Can These Friendships Be Saved?
I have seriously screwed up several friendships (well, not 100% by myself, but mostly).
It’s a long story but I’ll try to sum up: My husband’s best friend, T.’s fiance L. has always been a bit nutty and that’s been all well and good (we’ve had to deal with some sort of issue with her every 6 months or so, my husband would make an innocent joke and she would get offended and not speak to us for weeks for example). Lately things have been strained because since we’ve become parents she’s said some hurtful things which we never brought up because we knew it would offend her and she would get mad and there would be weeks of them not talking to us followed by us apologizing and it increasing the awkwardness…again.
The other night after a group gathering my best friend and her husband were talking with them and my friend’s husband D. told them flat out that we don’t like L. OMG, right? It’s very high school. This led to T. calling my husband and demanding to know why we didn’t like her and reiterating that if we can’t be friends with L. we can’t be friends with him. So…very stupidly I wrote in my online journal which is viewable only to friends (T and L are not on that site) about the incident and vented about L. and the whole situation. Of course, T. saw it (not sure, but I think D. showed him). I said some horrible things on there that I totally regret. Now, we’ve lost T. as a friend (and as our child’s godparent) and we’ve lost D. and my best friend because he apparently thought he did the right thing by getting himself in the middle of things.
I don’t even know where to begin to figure out what to do. I hope you have some sort of guidance.
Whoa. Hang on. I need to draw a flow chart here, or something.
Let me see if I’ve got the principle characters straight:
You and your husband, who is friends with T, who is engaged to L.
Neither of you like L, but put up with her on behalf of T.
Enter your best friend and D, her husband, who decides let L know that you guys don’t like her. T takes his fiance’s side and defends her hurt feelings, issues ultimatum to your husband.
Enter you and your blog and an ill-advised rant and ta-da! We have our utterly predictable ending of Everybody Being Mad At Everybody Else.
Do I have all of that about right?
Okay, so from where my flowchart and I sit, this doesn’t sound promising. I have NO IDEA what D was thinking when he inserted himself into this and decided to spread gossip to L — who does that, besides junior high girls? — but he did and (unfortunately) it does sound like he was telling her the truth. You DON’T like her. You put up with her for the sake of your friendship with T, but clearly you’ve let your real feelings known to D and your friend.
For whatever reason, they decided to betray that trust. Maybe they thought your criticisms of L were unfounded, and were sick of hearing you complain about her. Maybe they thought it would help to get things out in the open. Maybe they were drunk and just said too much, or were attempting to execute a classic divide-and-conquer routine to become T and L’s new best friends. I just don’t know.
You say D thought he did the right thing, and he’s your likely suspect for passing along a private journal entry. (Though I never, EVER believe that anything on the Internet is truly private, but we can chalk that up to a naive mistake that you will never do again.) Perhaps this stuff could be forgiven and moved on from, if you believe you could ever trust this couple again…but I’m guessing D didn’t come off too well in your online telling of the story?
Perhaps he didn’t like seeing himself cast as the junior-high instigator who told L she was disliked to her face?
That’s a little harder, because I have no idea if D (and by extension, his wife, your best friend) will forgive you for that. (If that even IS an issue, OH MY GOD THIS IS A COMPLICATED QUESTION.) I don’t know if personally I’d be able to move past someone betraying my trust and telling tales at dinner parties about who I don’t like, even if his intentions were pure. (Which I have a hard time believing, because he had to know L’s feelings would be deeply hurt to hear she’s disliked.)
As for T and L…I’m sorry, I don’t see a solution here, other than you begging for forgiveness and them granting it. I feel sorry for L, even if she is a bit “nutty” and difficult, because the whole handling of this mess has to be so hurtful. She found out that you guys don’t like her, and discuss what you don’t like with other mutual friends, and just when she’s maybe recovering from that, she gets slapped in the face with an Internet tantrum that AGAIN, I’m guessing wasn’t particularly balanced and kind.
And unfortunately, I COMPLETELY side with T when it comes to defending his fiance. This is exactly what he’s supposed to. I’ve written before about hoping a friend will take your side over their spouse: Don’t. Put yourself in L’s shoes and imagine what you would expect your husband to do in this situation. If you had serious concerns about her suitability for T — like, a secret drug or criminal habit, or cheating, for example — that would be different and deserve a tough heart-to-heart with him. But the fact that she just bugs you guys and causes drama and takes offense at “innocent” jokes? Nope. You want be friends with T, you needed to find a way to make it work with L. And a way that DIDN’T involve gossiping about her to your best friend and her husband or venting in a friends-only Internet journal.
So. You and D are the primary mess-makers here. It sounds like you’ve accepted your responsibility but he hasn’t. So now you decide who you’re willing to apologize to and how much apologizing you’re willing to do, even in the face of D and your best friend defending his involvement. And…that’s all you can do. It’s up to everyone else to accept your apology and forgive you. That might happen! That might…not, and this kerfluffle might completely alter the state and tone of your friendship forever regardless, particularly if you end up resenting everybody for making you accept ALL of the blame. You don’t trust them, they likely won’t trust you…it just doesn’t sound like the recipe for a lot of great dinner parties.
So you apologize and you do what you can, you step away and hope that time will heal wounded feelings and pride, and meanwhile you and your husband sign up for some social classes and events and clubs and try to meet some new friends.
Who you promise to never, ever write about on the Internet.
Published March 3, 2010.
Last updated June 29, 2018.
Photo Source: Leeni!