The Friendship Doctor

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Introduced two friends...and now I'm left out

Friend poaching happens more often than you might think.

QUESTION

Hi, 

About two years ago I became friends with a woman I met at a class. We immediately hit it off and became fast friends. It seemed like we had lots in common, including our interest in photography. I was very excited to have a friend with whom to share something I love.

After about a year of knowing each other I met another woman, also into photography. It was my idea for us three to get together and chat. We all got along great. Then we went on a weekend trip together and something changed. The other two ladies seemed to hit it off really well, making me feel like a third wheel. They were both having issues with their husbands so I thought maybe they bonded over that.

After the trip I knew things would be different between us. Within a few months they were both headed for divorce and I was planning my wedding. They started to hang out together and never invited me. I rationalized it by saying they were probably supporting each through their divorces. Plus, I was busy planning my wedding and super busy with work. (Neither one of them worked.)

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The few times I did see them at a function, they tended to talk between themselves and pretty much ignored me. If I wanted to talk to them I always had to initiate the conversation. They even ignored me at my own bridal shower. I was really upset when they didn't come to my bachelorette party and gave no explanation. At my wedding, they made no big attempt to talk to me.

Ever since they became close, the woman I was initially friends with started keeping things from me. We used to share and talk about our photography, but then she started going out doing photo shoots, not inviting me and not sharing information with me when I asked. She became very secretive and actually told me there were things she'd "rather not say."

One of my good friends says she was just using me. And that now that she's met someone she's really close w/ she basically doesn't care about me anymore. I thought about confronting her, but decided against it. I thought maybe our friendship could just be downgraded. She calls me from time to time, we chat, but haven't seen each other in months. I know she goes out with the other woman all the time - she's always posting photos of them on Facebook.

I know this all seems childish and I'm trying just to get over it, but I'm having a hard time moving on. I'm just disappointed that a seemingly good friendship turned out to be not so special. I'd appreciate any advice you could give.

Thanks, Brittany

 

ANSWER  

Hi Brittany, 

This is a classic case of friend poaching: You introduced your friend to a friend of yours---and the two of them hit it off and left you in the proverbial dust. When that happens, it's always disappointing and it's understandable to feel hurt.

Try not to take this too personally. I think it has more to do with the two of them than it does with you. Unless your friend is a serial poacher (and you've given no indication that's the case), it wasn't something she did to hurt you. 

You're wise to acknowledge that sharing the trauma of a divorce can be a stronger bond than a shared love of photography. It doesn't mean that your friend's relationship with you was insincere but it sounds like her life was in flux and you threw her a life preserver. While I don't condone her behavior at your shower or your wedding, give these women credit for being there and try to understand that it may have been harder for them to participate in the joyous festivities than it would be if their life circumstances were similar to yours. 

While understanding won't make you feel any better about what happened, keep in mind that some perfectly good friendships don't last forever and there's little we can do about it. There's not much you can do but back off as you have and, if this relationship is important to you leave the door open. You may be able to have a more casual, less intense, relationship with your once-close friend; being friends with both of them as a threesome may be hard to stomach. 

P.S. Don't torture yourself by following them on Facebook. Use the time to sign up for a Meetup group or to join an online photography group instead.

Hope this helps. With time and new friendships, you'll feel much better. 

My best, Irene

 

Read these prior posts on The Friendship Blog about friend poaching: 

 

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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