After a falling out, one friend’s brother continues to have a relationship with her ex-friend. When the friend is upset by this, her daughter asks what to do about it.
Dear Friendship Doctor,
My mom has had a best friend for about 40 years. They did everything together. She was even in the delivery room when I had my daughter. They were very close friends.
Our family rented a house next to theirs for a month in the summer. My mom was very generous letting everyone’s friends stay there and paying for things. My mom sent her friend’s kids on trips overseas.
Three years ago, they had a falling out. The weird thing is that my brother and his family continued to hang out with my mom’s friend. They go to the mountains with her; they go to the beach with her; and my sister-in-law is always sure to let my mom know. It seems she does this to make her jealous and hurt her feelings. And it does hurt her feelings, a lot.
It seems inappropriate for my brother’s family to continue a relationship with this person now that my mom isn’t friends with her. Advice?
It is very painful for anyone to lose a friend after 40 years. In addition, when a long-term friendship like the one your mom had ends, there tends to be collateral damage as well. The venom of the breakup can affect spouses, children, siblings and other friends.
Much like what happens to a couple after a divorce, people at the sidelines of the falling out may feel they have to (or want to) choose sides and line up with one friend or the other. Some are able to negotiate juggling both friendships simultaneously.
Because you are your mother’s daughter and are obviously sensitive to your mom’s feelings, it has to be hard for you to understand why your brother and his wife are still maintaining a relationship with your mom’s ex-friend.
Has your mom told your brother that she feels hurt about this? Although he and his wife are entitled to make their own decisions regarding friendships, they have to realize that by choosing to stay connected with the ex, they may be undermining their relationship with your mom.
My advice would be for you to support your mom and maybe even suggest that she speak to your brother about how she feels. I would refrain from inserting yourself in the crossfire between your mother and your brother. It may further compromise your relationship with your brother and his wife.
Hope this helps.