The Friendship Doctor

Send in your friendship questions and quandaries and get expert answers and solutions

Feels Like My Friends Are Dropping Like Flies

Friendships—even very good ones—tend to be fluid.

QUESTION

Hi Irene,

Over the last few months, my best friend, whom I'll call "L," has grown close to another of my friends, "S." They have done several things together without including me. I'm not interested in some of the things they did (concerts featuring a genre of music that I'm only a casual fan of, for example), but I don't understand why they don't invite me to other things, like going out to dinner at a restaurant we all like. This has hurt especially because "S" barely speaks to me anymore. When I am with "S," she turns all her attention to "L" and makes plans and gets all excited to be around her.

This situation has made me fear losing friends as I get older (I'm in my late 20s). Two of my friends are getting married this summer, and I am already scared they won't talk to me as much because they'll be involved with their new spouses. So far, they've stayed in touch but I worry about what will happen after the wedding. I am happy for both of them and don't feel jealous of their marriages; I just worry our friendships will die.  

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I am currently trying to build a friendship with a person who treats me well and who values me as a person. I know he and I wouldn't be compatible as a couple, but he is such a nice person that being "just friends" doesn't bother me. However, he has a serious girlfriend and I worry this new friendship will be worthless in the long run if he gets engaged and I end up off to the side again.  

Don't get me wrong, I realize a boyfriend or girlfriend (or husband or wife) are more important than someone who's just a friend. But with the fact that "S" and "L" have gotten closer and slowly seem to be pushing me out of the picture, now I'm worried that my soon to be married friends will treat me the same way, even if it's not out of spite. How can I get over this fear of losing all my friends?

Signed, Megan

 

ANSWER

Hi Megan,

Friendships—even very good ones—tend to be fluid and often drift apart as life circumstances change. Your two friends may have become very friendly with each other, perhaps because they share more in common or maybe, they just clicked in terms of personality. I know this feels like a loss but there's not too much you can do about it. 

You could try reaching out to "L" one-on-one. Is there something that you and she particularly enjoy doing together that you can suggest doing as a twosome? Or, can you suggest that you get together for dinner "to catch up." This may test the waters to see whether she is interested in remaining friendly with you. 

In terms of your engaged friends, they may be less available in coming months but it doesn't necessarily mean the end of these friendships. Remain friendly while being sensitive to the new demands being placed on their time right now. 

Finally, maintaining your friendship with the guy may be tricky if he is involved in a serious relationship. It all depends on his (and his girlfriend's) comfort level. 

Yes, it's unfortunate that everything seems to be in flux simultaneously. Sometimes friendships are challenged and change. Stay engaged but don't act overly needy with these friends, and seek out new friendships to fill the gaps.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene 

 

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Irene S. Levine, Ph.D., is a psychologist and professor of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine. Her latest book is Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup With Your Best Friend.

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