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

January 2, 2013 | By | 4 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 (4)

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  1. stan says:

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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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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