Teen talk: Friends' dispute leaves frustrated girl stuck in the middle

04/23/2013 12:00 AM

04/22/2013 3:27 PM

DEAR KELLY: Two of my good friends recently got into a huge Twitter war over one friend's ex-boyfriend and that the other friend has become really close to him.

One friend posted something about how people need to back off of jumping on guys who still might get back with their ex-girlfriends. The other friend responded that people don't own other people and can talk to and hang out with whoever they want.

It turned into a huge fight and they both said some really mean things about each other. All over a guy!

They refuse to sit together at lunch (or even speak to each other), so our once big group who used to always sit together at the table is now divided with some people going to another table and having to pick sides. Every day I get a bad stomachache before lunch because I'm so nervous about where to sit and how not to make either of them mad at me or think I'm choosing sides.

I've tried the every-other-day thing where I sit with each one on different days, but that seems hard because they ask me things like, "What was that table saying about us yesterday when you sat there?" or "Why didn't you sit here yesterday?"

When I said that I wasn't going to pick either side, they both got mad.

What advice would you give me? How can I keep the peace with everyone and are there some situations where you have to pick a side even though you don't want to? Honestly, I like them both and want to be friends with both but I don't know if that's possible anymore. I thought this would end, but it hasn't and I don't know if it ever will. I want an easy answer that keeps me out of all of it, but I don't know if there is one.

– Sydney

DEAR SYDNEY: You've heard the old phrase "caught between a rock and a hard place"? That appears to be your situation, and there might not be an easy answer to your question that brings the peace you seek.

Feeling caught in the middle means that you feel stuck between unpleasant and unyielding options that seem to offer no choice that would be all around good. Anytime you are forced to choose between two people you like and want to be friends with, it's a hard place and can be very stressful.

Getting stomachaches every day says to me that your body is really absorbing all the stress, which is not healthy. Anytime we experience a body ache related to negative feelings, it tells us that we need to do something quickly so we stop putting our body and our mind through whatever is upsetting us.

Your health is way more important than pleasing either of these girls, and you owe it to yourself to figure this out so you don't keep feeling so miserable before lunch.

If you have tried to let them know you weren't going to pick sides and neither did a good job of respecting your feelings about this, then it's time to take a different approach. Find another table that doesn't involve either side and sit somewhere new. That will send a pretty clear message that you want no part of their argument. Or find a spot and let them come sit with you instead of you having to choose with whom to sit. When they ask why you are sitting at a new table, simply state you wanted to avoid all the drama.

Or if you don't want to try to find somewhere new to sit, go eat in the library or outside somewhere that feels peaceful and relaxing.

Stop letting their argument upset you. Move your lunch spot and eat with other people. Make new friends who don't have so much drama. Learn from their mistakes about how one out-of-hand tweet can ruin a friendship. Don't play their games.

If you don't want to be in the middle, don't be. Stay neutral and stop trying to please them both. If they get upset with you for pulling away, let that be their problem. You didn't do anything wrong, so stop letting their feud upset you. If they have a beef with each other, they can figure it out and hopefully do it without using Twitter to solve their problems.

Write to Kelly Richardson at Teen Talk, The Sacramento Bee, P.O. Box 15880, Sacramento, CA 95852, or email krichardson@sacbee.com.

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