Q: A couple split up, and although you are friends with both of them, you like hanging with one better than the other. How do you support the closer friend without isolating the ex?
A: It's certainly not easy for two people to break up, but it's also not easy for the friends of the couple. Similar to deciding who gets the dog after a breakup, who gets the friends?
There is no simple answer to the question because there are so many variables. How did the friendship begin with each person? Did it strengthen with both of the people equally? Was the split amicable, or is there bad blood between the exes that you don't want to get caught up in?
There's a rule of thumb that partners exit with the friends they came into the relationship with — a guideline that doesn't work if you met them after they were a twosome. Lines are blurred even more if you have a partner who is friends with one or both of the ex-couple.
Communication is key. Have a conversation with your friend about your ongoing friendship with the ex. When you have this conversation, be sure to establish expectations and come to a mutual understanding.
DIANA MANDELL, dating and relationship expert
A: First, this is nothing to feel guilty about. Second, it might not even be something to worry about. These situations have a tendency to work themselves out as everyone moves forward. In addition to the friendships' histories, having common interests or closer geographical proximity to each other can determine how things are resolved.
Assuming there was no incendiary cause of the breakup (cheating, for instance), retaining a strong friendship with half of the couple doesn't mean you have to ignore the other half. You can remain respectful and kind toward them, perhaps even reaching out with a brief note, like, "I was sorry to hear about the breakup. I hope the transition goes as calmly and smoothly as possible. You both will be in my thoughts."
ANDREA BONIOR, "The Friendship Fix: The Complete Guide to Choosing, Losing, and Keeping Up With Your Friends"