Monday, January 28, 2008

When Gay Friends Split

Hope this question isn't too frivolous for you, Dr. Bill. I'm a straight woman whose been friends for years with two guys who have been lovers for over fifteen years. They broke up only a few months ago but I've remained friends with them and even tried to get them back together -- however, now they don't even want to be in the same room together, it's that bad. I'm having a big fiftieth birthday bash in a couple of months and want both of them there; I still love both of them. Some of my friends, gay and straight, tell me that I just can't invite both of them -- they will fight with each other, get angry at me, and the whole thing will become a big mess. What can I do? A.

First, thanks for your question. There's nothing "frivolous" about it. [You should see some of the questions I get.] When a couple -- gay or straight -- breaks up, it's always difficult to stay friends with both and it's admirable that you've managed to do just that. Is there really a danger that they will fight if they encounter each other at your birthday bash? Do they both realize that you have remained friends with the other, or do they each think that you've "chosen sides?" If so, you've got to level with them and ask them both to be reasonable. This is your big day -- congratulations, by the way -- and if they're really friends of yours they won't want to spoil it. If one or both expect you to choose sides, tell them they're being unfair. Again the key word here is reasonable. If they can't behave in a reasonable fashion, then maybe your only choice is not to invite either of them. (I suspect that they might be big "drama queens," eh? Maybe not.)

A lot depends on where you're having this bash and how many people will be there. Obviously these two men cannot avoid each other if you're having a sit-down dinner or small party with only a few people in your living room. If you're having a larger group in, say, a restaurant, maybe they can stay in neutral corners and out of each other's way.

Talk to them, tell them how you feel, tell them you want both of them there. Understand that if they really hate the idea of seeing one another -- it may simply cause too much pain or anger --one or both may decide not to attend and at least then it will no longer be a problem. You may miss their presence on this special evening, but at least you won't be on edge all night fearing an explosion. Hopefully, they will both decide that their friendship for you is more important than whatever animosity they may feel for each other, but when couples break up after many years, the animosity may sometimes be too big to overcome. At least for awhile.

Hope it works out and have a great night!

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