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Taking sides when friends split


Q. My best friend and her partner just broke up and I’m doing my best to not take sides, but it’s difficult. I probably know more than I should and although I want to be supportive, I’m pretty disgusted by my friend’s behavior. She wasn’t really fooling around, but she got caught up in a flirtation that split them up. Now I don’t know what to say to her when she whines about the breakup. I feel like it was her fault. What’s good ex-etiquette?

A. The rules of good ex-etiquette don’t only apply to those who have broken up, but also those who have to deal with a friend or relative who has broken up. Knowing this, I’d say watch it, especially if you think they will work through their issues. If you have called out your friend or badmouthed someone, and they get back together, guess who will be regarded as the bad guy? And it will be difficult to get back to normal if you have obviously taken sides.

Here’s the big question: You said you think the breakup was her fault. Was her behavior so out of character that you no longer want to be her friend? Or is it something you can overlook? Sounds like you don’t respect how she acted. Is that something you want to explore with her? Or do you want to regard it as a learning experience and just move on?

These are questions you must ask yourself. Good ex-etiquette Rule No. 8, “Be honest and straightforward,” suggests honesty is the best policy, but tact and timing are also important if you want the relationship to comfortably continue. Rather than cast judgment, remember that none of us really knows what goes on behind closed doors. You may think you know the whole story, but you may not. A friend listens first and then helps their friend look for solutions using better judgment. So, begin by lending an ear.

Of course, you could ghost her. Don’t say a word and ignore her from this point on. But if she is truly someone you want to continue to hang out with, a conversation will probably be necessary for your friendship to continue.

Dr. Jann Blackstone is the author of “Ex-etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After Divorce or Separation,” and the founder of Bonus Families, /Tribune News Service



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