Hannah asks :
I’m 16. I have had two best friends for nine years. One of them who is very, very close to me (Friend M) and I have another sort of sub-best friend, (Friend R). My relationship with friend M is very strong. We’re practically like twins.
We tell each other EVERYTHING. But my relationship with friend R is different, yes we are very close too, but there isn’t that strong connection, like we won’t tell each other EVERYTHING - some things we’d keep to ourselves. Sometimes I get the feeling that she doesn’t like me. Recently, an incident at school resulted in me discovering that Friend R had kept a diary and although I shouldn’t have read it, I had to because I could tell there was something in there about me.
There was. In fact, there was a lot about me - and how she doesn’t think I should be on the ‘Gifted & Talented’ school trips and that she should, and about how I say I’m richer than she is and how I rub in her face how clever and rich I am. But I don’t!
She swore a lot and referred to me as a bitch. This really upset me because I’m really not arrogant and well, if anything, she does have a tendency to exaggerate things. I confessed to reading her diary two days later and her next step was to leave a poem on my desk that basically said I meant nothing to her anymore and our friendship was like a black hole. She said I had betrayed her.
So as revenge sort of I sent her a video of me burning that piece of paper, and it had a message at the end saying that she is no longer a friend.
Ever since then, she's been avoiding me in school and trying to ignore me every time I spoke to her. I treat her like normal, don't laugh and joke like I usually did but I treat her like she exists at least.
She, on the other hand, treats me like I'm invisible. I guess it kind of upsets me because she's treating me in this way and I feel left out sometimes. What do I do? I thought of giving her a birthday present that she's always wanted, with just a card wishing her Happy Birthday, because she got me one and it would be rude not to get her one.
Should I do this, or should I do something else....? Please give me some advice as I'm really stressed out because of exams and now I've got her to think about too, everyday...I can't even sleep properly these days...
This sounds like a complete nightmare Hannah - but something really jumped out at me and that is that right at the start of your letter, you referred to this friend who went on to dump you as a sort of ‘sub-best friend’.
This almost certainly comes across to her and has obviously resulted in her sharing how she feels by writing it down - in the safety of her own diary. You should never read someone else’s diary - just because someone writes about YOU doesn’t make it your business to read it if it is not intended for public consumption. Now that you have done, you have to face up to the reality of her feelings.
Whether or not you believe her feelings about you are not reasonable, they are HER feelings. If you don’t accept them, then you should let them bounce off you and put the friendship behind you. However, if the friendship matters to you, perhaps you have to open yourself up to ask the question, have you done anything at all that - in her eyes - could be seen to be unkind or arrogant?
And I stress, ‘in her eyes’. Put yourself in her shoes. You can to some extent but you aren’t her and so you may never understand. It sounds to me as if you have just gone about your life without concerns and unknowingly, you have come across to her as bullish and arrogant.
If you want to retain your friendship with her, or rather re-discover it, I think you’re going to have to show her that you’ve taken her comments on board, it’s been a wake-up call, and her friendship means a lot to you, and you want to change.
You’ve got to give her the benefit of the doubt too, and allow her to reject your wish a few times. As you say, get her a birthday present, use it as a time to try and make peace. Write her a letter. But don’ defend yourself - just admit you obviously came across to her in a way you never would have wanted to.
This ‘sub-best friend’ you want to make peace with - is this because you genuinely feel bad about how she’s felt because of you, or because you ‘feel left out sometimes’? Your motivations stink to be honest.
From what you’ve said in this letter, I’d say that even if you don’t realise it yourself, you do think about yourself first and you do have a strange idea of friendship. You were friends with her because she made you happy, because she made you laugh, you could mess about together.
Well, was it that, or was it because you just wanted to have a back-up best friend for when Friend M would inevitably see your true colours and fall out with you? You’ve got to look within Hannah - it should be staring you in the face that you aren’t approaching friendship as a real friend, more as a consumer, a taker.
You get what you can from people around you and you always weigh up what their downsides are. Get this sorted out before you leave school - people in adult life won’t be so gentle on you as to just write a heartfelt poem.