Fall Outs & Rules of Engagement

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I’m not dogmatic about a lot of things, except loyalty. Loyalty is such a deeply ingrained part of my character. When it comes to friends, family, or significant others  if I’m for them then I’m for them 100% no matter what. Sometimes to the point of my own detriment and regardless of whether they deserve my loyalty or not.

The year I graduated from high school my best friend of seven years and I fell out. Now this wasn’t an abnormal occurrence. We were both stubborn head strong young women so we were always having disagreements. This time I had reached my peak of tolerance and completely wrote her off. As far as I was concerned, her and I never had to speak again. In the meantime both of us traveled in the same circles and had mutual friends. Since we were so close and always together people noticed that we weren’t speaking to each other. I was asked often what happened between the two of us. When I was asked this questions I had two choices. My first choice (and the common one picked by a teenager) was to not only go into detail about the falling out but to take the opportunity to trash talk my ex friend and spread all of the things she told me in confidence. My second choice was to simply say that we don’t speak anymore and leave it at that. I always chose the latter. As mad as I was at my ex friend I never felt it was necessary to trash talk her and spread her business. After all, we’d been best friends since 7th grade. I still had a sense of loyalty to certain aspects of the friendship even though I had no desire to continue it.

Over the years I’ve learned that this is a typical pattern of mine. Regardless of where my relationship stands with a particular person if we have a major falling out I try to leave it between the two of us as much as possible. I’ll admit that I can lean towards vindictive behavior when hurt. However such behavior stops just short of breaching my deep sense of loyalty.

I chose to write about this because I see often how “friendships” play out on the Internets. Two people will have a disagreement and all of a sudden one (or both) parties are sharing it all over their social networking and/or blog sites. People who were friends will all of a sudden attack each others character, trash talk each other, and share to the world personal business told in confidence. Putting it out on the Net allows them to recruit others into the conflict. This turns into a situation where the conflict is fueled and people are offering an opinion on a situation where they only know one side of the story and/or trash talking someone they have never even met.

This kind of behavior is lame and childish.

For one, a person that willing to turn on another person to that degree as a result of a conflict could never really have called themselves a friend to begin with. I don’t know about anyone else, but no matter how angry I am with a friend, family member, or significant other I’m not going to stand by and allow anyone else to speak negatively about that person. Especially if they don’t know the person or the situation. As far as spreading their personal business out of anger, why would anyone want to do that? Is it even necessary? Another thing to consider is this; there may be a time where the disagreement is resolved. It’s never a good look to trash talk and betray confidences just to turn around and make up as though the conflict never happened. It makes a person look like a fake and a fool and nine times out of ten others are going to give a person the side eye like “Weren’t you just bad mouthing so-and-so?”.

Yet I will concede that everyone lives by a different code, mine just includes loyalty and discretion. Everyone has disagreements but it’s all in how the parties involved choose to engage. In my opinion, a true test of friendship (and the best way to reveal true character) is in how a person interacts with you during a conflict.

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