Ask April- Taking Sides
Welcome to Ask April, a no-nonsense advice column focusing on what it is you can do to correct things that need correcting. While we all know much in life is out of our control, and sometimes, our reaction is all we CAN control- we really do have a lot of personal power, thankfully. Our will is just as important as the wills of others around us, and while we need to be considerate, we also need to make sure others are equally considerate of us. It is my hope that when you write in to me, asking advice, that I can help you make a good decision that somehow improves whatever situation you’ve found yourself in. As with anything I share, I recommend people don’t automatically take my word for anything, but include my advice in with the rest of the things that help them make a decision. I wish you well. Read on.
OMG! Two of my best friends are fighting with another one, and the two friends are bashing the other online. The people on their page have no IDEA who the other friend is, and they have no idea what actually happened, but I do. The friends doing the bashing really tried to screw over my other friend, but she wouldn’t let them. Now they are on the warpath, and they want ME to take sides! The other friend told me she completely understands if I take their side, because I have been friends with them longer. I don’t want to take sides! I want them to work it out, but I am really mad they are lying and bashing our other friend. I really don’t know what I should do. Help!
Stuck in the Middle
Dear Stuck in the Middle,
You say that: 1) They screwed somebody over and are lying about it, 2) They expect you to take sides against who they screwed over, and 3)They have people online helping speak against the person they screwed over.
These three red flags are enough to tell me your screwy friends are not friends, but manipulators.
This is their lifestyle, and they will suck anybody they can into it. Don’t imagine the day will not come when you get your turn being the one they go on the warpath against.
Get the hell out of the relationship.
You can do this quietly, you can write them a letter, or you can tell them to their faces. Do what makes you feel best. But get the hell out. Now.
What you are sharing is not what happens when friends have a spat. Friends might say or do dumb, or hurtful shit when they are having problems, but this “on the warpath” shit of trying to tear down somebody, or destroy their other relationships is not healthy or normal. It is dysfunctional.
I don’t know you well enough to know if you attract this kind of person, or if you were unlucky enough to get stuck with a couple of them. I’m not trying to scare you into running from all your friends. Just objectively pay attention to see if this is a pattern of yours or not. If it’s not a pattern, good for you. Learn from this, and don’t allow any other manipulators close to you.
If this is a pattern, I hate to say it, you would really benefit from counseling. Unfortunately, we fall into habits in forming friendships, and not all those habits are necessarily good ones. I am not saying “YOU ARE CRAZY AND YOU NEED HELLLLLPPPP!!!!!” But you are involved with people who absolutely are acting all crazy, and chances are , because they do not see their behavior as problematic, they are BEYOND help.
In identifying that their lying, and attacks are not okay, and that you will not take sides against an innocent person, you show that you have a good heart, and know wrong from right. So that tells me you are not like them.
So why associate with people who do things like that?
I am speaking as somebody who HAS gone for the counseling, and HAS identified unhealthy habits I’d learned. And I’m still unlearning them. So, I know for sure it can be done.
The friend being attacked is more concerned for your own, personal wellbeing, and is not asking you to jeopardize the other friendships. THAT is a friend, not the other people. I’m sure the friend being attacked would appreciate you saying something like, “Hey, I see what is going on, and I know the truth is, you didn’t do anything wrong. I don’t appreciate the fact they are acting like this! You are my friend, and you have my support.”
If you need to, go ahead and, say something. Set the record straight, or if you need to, stay out of it. But please, get out of the relationship with the manipulators, and stay away from people like that.