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Our friendships are very important to us in this complicated life we lead, and there’s nothing worse than feeling like someone is trying to come between one of those close bonds. But what happens when the person trying to do that is another friend? In the U.K. they call it “leapfrogging,” but here, they call it friend stealing.

I have a good friend who is caught in a feud between two women that she is very close to. I’ll call the friends, Friend A and B. She has known Friend A for years because Friend A used to date one of her family members. When that romantic relationship ended, she stayed close with Friend A. As for Friend B, she met her through Friend A. Friend A and Friend B were close for years, and they welcomed my homegirl into their circle with open arms.

But that was until the friendship between Friend A and B fell apart.

For a while now, Friend A and B have been at odds, and they haven’t really tried to talk things out. Instead, they just pretend everything is okay between them when they’re face-to-face, and then complain about the other to my friend. Feeling stuck in the middle and frustrated by the activities of both women, specifically Friend A, who complains about Friend B a lot, my friend decided to confront Friend A about everything. What she wasn’t expecting was for Friend A to accuse her of not only taking sides, but taking her friend.

You see, Friend A was upset with my homegirl because she felt that she Debo-ed her way into a friendship with Friend B at the same time that they were growing apart. Instead of staying neutral in the situation, my friend was accused of taking sides with Friend B because they had become so close, and was told that she was being a bad friend. According to Friend A, you shouldn’t go around trying to befriend the friends of other people in the hopes of having a relationship that is separate from the circle you all share. And while my friend didn’t agree with this thought process, I had to be honest with her and say that I do. Don’t get me wrong, nobody owns anybody and if a new friend can fit in perfectly with an old group of friends, that’s a great thing. But when old friends start getting left out of the equation, that’s when things can get ugly.

I’ve actually found myself in a situation like this, where I was accused of trying to make nice with the former friend of one of my BFFs. The only difference was that I had NO interest in trying to be buddy-buddy with my BFF’s new sworn enemy. The individual just reached out to me on Facebook once she heard that I was moving to New York, which is where she also resides. I have talked to that individual about two, three times max since I moved here in 2011, so it’s safe to say that my BFF, who is now a former BFF, was paranoid for no reason.

But in the case of my current friend, I’ll tell you what I told her: While I do wonder if Friend A would have been so bothered by my friend getting close to Friend B if they all were still chummy, I think that people are meant to make friends through their own means and hard work. You shouldn’t hang out with a good friend and the circle of friends she has, and then take the number of one of those friends and try to become besties–especially if you don’t plan on including the “good friend” who brought you all together for any outings you two share. It can come off as sneaky. Whoever you meet and make nice with on your own time and through your own efforts is fine, but cherry picking friends can cause unnecessary drama.

But I do believe that individuals can find themselves bonding with the friend of a friend and get close inadvertently. And once you’re close, you can’t drop that person just because someone else is mad, right? My sister managed to be good friends with two girls she went to college with, and when one moved to another city, my sister and the other girl were drawn closer to one another. However, the other friend was not forgotten about, and whenever they can all meet up, they’re the Three Musketeers. No drama, no anger, and no attempts to get close to one friend while leaving the other out in the cold.

So when are you innocently trying to expand your circle, and when are you inadvertently (or purposely in some cases) being sneaky? I’m wondering what you all make of such a dilemma. Is it wrong for someone to get very close to the good friend of one their best friends? Or is it no harm, no foul?

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