The Teen Doctor

Answers to your questions about adolescents

My Friend Steals My Boyfriends

I can't keep my boyfriends.

Dear Dr. G.,

Hi there. I am a 16-year-old high school junior with problems. It was my mother who referred me to you. This is what is going on. I have dated three boys during the past year and each time one of my closest friends developed an interest in all of these boys. At least that is how it looked to me. And, right after I broke up with one of them this same friend started dating him.

These boys that I date aren't even popular types. They are the nerdy types that I like. So why, after I start dating them do they suddenly become interesting to my friend? Before I dated each of them she never showed any interest in any of them.

This is really bothering me. I feel special when a boy likes me and dates me. Why does my friend have to like my boyfriends? Shouldn't she be finding her own boyfriends?

What do you think Dr.G.? My mother said that you'd be able to explain things.


A Confused Teen Girl


Dear Teen,

Ah… you are experiencing a common occurrence. When you start dating someone, that person's social desirability suddenly increases. This has been going on for centuries. A quiet and relatively unknown person begins to date a desirable person and, voila! others want to date him too. My guess is that you are well-liked and when you pick someone to date other girls take a look at him and start finding him interesting.

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This will probably not make you feel better but your female friend probably admires you and is competitive with you and therefore likes and wants what you have. There is also a tendency to like and desire the people who are familiar to us, so your friend gets familiar and comfortable with your boyfriends and likely starts feeling an attraction. I am not saying that she should be flirting with your boyfriends. I am simply explaining why this occurs.

Here is what I suggest you do with your friend. If you are close with her and want to maintain the friendship then point out the pattern to her. Tell her that it is taking its toll on the friendship. See if she responds in a sensitive manner. My hope is that she will. If not, consider relegating her to your outer circle of your friends. And, keep in mind that throughout your life you will want friends who support you more than they compete with you. You also have no need for boyfriends who desire another woman.

I know that this will be hard to take. I wish you good luck.


Dr. G.

For more articles like this see my website:

Barbara Greenberg, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment of adolescents and their well-intentioned but exhausted parents.


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