Every month our sexperts take questions from our readers. Read on for this month's dilemma.
“Would you happen to have any advice on this? I’m friends with a couple who are part of our friend group. Now they’re broken up, and it’s gotten pretty ugly. I know it’s easy to say ‘don’t take sides,’ but with each one trying to make the other my enemy, it’s easier said than done...”
There seem to be great divides wherever you look in the world today. Whether its politics, race or core friend group, society is plagued by a pervasive antagonism that makes opening social media like spraying yourself in the face with a riot hose of hatred.
Just what happened to make us all retreat to our like-minded tribes, cover our ears, and wage bloody war with the opposite side? I remember a more innocent time when a couple, fresh off a messy breakup, would flip a coin to see who got to keep the friends. Sure, the loser had to walk into the sunset bitter, humiliated and friendless, but the rest of the crew needed only delete a single number from their phone.
As the child of divorce, I can assure you that getting trapped in the middle of a tug-of-war between exes is bad news. Sure, you can leverage your position short term to score lots of pity presents and a trip to Disneyland, but in the long run you’ll end up emotionally exhausted and with a lifelong fear of conflict. Do yourself a favor and settle this dispute as fast as possible.
If these two manipulators aren’t going to divvy up their relationships on their own accord, and you’re too indecisive to pick between them, it may be time to call a council of core homies. Gather the members of the group together, minus the two exes, and make a list of all the embattled lovers’ attributes. By putting your heads together, and drawing on the shared power of your friendship, you should be able to come to a consensus on which of the two you like less, and will exile to the cold, lonely beyond.
The important thing is that in these troubled times you stick together. All for one, and one to delete.
Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to your question. It’s a delicate situation that requires a lot of emotional maturity on everyone’s part—not least of all to compensate for your two ex-lover friends.
First of all, if your friends are fighting and putting their mutual friends in a position in which they’re forced to pick sides, then your friends are simply shitty people. I know heartbreak makes us all act crazy, but that excuse only goes so far. If they’re getting bitter and forcing their friends to choose which ship to go down with, I’d grab the closest life raft and paddle right on outta there. If they don’t have the emotional maturity to leave their friends out of it then perhaps neither are people you should be friends with.
The other fact of break-ups is that the parties involved usually need a sustained “cooling off period,” so even if you say “sayonara” to both for now, that doesn’t mean you can’t pick your friendship up again once they’ve calmed down. Give them a bit of solitude. We all need to wallow over multiple viewings of 500 Days of Summer when we’re healing a broken heart.
On the other hand, is one friend being shittier than the other? Perhaps you’re seeing one friend acting the Michelle Obama of the break-up, taking the high road where your other friend is plunging to Trump lows. I believe in rewarding good behavior—plus the friend showing resilience and grace in the face of adversity is likely to be a much better friend to you in the long run. Sometimes break-ups don’t make us act crazy, but actually reveal our true colors.
If you observe one or both parties in this break-up going off the deep end, by which I mean falling into unhealthy and unsafe behaviors (substance abuse, under/overeating, self-hurt, violence against others) then don’t hesitate to speak up and encourage one or both of them to seek professional help. There are tons of counselors in Shanghai that are just a quick Google search away. They’re waiting for your email.
Do you have a sex, dating or relationship problem? Can no one else help? Send your quandaries to our expert sex columnists at email@example.com
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