My best friend’s friend is nasty

Dear Suzie, I have been having trouble at school with this girl. She’s best friend with this girl I became best friends with this year. She was super nice at first, but now, she seems to suddenly hate me and has been bitching about me to all our friends. I honestly cannot think of anything i have done, i am very very nice to her, especially because she seems to hate me so much, i make a real effort. about 6 months ago she started giving me lifts to school when she was being nice. and now she’s nice in the car with her mum, but literally the second we get out she blanks me and gives me bitchy looks. Her dad lives in spain and doesn’t seem to care about her, as he has a new family, but her mum is really nice. I had a word with her about it, she didn’t want to talk about it but admitted she doesn’t like me very much. I don’t really know what to do. its very awkward at lunch time when we hang out in a kind of three. Thats not the main problem though, because evertime something like this happens, i shut down into a state of bad depression, and i can’t concentrate untill everything is sorted out, i know i am going to have to try and get over this for future life, but its really hard, please, please help me!

It is hard and you have my sympathy. I know how important friendships are, and how much it can hurt if they seem to go wrong. I can, however, see a way through this. But it’s going to take a leap in understanding on your part. I think you’re grown up enough to make – let’s see. What it needs is for you to be able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes; not just to be sympathetic – which is when we say “I see how that feels” but empathetic – which is when we can say “I feel your pain.”

What I want you to imagine is that I have two mails here; the one from you, and one from this girl. Because, believe me, I’ve had plenty from girls in both your situations so I think I can guess what she might say. Yours says you have a new best friend but her best friend doesn’t like you and even though you’ve done nothing to her, she still bad mouths you and won’t be nice.

What might she say? Probably, that she had a best friend and all of a sudden, this new girl came along and joined in. Perhaps she’d say that this new girl seemed nice at first. But then it got hard. Maybe it got hard because, 6 months ago, her relationship with the father who has abandoned her for a new family hit an all-time low. Maybe she feels so rejected and second-hand and unwanted and worthless because of that, she really needed to feel first in someone’s regard. She had this friendship – it was where she felt valued and special. And now she hasn’t even got that.

You’re seeing it as an attack on you, and since you don’t feel you did anything wrong you don’t understand it and feel angry and wronged. But when you realise it’s probably more about how she’s feeling, you might be able to see why she’s behaving this way. Haven’t you ever had a situation where you’re fed up or unhappy or scared about one person but take it out on someone else?

I think this is more about her unhappiness at losing her Dad to another family than anything else. It’s become about you because she sees you as a rival for her friend’s attention – attention she probably need desperately. And it’s become a competition because you see your mutual friends notice as something you both need to compete for. You could turn this around if all three of you could see this as a threesome where each of you supports and is behind the other two equally.

You say you have spoken to her. If you concentrated on “Why don’t you like me?” I can see you wouldn’t have got very far. If you try “It feels as if you’re having a tough time at the moment. I’d like to help – Is the anything I can do?” you might do better. And you would feel a whole lot better if you could stop thinking the world revolves around you and understand her unhappiness has very real and justified roots…that have nothing to do with you. Help and support her and be a friend rather than demanding you’re the centre of it all.

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