We’ve all been there. Going along in life with our bestie and suddenly something happens where you disagree. And there is a fight, or a rupture or a falling out. We feel devastated. How did this happen? Why did this happen? What happens when a friendship fractures? In military life this can be particularly sticky. We move in the same friend circles. We know the same people. Our partners are often acquaintances, friends or coworkers. How do you navigate this? First, I have to say that military friendships are forged in a different fire than some civilian friendships. We can endure more but I also think we expect more. Second, owning your part in the fracture goes a long way.
This happened to me a few months ago. My best friend and I had a falling out, over COVID, of all things. I remember the day like it was yesterday. I’m not going to go into the details but suffice it to say we did not meet each other’s expectations as friends. We were both operating out of fear. It was ugly. We did not talk for over a month. At the writing of this blog, I’m happy to say we have reconciled and are stronger in our friendship than ever. But how did we get here?
When we are in conflict, we do what we always have done. For some people that means “moving away” and taking time to think…like me. For others it means moving toward the conflict and addressing it, like my friend. What to do?
Knowledge is power. We both knew how we operated. We respected each other in that regard and that meant for someone who moves away, she waited for me. When I was ready, we ultimately resolved this issue. But there were some key things to containing the collateral damage that could have ended up making this irreparable.
- We did not go gossip maliciously among our friends. Especially in the military community where we are all so close, this is vital. Doing so is asking friends to take sides – there is a difference between venting and maliciously gossiping.
- We agreed to talk about it after some time had passed. We gave each other space. I needed it more than she did, and she honored that.
- We acknowledged our contributions to the fracture. This part was not easy but was necessary. We both contributed to what happened and acknowledged it.
- We wanted to reconcile. Oftentimes we fight with the people we love most and do not want to perpetuate it.
It seems so simple to break it down like this and I know that is not the case. However, there are times when it is necessary to distill it down in order to find a resolution. So, what happens if you cannot resolve an issue? Hopefully, you can still be cordial with one another or agree to be. Don’t ask your friends to choose sides – it is not their battle, and it only makes things worse. Set boundaries for yourself around the person in question and mourn the loss if appropriate.