Do you ever find yourself feeling disconnected from your friendship groups? Do you feel left out or underappreciated? There, there—you’re not alone. When you’re part of a large friend group, sometimes you may feel disjointed from them even if they do not intend for it to be that way, and sometimes, unfortunately for you, they may intend for it to be that way. You may also feel well settled in, centred and grounded in the group, and that’s because even with shared experiences, different people have different perspectives.
Sincerely, squads can be stressful. The possibility for drama is endless, especially when there is in-fighting and lobbying for support from different members, and the group may feel divided. Factions arise, and there is turmoil in the land and for what? It’s friendship, not battle royale.
It’s always an unpleasant realisation when it dawns on you that someone or people you hold in high esteem don’t feel the same way about you, especially when you consider them your friend(s). The moment when the scales fall from your eyes, and certain behaviour starts to make sense; when you realise you’ve been overextending yourself for people who wouldn’t do the same for you and don’t rate you like that, it’s a rude awakening.
There’s a running joke that there’s a hierarchy in male friend groups. There’s the leader of the group, the money man. He’s the one they call big bro even if he’s younger because money has added extra inches to his height and status. He calls the shots, and the others fall over themselves for proximity to him and his money and connections. Then there’s the organiser, the one who knows where to be at any given time, where the party’s at. There’s the errand boy of the group, the one they walk all over. He’s often the butt of the joke, but he takes it in good faith because it’s just banter, right? Then there’s the clown, the champion of the jokes usually at the expense of lil bro. He’s the jester, you know the one, Kevin Hart’s character in those group trip movies.
Is there a similar hierarchy in female friend groups? Well, some people believe there is. I personally am of the opinion that in friend groups, everyone should be/is equal, and each member is as important and valued as the other, but this may not always be the case.
In a hypothetical friend group of six, here are some of the characters you may find. Remember, there is no template for friendship; all that’s required is mutual love, care and respect.
The Queen Bee
There’s the one friend that’s the glue, who everyone flocks around. She’s the centre of the group, the leader if you will. She has a major say in what they do and when, maybe not in a dictatorial way, of course, but by soft nudges and, “I think x, what do you guys think?”
She stops to greet 50 people on the way to any given place and she seems to know everyone. She constantly has piping hot tea and summons everyone for group meets. People gravitate towards her, and the party doesn’t start until she’s present. She’s either the absolute sweetest person you’ve ever met or the incarnation of the devil herself. Either way, she carries the group and is equally close to all its members. What are the criteria for assigning this position? Unlike in male friend groups, it’s not certain whether it’s money; you just know.
Within a larger group, there are always smaller pairings, those two friends who do their own thing as a part of the whole. They hang out separately and have each other’s backs no matter what is going on in the larger group. If you like, let there be pandemonium, let the group be turned on its head, everyone fighting everyone; these two are good regardless. They come in two so if one person is unavailable for something, the other probably is too. Maybe they just don’t like to hang out with the group without their favourite person and/or buffer.
This is the voice of reason of the group, the one everyone runs to when there’s turmoil and in-fighting. She’s a shoulder to cry on and will usually give the best advice and call errant parties to order during a fight. You can always count on her and share things you may not want to share with the larger group with her. She’s non-judgmental and understanding, she tells things as they are, but with love, the best of them maybe.
This person mirrors the most “dominant” person in the group and is probably a people pleaser and a yes-man. They don’t like wahala and will align with whoever can cause said wahala so they are not on the other side of it. They don’t have too many strong opinions, if any, and are simply happy to be there. When there’s conflict, they remain in the middle until someone picks a side for them. If you complain to them about certain behaviours in private, they will support you but when you bring it up in front of the person you were complaining about, they suddenly forget how to speak and leave you out in the dust.
The Shit Stirrer
“You’ve changed.” If you’ve heard that before, then you know exactly what I’m talking about and if you’ve said that to a friend, sorry to inform you, you’re probably the shit stirrer.
This person is typically at the head of whatever conflict there is. They are the ones who originate whatever beef, and then they share it with some members of the group likely to take their side. This person is usually the queen bee if she’s on the evil end of the spectrum. They always have an issue with a member of the group about something or the other, and they expect everyone else to take their side, God help you if you don’t. There’s always something on their mind and they will not tell you oh, too rational, too easy. Instead, they will twist and turn and rigmarole until a small, easily resolvable issue is blown out of proportion.
The Half-in-half-out Friend
This person is only about half a member of the friend group. They are absent from group hangs and detached from whatever is going on. They are usually the ones who always have to be filled in on old gist. This may be because they’re busy doing their own thing or because they’re deliberately excluded. Either way, they balance precariously between being in the group and out of the group. Whenever they’re around, it’s either a great time or horrible vibes.
You may not see these labels and assignments from the inside of your friend group, but people on the outside may have other opinions and a stranger’s insight.
A great archetype of this supposed hierarchy is in secondary school squads and some people carry that mentality even into adulthood. Also, see the movie “Mean Girls” for maybe the most succinct example. The Plastics were a very dysfunctional group and Regina George, their leader, is a poster Queen Bee type, (but evil) and also, a little bit of a shit stirrer. Gretchen was a people pleasing swayer, as was Cady, and we all saw how that went in the end.
Ultimately, these labels don’t matter; are you having a good time? Do you feel loved and supported? If yes, you’re doing great; carry on. If otherwise, then some serious reevaluation is advised.