Ask Rachel: Three’s A Crowd
I have two best friends. Even though we’re all very close, two of us are both closer with the same girl. We both get jealous when the other is hanging out with our best friend, and I know it’s tearing up our friend because she wants us to get along. What can I do to make this situation better for all of us? – Heather, 18
This is one of the toughest friendship problems you’ll have, mostly because it’s almost impossible to talk about with your friends. It’s funny – girls love to celebrate bestie status, but when there’s three people involved, we get weirdly quiet. No one wants to cop to one person getting more love than another.
I don’t mean to get all Big Love about this, but it’s a little like having two spouses. A bestie relationship – whether marriage or friendship – is meant to be one-on-one.You are investing a ton of love and energy into being someone else’s number one, and you naturally expect that other person to feel the same. Except that with a third person, one person can’t be number one. Someone’s going to feel left out. Nature of the beast.
The good news is that it won’t always be you. Sometimes, you’ll be the one who’s closer to the other girl. But relief is temporary. What’s more, you’ll probably be so happy in those moments of security that you might work a little too hard to keep it that way – which means you may end up contributing to the forces that make someone else feel left out. It can become a yucky cycle.
Here are my threesome rules of the road:
1. Lower your expectations. Know that there’s going to be some pain involved. Kind of like when you go for a wax. If you want to look good, it’s gonna burn for a bit. You will feel left out. It will be hard. This isn’t for everybody. If, like me, you’re the kind of person who needs to talk about your feelings every 19 hours, get out now, man. Save yourself.
2. Give them space. You’ll get your one-on-one time, now give them theirs. Fair’s fair. Do you guys talk about “private time?” My threesome used to. I’d have dinner with M. every Monday night and M. would have dinner with J. on Thursdays. On weekends we usually hung out all together. Once we started using the term “private time” it became part of the language of our friendship. It worked really well.
3. Do not freak. As you get to know me, you’re going to see how much I love to share my feelings – and want you to share yours. This is one of those rare times I’m going to tell you to lock it down. If you become the Agitator in the friendship, they will start to get sensitive around you. You’ll become the Sensitive One. The Jealous One. The One With Issues. See where I’m going with this? It’s a tough label to shake. Trust me.
4. Know your limits. I was in a threesome for almost 15 years. It started when I was 19. It ended in a really ugly friend divorce. And you know what? I played a big role in screwing that up because I stuck it out too long in something that made me feel hurt and angry. I wanted to be the kind of girl who could be chill about feeling like the third wheel. I couldn’t – and the more I forced myself to be that way, the more I ended up freaking out and doing and saying things I now regret. Save yourself the regrets now; if it feels bad, it is bad. This stuff is hard, and it’s not for everyone. You don’t have to be any girl except the one you are.
Have you had a three’s-a-crowd experience? What advice would you give Heather?