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Teen Girl Friendships


Amy Gen
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My 14 year old has always been homeschooled and she club swims so her whole friend group is on the team. Kids are always getting moved up, and sadly sometimes moved down between the groups and that affects who she sees every day and how much time they have to socialize. 
 

She has a pretty big group of friends but when kids move up or down, she gets closer to some and spends less time with others. She spends most of her time with the boys in her age group even though there is nothing romantic going on with any of them. They just have fun and act silly like the time they walked to the 99 cent store together and bought matching sombreros and sunglasses that they wear to practice. 
 

About 6 months ago, Dd was moved to the highest group. Since then, she has gotten increasingly close to the fastest girl on the team. The other girl’s parents are thrilled that they are so compatible and often plan shopping trips or fun outings for them, and even want us to take trips together to look at colleges in case the girls decide to attend the same school. 
 

But there is a catch. The friend doesn’t feel she is allowed to do anything with out including the second fastest girl on the team. My daughter does not have times anywhere approaching the times of these two girls. Friend doesn’t share any interests with the other girl other than swim and the families have very different values, but for the last 8 years they have been together all of the time. They even go to school together and other girl considers friend her best friend. 
 

Dd invites both girls to her parties and talks to both girls on deck, but when she and her friend plan something that just interests them outside of swim, friend says she “has” to invite the other girl. Dd doesn’t really care, but she says that if they don’t, other girl will punish the friend who is much more sensitive than my Dd is. 
 

So here is a situation that made me uncomfortable. The 2 girls planned a day of thrifting. The other girl’s mother has told me that her daughter won’t wear anything used. They don’t really want to invite her, so they say, “We are going to do something, we haven’t decided what yet.” And put off telling her, stating openly that they hope she makes other plans by the time they tell her. This, I feel,  is much worse than just planning an outing and not mentioning it. I tried to tell my daughter that it is unrealistic to expect to get invited to everything and it is emotional manipulation to punish people for not doing what you want them to do. DD’s best friend is one of the boys. I asked if he gets his feelings hurt when she does things without him. He absolutely does not. 
 

Jump ahead to last Saturday friend’s family invited Dd to an all day church youth gathering out of town. The other girl and her family are atheists, so there is no way it would be appropriate to have invited her. As teenagers do, Dd accidentally took home her friend’s necklace and one of her shoes. While friend has one of DD’s shoes and her swim suit. But they can’t exchange belongings right now, at practice because people will know that they did something together without including the other girls. We parents need to make a separate trip to do this. I don’t dislike the other girl, and I don’t dislike her parents. I just don’t think it the girls are doing anything wrong in socializing with just each other every once in awhile. 
 

Am I wrong in feeling like this is an unhealthy dynamic? I get all triggery when I hear about teenage girls getting punished when they don’t comply to unreasonable demands. I also don’t like hiding and sneaking. If you aren’t doing anything wrong, why do you need to hide it. At 14, of course, I’m going to keep letting them make their own decisions, case by case, but I’ll keep telling Dd in private what my concerns are. 
 

I’ll admit that I’m not the best at these situations because even people who are trying have a hard time hurting my feelings so I’m not always sensitive when maybe I should be. 

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No you are not wrong at all that this is an unhealthy dynamic.  However, it is a very normal dynamic for young teen girls.  I watched it happen with my older sisters (9 and 11 years older than me,) dealt with it myself, watched my now adult niece deal with it, and imagine my dd with have to handle some aspect of it soon enough.  It isn't always as extreme as you mention but with a friendship that is 8 years old I can understand why given a certain personality the other girl is acting like that.  

From my experience, eventually the friend dealing with the unreasonable friend sees the light, stands up for herself, and then the unreasonable friend ends the friendship.  But in your situation it likely won't happen until they are no longer swimming on a team together.

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That is helpful to know. We can easily deal with it for another 3 years. 
 

I think I was too oblivious to know this was going on when I was a teenager. I had a bunch of male friends who were my constants, and 2 close girlfriends. The three of us sometimes hung out together, but it seemed like one or the other was mad at me at any given time. So having 2 friends worked out well for me, because I just hung out with whomever wasn’t mad at the moment. LOL. 

There were probably a bunch of social expectations that just flew over my head, so I’m really not in any position to give Dd advice. 
 

 

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1 minute ago, Amy Gen said:

That is helpful to know. We can easily deal with it for another 3 years. 
 

I think I was too oblivious to know this was going on when I was a teenager. I had a bunch of male friends who were my constants, and 2 close girlfriends. The three of us sometimes hung out together, but it seemed like one or the other was mad at me at any given time. So having 2 friends worked out well for me, because I just hung out with whomever wasn’t mad at the moment. LOL. 

There were probably a bunch of social expectations that just flew over my head, so I’m really not in any position to give Dd advice. 
 

 

It certainly isn't every teen girl friendship but certain personalities just end up being what I would say as possessive about their friendship.  Really what is happening is the unreasonable girl is insecure and worried she'll lose her best friend.  She probably recognizes that they don't have many shared interests and is worried the friendship will dwindle if her friend gets too close to another girl.  In reality, I've always watched it play out with the unreasonable friend being the reason they drove the other friend away. 

I dealt with it with a friend whenever I'd get a boyfriend.  She would insist she go everywhere with us and was hurt if I did things without her.  She would even go as far to try to break us up.  I put up with it for 2 years before I just stopped hanging out with her.  Didn't even give her an explanation because I knew she'd freak out and try to turn it around on me like I was the bad person.

 

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Personally I think it would be better to be more open about the occasional trip without "other girl."  I would still include her when it made sense, but I would not hide it when it didn't.  "Other girl" needs to learn that she will survive if friends do things without her.  IMO there's a difference between "excluding" and "not including."

The other thing is that "other girl" is bound to accidentally find out that they are hiding stuff from her, and that is going to create a lot more hurt and drama IMO.

I'd tell your dd:  I'm sure "other girl" has things that she does without you and Friend.  Everyone does and there's nothing wrong with that.

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To clarify, I don't mean to say your daughter should blab in other girl's face about hanging out ... they should keep it to themselves generally, but not to the extent of sneaking and lying.

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13 minutes ago, SKL said:

To clarify, I don't mean to say your daughter should blab in other girl's face about hanging out ... they should keep it to themselves generally, but not to the extent of sneaking and lying.

I agree. I would not encourage or enable my children in hiding a friendship.  OP it is unhealthy for you to allow them to go to extremes like making parents do a separate trip to pick up the stuff left behind.  I encourage you not to accommodate that.  You are enabling their equally bad behavior in the friendship.

And I agree with SKL that it is much more hurtful for this other girl to find out about things through the grapevine and realize they are sneaking around. 

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The secrecy is what makes me uncomfortable. And the other girl absolutely has school friend parties without inviting either my daughter or the friend who actually goes to school with her, so it is a weird dynamic that I don’t understand. My daughter has a standing Wednesday afternoon date with friends that doesn’t include either of these girls and no one gets their feelings hurt. 
 

In a way, I think our swim coach has inadvertently contributed to the problem. Her heart is in the right place, but she pushes inclusivity a little too far. A couple of years ago she overreached and tried to control what the kids text to each other on their own time and even who got invited to birthday parties. I had a major confrontation with her over that and reminded her of parties I’d seen her at that the whole team was not invited to. Additionally, she has to always be friendly and respectful to the other coaches, but she isn’t obligated to invite them over on her birthday, and I sure wasn’t going to allow her to require of kids what even adults aren’t willing to do, so unless she sees something inappropriate happening at the pool, she needs to stay out of it. 
 

Nevertheless, her attitude has seeped into the kids because year after year, kids that are in school spend more of their waking hours with our coach than with their families. By that, I mean the attitude that you are doing something wrong anytime you do anything with just the people you prefer. And I can see her point. Her agenda is building a team, and I’m thinking more of individual kids. My Dd is super self confident and her friend is a little shy. I think her parents may be hoping Dd inspires her to be a little more assertive. 
 

I’m actually closer to the friend’s dad than to her mom, and he backed me 100% when I threw the fit about birthday parties and the kids’ private text conversations. So I’m going to use that as context for talking to him about why I’m not comfortable with the sneaking around. I think in the end, they are just really nice people who have taught their kid to never hurt someone’s feelings if there is any way to avoid it. 

 

 

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Teenage girl stuff is the pits. 

Just wanted to say, though, that my atheist dd totally went with friends to church stuff, including youth groups. Good exposure. A bit of pressure to convert, and some moms were snitty because heathen germs, but the pastors didn't find it inappropriate. So far as I remember, they were very welcoming. 

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5 minutes ago, Melissa Louise said:

Teenage girl stuff is the pits. 

Just wanted to say, though, that my atheist dd totally went with friends to church stuff, including youth groups. Good exposure. A bit of pressure to convert, and some moms were snitty because heathen germs, but the pastors didn't find it inappropriate. So far as I remember, they were very welcoming. 

Good to know. From my perspective it would be completely insulting to invite an atheist kid to a church function. It seems like saying they need to change or something offensive like that. 

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Just now, Amy Gen said:

Good to know. From my perspective it would be completely insulting to invite an atheist kid to a church function. It seems like saying they need to change or something offensive like that. 

Depends on the family, I guess, but I never found it so. (I did ban dd from going when the youth group were covering the gay sin...no teen lesbian needs that exposure! But otherwise, it was a good way to understand her friends - she knew not to detail with argument). 

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Gay sin, Yikes!

We are Episcopalian and the friend’s family is Lutheran, so I’m pretty sure they didn’t cover anything like that at the gathering. When I asked Dd what they talked about. She said, “Mom, I can tune anything out for 5 hours.”

So if they covered it, she fortunately wasn’t paying attention. LOL. 

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Sounds like they all need some chat about boundaries.
Jealously feels like a good reason to behave in certain ways, and is often treated like a good reason, but it isn't and people's mammas should tell them so. Good sportsmanship matters outside the pool too.

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19 hours ago, Rosie_0801 said:

Sounds like they all need some chat about boundaries.
Jealously feels like a good reason to behave in certain ways, and is often treated like a good reason, but it isn't and people's mammas should tell them so. Good sportsmanship matters outside the pool too.

I have been very surprised that mamas don’t directly say certain things out loud to their kids. I think “why isn’t the mom telling the kid this?”

 

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I read this yesterday and then for some reason kept thinking about it. 

It struck me that this could look very different if told from a different perspective...imagine someone posting this story...”My daughter has been on a swim team for 8 years and very close to her best friend. About 6 months ago, another girl got moved up to their practice group and BF started really getting close to her as well. My daughter got sad when BF hung out with the other girl and not her and she told her BF and now the BF has started to hide when she goes out with the other girl. They do things together that they know my daughter wouldn’t like. They lie about whether or not they have plans so they don’t have to include her. BF’s family seems to support the friendship with the other girl more...we think it’s because she is a Christian and we are athiests. They invited the other girl to a church event and left my daughter out even though she would have liked to go and wouldn’t have cared that it was a church event.  My daughter is really sad and has tried to talk to her friend. Admittedly, my daughter probably put too much of a guilt trip on BF at first and it caused issues. She isn’t perfect and probably is too jealous but she is just sad. She’s tried to apologize but is hasn’t worked. What should she do?” I think people would have responded very differently to that story. Sometimes it’s just looking at things from a different perspective.

I’m not saying that is the actual situation, and I don’t think your daughter and her friend are doing anything wrong. I just think there is a lot of drama among 14 year old girls. Daughter’s friend said “other girl” would “punish” her if she doesn’t get invited or knows about daughter and friend hanging out. But what does “punish” really mean. Maybe it just means the other girl expresses that she is sad and friend feels guilty and interprets that as punishment. People on this thread seemed to get really triggered by the word punish but we don’t really know what that means. 

Of course your daughter and the friend can hang out alone...but I also think it’s kind of normal for someone who has had a BF on a team to feel jealous and sad if that BF seems to want to do a lot of other stuff with someone else. And stuff that she isn’t interested in. I’m someone who has a hard time making friends and I know as an adult I’ve felt sad when it seems like people who are friends are moving on. I’m an adult and I deal with it, but as a 14 year old I might have had a harder time with that. 

It seems like there is some judgment around the other girl. Perhaps that is fair. But it also could be that she is sensing that and acting out even more. 

 

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