Rachel and Sarah are sophomores and have been best friends since they were eight. They finish each other's sentences, exchange outfits, share private jokes, and always know the other's secret crush. When Sarah decided she liked Jeremy from her English class, Rachel was the first one she told. So when Sarah showed up at a dance one night, she was surprised to see Jeremy in the front lobby tickling Rachel, her laughing and trying only half-heartedly to make it out of his grasp.
When Liz and Amanda volunteered to be the "managers" of the football team, they had no idea it would be so much fun. They got to know a lot of the players and became particularly friendly with one of the guys, Sam, who frequently came over to chat with them. As luck would have it, Liz got to sit next to him on the bus on the way home from a game. Eventually, Sam asked Liz to go to a movie. Amanda was crushed.
Carrie and Peter met in the lunch line at school and had been hanging out ever since. They were on the verge of becoming more than friends when she got a bad case of mono and had to stay home for six weeks. In the meantime, Carrie's friend Allison decided she thought Peter was cute and moved in on him. When Carrie finally came back to school, much to her dismay, she discovered that Allison and Peter were more or less dating.
All three sets of friends ran into the same roadblock in their relationship: they liked the same guy. You spend so much time around friends and classmates during school, sooner or later it's bound to happen. Brenda and Kelly's relationship was never the same after Kelly started secretly dating Dylan on 90210. And on Felicity, Julie called the title character a "b&%!" to her face when she found out she'd gotten together with Ben.
So what do you do if it happens to you? If you're the odd man out, do you disown your rival and vow never speak to her again, a la Brenda and Julie? Or, on the flip side, if a best friend's boyfriend starts showing interest in you and you think you might like him, do you respond positively, or do you rebuff his advances in loyalty to her? Both Kelly and Felicity went for the guy, but they lost a close friend in the process.
Since Felicity and 90210 are TV shows, the writers chose the most dramatic option and had the friends sever ties. But in real life that doesn't have to happen, you do have options. If you find yourself in this quandary, take a deep breath and think about the following before taking action.
- Be honest with yourself and with your rival. Talk it out. No matter which side of the equation you're on, how you handle the situation is going to depend on how much you value your friendship. Who do you care about more, the guy or her? Try not to be shortsighted—think about down the road and if you'll still want her to be in your life.
- If it's her he likes and not you, give her points for her openness and understanding or lack thereof. If she's upfront with you, that may be reason enough to cut her some slack—she seems to be trying, after all. But if she's spending a lot of time with him behind your back, or if she's treating you callously, it might be time to sever ties—that's probably not the kind of person you want in your life. Look at it as a chance to enhance other friendships.
- If it's one of those long-term crushes, be straight with yourself about the chances of the two of you ending up together. Is anything ever really going to happen? If you guess the answer is no, then maybe it's time to give someone else a turn.
- If he and your friend become a couple, recognize that you can't (or couldn't) control the outcome and move on. Yes, it's frustrating but true...you can't make someone like you, and you can't dissuade him from liking someone else. Sure, there are ways to influence what happens: you can send out signals to a guy, you can be friendly or open, but sooner or later he has to decide who he wants to date. If you make a huge issue out of it, you run the risk of looking like a drama queen, or worse, bitter.
Dating can be a blast, but be careful not to blow its importance out of proportion. The truth is most guys come and go. If you and your friend like the same guy, but you both handle the conflict with sensitivity, then you may be lucky enough to stay friends and weather the storm.