Your Enemy, My Enemy

Q: Dr. Hurd, I have a question. A friend of mine really hurt and betrayed me, so I’m done with him. I won’t have any more contact with him. Another good friend of mine is friends with this former friend. Is it reasonable for me to ask this friend to do what I did?

A: Because you have a problem, however valid, with this ex-friend? Absolutely not. That would be a case of the right intention but the wrong application. Let’s remember what a friend is. A friend is someone who’s worthy of your trust. If you still trust and respect this remaining friend, you’ll leave him to judge for himself what happened. Your attitude towards this friend ought to consist of two parts. One, “Be careful.” You sincerely wish him the best but also know he’s in some danger of being betrayed as well. The other attitude is conveying the whole story to him: “Here’s what happened. I thought you would want to know why I’m no longer talking to him.” Beyond that, let it play out. Your friend does not have a duty to cut someone off just because you did. You don’t pressure a friend to go against his own judgment, and you don’t tell him whom to trust or not. At the same time, you expect him to respect your choice and the reasons for it. Take a long-range view. Chances are, your friend will ultimately reach the same conclusion you did.