego here. Even if you are the most wonderful person in the world, and I don’t doubt it, you can’t be a member of every friend group.

I don’t see what good would come of a confrontation. What do you expect to gain from saying, “Why don’t you send me more invitations I intend to decline?”

Also, it doesn’t sound like you’ve reached out to them very much. This may have signaled to your friends that you’re not interested in being a part of their crew. I’m sure you’re busy settling yourself in, but think about it from their perspective. They’re accustomed to dialing the same numbers to make plans. They may honestly forget you’re in town as they formulate weekend getaways and the like. If you do want to spend time with them, then make the first effort.

Another option, if you want to keep these friends in your life but aren’t interested in joining their clique, is to spend time with them as individuals. I noticed that you grouped them together in your letter. Do you have relationships with each of these young women separately, or are they attached at the hip? Try to go for drinks or dinner with one of them at a time.

Certainly they can’t be with their coterie, or one another, at all times. Then you can figure out if you actually want to dedicate time to preserving those relationships.

As we get older, we can grow apart from people who used to be close
friends. Or, those relationships can morph as groups of friends shift.
That’s perfectly okay. Presumably, you didn’t move to DC to strengthen your relationship with these ladies. Keep doing things that make you excited and welcome to the city!


Dear Rachel,

I am the father of a 14-year-old girl. She is smart, funny and all-together fantastic, and I feel grateful every day. Recently, though, I’ve noticed that she has been tweezing her eyebrows. Though she didn’t ask my or her mother’s permission, I’ve read that many young women start tweezing earlier than this. What concerns me is how thinly she has tweezed her eyebrows. There is barely any hair left. I wonder if this tweezing is a symptom of some obsessive-compulsive issue, but I don’t want to make my daughter feel insecure by asking her about it. I am very concerned about this, and my wife and I are trying to figure out the best way to handle it.

Hairless Situation

Dear Hairless Situation,

While jumping to diagnoses is tempting, there are some other very plausible explanations. If your daughter just started tweezing her eyebrows, there’s a big chance she botched it. She may have thought that tweezing involved a lot more hair-pulling than it does, or she may have kept trying to even out her right and left sides. It’s more complicated than it looks.

Unless you tweeze your own eyebrows, I would lean towards having your wife bring up this issue with your daughter. This is not because fathers shouldn’t have conversations with their daughters about grooming or cosmetic issues, but because your wife has more experience either tweezing or perhaps feeling the pressure to do so in a way that most men don’t.

She could ask if your daughter is interested in tweezing her eyebrows and learning some tips for the best ways to do it. Instead of shaming her for the experimentation, turn it into a learning experience.  Get a savvy friend, or contact a local spa or salon to see if they can give your daughter a short class with tips on the best ways to tweeze. Unless your daughter has two gigantic hairy caterpillars above her eyes, I would imagine the teacher would impart a “less is more” attitude.

If you’ve noticed that the eyebrow plucking is part of a more systemic issue, and she’s constantly pulling hair out, it may indeed be a larger problem. Trichotillomania is defined as the compulsive urge to pull out one’s hair, though due to a lack of consistent data reporting, it is difficult to determine how common it is. Your daughter, at 14, is right around the peak age of onset for the condition. If her tweezing fits into the pattern, don’t panic, but see if you can find a counselor or therapist who specializes in talking to teenagers.

I like how you spotlight your daughter’s inner beauty in your letter. Being a 14-year-old young woman is tough, especially regarding pressures on her appearance. Try and make sure you and your wife create an environment where she can confide in you and you can make this time easier.


Rachel Kurzius revels in giving advice, and has provided counsel both as a columnist and a friend. She lives in Washington DC, where she works as a reporter at a financial trade publication. Real Talk with Rachel is published on All Life is Local and the Cleveland Park Listserv, on Wednesdays. Need advice? You can write to Rachel at  advice @ fastmail dot us.


  1. That's not real talk. Here's real talk:

    Not Clicking - lay low, let the clique accept you gradually, and then, when you have their trust, start creating conflicts between the members. Knowing how shallow the modern 20-something is, the facade that is their collective friendship will rapidly break down under any sort of tension. And then you'll have your friends back and you won't have to listen to those uppity ^#^&s again.

    Hairless Situation - I can't believe there aren't more important things in your daughter's life right now than her eyebrows. So she wants thinner eyebrows. Who gives a %#&$.

  2. To the commenter above- wow...all I can say is I hope you are not going around giving unsolicited advice to people, calling people shallow and uppity #@&s. You need to work on your empathy. Also, why are you so angry at the dad who is concerned about his daughter's eyebrow pulling habit? I hope you are not a father yet. You have a lot of growing up to do.

    1. So they're not shallow?

      Look at your hypocrisy. You lash out a commenter for doing bad by being crass (big deal), but you have no anger at the millions of idiots out there, completely unfit and forever incapable of parenting, that choose to make this world a substantially worse-off place because they want to feed some biological urge to lead their own family unit.

      Empathy? I respect empathy's role in inducing people to work together to solve real problems. But when full-size children plead for a helping hand to guide them through the modern woes of daughters plucking eyebrows and friends having other friends, they must be stopped and mocked - for the common good!

  3. Well, I'm not the kind of person who's angry at everybody else for being idiots, and I don't think the world needs more mockery, except maybe from genuinely funny people like Jon Stewart (and he tends to reserve his blows for politicians and bigshot media types). Call me naive. I wouldn't say I lashed out at you, just the opposite, I would say I was suggesting that you should not get so worked up about what you read in advice columns.