No one likes to be put on the back burner by a friend, especially because of a guy. But the truth is that this will probably happen at some point in every friendship. Even though it can be totally frustrating, navigating these kinds of rifts in a friendship is an important skill to master. Here’s how I handle it in my own life.
- Assess why it bothers you so much first. Are you flat out jealous of her because she has a boyfriend and you don’t or a more serious relationship than you? Do you genuinely just miss spending time with her? Do you think he’s not good for her and maybe it frustrates you to see her spend all of her time with him? Whatever it may be, it’s so important that you figure out what is going on on your end. In my own friendships, I’ve made sure to figure this out before I involved her at all. For example, if I was bothered because I was envious of her, then I would have to deal on my own. It’s just fair.
- Figure out if talking to her will be productive. I’ve learned that not everything necessitates a conversation. Sometimes a little time and space will heal frustrations. In other cases, avoiding confrontation only adds tension to the situation. In the past, I’ve done a cost-benefit analysis of sorts to figure out what I might gain or lose by bringing up the fact that I feel neglected. Remember though, once you bring it up you can’t take it back, so make sure it’s worth it.
- If you do talk, get down to the heart of the matter. In my experience, these conversations can get super uncomfortable really quickly. Your friend might get defensive. She might not like how you’re characterizing her relationship or your relationship. She definitely won’t enjoy being called a bad friend. To avoid the awkwardness and the defensiveness, it’s so important to remind her that you love her, you miss her and that you are concerned about your friendship. Don’t get off the subject. Don’t bring up tangential issues. Focus more on how it makes you feel rather than what she’s not doing for you because it might resonate more.
- Put yourself in her shoes. If you believe that it’s possible to truly balance your friendships and romantic relationship at the same time, I’m going to call bs. They’re different relationships! The intimacy required is completely different. The thing is, when you fall in love it’s pretty normal to want to spend a majority of your time with your partner. Can’t we agree that it’s kind of the whole point of having a romantic partner? It doesn’t mean that make it acceptable for your friend to drop everyone in her life for her boyfriend, but it does make it reasonable to prioritize him differently from some of her other friendships. Let’s face it, you probably would too.
- Spend your time strengthening your other friendships. Look at this time as an opportunity to nurture some of your other friendships. Okay, so your BFF is really caught up in her relationship right now. Cool, lean on someone else. That’s why you have more than one friend!
- Keep in mind that as we get older this is what happens. As we get older people start to partner up, build families of their own and just grow the eff up. It’s a fact of life. Realizing this now might help you to feel less personally offended in the future. It’s helped me to let go of any bitterness I harbor and just move forward.
- Know the difference between a boo’d up friend and a crappy friend. A friend that blows off your plans repeatedly for her dude is different than a friend who has a boyfriend with whom she spends a lot of her time. This distinction is important because it will help you to figure out if the issue is worth bringing up with your friend. A coupled-up friend might not realize that she’s hurting you whereas a crappy one just doesn’t care. You might have to cut off the crappy friend, whereas you can work with this.
- Try to get to know him better. This helped me when I found out that the reason my friend was so MIA was because she actually didn’t know how to balance her relationship and friendships. She just assumed I didn’t have a problem with it because I never said anything. Ridiculous logic, I know. But at the heart of it, she didn’t want me to feel super single or super awkward or uncomfortable. Because all I wanted was to see my friend more, I started to take a bigger interest in her boyfriend independently of her. Doing this made her feel like he and I had the basis for a friendship and eased her anxiety of having to choose. Then because of that he actually encouraged her more to hang out with me without him because we had a rapport, and then they started inviting me to more group outings and voila my friend was back in my life. It’s a little reverse psychology — try it out.
- If all else fails, write her a letter. Sometimes writing can feel super cathartic for me. If I’m feeling upset about a friendship and I’m nervous about the potential confrontation, I sit down with my feelings and bang out a heartfelt letter or email. There is something productive about organizing your thoughts and being able to control the tone of the message that can be a better avenue for repairing friendships, especially where your feelings are involved. Plus, it might give her some time to reflect on what is going on in her own life instead of responding defensively to you.