Many of my blog posts have focused on fractured friendships. This is because I believe we do not discuss this nearly enough despite it being a difficulty we all seem to encounter at one time or another. This post is no different, but it looks at what happens when the friendship of 2 of your friends fractures….
In this circumstance 2 of your closes friends have stopped speaking to one another. However they both still want to maintain a friendship with you. You may have already made your judgements and taken a side, or decided to completely disengage with both friends as disagreements of this nature rarely bring out the best in people.
However, usually, at least for a while, you try to be neutral. This can be really challenging to do, because each time you catch up with one of your friends she wants to discuss the other. She either wants to discuss the details of what happened, and justify her position, or she wants to know the details of your other friends current life or drama’s.
Straight after the fallout it is a tricky time for both of your friends, and for you to navigate. Naturally you want to help your friends and be there for them, and part of that is meant to be supporting them through drama in their lives, and validating their feelings wherever you can. However the more details they offer, the more uncomfortably involved you may feel and the more pressured you feel to tell one or both friends they are right and side with one or the other. This is particularly true with the first one who relays their side of the story to you.
Of course, then you see your other friend who relays the same events, albeit in a totally different context from your other friend. She is also justifying her position and maybe you can see her point. You may try and explain to both friends where the other person may have been coming from, however both friends may get angry and defensive at you.
You have a few choices here. The first on is to try and be the peacemaker. You may try and insist that your friends make up, or explain to each of them what the other was thinking or feeling. It may work, but it is a risky maneuver…. Because each friend will probably feel you are on the other person’s side, or you may just unintentionally make things worse or betray a confidence (to the enemy!) You have heard the expression don’t shoot the messenger? That is because the messenger often gets shot. You may even find that the 2 friends make up over their now passionate joint dislike of you and you could have lost 2 friends from a fallout that actually didn’t initially involve you at all! Consider yourself warned. CAUTION: DO NOT GET INVOLVED!!
So if the advice is not to get involved, how do you do this while still maintaining a friendship? If you are not interested in taking a side, and many women are, then you have 2 choices. The most obvious one is to withdraw yourself from both friendships, not because of the fight but because it has put you in a position you would rather not be in, or because your own crossed loyalties make it impossible to be objective and impartial.
The last hope is to stay friends with both women but to draw very firm boundaries about the topic. This is hard to do whilst being supportive, so I suggest reminding your friends that you are not a trained psychologist, and perhaps they would be best off speaking to one of those about it because of their removed stance from the situation and impartial objectivity. It is wise to acknowledge that your friend is hurting, angry and frustrated with the situation, but that is something she should really take up privately with your other friend, and it isn’t something you are comfortable discussing.
Sounds good in theory right? In my experience though, even that can significantly alter your own friendship with both parties. If you used to enjoy a friendship where you could discuss everything and anything and you are suddenly drawing boundaries around what is and is not acceptable to discuss, you may find that you end up being collateral damage anyway as both people move away from you and towards others more willing to hear them out.
Whatever you do, don’t insinuate that falling out with a friend is insignificant. Just because you aren’t the right person for the conversation, doesn’t mean it isn’t a much needed conversation all the same. If you do successfully navigate through this one, in the future be careful not to speak too much about one friend to the other or rub salt in the proverbial wound that you managed to stay friends with both of them.
I personally have found this situation so confusing and confronting that I tend to avoid friendships with people that know one another as much as possible, and when it does occur, I try and show respect for the “Mate in the Middle” and not tell them things that then put them in an awkward position.
If you respect your mates, don’t put them in the middle, and don’t put yourself there either if you can help it!!!
Your best Friend ForNever