Dear Rachel,

My best friend and I have always been like sisters, and have been a part of each other’s lives now for over 20 years. But the last few years have been increasingly tense as our lives move in different directions, and basically, it seems that she is incredibly jealous of me and I don’t know what to do. I got married a few years ago to a great guy, and she still isn’t married. I am now pregnant with our first child, and she was just told that she may have problems conceiving. I want to share my joys with her, but instead I find that I am trying to downplay my happiness when I speak with her. I don’t want to lose her as a friend, but I am no longer able to be myself around her. Any suggestions?

Sad Friend

Dear Sad Friend,

It indeed does sound like your friend is jealous of your situation, and it is admirable that you are both aware of this and sensitive to her feelings.

Although you may have always been incredibly close and shared everything, it appears that you may have reached a point in your life where that is no longer possible (or at least for now). It must be very hard for her to watch you move on in your life and change in so many ways, ways that she would like for herself as well, when she is not progressing at your rate.

While you may want to be able to speak with her about your married life, your excitement about your pregnancy and everything else you are going through, it appears that if you want to save this friendship, you will need to focus on the things that you still have in common and put the emphasis more on her life, than on yours, for the time being.

Granted, you have a real need to discuss your thoughts and feelings, but I would try to share these things with other friends or family, people who are perhaps jealous or even resentful of what you are experiencing. It is anyway important for you to establish friendships with other people in your situation, young married women who are starting families. You will want these friends as you prepare for you birth and care for a newborn, etc.

While you do not want to exclude your friend from baby shopping, labor classes, and other things going on with you, I would let her be the one to initiate such conversation. Follow her lead. If she doesn’t ask how you are feeling or if you need anything, don’t be the one to bring it up. The more sensitive you are to her feelings, the more she will hopefully be able to eventually share in your life.

For now, I would make sure to spend time with her where the two of you are alone and doing the things she enjoys. Ask about her job, find out what she is up to, if you are able, see if you can introduce her to single friends of you and your husbands. But speak to her, try to get her to open up about her life, her fears, her circumstances, which will help you understand what she is going through.

It would probably also mean a lot to her if you wanted her to come to the hospital with you when you give birth, or if you make sure she is one of the first people you call, one of the first to see the baby. Make her feel special and reassure her how important she is in your life. Most likely she is feeling that now that you are married and even more so, once you have a baby, you will no longer need her. She is probably worried that your husband and baby will replace her altogether and that you will continue your life while she is left behind, single and alone.

If your friendship has survived for 20 years, it is one that you should make every effort to maintain. While you may be going through a rough patch right now, a true friend who knows and loves you is invaluable, and that is something you both should be for each other. You need to remember that there is more to talk about than your husband and your pregnancy, and hopefully soon your friend will realize that she is a very important part of your life and can be happy for your marriage and baby, even if those are not (yet) realities for her. And she should know, if she doesn’t already, that while you may be having a baby, she is about to become an aunt! Much luck!