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Is it disloyal to talk to a friend’s enemy?

January 2, 2013 | By | 10 Replies Continue Reading
A reader asks where to draw the line between being a loyal or disloyal friend?

QUESTION

Hi Irene,

I pride myself in being a loyal, good friend. However, recently I have run into a problem. I don’t know how to handle myself in the company of people that my close friends consider their “enemies.”

In some social situations, I have felt awkward with people who I know have offended or no longer speak to a particularly close friend of mine. Often these so-called “enemies” of my friends are people that I know and like, and whom I have no problem with.

Yet, if my friend sees me talking to one of these people at a party or hears I have been with that person in a group situation, I can tell they feel hurt and betrayed by me. I have at least eight to ten people I consider my close friends so where should I draw the line?

Everyone has a little drama with someone, and if I avoided all of my friends’ enemies, I would be walking on eggshells wherever I went! These enemies include ex-husbands and boyfriends. Is it disloyal to say hello to them?

I recently said hello to the daughter of a close friends ex-boyfriend at a wedding. I said hello to the girl in passing, and since I had nothing to really say to her, I asked how her father was, and told her to send him my regards! I told my friend the next day that I saw the girl and what I said, and she is no longer speaking to me! I thought it was harmless party talk but she said I betrayed her. I probably should not have repeated it to my friend but it was innocent and I was shocked at her reaction. I apologized but she won’t speak to me.

Another friend’s son was accused of bullying someone at school and a large group of moms have ignored and avoided my close friend because of the incident involving her son. An old friend of mine is the aunt of the victim and we are still in touch, my close friend gets upset whenever I see her or speak to her. The list goes on and on. Where do you draw the line? Do we fight our friend’s battles?

Signed,  Allie

ANSWER

Hi Allie,

Each of the situations you described sounds pretty innocent to me. There is no blanket answer to your question. Rather, what constitutes loyalty and appropriate behavior depends on a number of factors:

1) Why your friend sees the person as an enemy

If something extreme or very heinous was done to your friend, you could understand how he/she might feel hurt to think you would befriend the “enemy.” For example, if the other person threatened your friend, he/she might feel like you should have nothing to do with that person.

2) When the rift occurred:

If your friend just got divorced from her husband, you could predict that it might still be raw and hurtful to think you were maintaining a close relationship with her ex.

3) The context of the meeting:

Having a date or private tete-a-tete with an “enemy” is very different than innocently bumping into that person in a social situation—for example, at a party or wedding.

4) The nature of the interaction:

If you discuss your friend’s personal business with the enemy, it’s natural this would be seen as disloyal.

I guess the guiding principal would be that although your friend has an enemy, that individual doesn’t have to be your enemy. It’s not disloyal to remain a friend or acquaintance of the “enemy,” per se, unless it’s insensitive because of one or more other factors like those described above.

It is surprising that you run into this problem so often. Perhaps your friends are very sensitive or they are misreading your intent. If the latter is the case, and you are close friends, you should explain that your relationship with the “enemy” doesn’t negate the close bond you share with your friend.

Hope this helps.

My best,  Irene

 

Disloyal, loyalty, friend, friendship, friendship advice, loyal

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Category: KEEPING FRIENDS

Comments (10)

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  1. Val says:

    I have a situation like this. I am divorced and my ex started dating a friend of mine. This friend has a daughter my daughters age. They were on the same sports teams which included travel. As you could imagine, it was a rough go for me. Now fast forward and the woman has shown her true colors to a few of us creating drama for my daughter and some other friends. She and my ex just broke up after a rocky road. Well I got her into my women’s group before all this happened–it is a small group of women. I was making the best of it, even though it was so uncomfortable, until the drama happened. Many of the women in my group were worried, as other things were preventing me from going a few times, that I was staying away due to the situation. I said I wasn’t, been then when the drama started in, I found that I just couldn’t make the best of it anymore and would they mind if I took her off the list. Then I asked my now ex-friend to respect me and bow out.

    All was well until she started putting feelers out there and saying to some friends that she couldn’t believe we hadn’t been meeting. When she knew we were. Now my friends are concerned that socially they will feel bad because the woman hasn’t done anything to them. They feel bad because they know she hurt me, but they have to still see her at social events. I think I would call the ex-friend out if they were doing that to someone else in the group and say hey, why don’t you bow out for a while until time has passed. It’s not cool to date an ex-husband in the circle of friends. She also created drama with another members daughter. The coach even warned my ex-husband as to what he is getting into from his dealings with her. He didn’t listen to the warning.

    At the same time my closest friend, instead of empathizing says I just have to suck it up and said she was glad when they put her back on this list. Now everyone will feel better, our group will still go on and I won’t feel back for causing distress to others and making the group end. (she is not in this group) I am now wondering how good of friends they are or are they just a little passive and don’t want to make waves.

    Torn, confused and more than a little hurt. I am very loyal to my friends and it is just not how I would handle situations. Would love if anyone could shed some light on this. Would help me to feel better.

    Thanks!

  2. Annie says:

    What should I do if my best friend is friends with a girl that bullies me and my friends mostly her once bff I am really mad at her and I do not know what to do

  3. Kristen says:

    I have a friend who is friends with an enemy of mine. I have told her everything about this girl and what she did to me, her mother, and her brother (my boyfriend), yet, she still wants to be friends with her. She bows out of conversations with me when this girl comes up. I think it’s being disloyal. Needless to say, this girl has moved down my ranks to “acquaintance” at BEST! Screw her.

  4. Alicia says:

    WHAT about when you have an actual enemy? Somebody you have fought several times. Somebody that has lied on you and tries to get other persons to not like you. You dont like them and they dont like you. It’s no secret.
    AND…you talk about all your problems that derive from this person to your supposed friend. For years you exhale to this person. Then you find out your supposed friend has been talkin about you, in a negative way, to your exact enemy. Then your friend swears to God they never did it, but you got the proof from an EXTREMELY solid source.
    This happened to me. I don’t look at my friend as a friend any more. We were friends 38yrs down the drain.

    • Leslie Kay English says:

      Alicia, I was so hoping someone with great wisdom had responded to your situation. Because my situation ( in a nutshell ) is very much like yours. There is no question in my mind that the “enemy” ( I really don’t like that word, but for lack of a better way to say it, I used it )in my situation is 100% toxic to all that are around her. She has proved it over and over again. And though we all collectively agree with that statement, there are a few friends that “tolerate” her behavior. Even fell sorry for her when she acts out unprovoked and attacks people. Saying things like “she must really not like herself.” Meanwhile, I am a “baby” when I speak about it. I am so close to walking away from every single one of them. It is totally absurd. So if you have any answers or get any please send them my way. I feel your pain!

  5. Mel says:

    I was friends with a couple who are having an affair with each other. They turned on me, infact the girl actually physically attacked me and her boyfriend tried to run me and my kids off the road. My so called best freind who btw HATED this couple before all this has now all the sudden become friends with them. When I told her it wasn’t very cool of her to do that and how hurtful it was she told me to go F myself and lose her number she can be friends with whom ever she wants.
    Now to me that IS VERY DISLOYAL and definitely falls into your categories above. I am beyond hurt. I cant wait till this couple turns on her too.
    Friends Be loyal to your friends.

  6. stan says:

    What should you do if your children are staying friends with ex-friends who ended the friendship in a very hurtful way

  7. Alexis says:

    I thought my best friend would never turn on me cuz we promised but she did and now she is friends withe the person we didn’t like. Now I found out she is my cousin and she still doesn’t talk to me cuz she doesn’t know yet. I feel really bad because I think everyone is gonna turn on me soon. But truth is I am jealous of her.

  8. E says:

    I’ve been in a similar situation where two of my best friends were dating each other. From day one, I set the record straight with both that I loved them and while they were dating, or if anything went wrong between them, that I would not take sides either way. Throughout their relationship, I managed to stay out of their squabbles while talking to both separately and providing insight when I could. One thing I would never do though was to share what the other had said. There was no way I was getting in-between two close friends who were dating.

    Even after they broke up, I remained friends with both. What I credit them for was that no matter how much either didn’t like the idea of me being friends with the other after the breakup, they respected my decision and dealt with the fact I was going to remain friends with both parties.

    My point…if you have “friends” who will stop talking to you just because you’re talking to someone they don’t like, and giving there aren’t extreme circumstances involved, I would have to question the value of the friendship in the first place.

  9. anon says:

    Allie I totally feel your situation, my ex-bestfriend (Sadly I had to “dump” her a month ago and that’s how I came across this website) was always having some type of trouble with all kinds of people, because of her issues and personality she sees everything and everybody black or white, so those that were (according to her)not on her side or did not have any use for her, were automatically placed in the black-enemies list, which always kept growing and growing. As her best friend ( I am a gay male), I was “supposed” to treat these people as enemies, not only they were not enemies since i did not agree with 99.99 % of my friend’s judgments on others, but some were for me beneficial for my life, my social life, and my business. It got to a point where I was afraid to say hi to most people at the gym just because they were placed in her “enemies” list, the day I confronted her and told her that I was not going to continue supporting her in all her personal fights and dramas, is the same day our friendship had to come to an end. My advice is let people carry their own sands of bags, specially when they do so by choice. My ex-friend is addicted to drama and conflict and I was paying the price of all her personal “wars”. I do miss her a lot but my life has never been more peaceful, also since I am not around her anymore I am surprised how many doors me standing by her were getting closed in my life.

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