30 January, 2007

Am I doing the right thing?

So tonight J, Chickie and I went to a birthday dinner for a three year old. Her parents are in the process of splitting up and both were there. It was a little awkward at times but it wasn't nasty or anything.

I'm friends with both. I used to work with one and the other was a member of our mum's group (disintegrated now but I still catch up with most of the mothers). I'd like to stay friends with both.

I've heard some details about what happened from one and tonight the other asked me what I knew about it and what the other had told me. I played dumb and just said I didn't really know much about it all. Was that the right thing to say, do you think?

I have no intention of passing information on to the other. If one tells me something, I feel that information/discussion is in confidence. I didn't feel comfortable saying 'yeah, x told me what went on but I don't feel comfortable telling you what s/he said' - particularly when I've only heard the story from x. I feel that would be a little like saying I was on x's side.

Once y has told me their story (if they feel they want to, I don't want to push them either), should I then tell them both that I have no intention of revealing what's been said to me from either side? Or should I continue to play dumb? I can't see how they'll believe that for long really.

It's all a bit messy. Relatively civil, but messy. I just feel so sad about it all - they looked like the perfect family and then this, seemingly out of the blue.

15 comments:

carmelo said...

"Relatively civil, but messy"

You sure about that cara?

It isn't your role to play dumb, if they're not grown up enough to talk to each other properly, even through this, that's their problem. As a friend you are there to listen. If one is curious to find out what the other said about the situation, tell them to go the horses mouth, its not fair to drag you in. What happens if you tell your interpretation, and you might've got the wrong end of the stick?

Chinese whispers are never a good thing.

All this must be doubly complicated with the kid involved, you gotta feel sorry for them.

Robin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Robin said...

Yeah, yuck.

I suspect it will be hard to stay friends with both of them. As much as you want to stay neutral, you will probably identify with one or the other.

However, if you don't want to make any enemies, just be Switzerland. Sympathize with how they feel, but try to make it clear to them that you don't want to get in the middle.

Yuck.

caramaena said...

carmelo - relatively civil as they're not sniping at each other in front of the kids. They can talk to each other about the kids calmly etc. The circumstances of the split are the messiest bit. I don't want to go into details but there was one particular thing that x told me about and y asked about.

I think the reason I didn't want to say anything tonight was two-fold - 1. we were actually at x's parent's place for the dinner and 2. I like the idea of being Switzerland (as robin says) and figured coming out and saying to y, that I wasn't going to get in the middle might be interpreted (at that time) as being biased towards x.

robin - at this point in time, I'm leaning towards telling them both that I don't want to get in the middle, but I feel as if I should give both the chance to speak their mind first. Basically I don't want to give the impression that I'm on anyone's side. I'm meeting up with y next week and I have a feeling we'll probably talk more then. Perhaps after that?

I just wish it hadn't happened. I mean I've been divorced. I know how hard it can be even when it is relatively civil - I just am so thankful that with mine, there were no kids involved.

Charm School Reject said...

I was (and still am) in your shoes, very recently. Two friends of mine split up and it was extremely messy. I just made sure that I told them both up front that I wasn't choosing a side (I actually said "Im Switzerland") but that they both were welcome to come to me if needed to bounce thoughts off of me or to vent but that I wouldn't be going back and forth telling each other what the other said and that while they were welcome to vent and complain about the other, I would not participate in it. So far, it has worked reasonably well. There were a few times where I had to remind them that I was neutral but they've been good about it. A good friend wouldn't want you to be put in the middle of all of this.

Good luck! It'll be hard but hopefully your friendship means enough to both of them for them to accept your boundaries!

Winter said...

I think you did the right thing.. or atleast what I would have done. Soooo it's probably not to right thing if I would do it..

Nevermind.

caramaena said...

charm school - I'm glad to know it's working ok for you to be neutral. I'm hoping that I can do a similar thing. I really would like to stay friends with both.

winter - lol! I have to admit, I wasn't expecting any questions so playing dumb was the first thing that came to mind.

Stomper Girl said...

I'd advocate being veeeery vague about what you know and what you don't. To be a good friend to both of them, you probably just need to listen and sympathise without really putting in your oar. If you do manage to keep both friendships, good on you. These days you tend to have to include your mates in the 'division of property'.

Holly & Scolly said...

Difficult situation, but I would recommend not playing dumb. Be straight up and tell them you won't be swapping stories. It's hard to be in the middle, best of luck with that one! Can I send you an email?

caramaena said...

stomper - yeah, it does seem that only one party ends up with the friends. I'd really like to avoid that though. They're both really nice people.

holly & scolly - I don't think I'd be able to play dumb for long anyway. I wasn't expecting questions though and it was the first thing that came to mind.

I have decided that I'll tell y, when we meet up next week, that I'd like to remain friends with both and because of that I'll let them both know that whatever is said to me, by either, will be in complete confidence.

h&s - feel free to email me - caramaena at g mail dot com

Tasha said...

I say keep quiet. That's what I do in those situations, although it always gets me in trouble.

Izzy said...

I would have done the exact same thing... I'd play dumb all the way. How dare they try to get information from you. I would just nod and show some sympathy and that's it. No more no less... it's one thing to have a friend... its another to use a friend. If they want answers... go to the source.

Uggghhh buggers!

caramaena said...

tasha and izzy, I don't think I could keep playing dumb - they'll know the other will be talking. I'm going to have to let them know I won't pass information on about the other - I want to wait until after I catch up with y though.

I think I would have said it to y when asked, if it weren't for the fact we were at x's parent's place. x's parents have never liked y so it wasn't a comfortable situation for y to start with. That's why I figured if I said anything y would consider me to be taking sides.

Mind you, none of that came to mind immediately - I don't think quite that fast!

h&b said...

I tend to listen, then discard.

I think it was rude for the other partner to try and pry what you'd heard.

Talk about being put on the spot !!

caramaena said...

h&b - I was put on the spot - and I'll readily admit to not being the fastest thinker. Playing dumb was the first thing that came to mind. A stalling tactic, I suppose.