[Two Pronged] What do I do about my disloyal friend?
Rappler's Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr Margarita Holmes.
Jeremy has a master's degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives.
Dear Dr Holmes and Mr Baer:
My boyfriend of 18 months broke up with me two days before I was to fly to Texas this week to be with him, so I decided it was better not to go. He admitted that he wasn't ready to commit a hundred percent to me. I then decided it was not worth flying all the way to the US just to be with a man who wasn't that committed to me.
I was very hurt by what happened. I am still very hurt, but I hope the pain will go away in time. I do not blame only him, as there were mistakes I made during our time together.
My biggest mistake was to agree to be his girlfriend so soon after he broke up with his ex. I think they had broken up only two months before that. I should have waited longer before saying yes. Perhaps then I would not have been his "rebound" love.
But I can never forget what his sister did to me. His sister was a very good friend of mine and I met "Roy" through her. Let's call her Marika. It was Marika's idea that Roy and I get together after Roy and his girlfriend ended things. I knew Roy for many years, but he was nothing more than a friend during the time he had a girlfriend.
When Roy and his girlfriend broke up, Marika started pushing me towards him. She did the same to him. I was lonely, and Marika knew that. She said that since she loved us both, she wanted us to be happy, and since we were both free, why not be happy with each other?
Our own breakup started when his ex-girlfriend went to his mother's wake. Roy lives in Texas and was here (in the Philippines) only for the funeral.
When his ex came during the wake, it was as if I didn't exist. He had eyes only for her. I was sitting two pews from the altar, with my friends. He was sitting with us. But when his ex came he immediately stood up and went to her.
I knew then we were over.
But the way Marika behaved was even more hurtful. As soon as Roy's ex entered the church, she too, stood up to be with her. She knows me. She knows how much her brother's actions hurt me. But still, Marika went and stayed with Roy's ex and did not come back to sit with us.
Now that Roy and I have broken up, Marika has been trying to be friends with me again. But I cannot forget what she did to me. I value loyalty in my friends and at the time I needed her most, she was not loyal. I find it impossible to forget that she caused me so much pain. She could have avoided hurting me if she were more thoughtful, and less anxious to befriend Roy's ex.
How can someone forget to be with a friend simply because another person walks into a church?
When someone told her how hurt I was, she asked what she was expected to do. His ex always gave her tickets to the top shows in Manila, as she worked in an industry that had easy access to such things.
I do not know what to do now. We are all supposed to still be a barkada but I find it so hard to pretend that nothing was broken between us.
Roy is back in the States so I do not see him anymore. But Marika is always here, visiting me in the shop I own with my father. I wish I could tell her to stop visiting me, especially since I now see how she can so easily forget me when his ex is there.
Please help me. What is the best thing to do in a situation like this?
Thank you for your email.
You seem to have analyzed your relationship with Roy to your own satisfaction and at least reached some sort of resolution as far as that is concerned. However, you now find that his sister Marika stands between you and moving on with your life.
While we can all have complex relationships that weave all sorts of conflicting strands, I must say that a supply of show tickets as an excuse for violating a friendship is a true gem. It is original in its innate fatuousness but it is also stunning in the way it reveals a breathtaking shallowness of thinking on Marika's part. Of course we all have to weigh the pros and cons involved in the myriad decisions our lives require of us, but Marika's choice to opt for the occasional bit of theater courtesy of her brother's ex, rather than her long friendship with you, beggars belief.
It is, I suppose, just possible to imagine that she was overcome with grief at her mother's wake and lost all sense of judgment, but even then to persist in this most flimsy of justifications betrays either a callous disregard for you or exceptional stupidity, if not both. Further evidence of poor judgment is to be found in pursuing you at your place of business, a locale scarcely suited to righting private and personal wrongs such as this.
So you ask what is to be done. One obvious option is a frank face-to-face discussion, but not everyone relishes confrontations of this type. Alternatively, you could use the same intermediary as before to send her a message to discourage any further contact. Should she nevertheless reappear at your shop, then, as a public disagreement might be embarrassing and bad for business, perhaps an urgent need to check inventory or some such fiction would be sufficient to remove you from the public area and avoid anything distasteful.
Best of luck,
Thank you very much for your letter. I congratulate you on your ability to realize that, no matter how hurt you are/were about your breakup with Roy, you are not angry at him. You know that love cannot be forced (even if, by the way, you are not sure he and his ex are together once more) and Roy behaved without any duplicity in his relationship with you.
Marika, however, is another matter. I can understand the different emotions you had towards her that night of her mother's wake and the days after:
First, the hurt you felt when she abandoned you to fend for yourself when she quickly joined Roy's ex and stayed with her and Roy the rest of the time. A true friend would not behave as she did.
Second, your surprise at Marika's excuse for behaving as she did: hard to get tickets for shows in Manila. In truth, no matter how expensive or difficult to attain anything was that Roy's ex gave her, Marika's behavior would still rankle.
That, after all, is similar to the conversation Winston Churchill purportedly had with a woman:
Churchill: "Madam, would you sleep with me for 5 million pounds?"
Socialite: "My goodness, Mr. Churchill... Well, I suppose... we would have to discuss terms, of course... "
Churchill: "Would you sleep with me for 5 pounds?"
Socialite: "Mr. Churchill, what kind of woman do you think I am?!"
Churchill: "Madam, we've already established that. Now we are haggling about the price."
Actually, when I first heard this story eons ago, it was Oscar Wilde, and not Churchill, who made the distinction between a high-priced and an ordinary street walker. This conversation might even be merely an urban legend, but it does bring home the point, doesn't it?
Finally, I laud your anger (rather than self-blame) at Marika's other actions:
- her refusal to take responsibility for her behavior that night; and
- her expecting you to participate in the charade that your friendship is as good as it was before the wake.
If any fingers were to be pointed at whoever it was that encouraged your seemingly (cause we don't know for absolute sure, right?) though most likely accurately described rebound relationship, they would most likely be pointed at Marika too.
A rebound relationship is defined as a new relationship meant to get you past the old one. Someone is in a rebound relationship if he or she has been rejected and is looking for another relationship to make him or her feel better.
However, please remember that while a relationship may start out as one on the rebound, it can move on to be something deeper and better.
That did not happen this time, but it certainly can the next. Indeed, if (and when) you become open to having a relationship once more, you might even have a relationship that does not start as one on the rebound at all.
At the moment, you are probably the loneliest you have ever been – not only because you no longer have someone you possibly FaceTimed/Skyped/Vibered several times a day, but also because you cannot pretend nothing fractured the relationship between you and Marika. It is possible that mutual friends will get in on the act, taking sides about a situation they know little of. Thus, you may wind up not only significant other-less and BFF-less, but possibly also barkada-less.
However, the above potentially sad situation can actually save you from what many say is the loneliest experience of all – being in a crowd but having no one you really trust, respect, or like.
And should anyone else try to embroil you in this with a "she said, he said, they said" kind of story, just listen (if you must) and don't comment, no matter how outrageous the stories may become. You do not need to explain, much less, defend yourself. After all, a lion doesn't lose sleep over the opinion of sheep.
Try to be as brave as can be and hold fast to the notion that the light at the end of the tunnel need not be that of an oncoming train.
All my very best,
Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with subject heading TWO PRONGED. Unfortunately the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.