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Dear Stavroula

Ask Stavroula: My Friend Is Hurting My Relationship

November 13, 2021

Dear Stavroula,

I am 24 years old and I live in a provincial town in Greece. I have a close friend from elementary school and we were always like sisters. For the record, I am an only child. We both returned to our hometown after our studies and continued to hang out. My problem is that our relationship has changed since I started a new relationship. I have noticed that when my boyfriend and I go out and she joins us, she tries to be the center of attention, to the point where I feel uncomfortable. She comments on whatever I say and, in fact, sometimes I feel like she’s trying to start a fight with me with some of her comments. Sometimes when she happens to be there when I disagree about something with my boyfriend, she takes his side provocatively and accuses me in front of him. I spoke to her and told her that this bothers me a lot, and her reaction was to accuse me of exaggerating and ask me how I can think like that. She told me that I envy her and that I do these things so that she won’t go out with us, while I know that she is alone. I do not know what to do. On the one hand I feel that it hurts my relationship with my boyfriend, on the other hand, I do not want to spoil a lifelong friendship. I would like your advice.

Katerina

Dear Katerina,

Our friends are a very important part of our lives, especially those who accompany us on the journey from our childhood or adolescence to adulthood. With them, we have shared our deepest thoughts, dreams and/or frustrations. We have laughed to the point of tears with them, we have cried in their arms – we are bound by countless memories and shared experiences. They feel like members of our family, and sometimes even more important than that.

That is why we tend to idealize them, to forgive them for everything, to try in every way to keep them in our lives. In fact, the older a friendship is, the greater the degree of dependence that friends have on each other.

But sometimes it is necessary to end even the longest lasting friendship, no matter how painful it is. Like any relationship, friendships can evolve in such a way that it is no longer a source of joy. When one feels that mutual respect and trust has been lost from one’s relationship with one’s friend, then one may need to reconsider it.

Something similar may be happening in your case. If your girlfriend knows she’s making you uncomfortable with her comments and keeps doing it, then she probably doesn’t respect your feelings. On the other hand, if you are afraid that every time you are all together, that she may say something that will put you in a difficult position, then you may have lost confidence in her.

You write to me that when you told her about how you feel, she accused you of being jealous. Sometimes when someone feels overwhelmed by negative emotions (such as jealousy) that bother him/her, that individual can project their own feelings on someone else and blame them so that they feel better. If this is the case, maybe your friend is jealous of the fact that you are in a relationship, and that she is not. She may even react in this way by undermining your relationship, because she may be afraid that now that you are in a relationship she may “lose” you and be left alone.

However, regardless of the reasons why your friend may behave in this way, the issue is how you feel in this relationship. If you no longer enjoy your time with her, if you do not feel like yourself when you do things together, if her presence creates stress or discomfort, then maybe you should consider distancing yourself from your friend for a while. This can help you see things more clearly and to redefine your role and your dynamics in this relationship.

On the other hand, it would be good to think about what the role of your partner is in the problem that has been created between you and your friend, but also in your relationship in general. Why are there disagreements that are sought to be resolved in front of third parties? Who starts talking about your relationship when you are out with your friend and why? What is his reaction when your friend accuses you? What is the attitude you would expect someone to take when there is respect, trust and love in a couple?

Does your friend’s attitude highlight, like a magnifying glass, a problem that already exists in the relationship with your partner?

Understanding the problem from as many angles as possible makes it more likely that you will find the solution by communicating it honestly and lovingly to the other people involved.

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