DEAR KELLY: My best friend can’t be without a boy. Every time she breaks up with a guy she swears she’s all about hanging with girlfriends and how much she has no desire to get into a relationship. She makes us rally around her, which we always do, and she’s super fun to be with when she’s not with someone.
She has us make girl pacts, makes plans with us and seems so convincing she is all in on just hanging with the girls. But sure enough, every single time, she starts talking to a boy. One thing leads to another, then she’s seeing him, they become committed, and bam, we won’t see her again for like five or six months while she’s into everything the guy does.
One guy liked indie music, so she was totally into that and was all about concerts and music festivals. Then the next guy liked racing motorcycles, so suddenly she was his biker babe and posted stuff about motorbikes and racing. Every time it’s something different – she’s a snowboarder then she’s into photography or whatever her new guy’s into. And she posts cute pictures of them and how happy they are and how she’s found such an amazing person.
People who used to like her think she’s fake, and she’s losing a lot of friends because of it. I don’t know what to do. If you suggest talking to her about it, I already tried. She said she didn’t care and that they were just haters and as long as I’m still her friend, she’s OK if other people don’t like her. I’m so frustrated with her and don’t know what to do.
DEAR LEENA: Your best friend sounds like being single makes her feel insecure, so she seeks relationships for the security of it and because it gives her an identity. She doesn’t sound settled into knowing who she is, so she takes on the identity of whomever she likes instead of staying true to who she is.
You have the pleasure (I’m joking) of watching her change personas based on the season of life her new beau is in. Some people change their hairstyles every few months, others their personalities. Your friend is lost and because she hasn’t decided yet who she is, she is willing to just adapt to lifestyle of the person she likes and his interests become hers. Is this healthy? No, but unfortunately it is common and a lot of young people do the same thing.
Perhaps having an honest conversation is needed. Instead of focusing on what other people think, come clean and share what you think. Obviously she cares about your opinion – maybe you need to express it to her in a gentle but honest manner. I wouldn’t suggest taking a confrontational approach and blasting her for being so insecure and needy for a guy’s attention. I think a softer approach might be received better.
Tell her how much you care about her but that you see her adapting and changing every time she gets a new boyfriend. While it’s OK if it makes her happy, you find it hard to watch because you don’t see her being true to herself. She may defend her actions and be OK with her evolving self and if that’s the case, so be it. Or you may bring a little bit of awareness to her choices and she might take notice the next time it happens. Your job isn’t to judge her or make her feel bad but to help her know that being herself is the most important thing and that you love her for who she is, not for who she dates and what he likes.
Point out that it feels like she drops her girlfriends every time a guy comes around. Tell her how excited you get every time she makes the girlfriend pact and how disappointing it is every time she drops off the planet once she becomes involved with a dude. Let her know it hurts your feelings and while you love her, it’s hard to watch it happen repeatedly.
Instead of seeing it as fake see it more as sad. She is so desperate to feel connected to someone that she chameleons herself into whomever she dates. Because she struggles with independence, she latches on to someone else’s joy and can’t figure out what makes her happy. Encourage her to find out what she likes regardless of what her boyfriend likes. Is she a good baker? Singer? Good with animals? Point out the positive things you see in her and encourage her to pursue what makes her happy. If she follows a boy, remind her of the things she does well and the person you know she is. Continue to love her even if she struggles with loving herself.
Will she change? Maybe or maybe not. This may be a life pattern and something she struggles with for a long time. Learn from her choices and make different choices for yourself. Stay true to who you are and don’t lose yourself to follow a boy. Keep balance in your life between friendships and people you date. Never replace good girlfriends. Be good with being single and proud of the things that make you happy. Be careful who you pretend to be. Know yourself. Be yourself. Love yourself.