Dear Dr Holmes and Mr Baer,
I know my letter might sound lame but recently I have just found out about the girl (Anne) that my high school ex boyfriend (Ben) is seeing. They don’t really bother me (honestly), but what does bother me is how she and my best friend since elementary (Carole) have now bonded. Even going on random trips to Tagaytay, and now talking about Baguio. I just don’t like the fact that I can see their conversations on Carole’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.
Now Carole’s boyfriend (Dan) also happens to be best buds with Ben so of course they will cross each other’s path. I know I am jealous and feel left out because I think I might have lost her, but isn’t there some sort of girl code?
She (Carole) recently got engaged and on one of the girl’s (Anne) comments she mentioned how Ben is sorry that Dan wasn’t able to help him pick the ring. What if she’s (Anne) in the entourage? Should I confront her about this or just shrug it off? I honestly feel really uncomfortable about. I’m trying to be open minded, but sometimes it’s hard. Waiting for your advice. – Francie
Thank you for your letter. I think I have worked my way accurately through the thicket of interlocking relationships that you have told us about but please correct me if I got it wrong.
Several things stand out. For example, your angst is at odds with your claim that Anne and Ben “don’t really bother me (honestly).” Then there is the question of why you feel left out. If all these people have been close to you for years and you are not bothered by Anne’s relationship with Ben, why do you feel excluded from bonding trips to Tagaytay and Baguio?
All this leads me to suspect that you are indeed truly bothered by Anne’s arrival on Ben’s arm and her befriending of your longstanding barkada. Not only that, I imagine your feelings have been noted by the others and as a consequence they are keeping you and Anne apart, probably to protect you. Of course this has resulted in your sense of alienation and that then feeds your angst further.
You have to decide what your goal is. Do you really want to maintain your ties with your old friends at all costs? If so, you need to find a way to accept Anne. Work out what your problem with her actually is.
Is it about her as an individual or just that she is going out with Ben? Your account after all suggests he has not been completely flushed out of your emotional system yet.
Once you have gotten this sorted out, you should find that the other relationship issues fall into place much more easily. Please write again, however, if we have got it wrong or there is more that you want to share. All the best.
First of all, there is nothing lame/mababaw about your feelings. One of the first things I disciplined myself to do when I was a fledgling clinical psychologist was to remind myself that : “There is nothing good or bad with feelings because they just come unbidden. What is good or bad is what comes after. What you do with these feelings.”
Thus, you can congratulate yourself that you can articulate even the feelings that put you in a bad light. Not very many people can do that and I, for one, laud you for it.
Now here’s what many might misconstrue as the bad news – but I know you won’t since self-knowledge, no matter what the consequences, is what you value. I would like to add something to what you feel is bothering you in addition to what you and Jeremy have mentioned.
You feel betrayed. Not just betrayed in an itsy bitsy way, but betrayed big time. Yes, by your barkada, even by Ben, but most definitely by Carole, your “best friend since elementary.”
Of course, this is because of your feeling hurt. This can easily turn to anger, as shown by your quandary as to whether to “confront” her or disguise it as nonchalance (as shown by your trying to “shrug it off”).
But there is something else (between these two seemingly opposite courses of action) that you might try: more self-disclosure.
Very simply stated, self disclosure (SD) is revealing oneself to others, revealing one’s thoughts, words, wishes, motives, dreams etc etc. like you and Carole must’ve done to each other since elementary days. SD is, in effect, everything an individual chooses to tell the other person about herself, making it known. The deeper you self disclose, the deeper your friendship is likely to be.
Who you choose to self-disclose to is a sign of who you trust, and want to be (or remain) very true and very deep friends with. If the other person (in this case, Carole) self discloses in response to your own SD it means she too, whether consciously or unconsciously, wants to be as close to you as you do to her. Research has in fact shown that when one person self-discloses, the recipient is more likely to self-disclose.
Self-disclose to Carole, Francie. I would suggest you open up first with something true but less accusatory, rather than telling her (even if it’s true) that “Boyoboyoboy. You really broke the girl code when you started sharing how you and Anne are friends on FB. How do you think that makes me feel?!!?”
Maybe you could tell her you feel a bit awkward about her attending her wedding and take it from there. Her response will, after all, determine whether you self disclose even more or, indeed, decide not to go to her wedding.
In the best of all worlds, you and Carole will both be glad you’ve opened up about this thorny issue because it clears the air and brings you closer to each other. Alas, that is not always the case. But, if you open up instead of festering with all these unexpressed feelings, at least you will have given your friendship as much as you could and you can decide what to do next with a clear conscience.
I so hope this makes sense? If not, or if you disagree with our “advice” or if, indeed, you want to explore other issues with us, please write us again. Till then, the very best of luck.
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