There’s an inevitable awkwardness when two friends break-up, depending on the type of relationship you had with each person before they were together. Sometimes you only know someone because they were “so and so’s boyfriend/girlfriend,” so you simply revert back to the friendship you had before they were “so and so’s boyfriend/girlfriend.” Yet, it becomes a harder battleground when both of them, on their own, were solid friends with you before they started dating. So what do you do when the relationship goes south?
1. Awkwardness Exists
The Mutual Friend: You will feel the awkwardness of a change. Don’t expect not to. Your friends’ relationship was something that was a part of your understanding of them both, and now it’s not. You’re also acutely aware that both have mixed feelings about the whole thing, and there isn’t too much you can do about it.
The Ex-Couple: Acknowledge that it’s strange and speak about what’s helpful for your friends with your friends. If you don’t want them asking you about your ex, then don’t ask your friend about your ex. However, also acknowledge that they have a friendship with your ex, and don’t become bitter towards them for that.
In speaking about your relationship and ex aim to do so with compassion and graciousness. It’ll make your friends feel less consumed by concern about treading on your toes in an already awkward situation.
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. – Ephesians 4:1-3
2. Set Realistic Time-Frames and/or Boundaries
The Mutual Friend: When friends breakup they’ll likely need some time away from each other’s company so that they can deal with what they’re feeling as well as readjusting to being single.
The Ex-Couple: Set a realistic time-frame for your friends, whether you share it with them or not, for when you’ll rejoin social gatherings that your ex has been invited to. If you’re only keen to come to large gatherings, tell your friend that. If you need extra moral support for social gatherings, and will struggle to enjoy the time if there isn’t more than one person you know, tell your friend that.
However, also remember that friends have feelings as well. Don’t use your bitterness towards your ex as an excuse to avoid maintaining the relationships with your mutual friends.
See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. – Hebrews 12:15
3. Do Not Expect or Encourage Friends to Choose Sides
The Mutual Friend: Do not pick a side just because it’s easier to know what ground to tread. You’ll likely find yourself validating thoughts and feelings that you shouldn’t. Aim to avoid any conversation on “why” so that you aren’t tempted to build your own opinions on someone else’s relationship.
The Ex-Couple: When people are hurt at the ending of a relationship, there’s the urge to encourage mutual friends to “pick” someone. Irrespective of if you tell the friend why you broke up, don’t expect them to ditch the ex as their friend regardless of who you feel is at fault.
If you are legitimately concerned about their behaviour take it up with someone in leadership.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord. – Romans 12:17-19
4. Act like a follower of Christ
Mutual Friends and Ex-Couples: Your ex and your Christian friends are all a part of the body of Christ. They’re also brothers and sisters too. All are called to imitate Christ in how they act and speak. Although in the messiness of breakups, people are often subject to their sin, we should aim to encourage one another in thought, action and speech as ones who have been saved by Christ.
Do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. – 3 John 11
For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.Therefore encourage one another and build each other up… – 1 Thessalonians 5: 9-11