when Friends Fight

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Today I’m going to talk about something that never gets talked about. If it does get discussed, it’s not usually a conversation that has a strong closure for someone like me.

Our topic today is going to be about friendships and…

How should you behave when two of your friends start fighting?

There’s a thousand different directions you can go and I’m going to talk about the few that seem to be the most confusing for folks.

1. Should you get involved in the disagreement and try to mediate?

2. Should you pretend not to like the other friend, if you actually do like them?  

Getting involved between two friends that are having a disagreement can have some devastating effects on your friendship with both people. You can end up losing one friend and in some cases you can lose them both. You must be very careful and above all, HONEST, about your feelings with both friends.

You can’t go back and forth between friends and badmouth them to each other, because if they work it out, then they are going to compare notes and you will lose. No matter how much it might hurt, you have to be honest with each of them if you are willing to get involved as a mediator. It’s even better if you can remain neutral.

If you agree more with one friend than you do with the other, you can keep that to yourself, or you can discuss your misgivings with the friend you don’t agree with. Do not discuss these misgivings with the friend you do agree with, because this can be misunderstood as taking sides. Your neutrality goes right out the window then.

You can remain uninvolved in the fight, but make your stance very clear to each friend. Tell them you will not discuss either of them unless all parties are present during the conversation. If you want to be Switzerland, then behave like you’re Switzerland.

bother you with friendship

What if the two friends that are fighting were friends with each other before you came along and they have history?

If you have come along later in the friendship, and they start fighting about things you know nothing about, then listen to each side and try to understand where the problem occurred. It doesn’t hurt to just listen and not take sides and you might be able to offer an outsider’s point of view they had not considered.

The key words here are; LISTEN. and DON’T TAKE SIDES.

It’s perfectly okay to be friends with both people, even if they detest one another, but make sure you remain neutral. It’s not as easy as it sounds. It is a human being’s nature to want to be empathetic. If you feel you can’t listen and remain uninvolved, then don’t listen and tell your friend why this is impossible for you.

One very important thing to remember when friends are fighting is that being neutral, doesn’t mean ignoring them.

That’s another mistake a third party friend might make. They feel that being neutral means not responding to the friends when they are fighting and this is a pretty common mistake to make. When you stop responding to messages or returning phone calls, then your friend might just disappear.  Your silence and inability to respond in a friendly way can be misunderstood as dislike. So make sure you remain supportive and available, if this is a friend you’d like to keep.

Which brings me to the second topic.

Should you pretend not to like the other friend if it makes the friend you’re hanging out with feel better, even if you really do like the other person?

The answer is NO. If you really do like the other person, tell your friend you like them. It is not necessary to reassure your friend of your loyalty. If it is, then this person really isn’t your friend and the fact that you are having to pretend to feel something you don’t, might mean you don’t trust your friend very much either.

The only reason people behave badly in situations like these, is fear.

Fear can make people do and say some pretty stupid things.

cuteness-overload-i-cant-leave-you

If your friend has a history of explosive anger, then I’d be afraid to be honest with that person too. That would definitely be a time to be neutral, and perhaps look for a friend that won’t explode any other time you might disagree with them about something.

If your friend has a history of discarding people that displease them, then tell your friend that you fear being discarded for liking someone they don’t like. Also think about why you feel that way. You might just be worth a lot more to your friend than you’re giving yourself credit for. Also consider the caliber of people this friend has discarded in the past. Do you identify with most of them? Do you behave the same way they did? If you can answer no to those questions, then voice your fear if you need to. That way the topic is on the table for discussion and the air can be cleared. It might deepen your friendship because being open and honest about these kinds of fears strengthen bonds that can become lifelong.

If it doesn’t turn out like you hoped, and you get discarded even after you voiced your fear of being discarded, then consider yourself lucky because this person wasn’t your friend anyway.

I’m not going to lie to you because when two friends are fighting it can be very uncomfortable.

You might think you have no idea what you’re supposed to be doing.

And that is total bullshit.

It shouldn’t matter if your friends are fighting, or totally in love with each other, you are their friend and that is the only responsibility you have to them. A good friend will be there to lean on, or to tell you that they think you’re full of shit, if that’s what they think. A good friend will stay out of a fight that isn’t about them and allow the other friends to work it out. If they work it out then everyone can move forward. If it never gets worked out, you are still their friend, a friend with boundaries perhaps, but still a friend nonetheless.

A good friend will also step in if they see their other friend being unfairly and publicly maligned with no way to defend themselves. 

This is something I have written about again and again and it has a name. It’s called The Narcissistic Smear Campaign and you never know when one of your friends will be capable of pulling this out of their hat to get back at someone. Ambiguous taunts are only ambiguous when the other party can not be readily identified. I am very careful when I write about someone that has upset me and strive to make my story open to all kinds of interpretation, but I have seen campaigns where the only thing missing was the other person’s name and everyone commenting knew exactly who was being publicly humiliated.

When you see a Narcissistic Smear Campaign happening, a subtle reminder that perhaps they should take this up with your other friend in private, is some great advice. But keep in mind that you are now dealing with a Narcissist and any deviation from what they consider the truth, will cost you. 

When friends fight, the best thing you can do is be a good friend and show them by example that being a good friend is possible if you’re willing to be one yourself.

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About Madeline Scribes

A writer with a sense of humor. If anyone can laugh at life, it's me.
This entry was posted in All kinds of Advice, Personal Boundaries Primer and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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