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Dr. Irene S. Levine Headshot

Handling an Insecure Friend

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LOWERING ANXIETY

Dealing with an insecure friend requires a proper mix of sensitivity and boundaries~

QUESTION

Hi Irene,

I have a friend whom I've known for about four years. She was there for me when my husband committed suicide two years ago. Since then, I've met a man whom I've fallen in love with and we are getting married. I introduced his brother to my friend and they've been going out for about a year now. The brother has been divorced for about five years and I'm friends with his ex-wife as well.

This is where it gets sticky. My friend wants nothing to do with the ex, but the ex has been part of our family. The brother and the ex have two grown girls and they have all remained close since the divorce five years ago. My friend wants me to stay away from the ex, to not invite her to our wedding, and to act like she's not there at all.

I like my friend and don't want to hurt her feelings but I also like the ex and would like to include her and her boyfriend. No one else has a problem with this. Can you give me some insight on this?

Signed,
Lilly

ANSWER

Hi Lilly,

Your friend is overstepping her boundaries. Perhaps, she needs to be reminded that the ex is also your friend -- and that the ex, your fiancé, and his nieces are part of your extended family. There's no logical reason why you can't be friends with both women although they don't have to be friends with each other. Moreover, it is inappropriate for your friend to tell you or your fiancé whom to invite to your wedding.

It's unfortunate she feels so insecure, especially since the ex has moved on romantically and has another boyfriend. Despite how she's feeling, your friend needs to readjust her attitude and act civilly to the ex when everyone gets together for family events or she may find herself becoming the odd woman out.

As a caring friend, you might want to find out why your friend is so threatened by the ex and try to reassure her but, in my opinion, her demands on you are totally unreasonable. You might also encourage her to discuss her feelings about her ex with her boyfriend -- before they get in the way of that relationship. Unless there is too much togetherness with the ex, my hope is that as your friend grows closer to her boyfriend, she will be better able to understand and accept the dynamics of his family.

Hope this helps.

Best
Irene

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