Q: I tend to notice that I’m a jealous person when it comes to my friends. Like I know they’re supposed to socialize with other people. I am an extrovert and need to be around a lot of people in order to function. I know restricting them is wrong but why do I get so jealous?
Considering summer has pretty much just begun and it's likely that your friends will be away, working, or devoting their time to other friendships, I think this is a great time to answer your very relatable question about addressing the jealousy you feel when you’re friends are hanging out with other people. I also just want to mention that there have been some other questions about jealousy within friendships in regards to looks or money but we can discuss that in another post.
Whoever wrote this question reminds me a lot of myself - you’re an extrovert, you want to be included, and in on the action. Valid. As someone who has a couple of different friend groups from different parts of my life, I know what it feels like to be on the other end: maintaining multiple friendships in a healthy and loyal way. I am fascinated by the phrase in your question, ‘I need to be around a lot of people in order to function’. A friend recently shared some words of wisdom with me that I’d like to pass along. She said that with extroverted people who love to socialize it’s really difficult to go from 100 to a 0. Meaning you’re with a big group, having a fun time, and then you’re just home alone. The same goes the other way - I feel like it’s really difficult for me to get ready alone and then enter a huge social setting. I need to work my way up starting with a smaller group. So for all the extroverts, be aware of this social quality and make a conscious effort to ease in and out of social situations. Just some food for thought.
Anyway, back to the question: I wonder why it’s so difficult for you to be okay on your own.
I can relate to you on so many levels if you’re thinking ‘well it’s summer and I want to go out and live it up’. YAS. But also you have to learn to be sufficient and content in your own company. Forget the jealousy and FOMO for 2 seconds and just think about a nice bath and watching netflix, catching up on some rest, cleaning up your room, making coffee and reading a good book, or going shopping. There’s a HUGE difference between being lonely and having fun with yourself. I know it’s kind of a bizarre concept but that’s just step number 1. Extroverts can make any situation fun, even some alone time, and I’m sure if you alter your mindset a little bit you will be quite ok on your own.
Start to ask yourself critical questions about why it hurts so bad when you’re friends are hanging out with other people.
Does it make you feel like she’s having more fun with her other friends? That she doesn’t appreciate you enough? That you’re not as close as you thought you were? In my experience, when I think about my friends who have other friend groups two things come to mind. First, I am almost relieved that they have another group to spend time with. It can be exhausting hanging out with the same person so much, even if you love them. I want my friends to have new experiences and it brings more to our friendship. Second, I’ve realized that it doesn’t bother me at all when these friends hang out with other people… it only becomes an issue if they stop reaching out to put time into our friendship or if they’re going out to a party or something fun that I’m not included in. Navigating the LA social scene as a high schooler is stressful and not fun most of the time - it’s about who knows who and the connections. The only time it hurts to not be included is when I can’t be the one my friends want to have fun with for superficial circumstances (like my friends' other friends can offer something objectively more fun than what I can offer at that moment). This rarely happens but that’s just my example of analyzing why at times I can feel jealous. I want to pause there for a second: This may make you feel extremely insecure. You may not live near the beach, have the chill parents, have connections to guys, etc. But what you do have is an incredibly outgoing and fun personality. Your attitude is what attracts people to you. Ok back to the bigger issue: try to consider the underlying reasons that spark your jealousy and write these down or air it out to a trusted adult/cousin/aunt/sister/sister figure. If this becomes a pattern where you are getting personally excluded or that you just aren’t being prioritized at all then that’s a bigger issue than you should talk to this friend about.
On that note, I recently caught up with an old friend at a birthday party. She was updating me about a recent friendship breakup in her friend group at school. Essentially she explained that one or two girls had peeled off to start hanging out with some new people and just not really keeping the others in the loop about weekend plans, etc. Those who felt excluded spoke up and voiced their feelings. Things got better for a month or two but then it all went downhill again. At the end of the day, the overall message was that ‘people just grow apart'. That’s not always the most comforting, sympathetic line when you’re the one being excluded but I wanted to bring this up because I thought it was an interesting example of what actually happens when you tell your friends how you’re feeling. It’s important and I think you should talk to them if it’s a situation where you continue to be excluded but maybe it’s a sign. They are obviously not including you for a reason and that hurts, trust me I know, but just be aware and consider that maybe the friendship isn’t worth salvaging if your friends are treating you this way.
Follow-up question: Are you relying too much on one person…
Maybe it’s time you start branching out too. Get a fun summer job, and reach out to your elementary school friends or some girls from your soccer team. It makes sense that you stick to the same comfortable friend group of kids in your grade at school during the school year but summer is the perfect time to reconnect with new and old friends. If your friend seems to be taking that approach, maybe get the hint that it’s time for you to do the same.
Finally, let’s talk about mixing friend groups
because maybe there is a world where everyone can hang out together. Not all the time but for the most part I’d rather not deal with the awkwardness of having to say no plans or hurt someone's feelings so I just include everyone. There was a night this year when I was with all my school friends at an event and then my out-of-school friends were going to ihop. We ended all meeting up that night and I introduced everyone. It was fun and a nice time but a bit weird too. Sometimes it’s good to keep things separate. Even if it feels like you’re being left out or you feel jealous, it’s not always going to be as great as you thought it would. The mixing friend group stuff gets messy, remember that. However, if you want to meet some new people in hopes that you all would get along, consider mentioning to your friend, ‘Sophia seems so sweet I’d love to meet her sometime’. See how that goes over.
Alrighty, that’s all! Hope that helped.
We got this,