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Love triangles and that guilty feeling

“Recently, one of my friends told my best friend that she is in love with her, and it’s caused a big rift between the two of them because my best friend didn’t feel the same way. Even though neither of them were right or wrong in the situation, all of my other friends have ‘picked a side’ and it’s making it really hard to hang out with either of them without feeling guilty. Do you have any advice on how to stop feeling bad about spending time with them? Thank you!”

LEAH, 21

I think it’s fairly safe to say that most of us have found ourselves in your situation, Leah! Being caught in a conflict between two people you love is incredibly stressful, especially when there are such raw emotions involved. I had a similar experience in college, when two of my closest friends broke up. It was really difficult seeing both of them hurt, and in my efforts to keep one happy, the other would feel put out. Eventually, once they were both over the hump of post-breakup blues, we all reconciled, but until then, it truly sucked. I feel you.

You’re completely spot on when you say that there is no right or wrong here. Both of your friends are entitled to their feelings, and in a way, it’s positive that those feelings have been put on the table. Even though this confession of love has complicated things in the immediate aftermath, I’m certain that the friend who did so will feel better in the long run. Now that they have told the truth, they finally have a definite answer, and can start to take the next steps to moving on.

In regards to your wider friendship group, it must be frustrating to see them take sides, especially when you are putting in so much effort to keep a positive relationship with both parties. Immediately siding with one friend over the other is never a great way to deal with any conflict, but it’s important to remember that your friends are probably just as stressed out and confused about the situation as you are! It might help to speak to some of them about it. There’s no harm in telling people that you’re feeling isolated and caught between two sides.

Speaking of which, the best way of avoiding any more tension is to be upfront with both your best friend and the other pal. Keep in mind that they’re probably both quite sensitive, and most likely both in a defensive mindset: one has just been rejected after putting themselves out there, and the other has been put in the awkward position of having to hurt someone. Be gentle with your phrasing, and make sure to emphasise that you are not picking sides. 

If either of them don’t like that you’re still friends with the other, then they’re simply not ready to take a mature approach to the whole thing. Even if they are upset, you have to stand your ground here! The easy thing is to give in to pressure and cast one of them out for the sake of the other, but that’s not what your gut is telling you to do. Just as your friends are both allowed to be upset about what went down, you are allowed to maintain a friendship with everyone. If your friends don’t respect your autonomy, then they’re not people who are worth your time.


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Maja Anushka

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May 2022
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