Ask The Expert: My Best Friends Had A Massive Falling Out, And I’m Stuck In The Middle

We asked the expert, so you don't have to.

“I’m in a group of three friends but recently the other two have fallen out. Now every time I hang out with either of them the other gets annoyed. It’s really tricky. I don’t see them making up but it’s causing me so much stress, and it’s also really affecting my social life trying to balance the two. What should I do?”

– Anon, 29

Clinical psychologist and author of Love in, Love out: A compassionate approach to parenting your anxious child, Dr Malie Coyne (@maliecoyne) is the one to help us out. 

Having moved around to lots of countries as a child, she credits her friends as providing the stability and strength she needed to get through the ups and downs. 

I really feel for you. You have two friends whom you really care about, and it’s clear you want to keep them both in your life. As if it’s not hard enough that your two closest friends have fallen out, but even tougher that each is showing annoyance when you spend time with the other.

Time spent with emotionally warm friends in whose company you feel safe and at ease can you give you a wonderful feeling of wellbeing. Equally, when those friendships get fractured, we can feel a deep sense of angst and pain. The fact that this is causing you so much stress shows just how much you care for each of your friends.

What to do? Well, for one, you should not have to pick one friend over the other. Hopefully this fracture in their relationship is temporary, but in the meantime, I suggest the following steps:

1. Find a good time to speak to each friend separately. Share with them how the situation has been affecting you and how you feel stuck in the middle.

2. Let each friend know how much you value their friendship, and that you absolutely want to remain friends with each of them.

3. Set the boundary that you are happy to spend time with each friend, but that you would like to keep the relationships separate (i.e. not talk about each friend with the other).

4. Be kind to yourself. In your own time, put a hand on your heart and say: “This is a moment of pain. I am not alone in feeling this pain. May I be kind to myself in this tough moment”.

I hope that this situation will resolve itself. Friendships are precious, but they can be tough to navigate sometimes. I do hope you find some peace with it going forward.

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