Dealing with jealousy about a friend’s other friend.
Episode 39 – Maya, Age 8: Replaced by a friend’s new friend
Think About It Questions
- Have you ever been in a situation like Maya’s, where you felt jealous of a friend’s other friend? What happened? How did you handle it?
- Dr. Friendtastic mentions three things that would NOT help in this situation: yelling at the friend, being mean to the new friend, and trying to divide the friend evenly. Why do you think those would NOT be good choices? (Hint: How would they make the friend feel?)
- Why is it important to try to be “good company” when you’re with a friend, so they enjoy being with you? What are some ways to be good company?
- What are some reasons why it’s good to have more than one friend?
Hi, there! I’m Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore, also known as Dr. Friendtastic. I’m an author and clinical psychologist based in Princeton, NJ.
Here’s today’s question:
Hi, My name is Maya. I'm 8-years old. My best friend has made a new friend, and she's barely been playing with me anymore what should I do?
Hi, Maya. Thanks for sending in your question. Ouch! That stings to be left behind! I bet you’re feeling hurt, angry, and also jealous. Jealousy is that bitter, resentful feeling that happens when we believe another person might pull a close friend away from us.
I’m also guessing you wish things could go back to what they were–that it was only you and your best friend, and the new friend just disappeared! That’s understandable, but I’m sure you also know it’s not going to happen.
Let’s talk first about some things that would NOT help in this situation.
One thing that would NOT help is to yell at your friend. This situation is so hard on you, but the fact is that your friend has a right to have other friends and to choose how she wants to spend her time. Also, yelling at her is not going to make her want to spend more time with you!
Another thing that would NOT help is to be mean to the new friend. I’m sure she didn’t wake up one day with an evil plan, “Hah hah! I’m going to steal Maya’s best friend today!” A friend is not a thing that can be stolen. She didn’t do anything wrong. Their friendship just grew.
One more thing that definitely would NOT help is to insist that your friend has to divide her time evenly between you and the new friend. A friend isn’t a birthday cake that can be cut into pieces. Also, that kind of keeping-score thinking doesn’t belong in a friendship. Trying to split her will make everyone miserable. It will never be exactly even, and it doesn’t have to be.
So, what can you do in this situation?
Start by making sure you’re good company when you’re with your friend. You might want to invite your friend to do something fun with you. You could even tell her you miss spending time with her. You should definitely be warm and friendly when you see her, so it’s pleasant for her when she’s around you. Having a good time together could help rebuild your connection.
You might want to try befriending the new friend. Yes, I know, right now she seems like the source of the problem, but if your friend likes her, there has to be something good about her! You could try inviting the new friend to do something with just you. Making an effort to get to know the new friend is a caring thing to do, and it could also lower your jealousy if it turns out you like her.
If you can befriend the new friend, then maybe all three of you could get together, and you won’t be left out. But friendship threesomes can be hard, so you might want to get together with your friend, the new friend, and another kid to expand the friendship group. This could lessen the tug-of-war over your friend and increase the fun for everyone.
There’s one more idea I want you to consider: use this extra time to explore other friendships. It sounds like you and your friend were very close, but "close" doesn’t have to be "exclusive," where it’s only the two of you. In fact, time apart can actually deepen your friendships because you look forward to seeing each other, and you have more to share.
Who do you know who seems nice? Spend time with them! You don’t have to know them super well before you invite them over; invite them over so you can get to know them better. Both you and your friend could come out of this rough spot with a wider and deeper friendship circle.
This has been Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic. If you have a question about making and keeping friends that you’d like me to answer, go to DrFriendtastic.com, and click on the podcast tab to see how to submit your question.
And be sure to check out my funny and practical books for kids about friendship: Growing Friendships: A Kids’ Guide to Making and Keeping Friends, and my new book, Growing Feelings: A Kids’ Guide to Dealing with Emotions About Friends and Other Kids. They’re available through your library or wherever you buy books.
keywords: jealousy, best friend, new friend, other friend, hurt, befriending, friendship threesomes, friendship circle, friendship group, exclusive