Hey Wendy and Wanda,
I have this friend who is my Wellesley Day One — we’ve survived the end of first year friend groups, sophomore slumps, junior study abroad, the whole shebang. We both have other friends, but we’ve always been priorities. She’s also in a society, and is getting really into it. She recently told me that the society is now her main friend group, and comes before our friendship. I’m trying not to be mad, because I understand how college friendships change as they grow, but I can’t help being annoyed with her for becoming so consumed in her society and my lizard brain is feeling abandoned. Got any tips for how to move past this?
This does sound like a difficult situation, but I will say that it sounds like your head is in the right place. Recognizing that some friendships are bound to wane in their importance in your life is a good way to remind yourself that this isn’t a failure on your part nor is it a reflection on your worth in any way.
I also think that you need to be patient with yourself. It is perfectly normal to feel annoyed when something like this happens or sad that the nature of your relationship is changing. Don’t feel like you have to move past these feelings right away and jump directly to the stage where you can simultaneously appreciate your earlier friendship for what it was and your current more casual friendship for what it currently is, without feeling a bit of pain when you compare the later to the former. This is obviously a cliche but, give it time, and don’t beat yourself up over it in the interim.
To move past this I also think it can be helpful to think through exactly what could be happening. In one instance your friend’s decision to reorder her priorities may have been the best decision for her at this time; in which case, down the line at least, you can be happy for her. On the other hand it could also be that she made this decision at least partially in error. However, it is nonetheless a choice she has made for herself. Any attempt you make to try to reverse it will likely only exhaust your emotional energy without changing the reality of the situation. Thus even if it was a flawed decision your best course would still be to accept it and eventually move on.
That being said, even though it is clear this is the healthiest option for you, overcoming that tinge of abandonment can still be difficult. A good place to start is by leaning on other friends. Allow yourself to be open with them about how you are feeling and let them shower you with words of adoration and sympathy, then listen to their problems and return the favor. Be careful that you are not only superficially trying to replace a friendship that you lost, but this can be a good excuse to further bond with other people who were already, and are still, a big part of your life.
Also don’t feel like you need to completely cut off contact with your friend, so long as it would make you happy, continue to make an effort to hangout with them from time to time, have quick catch ups over lunch or plan a night out together. If you are not their number one priority, they don’t need to be yours, but this also doesn’t mean that you have to exercise them from your life all together.
Bottom line, give it time, but don’t let the fact that you used to be closer prevent you from having a positive more casual friendship now.
I think you have two main options here.
The first is to accept what she has told you and use the extra time you now have from not needing to maintain another intense friendship to go back and rewatch episodes of Black Mirror. You can at least be grateful that she explicitly stated her priorities so you can now proceed knowing where she stands. This probably means fewer Wednesday nights wine drunk on the floor of one of your dorm rooms discussing your biggest dreams and fears, and also whether a hot dog should be considered a sandwich or not. But even though your friendship may be a little less intense now, you should still definitely tap her if you need a wing-women for a night out, a 4th for Codenames, or a bit of extra booze to your party (she’s in a society now so you know she has plenty). Enjoy the fact that you can still laugh about the stupidity of others together without necessarily being best friends.
The second option is you infiltrate this society, gain their trust, and then slowly bring it crumbling down from the inside. Because tea-ing season has passed, gaining admission will involve some creativity. Depending on the society however, I feel like a small bag or coke or a well placed Jane Austen reference will do it. Once they have accepted you, use your natural charisma (which I am sure you have in spades) to gain a loyal following. It is very important that you do this independently of your friend as you do not want to give the impression that you are doing this to like, friendship stalk her. Then after you have accumulated enough power and/or blackmail material you can unleash chaos. We all know how difficult it can be to try to keep the piece in a friend group, so there will be a number of accessible ways to complete this last step, please choose one that is, at the very least, entertaining and will perhaps produce some interesting quotes on overheard. Now that you have successfully demonstrated your superior brilliance you can peacefully move on from this friendship having obtained a bit of closure.