• Keeping Friends

When teenage friends become coupled

April 24, 2014 | By | 2 Replies Continue Reading
A young girl asks what to do: Her friends have become coupled and she feels like a third wheel.

QUESTION

Hi,

I’m 13 and in secondary school. Recently my best friends (two girls and one boy recently gotten into relationships. One of the girls, Shari has gotten involved with the boy, Mark, and the other girl, Dora got asked out by someone else and have been going on double dates and leaving me out.

I think its stupid having a boyfriend at this age. I haven’t ever told them this because I guess it’s their choice but today Shari asked me to go somewhere today with her and the rest of them.

I haven’t said anything because I need to know what to say. I know I will feel left out because I tried once before and I felt like the odd one out, the black sheep, because I didn’t have someone else with me. They were walking round, talking, flirting—even kissing! I’m just left behind not being talked to and walking by myself like I’m not even with them. I may as well be by myself.

I don’t know what to do now because I know that when they break up, I can’t be friends with just one of them and have to choose who to stick with. This has happened before and that’s why I keep loosing friends.

Do I need new friends? Should I get a boyfriend to be in with them and blend in? It’s making me depressed.

Signed, Cherie

ANSWER

Hi Cherie,

I remember how hard and complicated friendships can be when people start dating and friends seem to take second place. It’s only natural to feel some hurt and left out. While I agree thirteen is young for friends to become coupled and dating, I think you are quite smart not to say anything to your friends—since as you say, it is their choice.

I understand your reluctance to go out with your friends and be the only one without a date but you need to ask yourself if you’d rather be the black sheep and spend time with your friends, or stay behind and not spend time with them.

Sometimes it’s worth feeling a little uncomfortable to maintain a relationship. Also, just because you feel like the fifth wheel on a car doesn’t mean your friends feel that way. They obviously want to spend time with you or wouldn’t have asked. If you feel too uncomfortable around the couples, you could suggest an alternative activity with just the girls but be prepared that sometimes even good friends get so wrapped up in their partners that they choice their dates over their friends.

As for when friends break up and you feel like you need to choose sides, you really don’t. You have every right to choose your own friends, and to be friends with two exes who are no longer friends with each together. You need to set ground rules, that you don’t want to listen to either friend talk negatively about the other; that you won’t choose sides; and that you won’t be pressured into picking one friend over the other. This is called setting boundaries: knowing where your friend’s wants and needs end, and where yours begin.

If your friend gets mad at you for not abandoning another friend just because she did, your friend is being immature. If you stop being friends with someone just because another friend does, then you lose part of who you are little by little.

You might want to expand your friendship by looking for other girls who don’t have boyfriends to spend time with but recognize that at some point they might couple up too. I wouldn’t look for a boyfriend just because your friends have them, you should have a boyfriend when you’re ready and attracted to someone. However, if one of your friends wants to set you up on a date, you might go just to see if you enjoy the date.

You seem to me like you’re a sensitive, caring, thoughtful girl. Your friends are lucky to have you. I hope you can meet a few new single people, while maintaining your relationship with your best friends. Remember that what you want is important, and you get to make the choices about whom your friends are.

Signed, *Amy Feld


*Amy Feld, PhD, MSW has trained and worked as a child psychologist.

Disclaimer: Nothing in this or any other post is intended to substitute for medical, psychiatric or clinical diagnosis/treatment. Rather, all posts are written as the type of advice that one friend might give to another.

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Category: Creating and maintaining boundaries, KEEPING FRIENDS

Comments (2)

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  1. Lidial says:

    I am 61 and my daughter many years ago came home with this same problem. Her friends were 13 and dating and flirting. As parents we thought she was not ready and we said no to dating, and she was angry of course, stomped to her room and sulked. But we stayed firm. She did lose those friends that were dating. Eventually one of them got into trouble, because at 13 they are still children, and not ready for the heartaches, possible pregnancies and other problems associated with pretending you are adults and playing at boyfriend and girlfriend. Kissing leads to a lot more, and hormones can get you into trouble and confusion you don’t need at this age.

    We are so glad that we acted like this as parents. The other parents thought it was cute and let it happen. My daughter was mad at me for months. We did not allow dating or even flirting with boys, or wearing clothes that said I am older.

    So, finally she got a bunch of friends whose parents believed the same thing. I am happy to say she turned out OK, married at 27, is a doctor and has a wonderful child and told me she was glad I prevented her from making an early mistake. She did not need the heartaches, or those friends.

    My advise is, if you are 13 and not ready, move on to other friends. It will be tough, but you will soon find your group and things will work out OK and you will find love when you are ready, and not because friends pressure you.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I totally agree with you. I’m also 13 and most of my friends started dating, too. I’m not really interested in starting a relationship. I still chat with my friends, though they seemed to be more interested with their boyfriends, but I don’t care. In my opinion, you can still keep in touch with them and when the time comes, you could explain to your friend about your thinking. Amy Feld is right: if your friend is mad because of that, it means that she is immature, so you better find some new friends if it suddenly happened. All based from my experience 🙂

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