Dear Wayne and Wanda,
My two best friends are leaving me out, and I’m not sure how to deal with it. I have been really close to “Jane” for years — since high school, and we went to college together. At work, a few years ago, I met “Betty.” We hit it off right away. For a while, I pretty much split my time between them, but about a year ago, I invited them both to brunch. They got along great, and I was so happy about this! I started planning things for the three of us — girls’ nights, pedicure dates, shopping trips, all the usual stuff.
Lately, though, Jane and Betty have started doing stuff without me. I’m not sure when it started or how long it’s going on, but the first time I realized it was happening, I stopped by one of our favorite restaurants after a long day at work, and they were there having dinner together. It was the weirdest thing. I felt like they were cheating on me or something, and they almost acted guilty about it, and no one really knew what to say, and it was awkward.
But it wasn’t a one-time thing. Since then, I know they have done many things together without me, and frankly it just makes me sad. I miss my friends and I hate feeling left out. I know I should be bigger than this but I can’t help it, I’m jealous. What can I do?
There’s a saying: It’s not about you. I would ask that you say that out loud, remember it, repeat it, and keep it in mind as you navigate this new reality with your gal pals.
Jane and Betty aren’t leaving you out because they don’t like you. They’re doing things together because they like each other. And kudos to you for introducing them and facilitating this friendship!
When your girls arrange a meet-up, and don’t think to invite you, it isn’t because you aren’t a fun friend, or a worthy person to include; it’s because they have a different dynamic when it’s just the two of them, and frankly, it’s their prerogative to explore it — and yes, if you do care for them as individuals, you should support this.
Real friendships in this world can be few and far between and we’re all lucky to count the ones we have. Jane and Betty forging a tighter bond doesn’t diminish the connection you have to either woman, the fun you have when hanging out with either of them one-on-one, or the great girl time you get when the three of you meet up. Put your pride aside and be supportive of their happiness.
Oh for friendship’s sake. Want to hang out with your friends? Invite them to do things with you, individually and as a trio. It’s working pretty well for them.
And while the mantra may be that “It’s not about you,” that doesn’t mean you can’t include yourself. If I walk into a bar and see two of my buddies having beers and wings, I don’t make it awkward — I pull up a stool, grab a glass and a wing, and join the chat. And I can’t imagine many situations in which they wouldn’t laugh and empty the pitcher into my glass. That’s what friends do.
If anything, you should feel very darn good about bringing two cool people together, increasing the friend circle, and generally making the world a happier place. Don’t ruin it by being bitter, petty or sad. Embrace it, enhance it, enrich it by letting them have their fun and joining in when you feel the need for some quality friend time.
Oh, and remember this: Friendship dynamics, distractions and demands change all the time, sometimes subtly, sometimes substantially. Just wait until one, both of them or even you goes gaga over a significant other, gets a big and busy job promotion, or starts a family.