Am I being a crazy-person? Immature perhaps?
April 4, 2014 8:32 AM   Subscribe

My close friend of 4 years now spends all their time with a long-lost friend recently resurfaced and I am sad/angry/jealous/ Should I be? More inside :(

Anonymous because this questions makes me look like I am in middle school. In reality I am in my early 30s.

I have been friends with A for about 3-4 years now. For the past 2 years or so we would talk or see each other most days of the week. We are of the opposite sex. I used to have a crush on A but have since gotten over it (or have I?) Sometimes a third party would float in or out of the friendship but our friendship remained constant.

In the past month A has gotten in touch with a friend (B) from their past with whom they were very close (same sex friend - no romance FWIW). Now, everytime I see or contact A they are ALWAYS with this past friend or planning to do something. A has always invited me along on these outings. In an effort to be nice/make new friends I have agreed to meet them a handful of times. Only one of these times did I have a "mediocre" time - most of the times I was unhappy - they had all these inside jokes and background I knew nothing about. I really prefer hanging out with A 1 one 1. Granted, this could be because of the crush I had on them in the past but then I have always been introverted and prefer 1 on 1 time with ALL my friends regardless of gender. Really and truly.

Exacerbating matters is that B just went through a pretty big personal issue and I think A is trying to comfort them by being there all the time. But the bottom line is I don't like hanging out with B. I feel like a third wheel and I miss my friend.

I know A misses me in some sense as they always invite me along and has been nothing but kind in trying to include me in their conversations/outings but I just cannot bring myself to hang out with the two of them. Yet I cannot ask A to ditch B for me (nor could my morals every allow me ask, really - A spends time with who they want to spend time with) But also I am pretty damn sure I would lose out to B if I ever presented it as "B or me" (but I never would). Nonetheless - I miss A. A lot.

So, after so much ranting, my question(s) is(are): am I a crazy/immature person for not wanting to hang out with them together? Should I just suck it up? I would ask A for some alone time but I really think that would look strange to A, us being of opposite sex and all. Like maybe I am angling for something else (really at this point I am not) Or maybe I am not over the crush like I thought I was and am acting like a jealous lover? Help :(
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Or maybe I am not over the crush like I thought I was and am acting like a jealous lover?

I think yes, maybe some of this, but it shouldn't be impossible for you to say, on the occasion of the next time A invites you to tag along as A hangs out with B, "Yeah, I'd love to, but I'm hoping you and I can do [a thing that you and A have enjoyed doing by yourselves] again sometime soon, how about next weekend?"

I think you try that twice or so, and if A makes excuses or otherwise declines both times, it seems clear that you are being phased out, I'm afraid.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:38 AM on April 4, 2014 [4 favorites]

It's normal to feel that way, but there's not a lot you can do about it. You can invite your friend to do something 1:1 and hope that he'll agree. If he suggests bringing A, you can be honest with him and say, "A is okay, but you know how I am, it's just better for me one on one. How about just you and me this time?"

Spend time with your other friends, make that effort so you don't feel so lonely.

Eventually the novelty of the reconnection will wear off, and you may be able to see A more frequently, but for now, pretend he moved to Siberia, and emphasize more activities with different friends.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:38 AM on April 4, 2014

I got back in touch with an old friend back in January, someone I used to be very, very close with, and spent about 2 and a half months where it was ALL OLD FRIEND, ALL THE TIME. Things have equilibrated now.

Your friend is catching up, enjoying the old friend time, and it JUST HAPPENED so give them some time to be buds. Eventually your friend will get to the point where they're not doing everything with this old friend and there will be more time for you. Let your friend have this moment. It's nice.

I think it'd be great if you guys could all hang out together, since it's likely that old friend will be a regular (though not constant) part of your friend's life. Maybe take a friend of your own so that you don't feel like a 3rd wheel.

Mostly, though, just give it some time.
posted by phunniemee at 8:39 AM on April 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

I don't think there's anything you can do about any of this.

You have the feelings you have, and they're not wrong per se.

However, you can't actually make your friend stop hanging out with this other person.

If you want to hang out with your friend one on one, just invite him to do something. Unless he has a history of just bringing Other Friend along to every outing, which is rude, in which case you should tell him, hey, ummmm, maybe stop inviting other people along to things I invite you to do.

In my experience tagging along tends to happen less when you invite someone to do a specific activity rather than "want to hang out Thursday after work?" Make a specific plan, and most of your problems are solved unless your friend is a HUGE jackass or there really is something romantic going on between him and Other Friend (the only context I can think of where it's assumed another person can tag along).
posted by Sara C. at 8:45 AM on April 4, 2014

It's only been a month. Let them catch up. Trying to pull someone closer almost always sparks an instinctive reaction of them pushing you away.
posted by desjardins at 8:46 AM on April 4, 2014 [9 favorites]

Is this your only friend that you hang out with? Not asking to be judgmental at all, I know how that goes believe me. But if that is the case you might be expecting the friendship to fulfill too many/too much of your needs. What happens if your fiend ever gets married? Or moves or... ?
So, imo the name of the game is to diversify a little, have a few friends that can fulfill the same needs. Yeah, meeting new people is hard, and it takes you out of your comfort zone, but it sounds like that might be what you need if you want to be less miserable. I'd recommend that even if things kind of return to normal with THIS friend, because well things happen.
posted by edgeways at 8:49 AM on April 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

Some of this will fade in time. But there's nothing wrong with suggesting doing something with A one on one, saying that you miss spending time with them alone, can you do something next week or the week after.
posted by jeather at 8:52 AM on April 4, 2014 [1 favorite] I a crazy/immature person for not wanting to hang out with them together?

Not crazy, but immature.
You're in your 30s, not middle school. Remind yourself of this reality. Sometimes we need to embarrass ourselves out of such unhealthy behavior. Snap out of it!
posted by Kruger5 at 8:55 AM on April 4, 2014

In my head, I hear Lesley Gore singing "You Don't Own Me."

The desire for some intimate time is okay, your sulkiness about old friend including you and hoping you get know her other friend is not the best reflection of your best self.

Get to know your friend's friend and give it time. The situation will even out.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 8:58 AM on April 4, 2014

It's only been a little while and you need to give them some time and space to do what they do, but I don't see the harm in mentioning, "Hey, you know I love hanging out with you guys but I guess I've always done better one-on-one than in groups so if you want to do something just the two of us sometime, I'd be into that." If this person has known you a long time then they probably know that about you.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:58 AM on April 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

No, it's not crazy or immature to prefer hanging out with your primary friend rather than the two; friends of mutual friends just don't always click, for all sorts of reasons. It's just one of those things that happens.

That said: I am going to suggest you try to drop all the "should"s from your way of framing this, because I think they bring in a level of judgment about yourself that's tripping you up from getting a clearer handle on this particular situation. (Similarly, drop the "crazy person/immature" framing, too, for the same reason.) "Should" you feel jealous? That's irrelevant; there's no should when it comes to emotions, only the fact of their existence or not. And the fact is that, evidently, you feel jealous. Again, try not to judge it -- instead, just sit with it for awhile. It's probably uncomfortable to confront.

However, if you can sit with these feelings and be gently observant about them, you can maybe get more of a handle on them. You can see where the feelings are coming from and what's driving them. Maybe this situation is triggering certain memories or fears for you. Maybe there's some anger past the surface that you are trying to avoid. Maybe you are indeed not over the crush. Maybe you're afraid that if you let yourself feel these painful emotions, they'll never go away.

But the thing about feelings is -- they always pass. All of them, good or bad, have a life cycle. In this light, it (sometimes) becomes easier to simply acknowledge our feelings and let ourselves feel them, rather than trying to put a lid on them (which usually just means they start leaking out in all sort of indirect ways).

So you have to let yourself feel what you're feeling. By the same token, you have to let your friend feel what he feels in regards to being with his friend. As others have said, the novelty of their reconnection will start to lessen at some point, probably fairly soon. It's unnecessary to present the situation as a "B or me" thing, but you're not out of bounds if you suggest specific activities for just the two of you to do. Frame it (again, non-judgmentally) as a sort of "hey, it would be fun for just the two of us to [go to a movie/go biking/whatever activity you two have done together before]."

So no, I wouldn't say you "should suck it up." I would say that if you can find a way to face your feelings while refraining from letting them drive your reactions, you will be doing yourself and your friendship with A a big favor.
posted by scody at 9:02 AM on April 4, 2014 [18 favorites]

I don't really understand, you say that you used to spend loads of time with A (and you prefer to do it 1x1, so I'm presuming alone with them), but suddenly it would seem inappropriate to ask them to hang out just the two of you? How was it before B was in the picture? Could you arrange to do the same things you always did together with A, just less often (hanging out most days of the week sounds like it was quite an intense friendship!)

It's certainly fine to not want to hang out in a trio. You don't like B and you're not friends with them, so don't worry about being immature. What WOULD be immature is insisting A drop B, and when you're obviously being super-cautious about not impinging on their friendship, that doesn't seem likely!

I'd say try and work out some of your confusion. Why does this bother you so much? If you do have a crush on A still, why is that a problem? Why would you assume A would think you're acting jealous and weird? Why is it so impossible-seeming to see A without B? You seem to be thinking that A must choose you or B- why? Why can't they be friends with both of you, separately?

We can't know the details of your friendship. But it does seem odd that someone you've been spending masses of time with suddenly doesn't seem to want to do that any more. Are you good enough friends to say "hey A, I miss you, what's going on"? Because A's going to have more answers than we can give you.
posted by mymbleth at 9:02 AM on April 4, 2014

I much, much prefer to hang out with friends one-on-one, and I find threes especially difficult to deal with (in bigger groups, there are usually several conversations going on at once).

I don't think there's anything wrong with saying "Hey A, could the two of us get coffee [do whatever] some time soon? I like hanging out with B, but it would be great to catch up with just you."

My suspicion is that once you've assured anxious side that you have not "lost" A, you'll be able to enjoy hanging out with B more. It's okay to ask A to hang out with you, just you. That's not some kind of awful, selfish thing. If you were saying "it's B or me!" that would be wrong, but A has the ability to hang out with people on multiple occasions! Besides, you're not obliged to be besties with all of A's friends anyway.

Also, I think that sometimes here we talk about crushes as if having had an unrequited crush on a friend in the past is either a character flaw (potential Nice Guyism, etc) or else something that we can all be totally aseptic about (totally expunge the crush from your memories and feelings! Normal people all follow these Emotional Rules For Modern People!) It's like we expect that there's an on/off switch for romantic feelings, and having any kind of mixed feelings is a sign that something is off with the wiring. So you have a little tendresse for A and it means that your friendship with A is not emotionally identical to your friendship with M and Q? So what, as long as you're not behaving badly to anyone. No two friendships are identical.

I wouldn't worry so much about your feelings as about your actions. Your feelings will alter over time. Concentrate on being a good friend in your actions - don't be pushy or whiny with A, but do ask for your reasonable need to be met (hanging out with just A occasionally instead of always/only with B).

When you make sure your actions are appropriate, IME, your feelings tend to resolve themselves over time. If you're feeling insecure, making sure that you act appropriately helps you get through it.

Personally, I always give myself lots of exaggerated backpats when I'm dealing with anxiety and insecurity by behaving well - "What an excellent person I am," I say to myself, "Heroically crushing down my Own Feelings in order to behave well, just like a character in a Victorian novel, even though I want to complain and collapse in a puddle of insecure sadness!" Feeling like I am Heroically Putting The Interests Of Others First by behaving well helps me to continue to behave well.
posted by Frowner at 9:06 AM on April 4, 2014 [11 favorites]

My thoughts:
1. You spent a long time having a platonic spouse for all intents and purposes. You were dating without dating, if you know what I mean. None of the kissing and physical stuff, but it sounds like you had all the high level of contact and presence in each other's lives. No surprise that you feel and are acting like a jealous lover. Understandable, but not really fair.

2. Take some comfort in the fact that he IS trying to involve you and keep you in the loop. B hasn't replaced you. I think you should probably keep trying to get to know B better and maybe try to at least find some sort of common ground so that hanging out together is fun. If you want to continue to be close with A I think you need to make more effort with B. If they have background you don't know ask to hear the stories! People usually like telling stories.

2b. I think it is also fair game for you to invite A to do something just the two of you. But you should also invite B along from time to time too.

3. When he gets in to a serious relationship this is very possibly going to be worse than what you are going through now, especially if his girlfriend has any feelings of jealousy towards you. Hell, what happens when YOU get in a serious relationship? Do you think you'd continue your friendship at the level you had been? I'm betting no. Think on that some and maybe prepare yourself for that.

4. A hasn't done anything wrong, nor has B. Stop seeing B as a threat and the ruiner of all things good because he is probably picking up on it (and A probably is too) and that very well may work against you in this.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 9:13 AM on April 4, 2014 [5 favorites]

My close friend of 4 years now spends all their time with a long-lost friend recently resurfaced and I am sad/angry/jealous/ Should I be?

Well, I guess I can't tell you that your feelings are wrong, let me just say this:

If you were a good friend to A, you would be happy for A for having another close friend (B) and therefore a stronger, bigger, healthier support system. I don't adore all of my best friend's buddies, but knowing that they make him happy makes me happy.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 9:25 AM on April 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

[This is a followup from the asker.]
I cannot thank you all enough for the responses. Especially PuppetMcSockerson - while kind of a shock to read initially, a lot rings true and oddly, made me feel better about the situation (while also making me feel a little sorry for how I been treating B - I hope I wasn't too obvious in my feelings but unless A and B are super dense, how could they not pick up on something).

I knew in my head that I wasn't thinking rationally but I really couldn't figure out why and what an appropriate response would be. I contemplated just cutting A off (at least for a while) but I really like and care for A and didn't want to go that route - and it just seemed mean and drastic but on the other hand, I was very, very unhappy and hurt everytime I saw A. I knew neither A or B did anything wrong.

I do have other friends and plan on spending more time with them for the near future and giving A and B some space. I might also find a new hobby.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:34 AM on April 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

You had more of a good thing, and now you have less. I'd expect you to feel upset about that.

I don't think you're crazy. That word gets thrown around a lot, to mean any kind of undesirable behaviour, and it's sort of stigmatising. I also don't think you're immature for feeling jealous. You feel what you feel - never shame yourself for feeling something. Being immature would be acting immature - pouting, dramatic sighs, being passive-aggressive, interrupting conversations/time between A and B, etc. An emotion is never immature. An action can be. It sounds like you actually have a pretty good handle on how to behave around them.

If you want to spend some 1 on 1 time with A, then ask for it. It's OK to ask. Some things are a lot to ask for, and sometimes even the asking for it will cool another person towards you. But going for coffee with A doesn't really seem like such a huge imposition to me. Asking A to get rid of B would obviously be a big no-no, just for scale.

Regarding sucking it up, don't hang out with A and B if you're not feeling it. Unless you're a superb actor, they'll both pick up on the "I am uncomfortable with this" vibe, and that's not really an ideal situation to put yourself in.

Try getting your oxytocin fix elsewhere. If you're not the sort of person who generally hugs, maybe ask one of your other friends for a hug. Close physical contact will often stimulate a release, which might help take the edge off a little. Since A is around less, you're getting less of a release, so you're sort of in a withdrawal state. Your brain isn't going to care where it comes from, as long as it gets it.
posted by Solomon at 10:45 AM on April 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm with the previous posters who said it'd be fine to just ask A to hang out one-on-one. I don't see why it needs to be "you or B."

FWIW, as the perpetually single member of my friend group, I often ask for "just us" time from my friends. My friends have good taste, and I almost always genuinely like the people they date, but the dynamic of our friendship changes depending on the group hanging out. It doesn't matter if that's an extra friend or a significant other being added to the mix. Having "Us Time" is nice! I don't see how this is any different. Just say something along the lines of, "Hey, A, B seems super awesome and I'm so glad you've reconnected, but I miss Us Time! Want to [do thing you guys enjoy doing together] on Thursday or Friday?"

I will say, though, you definitely need to try and get to know B, but that can come in time. It's only been a month. The longer you know B, the more stories you'll share with both of them, and the less out out the loop you'll be when you hang out as a group.
posted by JuliaIglesias at 11:01 AM on April 4, 2014

I hope I wasn't too obvious in my feelings but unless A and B are super dense, how could they not pick up on something

Super glad I helped! Re the men having picked on your tone, this is easily solved. To do some damage control on this you could always ACKNOWLEDGE you'd been acting like an ass but then explain it away as having been because of something else. The next time you see them say something like,

"Hey guys! Sorry if I have been acting weird and jerkish, I had this insane project at work/family issue/problem/asshole neighbour that was stressing me the hell out and I think that stress may have spread. I hope you don't think that is the normal me, B, you kinda caught me at my worst! It is done now so no more cranky! Hurray! LETS GO GET SOME TACOS!"

... and then go get tacos. Tacos make everything better.

I might also find a new hobby.

I recommend knitting. No joke.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 11:25 AM on April 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

I think maybe you should give B a shot 1 on 1. Maybe B is somebody you could appreciate outside of the whole interloper dynamic. You'd at least be able to say you tried, even if it's only to yourself.
posted by current occupation: at 1:29 PM on April 4, 2014

I think maybe you should give B a shot 1 on 1. Maybe B is somebody you could appreciate outside of the whole interloper dynamic. You'd at least be able to say you tried, even if it's only to yourself.

You know, I LOVE this idea. Also, wouldn't it be a hoot if you and B became boyfriend and girlfriend? Then you could both adopt A and live as a family!

But serioulsy, would that be a great movie or what?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:56 PM on April 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Groups of three are really hard, especially when your connections are different. If A and B bond over inside jokes and hair metal from 1987, while you and A bond over road bike gearing and Real Feelings (or whatever), it's hard to have a group conversation. Plus, A and B have a lot to catch up on, while you and B still have to find shared interests (if even possible).

Besides occasionally getting some A-only time, and besides giving them some space to catch up, here are some ideas for your time with both A and B:

- Continue to treat B like an out-of-town special guest for awhile longer ("how do you know A," "ha ha, 'zalty zauce,' that sounds like an inside joke from a funny story?" etc.)
- Start developing a shared history in contexts you can tolerate and that minimize the "2 talk while 1 yawns" phenomenon. Pub trivia quiz night. Loud music shows. Quirky team-building adventures where the three of you face off against some physical phenomenon or the world (e.g., a surfing lesson, building a bonfire, sneaking into a corporate happy hour).
- Try hard to figure out what conversational topics you and B can talk about.
- Bring a 4th person to even out the teams. That way even if A and B are super-chummy, you won't be the third wheel; it'll be like a double date. A 4th person can join you in saying "what's that joke about?" or "you guys were weirdos when you were in 8th grade! lol. Hey, what's your cat's name again?"
posted by salvia at 5:25 PM on April 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

For what it's worth, I also find this kind of thing hard and it doesn't matter who it is. My grandmother and mom talking about the neighbors who they lived next to before I was born. Being with a group of friends talking about when they went to high school together when I only met them last year. Etc. It's a very excluding type of conversation (usually unintentionally).

A split plan of attack works best...

Hang out with A and B together but plan something action-y and cooperative that will channel conversation toward what you're doing rather than toward the past. If you can pick something they haven't done together before, that's perfect.

Invite A out solo (you can't do this *too* much, but occasionally is not crazy), tell A that you haven't had a chance for a good conversation in a while and pick an activity/place that is good for talking.

Make a few new friends or pick up new social hobbies or catch up with some of your other friends. It sounds like you've gotten really dependent on A's friendship, but as others have pointed out it's not so great to put all your eggs in one basket.
posted by anaelith at 6:06 AM on April 7, 2014

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