When a friendship breakup spills over to family

Published: July 18, 2011 | Last Updated: July 18, 2011 By | 4 Replies Continue Reading

Two friends split and the tension spills over to their husbands and children



Hi Irene,

My ex-BFF and I had a recent falling out a few months back after a close seven-year friendship. Not only did we become good friends, so did our husbands, kids and extended families. We did a lot of activities together as couples and families.

Now that the friendship between her and me has come to an end, I’m struggling with the fact that my husband remains friends with her. He will occasionally get together with her husband and watch a movie at her house or will chat with her at sports activities and they are both involved in the same community programs.

I question his loyalty but I know that we are not in high school and I’m trying to stay positive and mature about the whole thing. The falling out was between her and me; my husband wasn’t directly involved.

I would expect the husbands to remain friendly, but it all just seems to be too much. My husband has made it clear that he does not talk to her about our falling out and really does prefer to stay out of it. The adult side of me understands this and wants to remain understanding and mature. The child in me wants her to have nothing to do with my family.

Why should she still get the benefit of my family when our friendship is now over? How should I handle this?




Hi Susan,

When two people break up, whether it’s a marriage or a friendship, the tension often spills over to the people around them. This is what has happened with you and your friend. It’s not just you and your ex-friend who were affected—but your family and her family were casualties as well.

Given that your husband and children have close ties to this other family, I think you should try to make this situation as comfortable as possible for them. I realize that this might feel awkward, especially if your husband’s visits to your ex’s house are frequent or excessive.

If you would feel more comfortable with her husband coming to your house, you might suggest this to your husband as an alternative. If the visits between the families since the breakup have all been in one direction, perhaps it’s because your husband’s been trying to be sensitive to your feelings and is trying to spare you from having to face the other family. It’s worth discussing with him.

I think you need to reframe the situation so it’s not "she," your ex-friend, who is getting the benefit of her family but rather your family who is getting the benefit of their own ties to the other family. Also, remember that your ex- is probably just as uncomfortable as you are.

Does this help at all? There isn’t any simple solution to this problem but, hopefully, the passage of time will make the situation less tense.

My best,

Other posts on The Friendship Blog about the collateral damage of a friendship breakup:

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Category: Uncategorized

Comments (4)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    I have a somewhat similar situation. My friend of 20+ years and I are no longer speaking. She has clearly been my BFF, but she did graduate high school with my brother. I would not consider them especially close…she was not invited to his wedding nor has she attended important family functions.

    However, unaware of our fallout, he invites her to his birthday party. I initially had no problem with her attending the event when his wife (who knew my BFF & I weren’t on good terms), asked if we had made up yet. My response was, “No, but if he really wants her to attend, I am okay with it.” Her response, “No…I’m in charge of the guest list.” During party planning, my sister-in-law and I had a slight misunderstanding and shortly thereafter she sends me a text saying, “FYI-your ex-BFF is attending…your brother couldn’t NOT invite her…”

    Really?!? Long story short, he had already extended the invitation before knowing we were no longer speaking. Not a problem. My ex BFF attends the party. We are of course cordial. I could be nothing less..she has pissed me off royally, but it doesn’t negate the good times.

    Well, my brother and I have a hear-to-heart and so do my sis-in-law and I. A couple of days later, my sister-in-law is on Facebook thanking my ex-BFF for attending the party and asking (in my biased opinion FISHING for an invite) her about her birthday plans. Mind you, my S-I-L has only met and been in the company of my ex-BFF on 3 occasions, tops.

    Apparently, my brother and S-I-L are invited to my exBFF’s birthday party (and I’m not …which I find tacky…but cool because we aren’t on good terms). My S-I-L texts me the Sunday after the party inquiring about my weekend. I ask about hers and she intentionally leaves out that she attended the party. My BFF and I have other mutual friends and I hear that my brother and his wife attended the party. My brother NEVER mentions going either.

    At a family gathering, another family friend mentions having met my S-I-L at my exBFF’s party. The expression on her face was hilarious…BUSTED!! I knew months ago, but never brought it up. It did make me question my brother and SIL’s loyalty and what kind of relationship we really had.

    I have been distant with my SIL (and with my brother somewhat, too). A few days ago she asked why. It was a culmination of things. But their attendance to the party didn’t help. It was more than their attendance to the party… was their not being forthright. It felt dishonest. In addition, I have the impression that my SIL likes to be amongst a certain clique, which my BFF probably represents to her.

    I guess for me there is a feeling of betrayal. If they already had strong ties or a close friendship prior to our fallout, I could better understand. But I’m baffled by their behavior?

    Am I wrong to think this way? Is there another perspective that I just can’t see?

  2. anonym says:

    You’ve made some very poignant remarks that all of us, who’ve broken up with a good friend (or been dumped by a good friend) can related to. How true it is that most friendships are not cut-and-dry and that most boundaries aren’t clear. If only they were…if only…

  3. lacole says:

    It sounds more to me that she is just trying to understand how to handle all the “uncomfortable” feelings associated with this. The letter doesnt say she didnt want her husband being friends with anyone in the family, just how to move forward and handle it the best she can. I have been there, and it can get dicey. You know there will always be fall out far beyond just the friends and that extended family and other friends are affected. You need to keep a level head about it all, even though inside and secretly, you just wish it would all go away. It would be so much easier if friendship break-ups were cut and dry, say one does something blatantly awful to the other, then its easier to walk away and there are no gray lines, but most friendships fad over time or the break up is slow, painful and boundries arent clear…this makes it more difficult for everyone involved to understand where they now fit in…

  4. tallgirl1000 says:

    I am glad that you told her to be more reasonable. Wanting him to back her up means that she believes that she can control other people’s behavior and that everyone should think as she does. This is often a very self centered view. Given a friendship breaks up and that can be painful, and it is normal to want your family to back you up, the bottom line is that unless there is a direct reason for them not to remained involved, this person should get comfortable with them spending time together. In addition, she may want to reassess about why the friendship ended in the first place? What what happened so egregious? Maybe, maybe not.

Leave a Reply