When two important people in your life can’t stand one another, it takes a tremendous toll on you. How can you defuse this volcanic situation?
Imagine, you have two great friends who can’t stand one another. When you talk to one, you can’t help but think in the back of your mind about how much they (Person A) loathes Person B. They will forever be bonded together in their mutual dislike - which is an awful bond to have.
If the animosity is so bad that even the thought of being in the same zip code makes for World War III, what are you to do? Well, I hate to tell you this but you may be fighting an uphill battle. You may eventually reach the top of the hill, but when you do, your two friends will try to throw each other down to the bottom. Sigh.
If you want to make peace where there is none, you have two options:
Option #1: A Trial Seperation
Let’s be realistic, some people let their stubbornness get the best of them and will not change who they are, no matter how much it hurts anyone else (i.e. YOU!). I for one can’t stand stubborn people. I mean, who has such an enormous ego that they believe they're always right and have nothing to change about their lifestyle? Oh, that’s right, celebrities! And if your friends are rich and famous, you better throw in the towel now.
But if they're regular folks like you and me, then the first thing to do is acknowledge the division between them.
If you pretend you don’t know how they really feel, they will be furious with you.
“Why would you invite Bob to lunch with us? You know I can’t stand him!”
“Really? I didn’t know it was that bad?”
“Dude, he punched me in the face a last year’s Holiday Party.”
Ohhhh, that’s right.
The “surprise-get-together” technique is never going to end well. Instead, you may have to just settle on living separate lives with each of them. If you know they can’t be in the same room, don’t force it. If it’s a big event where you invite all your close friends, make sure they don’t sit together. But let each know that they are both invited and are not allowed to make a scene.
However, I would not let the issue die for good. When you’re with one friend, try to subtly bring up something mutually interesting and positive about their arch enemy. “Yeah, I want to try that restaurant too. In fact, Mary knows the manager and there is a fun event this weekend. We should go together.” Or you can offer something like, “I got four tickets to the concert. I’m thinking of inviting my sister along with you and Mary.”
Having other people around works as a buffer to tame the tensions. It may even allow each to realize that the other person is not so terrible.