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Should You Be Expected To Shun Someone Who Was Mean To Your Friend?

Is there a rule when it comes to being loyal?

Amy Schumer is a good sister and a good girlfriend, no surprise there. But she showed the extent of her loyalty on one episode of fellow comedian Jim Norton’s podcast when she said she had not been so nice to a woman who had been not so nice to one of her good friends. And in the new issue of Marie Claire, Amy says her best friend would describe her as "loyal."

That’s a solid friend to have, but should you always be expected to shun someone who was mean to a good friend of yours—even if they did nothing to you?

Sandra, 40, from New York, says when people around her have problems with each other, she tends to stay out of it if it doesn’t personally involve her. 

“It doesn't surprise me when other people have issues, I usually don't get involved because it's not personally against me. But then on the opposite side of the coin I have friends who are WAY too nice and get walked all over by certain people and with that I usually get involved,” she says. “It all depends on the circumstance. I just don't like seeing people being taken advantage of.”

Deborah, from  Los Angeles, says if you mess with her friends, you mess with her. 

“I’m loyal as hell,” she says. 

Brett, from New Jersey, says it becomes complicated when you are friends with both of the people who don’t like each other, but that he tries to smooth things over.  

“Sometimes your friends squabble and they both have valid points. We all have that friend that is quirky as well. Some deal better with the quirks than others,” he says. “True friends try to put out those fires.”

Danielle, from New York, doesn’t get involved until the person turns on her. 

“I’m friends with a lot of people who can't stand others,” she says, “My feeling is always, your problems aren't my problems until you start to be a jerk to me too for no valid reason.”

Sarah, from New York, says, “You hurt someone I love, you might as well hurt me. I try not to pursue relationships with those I have met through our mutual friend…I wouldn't feel right about being friends with someone who treated our mutual friend and someone I met first who I am actually friends with [badly.] 

“But the argument is inevitably, 'you can't tell me who I can and can not be friends with’…There are two sides to every story but you have to ultimately do what's best for you. At that point, we have different ideals of a friendship and loyalty.”

Pam, from New Jersey, also follows Amy’s rule, and says that she always sides with her friend of someone is treating them horribly. 

“I’m loyal to a fault.  Family, friends, work....if someone wrongs someone I'm usually the first to stand up to defend,” she says. “I've sent emails made calls and wait for it—DEFRIENDED—on Facebook! Not because of what some have done to me but because of what they have done to someone close to me.”

Friendship doctor Irene Levine says, “it’s easy to get angry at anyone who has been mean to someone you care about,” and it can be difficult to remain friends with someone who is acting out at your friend. 

“If your good friend is upset, it also can be dicey to remain friends with both,” Irene says. “Your friend may consider you disloyal. You can feel uncomfortable about whether or not to mention one to the other if both people are part of your life.”

She says to help address the dilemma (assuming both relationships are important to you), it’s often useful to speak to each person privately to find out what happened. 

“Sometimes just the act of talking out a situation can unravel a misunderstanding, dissipate anger and lead to insight,” she says. “You might be able to help the two understand each other’s point of view. Perhaps, the person wasn’t really mean but was merely having a bad day and reacting to some other hurt. Or, perhaps, your good friend is thin-skinned and the other person’s abrasiveness takes a bit of getting used to.”

But if you can’t affect a rapprochement between the two, the best course of action might be to “let your good friend know that you don’t condone the way the mean person behaved.”

“Tell her you understand how he/she would feel, would feel the same way if it happened to you, and can’t explain why this happened,” Irene says. “If you want to continue to have a relationship with the mean person, you can tell your friend that you appreciated her sharing her experience with you and you’ll be alert to any misbehavior.”

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