Teen Talk

Teen Talk: Is she a true friend, or a convenient friend?

Kelly Richardson
Kelly Richardson Sacramento Bee Staff Photo

HI KELLY: Last year me and my friend, “Jessie,” got super close and did everything together. We had been good friends in elementary school but kind of drifted in middle school. I truly felt like we were best friends again, and that nothing would change. She used to text my little sister all the time and took pictures with my brother and sister and tagged them “fam.”

At the start of school her old friend “Heather” came back from spending the whole summer in Colorado with her dad, and suddenly Heather and Jessie were besties again. Guess who got left out? Me. She never tried to hang out. It was really painful and when I told Jessie how hurt I was, she said that I knew she and Heather had been close before Heather left, so I shouldn’t be so surprised that they picked right back up where they left off when Heather left. She made it seem like I was too sensitive and being a baby.

The whole school year we just kind of said, “Hey,” and texted a few times, mainly when she was having problems with a guy she liked. She wanted my advice on what he was doing since he was in my math class, but we never hung out. On my birthday, she tweeted, “So to one of my day one homies. Love you forever.” But then I didn’t hear from her for another month or so.

As it gets close to school being out, guess who started texting me again, not to hang out, just asking what’s up and starting conversation? Jessie. At first I was like “that’s nice,” but then when I told one of my other friends she told me that Heather was leaving four days after school got out to go back to Colorado and see her dad again, so Jessie was going to be alone.

I’m so hurt that she just thinks she can call me when she needs something or someone, but during the year she’s busy and has things to do with her other friend. She even started texting my sister, saying things like, “Can’t wait to kick it at your pool this summer and catch up.” My sister doesn’t know what to say because she felt just as mad when Jessie stopped texting her and got too busy for my whole family.

What would you do? How would you handle this? Am I being too sensitive?

Hurt But Handling It

DEAR HURT: No one likes to feel used. It’s a terrible feeling and very painful. Getting used is when you are giving as a friend and they are getting, but not giving. There is not a healthy balance in the friendship. When one always gives and one always takes, someone will feel used.

If you don’t feel right, then the situation is usually not right, either. If this is bothering you, you need to listen to your gut and take steps to emotionally protect yourself and your family. I don’t think Jessie is maliciously trying to hurt you or your sister, but she sounds selfish and unaware of how to be a good friend all the time. She is a friend to you when it works for her, not when you need her to be. That doesn’t make her reliable or dependable: two musts for a good friend.

Clearly Jessie thinks it is OK to just text you when she needs something. But the truth is, you don’t have to reply or respond if you don’t want to. Just because she reaches out, you don’t have to reach back. You can tell her that you are busy doing things with your friends or that you just don’t have time to hang out. If she asks you what is wrong, simply say, “I would like to avoid the hurt I felt at the start of last school year when Heather came back, so I’m playing it safe this summer.” If she calls you hyper-sensitive or a whiner, then she has goggles on and isn’t seeing the bigger picture of how she is treating you.

Set your boundaries. What are you comfortable with? Is it OK for you to hang all summer, then have her ditch you come school time? If it’s not, then hold your ground and make yourself busy this summer. You know what is going happen if you get close to her, so be cautious and guarded around her.

If you do choose to hang out with her, keep busy with your other friends so when Heather comes back, you have other people to lean on for true friendship. Be prepared for her to do the same thing as she did at the end of last summer. In other words, don’t be surprised when the situation replays itself. You were warned about it, so there should be no surprises. If you proceed with the friendship, do so with caution.

The worst feelings are to feel forgotten and alone. Don’t give her another opportunity to make you feel that way. Call her a friend but not a best friend; she doesn’t deserve that title. Be polite and be yourself; no need to be mean. Hold your ground and your boundaries.

Don’t be someone’s downtime, spare time, part time and sometime. If they can’t be there for you all the time, they aren’t worth your time.