Dear Thelma

I once had a best friend. We were very close and could talk about everything. I thought we had no secrets between us. We loved to hang out together. We lived close to each other and even worked at the same place. We always helped each other at work.

One day, a new guy started working in the same department. Both my best friend and I became friends with him. For two years, the three of us had a good relationship. We did not have problems communicating with one another about our personal life or work matters.

There was a time when I felt the guy becoming very close to me, especially at work. He liked to talk with me and showed he cared about me when I had issues. Whenever he had problems, he would come to me for advice. I was nice to him and tried to help him as well. We enjoyed spending time together.

But then things began to change. I noticed that my best friend was getting close with him too. She was buying him meals and was texting him often.

It seemed like a normal thing between friends and I didn’t think much of it. But then, I realised she had been lying to me. She had been pretending to be busy, but in truth she had been going out with him.

I asked her if there was something we needed to talk about but she remained silent. She started to distance herself from me as if she had something to hide.

​​Not long after that, he too started behaving the same way. That was when I knew they were a couple.

They abandoned me. It felt as if they didn’t need me in their lives anymore. They seemed to have started a new life together and I knew I had to do that too. I started to keep away because I didn’t want to intrude.

But most importantly, I hate liars. I feel that a friend who lies to you doesn’t deserve your loyalty.

I now get on with life happily without them. I meet new people and do new things to fill my time.

But they feel that I don’t want to be friends with them as I spend less time talking to them or hanging out with them when we are with our other colleagues. They are making me feel like I am the bad person and that I don’t bless their relationship.

I have no idea why they feel this way or are creating this impression among our colleagues. And so I keep my feelings to myself as no one knows what really happened between the three of us.

Have I done something wrong? What should I do? – Abandoned Friend

Dear Abandoned

It usually does become awkward when romance blossoms between two people among a group of friends. Many people assume that friendships have to end when these romantic relationships begin.

Often, the two who are in a relationship become anxious because they don’t know who to inform about the blossoming romance. It becomes even more complicated amongst a group of people of mixed genders. There is doubt whether someone would be jealous, or even upset.

A lot of these fears are unfounded. While there may be awkwardness – others in the friends group need time to adjust to the change – it usually goes away after a while. People will learn, eventually, to adapt.

But this period of awkwardness is usually misunderstood. Sometimes the people in the romance assume things that are not true and that makes things worse.

Granted, there are certain groups of friends in which real animosity develops. People become upset and angry, and even jealous. Most of the time, though, this is not the case. People, on the whole, are fairly level-headed.

Where your friends are concerned, there is a bit more complication because there was lying involved. There was a deliberate effort to keep you out of the loop. There was nothing that you did to bring this on. Perhaps, your former best friend assumed you harboured feelings for the man, or he thought you’d be upset with your female friend for not spending time with you.

They could have been honest and told you that they felt an attraction for each other. You probably would have gone through a period of awkward adjustment, but you’d have managed. They just didn’t know how to talk to you about this.

You should take responsibility for what you are feeling. The feelings are yours. You feel that way because of what has happened not because of what someone else is doing to you.

Now, there is just complication and confusion. There are crossed lines of communication. All because people thought they could read minds – a feat no human can do.

Instead of asking you what you’d want and really listening, they assumed things. Of course, they assumed wrong. Your relationship with them has soured now not because they are romantically involved but because there was lying. They won’t see that, though. You will just have to let that pass.

The other thing here is how you say they are making you feel as if you’ve done something wrong. Nobody can make you feel something. You feel that way because you feel bad. Why you feel bad, only you will understand given time to process this.

You should take responsibility for what you are feeling. The feelings are yours. You feel that way because of what has happened not because of what someone else is doing to you.

By taking responsibility for your feelings, you can work out what you need in order to feel better. If you want to bless their relationship, just go ahead and do so. Tell them that. You can either state it in person or send them a message. You could even send them flowers. There are multiple ways to do that and plenty of opportunity.

You don’t have to rekindle your friendship with them. Things have changed. Lying does that to a relationship. But you can still talk to them. When you are ready, you can tell them how you feel and how you want them to be happy. That is all you can do, isn’t it?

Relationships are precious things that need to be nurtured. Being dishonest is not nurturing it. It is never a good sign when you have to lie to someone. If that need ever arises, it is time to reevaluate the relationship. If you can’t be honest with the people closest to you, who can you be honest with?

Is something bothering you? Do you need a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on? Thelma is here to help.
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