Dear Annie: My friend makes me feel invisible

Dear Annie: I have a close friend who I love very much, but whenever we’re together, whether in social settings or professional environments, it feels like I’m always playing second fiddle to their charisma and charm.

I value our friendship and genuinely enjoy her company, but I just can’t help feeling overlooked and invisible at times. It’s disheartening. I feel totally unworthy of attention and recognition when I’m around her.

I’ve tried to tell her this, but she doesn’t seem to really get it. She just says, “What are you talking about?! People love you!” I don’t want this to jeopardize our friendship, but I find myself avoiding spending time with her because it just feels like I’m living in her shadow.

Is there a constructive way to address this?

-- Overshadowed

Dear Feeling Overshadowed: Navigating friendships can be challenging, especially when it feels like one person’s presence dominates the spotlight. It’s understandable that you’re seeking a more balanced dynamic.

Focus on nurturing your own self-confidence and sense of worth, independent of your friend’s actions. Celebrate your accomplishments and strengths, and seek out opportunities where you can shine on your own terms. You might not be the loudest person in the room, but I am sure that you shine in your own unique way -- and you deserve to be recognized for it. Surround yourself with people who notice your strengths.

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Dear Annie: I need help proving I’m not a cheater. I’m not going to dog her, but I’ve been battling for four years with constant assumptions and accusations that I’m cheating on my girlfriend. She doesn’t understand that I’m a simple person. I’m scared to even approach another female. I don’t like to talk to anyone really; I don’t like people in general.

We’ve been apart now for nine out of the last 12 months with probably 15 or so split-ups. If I had the extra cash, I would not hesitate to hire a polygraph consultant or something that can prove what I’m saying. I’m not a cheater and I haven’t even thought about it.

During our relationship, I have tried to limit her doubts and do as little as possible so that we can avoid this problem, but there isn’t anything I can say that is going to change her mind. I can sleep at night because I have a clean conscience and nothing to hide. Can you give me advice on how or what I can do to improve this? I really care about and love her.

-- Constantly Questioned

Dear Questioned: I can tell from your letter how much the constant skepticism and lack of trust from your girlfriend is weighing on you -- and understandably so. Through your actions and words, it sounds like you’ve done nothing to justify this kind of uncertainty, and it’s unfair that you have to continue to defend yourself.

If you’re determined to move forward with this girl, you two must consult a couples therapist. It sounds like she has some battles to face that have nothing to do with you, and ultimately, she might not be ready or able to show up as a loving partner until she does so.

Annie Lane

Annie Lane offers common-sense solutions to everyday problems. She's firm, funny and sympathetic, echoing the style of her biggest inspiration, Ann Landers. She lives outside Manhattan with her husband, two kids and two dogs. When not writing, she devotes her time to play dates and Play-Doh. Write her: