When you are friends with two people who don’t get along with each other at all, it can be a tricky situation for you to navigate.
Being friends with two people who don’t get along or with one who bullies another can be tough. This can be especially difficult for kids and teens. A child may become friends with someone who their existing friend doesn’t like. Or, a child may get stuck in the middle of two friends who used to get along, but now don’t. When these scenarios happen, the person stuck in the middle may feel like they’re forced to lie or choose a side in order to prevent having one or both of their friends turn against them.
While it would definitely be easier if there were no issues and everyone got along, it is possible to maintain friendships with two people that don’t happily coexist.
When one friend is bullying another friend
When you witness one friend bullying another, you become a bystander. Below, is an example of a bully, victim and bystander among three friends.
Several days during lunch, Molly has been making fun of Tina. It’s evident that these jabs are more than just teasing and that they’re making Molly feel bad. Natasha, who is friends with both of them, is not sure what to do.
A bystander, especially when it’s among friends, can feel very uncomfortable. You may want to speak up, but don’t know how. You may feel bad for one friend, but afraid to say something to the other friend.
Related: 6 Stereotyped Myths About Bullying
The power of peer influence is huge and can scare many people away from doing the right thing. It takes a great deal of courage and strength to stand up to one or more peers who are being bullies. While it’s good if you feel comfortable being a positive bystander, more often than not, most people (especially kids) are neutral bystanders. They don’t take a side one way or another – with the victim or the bully. There are many reasons why most people don’t get involved, including the fear of being bullied themselves and losing a friend.
It’s important to know that if you’re a neutral bystander during the bullying, your voice and actions can still be powerful afterwards.
Below, are some ways a neutral bystander can remain friends with the bully and the victim and still have a powerful voice.
- Go back to the friend after the bullying and ask if she is ok.
- Stay kind. Don’t go along with the bully’s negative comments and remain positive to both friends.
- During the bullying, try to change the subject. Veer away from making or agreeing with negative comments.
- While standing up for another kid is great, parents should not push their kids to do so. Instead, they can teach their kids to use empathy, empowerment, and engagement and help their kids practice being a bystander with a positive voice or friends with two people who don’t get along by role-playing.
Staying neutral in friends’ battles
When you have two friends that have turned against each other, one of the best things that you can do is to be there for both of them. Staying neutral means not picking sides or saying bad things about one to the other. It’s best to state your feelings openly and honestly, which means telling both of your friends that you care about them and value their friendship. If your two friends refuse to hang out together, it’s important to let both know that you respect their decisions, yet you would like to remain friends with both.