I was having dinner with a friend not long ago. (A lesbian friend)
(Had to work that word in for reasons).
She was telling me about a breakup that she had with her partner. She told me that, in an effort to try to garner sympathy for herself and influence her friends to side with her (and perhaps not spend so much time with the ex), she did a lot of talking. Her ex, however, didn't talk much at all. As a result, the ex got the shit-end of the stick and my friend got all of the support that she was looking for. Looking back on it now, she regretted it.
As she was telling me this, I reflected back to when my ex and I broke up. The same thing happened. As an INTJ, I sort of laid low, not wanting to involve our friends in all of the complexities that led to the end of our relationship, including wanting to protect my ex who was suffering from an illness. I didn't want them to have loyalty conflicts so even though we spoke, we didn't speak about my ex or the break-up. But soon, I found that I had ended up on the outs in some of our circles because they heard her story but never heard mine and felt sympathy for her.
I didn't crave sympathy or attention because I was so full of grief. I didn't want to give them a blow-by-blow of how I lost any sense of trust with her or why I decided that I would never be able to take her back. Because at the end of the day, I realized that even if I didn't trust her, they still might. And I didn't want her to lose her friends because I was angry and hurt.
I told my friend my story and how sad I had felt that some of our mutual friends had formed an opinion of me without knowing my side or even asking for it. And as the words escaped from my mouth, I wondered about what I just said:
- If you are the mutual friend, is it better to ask for someone's side of the story after heard the other side?
- Is it incumbent upon you, as a mutual friend, to seek both sides?
- Or is that just none of your business?
You could be considered a bad friend for prying
you could be considered a bad friend for not asking.
Is taking the high road and remaining silent when someone is attacking you really a good thing to do? Because people form opinions of you without really realizing it. And if you're not speaking, they only get input from an injured party.
There is a lost art of candor. You should be able to speak your truth without an agenda to elevate yourself or lower your ex in the eyes of a mutual friend. You should be able to go to anyone that you trust as a friend and pour your pain out without it being for the purpose of persuasion.
Your friends can't really know you if they only know the happy, pain-free, no- current-problems-or-concerns version of you. Friendships are built on honesty. But they are also built on integrity, trust, investment, trials, forgiveness and transparency.
At the end of the day, I think I will always hold in higher esteem a stoic who keeps their mouth closed than I do about an attention-whore who goes chasing sympathy from people just to feel pitied by people who don't even know what really happened.