Friend Telling me to Get Over being around the Person my Ex Cheated with
February 27, 2021 12:02 AM   Subscribe

Need advice on whether I am the asshole here: TL;DR: A friend slept with my boyfriend on a group trip I was also on, other best friends who were on trip now inviting her and I to events, I feel awkward and sad AF. Am I unreasonable?

Backstory is that on a holiday for our 30ths overseas (remember that!!!) and my partner of 4 yrs at the time and a single good friend of mine (let's call her Jane) also on our trip drunkenly slept together while I was literally upstairs (DrAmAzzZZZ) and it all unraveled really horribly at the end of the trip and I was understandably pretty upset by the situation. I broke it off and I haven't been in contact with the friend since, though she has tried to apologise and say she misses me- it's just too much to deal with and I luckily have many other lovely friends who have found it within themselves to not sleep with my partners. Bless them.

After the trip everyone was pretty upset with Jane, not just because of the sex under my nose, but because she had been extremely rude on the trip, bringing people back then abandoning them (I had to spend a few hours one evening booking and rebooking an unreliable uber for the person they bought back and making small talk), generally getting drunk and being mean, and the sister of Jane (Jane is also the younger sister of one of my friends on the trip too) at the time was seriously thinking of moving interstate to get space from Jane and their toxic relationship. So, she's got some issues, but she was someone I really loved and cared for too.

So fast forward around 1.5 years now, I'm still single (WHICH IS GREAT, 4REALS) and I am still friends with the other girls who were on the trip with me, who I have been friends with for 10+ years.

So initially when I found out, I just sucked it up, even on the last remaining days of the trip, I just tried to get through it, get drunk and have fun so as not to ruin everyone else's holiday. But my underlying feelings have evolved and I don't really wish to be around her if possible. Now in the last 6 or more months they have started inviting me and Jane to events, really small intimate ones. Which I have avoided, missing out on things because Jane is already there. One of them even hired her at her cafe (let's call her Mary), and the invites make me so uncomfortable and I have repeatedly told them how it makes me feel, which they seem to understand yet still maintain a friendship with her. This isn't ideal for me but I also would never ask them to not be her friend or stop contacting her.

My friend Mary told me last night she was planning on inviting her to the big group portion of her bday coming as she 'didn't want to make it awkward by not inviting her'. I kinda broke into tears on the phone, I don't feel like they have made much effort to date to make sure I was ok first, and she was more worried about upsetting Jane than me. I even said to her when she asked what she was supposed to do, that she could explain to Jane that (I am) uncomfortable with you coming and would you be ok with missing this event? And she said she didn't feel as though she should have to do that legwork as it was her bday(!!!!!! ah but of course, the sacredicity of thine birthing day).

I must add at this point that Mary lost her mother a year ago so I totally understand that my relationship grief pales in comparison and obviously my qualms are probably pretty stupid, but they are feelings I can't shake at the moment unfortunately.

I'm exasperated, I feel like I am trying to convince my best friends to make concessions for me. Am I just being fucking crazy though??? Do I have to just get over it?? I would be fine if it was a friend who wasn't one of my best pals inviting me and we were at an event together, and I've done it before, I just have to be hyper aware of where she is at all times and do this weird social group dance avoidance routine (really rather fetching, I tell you).

I do not by any means think Jane is a monster, I think she made a really dumb mistake that I'm sure she regrets and I do really have sympathy for her because I know that I too could possibly make a life shattering decision and it would feel so awful. However I just feel too sad about the whole thing and she brings up memories of how depressed and fucked I felt for 5-6 months (I quit my job prior to the trip but then couldn't find it in myself to find work again after for another 5 months, and was in a pretty dark place).

After some texts Mary basically told me how she thinks Jane has suffered enough (I'm not even sure in what way she has made an effort/sacrifice to give me space at all) and that I should be able to overcome my awkwardness and be in the same room as her, and that I was starting to be unreasonable in my desire to not be there, she added in that she has had a rough year (totally fair) and that Jane (who she decided to hire at her cafe) has been a great support to her and she doesn't want to punish her anymore, she added that she had told Jane that I wouldn't come if she went and that Jane burst into tears and had to be sent home (wow, aren't I the jerk).

I responded that I loved her (Mary) and support her, and that her grief is totally valid but at the moment I'm not able to put myself in that kind of situation that really upsets me, so I would sit out the birthday and that we could do something else special for her bday. I was beyond mad but there wasn't really any other response where I didn't come off like a heartless prick.

I've sat through Mary's wedding and hens with Jane right there, only months after the incident and it was beyond horrible but I sucked it up. I always made jokes about the situation being akin to a C-grade made-for-TV-special because of the ridiculous drama levels, but I am actually deeply hurt by it - it's just my way of dealing with a fucked up situation. I'm worried my levity has been misunderstood for being ok.

SO PLEASE TELL ME, am I unreasonable?? Am I just somehow trying to make Jane be punished through this? Am I just angry and want to take it out on someone? Should I just get over it? Should I just tell them it's fine be friends with Jane, I'm probs out tho?

Anyway, I know this is pretty lame compared to the issues that Mary is facing at the moment. But my friends are really important to me, they are the longest richest relationships I've ever had, I've always put them first in front of any sexual partner so it hits very hard for me.

I'm fortunate in that this is one (my oldest though) of a few great friendship groups I have so they are not my entire friendship support network.

They think I'm over the top and I feel like I'm not being heard at all.

posted by Donna_Martin_Graduates to Human Relations (53 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You are not being unreasonable. This is a common human condition, where people want everyone to be friends, so they assume that because theyve let something go, you can too.

It is utterly legitimate to just never want to sownd time with Jane again, thus forcing your friends to choose between yourself or Jane. That wont be a fun choice, but they should be aware that that is the choice they are making.

Frankly, Mary's grief has nothing to do with it; by inviting jane she is effectively excluding you, and she should know that.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 1:04 AM on February 27, 2021 [35 favorites]

Just to clarify to make sure I understand: You have a circle of friends. One of the women has a younger sister who is also part of the group, and that younger sister slept with your boyfriend a year and a half ago. Your friends have maintained the friendship with both of you and continue to invite both of you to events. One of your friends, who recently lost her mother, wishes to have all of her friends at her birthday event.

Assuming that's right, my take is that while while I sympathize that it's hurtful to you for your friends not to take your "side" and banish their other friend for going against the "code," your friends are actually being Switzerland, being neutral. I feel like your friends are doing the grownup thing.

It's not clear how old any of you are, but this seems like you're all fairly young, at least several decades younger than I am, so understand that I'm coming at this with a depth of perspective. It's not that your friends aren't hearing you; they're hearing you and judging that 18 months after someone slept with someone you were dating, they're not responsible for helping you continue to nurse a grudge.

Jane having sex with your boyfriend was unfair to you, but it wasn't unfair to your friends beyond the drama it created. Among adults, when a member of a couple cheats and a marriage breaks up, if the person who cheated starts a relationship with the cheatee, one of four things happens:

1) the friends take the cheated-upon person's side and abandon the cheater;
2) the friends take the cheater's side because the cheater is now a couple (and the person with whom the cheater cheated becomes part of the group), abandoning the cheated-upon person;
3) everyone goes about their business and leaves it to the cheater and the cheated-upon person to figure out their own arrangements;
4) or, both members of the former couple sort of get abandoned.

The 3rd, most mature, response, when there's no violence or cruelty involved, is to let the former couple get on with things and to stay out of it. That's what your friends are doing.

Yes, I know this isn't about your boyfriend, it's just about Jane, but it's almost the same thing. Jane had sex with your boyfriend, which is tacky, but it was just sex. Your boyfriend and Jane showed a lack of respect for you, but it only diminishes you if you choose to continue to care. Your friends haven't been sinned against; they're trying to preserve calm.

So, in my eyes, you're not unreasonable to be hurt that the woman who slept with your boyfriend keeps showing up in your life, but I think you're being unreasonable to ask or expect your friends to abandon their other friend or to participate in the drama. If you're not past it, it's OK, but after a year and a half, expecting them to change their lives seems unreasonable.

You can not hang out with them for a while (or ever). You can hang out with them only sometimes. You can pick friends who stand would follow Jane around with a bell, shouting "Shame!" You can hang out with them and behave like it's not that big a deal until you realize it's really not. (Trust me, some day you'll be able to look at Jane and feel absolutely nothing, no anger, no resentment. Again, I sympathize that today isn't that day.)

Jane didn't kill your relationship; your boyfriend did that. In my eyes, he's the villain in your story, not Jane. You don't have to like her. But you don't get to decide that your friends can't like her.

Are you being over the top? Unreasonable? Gently, sympathetically, I say yes. If you're still feeling pain, you're feeling pain. I'm not going to tell you whether you should hang with your friends or not (because apparently you live in a world where people are hanging out in person again?), but if you keep communicating that you think they should choose you over Jane instead of being neutral, you're going to lose some of these friendships. They've heard you, and they've made their decisions. It's your turn now.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 1:06 AM on February 27, 2021 [62 favorites]

am I unreasonable?? Am I just somehow trying to make Jane be punished through this? Am I just angry and want to take it out on someone? Should I just get over it? Should I just tell them it's fine be friends with Jane, I'm probs out tho?

IMO, none of the above. Think about boundaries. Asking a friend to boycott another person for an event that happened 18 months ago as a sign of loyalty to you, is a pretty big demand on the friend and their boundaries.

It's not about getting over it, it's about getting through it and coming out the other side. To get there, find a way through your emotions and expectations regarding Jane and your friends without off-loading the boundary-keeping onto them.
posted by Thella at 1:19 AM on February 27, 2021 [15 favorites]

This kind of neutrality is hurtful and amoral. It's akin to gaslighting, and I'm sorry you're going through it.
posted by jwhite1979 at 1:58 AM on February 27, 2021 [55 favorites]

I don't think your feelings are unreasonable, I would like feel the same way you do. This woman betrayed you in a fundamental way and I would not want to be around her, especially in a small intimate setting.

I do think that asking for things like "could explain to Jane that (I am) uncomfortable with you coming and would you be ok with missing this event? " are unreasonable. You can't expect other people to mediate between you and Jane for you, it's just more drama really.

I'm gonna tell you a quick story. A friend of mine A, had a best friend B and a girlfriend G. And B and G got together behind As back and A was, understandably, furious and betrayed. Even more so at his friend than his girlfriend, because damnit friends are supposed to have your back when push comes to shove.

And then A never wanted to be around either of them ever again, especially since they were now dating, and basically said hey, you can be friends with me or them, but not both. I will not be around them. It blew up the friend group, and most people "did not choose sides" which really meant they chose B and Gs side. A lost most of his friends from that group. The group fractured and never really recovered anyway, and everyone drifted apart.

This sounds like a warning tale, but it's not really. A doesn't regret his choice, he has friends he feels he can really trust, and got a lot of space to process without being reminded of the whole mess.

I know you would say, but I'm not asking them to choose, I just don't want to be around her! But that means they do have to choose, like with this birthday party. They have to pick one of you to come to their special events. And Jane is apparently cool with it, so they're going to see you as the source of friction. You are not an asshole, you are not in the wrong to not want to spend time with this woman, but in the end it doesn't matter. You are going to have to accept spending time with her, or you're going to have to commit to only the friends who will choose you, because this situation is not sustainable.
posted by stillnocturnal at 2:55 AM on February 27, 2021 [50 favorites]

she had told Jane that I wouldn't come if she went and that Jane burst into tears and had to be sent home

posted by flabdablet at 3:12 AM on February 27, 2021 [30 favorites]

I think people have worded things above well. But if you want to invite people in your friend group without Jane, I think you are going to need to step up and create your own events. That's a possible thing to do, and will give you time with people you care about without her.
posted by AlexiaSky at 3:19 AM on February 27, 2021 [52 favorites]

It sounds like you repressed your hurt feelings at the time, to keep the trip positive for everyone else. But now that you are finally letting your feelings come up, it is 18 months later and your friends are less patient.

It is unfortunate for you. You are processing your feelings at a time more convenient for everyone. Instead of appreciating it, your friends think you should be over it by now.

I wonder if it would help to be explicit with friends: "I know it has been 18 months but I repressed my feelings at the time and I am going through it now. It probably won't be like this forever."

You may also want to reflect on whether it really was better to repress the feelings at the time. Did it really salvage the vacation? It has had this damaging long legacy. Would your friends say they would've preferred you just exploded at the time and let out your feelings back when it happened?
posted by cheesecake at 3:57 AM on February 27, 2021 [8 favorites]

I've sat through Mary's wedding and hens with Jane right there, only months after the incident and it was beyond horrible but I sucked it up. I always made jokes about the situation being akin to a C-grade made-for-TV-special because of the ridiculous drama levels, but I am actually deeply hurt by it - it's just my way of dealing with a fucked up situation. I'm worried my levity has been misunderstood for being ok.

Yes, probably - but that’s okay, you’re allowed to change how you feel about things/process things later on! The thing is, you have to decide whether you actually really want to go or not go - and you’ve mentioned not going to things in the past so I wonder if you really don’t want to go because of both Jane and Mary and you’re kind of afraid of what this means for your ‘longest richest relationships’? Like romantic relationships, these sometimes have to end as well if you’re not all on the same page in terms of what’s important to you.
posted by heyjude at 4:42 AM on February 27, 2021 [4 favorites]

I find the pandemic is a fine "excuse" for not being places I don't want to be. YMMV.
posted by nkknkk at 4:46 AM on February 27, 2021 [10 favorites]

I was in a similar sort of situation as you described, for several years. It sucks. I had to endure the presence of my "Jane" because of many factors outside of my control, and you know what? Over time, it did get better. The pain and grudge and simmering anger were extinguished in a way that, had I remained alone and more inclined to stoke that fire, would not have been possible.

In hindsight I recognize that I was giving Jane power over how I felt. She effectively controlled my life, to a fairly significant extent, because everything revolved around her presence across my social (and work) landscape. She was part of a work circle also, so everything became about the huge mental churn of "should I go? will she be there?" It was exhausting and crushing.

I just decided to take that power back. I can't really advise on how that happened; in retrospect, all I remember is the removal of the anxiety cloud, and the resulting life-improvement. For whatever reason, I was ready to decide and make it happen. I wish I had more to offer about that step of the process. But anyway- it happened, Jane receded to the background where she belonged.

And now, many more years later, I kind of regret every moment of the grudge-holding period because it made some great years kind of miserable in a way that I look back on with a lot of sadness. In the moment, it Felt So Important and yes- self-worth matters. But I also believe that the pain of the betrayal, and how deeply hurt I was, and how dismissed I felt, and how disrespected I felt, said more about the state of my own psyche at the time. My own self-esteem was keeping me down.

From a certain point onward, it stopped being about the specific betrayal incident and started being about my belief that I was Suffering and Hard Done by, and no one cared. The original pain was compounded every time my friends appeared to further disregard me by refusing to ostracize my "Jane" in the manner I required. I was doing this to myself.

This is why the comment above is gold- It's not about getting over it, it's about getting through it and coming out the other side. To get there, find a way through your emotions and expectations regarding Jane and your friends without off-loading the boundary-keeping onto them.

I suppose this is an encapsulation of what happened for me. I got through it and took back my power and learned a valuable life lesson that perhaps is not possible to learn any other way. Wishing you the best and hope that you're able to get to the place you want to be.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 5:07 AM on February 27, 2021 [30 favorites]

You have every right to feel sad and awkward and choose to skip or leave events that Jane attends. But it's not reasonable for you to expect your friends to shun Jane forever because of one drunken hookup with some jerk who decided to cheat on you.

I understand that you're hurt because at some level you want them to be viciously loyal to you. But from their perspective, they are also maintaining loyalty to a friend who messed up. You want people like that in your life too, because sometimes you're going to do kinda crappy things too.

Are you interested in talking to Jane about the situation? It's possible that telling her how you feel might help you get through this. It sounds like it's possible you've acted like things are okay up until now, and making your feelings clear may be cathartic.

(Also, if you do decide to attend events she's at, you don't have to pretend you like her.)

Start planning events where you only invite the people you want to see. Stop going to things you won't enjoy. Expand your social circle so you have more invitations to things you WILL enjoy. Arrange your life so Jane is on the margins of it rather than an outsized part of it.
posted by metasarah at 5:49 AM on February 27, 2021 [19 favorites]

I don't really have a group of friends, but if I did, and if I slept with one of their partners, I'd accept losing access to that group of friends. At 41, I now know it doesn't work that way in our culture. And that's why I don't have or want a group of friends.
posted by jwhite1979 at 5:58 AM on February 27, 2021 [25 favorites]

If you don't want to be around Jane, don't, but asking your friends to avoid Jane is not fair.

I understand feeling hurt and upset, and don't think I'd ever be good friends again with someone who did this, but it is time to move on.

Jane was not the loyal friend you would have liked, but your ex boyfriend is the one who betrayed you. What she did was not cool, but she is free to get drunk and sleep with whoever she wants. For her, it was a drunken shag on a party vacation which she evidently regretted. Calling it a "life shattering" decision gives it way more power and significance than seems applicable. She doesn't, apparently, have a pattern of sleeping with other people's partners.

Feeling awkward is not reason enough to avoid going to places you'd otherwise go to. If you are truly suffering, I think it is more about your relationship ending and you should look at that--you were with him for four years. She was with him one night. Time to stop letting this minor character influence your comings and goings.
posted by rhonzo at 6:04 AM on February 27, 2021 [5 favorites]

As a complete outsider, going just by your narrative, it's clear you are NOT over it even after 18 months or so. Is it because "Jane" never really apologized? Or just not to your satisfaction? Will her apology make you feel better? Or are there deeper issues?

Is Jane a trigger that will immediately turn you into a Hulk rage? Had you made Jane the focus of your resentment, because she was like "the straw that broke the camel's back", and things went really dark for you for months?

If a therapist is available, this may be a good time to have a talk.
posted by kschang at 6:18 AM on February 27, 2021 [3 favorites]

Totally reasonable response on your part. Jane has proven herself hurtful and untrustworthy. I agree with others that your friends are free to feel differently (and one of them almost certainly will, since Jane is her sister), so it’s probably best to just skip this birthday party.

I could be wrong, but 30th birthday parties plus 10+ year friendships indicate to me that these are school friends. And while I think it’s great to see people remain friends with their classmates, there’s a reason that those friendships don’t often last into adulthood (and it’s gotten nothing to do with growing apart). The reason is that school friends are a bit arbitrary. They’re just people who happened to be born around the same time as you and live in the same general area as you. If you have things in common, great, but often you find you don’t, really. (E.g., you’ve found that you and Jane have little in common on the topic of sleeping with friends’ partners.) I’m not saying to leave this social group, just that it would probably be helpful to develop other social relationships as well.
posted by kevinbelt at 6:27 AM on February 27, 2021 [8 favorites]

"Mary, I understand that Jane has made up to you for all of her rudeness on the trip (beyond the incident with my ex) that negatively impacted the trip for all of us, and that your relationship with Jane is separate from my relationship with Jane. I need you to also understand that my relationship with Jane is separate from your relationship with Jane, and that she has not made things up to me."

You can't really tell or ask your friends not to also be friends with Jane. It is fair to not want to be in the same room as Jane. I think your offer of doing something else special but more one-on-one with Mary for her birthday was very reasonable and a good idea. As other commenters have said, you can also organize events with the friend group that don't involve Jane.

I think this leads to a good approach to the situation in general. Be sure to organize some events with these friends yourself rather than only leaving the organizing work to them. When you do get an invitation, the standard response is "That sounds lovely! Will Jane be there?" If no, "Okay, I appreciate your taking time to organize events with the group of us that include me." If yes, "Understood. I still want to see you/the group. How about we do [other group or individual thing] at [later time] instead?"

Key details in this proposal
* You would be sharing the organizing work for social events. Yes, ultimately Jane is responsible for her behavior that created this situation in the first place, and it is not fair that your friends will likely see you as the source of any extra social organizing work that they have to do because you have the whatever to still be feeling hurt by Jane's actions. Regardless, it is extra social organizing work, and if you want to remain friends with these folks, sharing that extra work is a bid for continued connection.

* You would be maintaining your boundary (no Jane), but treating it in a matter of fact way - this is just a fact of the situation, not a commentary on their social choices. Which is not to say that you don't have an opinion on their other social choices, but you can't control what Mary or the others in the friend group do or who else they are friends with. You can only either decide to overlook their friendship with Jane so long as your boundary is maintained, or to stop being friends with them.

Pushback you may get: "I don't see why you can't let this go/why you are still hung up on this!"
Response: "I understand that Jane has made up to you for all of her rudeness on the trip (beyond the incident with my ex) that negatively impacted the trip for all of us, and that your relationship with Jane is separate from my relationship with Jane. I need you to also understand that my relationship with Jane is separate from your relationship with Jane, and that she has not made things up to me. This is the response to her actions that I need to have at this time."

Repeat (literally - the broken record approach may be necessary here) as needed.
posted by eviemath at 6:44 AM on February 27, 2021 [13 favorites]

And then A never wanted to be around either of them ever again, especially since they were now dating, and basically said hey, you can be friends with me or them, but not both. I will not be around them. It blew up the friend group, and most people "did not choose sides" which really meant they chose B and Gs side.

I know you would say, but I'm not asking them to choose, I just don't want to be around her! But that means they do have to choose, like with this birthday party. They have to pick one of you to come to their special events. And Jane is apparently cool with it, so they're going to see you as the source of friction. You are not an asshole, you are not in the wrong to not want to spend time with this woman, but in the end it doesn't matter. You are going to have to accept spending time with her, or you're going to have to commit to only the friends who will choose you, because this situation is not sustainable.

I just want to highlight these thoughtful responses. In my experience, people will "choose" the "side" that doesn't ask them to choose. I don't think that means that people who do this are "amoral".
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 6:48 AM on February 27, 2021 [10 favorites]

am I unreasonable??

To never want to see the person who slept with your partner?
No, not at all.

To expect people who are friends with both of you to choose between you?
Yes, a little.

If Jane was not already part of your friend group, your friends would be out of line inviting her, but she is, and they're not.

This situation is not uncommon, and there is no simple or objectively "fair" solution. It's clear you feel differently, and that's entirely understandable. You are the innocent party and I have lots of sympathy for you. But sometimes unpleasant things happen that aren't your fault, and learning to accept that and move on without becoming trapped in a bitter rage is part of growing as a person.

At some point you'll have to accept the situation is what it is, and make a decision about whether you can continue to be in this friend group. Until then, your (entirely valid) feelings will continue to primarily hurt you and no-one else. Let them go, for your own sake.
posted by underclocked at 6:55 AM on February 27, 2021 [4 favorites]

Addendum to my comment: I've noticed that Geek Social Fallacy #4: Friendship is Transitive is common outside geek social circles as well. Including the link in case you find anything in the link helpful or relevant to your situation.
posted by eviemath at 6:59 AM on February 27, 2021 [8 favorites]

There are several things here that could point towards deciding how to act going forward.

The first one is that no one owes anyone else any emotional labour. Someone might owe someone else an apology but they never owe anyone else an extended chunk of time soothing their feelings and helping them feel better. For one thing doing emotional labour is often futile - it either doesn't work, or it creates a dependency in the person getting it so that they always want help self soothing. Someone like Mary doesn't owe you emotional labour dealing with your feelings about Jane, and you don't owe Jane emotional labour dealing with her feelings about you and your ex.

Because of this looking for sympathy and connection with your friends over your feelings about Jane is a dead end. At best it will lead to an unhealthy dynamic.

The next thing is that your feelings are your own and they are utterly okay. You are completely in the right to feel that you never want to see Jane and cannot be happy around her. I'd feel the same way. You get a full pass on rearranging your life so you never see her again, and I applaud your intention and desire.

But not only are your feelings correct and appropriate they are also your own to deal with. You are not dealing with your feelings if you let your friends decide whether or not you will see Jane. You're the one that gets to set hard boundaries. The difficulty will be doing so without creating a situation where other people feel the need to do emotional labour for you. So to be effective your hard boundaries have to be done in a way that others see they are hard and do not get sucked in comforting and supporting you. You actually have to fend off your friends in this case and play the tough and noble character and mean it.

"Did you invite Jane? Oh. Look, I won't have any fun if I go and Jane is there. I'm still working on that thing. I'll skip this one and go to the next one when she isn't there. I got a series I can catch that weekend. I'm gonna miss you guys though! Love ya!"

If Mary starts in on the "But couldn't you just..." or "You know Jane is really sorry..." Just shake your head and smile and change the subject. Nip her off before she can do emotional labour for you.

The third thing I noticed was the presence of drinking in this story. Jane got drunk and behaved badly. Okay, it happens. But, if it happens once it can happen again. If it wasn't her but was the liquor then it is on her to never get drunk again. If she turns into a mean drunk, then taking a drink means that she may start acting mean, which in turn requires her to accept that she should never get drunk under any remotely similar circumstances again, and if she does she no longer gets any free pass for being drunk. After the first time taking a second drink is crossing the line and implies that she intends to behave badly and misuse other people. If Jane doesn't stop drinking at parties she has a drinking problem.

The same may be true for you. There may be a situation here where you and your friends like to get drunk together and that makes you all feel close and warm and fuzzy. If the Jane can't give up drinking with the group she has a drinking problem, if the group can't have fun if they get together and no one is drinking they have a drinking problem and if you need the group so you have someone to drink with, you have a drinking problem.

Since other people are inviting Jane which means they are dis-inviting you, you need to substitute small gatherings organized by you which do not include Jane and which almost certainly do not include alcohol. If you go with small gatherings - two of the six, for example - you will not create drama because Jane and the non-invited members of the group will understand that it was an inconvenient time to invite everyone or the gathering was only open to people who would be interested in a watch party for a certain anime, or the garage you were renovating wasn't large enough to take seven people. You will maintain your link to your friends and show them that you are not creating drama. Of course you mustn't talk about Jane at this event. And you mustn't be gloomy and get them to cheer you up, or angry and get them to validate your anger. If you talk about Jane you're creating the drama and soliciting emotional labour and merely adding fuel to the fire which will likely cause your group to turn into a significantly dysfunctional one.

There is a not insubstantial chance that in the long run your friendship with this group is doomed. For a start friendships do not usually last too many decades. You're not the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and you don't want to be, what with that group involving child abuse around the second or third decade. If you want your friendships to continue you need to work on them individually and figure out which people you can grow closer to and which people you have a permanent bond with and which people are drifting as life circumstances change. You will get much farther if you cultivate your friendships with the individuals because those are the things that have longevity and meaning. Your individual friendships are not doomed, only the group friendship. Your friendship with the group has to change to adapt to things that have change. You are likely growing beyond this group.

If you don't hang out with your friends unless you all get to drink you're not really hanging out with your friends, but hanging out with the liquor and the illusion of intimacy it creates.

Another thought is that Jane was so drunk that night she may have been incapable of consent. Which doesn't mean you have to like her. Unlikeable demanding people get raped too. What it means is that you have to watch for members of your group getting drunk and being at risk of rape. You can snub Jane simply because she was kinda annoying before that, being extremely rude and bringing in toxic relationships. Other people clearly do not agree with you, perhaps because they enjoyed the extreme rudeness and only wished they could be as direct and sympathize with the toxic relationship because it is similar to some of their own experiences.

One more thought is that Jane is a younger sister, so her in to the group is stronger than yours. You do not have the social power in that group to make anyone break up with their own sister, so if you were to get Jane squeezed out of the group you also have to squeeze out her sister Sally. That means your social capital has to be strong enough to squeeze out two people and break each individual bond between each member that they have with Jane and each one that they have with Sally. It's not going to happen unless you're the only one with wheels and the group only exists because of your passenger van.

Then the final thought is that the source of Jane's power in the group may be her skill at soliciting emotional labour. People hate providing emotional labour, they thirst to get it; they thirst to provide it and they get addicted to it. Emotional labour - comforting someone when they are upset or attuning to their emotions provides a feeling of closeness. It helps us bond. But when one of the people has trouble regulating their emotions and requires a lot of emotional labour people get exhausted and trapped. They can't tell Jane to naff off because she's going to be upset and they have already put a big investment into helping her get through those bad moods, so they are likely going around anxious that something will trigger another round of Jane being upset so now I have to comfort her. It is very probable that your friendship group is now based on keeping Jane and Sally from being upset, which makes everyone feel warm and fuzzy and loving, and anxious that one or both of them will be upset again because of the intensity. There is a very good chance that Jane and Sally, just trying to cope with today's case of the blues have ended up being the piper that calls the tune for the group.

If you want to salvage your friendship with members of the group and encourage them to evolve in a way that means you are still friends with the ones who are good for you, you have to either be better at drama and soliciting emotional labour than Jane is, or be a refreshing change where they feel safe and loved because they don't have to hold your hand and listen to you explain why you feel the way you do, but do feel that their emotions are heard. The second path is quite a juggling act that requires a lot of emotional maturity and good judgment. It's the path I suggest you aim for: A coffee date with Mary to make up for missing the party where you give her a gift and lavish her with love, a hike with Anne, a play date with Alice and her kids where you allo parent so that there are two adults to wrangle the three children, a watch party for the only two other members of the group who are into anime - stuff like that. And you are in luck because you can use Covid as a reason for keeping the gathering's small and not having to explain why you are excluding anyone. "I can only invite two people and I want to invite YOU."
posted by Jane the Brown at 7:19 AM on February 27, 2021 [17 favorites]

Jane the Brown makes a good point (well, a few, but I like this one specifically): The existence of COVID suggests that you shouldn't go to this party anyway, and should find a time to hang out with Mary separately. So you are making the right choice, I think. That might be the best path forward in general: Find ways to engage with the friends you want to engage with on your own terms, not theirs. You don't have to put the desires of the group—or any bad dynamics it has—above your own mental health.
posted by limeonaire at 8:00 AM on February 27, 2021 [6 favorites]

It's reasonable to sit out an event when there is someone there that you can't bear to be around. It's also reasonable for someone to invite the people they want to have at any get-together and let those people choose to attend or not attend, accordingly. You say that you wouldn't do anything to interfere with someone else's friendship, but you're also saying that they are being inconsiderate by inviting Jane. At the same time, Mary is further stirring the pot by telling Jane all your business. It is totally fine to take a step back from this friend group, it seems like it's showing your and their bad sides at the moment.
posted by tchemgrrl at 8:50 AM on February 27, 2021 [3 favorites]

I don't think you're unreasonable to still be hurt, or to want to avoid Jane. Your friends aren't wrong to want to maintain relationships with both of you. You both want completely understandable things and in this case they happen to be in conflict - in my experience, this is why it's hard for friend groups to survive this kind of thing intact. When I was in a not perfectly analogous but somewhat similar situation years ago, an older friend told me, "The chance that you will even be friends with all of these people 10 years from now is really low." She was completely right!

However! Changes in friend group dynamics don't need to mean losing your friends. I completely concur with the advice above that you should start cultivating one-on-one relationships with these friends. It's not a choice between giving the friends up and forcing yourself to be miserable in Jane's presence - you have more control than that! See your friends on your terms.
posted by superfluousm at 9:44 AM on February 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

Your feelings are understandable, but you're basically (and repeatedly) asking your friends to manage your feelings and your relationship with Jane via their relationship with her. Whether or not that is a "fair" thing to ask is a bit beside the point -- your friends have already let you know by action and word that they aren't going to do that. You need to decide what you are going to do with that information and how you are going to move forward and through those feelings. Right now, they are running (at least part of) your social life and contributing to strain in your friendships.

You told Mary to tell Jane that your presence would make her uncomfortable, which is basically what she did. I think you were both wrong here. Jane is presumably not naïve about the fact that you are avoiding her, and you are presumably aware that she knows this. Mary stirred the pot, but you gave her the spoon. She then returned that awkwardness and negativity to the sender which contributed to your anger, hurt, and maybe even a bit of guilt over the situation. Even the strongest friendships will start to waver under repetition of that kind of pattern.
posted by sm1tten at 10:24 AM on February 27, 2021 [5 favorites]

QUESTION: did Jane ever give you a genuine apology? Try to make amends?

You mentioned that Mary thinks Jane has gone through enough - what does that mean, exactly?

Did your friends dislike your boyfriend and assume Jane did you a huge favor in a roundabout way?

Does Jane bring something to the table that you don’t? If she were so toxic and dead weight as she was on the trip, why are people still friends with her?

Lots of solid advice above. I just want to emphasize: you cannot make people take your side versus Jane’s side. That has to be their choice, and they chose to be neutral. But you can choose not to participate. You can create your own outings sans Jane.
Will things every go back to normal again? Probably not.
Time to make other friends. Not saying you need to cut all of them out. But I am saying you NEED OTHER FRIENDS. As we get older, usually our tolerance for BS drama gets smaller. This friend group sounds like a lot of BS drama right now. And who needs that?
posted by Neekee at 10:32 AM on February 27, 2021 [2 favorites]

The last time this happened in my friend circle, my (mid-40s, very well-grounded) friend, who was in your position more or less, dropped me and my wife a line and said "I need to not be around X any more. I'm not asking you to pick sides, just please don't invite me to events where she will be." And she was 100% accepting that this might mean we would not invite her to events any more. (That was not, as it turned out, our response, but if X had been the one to reach out... it would have been.)

So the thing is, you can either ask your friends to just not invite you to events where Jane will be, or you can deal with Jane's presence, but you can't ask your friends not to invite Jane. That's not a fair thing to ask, and is incidentally not a thing that's going to go over well with most people. And if people decide to invite Jane instead, then it's on you to invite them to your own events or to one-on-one hangouts and maintain that relationship. It's not necessarily fair, but those are the boundaries that you can set that are your boundaries.

I dunno, I have a slightly unusual relationship to this sort of thing, and in your case I might invite Jane out for a beer and find out her side of the story and try to put it behind you, because Jane did a shitty thing but your boyfriend did a much shittier one, and I'm glad Jane the Brown upthread pointed out that if everyone was drunk, there are some serious questions about consent here, but you don't have to deal with any of that if you don't want to. But you do need to move on in that you cannot, at this point, expect your friends to do what you prefer them to do. They've made it clear they won't. You can set your own boundaries and, ideally, find other friends unrelated to this whole shitshow.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:41 AM on February 27, 2021 [19 favorites]

You've gotten some good advice already: I agree with those encouraging you to try and move past this - like others have said, you don't have to like Jane or even interact much with Jane, but we are all capable of sharing space with people we don't like, and it's ultimately never good to make "it's me or them!" ultimatums to our friends. Relatedly, I once heard a psychologist explain (forget the source, sorry) that it's easier for humans to share in other people's happiness and than sadness - and that while we should expect friends/romantic partners to share in our happiness, it's not fair to expect people to perfectly share our sadness.

I also want to emphasize what a jerk your boyfriend was - anyone who would cheat on someone in the way he cheated with you is not a good person. And if hadn't been Jane, it would likely be someone else down the line. Yes, Jane played a part (though as has been mentioned, if she was drunk, consent might be unclear here - she too could be a victim).

Finally, the fact that Jane is a sister of one of the main members of the friend group really makes this extra tricky. Even if the sister has mixed feelings about Jane, generally, people prefer to have families matters stay within their family - not have friends demand that they cut family members out (unless we're talking about abuse).

But yes, by all means organize outings/dinners/whatever and don't invite Jane - but don't demand others do the same. In time, you really will stop caring about it - we've all had our hearts broken and it sucks, but eventually even past heartbreaks stop weighing on us.
posted by coffeecat at 11:07 AM on February 27, 2021 [2 favorites]

You shouldn't feel one atom of guilt over skipping out.
posted by Beholder at 12:16 PM on February 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

"The 3rd, most mature, response, when there's no violence or cruelty involved, is to let the former couple get on with things and to stay out of it. That's what your friends are doing."

When there is no cruelty involved? How was the offense not cruel? And why is self interest indicative of maturity? The willingness to ignore obviously shitty behavior for the sake of collectively "moving on" is particularly odious at this moment in history, nor is there anything immature about holding someone accountable for their behavior. I'm not saying Jane is beyond redemption; I don't think anyone ever is. But I submit that the mature response is to endure the strain on the friendship with Jane until she has made every possible attempt to atone for her behavior. I suspect that the underlying assumption with your perspective is that romantic relationships aren't really morally binding. Certainly this is becoming the case, but I'm a holdout.
posted by jwhite1979 at 12:24 PM on February 27, 2021 [20 favorites]

Call me crazy, but if I had a group of friends who, after one of them banged my then-SO while I was upstairs AND we were all out of the country on a trip together, and then still wanted to be friends with that person, I'd find a new group of friends.

The amount of time you are required to just make nice with the person who ruined your trip and broke up your relationship is zero. Yes, you're happy now and moved on and all, that's great, but Jane is still a piece of shit. She doesn't deserve for you to make things more comfortable for how SHE behaved. If your friends are encouraging this because they want to keep Jane around, then I'd be like "I'm not hanging out with her anymore" and also find people who don't want to keep the friend around who acts like an a-hole on trips and ruins their friends' relationships! Why would they even want a person like that around? Sure, Jane isn't a serial killer or anything, but she sure is a grade-A asshole, and standards in relationships don't just apply to romantic ones.
posted by Autumnheart at 1:16 PM on February 27, 2021 [45 favorites]

It sounds like your friends are telling you that your reasonable response to Jane's unacceptable behavior is becoming inconvenient to them and if you could just stop with reinforcing your own boundaries and holding Jane accountable it would be great because it's really a bummer for them when it comes to planning fun parties.

While it's true that it's your boyfriend who betrayed you terribly on the trip, it's also true that Jane behaved in a treacherous manner and in a way that would preclude being friends with her again. That's just the way that life works. If you stab me in the back, I'm not going to pretend it didn't happen. It's fine for you to make the decision that you prefer not to be around someone who disrespected and hurt you so horribly and then didn't take real responsibility for it. It's reasonable.

Unfortunately, your friends have not actually done much to try to promote culpability and healing within the friendship group. Jane was never really held accountable, there were no social consequences for her very bad behavior, and now your friends are just telling you that it's time to be over it because it would make things easier for them. That's not at all how my friend group operates and it's fine for you to decide that you'd prefer to have a group of friends where difficult situations where real harm happens aren't just swept under the carpet for a while until the victim is told that they need to get over it because it's a drag. Better friend groups are out there.
posted by quince at 1:31 PM on February 27, 2021 [13 favorites]

I wish I could favourite Autumnheart's comment 100 times.
posted by purplesludge at 1:32 PM on February 27, 2021 [6 favorites]

Indeed. No friends is way better than friends who devalue you.
posted by jwhite1979 at 1:45 PM on February 27, 2021 [7 favorites]

Imagine two groups of people:
1) people who think what Jane did is OK or not too bad (this group would include Jane herself). This group of people might be more likely to do what Jane did themselves.
2) people who think what Jane did is not OK or really bad. This group of people are less likely to do what Jane did.

It seems your group of friends are Group 1 (the Janes). It seems that you are in Group 2. Maybe you need to find new friends from Group 2.
posted by thesockpuppet at 1:47 PM on February 27, 2021 [7 favorites]

So Jane did apologize. Was she sincere? Do you think she regrets it? Is she likely to do it again?

Your mutual friends can't resolve this and clearly aren't going to toss her out. Are you able to be ok with that or not?

You have to evaluate whether keeping this group, which includes Jane, is worth it to you. Do you get enough benefits that the pain of being in her presence is worth it?

Only you can answer. There is no rulebook. This is about you and what you need.

If you wanted to try radical honesty, you could ask to meet with everyone and say how you feel and how torn you are. Including Jane. And have the painful conversation that involves. But your group may not be willing to do that work with you. It really depends on how deep your friendships go.
posted by emjaybee at 2:42 PM on February 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

I'm seething.

I would have a serious problem with the following:

1. Being put in a position where I have to pretend that Jane isn't a person who fucks around with other people's boyfriends given half the chance and a glass of Dom Perignon. Yes the ex is accountable too but he is gone yet I still have to have this moronic dick-thief in my friendship group? And she gets to skip around like she's Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music and like she didn't do THE THING SHE DID?

2. The "just like get over it fam, 'kay? You're like dragging us down man and we just wanna hang with Jane and eat hot dogs and like just pretend she didn't do THE THING SHE DID" attitude. It's gaslighting disguised as a 16 year old's notion of what maturity is.

Unless you're in some weird hippie commune and it's 1967, I don't see how this is okay.

You can't stop them being friends with her but the fact that they didn't do that tells you all you need to know.

Please find better people to be friends with. They're all a bunch of donkeys.
posted by ihaveyourfoot at 2:46 PM on February 27, 2021 [13 favorites]

You're feelings are absolutely valid. Jane is the asshole here. I cannot tell you how to feel or how to look at this situation, but I am ok telling you how I would look at it now that 1.5 years have passed.

Good riddance. Jane did you a favor in the long run. (Did the opposite of a favor in the short-run aka she fucked you --pun intended) It is my experience and belief that if your bf cheated on you with a good friend, it was just a matter of time he did it with someone else. Probably already had, but you never found out. You learned the true nature of both your bf and your former friend Jane.
posted by AugustWest at 3:03 PM on February 27, 2021 [3 favorites]

30s is often a time in life when 20s-ish friend-groups get re-aligned, sometimes with varying degrees of drama. Like every stage, it's an age when we re-evaluate our priorities. I'm a bit cynical about your gang, from the description it seems like they're leaning towards placing a higher value on their group cohesion than your personal feelings, which is a very real human thing, however regrettable.

I'm not saying that you should cut them off completely, they're not terrible just human. I am saying that you should be open to other kinds of friend-relationships in your life, and keep your old gang at arms length, and continue to interact with them to the degree that you are personally comfortable with.
posted by ovvl at 3:30 PM on February 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

I do not think your friends are such good friends as you think they are.
posted by Hogshead at 3:44 PM on February 27, 2021 [15 favorites]

Not unreasonable at all, and since you're lucky enough to already have other solid friend groups, it might be a good idea to step back from this one (after your smaller celebration with Mary) and bolster those relationships. Bonus: if you're having great COVID-safe outings with people in the other groups, those could be stronger, happier excuses for missing gatherings that might include Jane.
posted by Recliner of Rage at 4:42 PM on February 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

Based on language/spelling and references to "states" I'm betting OP is in Australia, where COVID may not be as much of an ironclad "out" as it would be for Americans.
posted by en forme de poire at 4:50 PM on February 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

I broke it off and I haven't been in contact with the friend since, though she has tried to apologise and say she misses me

So, I think your anger makes total sense. However, by refusing to even hear what Jane has to say, you give her no way to make things up to you. You don't have to want this - there are some acts so terrible that there's no way to come back from them. Is this how you feel about Jane's actions?

(I'm not trying to lead you to one answer or another - it really is an open question.)
posted by airmail at 7:55 PM on February 27, 2021

Oof, OP. I just want to give you a hug. People have been weirdly hard on you in this thread and I just want to say: being cheated on by a long-term partner and long-term friend literally under your nose/in the same house is a serious, serious betrayal. I would be shaken to my core if this happened to me. The fact that your question is so focused on how you should feel or how you’re “allowed to feel” or whether you should be over this makes me sad, and I fear the responses here and the responses from your friends are reinforcing a kind of gaslighting dynamic that minimizes the seriousness of this violation of your trust. Does it mean Jane is EVIL and you should focus all your energy on her? No. But it does mean you are allowed to be grieving and angry and feel however the damn hell you feel, even if you’re totally over the ex and it’s been 1.5 years. People you loved and trusted betrayed you (doesn’t matter that they were drunk and didn’t mean it and it only happened once, etc) and the after effects of that kind of betrayal can be almost like a trauma response - you have to take the time to grieve and be angry and work out what it will mean to be able to trust people again.
As for what to do:
1) Make space to honor your feelings. This also means: get in touch with your own feelings and trust your instincts (and stop asking other people for permission to feel your feelings). Maybe that means some journaling or rage running or therapy or listening to loud music or whatever - but find the people and spaces where you can feel all your feelings freely and without judgment.
2) Set some boundaries. You don’t want to see Jane right now? Then don’t. Make the choice that you won’t go to events she’s attending. It doesn’t have to be forever, take it a week at a time. Maybe in a few months you’ll feel ok crossing paths with her, maybe not.
3) Remind yourself that you don’t have to forgive, be friends with, or trust Jane, even if you do cross paths with her, and especially if she’s given you no reason to believe you can trust her. This is way beyond an apology - it’s about whether she’s done anything different in her behavior to indicate that she could re-earn your trust. Frankly, she sounds like someone who creates drama and than garners sympathy for herself rather than taking any responsibility for her decisions and actions, which for me would be someone I would not choose as a friend. Remind yourself that seeing her is not the same as forgiving or befriending her, and you don’t ever have to do either of those if you don’t want to.
4) The rest of your friends are going to stick to the path of least resistance. That doesn’t make them “right” or “normal” it just makes them similar to most people, which is to say: probably well intentioned but a little lazy. As others have said, you do need to stop offloading choices onto your friends and instead figure out your own needs and boundaries and communicate them. It sucks that the onus is on you to have to sit out events where Jane might be in attendance, so perhaps the Covid rule of thumb might be helpful when making decisions about whether to attend group events: is it better for my mental health to go to the event and risk a little exposure (to Jane/Covid), or is it better for my mental health to sit this one out? 5) I promise this will feel different (and better, even) with time and you will grow from having gotten through this.
posted by sleepingwithcats at 9:47 PM on February 27, 2021 [13 favorites]

Getting cheated on is traumatic. Getting cheated on in front of a group of friends who are supposed to have your back is doubly traumatic. You now have trauma and only the therapist can help you deal with it. None of this is your fault.

IMO, from what you've described, you're a bad-ass bitch in a shitty situation. You got cheated on in front of your friends, and you still made efforts to stay within the friend group. I would have done the same thing because hoes before bros. You do not deserve the pain you're experiencing and you didn't deserve to be cheated on. But your friends may not change their tune, even if "righteous anger" would dictate that they should.

This kind of neutrality is hurtful and amoral. It's akin to gaslighting, and I'm sorry you're going through it.

what the person that wrote this doesn't understand is that the universe is benignly indifferent, to paraphrase Camus.

We don't get what we deserve in life. We get what the universe throws at us. We choose how to respond. This neutrality is not gaslighting. This neutrality is the nature of existence.

Self compassion will help you get over the pain you experienced, (pain which you did not deserve I might add). I say, stay the course you are on, treat yourself like the goddess you are, but don't dump your friends. Friendships have survived worse. I say this as a feminist who tries to support female friends to the extent that I am able, and who would feel exactly the same as you do in that situation.
posted by winterportage at 8:33 AM on February 28, 2021

I am really, really surprised by the number of people telling you to get over this and that your friends are being totally cool and mature and you're the one being unfair. If I had a friend who did the thing that Jane did to another friend of mine, I would have absolutely no compunctions about cutting Jane off in favor of the friend that was cheated on. I would not consider it immature if the victim did not want to hang out with Jane any more. In fact, I would consider it perfectly reasonable.

I think people in this thread are being jerks to you and I do not think it is a dick move to expect friends of a decade or more to show you a little more compassion. Inviting Jane is not "being friend Switzerland" (like, what the fuck), because inviting her is a choice. They are perfectly free to not invite Jane to events. They don't have to invite her to anything. They can say "Wow, Jane is shitty, maybe I don't want to hang out with her any more." That's a perfectly fine option! And something tells me if Jane had slept with Mary's partner Mary would have different feelings about the situation.

Unfortunately, I think what this event has shown you is that your "friends" are not really as much your friends as you thought they were. It is very shitty. Right now you are faced with the choice of continuing to be friends with people who do not care about you that much, or finding new friends. Both are hard. I think one of those solutions is healthier in the long run, though.
posted by Anonymous at 9:06 AM on February 28, 2021

Also, Switzerland was neutral in the face of the Nazis. It's not really a good thing to emulate. I think there are some times when by being "neutral" the stand you are making says a lot about yourself, and not all of it good.
posted by Anonymous at 9:08 AM on February 28, 2021

To me, this has nothing to do with taking sides. Your friends are fine staying friends with someone who is cruel and deceitful. I'm shocked by how many people who think the mature thing is to accept this sort of betrayal. The fact that your ex-boyfriend is worse doesn't absolve her of what she did. There are obviously a lot of people who are like your friends. I wouldn't want to be friends with people who would be so careless about this kind of cruelty.

she had told Jane that I wouldn't come if she went and that Jane burst into tears and had to be sent home

This is so manipulative I can't even.
posted by Mavri at 1:06 PM on February 28, 2021 [8 favorites]

When I first read the situation, my initial response was like a LOT of folks here: you feel what you want to feel, and if your "friends" want you to just "get over it", you need better friends.

But upon re-reading your narrative, you have held on to that anger for a long time (18 months?) which is why I changed my initial response to the one I actually posted.

It really depends on what are your feelings toward J... are you at...

* We can say hi, but don't expect me to be any more than "cordial" to her


* I am not going to tear her face off, but I'd rather not be in the same room with her. Don't invite her if you are inviting me.

or is it more like

* You better not even THINK of inviting her or I won't be able to control myself from making a huge scene

Don't answer here. Just tell yourself the truth... just how bad *do* you feel about J?

MAYBE Mary just wants to be a peacemaker, and broached the subject rather awkwardly. Or maybe she's just not really your friend that much.

But please remember: it's much easier to change YOURSELF than the change others. Yet, please don't misunderstand. I am NOT saying you should 'get over it'. I am asking instead: what has holding on to the anger did for you? I understand you were in a dark place, you said so yourself. You've already made great strides in self-recovery. You've already broken up with the jerk. You knew there was alcohol involved. But what have YOU learned from this incident of YOURSELF? And what you can do to improve?
posted by kschang at 7:23 AM on March 1, 2021

I can hear so much anger in your post, and conflict within yourself and your experiences.

I just wrote out some examples, but deleted them because it sounded like I was making judgements on you. What I wanted to try and say, is that in a situation like this, it's possible to hold space for all the feelings that you have - I was hurt and hurt BADLY, but I am recovering and doing well in myself. I feel horrible toward Jane for what she did, but I sympathise with her. I am still angry, but I am starting to find peace. I want my friends to support me, but I recognise that they all have their own lives and priorities.

It's possible, of course, but it's HARD. I'm going to fall into the AskMe trope and say that at times like this, trying to accommodate a lot of stuff in one's mind and complicated stuff at that, it's a great time to see a therapist. If you carry this anger and confusion and hurt around with you for a long time, it will leave marks on you that will be harder to deal with.

In the meantime, I think there's a case for the predominant opinion above - you can choose to focus on your other friend groups if you feel like that's what you need to do. But I'd suggest looking into the feelings you've got in more detail, so that you can stop carrying around that anger if possible - you'll feel much lighter for it.

I know this must sound sort of patronising? Like OH YES cause it's SO easy to forgive someone for doing such a thing. But my ex left me for his now-wife, and it took a while for me to see it in a positive light, but we as a couple weren't working, she was the catalyst to fix that (by breaking it) and I now no longer feel like I need to forgive her, I feel genuinely grateful.
posted by greenish at 8:40 AM on March 1, 2021

I don't think you're being unreasonable. That said, in my experience, if Jane makes it easy to stay friends with both of you and you make it hard to stay friends with both of you, people are going to end up staying friends with Jane.
posted by Ragged Richard at 11:50 AM on March 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Hi All,

I wanted to thank you all for your thoughtful and caring responses. They were really helpful and managed to put a lot into perspective for me. Mary and I chatted over the weekend and I decided to leave it in a place where she and the group are aware that I while I am not okay with being around Jane - I won't be asking them to navigate social situations for me. I still ask for compassion for my discomfort, and an understanding of why I won't attend certain events if Jane will be there, and want that to be understood and accepted.

This comes from more of a place of leaving things in a calm situation then something I'm completely on board with - as many mentioned, it still is difficult for me to understand the relationships they have with Jane after the things that transpired (which I also flip-flop on, as one person mentioned, even those that mess up deserve love and forgiveness). But I do think this is probably the beginning of a shift in my friendships with this group and I'd rather begin to step away without a blow up. And I really am not interested in adding to Mary's current mental stress.

I think while I am sad about what happened - what has become clear is that I am more upset at my friends for not choosing me and putting me first. And I cannot make them choose. So all I can do is control my own actions, and that may be moving on from this group of friends, or maybe not, is best for me. But I think space and time are probably something needed at present.

And yes! In Australia - we are just emerging into covid safe activities (bars are open! 30 people gatherings!) So having to navigate social events for the past year hasn't had to be an issue until now.

I think going to speak to someone is great advice (naturally) and I have set up a docs appointment to make a mental health plan (also an Aussie thing - 10 gov subsidised therapy sessions, not bahd!).

Thank you all so much again, I was really touched by all the amazing responses and I feel much more clear headed and calm about the situation.
posted by Donna_Martin_Graduates at 4:11 AM on March 4, 2021 [11 favorites]

Loved reading this update, and so glad you're going to seek some advice from a mental health professional on working through your feelings. It will be such a gift to your future self.

Also, I just want to say from experience, something that might happen is that you gently move away from this group of friends, that happens for a few months or even years, and eventually some people move (figuratively speaking) back towards you. I found this once, following a break-up.

Sending you lots of good energy for the future xx
posted by greenish at 5:16 AM on March 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

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