How to Avoid Losing a Friend to Someone You Hate

Friendships, like people, grow and change. During one school year, you and your friend may be inseparable. But when the next one starts, you may discover that your friend made another friend, a person you don’t like. This can be extremely upsetting and frustrating. By figuring out your feelings and strengthening your friendship, you may be able to stay connected to your friend.

Working through Your Emotions

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    Let go of the need to control the outcome. We all wish we could have control over people in our lives sometimes! This is, however, impossible. You can’t stop your friend from making other friends. You can’t control who your friend hangs out with.
    • Practice mindful meditation. To get better at letting go and accepting whatever happens, try learning to meditate. Mindfulness meditation has a lot of proven benefits, but for your purposes, it can help you be comfortable with uncomfortable feelings.[1]
    • Letting go of the desire to control other people is a lifelong process. Everyone feels this way! Being aware of this feeling can help you manage it.
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    Stay calm and positive. Try your best to have a good attitude in a tough situation. The only thing you can control is your reaction.
    • Look at this situation as a learning opportunity and a chance for growth.[2]
    • Look for the bright side. Maybe your friend spending more time with this new person means you have more time to pursue your own interests. Maybe your friend finally has a buddy to watch horror movies with them, which is good, since you hate horror movies!
    • Just as you can’t control other people’s actions, they cannot control yours. Think of what a powerful message staying calm, peaceful, and positive sends to your friends and peers.
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    Figure out your feelings. Knowing what you are feeling can help you figure out what to do next. For example, if you are confused about why your friend is hanging out with this person, you can have a conversation. If you are angry, maybe you want to take a few days to calm down before addressing it.
    • Keep a journal. A journal is a safe, private place where you can let all your frustration and crazy feelings out. Writing things down helps you make sense of what you are feeling and can bring some clarity to the situation.[3]
    • Talk to someone. Talk to an adult you trust about what you are feeling. Almost everyone has experienced friendship drama growing up and can understand what you are feeling. Talking to someone helps you feel supported and not alone.[4] Just be careful talking to other friends if you are worried what you are saying could get back to your friend and the other person.
    • Knowing what you are feeling also helps you take care of yourself.[5] Are you stressed out about your friendship problems? You can exercise to help reduce stress. Are you sad? Have a good cry with someone you trust.
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    Figure out why you dislike this person. Have they done something to you in the past? Have you noticed bullying behavior? Or are you simply jealous of a new person spending so much time with one of your favorite people? Knowing why you do not like the person may help you decide what to do next.
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    Put yourself in your friend’s shoes. Imagine the roles are reversed and you have met a really fun, interesting new friend. But your old friend doesn’t like your new one, and is worried about losing you. How does that make you feel, and what would you do about it?
    • This helps you develop empathy for your friend. Empathy means being able to understand the feelings of another. It helps strengthen relationships and increases cooperation.[6]

Strengthening your Friendship

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    Have an honest conversation. If you're worried or unhappy about your friendship, the best way to air your concerns and then deal with them is by talking about them with your friend.[7] Talk to them when the two of you are alone, and you are calm, in control of your emotions, and able to name what you are feeling.[8]
    • Indicate why you are worried, and give them a few examples of times when you felt that you were losing them to the new person. You could say, “It really upset me when you and Emily went shopping last week. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t invited. We used to go shopping together all the time.”
    • Give your friend a chance to respond. Listen to their feelings and thoughts about your friendship, and trust what they are saying. A good friend will reassure you and want you to feel better about this; however, you should be prepared to hear what you might not want to: that your friend is going to continue this other friendship.
    • Avoid questioning loyalty or friendship. Make sure you express that you love and trust your friend. Try saying, “You’ve been such a great friend to me. I know things are a bit different now, but I still love you and value our friendship.”
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    Accept this new friendship. As much as you might not like it, your friend is their own person and can be friends with whomever they wish — even people you don't like. It's okay if you struggle with this — acceptance can be hard — but remember that you don't have control over other people's actions. They are making decisions based on their lives and what makes them happy, and what makes them happy might be different from what makes you happy.
    • Acceptance is a decision that you make — you can choose to fight against things over which you have no control, essentially running yourself into a brick wall, or you can choose to accept your friend made the decision they thought was best for them.[9]
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    Give your friend some space. It’s okay to have some distance from someone. Do not smother your friend or be clingy. This will push them away.
    • If you know your friend is out with the person you don’t like, resist the urge to text constantly.
    • If your friend tells you what they did with the new friend, resist the urge the find out all the details. Rather than saying, “What did you guys talk about?” you could say, “I’m really glad you had a great time!”
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    Find some new interests to share with your friend. Join the same clubs and activities. This will allow you to spend more time together as well as give you tons of new things to talk about. And if you can engage with your friend in many different contexts, you will find that your friendship becomes more stimulating and exciting overall.
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    Continue to be there for your friend. Be there for the good times as well as the bad. You might be angry that your friendship has changed, but you can still be involved supportive.[10]
    • Go places together, do fun things, have parties and sleepovers, and hang out at each other’s houses.
    • Provide a listening ear on a bad day.

Managing Your Social Life

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    Hang out with your friend’s new friend. If the only reason you don’t like this is that you are jealous of the new friendship, it is worth hanging out with them (alone and/or with your friend) and giving them a chance. You may find out that they are a great person!
    • If you have tried to get to know this person and you just don’t get along well, back off. In that case, it is best to distance yourself from your friend when the two of them hang out together, and find time for just you and your friend instead.
    • Remember that true friends like you for who you are. You shouldn’t have to change or act a certain way in order to get in their good graces.[11]
    • Make sure you are still polite to the new person. You never know, the two of you may like each other someday![12]
    • If you feel that the new person is bullying you or your friend, make sure you talk to an adult.
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    Rise above the drama. Don’t gossip about your friend or the new person, in person or online. You will make things worse.
    • Always assume what you say about someone will get back to them.
    • If other people ask you why you’re not hanging out with your friend as much, you could smile and say, “We’re just doing different things right now.” Don’t feel like you need to go into detail.
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    Make new friends. It isn’t healthy to depend on one friend for everything, after all. Start hanging out with some other nice people and see if you make some good connections!
    • Get involved in some new activities. It’s a great way to meet new people while enjoying a common interest. Find activities that you would never do with your friend. For example, if your friend isn’t a big artist, but you love to paint, sign up for an art class and meet some like-minded artist friends.
    • Volunteer with an organization you believe in. It makes you feel good about yourself to give back to others.[13] You will also have a chance to connect with new people who share your same values.
    • Keep busy. You may get so busy with new friends and activities that you may stop being worried if your friend is spending time with the other person!

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