drawing battle lines

relationships end.

yes.  i have on my Captain Obvious unitard.

what doesn’t end is the people who broke up.  whether or not your relationship to them ends, is completely up to you. 

taking sides in a break up happens all the time.  but it shouldn’t.  you heard me.  all too often, people will only get one side of the story, decide the other person is a douche bag and cut them off.  not cool.

2 stories…

1.  a friend of mine told me he was thinking about breaking up with his girlfriend.  a girl i met through him and like.  i told him, “that’s fine, if that’s what you think needs to happen.  you just need to understand that Craig and i will still be her friend.  we don’t break up with friends.”  this is a conversation i’ve had several times over the years.

2.  another friend was getting a divorce.  his now ex-wife ran all over town telling everyone about his sin.  he never spoke a word against her.  he let everyone believe it was one-sided because nobody bothered to ask him if what she was saying was true.  they judged and walked away.  craig and i were his only friends for months.  took over a year for anyone to talk to him about what happened.  fortunately for them, he’s a forgiving sort.

when friends break up:

  • get both sides of the story.  think about it.  how many times have you seen a relationship end over issues that were completely one-sided (excluding abuse)?  right.  almost never.  my friend in #2, did he cheat?  yep.  did his wife physically abuse him?  yes.  did his wife tell him he would never be good enough no matter what he did?  yes.  did she tell him that most of the time she really wished he would never come home?  yes.  stay above the mud slinging, but be willing to hear both sides.  ask.
  • re-evaluate what loyalty means.  my friend in #1, did i know his girlfriend as long as i’d known him?  no.  do i care just as much for her now as i do him?  yes.  i will not choose to end a friend over a matter as trivial as time.  anyone who’s known me for me more than 5 minutes should be aware of this.  if i’m asked to choose, i will.  and it won’t be the person who asked me to choose.  ever.
  • don’t be a receptacle for emotional vomit.  you may find yourself in that horribly awkward position of being caught in the middle because both sides are talking to you.  you’re going to have to lay the groundwork for that.  there are rules.  1.  no bashing the other person.  2.  you are only available to talk about how to help your friend heal or about his or her role in the break up.  3.  you do not allow wallowing.
  • be honest.  if one of your friends screwed up, say so.  if he/she acknowledges it, there is hope.  help him/her find their way back to decency.  if he/she gets defensive or tries to justify his/her bad behavior, call him/her out on it.  if he/she continues to be a jerk, take a step back but be willing step forward again when the time comes to offer some real help.

this is some deep crap to navigate sometimes.  it’s not fun.  just do your best to stay objective and do not cut off either friendship without just cause.  try to avoid inflicting more pain and drama into the situation and just be a friend.

have you ever found yourself on both sides of a break up?  how did you handle it?

have you ever judged one side without knowing their story?  (for the record, i have.  i sucked.)

have you ever lost friends over a break up?

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6 comments on “drawing battle lines

  1. Jenn says:

    I try not to take sides – nor do I encourage my friends to pick my side post break up. That being said, when I broke up with my abusive dbag of an ex fiancé, in keeping with his personality, he demanded his friends remain loyal to him and stop talking to me.

    So I let them decide – I walked away and said if they wanted to keep in touch they had to make that decision. They were the ones who had to deal with him in person as I was thankfully a country away. Most have chosen to ignore his ranting and stay in touch to whatever degree they feel comfortable.

    I think in the end we are all adults. I try to follow the philosophy that if the relationship is healthy for me and the other person we maintain it, if not you do your best to amicably end it

  2. Jonathan B says:

    The smartest thing I ever did as third party to a breakup was when a female online gaming friend was considering breaking up with her boyfriend, and called me for advice, I talked her into talking to my mom.

    Abusive situations aside, you most of the time do not want to be the single male friend who told your female friend to break up with the guy. Three reasons (though there may be others as well):

    1) It may be viewed by others (and perhaps her) as an attempt to “steal her for yourself”, no matter what your intentions.
    2) If she does decide to break up, then regrets it later, there’s a good chance she’ll blame you as the guy that talked her out of a good thing.
    3) If she decides NOT to break up, then you may be shunned as “the guy that tried to tear us apart”.

    Because my mom is a gem, she gave relationship advice to a total stranger on the other end of the country at 10pm at night.

    Now, I have also had a situation where I did tell a female friend that I was very worried about the effect her relationship was having on her. It was not a physical abuse situation, but it was a passive-agressive relationship that was doing serious emotional damage to her.

  3. Never give up your friends after a break up. So glad I didn’t. They are still my friends and not my ex’s. She dumped them and they want nothing to do with her anymore.

  4. Wise words lady. Especially the staying objective and getting both sides of the story – something rarely done, especially if emotional ties are stronger with one of the friends.

  5. Jennifer C says:

    This also applies to non romantic friend break-ups. High school drama anyone?

    Great advice that should be common sense but is not. Is that even a sentence?

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