Recently, a couple I have known for a long time split up—much to the surprise and disappointment of everyone around them. They were the kind of couple that threw amazing dinner and cocktail parties, who were the picture of love and affection everywhere they went, and generally made you feel good whenever you were around them. No one knows how long the breakup was pending, but when the news spread through our circle of friends, we were all collectively shook.
When we finally recovered from the news of their breakup, a new panic spread among us: Who would get the friends after the breakup?
This may seem like a petty question to ask, but in some situations it is a real consideration after a breakup. People are often expected to choose sides in the split, and that can be an impossible dilemma when you are close to both people in the now dissolved relationship.
In my case, I have known both people for a very long time, and I am close to both of them. The shock of the breakup aside (neither of them told me shit, and I’m glad they didn’t), I honestly don’t want to have to choose one over the other because I love them both. I value both of them as friends. I want to be able to continue being friends with both of them.
Unlike other breakups that involve cheating or a betrayal of some kind, theirs simply stems from their not wanting to be a couple any longer. As it was explained when the bombshell was dropped on me, they “just aren’t compatible anymore.”
They don’t have children (thankfully), so there is only their shared apartment to split up (he’s moving; she’s staying). They will divide up their shared belongings and disconnect their lives rather seamlessly.
So, again, who gets the friends?
What is the proper etiquette for these situations?
They haven’t said that we as friends have to choose, but you know those awkward moments are going to present themselves when we are having a group outing or a group dinner or a party or get-together somewhere and we have to decide: Do we invite him or her?
You don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable. Undoubtedly they will eventually move on and start dating other people. No one wants to end up with a scene like the one that happened when Issa ran into Lawrence and Aparna at Derek’s birthday party on Insecure. It’s too messy, and no one wants to be messy.
So who decides? Do the friends make the choice themselves? Does the couple decide who gets to still hang with whom?
How do you navigate these relationships post-breakup?
I will admit that the petty overtook me during my last breakup, and I specifically told my ex that he was not allowed to have contact with any of the people he knew only because of me. I told them that, too.
Truth be told, it probably would have ended up working out that way anyway, because he’s not exactly a social butterfly, and the idea of him reaching out to any of my friends to hang out was pretty preposterous in the grand scheme of things, but like I said—I was petty, and I didn’t even want him talking to them on social media. He didn’t do that, either.
In that instance, it was my choice and he unwittingly obliged, but this is a couple known for being very social—and the angst that it is creating in our friend circle got me wondering how we would figure all this out.
What do you do when you break up with someone and you are friends with the same people? Do you make your friends choose? Do you choose?
Have you ever been in this situation before?
This is a point to ponder and discuss, so let me hear your thoughts in the comments.
We will be discussing “Who gets the friends in the breakup?” on our next The Root After Dark Twitter chat, Tuesday at 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT. I will take over The Root’s official Twitter account as always, and we will chop it up. Be sure to follow The Root on Twitter and be a part of the discussion using the hashtag #TheRootAfterDark.