Not Ashamed: A friend to multiple people who dislike each other

If you haven’t already, please read the introduction post. That will give you context for this page.

For the purpose of this topic, I’m using the word “friend” the way most people do.

This might be the only item on my list of labels where the people communicating to me that I ought to feel ashamed are only my friends. Which makes sense, given the topic. After all, when the issue is that I’m a friend to multiple people who dislike each other, I imagine they’re taking it personally.

I hope that none of my friends will take any insult from what I’m saying here. This certainly is all meant in love, not meant to be passive-aggressive (I’m saying just what I mean), and is, arguably, further proof of your quality and my loyalty. Got it? Good!

In general, my friends tend to be strong, unique, passionate people. To me, in general, these are all positive traits. However, you can probably see that these are traits that might make them a little more inclined to disagreements with others (especially with others who share those traits) than you might see from those who are mellow and agreeable and just what you’d expect.

Now take all these intense people (of which I think I’m one) and put them in group activities that are related to their passions. Or in romantic relationships. In an entirely non-judgemental way I’ll say that I don’t think one should be surprised when conflicts arise, including conflicts that people can’t or won’t resolve. And, so, there I am, with friends on opposite sides of a conflict.

I want to pause a moment to clarify that, as far as I can tell, none of these conflicts involve sexual violence (I will definitely choose sides and end friendships in such cases) or hatreds like racism, homophobia, sexism, and the like. Any hatreds here are either hatred for personalities, controversial choices, or taste in media. Though the latter seems to have diminished as we’ve all grown up a bit. Heh.

So, there I am, with friends fighting. Neither of them actually completely horrible people. Maybe they’ve been some kind of horrible to each other (especially in the case of romantic relationships), but they’ve been good to me. And the horrible they’ve been to each other doesn’t cross certain lines (the ones in the former paragraph and a few others that seem reasonable to me).

I hate the unkindnesses they’ve done each other and I wish they hadn’t but…But I don’t cast off friendships easily, and sometimes I can see both sides of the issue. And, so, I take my time in deciding how their falling out informs my opinions of and relationships with each of them.

I know that we want our friends on our side in things. That we love it when friends can support our dislike, can confirm that we have done the right thing or that we were entirely right in a disagreement, can be counted on to never invite someone we hate to their party. I also know that, given how nasty some people can be, we instinctively worry that the friends of our enemies will betray our trusts even if they are also our friends. I have trust issues. I totally get that.

I’m sad over friends who felt their best decision was to walk away from me when I wouldn’t join them in walking away from another person.

And I’m so grateful to friends who have trusted me, have known that I’m constantly striving for integrity and to keep their confidences.

I value my intense, passionate, strong-willed, opinionated mates. And that is part of why I am not ashamed that I am a friend to people who dislike each other. It’s okay if our tastes in people are different. And I appreciate those of you who are my friends and who dislike other friends of mine but who never try to shame me for it. Thank you.

Cross-posted to the Not Ashamed section of my site (so that it’s all tidy).