I’m just going to get right down to it.
So I have a close-knit group of friends, including my best friend who we’ll call Annie, and a guy who we’ll call Sal. They’re two of the most important people in my life. Recently, Annie was having issues with her boyfriend who we’ll call Elliot. She wasn’t as comfortable in the relationship as him, she felt pressured to stay with him, etc. During the main part of the drama, she told me that she was having confusing feelings to Sal. And our sort-of-roommate Ellie overheard and said that she was too and so was another friend Betty.
They all went to confront him, deciding that his rampant flirting was at fault and I joined them because I sort of felt responsible for the confrontation because I had suggested to Annie that she should maybe talk to him and try to figure things out.
He admitted that he liked Annie and Betty but would never do anything to mess with Annie’s relationship and apologized for making things weird and said he’d stop. Betty told him that she appreciated his attention, but she saw him more as a brother and would like to stay friends. We left and that was that. After a little bit, Annie and her boyfriend work on their issues and she finally breaks up with him. She tells me she still has feelings for Sal and might like to see how that would work out after some time.
Shortly after this, Betty and Sal announce they’re dating. I am confused, but I generally am so I sort of try to ignore it. After a week or so and a lot of discussion, Annie starts dating him too and Sal identifies himself as Poly.
I’m concerned, but I know it’s not really any of my business so I’m trying to stay out of it and not worry about something I can’t do anything about.
The problem is Ellie.
She feels mega-uber-betrayed that Betty and Sal are dating(she doesn’t know that Annie is too) and she sort of flipped out and raged at me about it, then decided to cut the two of them out of her life. I was just wondering if you had any advice on what I could say to her to make her stop bringing it up to me? It’s been about 3 months and as I said before Sal is one of my closest friends and I’m not entirely sure why she feels so mad at Betty for dating him?(Her and Sal had a long conversation after the confrontation where he apologized for any confusing feelings and told her that he didn’t see her that way, and he was sorry but he saw her as a friend, so on and so forth).
But she won’t stop complaining to me about it and I’m rapidly losing patience and I feel like a bad friend but I just want to tell her she’s being stupid and to let it go. And furthermore, I’m actually worried about if and when she finds out that Annie is technically also dating him because if she said something bad about Annie I would probably rip her a new one but she’s my friend and I don’t want to do that.
I don’t know if this made any sense, but do you have any advice?
~ It’s not my beeswax, and it’s not yours.
Whoa. There are too many names in this story. But I will try to help you resign from the Joint Chiefs of Who Your Friends Are Fucking.
Step 1: Build a TARDIS, borrow some Retcon from the Torchwood crew, or perfect that procedure from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and undo the part where you all went to confront Sal about how he was “causing” the feelings your friends were having for him and made the course of everyone’ s sex and dating life some kind of group decision.
I mean, it’s not completely crazy for Ellie to think that this was something that would be decided as a group partially because y’all tried to decide it as a group. But pantsfeelings are inherently unfair, and there was never going to be a solution that would satisfy everyone. This is not that Buck Rogers episode /MRA fantasy where men are kidnapped by sexy women for their seed. There are other dudes in the world!
Step 2: Because Step 1 is impossible, use a single one-size-fits-all mantra:
“I don’t know. It’s none of my business. You should ask ________ directly about that.“
Use it for everyone. About everything related to who is putting their kissing parts where. Then change the subject.
If the subject won’t stay changed, say “I’ve been trying to change the subject for a reason. I don’t want to discuss this. My friends’ sex lives are not my business, and we’ve discussed this already too much for my comfort level. So we should end the conversation now.” Leave the room/chat window/phone call if necessary. Boundaries!
Step 3: If someone makes a big dramatic gesture, like deciding never to talk to other friends again, say “Whoah, that would make me really sad. But do whatever you feel like you have to do.“
Step 4: I don’t think Ellie wants to cut everyone off as much as she wants to obsess at length about the unfairness of it all and indulge her crush for Sal. I could be wrong. But a good outcome for you is everyone stops gossiping about and trying to control each other’s love lives at you (you can’t control what they’ll do all the time with other people). So practice your best shrug and be a bad audience for this kind of thing. Suggest she put her energy into finding a more amenable dude, but that whatever she does, you can’t be her #1 confidant about this.
Script: “Jesus, Ellie, I know he hurt your feelings, but attraction is subjective and unfair. Stop obsessing over this guy! You can’t pressure someone into dating you. I understand if you don’t want to be around him right now while you work out your feelings – that sounds great. DON’T BE AROUND HIM FOR A WHILE. But I can’t listen to this anymore.“
Don’t tell her about Sal & Annie. Unless you want to listen to twenty more hours of analyzing and bitching about stuff that is none of your beeswax, that is. It’s okay to get a little pissed off after 3 months of listening to this, and good friendships can stand a little bluntness. If Ellie can’t get the message, she’s the problem.