When Friends Get Jealous
It’s a sad day when good friends start acting strangely toward you when you’ve found new love. You two have been friends for as long as you can remember—what is going on?
It’s a sad day when good friends start acting strangely toward you when you’ve found new love. You’ve been friends for as long as you can remember and have shared intimate details about just about everything that goes on in your lives, but now your friend is acting like you’ve done them wrong. Sarcastic remarks abound and a cold front blows in. What is going on?
Is it jealousy?
Before you jump to conclusions of “jealousy” and write off your best bud as a fair-weather friend, it’s best to get a handle on what’s going on with them, because there could be more to the picture than you realize. Additionally, new love can be all-consuming, but as a friend, you too have the responsibility to check in with your friends to see what’s going on with them when things seem amiss.Most times when a friend suddenly starts giving off signals of coldness when you’ve found new love, it indicates that they miss your availability to spend time with them.
Getting to know a new partner is an exciting and all-consuming time-your thoughts, words and actions all seem to revolve around this wonderful person who has rocked your world. Naturally, the amount of face time you have with your friends has just faced some serious cutbacks. But you’ve spent many hours with your friends on a regular basis sharing jokes, thoughts, feelings and activities, and now that you’re immersed in the honeymoon-level depths of a new relationship, you’re doing all of that with someone else.
Also, if your friend is single, fear of where his or her life is headed might come into play for them, too. Single friends may begin to worry how your friendship with them is changing; certainly you now have one less thing in common (being single) with which to share similar thoughts and feelings, and they might wonder if they are being “left behind” in race to find “the One.” That can be a scary prospect since friendship is forged largely on the commonalities we share, and especially when self-worth is often tied in to finding a suitable partner.
Think back to a time when you were single and one of your friends started seeing someone they thought was the right person for them. How did you feel? Did you support them happily 100%? Did you ask yourself when it was your turn to find the love of your life? Did these feelings make you like your friend any less, or did you just really miss them? A little empathy can go a long way in understanding how a friend might feel when you find new love. At best, a friend will express happiness for your new relationship and will celebrate your excitement. Good friends will often ask questions about your new partner and be happy to discuss your hopes and anticipations of what’s to come, whether it is the next date you’re going on or whether you’re starting to get special feelings that the person you’re dating may indeed be long-term commitment material. This kind of reaction is optimal in friendship and signifies friends who are strong within themselves, and who can put your interests and happiness ahead of any personal insecurities that they might have.A less than optimal response, on the other hand, includes everything from snide comments and cold shoulders to hearing third-party, rumor-mill gossip that, ironically, may even accuse you of being a “bad friend”-and you thought you were just falling in love!
How to handle it.
At the time you friend’s behavior can seem ridiculous to you, and in some cases, you’re absolutely right-it is. But keep in mind that damaging a close friendship over a new romantic relationship is never worth it. Strive to make time for your friend even with your new relationship commitments. No, you’re not dating your friend, but self-defensive instant Siberia on your end is not being a good friend to them, either. Simply put, here’s how to handle a potentially jealous friend:
- Ask them what they think and how they feel-as soon as possible.The best way to find out what is going on with your friend’s sudden cold front is to talk to them directly right away. Waiting to see if everything “blows over” may drive both you and your friend to the point of writing each other off, and you don’t want that. Good friends are hard to find, and even good friends can sometimes behave badly. Your role as a good friend is to communicate your thoughts and feelings and really listen to theirs as well. Additionally, by addressing his or her feelings up front and with honesty, you’ll be communicating that you value the friendship that you two share. Sometimes just knowing that a friend is there for you despite changes in life that can sometimes weaken bonds is enough to maintain friendships over great geographic distances and many years.
- Keep an open mind-it could be something else.It may surprise you to find that jealousy may not even be the issue. While it would be great to have a “Friends don’t let friends date incompatible people” rule in life, being a good friend can be a slippery slope in matters of the heart. What you mistake for jealousy of a new relationship could actually be a very good friend not wanting to rain on your delusional parade of being with someone who clearly is not right for you. Some may feel that bad choices in partners, like bad hairstyles or awful seasonal fashion choices, tend to resolve themselves with time, so there is no use damaging the relationship you two share for the sake of something you’ll find out anyway. If your friend does admit to having doubts about your relationship, try to resist the urge to get defensive and angry. If you are feeling super-mature in that moment, ask your friend why he or she feels that way, and really listen. Good friends often have a birds’ eye view to situations we are too close to. Otherwise, cut the conversation short, but still keep it civil. If it turns out your friend is wrong about your new partner, they’ll apologize later, and if your friend is right, you’ll thank them later. Either way, it’s a good thing.
- Reassure your friend that you still value their friendship.Once your friend has shared his or her feelings, assure them that you appreciate all of the special attributes and moments that you have shared, and that there will always be more, and that you look forward to them-you’re not going anywhere! Making time to spend with friends can be a balancing act with relationships, but true friends make time for each other. New-love jealousy is a transient emotion that can be overcome. You don’t have to be single to remain good friends, but you do both have to be good friends to each other to maintain friendships while one or both of you explores the experience of love.