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So you’re Switzerland — you are caught in the middle of a fight between two good friends, or even worse, your roommates. This puts you in an incredibly awkward and stressful position. You don’t want to pick sides, but their fight is starting to sap all of your energy. Not to worry, these five tips will help you cling to your sanity through every passive aggressive group text, cold shoulder, and screaming match.
Focus On You
This might seem like an impossible task when their fighting is consuming all of your energy, but it will help you regain your focus and redirect your energy into your own life. School, work, family, and other friends all need your attention too. Use your free time to stay away from the conflict and do things that make you happy like coloring a mandala or playing with a pet. Don’t let your friends take control of your life with their negative energy.
Don’t Try to Mediate Arguments
They don’t need your help or your interference. They are probably both coming to you with their sides of the story, but it is not your job to be the debate-moderator. You may know where each side is coming from, but they need to explain their side to each other and they need to do it on their own. The natural inclination is to try to get in the middle and help them sort everything out. Since you are on the outside you can see where they are misunderstanding each other, and that is probably driving you crazy. Unfortunately, trying to help them see their flawed thinking has the potential to cause more harm, or even have the aggression turned against you.
Don’t Feel Compelled to Take Sides
If they are both good friends of yours, or you want to keep extra tension out of your living situation, then I highly recommend staying neutral. It is way better to be in the middle than to stack the deck and make one friend feel attacked. If you gang up on one friend, it is likely that you will cause harm to that relationship. They probably both want you to affirm their side to prove that they are right, but this is only opening the door for more trouble later on. Make it very clear that you do not want to be involved and that you are not going to choose who is right.
Create Some Boundaries
All fights create a toxic environment and generate negative energy. The last thing you want is to be constantly drenched in that negativity. Tell your friends to keep their fight off of your group chat or tell them they cannot fight in your room or in a common room that you spend a lot of time in. Finally, if you all decide to go out together, make sure they leave the argument at home. They are your friends and they should respect your sanity and keep you out of their mess. If they can't do that for you, then perhaps group outings should be avoided for the time being. If you all share the same living space, perhaps taking some time to visit family or other friends might help create a separation between you and the conflict.
Recommend Some Professional Help
If they don’t seem to be working out their tensions in a timely or safe manner, then you might recommend that they get help. There is not a single one of you who is benefiting from this situation and seeking help can only improve your chances of a resolution. Whether that means seeing a therapist or just bringing in a trusted outside opinion from a shared support system, such as a College RA or a teacher, a grounded look from an objective observer might just be the trick to breaking the feud.
Remember, your friends’ fight doesn’t have to become your fight. You don’t have to get involved and you certainly shouldn’t lose any more sleep over it. Keeping your mental health in good shape is the most important outcome, but preserving the relationship with both individuals is a high priority too. In some situations it just isn't possible and if that is the case then the next step might be to distance yourself on a more permanent basis. Hopefully, these tips help you reduce stress and untangle yourself from their negative energy.