We all have more than one friend group. There are our college friends, our BFFs since we can remember, work-colleagues-turned-friends, and everything in between. For the most part, those parties don’t mingle all too often.
I may be an outlier, but I LOVE mixing friend groups. My roommates in college would always give me grief after seeing the Facebook invite list to any of our parties. “This is the most random group of people ever,” they would joke. In my head, however, I believed that everyone would get along. All of my friend groups would mingle and become friends and I could be surrounded by the people I love all of the time. A bit idealistic, maybe, but that’s just who I am.
Sometimes, however, I am TOO good at introducing friends from different groups, and two people will hit it off. Like really, really hit it off. And, before I know it, my master plan of having all of my friends be friends has gone further than I anticipated and two of my friends from two different worlds are creating their own little universe by beginning to date.
Friends dating friends can be awesome. It makes for easy double dates and you get to take all the credit (OK, most of the credit) for their fabulous relationship. There is one dangerous trap that comes with this matchmaking title, and that is the pitfall of becoming the Relationship Middle Man.
Being the Relationship Middle Man can start out fun, sharing secrets with each of the respective parties and giving them hints that maybe they haven’t picked up on from their significant other, but it’s a slippery slope. Before you know it, each of them are sending you screenshots of their text conversations and asking you what he meant, asking you if she is mad at him, and a million other annoying insecurities. If you are an angel like me and have set up some friends, here are some ground rules to follow so you don’t become that dreaded middle line of communication.
Playing Spy/Intel is fun, but don’t do it.
Don’t pull a Gretchen Weiners and reveal all of one of your friend’s secrets to the other. Your gal pal may be BEGGING you to give her all the dirt on his ex, and trust me, it is tempting to spill. Don’t do it. Your other friend will tell her about his past relationships, kinks, fears, and whatever else he holds close when he’s ready.
Yes, in a way, you may be helping one friend by confirming that he is definitely over his ex or that he is really, truly, into her. But it’s just a band aid. One of the best parts about relationships is getting to learn about the other person for yourself. Don’t rob your friends of the beautiful beginnings of a relationship by doing all of the explaining for them.
If either party talks to you about a problem, just listen.
Both of these people are your friends, and if a problem arises in their relationship, they may want to vent to you or seek out advice. You also know the other person so well, after all.Just. Listen. Let them rant about the other person without judgement, as they are in a different relationship with your friend than you are. You are not in a place to make decisions for them.
After you listen, remain neutral.
It may be tempting to secretly (or not so secretly) side with one friend due to being friends longer, ovaries before brovaries, etc., but it is not fair to anyone if you take sides in fights. Unless one party has done something particularly horrible or abusive, be Switzerland. Wave your white flag and stay out of the fight.
Set up some ground rules.
If you do the above and one (or both) of the parties keep asking you for insider advice, to yell at the person for them, or perform any other middle man duties be firm and say no. Tell them your job is not relationship referee. Remind each person that you were friends with them individually before they became a couple and no matter how their relationship ends, whether in flames or in wedding bells, you would like it to stay that way.
All in all, not being a middle man boils down to direct communication. Whether you are playing a middle man in a relationship, a work environment, or in between friends, you could be doing more harm than good. Encourage any friends to speak to each other directly about issues they may have with one another, and every will be happier for it in the long run.