Dear Dr. Bonnie, I’m sending you my friend’s problem because I don’t know what to do. My friend is 23 years old, pretty, and has dated a couple of guys before. Here’s her problem, not only does she hate it when her girlfriends are in a happy relationship or getting engaged or married, she says it to their face! When I first started dating my boyfriend, she actually told me those exact words “I’m so jealous of you; I wish your relationship doesn’t last”! She also told my friend that she was thinking of flirting with my boyfriend to help breaking us up. I’m not the only one she does that with. You probably wonder why we are still friends with her, but we feel sorry for her. We know she has a problem and we want to help her. We just don’t know how. Please help. Sincerely, Karma.
Dear Karma, It is good that your friend is honest about her feelings with you, but her desire to destroy your relationship because of her jealousy is not the act of a good friend. It is a difficult transition when our friends start dating and platonic friendships take on a secondary importance to romantic relationships. While you say that your friend has dated before, if she hasn’t fallen in love or been in a significant relationship yet, it is probably difficult for her to understand why her girlfriends change so much once they do enter a serious romantic relationship. All she may see is the negative side it. It is not unusual for others to feel jealous or envious when one of their close friends enters into a serious romantic relationship. It often means that the romantically involved person has less time and attention for their friends than they had before. They may fear that their romantically involved friend doesn’t need their friendship anymore and will be pushed aside. They may also be envious of the romantic relationship and wish they also had someone they were romantically involved with. It is unclear if your friend is so unhappy with your romantic relationship because she doesn’t want to share you, or because she wishes she also had a relationship like yours, or both. Because you have said that she behaves like this with your other friends, not just you, I am assuming the reason she wants your romantic relationship to fail is because she doesn’t like her girlfriends in romantic relationships, and not because she is worried about you in your current relationship and is being protective. It would be good to have an open and honest conversation with your friend about her feelings and yours. Explore what her jealousy is about. You may be able to reassure her that you still care for her and that you have no intention of dropping the friendship even if you have less time for her now. However, you should also be open about your own feelings and make it clear that while you appreciate her honesty about her feelings, it upsets you that she can’t be happy for you in your new relationship and you are hurt (and angry?) by her desire to destroy your relationship. While you can be sensitive to her insecurities, and offer reassurance when it is authentic, you do not need to be held hostage by her feelings of jealousy or envy. It will be difficult for you to maintain a friendship with someone if they can’t be happy or supportive unless you are single. It is possible that your friend may feel like expressing her displeasure with your romantic relationship is a way of expressing her love for you. Have you ever been in a romantic relationship and wished that your partner would express that he felt jealous of the attention someone else was paying you? She may assume you would be pleased or touched that she is jealous. She may be surprised that it upsets you. Part of being an adult is recognizing that loving someone, as a friend, family member, or lover often involves respecting the other person’s needs even if they conflict with our own desires. While most of us would find it understandable if a small child cried or had a tantrum if one of their parents had to leave for a business trip, we would expect something different from an adult, even if the adult was sad the person was leaving and preferred they didn’t. Your friend may not have matured enough yet to learn this relationship skill. You are providing her an opportunity to learn that she can miss you and the way you used to be together, while also being supportive of your relationship and happy that you are happy. If you have an open and honest conversation with your friend, and she is still unable to respect your relationship and actively tries to destroy it, I think you need to recognize that she cannot be a good friend for you, at least not at this time. I hope that is not the case. Good luck Karma!