How to Handle Your Close Friends Dating
When two of your close friends start dating, and you are left out, the last thing you should do is hate on them.
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Last week, Modern Manners Guy Facebook friend Lilly emailed me about how two of her closest friends, Sarah and Kiel, recently started dating, and now she felt left out. So what is she supposed to do, now that her group of three became a group of two? I told Lilly that this is not something new: friends in a group starting a romantic relationship separate from their peers. I also reassured her not to take it personally … after all she didn’t do anything wrong.
Our email exchange went back and forth, with me offering advice about how to properly handle the situation. So, before your table of three becomes a table of one (and you end up drinking for a table of four), check out my top three quick and dirty tips for how to handle close friends who start dating, leaving you as the third wheel:
Tip #1: Be Happy for Them! (Shocker, Right?)
The first thing Lilly told me was how she wasn’t too thrilled that Sarah and Kiel started dating and how their “group” didn’t involve her the way it did before. We exchanged probably a dozen emails and, in about ten of them, I kept saying, “Well, aren’t you happy for them?” I must have said a version of this in every one of those emails, working it into any situation I possibly could. She wrote, “All they do is text back and forth to each other nonstop!” I replied properly, “But aren’t you happy for them?” Then she told me how they were planning a trip to Spain this summer, which to me sounded pretty amazing. “Wow, that’s sounds like a great time–you should be happy for them!” Turns out she didn’t find it as awesome as I did. And as you would guess, she wasn’t happy for them. This went on and on until I finally broke down and replied, “Would you rather them break up? Then what happens to your group?” This finally got to her. When she was able to step back and think about her true feelings–having them never get together or give it a try–she realized how rude she sounded.
Lilly may have felt “slighted,” but love is one the world’s biggest mysteries, and her two best friends discovered it together. How can anyone dislike that? More importantly, if you don’t get that, how does that make you look? Bottom line—and I know it sounds like a wild concept—it’s only proper to feel good for people who fall in love. Yes, even when they are your closest friends and even when they fall in love with each other. Yes, your life will change, however, at what cost? Isn’t the gain bigger than the loss? And I hate to even call it a “loss.” Mannerly Nation, a proper person doesn’t want anything bad to happen to friends, like a messy break up. Change will always happen in relationships and, as you grow further into adulthood, that doesn’t mean your friendship should alter as a result. It’s just different.
Tip #2: Embrace Your New Role
As I said in Tip #1, Lilly felt as if she was lost. Deep down, that was the core feeling about her two close friends now dating. In college, they did everything together; her and Sarah were roommates and Kiel lived next door. They went to bars together, holiday parties with one another, and when Kiel broke up with his long time girlfriend, she and Sarah helped him out of that slump. So, now she felt like an “outsider” or “third wheel.” When she said that, it reminded me of an a article I wrote called How To Be A Third Wheel. Being a third wheel is never easy, but it is manageable, and it’s all about finding your place: your new place at that. I totally understand where she’s coming from, but Lilly can’t let that affect the way she acts around them. See, finding your place is a touchy subject because it’s hard to face the fact that your role in the friendship has changed. Yes, the majority of things are the same, but for some instances, things will be different, and that's OK.