A breakdown of trust: When long-time friends fight over a guy

Published: February 8, 2010 | Last Updated: February 8, 2010 By | 1 Reply Continue Reading


Dear Dr. Levine,

For the past six to eight months I’ve had two friendships deteriorate. Jillian had been my friend for about 15 years. We never partied or saw much of each other due to distance and her ten-year relationship with a guy yet we always kept in touch. When her relationship was over, we began to spend lots of time together.


Our relationship went into a tailspin when she questioned my character. She asked me to give her ex-boyfriend (whom she hadn’t seen in 15 years) a ride home because she was leaving with her new love interest. After the ride, he invited me in for a drink. Of course, I declined and later called both him (he gave me his number to make sure I got home safely) and her. That was where all the confusion began.


The next day Jillian called asking if I’d "done" anything crazy with him. I was offended since I only provided the ride to do her a favor. Over the next few months, she began dating this guy again. I know this guy was interested in me, but that was a line I would not cross. The relationship with her has suffered since. She would make us all hang out together. The guy is very cool and we have a very good rapport; I have plenty of male friends and am comfortable with males on a friendship level. She is aware of the many strictly platonic male relationships that I’ve had all my life. However, she is always trying to compete with me about every single thing or tarnish my character. I’ve tried to hang on to the friendship for more than 6 months and it’s been hard.


I’ve also recently broken up with Lexi. We had been friends for 20 years (we are in our 30’s) and she is/was like a sister to me. I invited both Jillian and Lexi out to celebrate my promotion and Jillian came with the guy. Lexi had been secluded after a recent break-up with a guy so to come out and interact with my friends was a big deal for her. Eventually, Lexi ended up chatting with a guy I’ve been seeing on and off for the past 6 months. Although I was a bit leery of him and his intentions when Lexi told me he was nice and was interested, I blew up. I could not believe, that Lexi, my sister, my longest friend would hit on a guy I was sort of dating for 6 months. She had never met him before, but had heard stories about him.


My trust with both friends has been broken. Is there a way to mend both relationships? Do you think that Lexi’s actions are from her recent break-up or just who she has always been? I’ve talked to several of my friends about Jillian. Most think Jillian has always been a bit competitive and a user. I never saw this side before and am now afraid of all my relationships. Help.



Dear Risa

The issue of trust is fundamental to any healthy relationship. So I can understand how you must be reeling after two long-standing relationships unraveled over the same issue.


In the case of Jillian, if you knew that her guy was interested in you, she probably knew too. Instead of her confronting him about his trustworthiness, it sounds like you were an easier target. If it were this incident alone, you could talk to Jillian and, perhaps, get over it but it sounds like she is constantly competing with you. That makes me think that perhaps the women you both were 15 years ago have grown in different directions and that your relationship is really based primarily on shared history. While this is nothing to give up lightly, is Jillian the kind of friend you want in your life now or is she a frenemy, who tries to put you down whenever she has the opportunity?


In the case of Lexi, it sounds like she picked up on your ambivalence about the guy you were "sort-of-dating" and moved in to make the catch—perhaps innocently, but not very sensitively. I’m not sure from your letter if Lexi is still seeing this guy but I think you need to express your hurt feelings to her.


Your dilemma really has to do with your feelings about friendship and its boundaries and the men just happen to be red herrings that make things more confusing. Maintaining trust is the thread that runs thought both these painful situations. It can only help for you to speak with Lexi, and perhaps with Jillian too (if you feel so inclined) about mutual expectations of a trusting friendship, which often vary from person to person.

I hope this is helpful.


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  1. Julie K.O. says:

    Personally, stay away from your friend… I had a friend just like this..and there were NO BOUNDERIES with her..I hated that sooo much… plus, I stayed in this friendship way way too long!!

    You are NO door mat… do NOT stay in a friendship with her.. that’s NOT a great friend to anybody!! I believe in bounderies, myself..I don’t like it when people cross mine!!!

    You will have to figure out what you want in your friendships…bounderies or no bounderies.. that IS the question!!!

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