• Handling Breakups

Two Friends Have A Falling Out That Affects Their Families

Published: December 22, 2016 | Last Updated: December 1, 2021 By | 6 Replies Continue Reading

After a falling out, her 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 after the falling out. Advice? 

Signed, Meg 


Dear Meg, 

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. 

Best, Irene

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Category: HANDLING BREAKUPS, Relationships with ex-friends

Comments (6)

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  1. batphink says:

    This sounds like my own family.My mother is a sucker for punishment and always has to look like the good one no matter what.She gets upset with family, friends and relatives and publicly kisses their backsides.I was raised to think being phony is not a good thing.I try get along with everyone but some people are pure evil,crafty and two faced thriving on non stop gossip and drama,sorry that is a fact. I leave people like this for the sake of my mental health.
    My mother always praises those who ‘work so hard’ she thinks everyone works hard,when in fact some of her friends are corrupt or have an advantage in ermm ‘fraternities’ and she always like to rub that into my face as I still struggle to leave here and get back to work though ill but slowly recovering.She also goes out of the way to embarrass me to others. In essence though I have been loyal to my family and parents they are NOT loyal or respectful of me. I pray the New Year finds me healthy and wealthy to leave my parents once again and move far from my drama queen family members. Like above she is friends with my EX girlfriends can you believe that?

  2. Deidre says:

    Yes the issue is that sister in law rubs it in your mother’s face which is insensitive and unnecessary.
    Perhaps talk to your uncle about this. Advise respect their right to remain friends but could he intervene to get his wife to not say anything about their catch ups.

  3. Irene (the other one) :) says:

    I too hit on the note that your sister-in-law makes sure your mother knows that they are still friends/have met etc. Could it be your sister-in-law who has caused this break-up? Perhaps she was jealous of the close friendship your mother had with this person (?). She may have told your mother’s friend a lie to gain this friendship – like “you know….xyz said this about you, but I don’t believe it, and I don’t think she can be much of a friend if she thinks or said that about you.” I’ve known many friendships fall apart on the back of a lie. Just watch out. It might be worth asking this friend why she suddenly broke off the friendship – had she been offended in some way, or is there some other reason?

  4. Sandra says:

    This is definitely a sticky situation. No wonder your mother is hurt. On the other hand, since her “ex best friend” was also a close family friend for 40 years, I can understand why your brother and his family would remain close to her. Forty years of friendship is a long time.

    At the same time, since we don’t know what happened between your mother and her friend, it’s hard to go much further with this.

    But the thing that is fueling the problem is linked to what you wrote here: “My sister-in-law is always sure to let my mom know” when they get together. Why does your sister-in-law feel it’s necessary to let your mom know that they are still hanging out with her friend?

    I am not sure what would be the best way to support your mom on this issue. Except that she is your mother and you need to keep the peace within your family. You cannot control your brother’s choice in friendship — but I would definitely ask him and your sister-in-law to refrain from mentioning their get-togethers with her ex best friend. The fact that they keep bringing it up isn’t healthy and it’s not doing anyone any good.

  5. Amy F says:

    Your mom had the falling out with her friend, not your brother. I think he’s wise to observe the boundaries between his friendships and your mother’s instead of falling into a Hatfields and McCoy scenario. Similarly, I think it’s not your call or business whom he decides to befriend, because that crosses a boundary between his friendships and yours. You are free to choose to cut ties with your mom’s former friends. Take yourself out of the middle. Support your mother about the end of her friendship, but don’t fuel negativity about other relationships.

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