When I was a kid, my best friend and I would joke around with each other and say no one was allowed to claim either of us as their best friend. It was definitely one of those “joking-but-not-joking” kind of conversations as we laughed our way out of fears surrounding the expansion of our circle of friends.
As we grew older into adulthood, we both began to build friendships with other folks at varying degrees of closeness. We learned how to honor the fact that we had friends beyond our bond with each other; when either of us was out having brunch with someone else, it wasn’t something the other would take personally. Even so, the fact that a thread of wondering whether either of us might be getting closer to someone else than we were to each other sometimes felt like a distant threat.
It’s normal to feel a sting of jealousy when your friend seems to be closer to their other friends; however, it’s important to understand that your friend’s other friendships do not diminish the value of your own.
What many people don’t talk about often is friendship insecurity: the feeling of inadequacy that arises when your friend is making new friends, especially close ones. It’s normal to feel a sting of jealousy when your friend seems to be closer to their other friends; however, it’s important to understand that your friend’s other friendships do not diminish the value of your own. You are still important to them, and your friendship with them is still valid. But you still have to do the work of understanding the jealousy of your friend’s friendships so that it doesn’t stir up conflict. Here are a few ways to do that:
6 tips to stop being jealous of your friend’s other friends
1. Reflect on your expectations
First and foremost, take a moment to reflect on your expectations regarding friendships. Understand that different individuals have varied capacities for maintaining relationships, and this truth does not reflect your worth or likability. If your friend has other close friendships, it’s not a knock on your connection.
Assess whether you’re placing undue pressure on yourself or your friend, and try to shift your focus toward valuing the quality of the time you spend together, rather than comparing it to others.
2. Communicate openly
Effective communication is vital in any relationship, including friendships. If you’re feeling distant or less connected to your friend, it’s crucial to express your thoughts and emotions calmly. Approach the conversation with empathy and understanding, emphasizing your overarching desire to strengthen the bond.
For example, tell your friend when you miss them. Take the initiative, and ask your friend for time to hang out or talk on the phone. Remember, just because you’re feeling jealous of your friend’s other friends doesn’t mean they know that. Honest dialogue can help bridge the gap and foster a deeper connection between the two of you.
3. Cultivate your own interests
It’s natural to want to spend more time with your friend if you’re feeling insecure about the quality of your bond. And it’s equally important to cultivate your own interests and pursue independent activities. Engaging in hobbies, joining clubs or communities, and exploring new experiences will provide you with personal fulfillment and broaden your social circle. By nurturing your own sense of self and happiness, you become less reliant on a single friendship for fulfillment.
4. Embrace the value of different friendships
Each friendship is unique and serves different purposes in our lives. Instead of viewing your friend’s other relationships as threats, embrace the diversity of friendships. Recognize that your friend may have different bonds with others based on shared interests, history, or compatibility. It’s healthy and normal for people to have various friends fulfilling different roles. Understanding and accepting this truth can alleviate feelings of competition and enable you to appreciate the special connection you share with your friend.
5. Focus on quality time
Rather than focusing on the total quantity of time you spend with your friend (and compare it to how much time they spend with others), prioritize the quality of your interactions. When you do have the opportunity to spend time with your friend, make it count. Engage in meaningful conversations, actively listen, and create memorable experiences. Quality time can often outweigh the number of hours spent together, forging a deeper bond and making your friendship more fulfilling.
6. Seek support from others
When dealing with feelings of insecurity or loneliness within a friendship, seeking support from other friends or loved ones can be helpful. Sharing your feelings with a trusted confidant can allow you to express yourself and gain valuable insights. Additionally, seeking support from others can help you widen your social circle and establish new connections, enhancing your overall social support network.
Being in a friendship where your friend has multiple friends and may be closer to them than they are with you can be challenging. But you can work through any feelings of jealousy by communicating honestly, focusing on your own feelings and interests, and not taking it personally. Friendships are valuable and worthwhile, and quality isn’t a resource you can measure using time.