Caught be­tween fight­ing friends

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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Style&Seen - NATALIE BEN­CIVENGA Natalie Ben­civenga is the Post-Gazette’s Seen and so­ci­ety ed­i­tor. She has a master’s de­gree in so­cial work from the Univer­sity of Pitts­burgh. Need ad­vice? Send ques­tions to nben­[email protected] Fol­low Natalie on Twit­ter @NBSee

DEAR NATALIE: My friend, Amanda, and I both have a mu­tual friend, Jen­nifer. Jen­nifer is an in­tense per­son, and you ei­ther like her or you don’t. Amanda and Jen­nifer were re­ally good friends for a long time, but they re­cently had a fall­ing out. Now Amanda is telling me that if I still hang out with Jen­nifer we can’t be friends any­more. This doesn’t seem fair to me, as I get along with both of them. I told Jen­nifer what Amanda said, and now they are fight­ing again. Amanda is threat­en­ing to end our friend­ship. What can I do to mend fences while still stay­ing true to my­self? — CAUGHT IN THE MID­DLE

DEAR CAUGHT IN THE MID­DLE: Why on earth did you tell Jen­nifer what Amanda said to you? All that did was stir the pot, and now ev­ery­one is in a fight. While I don’t know what your in­ten­tion was, that wasn’t the smartest move. Now, Amanda doesn’t trust you, and it will be a lot harder to mend fences. On the other hand, I don’t un­der­stand why Amanda felt the need to dic­tate to you whether you should be friends with Jen­nifer.

You can be friends with whomever you want. De­cide what you want be­fore you mend fences. Clearly, you feel some loy­alty to Jen­nifer be­cause you told her what Amanda was say­ing. If you are go­ing to be friends with both mov­ing for­ward, you can’t talk to them about each other. This is only go­ing to make it worse for ev­ery­one.

You need to pick up the phone and call Amanda to apol­o­gize. Yes, pick up the phone. Do not text her. Tell her that you are sorry for re­peat­ing what she told you to Jen­nifer, and you re­al­ize now that if you are go­ing to re­main friends with both, you have to stay out of their re­la­tion­ship. Then, tell Amanda that while you value your friend­ship with her, you don’t ap­pre­ci­ate her ex­pect­ing you to drop friends be­cause she isn’t get­ting along with them. Leave it at that. If she can’t han­dle this an­swer, then you have to de­cide what’s more im­por­tant, your friend­ship with her or your re­la­tion­ship with your­self.

DEAR NATALIE: My brother just started dat­ing this new girl, and they are mak­ing ev­ery­one crazy with their pub­lic dis­plays of af­fec­tion. They are kiss­ing and hold­ing hands all the time, and they are prac­ti­cally on top of each other when we go out to din­ner. It’s re­ally gross and em­bar­rass­ing, and my fam­ily is over it. My mom wants me to say some­thing to my brother, but I think it will just make it worse. Any ad­vice for how to deal with these two? — NO PDA, PLEASE

DEAR NO PDA, PLEASE: Most likely this is a phase and will pass. You wrote that they just started dat­ing, so ev­ery­thing is re­ally new and ex­cit­ing. Per­haps they are fall­ing in love or just head over heels for one an­other. I think it is sweet and ro­man­tic that they can’t keep their hands off of one an­other. But not ev­ery­one is com­fort­able with that, and I un­der­stand your per­spec­tive.

Just let this play it­self out a lit­tle longer. They may calm down on their own over the next cou­ple of months and set­tle into a re­la­tion­ship with each other. You could al­ways just choose not to look at them. You could walk out of the room if you are un­com­fort­able. You could even make a joke and say some­thing like, “Get a room, love­birds.” Pub­lic dis­plays of af­fec­tion aren’t for ev­ery­one, but it’s his choice, after all.

Natalie’s Net­work­ing Tip of the Week: Don’t be afraid to smile. It makes you ap­pear more ap­proach­able. A gen­uine smile is the start of a gen­uine con­ver­sa­tion, which could lead to a fruit­ful con­nec­tion.

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