Navigating Friendships: Coping with Being the Background Friend

How To For Women

Understanding the concept of a background friend

At its core, a background friend is someone who’s on the fringes of a friendship group. They’re not part of the inner circle, but they’re not completely on the outside either.

They observe the group, but they’re not always included in all the activities. It’s a lonely position to be in, and it’s not always easy to navigate.

One defining characteristic of a background friend is that they strive to be morally correct in all situations. They try to avoid drama and conflict and prefer to take a backseat in conversations.

They’re the people who often listen but rarely speak up. They’re not necessarily shy or introverted, but they may feel like they don’t have much to contribute to the conversation.

There are different types of background friends, too. Some people become background friends out of desperation.

They may not have many other friends or social outlets, so they’ll stick around an established group to have some social interaction. Other background friends are people who have friends in real life, but they still feel like they don’t fully fit into any particular group.

Signs that suggest you are the background friend in a friendship group

Are you the background friend in your group? It’s not always easy to tell, but there are some signs to look out for:

  • You’re invited to things, but not everything.
  • You’re not part of the group within the group.
  • You struggle to feel truly comfortable.

What to do if you are a background friend

If you’ve identified that you’re the background friend, don’t panic. The good news is that this situation is not set in stone.

You can take steps to become a more integrated member of the group and have deeper, more meaningful friendships. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Take the initiative and suggest activities that you like.
  • Seek out like-minded people.
  • Work on building your self-confidence.
  • Take small steps towards being more assertive.

Being a background friend can be a challenging and sometimes uncomfortable position to be in.

However, it doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to always be an outsider. With some effort and initiative, you can become a more integrated member of the group and have deeper, more meaningful friendships.

Remember, it’s not always about how many friends you have, but about how well you connect with those you do have. Coping with being the background friend can be difficult, but it’s not an insurmountable obstacle.

Being wary before going all-in with a new friendship

One of the ways to cope with being the background friend is to be mindful of how much effort you put into new friendships. It can be tempting to want to dive in headfirst and make new friends right away, but it’s important to be mindful of your self-confidence and assertiveness levels.

If you’re not feeling particularly confident or assertive, it can be challenging to set boundaries and advocate for yourself in new relationships. Instead, take a slower, more measured approach to making new friends.

Try to observe people and assess whether they’re a good fit for you before investing too much time and energy into the relationship. If you’re having a hard time setting boundaries, look to other areas of your life where you can practice this skill, such as with family members or co-workers.

Changing your circumstances

Another way to cope with being the background friend is to change your circumstances. If you don’t feel like you fit in with your current group of friends, try branching out and making new friends.

Join a club or organization that aligns with your interests, or volunteer for a cause that you care about. By connecting with new people, you may find a group that’s a better fit for you, one where you feel like you can truly belong.

Additionally, consider changing your approach to existing relationships. If you want to feel more included in your current friend group, try taking the initiative and suggesting activities or outings.

If you’re feeling left out, speak up and communicate your feelings. Sometimes, relationships can evolve and change over time, and by being honest and upfront about your needs, you may be able to approach the situation in a different way.

Finding stories to get lost in

One of the best ways to cope with being the background friend is to immerse yourself in stories that you can get lost in. This could take the form of reading literature, watching movies or TV shows, or listening to music.

By immersing yourself in these stories, you give yourself permission to explore your own thoughts and ideas. You’ll also be able to hone your own storytelling skills and learn to express yourself in a more effective and impactful way.

The hidden benefits of being the background friend

While it can be challenging to feel like you’re always on the outside looking in, being the background friend can also have some surprising benefits. One of these is the development of personal space for introspection and independent thinking.

When you’re not always at the center of the group’s activities, you have a chance to reflect more on your own thoughts and ideas. You might find that you have a more unique perspective on things, one that’s not colored by groupthink or the opinions of others.

Being the background friend can also give you the opportunity to be more thoughtful and empathetic towards others. By observing the group from the sidelines, you’re able to see the dynamics and nuances in a more objective way.

This can make you more attuned to the needs and feelings of others, and you may be more effective at constructing meaningful relationships as a result.


Coping with being the background friend can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. By taking a measured approach to new friendships, changing your circumstances, and finding stories to get lost in, you can learn to navigate this position with more ease and grace.

And who knows, you might even discover some hidden benefits to being the background friend, such as developing personal space for introspection and a more thoughtful and empathetic approach towards others. Embracing being the background friend may seem like a difficult concept, but it can have numerous benefits.

Recognizing the value of a background friend

Background friends may not always be at the forefront of group activities, but they have a lot to offer. These individuals are often empathetic, friendly, and great listeners.

Being a background friend doesn’t signify a lack of social skills or poor relationship building abilities, but rather a recognition and willingness to let others take the lead. Background friends also have a knack for offering advice and support, as they’re usually the ones observing dynamics and analyzing situations.

They can provide valuable insights and perspectives, helping their friends navigate through challenging times.

Being happy with themselves

Being the background friend doesn’t necessarily mean being bothered by it. In fact, embracing who you are and what you bring to the table can be incredibly liberating and empowering.

When you’re not trying to impress or always be at the center of attention, you allow yourself the space to focus on what’s truly important, such as your own personal growth. It’s also important to recognize that not everyone wants to or needs to be the center of attention all the time.

By embracing and accepting yourself as a background friend, you’re letting go of societal pressures and expectations, and embracing a unique and valuable role in any given friend group.

Tips for embracing the background friend

  1. Practice mindfulness
  2. Acknowledge and lean into your strengths
  3. Learn something new
  4. Take the initiative
  5. Be kind to yourself


Being the background friend can come with its own challenges, but it’s a role that many find rewarding and valuable. By recognizing the strengths and value that background friends bring to the table, and embracing who you are and what you bring to a friend group, you can live a fulfilling life and have meaningful relationships.

Remember to be kind to yourself, take the lead when you can, and always focus on the positive aspects of the role you play in your friendships. In conclusion, being the background friend can be a challenging position to be in, but it’s important to recognize its value and the benefits it can bring.

By taking a measured approach to new friendships, changing your circumstances, and finding stories to get lost in, you can learn to navigate this position with more ease and grace. When you embrace being a background friend, you can be happy with yourself and all the unique qualities you bring to the table.

By acknowledging the value of a background friend, we can create more inclusive and empathetic friend groups, and encourage growth and meaningful relationships for everyone involved.

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