Tuesday, August 5, 2014

How Do I Handle Possibly Losing a Friend To Someone Else?

Dear Jocelyn,
I have a really good friend (neighbor) that I support with all her life drama daily. We recently met a girl at our gym and had planned to go out as a group. It never worked out, but now the new girl texts with my friend daily and they go out and don't include me. I mentioned to my friend (as it bothered me) that I thought this was strange, and she finally sees what I am talking about. The new girl will make plans with my friend right in front of me and not ask me. We are nice to each other, but I feel she doesn't want to socialize with me. I really don't want to be part of this friendship with the new girl and have told my friend. She keeps telling me about their plans together and it gets me more and more angry. My friend now asks me to go with them, but I feel like it's an afterthought. This weekend, my friend is having the new girl to her house for dinner and asked me after the fact; I said "no thanks," then she proceeded to say she wanted to make it a girls' night and invite some of her other friends. I have never met some of these friends nor had dinner at her house before. I'm really trying to not be a baby but my feelings are hurt. I have known my friend (neighbor) for 7 years and she recently got divorced so I have been a support for her 24/7 and have talked her off the ledge many times. What should I do? Stop talking about the new girl with my friend and change the subject? I feel like a better offer comes up and my friend goes with it. I hate to keep mentioning this to my friend because this really isn't my personality and I don't ever have problems with friendships. Any advice you can offer to keep me sane would be great.
-Third Wheel

Dear Wheel,
This seems like the sort of awkward situation that requires a dispassionate review of the facts. You are friends with your neighbor (let's call her "Mary"). Both of you recently met another woman (let's call her "Susie"). You and Susie are not very interested in a friendship, but Susie and Mary have hit it off. Now they are making plans and seeing each other without you.

Is it wrong for Mary to have friends other than you? I'm sure you don't think so. Is it wrong for someone to want to hang out with Mary and not you? I'm sure you don't think that either. After all, you don't even sound all that fond of Susie. But even though those two things are true, it can still hurt to see your close friend becoming bosom buddies with someone else. You might know intellectually that it is fine for Susie to want to be friends with Mary and not you, but you may still feel slighted to see it play out right in front of you.

It sounds like this hurt you are feeling might be affecting how you react to situations with Mary. If you didn't have any hurt feelings about her friendship with Susie, would you have accepted her invitation for a girls' night?

You might try giving yourself a pep talk that sounds like this, "I have a perfectly good friendship with Mary. We have been friends for seven years and she appreciates me. Right now, she is developing a new friendship with someone I don't want to be friends with. That's alright. She is excited about it. We can still be good friends." Try being enthusiastic about their friendship. Support it; smile when Mary mentions Susie. If Mary senses she has to choose between you two as friends, it is going to strain your friendship. Instead, continue being a good friend to her and choose to take the supportive and friendly route. Eventually, the jealous feelings will fade and you'll find yourself actually being supportive about them.
-Jocelyn

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