Teen Breathe

How to cope if your friendship group becomes toxic

What to do when a group of three suddenly feels more like two plus one.

1 Step back to gain perspective.

When you look at anything – be that a book, or a problem – from very close range, your vision becomes blurred and you can’t make out what you’re looking at. Take a deep breath and assess the situation dispassionately. Are your friends really going out much more without you, or are there just as many occasions when you’re doing something with one of them, or when all three of you are out together? If they are seeing more of each other, could it be because they share an interest, or do an after-school club together that’s bringing them into closer contact?

2 Remember that relationships ebb and flow.

The chances are your friendship triangle will shift and rebalance in a few weeks’ time, so try to not let your concerns run away with you. Be patient and calm and give the situation time to resolve itself. Accepting that friendships change is an important part of growing up.

3 Try to let your friends know that you are feeling left out.

Start by approaching the one you are closest to and talk to her face-to-face or on the phone rather than online. There’s a good chance that they’re not aware that they’ve hurt you, or that they don’t realise how important it is to you to be included.

4 Think about how to modify your reaction.

Being left out from time to time is inevitable – it happens to everyone. The important thing is not to take it too much to heart. And be careful not to exacerbate the third-wheel syndrome by being standoffish, or by waiting for others to plan events that you can go along to. Take the initiative. See what’s on at the cinema and invite your friends.

5 Don’t sit at home stalking them on social media.

If they’re out having a good time, then so should you be. Expand your friendship circle so that you have other people to socialise with. Having two best friends is great, but you shouldn’t pin your whole social life on them and them alone. Socialising with other teenagers from different schools and clubs will broaden and enhance your life.

  • Words: Xenia Taliotis
  • Illustrations: Sara Thielker
  • Article extract from issue 3 of Teen Breathe – order digital edition here