This is why there's always one friend in the group that nobody likes

This is why there's always one friend in the group that nobody likes

If you've got a big enough group of pals, you'll notice that each person normally plays a certain stock role within the gang.

Take the characters from the TV show Friends, for example. You've got Ross, the nerdy, highly-strung one. Then there's Joey, the laid-back, always-up-for-a-party sort of guy. There's also Rachel, the outgoing but mostly level-headed one. After that comes Phoebe, the kind-hearted (if not a little odd) one. Monica fits in as the controlling but well-meaning friend. And, of course, there's Chandler: the comic relief and voice of reason.

But who are we missing here? Oh, yeah - Gunther. The one nobody likes. He's not necessarily a bad guy by any means, and he doesn't really do much to annoy the others. And yet, though they see him every day, the Friends crew rarely make an effort to engage with Gunther.

This is a trend that we see in real friendship groups, too - but why does it happen? It's not really an easy phenomenon to explain, as there are a number of factors that could lead to an unlikeable 'friend' being part of a group.

The first and most likely reason is that they've been there for ages. Maybe even longer than everyone else. You can't really kick them out because they've established a certain level of seniority for themselves, and doing so may distance other long-standing members of the group.

Another common reason is that they're just always within the physical proximity of the group. They could be a work colleague or a school friend or - like Gunther - a regular at the place your gang uses as a meeting point. It's just awkward to ditch them because, well, where have they got to go?

Sometimes, a friend might get added to the group under certain circumstances relating to an existing member. They could be related to another, more likable part of the group, or might even be dating someone else in the gang. Either way, you can't really ditch one of them without upsetting the other, so it simply can't be done.

A few more reasons include fear, pity, and necessity. So, either you're too afraid to confront the friend, too soft to mention their shortcomings, or too selfish to give up the only one of your buddies who is prepared to be the designated driver.

But even so, why do we insist on putting up with someone who always ends up bringing everyone else down or ticking them off? We could just organize to hang out somewhere else without them, right?

Well, the thing is, sometimes we like having a dislikeable person in the friendship circle. They act as the scapegoat for any of the gang's issues and can be relied on as a good deflection for anybody else's flaws. Ultimately, they become the person we all love to hate. Or, to a lesser extreme, the person we all like to dislike.

If your group has this kind of dynamic, though, it is something worth talking about. There's a chance you might be able to find a way to make everybody in the group happy with one another - and that's got to be better than keeping company with someone you secretly despise.