How do I deal with a good friend picking the ex over me?
December 23, 2009 7:35 PM   Subscribe

Non-mutual, unexpected break-up. Two months later, still working on getting over it. Bigger issue: Our mutual friend and their now-thriving friendship.

(Sorry if this is long...)
I met ex through our mutual friend, a friend who was MUCH more mine than his. (She told him if he ever messed it up, she was on my side.) Post-break up, I'm having a rough time, and I have confided in her multiple times. After sensing some hesitation and awkwardness from her about it, I stopped contacting her. She, in two weeks, did not reach out to me at all.

She and my ex still interact regularly and publicly on facebook. I’ve had to hide her, because he comments so frequently. And the first and only picture she’s ever put up of him was after our break up (and prompted this question). She and I have gotten together socially once recently with another friend to exchange Christmas gifts, and have had one very superficial conversation since.

The ex was not a “bad guy” but it was a relationship that was going in a serious direction. He very unexpectedly bailed and then got involved with someone else a few weeks after, and I am still very hurt. He and I are “no contact” and were together for almost a year. (He’s 24, I’m 25.)

I know I can’t ask her to stop being friends with him, but I’m not sure what to do. She has been a pretty good friend of mine, but this situation doesn't sit well with me. Should I just cut off contact for now? Should I pretend everything is ok? Do I talk to her about it? What do I even say?
posted by inmediasres to Human Relations (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'd cut off contact and wait for her, knowing it may never happen. And that one day, you may learn of the impending nuptials of the two of them. It sounds like they're flirting, and she's sided with him. Sorry.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 7:38 PM on December 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


You can't own your friends. Decide what's going to make you happier--spending time with her when you can, enjoying your friendship with her--or enforcing the fact that she's YOUR friend and ONLY your friend.
posted by kathrineg at 7:45 PM on December 23, 2009


(Sorry if this is long...)

As these things go, totally not long. Well done.

I know I can’t ask her to stop being friends with him, but I’m not sure what to do. She has been a pretty good friend of mine, but this situation doesn't sit well with me. Should I just cut off contact for now? Should I pretend everything is ok? Do I talk to her about it? What do I even say?

She's not doing anything wrong; it's simply possible she got closer to him over the course of the year. He's not doing anything wrong; he's communicating with his friend. You're not doing anything wrong; you're feeling hurt and betrayed by both of them and need some time to get over it.

Personally, I would assume that even if she is "on [your] side", she's enough of a friend to him that she doesn't want to become your post-breakup confidant. I certainly wouldn't want to be in that position, where I have to go "mm hmm, mm hmm" to each bad thing you say about each other, when I'm really fond of both of you.

Find a confidant that isn't his friend, do whatever it takes to heal, and the next few times you talk to her (after you've healed a bit) make sure you're talking about things other than him, or your relationship. That includes pretending you don't care by saying things like "so I hear so-and-so is dating so-and-so now, isn't that nice" -- just don't put her in that position.

Mind you, that doesn't mean you two can still be friends -- it's possible she's grown closer to him and further from you over the last year, just because that's what happens with friendships over time -- but at least you won't be putting her in the awkward position of wanting to defend him while also wanting to support your need to vent.
posted by davejay at 7:47 PM on December 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Whoops, let me clarify:

That includes pretending you don't care by saying things like "so I hear so-and-so is dating so-and-so now, isn't that nice" -- just don't put her in that position.

I phrased this badly; I meant that this is ALSO SOMETHING YOU SHOULD NOT DO. Just avoid the subject of him entirely unless she brings him up.
posted by davejay at 7:49 PM on December 23, 2009


It's a tough situation, but whether it's worth dealing with feeling icky about her friendship with him depends on how important her friendship is to you. As an objective outsider, I'll note that given that he messages her all the time, and you make no contact with her whatsoever - it's not really reasonable for you to get peevish that she's paying more attention to him than to you.
posted by moxiedoll at 7:49 PM on December 23, 2009


I might recommend cutting off contact. (Mainly because several of the things you said remind me of the time when a friend of mine started dating the ex who had just dumped me.) Even if they are not dating right this second, it kinda sounds like she's leaning on "his side" for now.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:45 PM on December 23, 2009


Nobody is doing anything wrong, but you're human, hurt feelings are normal. Let it lie and revisit your friendship with her in a month or two, with the knowledge that things may not pick up the way they were.
posted by gaspode at 9:15 PM on December 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


She's not technically doing anything "wrong", but she's also not really being cool to you. Confronting her is pointless, because she's not breaking any real social rules (just unofficial, highly debatable ones), so I ditto the advice to cut off contact with her, at least for awhile.

Spend your time with people who make you feel good, especially when you are going through a crappy time in your life ... don't waste your time on "friends" like this chick.
posted by tastybrains at 9:55 PM on December 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you sever contact with her you've lost a boyfriend and a good friend. He doesn't really seem worth that.

They may be flirting. They may be nothing more than friends. Ask her. Once you know what's going on, you'll have enough information to make a decision.
posted by 26.2 at 10:58 PM on December 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


The mistake you're making is believing that Facebook is life. It's not. Interacting a lot on Facebook means next to dick-all as far as the actual closeness two people have; like any social-networking tool, it's useful for keeping track of people, but it's no way to know what people are thinking or feeling at any given moment no matter how much they update their status.

Talk to your friend. Go get coffee or something with her, sit down and have a conversation, and honestly tell her how you feel. Say what you said to us: "it's no big deal, but I'm still pretty hurt. Leaving me in the lurch like that was an asshole thing to do. I'm kind of trying to sort all that out, anyway; it felt pretty serious to me."

Base your beliefs about how she feels toward him on what she says to you and the impression you get of her body language. The worst thing that can happen? She'll mumble a little and say, "uh... well, yeah... I'm sure he didn't mean to hurt you... he's not really that bad a guy, it's just the relationship wasn't working..." and you'll know that your suspicion was right, and you can politely finish the conversation, walk away, and "forget" to call her or talk to her for a good while. But you know what? It's just as likely that she'll say "holy crap, I know what you mean - what a jerk! He keeps commenting my photos and stuff on Facebook, and I'd feel bad not replying, but my God, I wish he'd just leave me alone." Or: "Jesus, I'm so sorry - I had no idea it happened like that." Who knows?

Seriously, I've had active, bubbling, chatty back-and-forths with people on Facebook who I couldn't stand to talk to in real life.
posted by koeselitz at 11:35 PM on December 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


And after all - how could she even know how much the breakup hurt you? It doesn't sound like you've had a chance to tell her, anyhow. It sounds like it was traumatic and pretty unfair on several levels, but she's on the outside - is it fair to assume that she knows exactly what happened and how you feel about it?
posted by koeselitz at 11:41 PM on December 23, 2009


It's sounding like she's already made this choice for you. But, I do think it's a good idea to confirm whether there's been as much IRL contact as there is on FB.

I think that you'll feel better if you don't talk to her, and focus on the other people who you're friends with.
posted by Citrus at 7:17 AM on December 24, 2009


I know I can’t ask her to stop being friends with him, but I’m not sure what to do. She has been a pretty good friend of mine, but this situation doesn't sit well with me. Should I just cut off contact for now? Should I pretend everything is ok? Do I talk to her about it? What do I even say?

You'd be surprised just how bad people are managing situations like this. Don't feel like you are exceptional in this regard.

Write down what exactly she is doing that upsets you. Figure out what your role is in it, and try to be accepting of your role as possible, i.e. see where you could be more charitable in your thinking. Find out in what regards you might be thinking unfairly or expecting something unreasonable, etc.

Then figure out what your friend's role is in it, and if there really is something that she is doing that is causing you emotional pain, just call her and tell her "when you do x, it hurts my feelings and i just wanted to let you know."

Notice how you are not taking control of the situation or telling anyone to do anything. Unfortunately, we can't control other people. But in situations like this we often forget to report our emotional well-being to other people, even our friends, and that's how relationships become compromised. Essentially by unspoken resentment.

A tip - I have found that when I honestly tell another person how I feel without attaching some kind of proscriptive command to it, the other person almost immediately becomes combative or goes into denial or starts pointing out your character flaws, because it sounds like you are accusing them of doing something wrong. But "this too shall pass" - you're not actually telling anyone to do anything, or assigning any blame, so do not get emotionally attached to any immediate response from the other person. Have some faith, they will come around - just repeat that "this is just how I feel and I just wanted to let you know."

Think about it. Hopefully the way I wrote this makes some sense and opens you up to some new possibilities.
posted by phaedon at 8:15 AM on December 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks everyone for all your input. A few clarifications: She does (or did) know how much the break-up had affected me, we did talk about it a bit. I cut off contact with her after noticing that for several weeks I was the only one making conversational effort. I didn't really avoid her so much as I didn't reach out.

I haven't picked a best answer yet; going away for a few days and I hope to clear my head in the process.
posted by inmediasres at 4:41 PM on December 25, 2009


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