Episode 137: "What if my friend is being distant now that they’re in a relationship?"Support the show
On today’s episode, we’re answering a question from local teens about friends who get distant when they start new relationships.
This is Jessica Skultety, Outreach and Prevention Manager at Safe+Sound Somerset. We are Somerset County, New Jersey's lead domestic and sexual violence response organization, providing services at no charge to survivors for over 40 years.
Today's question from local teens is: “Dear Ava, What if my friend is being distant now that they’re in a relationship?”
Teens tell us often that they notice their friends changing once they’re in a relationship. Healthy friendships are an important part of life, and a romantic relationship is just one part of someone’s life. If your friend is purposefully ignoring you or never reaches out, no matter what the reason, that doesn’t feel good.
Usually when teens ask us this question, they are worried about their friend. So today we’ll look at both sides of this scenario.
Let’s say your friend is in a new relationship, and you’re looking for signs that they are happy, and that they are just caught up in a new relationship. Here are some of those signs:
1. Your friend still hangs out with you or talks to you, even if it’s less than before. Change can be hard, and friendships are important, so definitely still try to plan some time with your friend.
2. Another sign that your friend is happy: they talk about their partner, and they talk about being happy or excited in the relationship
3. Your friend stays in school, extracurricular activities, and/or their job while they’re in the relationship
Here are some things to watch out for, that are signs of a possible abusive relationship:
1. Your friend completely stops answering your texts or stops hanging out with you. It’s true that even if your friend is happy, they might talk to you less, like we talked about before. But completely sealing up and refusing to talk about the relationship at all is a big warning sign of relationship abuse.
2. Love bombing – when the partner gives your friend lots of gifts, constantly compliments them, says “I love you” very quickly, says things quickly like, “You’re my only one,” making big plans for the future, etc.
3. When the relationship moves extremely fast, and especially if your friend seems anxious or unsure about how fast it is going. Maybe they even say that their partner is pressuring them to do something.
4. Their partner expects check ins constantly, and your friend has to text them where they are at all times.
5. The partner forces your friend to share their GPS location or passwords.
6. Your friend starts skipping class, extracurricular activities, or work to be with their partner all the time.
7. Your friend starts dressing differently. This could also be a sign that their partner is telling them what to wear to attract less attention from others.
8. Your friend has unexplained bruises or marks, or makes up bad excuses for them
9. Your friend never mentions their partner or the relationship at all
If your friend IS being distant and not talking about their partner, like this teen asked, one thing you can do is talk to them about it directly. Say something like, “Hey, I noticed that ever since you’ve been dating them, you’ve been kind of quiet about the relationship. Is everything okay? I care about you and want you to be happy.”
Someone who is being threatened or is scared, might not tell you the truth right away or ever. If you still think something is going on, get a trusted adult involved. Make sure to call 911 if your friend is in immediate danger. You never know what will happen so it’s best to get someone involved.
Whether or not your friend talks about the relationship, you can also try inviting your friend to hang out with you alone and do something fun. See what their reaction is. Can they make time for it, or is their partner jealous or trying to control who they see?
If they’re still being distant, this is a good time to talk to them like we described before. Keep checking up with your friend here and there to see how they are doing. Being distant can be a warning sign of their partner isolating or threatening them, or making them feel nervous or unsafe. Supporting a friend is so important and we also recommend calling or texting the Safe+Sound Somerset helpline for more ideas.
To speak with an expert about relationship or sexual violence, call or text the Safe+Sound Somerset 24/7 confidential helpline at 866-685-1122 for supportive listening, information, and safety planning.
Want to “Ask Ava” a question? Visit our website at www.safe-sound.org/ask-ava. Thank you for listening today. Join us next time here on Ask Ava.