Your Column is a source of clarity in my life and I was hoping you could shed some light on a situation of mine. This is a loyalty problem, that involves 4 people.. :me, Jennifer, Richard, George, in 3 cities. I have to give you some background first. I'll try to make it short although its fairly complicated. I'll underline the important stuff.
I was living in Winnipeg for four years...going to University, studying violin. I met my best-friend George at University there. I then moved in 96, to L.A. to pursue a Masters Degree. I met my best-friend (platonic relationship) Jennifer in my second year there. She lived in my building.. Jennifer and I counseled each other through the rough times in L.A. including a couple of significant break-ups where she was my source of strength.
In the course of our friendship, I met her Boyfriend Richard who already lived off the continent by the time I met him. I only saw him when he came to visit her, but felt that I was a good friend of his, all the same. In the spring of 98, Jennifer moves back to Winnipeg. On my visits to Canada, I would visit her in Winnipeg and I'd still see Richard every couple of months when he came to town.
Richard broke up their three year relationship with Jennifer. Richard moved to L.A. (So now Richard and I are living in the same city.) The first problem came when Jennifer insisted, at the time of the breakup to both Richard and I that we should not be friends and that Richard shouldn't see any of her friends. Jennifer gave me an ultimatum, and said "you can be friends with whomever you like", and said that "I will make my decision according to your actions". After two weeks of discussion, Jennifer said that she just didn't want to think about the fact that Richard and I were communicating. And so I haven't mentioned a word about Richard (in the present tense) since...that's fair enough.....we worked it out. Shortly Afterwards, George and Jennifer began a relationship together back in Winnipeg.
Richard and I became very good friends in L.A.. He understands that we are not to talk about Jennifer. I council Jennifer from time to time on the changes that have gone on in her life without letting her know anything new about Richard.
The big problem now is: Richard met someone and announced to me that he is getting married and would like to fly me for free to England (his home town)to play violin for his wedding.
Just the knowledge of him being married this soon would hurt Jennifer a lot. If I went to the wedding, I know it would kill her.. If I went without telling her and she somehow, found out later, it would be worse.. If I explained that I was going she wouldn't understand and most likely she would cut me out of her life as she has done with others before. She is very territorial about her friends and believes its all about teams. To tell Jennifer "I'm going", is to tell her about the marriage...stuff she doesn't want to hear, and this is exactly what she wouldn't hear if I wasn't Richard's friend. But, to not go, is to insult Richard.
I know in my own mind that I would never betray any of her secrets but I also know that friendship, is at least partly about not doing things that you know will hurt your friend: Rational or not!!! Its important to note that Jennifer and I were friends first and close friends too, Richard gained a friend though all of this... I just want to keep these relationships separate and move on with my life. Is "going" really choosing to hurt Jennifer while I'm helping Richard. Do my feeling count at all? Isn't it possible to be friends with both these people, and keep both these very separate and unique relationships without compromising either relationship or destroying my circle of friends in Winnipeg? What would anyone expect of a friend in this situation? I personally just wouldn't want to know about it. Maybe its unrealistic to expect her to understand the situation, only to clear my conscience.
Everything hinges on everything, my decision could potentially affect her relationship with George, (George is my best friend in the World and it is probably best that I get long with his girlfriend)
1. Should I go?
2. Should I go and not tell her? Isn't there times in life when its good to leave certain information out, or is it rotten to expect her to give me friendship with this valuable information missing?
3. Should I stay?. Signed: Loyal in L.A.
Of course you should go! I doubt that you tell Jennifer EVERYTHING, so I see no reason why you have to share this particular bit of news with her. You have already admitted that you have kept your continued friendship with Richard from Jennifer, so why would you bring it up now? Go to England, have a good time. Should Jennifer get upset with you later, deal with it then.
I have to smile because after reading your letter it's impossible to
imagine you doing anything that would hurt anyone! You sound like you
care very much for each of these people and each of them is lucky to have
such a genuine friend. Stop for a minute now and please think about what
you want to do, not what each of them wants you to do! Sure, you want
each of them to be happy and you want to stay friends with each of them,
but you must also want to do something for yourself. Jennifer may be a
nice person, but she's very selfish and extremely controlling - girls can
tend to be territorial like that. Whether or not you decide to tell her
you're going to England is one thing, by the way you are going, but
letting her continue to give ultimatums and dictate your social life is
another. Maintaining a relationship with a truly great friend comes
naturally, it isn't this much work.
Go to England! Be honored that your friend wants you there and wants you
to participate in his wedding! Tell Jennifer, or don't. Like she said,
you live your life and she'll react as she wishes - don't live for her.
And I wouldn't worry about George. If he's your best friend, someone like
Jennifer isn't going to stand between you.
Of course you should go!
I doubt that you tell Jennifer EVERYTHING, so I see no reason why you have to share this particular bit of news with her. You have already admitted that you have kept your continued friendship with Richard from Jennifer, so why would you bring it up now?
Go to England, have a good time. Should Jennifer get upset with you later, deal with it then.