As adults, we often find ourselves embarrassed to admit we are jealous of the fact that one of our closest friends is randomly spending increased time with someone whom we casually introduced them to. One of your associates doesn’t have plans one Friday evening after work, so you invite them to join you and one of your best friends for happy hour. The evening begins with a flow of tequila shots and rounds of half-off, cocktails from the bar. As the evening progresses, the three of you decide to check out one of the downtown clubs that is launching their seasonal, “First Friday’s” event. Since you are the one most familiar with the clubs location, you volunteer to drive. Your friend and associate leave their cars parked outside of the bar. The three of you arrive to the club, dance the night away and end up staying out together until two-thirty, early Saturday morning. You’ve had the least to drink, so you’re automatically elected as the sober driver amongst the group. Your friend and associate are sprawled across the backseat together, but not totally passed out. The two of them are laughing at one another, singing to the top of their lungs, yelling jibberish out of the back windows and simply enjoying the last moments of your night out together. You make the decision that your friend and associate are not sober enough to drive their own cars home. As a result, you hop on the highway that leads straight to your house. Later that Saturday morning, you’re preparing breakfast in the kitchen as your friend and associate are recovering from hangovers on the sofa and couch in your living room. The two of them are exchanging words and quick phrases with one another about the fun you all shared the night before. You overhear them asking one another about their jobs and relationship statuses – sort of the things that never came up in conversation at the bar or the nightclub. After breakfast, you drop both your friend and associate off at their cars. You casually mention that the three of you should definitely get together sometime soon for ROUND TWO of what was certainly a good time had by all. Your friend and associate agree. The three of you go your separate ways and don’t see or hear from one another for the remainder of the weekend.
SO YOU THINK…
On Monday morning, you log into your work computer at the start of the day. The first thing you do is check your social media pages simply to see if there are any new photos or status updates that have been posted by the people you’re closest to. The first picture you see posted at the top of your Facebook feed is a shot of your best friend and associate sitting at the bar the three of you attended on Friday night – the same bar you introduced them to for the first time. You realize that they’re both wearing different clothes than the outfits that they were wearing Friday night. Then, you look at the date and caption beneath the picture. It’s marked for Saturday night. Your best friend and associate went back to the bar together without texting or calling to invite you along. Immediately, you catch an attitude. In your mind you’re thinking, “when did they even exchange phone numbers?” – “why did my best friend above all people not ask me to come with them?” – “what the hell?! I’m the one who even told them about the new bar!”
When you ask your best friend why you weren’t invited to head back to the bar on Saturday night, your friend dismisses your inquiry by simply saying, “you know how you are. You wouldn’t have wanted to go drinking two nights in a row.” And in your mind, you know that your best friend is being honest and factual, but it still irritates you that you weren’t at least given the option to decline the offer. As the next few weeks pass by, you find yourself growing increasingly annoyed by the fact that the two individuals you casually introduced, are now regularly hanging out with one another, without you.
You find yourself beginning to remove yourself from associating with both your best friend and your associate. You intentionally avoid liking their status messages or photos on social media, and you refuse to reach out to either of them to invite yourself along on their now, weekly outings. The one or two times that the associate or best friend have asked you to join them, you’ve been too “in your feelings” to accept the offer. A part of you is jealous and bothered by their newfound friendship, but you’re also feeling embarrassed that their relationship is making you feel like the outcast. You have not expressed your resentment, hurt feelings or annoyance with either of them.
You should not be embarrassed. Your feelings are valid and quite normal. Often times, when our close friend begins hanging closely with someone new, it does tend to make us feel replaced. We begin to assume that the new bond is more important or more significant to our best friend than the relationship we’ve developed with them over years. We begin to wonder if our friend is having more fun with the new individual. Those thoughts then put us into a space of feeling insecure, questioning our worth and doubting the position we presently play alongside the friend we’ve known and loved since what feels like forever.
It is so important, however, to remember that real friendships FRAME our lives. The frame is rarely broken or replaced. However, within that frame, the picture is constantly changing. Sometimes, the picture requires a scene that illustrates your best friend sitting in the corner engrossed in family problems, relationship issues and financial debt. You may not be included in that particular scene right away because your friend is choosing to handle their personal issues alone. Another scene may require that your friend be painted in the center of the picture with a love interest sitting beside them. You are included in this scene, but positioned far off to the right of the portrait. You are positioned as being present, but only when called upon as needed. And in the scene where your friend is learning to explore the world outside of their comfort zone with you, the picture may be painted to include your friend standing outside, alongside a new individual who looks totally opposite from you.
It simply becomes necessary that you remind yourself that you are a part of the FRAME. The frame keeps the illustration solid and standing. Regardless of how the picture changes in your friend’s life, he or she will always need you and call upon you to help them keep the picture in place.
You do not have to always be a part of the scene or illustration in order for your presence and friendship to be known or embraced.
You find yourself drawn to this new man for qualities that extend far beyond his physical features. He loves alternative music. He eats sushi. Hates clubs. Goes hiking on the weekends. Watches “How To Get Away With Murder” every Thursday night. Plays the saxophone. He works as a freelance photographer. And he doesn’t associate with a lot of popular, uppity people. He hates driving, but you enjoy it. While you’re behind the wheel, he’s always gripping your right hand in his left. What the two of you are building is cozy and it makes you feel good. He isn’t necessarily the type of guy you’d usually date, but your “type” has continued to be of disappointment over the years. You’re trying something new. Keeping his face and identity hidden from your social media timelines.
Your “friend” is aware of this particular guy in due part to mutual associations or simply in passing amongst the social circuit in your city. This guy and your friend have never spoken or engaged in real, face-to-face conversation. Your friend has decided that based on this dude’s surface characteristics, he isn’t worthy of their attention.
Anxiously, you mention to your friend one day that you and this new guy have been texting, spending time with one another and exchanging photos over the past few weeks. The initial response from your friend is laughter, paired with a sharp, “ewww…you like him?!” – This is your friend reacting to your excitement over finally, possibly, meeting someone you organically feel connected to. In your mind you’re thinking, “how rude can you be?”
Then you snap back at your friend by saying, “I don’t care if he isn’t the cutest boy ever. He doesn’t have to be. You don’t even know him. You don’t see him the way that I do and I think he’s perfect the way he is.”Your friend apologizes. However, you silently vow to never mention this man or your dealings with him in front of your friend again.
Another month goes by and your friend randomly asks how things are going between you and this new man. Despite the fact that you’ve spent every single day at his house, in his kitchen, on his computer and between his sheets, you casually respond, “we’re good.” When your friend begins probing for more details, you make it clear that you really like this guy, but you then suggest it’s too soon to tell where things are going. Your heart is already too attached to this man to stomach any further judgment from your friend, so you don’t give up the specifics they’re fishing for. You’ve decided it’s enough that your friend is clear that the two of you are involved. Changing the subject but not really, you then inquire about the guys who your friend has been seeing as of lately.
A few days later, while scrolling your Instagram timeline, you notice that your friend has begun following your man’s page – the same friend who screamed, “EWW!” when you told them that the two of you were dating. Not only has your friend followed your new man, but there are also random, pointless comments & smiley face emojis left beneath three or four of your new guys photos.
It’s at this point that many individuals make the mistake of not saying anything to their friend, in fear that they’re making too much out of nothing.
BEWARE: Your involvement with this new guy, who otherwise would have never crossed your friends mind, has now made this man intriguing to them. Suddenly, your ‘friend’ is a little more attracted to this dude. Over the past fourteen years, it has been my experience that some people don’t usually find a certain guy attractive or appealing until someone else close to them begins to express interest.
People who we mistakenly label as friends have a sordid way of wanting to get close to someone new in our lives, simply because that individual represents something else we have that they don’t. It’s a similar scenario to watching two children interact with one another in a classroom setting. It’s not until the more developed child picks up the odd toy that’s stashed in the corner and starts playing, that the other child attempts to snatch it and keep the toy for themselves. Especially in instances where the new guy we are dating is completely different from the men our ‘friend” is use to seeing us with or even the men they themselves often attract, this ‘friend’ will go through extreme measures to figure out why we are drawn to this man. In their ploy to uncover the connection, their first effort is to make contact. It is not wrong or inappropriate for you to tell your friend that your new man is off limits to their online or in person advances. Of course, your ‘friend’ is going to downplay or deny their fascination, but it’s still up to you to make your HANDS OFF position very clear. You are not blowing the situation out of proportion by drawing lines between a ‘friend’ who prematurely expressed disgust for a guy you care about, and their newfound interest in connecting with him. If their social media contact were truly innocent and void of ulterior motives, your friend would have mentioned to you that they followed your date online in the first place.
In this day and time, it is very difficult to formulate new associations with individuals who truly respect the GIRL/BOY CODE that reads – “Thou shall not attempt to meet, date, talk to or sleep with someone who is presently or once was involved with my friend.”You can often expect that the same individual who screamed “EWW!” will change their tune to “OOO!” the second they see that there’s something about this guy that truly turns you on. BEWARE.
Hello Xem. My name is Andrew. I don’t mind if you share this letter on your website because at this point I am extremely fed up. I have been a fan of yours since 2010 and I very much respect your point of view on the different issues you discuss with us. I don’t want to take up too much of your time because I know you get so many of these requests on a regular basis. So to keep it nice and sweet, I am at the point where I feel my friendship with one of my best friends is in jeopardy. He has been living with me since March in my one bedroom apartment and it doesn’t seem that he is making attempts to move out. He lost his job around Christmas and began borrowing money from us to pay his bills, so we thought (there are 3 of us who have known each other since high school). He told us that he was going to be receiving unemployment and would pay us back once the checks began coming in after the processing period. He said that would be in January. Well, we come to find out that he used the money he borrowed not to pay his rent or other bills in full, but to still buy gifts for other people. Then, when the new year came around he was trying to play catch up on his car note and gas and electric and rent. So, none of us (the 3 friends) knew that he was borrowing money from all of us. Something happened with the unemployment whereas he wasn’t able to receive the checks. I guess he started receiving eviction notices in March and his car company even began calling me looking for him because he was so behind on his car note. I became really concerned and because I love him like a brother I offered him to come stay with me until he could get back on his feet. I’m a bank manager, so I know that we do summer hires every year that most often turn into full time positions. I arranged for my best friend to interview in April for one of the three teller positions that was opening in June. I basically tailored his resume so that his skills would fit the teller position requirements. Everything was arranged for a Wednesday afternoon. I even allowed him to drop me off at work using my car that day, go back to the apartment, get dressed later in the day and come in for the 1pm interview. He never showed!!! I thought something happened to him so I began panicking and calling him and our other friends. He was asleep the entire time!!! This has become who he is now. He sleeps through the entire day and is up throughout the night blasting the television or asking to use my car before I go to bed. When I give him leads for different positions that are opening in different places he doesn’t follow through by faxing his resume. I have a fax machine and scanner at my apartment, so he doesn’t need to venture out to an Office Max or anything.
I also don’t feel that he respects my things. He sleeps in my living room every night, but he doesn’t fold the sheets or blankets or fix the couch when he wakes up. He doesn’t clean out the bathtub once he takes a shower or even do anything for that matter. Our other friends warned me to not allow him to move in with me but he honestly had nowhere else to go. His parents moved to Texas two years ago and that’s when he moved out into his own place here. His sister is away at college in Minnesota, but goes home to Texas during her breaks and we (the 3 of us) are basically his other family so to speak. I’m the one who welcomed him into the house, so how can I ask him to leave now? I know he is unmotivated right now and probably depressed in certain ways, but when I try to even talk to him he doesn’t want to discuss anything. I think it would push him over the edge if I asked him to leave, but our other friends are saying that he needs to hit rock bottom before he stands on his own. Do you agree with that and how would you handle this situation? I know I wrote more than I expected. Sorry. I hope you will still respond to me.
I absolutely agree with how your circle of friends feel regarding your present living situation, and the circumstances that surround the mutual best friend. Your heart was obviously in the best place when you opened your home to someone who you consider to be a brother. He was facing hardship and you provided what should have been a temporary cushion to soften the heavy blows of life. However, you made the mistake of not setting rules and framing a timeline for your best friend to follow prior to moving into your home. While we’re sometimes unable to predict how long it will take for someone to “get on their feet”, I feel that allowing a friend to live in your home for 2-3 months is more than fair in aiding in their process to restructure their financial life. When we fail to set expiration or due dates, the people closest to us will subconsciously take advantage of that opening. We extend ourselves out of a pure love for a friend, but that friend becomes so comfortable that they begin to depend on our helping hands. You have created a situation for yourself where you are now taking care of your best friend, as opposed to your intention of helping him once again take care of himself.
If it truly isn’t in your heart or your spirit to send your best friend out into the street immediately, it is time that you give him a deadline to move out of your apartment. If he knows that he now only has until November 1st to find another place to live, I am confident that the deadline will light a fire beneath him to vigorously search for employment. Your best friend is obviously not a dead-beat, otherwise he would have never been able to maintain his own place or vehicle for the past two years. He certainly possesses marketable skills, as he held a full-time position prior to losing his job last December. So, the issue isn’t that he can’t find a job or a new place to live. The problem is that he has become complacent and refuses to move his feet.
In the meantime, you must also create basic rules to govern your household. Treat your best friend as if he is your roommate. In essence, that is your living situation for these final 2 months that you will allow him to live in your home. Make it clear to him that you need your rest at night and therefore, he needs to monitor the volume of the living room television. Give him the responsibility of cleaning the bathroom every Sunday and mopping floors or vacuuming on Saturdays. Sometimes, as this is true for a lot of men, they won’t initiate cleaning – but they will follow a routine of straightening up behind themselves when they are instructed to do so. Remind your best friend that even though he sleeps on your couch every night, that area isn’t considered his bedroom. Ask him to please fold the sheets and straighten the pillows each time he wakes up and starts his day.
If your best friend is offended by your deadline date or taken aback by the new rules you set in place, he will possibly leave on his own. You cannot feel guilty if he catches an attitude and decides to move out now. This grown man has lived with you, rent-free for the past six months. Honestly, you have already extended yourself beyond reasonable expectations. If he decides to stop speaking to you and continues to associate with the other friends who refused to let him live in their homes, then he doesn’t value your friendship. You have provided for him in ways that no one else was willing or able to do during these dark moments in his life. Though he may be depressed or frustrated at the hands of his present circumstances, he has also made you feel uncomfortable living in your own home. It’s unfair. A large part of maintaining a healthy friendship is being able to look at someone you care about and say, “HERE IS WHERE I DRAW THE LINE”. If they continue to cross those boundaries, that’s your cue to cross them out of your life.