A: You don’t have a problem; your friend does. She is upset and lonely since she doesn’t have a new person in her life—and you do.
When you were both grieving the loss of your relationships and pissed off together, she had company in her misery. Sadly she doesn’t want to (or can’t) see that this new guy and relationship might be really good for you!
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be empathetic. Be proactive and find time to discuss the following three topics so that she knows she’s still special to you.
1. Tell your friend how important she is to you.
Communicate that you truly want and need her in your life—via phone, email, text, or in-person—and remind her how much you value her friendship. Bring up that ridiculous spring break trip to Miami in college or other fun times you’ve shared together. Recall a time when you shared other good news with her (like that promotion you got last year). You can also remind her about a difficult time when she stood by you and provided support and encouragement (maybe even this recent breakup). The goal: Demonstrate how important she is in your life, even when you might be spending more time with a new guy.
2. Make a date.
There’s no way around this one. Time to put the new flame on the backburner and find a mutually agreeable time to see your friend within the next week. Grab a coffee, meet for a drink, or make a day of it with a yoga class and brunch. Mark it on the calendar and whatever you do, don’t forget or reschedule. (For more ways to reconnect with old friends, check out this list.)
3. Talk it out.
You’re definitely not alone in wanting to hang out with your new S.O. nearly 24/7. In fact, research shows that when people first get into new romantic relationships, they experience dyadic withdrawal, meaning they spend less time with their friends and family and more with their new partner.
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Be up-front and explain that you’re trying to find out whether this new person is the one for you. You need the time to figure that out, and you would appreciate her patience as you learn about this relationship. Recognize that she may still be feeling lonely, and allow her to discuss that with you. (If it helps her see the silver lining, try referring to the upsides of breaking up—there always is one, promise.)
Ultimately you may come to realize it’s not possible to balance both relationships. If you try these strategies and they don’t work, avoid letting her bitterness jeopardize your happiness. You’ll need to make some hard decisions of whether to take a break from this friendship or express your disappointment to her. Just remember that true friends will eventually understand and support a new relationship.
Dr. Terri Orbuch (a.k.a. The Love Doctor) is a professor, therapist, research scientist, and author of five best-selling books, including Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship. Learn more about her at DrTerriTheLoveDoctor.com.