Words To Live By: Coping With The Nine Year Itch
Perhaps I'm getting to that stage in my life - a decade or so after college - where people's lives move on. So tranches of friends have made at least one career/country/relationship change. No surprise when the average British marriage lasts just nine years - no idea if this is true or not - apparently.
Here's the dilemma; you've known people a while. Sometimes as a couple, often as a single-person-turned-couplee. You hang out. Neither one is more your friend than the other. You like them. You like their children. Then, you hear on the grapevine that they've separated.
First off, you're upset for the children. Although I'm pretty damn sure it's better to be secure in two separated households than miserable as sin in one unhappy one. Second, you get into that "oh, shit, how do I stay friendly with them both" angst scenario. As if the ultimate, liberal, therapy-aware, modern thing to do was not form a view.
Not good. When you're lives are intertwined with your friends - mutual acquaintances, shared community involvement, kids at the same school, whatever - it's hard to do that.
I have the solution. Forget rambling on about friendship, balance, blah blah blah: make a decison. It's simple and straightforward; which half of the former couple do you like more?
So, in two recent examples, A and B split up, who I'd known pretty much equally at college; I chose A. I regard A as my friend now, and am happy to admit I've taken sides, if questioned. Or, with C and D, I never knew D that well, and always thought of C being more on my wavelength; now I don't need to panic. C is my friend. I don't wish D any - or B, for that matter - any harm, and I'd be delighted to run into them somewhere, I just don't consider them a close friend.
Now I don't have to worry about inadvertantly inviting both parties round on the same night, or playing chinese whispers, or what really happened. If A or C choose to tell me their side of the story, I'll accept it wholemeal - as opposed to piecemeal - and if they don't, I'm still their friend.
Try it. The new, post-liberal approach to your friends splitting up - it's an end to your sleepless nights.