Ask Rachel: Three’s A Crowd

By | September 9th, 2013 | 6 comments

Dear Rachel,stsl-07-little-ladies-0809-thumb-233x310
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

Dear Heather,

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?

6 Responses to “Ask Rachel: Three’s A Crowd”

  • zaina says:

    I have sort of the same problem, see I have two friends I love to death but sometimes I feel that they are sometimes closer together, see they went shopping together and to the movies together and I’m just wondering, why didn’t they invite me? It’s not like their leaving me out, at least I hope not. Sometimes I just wonder are they going to leave me one day? I’ve heard the saying three’s a crowd, am I the third wheel?

  • Mimi says:

    I have a situation just like that! Can anyone help?

    So I have been best friends with this girl M (privacy reasons) that has been my best friend for only about a year… We know almost everything about each other and I love her to death. Before M I started to hang out with a girl, A. When we moved up a grade, the year that M and I became best friends, I took her under my wing, because she was having major family issues. Everything was fine untill lately, A has been majorly clingy and attached to M. A will do anything she can to get in between us, seclude her from the rest of our friends, or even sit next to her. She says we are all Besties and I’m bothered by that. Is my friendship not good enough? Before m and I used to be together 24/7 and now she barely even texts me unless she needs something. But with A? She can never be in contact enough with her. This really breaks my heart and I need some advice. I don’t particularly want to confront M and tell her how this is affecting me because I think it will damage our friendship more than it already is, and right now, it’s falling apart at the seams.

  • Azlid says:

    Dear rachel,

    I have a friend and in p.e we took a bff quiz we got some of the same anwsers right but then my other friend comes and takes the quiz they get all of the anwsers the same.Since then they have been leaving me out of parties,hangouts,ect.and i feel very let out.sometimes they will ignor me and go talk to each other.before my old best friends friend we planned the entire year with us being partners and bff and i mean forever. But thats all gone what should i do?


  • Breezy says:

    Ouch. That’s happened to me. I know how it feels. It was hard to tell who was the “bestest” in-the-middle friend, though and the nature of our friendship was certainly odd.

    You see, Jordan and me were friends since the very first day of school.I was very shy, awkward and sort of estranged. She was outspoken, spoiled and an outcast. We sat by each other and talked a bit when I suddenly asked if she wanted to be my best friend. It was awkward, but after several lonely years I decided I was doing something wrong and I had read somewhere that if you don’t become fast friends on the first day of school you never will. She accepted and we were friends for awhile sitting at a table of our own talking of shallow things. Soon she made friends with more people, but we were still closest. I, however didn’t have any other friends. Her on and off boyfriend would sit with us sometimes. I hated him, but tried not to let it show.

    Two or three months into the year a new girl arrived. She was girly, artistic and wanted to be a model or fashion designer. Just like my first friend minus the girly part. They became close friends and I felt kind of left behind. Now I know I was estranging myself by never joining in as I was beckoned. I felt I would intrude. Rachel, the new girl, became Jordan’s closest friend though we said we were all three equally best friends and even had flimsy, elastic bracelets to prove it.

    They would both come to me when they had problems with each other. I felt like I was just their go to rant-about-freakin’-life girl. So I guess both me and Jordan were in the middle in different ways. Well, my first friend started growing closer to me. She said she missed those blissful days when we were so close and it was just us talking under the trees on lunch breaks. I smiled, but felt as if I were betraying Rachel. I knew what it was like to be the third wheel. If Jordan hadn’t spoke up about it we probably would have drifted farther apart. I’m glad she did.

    It all worked out in the end, though. Me and Rachel who I wasn’t very close with started hanging out together more without Jordan. Jordan and Rachel spent time together without me. Jordan and I would do more just us, too. We were all just about equally close for the next three years. Jordan might have been a tiny bit closer to us each, but no one was jealous. I’m not especially close with either of them now, but me and Rachel keep in touch and I’ll go to the movies or have a sleepover occasionally with Jordan. Unfortunately as I’m only thirteen now and they’re fourteen none of us have a car… Else we would surely get together more often.

    So enough about me. Onto the advice: 1) Don’t count yourself as the odd one out. Even if you are. Self-pity won’t help. 2) Become closer to the girl you are less close to. Invite her somewhere without your other friend. 3) Trust. That’s important in friendships. Try gradually building trust with the girl you’re not as close with. 4) Don’t compromise your relationship with the girl you both are closer to by becoming all buddy-buddy with the other. 5) It can be awkward and unsettling to speak frankly about the situation. I wouldn’t be too direct. Subtle is more effective. When my friend told me that she wished we could spend more time together, I got the hint. I would just tell your less bestie friend that you want to spend more time together and suggest a date. 6) Ignorance is bliss. I find myself often wondering at the remarkable truth of this. Ignore the favoritism. It might not work well, but it’s sure better than nitpicking. 7) Acceptance. Don’t be jealous. Just accept it and live with it.

  • Savage says:

    I love them both

  • JB says:

    First of all, stand back and eveluate the situation. Pretend it’s other people, not you and your friends. Does it look like head games are involved, or is it plain human jealousy? If it’s the former, run now. If it’s the latter, decide what’s right for you.

    Your friendship doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. If they’re worth it, you can find a new best friend while remaining close to them. Alternately, spend more alone time with the non-BFF to see if becoming closer with her can balance the trio.

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