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July 7, 2007

When friends break up

Recently my friend and her boyfriend broke up. This isn't really anything new. Couples break up all the time. Prior to completion of this blog entry, they ended up getting back together (can we say "duh"), making this whole entry kind of a moot point... but indulge me anyway, okay? After I learned that they made up, I didn't want to jinx them by posting this, but 07-07-07 is supposed to be a lucky day so I think it's safe to come out with it already.

As far as I know (which isn't very far at all but I love to make assumptions), it was, for the most part, a mature and amicable breakup. So what was my problem with it? I was concerned about how their breakup affected me. It was completely and totally selfish, which is well... me.

I'm not saying that it was my only concern. I was concerned that either of them would feel sad or lonely or hurt or angry. I was concerned whether they'd actually have been able to stay friends. But I knew that they are both great people so it was unlikely that either of them would have remained single for long. And I know they would've both worked their hardest to at least remain friendly (if not actual "friends") .

Which brings me to my actual dilemma...

If they were unable to stay friends, what would happen to the group dynamic? Who gets to keep which friends after the "divorce"? I've lost custody of many a friend after breakups and it has sucked every time. It's also quite possible that some of the friends that I "fell out of touch with" after their breakups, actually gave me up to their exes without me realizing it.

When a couple breaks up, how do the remaining "mutual friends" maintain a sense of balance? Where do you draw the line between loyalty to the person who was your friend first and the fact that you did/do enjoy hanging out with his or her ex? So many times I've hated my friends' boyfriends. I once had a friend whose boyfriend actually told her didn't want her hanging out with me anymore because he didn't approve of my behavior. We eventually ended our friendship anyway, but not over the boyfriend. (It was because over time it seems she grew to share her boyfriend's opinion of me after all... but that's a whole other story!) So of course, I'm always thrilled when I don't hate a friend's new boyfriend. But now I'm wondering if it's worse to like him than it is to hate him.

And what if... you know, hypothetically... someone such as, say, me... had a... crush on the friend of my friend's ex... what would I do then? (You know, hypothetically).

Quite often I've done the accidental "guys-in-pairs" thing with a friend (you know, when you and a friend end up liking another set of friends... or siblings... or roommates... etc). It's really convenient at first because you don't have to choose between a friend and a significant other... hanging out is always extra fun... and there's less "mixing" of undesirables at parties and other social events. Then one of the pairings disintegrates. So what is to become of the other one? Does the awkwardness eventually win out? I've seen it go both ways and you can never really predict ahead of time what will happen.

How do I maintain "proximity" to my crush without seeming disloyal to my friend? Is it okay to stay friends with a friend's ex? We all know it's wrong to date a friend's ex (even though, many of us have done it anyway... oops) but what about a purely platonic friendship? Not necessarily a hanging-out-alone-and-chatting-on-the-phone kind of friendship, but a hanging-out-in-a-group and/or keeping-in-touch-on-myspace kind of friendship? Where do you draw the line?

In the end, there really would have been no question... if my actions somehow made my friend uncomfortable in any way, it'd be all over (regardless of whether I theoretically agreed). My loyalty is to her first and foremost. So I would put her feelings above myself (let alone a guy!) any time.

But for the record... I am really glad that they got back together and I didn't have to deal with it. Yet?


raz said...

I love that one of your tags is "crazy friends"


Truthfully, the friend in question isn't really one of our "crazy friends" but I felt the label applied anyway. Maybe because in this case, I think I'm the crazy friend.

However, definitely stay tuned for some stories about actual crazy friends that you wouldn't believe!