Jealous Of Your Friends' Friends? Here's How To Deal With It

Although we tend to think of jealousy as existing within the realms of a romantic relationship, jealousy can unexpectedly creep in and dilute other forms of relationships as well. One such relationship is with our friends — especially the ones we consider to be our closest and dearest.

Friendship is an integral part of our existence; we turn to our friends for companionship, support, solace, and advice. If you can't imagine your life without your friends, then you understand what a blessing friendship truly is. But what happens when instead of savoring the joys of friendship, you find yourself feeling jealous of the relationships your friends have with other people?

If you've ever experienced a situation where a good friend spends more time with other friends, leaving you outside, then you know how painful that can be. Feeling jealous of those other friends is understandable — but how you handle that jealousy might even alienate you further, trapping your friendship in a vicious cycle of misunderstandings, bitterness, and hurt feelings. However, it doesn't have to be so. You can honor your friendship, lovingly accept the status of those relationships, and deal with it in a way that leaves no resentments and doesn't throw up any friendship red flags. Try this approach if you notice you're a bit jealous of your friend's other pals and want to salvage the bond that you have shared with your friend for so long.

Spend time with their other friends

Friendship is not an exclusive, VIP, members-only club. If you're feeling a bit left out, then maybe it's because you haven't given these other friends a chance. Granted, your personal opinions may be biased at first, when you're feeling that these other people are "stealing" your bestie. But biased opinions stem from a lack of information. Ask yourself this: "Have I really tried to get to know these people?"

If the answer is no, then perhaps it's time to make a conscious effort to spend some time with them. And if you answered yes, then perhaps you should try again — but this time, without any preconceived biases. Do your best to leave any hard feelings aside and approach these other friends with a positive attitude and an open mind. After all, you have a common ground — sharing the same friend — which is a great starting point or fun conversation starter. Besides, if your friend likes these people, there's a good chance you will like them too.

So take the initiative and invite them all over for a drink, or suggest you all go shopping together or spend an afternoon at the cafe. Feeling jealous will only leave you feeling more isolated and, in the long run, bitter. You are the only person responsible for your feelings, so try to turn the situation around by getting to know your friend's friends. Besides, the more, the merrier, right?

Expand your personal circle

If you limit your friendship circle to only a couple of people, then you should expect to be left alone at times. Not everyone can hang out with you whenever you're in the mood to socialize; life and responsibilities get in the way. And if your (couple of) friends have set plans or obligations with other people during their limited free time, then it's no wonder you feel lonesome if you are not included in said plans.

Instead of wallowing in jealousy, you should try to expand your own friendship circle. Admittedly, making friends as we grow older becomes increasingly harder, but you don't have to be BFFs with everyone you meet — or with everyone you hang out with, for that matter. Being social and enjoying yourself while trying out new things and experiences does not mean you are in search of new soul mates.

Take up a hobby, enroll in a culinary class, or attend some dance lessons. Search for activities you can do that will give you the opportunity to meet new people and socialize outside of your close-knit circle. Wine tasting, museum tours, and even a gym membership can work wonders toward helping you expand your acquaintance circle. The next time your friends have to decline an invitation to hang out, you won't have to drown yourself in self-pity and jealousy. Make some other plans yourself!

Don't be too clingy

When we feel that we are "losing" our friends, our initial reaction is often frantic as we try to cling to them even tighter. We insist that they spend time with us, persistently make plans, and bombard them with calls and texts. But this desperate behavior stems from a fear of being left out, abandoned, or rejected, and it only serves to push our friends further away. Instead, it's important to recognize that being overly clingy will not bring them closer to us but rather suffocate them — much like it often does in romantic relationships as well.

Allowing your friends some space is essential as you also take the time to expand your own circle of friends. Remember that not seeing each other every day does not diminish their love for you. In a healthy relationship, individuals are connected while also having the freedom to pursue their own interests. They feel secure in the strength of the bond without worrying about disapproval or constant demands for attention.

Remember that friendships go through natural ebbs and flows, and it's not uncommon for dynamics to shift from time to time. Instead of dwelling on feelings of jealousy and suffocating your friends in order to receive the validation and attention you need, focus on the opportunity to explore your own interests.

Suggest fun new activities

If you're feeling especially distant from your friend, a great way to reconnect is to suggest fun new activities to do together. This can add some zest and excitement to the relationship and push the friendship out of any stagnation. If you keep doing the same things over and over again, going to the same places, and having the same conversations, it's natural that your friends will seek novelty in other friendships — so why not bring some novelty into your relationship as well?

Go to that new bar you've never been to, or take a long road trip and savor the moments of driving through stunning landscapes while you reconnect and build memories together. If time is short, visit a museum, an art gallery, or watch a play. Looking to add some extra spice and sneak in some personal enrichment? Take up a new hobby together: cake decorating, wine tasting, crocheting or knitting — anything goes! The more fun, the better.

Part of keeping friendships alive and exciting is doing interesting things together as you both grow. By venturing into the exploration of new territories, interests, and hobbies together, you are creating opportunities for shared adventures, creating lasting memories, and providing topics for endless conversations. And if your friendship takes a downward turn again, you can fondly look back to these moments and urge your friend to create some more with you.

Talk about your feelings

Being open and honest about your feelings will help you better manage the jealousy you are experiencing. If you shy away from having this conversation, chances are, your friend may not understand that they might be inadvertently hurting you. If they are busy hanging out with other friends, they may not notice you self-isolating — and they almost certainly aren't doing this intentionally. We all make mistakes, but your friends love you and are always rooting for you. Consequently, once they understand that you are feeling sad and jealous about their behavior, they will likely want to amend things.

Unfortunately, when we don't talk about our emotions and just ruminate about the situation in our heads, we're more likely to exacerbate things through our own subjective perception. We'll find reasons to justify the way we feel and keep reading into things through the lens of jealousy and hurt feelings. But if you're open about your emotions, you'll have the opportunity to hear your friend's point of view and understand that they are not purposefully avoiding you.

Clear communication allows for a friendship to flourish and bounce back after misunderstandings. Better yet, when you confide in your friend about your emotions, it creates an atmosphere of trust within the friendship. Your friend will then also likely feel more comfortable sharing their own emotions and concerns, further strengthening your bond and mutual respect.

Revisit your expectations

Sometimes it helps to take a step back and assess the relationship from a bird's eye view. Revisit your expectations and determine whether they are realistic or not. Are you expecting your friend to spend all their free time with you? Is that even possible?

With so many different tangents in our lives and so many responsibilities and obligations, can a person really commit to only one friend? Your friend probably isn't living in isolation — they might have co-workers that they go out with every now and then. They also have families and relatives — and yes, even other friends — that they need to visit. Social obligations such as weddings and birthday parties take over our weekends whether we like it or not. How much of our free time is really left free after all these other commitments are taken into account?

Chances are, you also have to deal with these nuances yourself. Add to that the time you both need to recover from workday exhaustion, and your time to hang out shrinks considerably. It's not necessarily anyone's fault — sometimes, we just find ourselves in different life stages that can make friendships suffer. Revisiting your expectations will help you achieve a clearer understanding of where your friendship stands and acknowledge that friendship is less about spending all your time together and more about cultivating a relationship that feels as though no time has passed between your meet-ups.

Cultivate your own interests

Instead of dwelling over lost time with your friend and stewing in jealousy that they're spending some time tending to other relationships, embrace this situation as an opportunity for personal growth, self-discovery, and self-improvement. Use the time they're not hanging with you to cultivate your own interests and explore new activities. You might be surprised by the things you will discover about yourself — a hidden talent might be residing in you as you decide to finish up that painting or learn a new language. Perhaps now is the best time to catch up with the latest Netflix series or dive into that book that everyone's been raving about. You could enjoy a solo walk, practice meditation, indulge in cooking, or simply relax and unwind. Make the most of this time to enjoy your own company and discover new passions as you explore your interests.

The truth is that if we are ever to be truly happy in any sort of relationship, it's also important to learn how to be content and fulfilled with ourselves — not relying on others for constant attention and validation or begrudging when the other person has a life outside of us. By cultivating our own interests, we develop a well-rounded personality and become individuals that others genuinely enjoy being around. It's hard to stay jealous when you enjoy your own company or even develop new friendships as a result of your efforts!