Friends on the Rocks

5 Mar

Letterbalm Friendship BreakupDear LetterBalm: Since grammar school, my two friends and I have been very close. Even though we went to different colleges, we stayed together. The three of us returned to our hometown to live and work. My friends recently had a colossal battle over a serious matter and they aren’t speaking to each other. It’s so bad that I don’t think the rift will ever heal. I don’t see them being friends again. I’m caught in the middle. Each one wants me to take his side and hang out with him exclusively. I don’t want to lose either friend. What can I say to keep them as friends?

–In the Middle

We’ve all been there – we often can’t control people we love going out of our lives. You and a girlfriend break up, and you miss her parents more; a close relative marries and relocates out of town for good; a boss-mentor moves cross-country to take another job. Ms. L.B. gently advises you to acknowledge that your Three Musketeers probably are no more. You need to understand the friendship dynamic has fundamentally changed because you’ll have to hang out with each friend separately. There are two obvious suggestions post-breakup: Don’t take sides, and don’t avoid being honest with them because you want to spare their feelings. Tell this to each:

Don’t expect me to choose between you two. Both of you are my friends. I’ll try my best to share my time fairly with each of you because I care about you equally. I’m telling you now that I won’t take sides, I won’t listen to criticism and I won’t avoid being honest with you because I want to spare your feelings. This is a painful and bad situation for all of us – twenty years of friendship gone – and I don’t see it getting better. It’s really up to you two as to where it goes from here. 

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