It’s great being part of a friend group. Whether it’s getting coffee and chatting, taking exercise classes or hitting up the town together, the more the merrier. That is, as long as everyone gets along. But things happen, and even the closest of friends have disagreements. Sometimes feelings are hurt and a few days away from each other won’t be enough to fix things. And when friends fight, it’s not just those involved in the disagreement who are affected.
The potential for some friends to side with one pal over another or otherwise get involved can make the situation more complicated, stressful and hurtful. So what can friends of fighting besties do to stay friends with everyone involved? Here are a few ways to give it a try.
Don’t get in the middle
Depending on what happened to cause the conflict and how close you are to each person involved, you may be tempted to take sides. Try your best not to do this if you are hoping to stay friends with the other people involved. If you badmouth one person to the other, it could keep the argument going or strengthen it. Not to mention you wouldn’t want your buddies saying unkind things about you if the situation were reversed.
It’s fine to have an opinion and even to share it, thoughtfully and respectfully, and preferably to both parties, for the sake of transparency. But then step aside. Listen to your friends, like you normally would when they have a problem, but try to stay as neutral as possible. Tell each friend you are there for them and value their friendship, but you don’t want to get in the middle of the fight. In addition to not taking sides or saying mean things about your friends to each other, it’s also important to make sure your friends aren’t trying to use you as a messenger. If one of your pals wants to say something to the other, have them do it themselves. Otherwise, you’re likely to get sucked into the disagreement.
Be respectful of their feelings
You may not agree with what your friends are arguing about, but you should respect that they have their reasons for feeling how they do. Those feelings — disappointment, resentment, anger, sadness or whatever they may be— are valid. It’s fine to encourage your pals to discuss their disagreement in hopes that they’ll work it out, but try not to push your friends to mend their relationship if they aren’t ready to or it’s not what they want. In the same vein, you may want to focus your conversations together on things other than the other friend or fight. This doesn’t mean you have to pretend the other person doesn’t exist — and you definitely shouldn’t lie about seeing this person — but you may want to give your pals a break from thinking of their friend troubles while they are with you.
Realize they may not make up and be OK with that
It’s possibly that your besties won’t get past their disagreement. They may never be friends again. Obviously this isn’t ideal, but you will have to learn to accept it. Continue being their friend independent of the other person. Do what you loved to do together before the fight — just without all of you being together.
You shouldn’t have to rearrange your life to accommodate the people you love who don’t like each other anymore. Hopefully these friends will put aside their differences for important events that you’d like to have them both around for, such as birthdays or weddings. You may have to choose which friend to invite to small gatherings, rather than inviting both of them at once. Or you might just tell them to come if they want, even though the other person will be there. If they don’t, that’s their problem, not yours. You are still friends with both people, and there is nothing wrong with that.
It’s tough when friends fight. When this happens, it’s important to remember why you care about each of them. They are your friends, and they are each special to you in their own way. As much as you want your friends to be happy with each other again and for things to go back to normal, you will be there to support them while they are going through this challenging time. Their relationship may change indefinitely, and that’s OK. They are still your friends, and that’s what you’ll have to focus on when you are trying to keep it that way.
(Image via 20th Century Fox)