Help! My Daughter’s In A Friendship Triangle

Before my daughter started school, I prayed (literally, said prayers) that she would find her way socially with ease and joy.  “Please let her be like her father– easy-going, adaptable, friendly, confident.”  When I got really desperate, I begged God to spare her the dark sides of my personality and keep her from being too insecure, desperate, dramatic, histrionic, low self-esteemy.

I was pleased when my prayers were answered and she seemed to be “in the flow” socially and found a great group of friends.  Actually, she found two best friends, darling little girls who share her abiding love of coloring and exercising executive leadership skills. 

Two.  There’s two of them.  And you know what that means, right?

My daughter’s in a friendship triangle.  Kindergarteners, ya’ll.   Already I’m having to navigate my daughter (and myself) through the gauntlet of a threesome.  Someone’s always left out.  When it’s my kid, we spend the ride home talking about how unfair it is that she’s stuck with me while her two other friends are together, having great adventures WITHOUT MY DAUGHTER.  When my kid is on the upside of the friendship seesaw, I breath a tenuous sigh of relief.  Because it’s only a matter of time before she’s crying again.  Left out again.

Friendship’s hard, ya’ll.

It’s been massively triggering.  It brings up every relic of my own friendship triangles, a configuration I carried into my 30’s.  It’s been an opportunity to look back at my own past, relive some hurts and ultimately heal.  I like to think that revisiting my own friendship struggles will help my daughter work through her own feelings.  I found that engraved into my cells is the exhausting experience of trying to keep up with two other friends.  Trying to be sure I’m still “in.”  Scrambling, chasing, clawing at every opportunity to keep a toehold in the relationship.

I don’t want this for either of my kids.  I realize there is no way to spare them their own experiences, but God, I sure want to.  How much is it going to suck when one day she comes home with a heartbreak over a friendship’s end?  It’s going to happen.  Even when it’s for the best, it hurts in a way that’s as deep as death and as immediate as a broken bone.

But then again, it’s the failed friendships that taught me what I most value in friends: humor, emotional availability, loyalty, honesty.

When the day comes that either of my kids arrives at the Heartbreak Hotel– Friendship Edition, I’m going to hand them this book.  It’s written by women who survived and thrived through the vicissitudes of relationships with friends.  These authors survived and so will my kids.


Order the book: My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Losing and Leaving Friends by clicking here.


18 thoughts on “Help! My Daughter’s In A Friendship Triangle

  1. Friendships of three isn’t always a bad thing. I have two best friends and we’ve all three been friends since high school (I’m in my 40’s now). And it works for us. I think it helps that we each have OTHER friends, too, but I really can’t remember when we had issues with the three of us. Yes, I get that it’s rare, but hopefully your daughter will get through the friendship gauntlet relatively unscathed!

  2. Daughter just started preschool, and I have *no idea* how to navigate this stuff. So afraid. My parents are basically hermits, and so helped me not at all on the social front, and so I was basically not social as well. I have no idea what to do when the other little girl on the playground – who was excited to see my daughter when we arrived – says “I don’t want to play with you.” Ack!! The fact that you have some experiences to apply to this situation seems awesome to me, as painful as those experiences are. Hopefully that will help you be better support than I will! My heart goes out to all our kids, and us.

    • Yes –it’s so hard. It’s like I’m terrified my kid will suffer more because of my own hang ups and past. I can’t get over my unrealistic desire to shield her from all pain.


  3. I am going to remember that book, thanks for sharing it! Reading this post was a trigger for me too. I had a few friendship triangles. One in particular ended badly. AND that was a time when three way friendship necklaces didn’t exist. Friendship is tough…especially as a girl. I think that’s why I ended up being closer with guys instead. lol

  4. Oh, how I agonized over my daughters ups and downs with friends. I always told them “Someone wants to be with you or they don’t. You can’t make someone WANT to be with you, but you can make them NOT want to be with you.” They would roll their eyes, but hopefully, it sunk in.

  5. I had the friendship triangle all of last year then I gave them space towards the end of the year. Now the nicer girl has left the school and there’s a new girl who I’m making friends with but the other girl from the triangle is also making friends with so now either me or the triangle friend are being a third wheel cause we seriously never talk to each other at all. We only talk to the new girl!!!! It’s starting to drive me crazy…..

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