conflicted to stay or leave my friendship group

Reply Sat 30 Oct, 2021 09:15 am
It has only just reached the second year of this new friendship group to which I truly believed I had met some lifelong friends and even a platonic soulmate. I have always been a floater with friends and never let down my walls, but with this friendship group, it felt so easy. We talked for hours and hours and have spent many many 24 hour sessions together. I have never had friends where I felt I could truly be myself, where I felt truly connected. I don't have much of a network outside of school so my past friendships were purely based on school as a whole. These are the first people who I can talk to for hours without even the mention of school. I am an adrenaline junkie, but I can say that I've had so much fun in the rare times we meet up and when we play online together and even when we're all just looking at the ceiling and talking about cool things to plan in the future.

I can never understand my emotions - that is just how I was brought up: showing anything negative is weakness. However, is it normal in such good friendships to feel such pain and conflict? And now it seems to be like the friendship group is slowly drifting and I'm stuck in the middle. This always seems to be the case when there is conflict. But I really do want to stay friends with them and they have been the closest friends I've ever had.

I'm really scared to lose them, but I always seem to feel like the bridge between two sides which makes me feel so confused and not know what to do, because I'm always hearing the rants and feelings of both sides, promising to both of them that what I heard will not be shared at all. But I end up feeling like **** and i don't know what else to do.
Reply Sat 30 Oct, 2021 10:03 am
Start with this mantra: "Their conflicts aren't my conflicts."

Now say it to both sides: "Your conflicts aren't my conflicts. I can love both sides. And while I don't expect you to love everyone, I do expect you to respect my rights and feelings in this matter. If battle lines are being drawn, then I am neutral Switzerland."

And mean it. Stay out of the conflicts. Change the subject when one of them wants to trash another one in front of you, even if there are others around. Just say, "___ is a friend of mine. Please don't trash them."

You have the absolute right to get up and leave (or hang up, or log out, as appropriate) if someone disregards your feelings in this manner.

Largish friend groups tend to break down over time. It's not necessarily due to conflict. It can also be that you start to be at different stages of your life. If someone has a kid, they won't be available as much. If someone gets married or is otherwise in a super-serious relationship, they might try to bring their SO along, and that changes the dynamic. Another person might move away. Yet another might get a high-powered job where they end up having very little time for socializing.

All of this is fine and normal and, frankly, should be expected.

Recognize, too, that these aren't the only people in the world who you can ever be friends with. There are a lot more fish in the friendship sea, and you can dangle out your hook and bait it with things like being friendly to your neighbors, joining a Meetup group, volunteering, going to a gym, or doing any of a thousand things you can do to meet other people. You're not being untrue to them if you hang out with other folks. You're expanding your friendship circle. And there is a lot that is right and good about that.

Oh, and one more thing. You've had a great two years with a terrific group of people. You've been able to open up, relax, let your guard down, and be yourself.

That means you can do it, and you can do it again. Smile
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