As someone who would definitely describe herself as a rom-com junkie, one of my favorite plotlines is when the two best friends, who have denied their feelings for each other throughout the film, finally get together. I see this in real life too; when the potential couple everyone has been gossiping about finally makes it Instagram-official, I can’t help but feel a sense of gratification knowing I was invested from the beginning. So why is it that when this happens to my close friends, I feel an impending dread while simultaneously cringing every time they’re together? I’m in a pretty established, tight-knit friend group, and over half of them have coupled up with each other recently. All I want is all of my friends’ happiness, so why is it so difficult to be incredibly supportive and happy when they get together? After a lot of reflection (and quite a few phone calls with my mom), I think I’ve parceled most of it out.
Firstly, unless there was a period of obvious flirting between the two, there is definitely a shock factor when friends start dating since you had only ever seen them as, well, friends. This seems to be the case for my friend group as these couples were seemingly created overnight. All of a sudden, you go from hanging out with your friends to third wheeling, and no one likes that feeling. At the root of any hard feelings is probably jealousy- not because you’re attracted to one of your friends, but because you don’t want to become a sideline friend or have your relationship with them pulled apart because they are growing closer. And the thing is, this doesn’t have to be the case. It can be crazy when your friends start dating, but there are ways to cope with it, accept it, and support them. Friends support friends, and this isn’t an exception.
Here are a couple things I’ve done and ways I’ve shifted my perspective to preserve my friendships with people who have gotten together.
- Understand that they are going to want their alone time. You can’t be upset if they can’t make plans because they have a date night or are just looking forward to being together. This doesn’t mean they don’t care about you or don’t want to spend time with you- they just need moments to strengthen their relationship, too. It can be a perfect opportunity for you to hang out with other people and strengthen other friendships.
- Speak up if you feel like you’re being excluded. You don’t have to come across as whiny when speaking your mind in a kind and mature way. If you are feeling neglected, you can tell them. Even just letting them know that you miss them is enough; there’s no need to guilt-trip, but odds are they don’t even realize that they are drifting away from you.
- Don’t take sides when your friends get into fights. You can’t be overly invested in their relationship issues, so it’s best to bite your tongue in these situations. You can listen to them, but keep your opinions to yourself; most of the time, they’re just wanting someone to vent to anyway.
- Be supportive! You don’t have to love the idea at first but I promise, that over time, it gets easier. Friendships aren’t a one-way street, and they’re going to have to decide if they are going to isolate themselves or still be part of the group. All you can do is be there for them and be positive, even if you are weary about the situation. You don’t want to hurt their feelings by being cold or pushing them away. Everyone will feel better if there isn’t any tension or hostility.
At the end of the day, in any friendship, communication is key. Don’t let pent up emotions get the best of you and potentially damage your relationship with your friends. When your besties start dating, trust me when I say it is not the end of the world. Think of the bright side: you’ll probably be entrusted with giving a kick-ass speech at their wedding. True friends won’t take you for granted, so even if their relationship leaves yours a bit rocky at the beginning, I am a firm believer that everything works out in the end!