THE BLOG
02/27/2012 01:19 pm ET Updated Apr 28, 2012

Friendship Advice: What to Do When Your Best Friend Has Found Someone Else

QUESTION

Dear Irene,

I'm a junior in high school who has never been the most popular person. I'm generally the weird girl who eats lunch alone reading a book. However, over the past couple of years, I've made a few incredible friends.

One of these is a guy who knows that I've liked him for a couple of years. He's my best friend in the world, and we used to be able to talk for hours on end about nothing at all. Recently, though, it feels like we've been growing apart. For one, his girlfriend seems to be getting between us. I still have feelings for him, though the friendship is more important and I'm trying to get over him, but I feel like I can't say anything or do anything around her lest I make things more uncomfortable. He's one of only two or three people I trust completely and he's the only person who I've told about my depression and anxiety disorder.

We don't talk for more than a couple of minutes at a time, and about nothing deeper than homework or superficial problems. I'm worried that I've scared him off by telling him about my disorder, even though he didn't seemed fazed at the time. I'm worried that he doesn't think that he can tell me his problems any more, and I don't want to burden him with my issues any more than I have to. I've played shrink for friends before, and I know how hard it is to feel responsible for their happiness.

What can I do to patch the friendship up? Should I give him space for a while, or do I need to confront the issue before we grow too far apart?

Signed,

Amy


ANSWER

Dear Amy,

Given that your friend already has a girlfriend and you still have romantic feelings towards him, I can see how this might complicate your relationship -- whether or not you had disclosed your disorder to him.

My guess is that not only is he aware of your feelings for him but so is his girlfriend -- which would make it difficult for him to maintain the same close friendship he has had with you in the past.

It's always disappointing when one person is more invested in a friendship than another. But it's great you have made such strides in connecting with other people, and that you felt comfortable and trusting enough in this relationship to disclose a disorder you previously kept secret. On that basis, I would still score this as a highly successful relationship -- one that should help you gain confidence in yourself and your ability to make friends in the future.

Yes, you have no choice but to give your friend the space he needs. When young people (male or female) get caught up in romantic relationships, it's common that they have less time for other friends. Try not to take it too personally or blame yourself. Continue to nurture other friendships and maintain a cordial relationship with this guy and his girlfriend.

I hope this helps.

Best,

Irene

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