Love triangle involving your best friend
August 30, 2006 10:52 AM   Subscribe

How would you handle a love triangle where your best friend likes the same girl you do and that she secretly has been hooking up with both of us?

Ok ill try to explain the most I can while keeping it brief. I knew this girl, jane, for almost one year, we dated for like 2 weeks. She was awesome to talk to and I definetly enjoyed spending time with her, but I realized during these 2 weeks that it wouldnt work out between us because Im more insecure/jealous--she has had more experience with dating then me (Im still a virgin)--and she was very flirtatious and I dont think I could have handled that. Anyway we stayed really close friends, or at least I thought we were.

Fast forward like 5months since 2 week dating thing and we end up hooking up again at a party. I realize now that I still have feelings for her that didnt go away (I thought they subside) but I didnt want to approach it incase it was just one of those things you do when your drunk. I leave to go out of the country for a month as vacation and that night was still in my mind.

Meantime she became really good friends with my best friend, john. This was really suprising as he had always said he would never date her, didnt consider her hot, she wasnt cool. But whatever in 2 weeks they became really close and when I got back he asked me for permission to go out with her. I was really in shock, as I had always joked about them getting married since he essentially didnt like her. So i told him that this had all the elements of incoming drama and that I still had residual feelings for her and if they were to go out then I couldnt be friends with her because of what could happen. I decide I should tell her what I thought of the whole situation too since she was one of my close friends as well.

I tell her and she says she couldnt live without being friends with me so she would rather not, she also tells me she has been having the same feelings for me since that night we hooked up. We make out 2 nights in a row. I feel great that she has the same feelings for me but at the sametime I realize now how this will bother my best friend john. She says she will handle it and explain our feelings for each other to him. The next week he doesnt bring up anything involving her or me, which is strange since he usually would have bitched to me about it, something I should have put more thought into.

We make out more times since then and I start to feel really attatched and want to make it official so I decide to ask my friend john about it. He says he has been making out with her for the past weeks also and that he too has the same feelings for her. At this point im pretty pissed seeing as how this was the exact situation we tried not to happen. She told john not to tell me about any of the hookups they had because she didnt want her private life out there and she didnt tell him any of our makeouts either. Now I know I should have instantly told him me and her making out but she told me that "he didnt want to talk about it" so I believed her. Another thing is on oneday she made out with both of us without either of us knowing. We both felt like she could be our girlfriend and that our emotions were genuine. We hatch out a plan to make sure there is no mistakes, I talk to her and confess my love for her and ask if there will be any problems with john, she says she would totally go out with me but would feel bad for john.

I confront her about it the next day, she apologizes and said she was confused and that she really does like both of us. I felt betrayed because I thought she was a really close friend someone I shared alot of my own emotions, I say I dont ever want to talk to her again. My friend john on the otherhand still wants to be friends with her. After my confrontation with her she goes to him and says she loves him and cant live without him.He too is still a virgin and this would be his first for everything, same for me.We're both 22, she is 21 if age matters. I have a feeling that he will go back with her even after all this.

How can I trust that my best friend wont go back to her and hook up or what can I do to explain to him its not a good idea? What would you do in such a situation? I dont know if I could still be best friends with him if he were to ignore my feelings. Any advice on how to handle the aftermath is great.Sorry this has been longer then I thought it would be, thanks for reading.
posted by spacesbetween to Human Relations (56 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Abandon ship.
posted by dead_ at 10:59 AM on August 30, 2006

keep the friendship and abandon the girl. there will be other fish in the sea for both of you. it's not worth it if this is your best friend.
posted by spicynuts at 11:00 AM on August 30, 2006

She's playing with you. Run away.
posted by dersins at 11:01 AM on August 30, 2006

Agreed. Abandon Ship.
posted by mercurysm2 at 11:02 AM on August 30, 2006

Also: bros before hos, mang.
posted by dead_ at 11:02 AM on August 30, 2006

I confront her about it the next day, she apologizes and said she was confused and that she really does like both of us.

Oh come on. She's not worth your time. This is simply not an adult way to act, had you not stated your age I would have assumed you were in middle school. She needs to make a decision, and right now she's playing you instead. If you are truly good friends with John advise him to get out as well.
posted by phrontist at 11:03 AM on August 30, 2006

She is not relationship material, and your friend is incapacitated enough by his own lust, inexperience, and confusion that you cannot count on him to be a good friend to you, no matter how much he'd like to or may promise to.

You may care deeply about both of them, but unfortunately you can't trust either of them at all right now. Be prepared to take some time off. Make your feelings known to both and then take a break-- place a moratorium on long, drawn-out conversations with them analyzing the situation. If any- or everyone would simply decide what they wanted and then stick to it, things would work themselves out, but until then, it will just all rot and fester.

This really is unfortunately the kind of thing that destroys even the best friendships. The best way to keep that from happening is to take the pot off the burner and mend yourself as best you can, and hope that one or both of them will stick around and be there for you on the other side of it.
posted by hermitosis at 11:04 AM on August 30, 2006

Your friend was probably yanking your chain the whole time he was saying that he didn't like her.

Then again it sounds like you've dumped a lot of unfounded emotion on to this girl and she really doesn't know what to do with you. Probably she doesn't want to hurt you (difficult because you've put so much pressure on her with the "I love you talk") but she'd rather date your friend.

Write her off or at least put some distance between you. Hopefully you and the guy can still be friends. The best you can ask for is for them not to flaunt their romance in front of you because you're still sensitive about it.

Also, why isn't it a "good idea" for your friend to go out with this girl? I mean, you weren't her boyfriend, you weren't married, you don't have a kid together... so he (and she) has no responsibility to you beyond the one sided emotional commitment you've made to her.

It sounds like you're all young. Chalk this one up to a learning experience. There's plenty of other chicks out there... ones who won't ditch you for you buddy.
posted by wfrgms at 11:07 AM on August 30, 2006

Nice interpretation, she is attracted to both of you and is playing because she didn't want to fess up and hurt either of you.

Bad interpretation, she is having fun playing both of you.

Tell him once, but you need to be prepared to let him make his own mistakes and decide if you still want to be friends.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:07 AM on August 30, 2006

Agreed, abandon ship with the girl and try to salvage things with your friend. If he must go back with her, make sure he knows how you feel about it. Then just deal with it. Understand that some things people need to learn for themselves. There may be some uncomfortable times, but chances are he will soon realize that someone who lies and manipulates people emotionally does NOT stop doing these things. With any luck, his relationship with her will not last long if he is wise enough to see this.

When the dust has settled, you'll probably still have your friend and you'll both have more life experience to learn from.

Good luck!
p.s. maybe show your friend this thread?
posted by utsutsu at 11:08 AM on August 30, 2006

This girl is obviously just fucking with both of you. Back off, let your friend get burned, and see if you two can still kick it a few months later.
posted by cmonkey at 11:09 AM on August 30, 2006

The far easier thing to do is tell her to get lost. The fact that she did get involved with both of you without failing to mention the fact is troubling, and causes me to wonder if you two aren't the only ones involved with her (non-consentual non-monogamy).

If you can live with the fact that both of you are having a relationship with her, and insist that everybody be open and up-front about it, can you trust her to not introduce yet more people into the mix? This will take some effort and agreement on everyone's part, and if one of the three of you is against it, then it won't work. This is a form of polyamory (having multiple, consentual relationships).
posted by ilsa at 11:18 AM on August 30, 2006

Get your friend to agree to have both of you dump the girl. Next, dump your friend.
posted by Postroad at 11:18 AM on August 30, 2006 [2 favorites]

What postroad said.

I can't believe people are telling you to keep the friend. Best friend my ass.
posted by justgary at 11:20 AM on August 30, 2006

Oooh! Ooooh! I did this.

The correct answer is tell him, laugh about it, and go get a beer. The order goes:

Others (including girlfriends or boyfriends, surprising enough. I suppose if you promote them to family in your mind then they come first but have you done that?)

Anyway, sorry Ian. I did you wrong.

posted by jon_kill at 11:24 AM on August 30, 2006

I believe that, barring illness or catastrophic events, any relationship that requires more than 1 paragraph per year of duration to define is not worth it.

You can't make people act how you want them to act. You can't make him hear you or her respect you or either of them grow up - all you can control is you. What are you going to do about you?

You guys have all cast yourselves in these really dramatic roles in this big ordeal, and it's very exciting and agitating and every new twist cranks up everyone's adrenaline - which is addictive. Break the cycle, walk away, take a lesson with you. I'm afraid this story is, literally, as old as stories, and it never ends well.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:30 AM on August 30, 2006 [6 favorites]

I also thought this was pure highschool drama too. This exact same thing that happened to me, only everyone invovled was 18. If you are both smart, you'll both dump her from your lives. But, young boys are stupid so that won't happen. In my case my friend ended up with the girl, and I removed myself from both their lives. I miss my friend but all in all the fact I didn't end up with that girl is probably one of the luckiest things to happen in my life. Girls like that do you know good. There are much better girls out there. Much much much much much better girls.
posted by chunking express at 11:35 AM on August 30, 2006

Girls like that do you know good.

They also do you no good. Run dude, run!
posted by chunking express at 11:41 AM on August 30, 2006

Ride with the tide, spacesbetween.

One of my best friends is my ex-girl-friend's ex-husband, and she is one of my other best friends. Each of us has been known to break into long, uncontrollable laughter without warning, in one another's company.

You could have that too, if you want it.
posted by jamjam at 11:48 AM on August 30, 2006

Back off. Be honest with your friend about why you're backing off, but don't expect him to also stay away, even if he knows he should. Don't comment on their relationship in the future. Just be glad you were the first to get out.

Yes, this also happened to me when I was 17-ish.
posted by lampoil at 11:49 AM on August 30, 2006

Win her over with the one thing no girl can resist: apostrophes. Catnip I tell you.
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:55 AM on August 30, 2006 [4 favorites]


How am I the first person in this thread to post this?
posted by harryh at 11:56 AM on August 30, 2006

I've been in this situation before, do you see yourself with this girl for a good number of years? Doubtful, at 22 you've got a good 5-10 years before you find someone you'll want to spend upwards of 50 years with. Then again, this guy may not be the friend you always thought he was. You need to either make a clean break with one or both of them. But beware, they may still get together behind your back.

P.S. Get laid.
posted by Derek at 11:56 AM on August 30, 2006

I had almost the exact same thing happen to me in high school. You know what I did? Fought with my friend tooth and nail over the girl, lost my best friend, ended up with the girl, but 4 months later lost the girl too. It's been almost 5 years since this happened, and me and my best friend still haven't spoken.

What did I learn? Two things. That my best friend wasn't really my best friend. Come on, he was making out with this chick for two weeks before you talked to him about it and he didn't tell you? Dude, my best friends now, I hear about it the moment it happens.

As far as the girl...dude, if it's meant to be, it'll happen. If you really like her, just let her go. Let her figure herself out. Just tell her you want to give her a chance to find herself or whatever. In the meantime, watch what she does. If she dates your best friend, then she doesn't really like you. If you know, she ponders the fate of her existence for a few months, and then comes back to you, well then you can think about it.

So, in summary, be wary of both of them. Step back a little bit. Just don't get in over you head. My actions five years ago STILL causes alot of drama.
posted by unexpected at 11:57 AM on August 30, 2006

You need this drama to grow as a person.

Whichever way it lands the possiblities are pretty short:
You're not friends with John.
You're not friends with her.
You're friends with both of them, who are seeing each other.
You're friends with John and you two are having a relationship.
She moves on and sees a third guy.
You reject her and stay friends with John.

No matter which way this ends up, you'll learn from it (painful as it may seem).

She's in a moment in life where she's the center of the world. Everyone is all emotions, hormones and "he said, she said."

You're all 18, or 21 or whatever. Most of the people here ran into this once (or more than once) in their lives.

Looking back, they wish they said to the girl to go her own way, and keep the friend. Most of us realize that our friends are longer lasting that most of our relationships.
posted by filmgeek at 11:58 AM on August 30, 2006

What postroad said.

I can't believe people are telling you to keep the friend. Best friend my ass.

Life is long and youth is complicated, compadre. Best friends deserve the benefit of the doubt. There will certainly be a time when our pal spacesbetween fucks up and is doubted by his best friend. Were I spacesbetween, I'd rather have a demonstrated history of maturity and faith in my best friend when it's my turn to be the retard. An indiscretion over a girl at the age of 21 is hardly a reason to terminate what could be a life-long friendship. Rather it is a chance to have something to look back on at 40 and laugh about.

You, of course, are free to hold your own best friends to whatever standard you wish, but I would not want to be the one to have to live up to them at 21.
posted by spicynuts at 12:04 PM on August 30, 2006

Both you guys are thinking below the belt.

Two suggestions: Either both of you tell her to take a hike seperately or both of you talk to her at the same time and tell her to choose or take off. Even if she likes both of you and is confused, that only means that she doesn't like either one of you enough for exclusivity. If another guy came along you both are dropped like a hot horseshoe.

It ain't worth the drama.
posted by konolia at 12:08 PM on August 30, 2006

Rule of thumb: Any time anything is this complicated and involves more than two people, it's probably a bad idea.

Dump the girl. I wouldn't dump the friend just yet, but yeah, he's not much of a friend to you.
posted by Anonymous at 12:19 PM on August 30, 2006

You need to learn that when a guy goes on and on about how much he doesn't get along with a girl, that almost always means that he is madly in love with her.
posted by dagnyscott at 12:30 PM on August 30, 2006

posted by BobbyDigital at 12:33 PM on August 30, 2006

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention. There will be a third guy. If two guys feels this good to her, three will feel even better. Get the hell out, save your friendship.
posted by jon_kill at 12:35 PM on August 30, 2006

You can still make something positive out of this. Jerry Springer and his ilk pay good money for drama like this. It helps the box if you shout a lot and wear women's clothes or swastikas. Get an agent.
posted by meehawl at 12:38 PM on August 30, 2006

I could have sworn you were 15 until I got to the end - this is a very "high school" situation. I'll agree with everyone on the "dump her" part. For the time being, just extricate yourself from all the drama. If he wants to go back to her, that's up to him. Sure, it's not very nice, but we've all got to learn our mistakes. You telling him it's a bad idea is going to make him think you're saying that because you want her (which will probably make him want her even more). Just distance yourself a bit and let them do whatever they want. Eventually it will calm down into a normal relationship or implode, the drama (and your hurt feelings) won't last forever.

One other lesson in this: friends are not infallible, they are people too. Sometimes they will pay attention to your feelings, most times they will pay attention to their own, and then yours. I wouldn't totally write him off, it's a quick judgement to say you can't ever be his friend because he ignored your feelings. How is he outside of this situation? If this is the only time he's screwed up, I'd say ditching him would be a bit overboard.

However, I want to add that you're not really any better than John, so you don't have much room to justify being mad at him if he ends up being with her. He did ask for your permission early on and didn't seem to know that you were hooking up with her. You knew John liked her, hooked up with her, and then decided to feel bad. Sorry dude, you don't have much of a leg to stand on against John, it's her you should be pissed with.
posted by ml98tu at 1:01 PM on August 30, 2006

Best friends deserve the benefit of the doubt.

When best friends, or even family members, begin to deliberately make decisions that hurt you, they have lost that benefit and have to earn it back.
posted by hermitosis at 1:07 PM on August 30, 2006

Everyone who is saying to keep the friend/ditch the girl is overlooking this part of the question:

"How can I trust that my best friend wont go back to her and hook up or what can I do to explain to him its not a good idea?"

He can forgive the friend and ditch the girl all he wants to, but the problem is that the other two still may wind up together. In other words, you are telling him he should choose a person who may not actually also be choosing him in return.
posted by hermitosis at 1:10 PM on August 30, 2006

A girl that would do that to you can't be trusted by you. Ever.

Drop her. She will only cause you pain.

As for your friend...let him keep seeing her. The misery it causes may teach him a lesson.
posted by jaded at 1:10 PM on August 30, 2006

You're entirely too young to be in a serious relationship anyway (all three of you are) so move on.

Also, I would never sacrifice, and never have sacrificed, a relationship with a true "best friend" over a woman. True friends steer clear of those kinds of situations out of respect for each other. Of course, you're all entirely too young to think of it in those terms.

Ultimately you all should walk away. There are three relationships at stake (m-m, m-f, f-m). Pick one. The others cannot survive. The one you do choose to save will be strained for awhile.

/condescending tone
posted by friarjohn at 1:22 PM on August 30, 2006

for what its worth I am a woman and even I agree with the dudes saying to stick by your friend and let the girl go. friends act like assholes all the time. true friends can forgive (and are forgiveable) of assholic behaviour. so I guess that really boils down to how close your relationship is with John, and only you, spacesbetween, can make that call.

I've had a few (well make that many) more trips around the sun than y'all have, so I guess you can take this advise as experience talking... or take it with a pound or so of salt, or hell, just ignore it.

at your age (well at any age depending on the combatants), you have to cut your friend a bit of slack with relationship issues. thinking below the belt indeed... young adults tend to do this a lot, and IME gender has very little to do with it. raging hormones are raging hormones.

the reason I'd say ditch the girl, keep your bro is that loyalty to friends (assuming they're quality friends) goes a long, long, LONG way when you get stuck in any of a million craptastic situations such as jobs, school, moving, psycho hosebeast x significant others and about ten bejillion other potholes on the road to becoming an evolved monkey.

the other reason I say this: dude she's 21 fercrissake. I surely can't speak for her, but I know for damn sure at that age I had NO idea what I wanted, from guys or my life or otherwise. I totally did the 'omg, I'm so CONFUSED... bit too, because, honestly, I didn't know what else to do. Plus I don't know how true this is these days, but I know back then, I felt strongly pressured not to rock anyone's boat by saying 'no' - it's a strong-yet-insidious social pressure that got put on girls. we were told growing up that had to be 'nice' and avoid confrontations, bla bla bla... to which I've since called 'bullshit', but that might bear some consideration. and, I hate to say it but there's something very... um, socially powerful and self-validating to a young, insecure female who has 2 (or 3, or more even... ahem) guys on a string. once one gets a little older, one learns the drama really ain't worth all the effort. well, some of us do at any rate.

not to mention the simple fact that girls that age, to borrow a term from your generation, can sometimes act comprehensively retarded about guys. I sure did.

being a virgin has nothing to do with it beyond the fact that is probably making both you and your friend a little more uptight about whether this chick should be The One to lose it to (and for what my opinion is worth, I honestly wouldn't choose someone that flakey for a number of reasons, but anyhow). seriously. that is your choice and your decision to make. and don't let anyone else project their moral judgements upon you.
posted by lonefrontranger at 1:32 PM on August 30, 2006

ml98tu makes a good point. Your friend probably could have written a similar post to you about this very topic, and people would be giving him much the same advice.
posted by chunking express at 1:44 PM on August 30, 2006

I'd love to hear her side of the story.
posted by clarkstonian at 1:58 PM on August 30, 2006

You, of course, are free to hold your own best friends to whatever standard you wish, but I would not want to be the one to have to live up to them at 21.

It's not a standard. It's a definition of best friend. The message is "you're my best friend, so do whatever you like". They could end up at 50 laughing about it, or it could happen 5 more times. So keep the 'best' friend, but don't be surprised when it happens again.

raging hormones are raging hormones.

That's a good excuse. So is "I was drunk", "it just happened", etc. etc.

It's the difference between being an adult and a child. 21 is not 16. If the poster wants drama, keep the best friend (along with all the excuses). They'll be needed.
posted by justgary at 2:09 PM on August 30, 2006

Dump the girl then start a band with the friend and write a 13-minute emo song about the whole thing.
posted by hellbient at 2:09 PM on August 30, 2006 [1 favorite]

All the advice up there is good. I don't recommend the following plan wholeheartedly. Have casual sex with the girl (you and/or your friend but not simultaneously because the 3some thing takes a bit of experience to make work) and get the whole virgin thing off your mind.

And then accept she's not someone you'd like to take home to meet the parents (not because of the casual sex, but because she's playing you both).
posted by b33j at 2:50 PM on August 30, 2006

Neither of you should ever talk to the girl again.

Girls are as common as dirt. (Fish in the sea is an under estimate). Best friends are often once-in-a-lifetime deal.

If your friend refuses to stop seeing the girl, by the way, then he's not your best friend. I already have doubts considering the guy dated a girl you recently liked but that would settle the doubts.
posted by nixerman at 2:55 PM on August 30, 2006

Well, I'll expand on my earlier advice.

It's premature to say keep the friend/ditch the friend. Perhaps John gets a clue in the next 5 minutes, perhaps it takes him 5 years. spacesbetween can't do anything beyond tell John he doesn't like the idea, and if spacesbetween chooses to lay down his opinion of this person, he should do so only once. Continuing to bitch about it isn't going to do anyone any good.

If John does get together with Miss TheCluebus then spacesbetween should decide what he can live with.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:10 PM on August 30, 2006

Response by poster: The funny thing about the whole, "this is high school drama " is that her friends are saying that we ( me and john) are the ones that are being overdramatic about the situation and that since neither of us were her bf then she has no right to tell us who she is kissing and going on dates with. Which I agree with, except for the fact that she knew we were best friends and we were trying to not let something like this happen.

On to the "I should drop my friend just cause of what he did". I do feel also guilty for not saying anything to him faster, although I put trust in what she told me when he said he didnt want to talk about any of it, I should have known better. In the end we both made mistakes since I asked him specifically when he told me he had feelings for her if they had kissed and he told me no. He has been my best friend since highschool and so it frustrates me to no end that our friendship could go south just because of one girl. We both share the same friends which would make it even wierder if I dropped him as a friend as well.

His reasoning for him wanting to stay friends with her is because, they got really "deep" into their conversations during their 2 weeks and that he doesnt like to phase out any of his friends. He says he can supress his feelings for her and still be friends, something I doubt.

I already told him it would be way to wierd for me if they just started hanging out again as if nothing has happened. I just dont think or maybe I dont want to believe that he seems to not put much thought into how i feel about it.
posted by spacesbetween at 3:42 PM on August 30, 2006


Sorry. But "Another thing is on oneday she made out with both of us without either of us knowing. We both felt like she could be our girlfriend and that our emotions were genuine," is so breathless and emotionally retarded that you should have gotten this level of moronitude out of your system by now.
She's not fucking either of you? Just making out? Jesus Christ, is this some sort of Mormon band camp? And people here are seriously telling you to dump everyone and scorch the earth?
This is how young adult incestuous friendships work. You can either be Captain Drama flying the skies of Histrion, or you can get the fuck over it and realize that girls can date more than one guy at once (even if he's OMG your best friend). Another helpful realization? Your being mental regarding your "feelings" toward this girl does not obligate anyone else to coddle your deviance. She wasn't that into you, but you kiss OK. She wants to keep making out with both of you, knew you'd freak the fuck out, and was right. You can now either act with agency and find a new girl that won't do this or continue with this girl, knowing full-well what the score is.
posted by klangklangston at 3:53 PM on August 30, 2006 [5 favorites]

"Which I agree with, except for the fact that she knew we were best friends and we were trying to not let something like this happen."

Um... Nothing really happened. Get over yourself.
posted by klangklangston at 3:54 PM on August 30, 2006

We're both 22, she is 21 if age matters. I have a feeling that he will go back with her even after all this.

Age does matter in that, when you're older, while I can't guarantee you won't get involved in something this ridiculous again, you will at least be able to recognize what a hopeless case it is and start to burn some bridges. At the same time, your friend and the girl are probably all equally at sea so I'm reluctant to condemn anyone—just get away from the drama and let God sort out who is to blame.
posted by cardboard at 4:13 PM on August 30, 2006

Klangklangston has just very well stated the long-missed obvious in this thread, removing the usual need for me to come and put you all straight. Be thankful.
posted by reklaw at 4:23 PM on August 30, 2006

klangklangston should get Best Answer... EVER.
posted by Zozo at 5:27 PM on August 30, 2006

"Win her over with the one thing no girl can resist: apostrophes. Catnip I tell you."

why, thanks!
posted by apostrophe at 7:31 AM on August 31, 2006

posted by Ironmouth at 11:34 AM on August 31, 2006

just HAD to say: klangklangston---hilarious and GREAT answer. "Captain Drama flying the skies of Histrion", indeed! Seriously -- spacesbetween, please pay attention to klangklangston's answer--it's right on.
posted by rio at 2:41 PM on August 31, 2006

Yeah, let me be the seventh to call attention to klangklangston. Brilliant answer; hilarious, concise & spot on accurate.
posted by jonson at 11:36 PM on August 31, 2006

posted by meehawl at 2:04 PM on December 12, 2006

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