by Madeline Laughs
Imagine you have two friends and you’re currently in a huge disagreement with one of them. The odd friend out refuses to participate in the feud claiming she likes both of you, but she’s always open to listen to each side’s argument.
Many people will advise the friend who is stuck in the middle to not take sides. Eventually the fight will blow over and everyone will be friendly again. If you take sides, then the possibility of the fight ever being resolved between just the two people arguing is slim. If you don’t choose sides, and just allow the two people to work it out together, then chances are increased that an amicable truce can be reached.
Sounds like good advice, doesn’t it?
Well, it’s crap. It’s psychobabble, bullshit crap. Maybe in a perfect world this might work, but the world is not perfect, last time I checked. When three friends are involved, sides have been picked. It’s human nature.
You can sit over there on your tuffet all day long and tell everyone that you haven’t picked a side. You like each friend exactly the same and you want to see them work this out so you can all be friends again. But that’s bull, and you know it.
If you are actively involved with both friends on a daily basis, then you have picked a side.
You always pick a side.
You might not advertise it out of the fear of having to back it up by being in the fight too, but you picked a side already. You like one friend better than the other and secretly you’re rooting for the friend you like, but you’ll never let on that these are your true feelings. You’ll keep this little morsel to yourself because if they do kiss and make up, then you want to be the friend in the middle, the one that didn’t pick a side, so that you can get all the attention from both friends.
The friend in the middle, is not always a true friend.
There are a few exceptions.
The exceptions are mostly gathered these days by virtue of being friends on a social network. This is the only time choosing sides can be sticky because to choose sides on a social network involves making a distinctive decision that everyone you’re friends with can witness. That is…you delete one of the friends.
Sometimes the three friends on a social network know each other in different realms, but never truly interacted as a unit. Under those circumstances, you might choose to stay out of the drama, however if you do interact most often with one and not the other, then you picked a side. It’s okay not to delete anyone, as long as you stay out of the impending culmination that will result in someone being deleted, or the two friends make up. Then it’s business as usual.
This is the only time that remaining friends with both people is sort of acceptable. Allowing one of them to make the choice for you by deleting you instead, is probably your safest plan.
Even then, you still picked a side.
I have the deepest respect for a few of my online friends that have always been very clear about where they stand and they practice what they preach by maintaining their friendships without being liars. These are some of the exceptions to the rule and if everyone was this sincere, then I’d have nothing to complain about.
It’s the rest of them that chap my ass.
I deleted two friends on a social network because they insisted on being in the middle.
One of my friends volunteered to me that her choice was to delete the person that was harassing me because she was my friend in real life and had met my family, etc. I made sure to stress that it was her decision to delete the person and that I would never ask her to do something like that. She insisted.
Three months later I noticed that she had not deleted the person and was even interacting with them and making plans to get together with them. When I was direct and asked her about it, she claimed she had forgotten her voluntary allegiance to me.
If I had asked her to delete this friend, then I would have felt differently. Asking someone to choose a side rather than hearing them volunteer they have picked a side are two different scenarios. I told her that I wished she had never told me she was going to delete the person. That wasn’t fair to me at all. However I would never have known how duplicitous she truly was, so she saved me from having to figure that out later on.
I deleted her.
Another friend that I knew in real life, as well as online, told me not to involve her in my drama when I asked that she respect my boundaries by not participating in my drama with someone she didn’t even know. She said she would be friends with and comment on anything she pleased and signed her message to me with a heart. She then continued participating in the drama every chance she got.
She had clearly picked a side and it wasn’t my side at all.
I picked a side too.
I deleted her.
In both of these incidents, the friend choosing to stay in the middle wasn’t being honest with me. I knew that the minute I heard their response to me. One was more interested in all of the new attention she was getting from both of us and the other just enjoyed seeing me get hurt.
Friendships are definitely different on a social network and lines are much easier to draw and boundaries are very clear. What some folks don’t realize is that even though it’s just a social network, people will treat you differently in person once a fight has ensued with them online. A lot goes on in the background that not everyone is privy to and that can cause more upset within circles of friends online, than it ever did when we were all just talking to each other on the phone or sending emails.
The access to one another and the escalation of any disagreement is immediate and everyone has push button access to the each other. Perhaps fighting online happens, ensues and then ends much quicker than it ever did in the olden days.
So the next time you’re in a friend triangle and two of you are fighting, do yourself and all parties involved a huge favor; don’t hand them that tired old line about not choosing sides. Have some kind of integrity and be honest about what you really think. For once in your life, have some nads and tell either one, the other or both friends exactly what you think and then let the chips fall where they may.
Being honest about choosing a side is much better than being a two faced, lying, piece of shit friend in the middle.