Advice

My bestie and I hang out less now that I’m in a relationship, and she’s feeling spurned

Dear Wayne and Wanda,

I need advice on how to deal with one of my good friends. “Cat” and I go way back to grade school days. She’s always had my back. She’s that friend you can call on for anything — she’ll be there for me on my worst days. I am grateful for her friendship and would never want to lose it which is why I’m coming to you for advice.

While Cat is awesome in many ways, she is also a lot. She’s always been pretty emotional and dramatic, someone you have to be careful with in terms of how you say things. She gets offended more easily than most and takes things personally when she shouldn’t. She also has major FOMO and doesn’t like to be left out.

I recently started seeing someone and naturally he and I like spending time alone together. This is causing issues with Cat. A couple of times when she found out we had plans, she invited herself along, and I didn’t know how to tell her no. I’ve gotten to know some of my boyfriend’s friends too, and they’ve started inviting me out more frequently. I don’t always tell Cat, and when I don’t she gets very reactive about being left out and me “living life without her.”

To be clear, I spend lots of time with Cat. I just like spending time alone with my boyfriend and new friends. Still, I know I’m a pleaser and an overthinker and I feel like I’m letting my friend down. How should I navigate through this?

Wanda says:

It’s great to have a friend like Cat in our corner. Fiercely loyal, protective and unconditionally loving, a buddy like her ensures you always have backup after a breakup, a shoulder to cry on in tough times, and a pal to party with when life is on high. The problem is someone like Cat is so used to and gets so much personal value from being needed by you that when you start needing her less, she feels it like rejection, even though that’s not at all your intent.

ADVERTISEMENT

It’s also totally reasonable that you want to sometimes be Cat-less and do your own thing. Part of this is just needing a healthy (and normal) break from each other. It also creates space for you to build up your new relationship. And from a big-picture perspective, most of us draw different joy and are able to exhibit different sides of ourselves when we’re with certain people. You’ll have a different experience with your new friends when it’s just you, versus you with your omnipresent sidekick.

But Cat’s not used to you wanting or needing this. It’s a new dynamic and given the pattern you’ve established with each other, it’s also unusual, which for her is probably unsettling and causing serious worry and anxiety that she’s losing her bestie. So the best thing you can do is be super honest: Cat is so important to you that you can’t imagine your life without her, and you also need some downtime with your boyfriend.

Wayne says:

We should all be so fortunate to have a Cat in our lives: 10 toes down in good times and bad, and someone who truly loves, enjoys and thrives on being around their friend. And the Cats of the world deserve friends who give the same energy back to them. You were that friend — until you weren’t.

Look, we all grow up and our professional and personal lives and relationships evolve in small and significant ways. But best friends, even ones with some clingy or dramatic tendencies, will be there for every swing of life’s roller-coaster ride. Don’t forget that.

Should Cat calm down, be a little less reactive and a little more understanding of your desire to explore a new romantic relationship? Sure. In fact, she should be more supportive — we want the best for our besties, right? But should you be a little less dismissive of the importance of her presence in your daily life and more sensitive to her feelings as you’re admittedly phasing out time you’d spend with her for time with a group of new friends with no history? Um, yeah. Why wouldn’t she be included in friend nights? I know she can be a lot, but she’s your best friend and your ride-or-die no matter how things go.

Intentionally including, instead of intentionally excluding, Cat from the friend gatherings would likely go a long way in making her feel appreciated and important as your life changes. And a friend-to-friend talk with her should give her a deeper perspective on the difference between friend time and girlfriend-boyfriend exclusive time. If Cat is half the friend you say she is, she’ll get it.

[An old friend moved in and inserted himself in all parts of my life. How can I get some space?]

[Every time my friend and I go out, I end up paying more than my share and feeling taken advantage of]

Wayne and Wanda

Wanda is a wise person who has loved, lost and been to therapy. Wayne is a wise guy who has no use for therapy. Send them your questions and thoughts at wanda@adn.com.

Sponsored