When Your Friends Are in a Fight…

The new year is quickly approaching and my wish for everyone is a year free of friendship drama. Because while female friendships provide emotional nourishment that relationships with men cannot, they can also be plenty complicated.

The emotional intimacy involved in best friendship leaves a lot of room for hurt or misunderstanding or fights. But even worse than fighting with a friend can be standing by as two friends fight with each other.

You’ve probably been there. I certainly have. You have a great group of friends when, suddenly, two of said friends have a falling out. You can be all Switzerlandy, staying away from the conflict entirely, but it affects you nonetheless.

There’s really no good position to be in as the non-fighting party. Here are your options:

1)    Stay out of it. You’ll need to tell both friends not to even mention their spat in your presence—making it, of course, a taboo topic. You’ll have to see them each separately. Your “group” will be no longer.

2)    Try to fix things. Like some sort of relationship repairman, you can talk to each friend about how she might forgive the other. But be warned, while you may see it as helping, your friend might see it as meddling. If you’re telling each friend how great the other one is, how they must forgive her, it may come off as taking sides. Speaking of which…

3)    Take sides. Maybe you’re better friends with one of the fighters, so you default to her. You don’t intentionally declare an allegiance, but suddenly you haven’t spoken to friend #2 in weeks.

4)    Be the go-between. While your friends are in a fight, they come to you to find out what the other one did last weekend or where she’s getting her hair cut. You’re more like a messenger than a friend, and you are very much in the fight even though you aren’t in the fight.

See what I mean? There’s no good place to be.

Personally, I’d go with option one. It’s the lesser of four evils. It’s what I would recommend to you too.

But I’ve seen each situation play out and it’s never easy. Fights always seem to be harder on the mutual friend than either of the sparring parties. Most recently, two members of my monthly poker game had a falling out. We handled it the only we knew how—disbanded the game. Ugh.

How do you handle it when two of your friends are in a fight? Do you stay out of it, take sides, or try to make amends? What’s your advice for friends in the same situation?

3 Comments

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3 responses to “When Your Friends Are in a Fight…

  1. Kate

    When I graduated from college, my two best friends and I referred to it as “the great schism.” We are all from different states. But it ended up being more literal than we anticipated.

    I asked both of them to be bridesmaids in my wedding and they accepted. But one week before my wedding, BF #2 emailed to tell me she was not only unable to be a bridesmaid but she would not be attending the wedding. She wished me the best of luck of course and the tone of her message was very final, as if she never expected to talk to me again. I haven’t spoken to or corresponded with her since. That was four years ago.

    What hurt me the most was that BF #1 (who was my college roomie) knew for months that BF #2 was planning to back out but never told me. She has also been deeply hurt in the past by BF #2′s flakiness and yet they keep in touch. I, on the other hand, have lost contact with both of them. Two birds. One stone. I think she tried to stay neutral, but in the end she picked a team.

    I vote for open, honest communication in the trying to fix things realm. It has to be done carefully and with full disclosure. But I think it’s the best way. BF #1′s neutrality ended up costing our friendship as well, even if it was by accident.

  2. Suzannah

    if the argument is large enough for the two people involved to avoid each other….well I think all you can do is hope for the best!!…but expect that your friendships based on group events is over…or at least the enjoyable part of getting together as a group, til their feelings are not hurt….
    I agree being in the middle can be the hardest place to be….especially if you see how they are BOTH wrong!

  3. I agree, number one is the only real option. We’re old enough now that we MUST respect our friends (and they must respect us) when they/we say, “I’m sorry. I’m not getting involved. I’m X years old and I don’t have time for your fighting.” With that said… I’ve found I can still sometimes listen to both sides without having to take sides or try to patch things up… it’s kind of a mix between 2 and 4. But still, mostly 1. :)

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