I was hurt when my best friend dated a guy I liked without telling me, and even more hurt when my mom took her side!
Our elder shares her own experiences to put things in perspective.
Dear Elder, please help me. My friend, Linda in the past hooked up with the guy I liked and we had a big fall out because of it. Now (years later) she has gone on two dates with the same guy, but she hasn’t told me (I found out through other people). When I asked my mom for advice, she told me that she would’ve done the same thing as Linda by not telling me because she saw how much it hurt me the first time and she wouldn’t want to see me get hurt like that again. Linda is my closest friend, but the fact that the guy chose her over me plus she hasn’t told me she’s seeing him and my mom agrees with her not telling me is all too much. I am so hurt but I feel like I am not allowed to be and don’t have reason to be hurt because of my mother’s words. I feel my mom has taken Linda’s side because she has always looked at Linda as more mature and better than me. I feel like nothing. What do I do?
As Elders, we have a choice of what letters to respond to and I chose yours because I have been in all three positions of your situation at some time in my life. I was the daughter whose mom sided with the friend. I have been the mother who sided with the friend and I have been the friend who betrayed my best friend. I cannot tell you exactly what to do but hopefully, I can give you some perspective that will help you decide how you want to approach the situation.
So let me begin with my situation. Your feelings are very legit. You feel that you have been through this once before with your friend and do not understand why this is happening a second time. Furthermore, it is always uncomfortable when your parent defends what you feel is the offending party. Karen and I were best friends and I felt as a best friend she should be loyal to me and not date someone I actually used to date. Furthermore, that she went behind my back was the most upsetting. In truth, what I finally realized was that I was most upset about being rejected. I also did not understand why my friend would add to that rejection. I hated that as a couple they went behind my back as if I was some sort of wounded animal that they had to hide from. I imagined them talking about “sad, hurt, poor me” and that infuriated me. When my mom told me that I was acting exactly how they imagined-I got even angrier. I did make the decision to lose a friend over this.
It would be two years later that I found myself in the position of the “best friend” and I gained a different perspective. My best friend at that time really, really liked this boy, Tommy. He started calling me about her and little by little we discovered that we liked each other. I could not tell you how it happened, but it did. At first, it was just the phone calls and then we met up one day at a street party my friend could not attend that night. While I felt awful, I still liked Tommy and we both realized we had to figure out a way to tell my friend Robin. Unfortunately, she found out before we could confess and it was a horrible ending to our relationship. Robin said she could live with Tommy preferring me but she could not deal with the lying. Tommy and I lasted about a month because he found someone. He was a jerk! With that understanding, I found myself going back to the first good friend – Karen. I realized the following: No one can force a person to like them. Being mad at a friend for liking the same boy isn’t going to get the boy back. Being rejected is hurtful but that hurt does not give me the right to put a hands-off sign on any boy. On the other hand, I expect honesty and to be honest.
I was two years older when I made up with Karen. We were both glad to restart our friendship. I also hoped that one day Robin and I would make up but my mother remarried and I moved away before we could ever patch up that relationship. As an adult, I can look back on the situations in both cases and realize that friendship is important and good friends are honest with each other which brings me to the “mom” role.
My daughter was in your situation. She was in 10th grade and really had a crush on the guy across the street from us. She actually had liked him since 8th grade (all her friends knew this) but he pretty much treated her as a best friend. In 10th grade, Jason got together with my daughter’s best friend Ashley. It was behind my daughter’s back and she was enraged when she found out. She was much more upset with Ashley than Jason.
When she came to me, I did not respond with empathy. I told her that I understood why Ashley didn’t tell her because she knew my daughter would act just the way she was acting. I asked her if Ashley had been honest would it have made a difference and she said the point was Ashley was her best friend and knew she liked Jason and should have said she should have told him she wasn’t interested. My response was very painful for her. I said that I understood her pain and disappointment but the truth was that Jason only saw her as a friend and not a girlfriend. If it wasn’t Ashley, it would be someone else. Being angry at Ashley for being with Jason was not going to get Jason to like her. I told her she had several choices:
- Break up her friendship with Ashley and Jason – both people whose friendship she enjoyed.
- Accept that Ashley and Jason like each other but choose to not hang with them as a couple but still hang with Ashley or Jason separately.
- Accept them both and let them know you are fine and there is no need to lie to her.
She was not happy with me. She wanted me to curse Ashley… and I didn’t. Eventually, she accepted Ashley and Jason and chose to hang with them individually since Jason just lived across the street. Eventually, Ashley and Jason broke up but Anna remained friends with both. Ashley actually got mad at my daughter for a bit because she felt she should not speak to Jason because Jason broke up with her. My daughter reminded Ashley of the irony of the situation. She remained friends with both until after college when they all went their separate ways.
Right now, you are in a tough spot. Your mom is in a tough spot as well. Your girlfriend is in a tough spot as well too. There is a lot of caring and hurt being spread around. Your girlfriend knows she has hurt you and doesn’t know how to fix it and still see the boyfriend. Moms struggle to say the right thing… we don’t always get it right.
You are the one who really is in the position to affect all the others… and decide how you want to feel.
Did your friend betray you? She was not honest. She hurt you. You have a right to tell her how her dishonesty made you feel and you question the validity of the friendship. But consider also letting her tell you why she felt she could not be honest. I suspect her answer may fall into one of these statements:
- I knew you would be so angry I didn’t know how to tell you.
- I was feeling terrible and could not get the courage to tell you.
- I was afraid to tell you and didn’t know what to do. I wanted to keep the friendship and was afraid you would end it.
It is extremely painful to feel rejected… but real rejection would be not caring about you at all. We have read many books and seen many movies and television shows where the best friend falls for the friend’s guy. If you would really miss the friendship then you need to talk it through. Keep in mind though, good friendships should not include “tests”. If you feel you need to have her prove her loyalty to you by dropping this guy – that is a test. It sounds as if she tried to pass that test once with you and it didn’t work out. No one can control the feelings of others, only themselves.
It may be that this friend is not a “good” friend but if she is, good friends are something to cherish and you need to decide for yourself if her friendship is worth having – boyfriend or no boyfriend.
I’m not sure I helped you but hopefully, I gave you some things to think about that will help you decide what to do for yourself. Please feel free to write again if you choose.
Article #: 431723