Dear Straight Talk: I’m really stressing. I’ve had my BFF (best friend forever) since elementary school. My stepsister has also become a good friend. She’s my age (16), goes to my school, and shares my room every other weekend. The three of us became great friends, hanging out and having sleepovers on the weekends my stepsister was here. However, they were rivals for the same guy, and my BFF won out. My stepsister falsely claims she “had him first” and that my BFF “stole him” and she now hates my BFF and spreads untrue, ugly rumors about her, causing my BFF to hate her back. Each expects me to take sides. My stepsister even told me to dump my BFF out of “family loyalty.” I refuse, thus sharing a room is very tense. My mom won’t let me see my BFF on the weekends my stepsister is here because that would be “abandoning” her. My BFF is going to remain my BFF, but I want a good relationship with my stepsister, too. Please help. — Caught in The Middle in Sacramento
Breele, 20, Dana Point: They both need to grow up! Personally, I’m a girl’s girl and if a friend likes a guy, she can have him. It’s not worth my friendship. I mean, this boyfriend will last how long? For a lifelong friendship?? Tell BFF and stepsister that you’re not dumping either of them and that this drama has nothing to do with you and they need to keep it to themselves. Tell stepsister how much it sucks to lose something and that some chilling from BFF is understandable. But also encourage her to get over it. (Honestly, get a hobby!) Regarding Mom, tell her you have it handled. Her taking sides is how parents lose respect. She wants to solidify a place in her stepdaughter’s heart, but this isn’t how you go about it.
Ochatre, 24, Kampala, Uganda: How very unfortunate. You do not deserve this stress. Taking sides is no solution, as it will only leave you more stressed. I suggest taking the role of mediator. Talk to your sister alone and then BFF alone. Share with them your feelings and ask how things can be reconciled. Always remember, friendship is one of the greatest gifts to humanity.
Maddie, 15, Cotati: In every friend group you sometimes are asked to pick sides, but this is intense! I’d probably trick them into sitting down together in the same room and tell them it’s stupid to make me pick sides and sacrifice their friendship for a guy. Nobody’s worth that. I would have them each, separately, tell me their story, then I would ask them to get back together.
Collin, 17, San Diego: I’ve never fully understood girl problems, but most problems fade over time. While letting time to do its work, don’t bring up your BFF around your stepsister and vice-versa. If they bring each other up, change the subject.
Dear Caught in the Middle: Your stepsister suffers from pride — also known as being a sore loser. Trying to mend their rift as Ochatre and Maddie suggest is noble. That said, you may not be up to it — or “fixing” them may prove impossible. Fortunately, your essential job is simpler and, blessedly, less stressful: remain warm and compassionate friends with both while refusing to be put in the middle. This means putting your foot down on the “cross-chatter” as Breele and Collin suggest. It also, realistically, means splitting your time. Unless it’s an epic event (birthday, graduation, etc.), to stay bonded with stepsister you probably will have to forego seeing BFF on visitation weekends. — Lauren
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