How to deal with cliques in your flat

20 Aug 2021
By Hazel M., Freelance writer, journalist and total bookworm at Unite Students

Moving into a new place full of strangers is intimidating enough, without the added drama of learning to deal with a clique.

But if things are feeling a little bit Mean Girls, try not to let it get you down - more people have been there than you think.

And, while some people will immediately form friendship groups, others will just take a little bit longer to fall into those close friendship circles.

So, what do you do when you are faced with a clique in your flat?

Having gone through the experience myself, I know a thing or two about what it’s like to be living with people who don’t make you feel particularly comfortable.

That’s why, below, I’ve highlighted some of my key tips (based on my own experience) that could help you feel less like the spare part in the kitchen and a real part of the crew.

Don’t take it personally

Before you do anything else, remember that everyone feels a little bit insecure when they start university, even if they won’t admit it. From learning to be independent to making new friends, it’s a lot to take in.

Often, this can result in people jumping into friendships that give them a sense of safety and security from the word ‘go’, all to rebuild a sense of normality.

So, if people are spending a lot of time together, don’t be scared to jump in and ask to hang out, too – they’ll probably be glad that you’re interested in being part of the group.

Try making friends with people separately

If you struggle to click with people who are hanging out in groups, try making friends with each person individually first before taking on the clique.

You can do this by asking one of them to go for a coffee or seeing if they’d like to take a walk for a bit of fresh air. It’s a great way to get to know people on a one-to-one level and, once they know you better, they’re more likely to include you in the group plans.

Keep it casual, though, and, if others do ask to tag along, roll with it. You could make friends quicker than you know!

Offer to host flat bonding nights

Flat bonding is a pretty popular thing at university. After all, you live with these people and they can become like your second family.

So, if you’re feeling a bit left out of the group, make your own plans. Offer to host a flat bonding night by cooking everyone dinner (you can ask them to chip in if ingredients are expensive) or set up a games night that will help loosen everyone up.

If you need some inspiration, here are five things to do together as a flat.

Be honest about how you feel

Talking to people about how you feel can be nerve-wracking, but it can also help clear up any miscommunication.

In fact, you’ll probably find that the clique didn’t even know they were acting like a clique or have any idea that you were feeling particularly left out.

The key is to let them know how you’re feeling in a way that isn’t confrontational or blames them, but let’s them know you’d like to be part of the crew, too. You may be surprised at how quickly things change when you’re open and honest about your feelings.

There are plenty more fish in the sea

If things really aren’t going well with your flatmates, that’s okay. Sometimes, people really don’t click, and it may turn out they’re just not ‘your people’.

The good news is that there is a whole campus of people to make friends with. From those joining societies to those in your lectures, there is a whole host of humans out there that you will have plenty in common with.

So, if you’ve tried all of the above to no avail, don’t despair. You’ll find your crew, but it might just be in a less obvious place.

For me? I found my best friends on my course and we didn’t look back. The next year, we moved in together and I put that clique behind me (after an alcohol-fuelled heart-to-heart in third year, though, it turns out they had no idea what they’d done in the first place!).

Making friends isn’t easy but living with a clique doesn’t have to be the end of the world. In fact, despite living with a clique, I still had an incredible first year – and so will you.

Looking for more tips on student living? Click here.

Did you know that you can now book with friends when looking for accommodation with Unite Students? You can create your perfect flat set-up right here.

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When not stringing words together, can usually be found on the local beach with her cocker spaniel pup, Huey.