How To Be A Real Friend To Two People Who Dislike Each Other
A common thread that has tied the storylines of some of our favorite reality shows together as of late has been friends stuck in the middle of petty squabbles between friends — and for good reason since that’s an issue to which many of us can relate. Sadly, most of these TV personalities have been models of what not to do as the so-called neutral third party between feuding companions, which is why their actions have mostly led to undesired results. Maintaining your position as the neutral party is tricky and if you’re not careful, you could end up losing one or both friendships. Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind when your friends are clashing.
Don’t pick sides
If you value both friendships, avoid choosing sides. People get into disagreements all of the time and if you find that you have to pick sides every time, you won’t have many friends left when all is said and done. Additionally, diving headfirst into every falling out that the people around you have is a sure way to stay in some drama.
Do hear them out
One of the most annoying things that you can do as the neutral party in a dispute between friends is to say things like, “I don’t wanna hear it. Y’all are both my friends.” It’s dismissive and sends the message that you don’t care about either person’s feelings. It’s okay to hear out both sides to gain a better understanding of why each friend is upset.
Don’t let one trash the other in your presence
In the same vein, there’s a fine line between allowing both friends to vent and listening to them dog each other out. Once the conversation veers away from a simple retelling of what happened to a personal attack on the other party, it’s time to speak up or end the conversation. Silence is permission.
Don’t carry a bone
If one friend does happen to slip in some negative talk about the other, it’s not your job the relay their comments to the other party. It will only keep the drama going.
Do tell them when they’re wrong
True friendship is about accountability. If your friend has done something that is blatantly and morally wrong, call them on it in a loving way. Don’t enable their trash behavior.
Don’t downplay their feelings just because you’re friends with the offender
Speaking of enabling, it’s not okay to downplay one friend’s feelings just because you know the other friend “didn’t mean it like that” or because “she’s just like that.” We don’t get to determine what someone else finds offensive. Just because you have chosen to accept certain behaviors from someone doesn’t mean everyone else has an obligation to do so.
Don’t invite them both to the same place without warning
It’s not okay to invite two people who are embroiled in conflict to the same outing without providing a gentle warning that the other will be present. Regardless of your intent, it’s not up to you to determine when these friends should face each other without their input.
Don’t force reconciliation
True reconciliation can’t be forced. It takes place when both parties have recognized the error of their ways and are ready to move forward. Even if your friends agree to reconcile off of the strength of their shared friendship with you, it probably won’t last.
Don’t become a referee
You are not the overseer of other people’s conflicts, so don’t take on the weight of that responsibility. Allow adults to resolve their own squabbles.
Don’t allow the conflict to dominate your conversations
Drama has a tendency to fester when it’s all that you talk about, so let your friend air out their grievances and then move on. It shouldn’t be the focus of every conversation.