QUESTION: My 2 best friends don't get on and I am stuck in the middle. I am the only one getting hurt and upset, is this my fault? What shall I do? Please help me.
ANSWER: Hi Grace,
The thing to remember here is that no, this is NOT your fault, unless you have said or done something that caused the two to fight with each other. Assuming that this is not the case, continue reading.
Trying to manage friendships with different people in one group can become difficult if the friends don't like each other. I have been in friendships where this has happened and I have been in the situation where I had to decide how to handle the issue. I have come up with 4 logical ways to remedy this situation.
1. Speak to each friend individually. Set some time aside to spend with each friend. Be honest with each friend, and let them know that before you can actually hang out and enjoy each others company, you have something that you would like to speak with them about and want to come up with a resolution that would make everyone happy. Explain to each friend what you are noticing about the constant fighting, and tell them honestly and sincerely, what it does to you. Then ask each friend for their side of the story to see what their perception is of why fighting constantly occurs. Be prepared for biased perceptions but do not get defensive for the other person. What I mean by this is that if Friend A says something about Friend B that you don't like, don't be quick to defend Friend B. The whole idea of meeting with each friend individually is to listen and understand WHY each friend feels threatened by the other. Defending the other person only tells your friend that you are not there for them, when it is the exact opposite.
2. Speak to your friends together. This would not be a day for you 3 to hang out afterwards so the best meeting place to conduct this meeting would be somewhere away from home. Maybe a coffee shop or burger place, or maybe even a nearby park. Get both of your friends together and explain to them what the issue is, and how it makes you feel. Then ask them, 1 at a time, to explain their side of the story. Make sure that your friends don't use the time to accuse the other of things. After everyone has had a chance to speak, try to (the 3 of you) find something all 3 of you have in common, so that common ground can be found.
3. Separate the two and hang out with each friend individually. Maybe options 1 & 2 might be difficult for you. Maybe you are the kind of person who can't always articulate effectively how you feel, and that's OK. A lot of people are like that. The separation option provides you a way to hang out with both of your friends, just not together. If they begin to notice the change and ask why the three of you don't hang out, be honest and tell them; however, this option doesn't require an upfront explanation. You are just adjusting HOW you hang out with these friends. I have a group of friends that I routinely hang out with but I have 2 friends that I cannot include in the activities we engage in because of personality issues. One is too transparent and tries too hard to include herself in EVERY conversation (even if it doesn't include her) and the other is like Jekyll & Hyde, sweet one minute and rude/abrasive the next. Both of these personality traits, while I can deal with them, will cause problems within my groups and fights will occur. So the issue between your two friends could be something as simple as a personality clash that will always make it difficult for them to be together.
4. End the friendship with one or both friends. This is a last ditch resort if NOTHING else works. Generally, I'm not the type of person to cut ties with a person unless the situation really calls for it, but sometimes in situations like this, it is a necessary thing. If the fighting doesn't stop, you can always end the friendship all together OR end the friendship with the person who appears to always be the instigator. Watch the dynamic between the two of them. Does one constantly say/do something that causes the other to react? Does one hurt the other friend and then continue to "kick them while they're down"? If you are noticing consistencies in one or the other as to how these disagreements start, then end the friendship with that friend. The scorned friend is going to be upset, and at that point, you will need to make it crystal clear as to why you are ending the friendship.
In the meantime, if you 3 all hang out together and a fight breaks out and neither chooses to end it, YOU end it. If that means you separate yourself from them, or you tell them flat out to drop the issue, do it.
I hope this information helps you. Feel free to email me back with a follow up question if you need more clarification on something I have said, or if a new issue arises.
Good luck with your friends.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: you answered my original question and the solutions seemed to work but I need to know what to do if my friends started being REALLY nice to each other and act like they could never fall out with each other, is something going on or am I just being paranoid????
Glad to know that my advice helped a bit.
I would not worry about your friends acting like they could never have an issue with each other unless you feel like they are starting to shut you out in the process, i.e. suddenly they are making plans and hanging out without you, etc. If you're starting to feel that way, you might want to try to bring it up in casual conversation. If it seems like they are just trying to hold it together for you, then I wouldn't worry. If it makes the situation awkward or it seems too fake and forced, re-evaluate the friendship.
Make sure that what you are asking your friends to do is to tolerate each other and to be civil with each other if the 3 of you are hanging out, not to be superficial about it. Civility within a group of friends where 2+ friends dont get along is what will keep everyone happy.
Hope this helps.