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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : You Hang Out With Friends? Don’t Be So Cliquish! » You Hang Out With Friends? Don’t Be So Cliquish!

You Hang Out With Friends? Don’t Be So Cliquish!

Rusty - November 16, 2005

When we first moved to Brooklyn we discovered that within ten blocks of our apartment there was a group of five couples our age who always hung out together. We quickly assimilated ourselves into that group and had one of the most memorable summers of our lives. We just recently went on a reunion cruise with them (3 of the couples have since moved) and had a ball. These are good people and we’ve had some good times.

Apparently we were a clique.

Dictionary.com defines a clique as “A small exclusive group of friends or associates.”

Okay, so we were a group, but it’s not like we were an organized group with an admission policy. When choosing who to call it was usually for the following reasons (in order of importance):

1) similar personality / interests
2) close vicinity
3) similar age
4) lack of money

This seems to be the natural tendency of friendships. However, they aren’t the only ones we became friends with, just those with whom we became closest to.

There’s another type of group: board game groups, poker groups, Bunko groups, Girl’s Night Out groups, Xbox groups, etc. For those who followed Kristen Johnston’s thread on Bunko… well, it got bonked (the thread, not the group. The future of the group is still in question. Apparently the clique nature of the group was the problem, not the psuedo-gambling aspect). These groups have a (often unwritten) purpose whether that’s playing a game or getting away from their kids.

The inherent problem with exclusivity is that every time we make any choice we are at the same time excluding all other choices. If I choose to buy an Apple Macintosh I’m at the same time excluding Dell, Gateway, IBM, Sony as well as the Windows software. We can’t choose everything.

Exclusivity is what makes a clique a clique and not just a group of people. As I see it, it manifests itself in two ways:

1) people exclude
2) people feel excluded

A clique only exists to the person being excluded, not the excluder. In other words, whether or not #1 happens, it’s from #2 that problems arise.

Many of us think the BCS (college football) is a clique. Many think the Bloggernacle is a clique. Many non-Mormons think our religion is a clique. And the reason I’m writing this is because so many feel that there are cliques within our wards.

So what can we do?

My wife and I regularly have people over for dinner, often our friends (those who we’re comfortable with) and sometimes others (newcomers, those who live far away, those we don’t know too well, etc.) and we always have a good time. We often feel bad for not inviting more of these people we don’t know over for dinner… that is, until we remember that they haven’t invited us over. We’re not bothered by this but it makes my point: quit pouting about being excluded unless you’re doing your share of including.


  1. Nice post. Have you ever noticed that the people complaining about the cliques are always referring to people who are of social status? And by that I don’t mean class, but, if a bunch of weird people made friends and did weird things together, no one would complain. In other words, the complaints are always directed upwards.

    Comment by Eric Russell — November 16, 2005 @ 12:21 pm

  2. I’m actually quite interested in the tension between exlusive friendships and Zion. I am a big believer in the concept of Zion. Moreover, I just don’t like everybody. I prefer to hang out with people that I enjoy. Maybe that is cliquish.

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 16, 2005 @ 12:27 pm

  3. Eric,
    Whatever, Star Trek conventions are SOOOOO cliquish!!!

    Comment by Rusty — November 16, 2005 @ 12:29 pm

  4. J,
    You make a very valid point. It’s clear that Christ loved everyone. But he also had close friends and you can’t get close with someone unless you spend more time with them than others. Was He exclusive? Were others feeling excluded? We can’t really tell but I imagine Christ always made people feel loved and welcome.

    Comment by Rusty — November 16, 2005 @ 12:41 pm

  5. Cliques are always about others, never about ourselves. By that I mean, if I belong to one clique it’s ok if I don’t belong to a different clique then they are the ones at fault, they are excluding me…they, they, they.

    I say if you don’t belong to a clique, start your own.

    Comment by don — November 16, 2005 @ 1:18 pm

  6. For those who may need help here is my clique making formula:
    Start small with someone you like and has your standards…that would be you. Then lower your standards enough so someone else will associate with you. Lower them again until a third person can put up with the both of you. Then keep lowering the standard until in can include as many as you want and still exclude “those other people”. Obviously this is a delicate balance…you can do it.

    Comment by don — November 16, 2005 @ 1:23 pm

  7. Exactly, Rusty. But you never hear anyone complaining about them, do you!

    Did Christ have friends? Anytime you have a friend, it must – almost by virtue of the definition of friend – come at the expense of time and attention towards others. I imagine Christ probably got accusations of cliquishness. Perhaps because of his friendship with his disciples, or the family of Mary, Martha and Lazarus.

    Comment by Eric Russell — November 16, 2005 @ 1:27 pm

  8. lol! Nice advice Don.

    Comment by Geoff J — November 16, 2005 @ 1:39 pm

  9. Does BYU still have the low profile, bed hopper, doper, drinker clique? I heard they kick out less actives now, so I’m guessing people like I hanged w/ don’t go to BYU anymore.

    So Rusty, do your Brooklyn friends bring their own beverages?

    Comment by Steve EM — November 16, 2005 @ 4:13 pm

  10. The Twelve Apostles are one of the most exclusive cliques around. Do you know they’ve never invited my to their Thursday meeting in the temple? Snobs.

    Comment by NFlanders — November 16, 2005 @ 5:24 pm

  11. I still think it’s weird that some Mormons only associate with other Mormons.

    Comment by Susan M — November 17, 2005 @ 12:07 am

  12. Susan M – me, too. But Mormons themselves are kind of weird. Birds of a feather, as they say.

    As for cliques/making friends, the transaction costs of finding and getting to know interesting people and then cultivating meaningful relationships with them are huge. It’s so much easier to hang out with people who live near you, and, obviously, with people with whom you share interests instead of never getting past the blah, blah, blah small talk.

    So, it’s not necessarily about sizing people up and then affirmatively rejecting people who don’t fit your profile (which is what the people who feel left out might think), but it’s probably more about just kind of falling into relationships with people because it’s convenient.

    Do we have an obligation to be best friends with everyone at Church? Nah. But I guess we do have an obligation to serve others and be nice to them. That said, I’ve found that some people at Church have more labor intensive definitions of what being “nice” to them is (i.e., inviting them over for dinner every Sunday, driving them to church, talking to you on the phone everday, cleaning their house, etc.).

    Comment by Elisabeth — November 17, 2005 @ 10:49 am

  13. I used to think it was wierd that Mormons only hung out with Mormons – until I moved to Utah, where I have no non-mormon neighbors or colleagues. To find some non-mormon friends, I would really need to make an effort, and at this stage of my life, it just isn’t worth the effort (hard enough to get three toddlers dressed every day, let alone worry about diversifying my circle of friends. I’m just glad to have them, whoever they may be!) I do miss the diversity of thought and experience though. Although in my rapidly growing little town, almost everyone is from somewhere else, so there is a LITTLE diversity, even among the mormons…

    Comment by Sue — November 17, 2005 @ 2:15 pm

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