DEAR KELLY: I have a close group of friends at school that I hang out with all the time. There is this one specific girl who has two sides to her. Many of my friends don’t see it, but I certainly do. I have tried to talk to my friends about it, but they don’t see anything. Every time she is around us, she seems to have everyone else keep things from me. When I am with my group of friends, she tries to use secret codes that I don’t know. I don’t want a person like this – that brings me down and sometimes makes me feel excluded – to be in my life. Prom is coming up, and she is getting ready at my house because one of our friends wants her to come. I don’t know if I should tell someone or keep it to myself.
Any advice? Please help.
DEAR ALONE: It is never good to keep something all to yourself. Even if you don’t want to talk about it with a peer, bounce your feelings, concerns or ideas off an adult or someone who will give you an unbiased and honest answer. Just talking about what you are feeling and different options on how to approach things can be helpful and allow you to have a better game plan on how to handle it.
Have you tried talking with her directly to see what the issue is between you? If you approached her in direct but nonconfrontational manner, do you think she would be receptive to talk? Perhaps you ask her to coffee or see if you can just have a few minutes to talk with her. Tell her that it feels like she uses secret codes around your friends to keep certain things secret, and that this hurts your feelings. Find out if she feels as uncomfortable around you, and try to figure out why. Did someone say something to her that perhaps you didn’t say? Or maybe she thinks you don’t like her. Be open to try and figure out why things feel awkward and what you can do to ease it up so you don’t feel so uneasy around each other.
One thing to be cautious of is that no one can keep something from you if they don’t want to. You can’t place all the blame on her for other people keeping things from you. Even if she tells them to, they still have a choice not to do it. She may be masterminding it, but they don’t have to be her minions if they don’t want to. They are just as much at fault as she is if they go along with it.
If she is not open to talking or the talk doesn’t go well, then you have to make a tough decision. If she comes to your house to get ready for prom, she needs to be kind to you and not exclusive. Perhaps you need to talk with the friend who invited her and tell her that things are uncomfortable between the two of you and you are not sure how to handle it when everyone comes to your house. Maybe that friend needs to let her know that if she can’t include you in conversations and talk about things that everyone knows about, then perhaps she should not come to your house to get ready. Perhaps just knowing that her behavior will be watched will keep her from being rude or mean to you. Avoid going into detail with your friend about thinking the other girl is two-faced or not showing her real colors. Hopefully the friend talks with her and she agrees to work harder to get along that night.
If it feels like your friends only support her or don’t take how you feel to heart, then consider going with a different group if you are uncomfortable. They shouldn’t have to pick between the two of you, but you should feel heard and supported by them. The object is that prom is a wonderful night filled with excitement and fun, not tension and exclusion. If she brings you down or puts a negative slant on the evening, then take care of yourself and pull yourself from the group.
Don’t be afraid to step out of the group if it means you are more relaxed and enjoy the prom more. It is your special night and you should be with people who lift you up and make you feel special and included that night. Hopefully having a talk with her will clear the air and you can move forward in a healthy way where both of you feel good.
Don’t sit in a place of feeling alone. If you feel this way, do something about it. Reach out and surround yourself with positive people who make you feel good and joyful.
Write to Kelly Richardson at Teen Talk, The Sacramento Bee, P.O. Box 15880, Sacramento, CA 95852, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.