My two closest friends had a falling out in the beginning of the year and now refuse to even be in the same room. Each gets furious when I’m with the other, so I find myself lying to one when I’m hanging out with the other. I hate being stuck in the middle and feel like I’m being unfaithful. What should I do? — Alana, Age 14
It’s tough when Mommy and Mommy fight, isn’t it? Okay, they’re not your parents, but don’t you feel like you’re in a custody battle of a friend divorce? Like all children of divorce, you’ve got rights, too. So let’s talk about them:
1. You have the right to be treated as an independent person. You are your own girl and are free to make your own decisions, including the people who you hang out with. Just because two exes can’t get along with each other doesn’t mean that they get to control who you get along with.
2. You have the right to make your own rules. Take some control back and set boundaries. First, explain that you would prefer they don’t talk about the other girl to you. This makes you feel anxious and torn. You don’t want to feel like you have to choose between them, nor would it be remotely fair if you had to. These boundaries are crucial because when one girl starts talking, you might be tempted to join in with her and agree because you don’t want her mad at you – except then you’re saying stuff that could come back to haunt you and get you in your own friend divorce. Um, no.
3. You have the right to have your feelings respected. I suggest you tell each girl that you feel hurt when she makes you feel bad for hanging out with the other friend. Say something like, “I feel hurt (or pressured, or anxious, or worried) when you tell me that I shouldn’t be hanging out with Sarah.” Expressing how you feel may help her see that what she’s doing to you isn’t fair to any of you.
If all else fails, you may want to give Mommy and Mommy some space. I’m guessing they’re not super fun to be around if they’re constantly trashing each other. It might be a good time to branch out and try hanging out with other people. If anything, it might send your warring exes a clear message.