Dear Problem Solvers,
I have two close friends who I would consider to be my best friends. We have all been friends since elementary school. When we were young, we all got along and spent time together as a group of three, but since middle school there has been a lot of conflict between us.
It seems like we can never feel equally close to each other – one person always seems to feel left out by the others. No one is purposely trying to exclude anyone in our group, but it always ends up feeling that way for the person feeling like the “outsider.”
I used to love our friendship, but now it is causing me a lot of stress. This jealousy within our group is ruining our friendship and taking the fun out of everything we do. I don’t know the answer to how to make this better and wonder if a group of three will ever work. Sometimes I feel like just dropping out of this friendship group altogether but I really care about my friends. Please give me some advice – I just don’t know what to do!
“Is Three Always A Crowd?”
Dear “Is Three A Crowd”,
It sounds like this constant conflict is really stressing you out and taking the joy out of your friendship. Groups of three can be very difficult to manage if there are feelings of insecurity or jealousy.
The first thing you could try is to have an honest sit down with your friends to talk about the tension among you. Each friend would have to take an honest look at what they do to contribute to this problem instead of just blaming it on the others. All of you would have to make changes to fix this problem so that each group member can feel included and secure as part of this friendship group.
Another possibility would be to add more friends to this group to change the group dynamic. There might be someone you know in school who is looking to make new friendships, or a new student in school could be looking to connect. Sometimes having more friends in a group cuts down on those fears of being left out.
If none of these solutions seem to work for you and you continue to feel unhappy, you could consider branching out and spending some time with another group of friends. See if there is another group of students who have found a way to be friends in a more relaxed manner without so much drama. If you find yourself feeling happy and stress free, you will know that is the right group for you.
The Problem Solvers