When your good friend becomes close with an unfavorable friend
August 1, 2016 8:08 PM   Subscribe

So, I have friends who run fitness programs and help many people. I introduced a "friend" who I met through work but distanced myself from her because she's racist. She says pretty shitty things about black people but once she knows what you're into, she panders. I don't trust her and don't feel emotionally safe.

I told my pals my feelings about her. But I invited them to dinner with me and my racist acquaintance cause I couldn't stand being alone with to hear her rants. I used them as a buffer for us. Now, I'm regretting it. She's part of their whole fitness thing and talks to my friends all the time while I get lukewarm responses from one of them (particularly the wife, she even defends her when it comes to fitness). I've been friends with this couple and their fam for years, and it's not cool to prioritize someone else over our friendship especially when they have twisted ideas of people, imo. How can I approach this situation without making it seem like I'm just hating? There's a legit reason why I feel this way and they (mainly the wife) is eating it up.
posted by InterestedInKnowing to Human Relations (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm sorry, but it sounds like you introduced your racist fitness-loving acquaintance to your racist fitness-loving good friends. They have connected over a common interest & don't share your opinions. In fact, they may even agree with hers. That sucks, but I think you just need to let this play out & see if your friends come back around to you or whether you should have moved past them long ago. It sounds like there's a lot of history there, but sometimes we outgrow our friends. Currently, they are choosing her over you. I'd give it some time & space & see what happens. When/if they tire of her & come back around to you, you can either be gracious about it & give it another go or not make time for them. It's entirely up to you.

As for your racist acquaintance, why are you trying to maintain a social relationship with her? I understand how difficult it can be to extricate yourself from work-based friendships, but you can just go with the slow fade as long as you're cordial and profession at work. If you end up at social events together, remain cordial but quickly divert your attention to other people.

I'm sorry, this really is a bummer all around, but if these are friends worth keeping, they will return to you. Good luck!
posted by katemcd at 8:25 PM on August 1, 2016 [9 favorites]

Here's the kicker... They are very liberal and a mixed couple. One is white and the other black. Very pro BLM and grew up with the same affection for black cultures. The acquaintance is good at switching her views according to what she thinks people want to hear. So, she would never talk about her my friend's hubby the way she'd talk about black people to me. As much as I correct her and remind her my family is black. But it's the fitness that binds them, whereas I'm on the outside looking in. I think you're right about giving them space. Good points!
posted by InterestedInKnowing at 10:07 PM on August 1, 2016

Are you concerned they are being fooled by a secret racist, or are you feeling hurt and left out? In either case, you're going to have to admit you used them to create a buffer between yourself and a racist coworker, which is a pretty awful thing to have done, really, and had better come with an apology.

Anyhow, answering your direct question:

Once your apology is over, you can say: "I feel even more stupid and awful about having done this to you because I'm really afraid Polly is not what she appears to be. I didn't really think that you might have so much in common in terms of fitness or else I really never would have introduced you. And I know I can't stop you from liking her or doing fitnessactivity with her but I really think you ought to know what I think. Polly and I used to be closer, but on a number of occasions she has shared racist views with me (cite example). It may be that I've misunderstood her and you know her better, but since you and Pete and I have been friends for years I really didn't feel good about not sharing this with you. This will be the last thing I have to say about it, and again I'm really sorry!"

But-- honestly-- what is the outcome you want? If I were you, I would probably just sit on my hands and accept that I caused the situation and trust my friends.
posted by frumiousb at 2:11 AM on August 2, 2016 [5 favorites]

Yeah, i'm getting a sense you're feeling left out too which is perfectly fine. I sort of dislike introducing people to each other for this reason. Yes it's petty. I still do it but I feel stabbed in the stomach knowing of their temporary, honeymoon-like joy. It's like a death. It will be short-lived however because her racist feelings will come out in the end. You can't hide that shit. She will say something fucked up then try to bury it but it will be like trying to bury a hippo in the sand. I would sit back with a bag of popcorn and wait for the shit to hit the fan (put up an umbrella). Don't get involved. In the meantime, find other people to get excited about.
posted by ihaveyourfoot at 5:05 AM on August 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Unfortunately, as you have found out, you don't 'own' your friends. Let it go; someday when they find out the truth, you'll get your friends back. In the future, do not introduce nasty people to your friends.
posted by moiraine at 5:06 AM on August 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

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