The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a middle school girl in a friendship with two other people. However, they don’t seem to like each other anymore. I’m worried.
Their friendship turned sour about a year ago. For a long time, they clashed about once a month. Recently, one of them sent the other a letter saying she would stop being friends with her. Ever since, they haven’t spoken to each other.
I’m in the middle, trying to keep the peace between them. They’re in the same homeroom, so if I go to their classroom to see one of them, I end up being spotted by the other. They both insist I caused the trouble by not choosing one of them as a friend over the other.
Since I was a kindergartener, I haven’t been able to make friends easily. It was so serious that my parents and teacher talked about it after school or my teacher would call me during class to talk about it.
Will I always have these problems with having friends? What’s wrong with me?
M, Saitama Prefecture
Dear Ms. M:
Nothing’s wrong with you. You said you hadn’t been able to make friends easily since you were young, but I wonder if there are people out there who made good friends when they were as young as kindergarteners.
We grow up while fighting with other people, hurting people’s feelings, and also being hurt by other people. Don’t be afraid of failing in building human relationships. If you can’t make it work, use it as an opportunity to reflect and analyze the cause of each mistake and then move on. So I hope you’ll acquire enough strength to overcome all this frustration.
Now, about your friends. Many people have similar problems when they are middle school students. Being in a group of three is particularly difficult as three people easily divide into one and two.
Why not stop bending over backward to mediate between these two, who have stopped being friends? Instead, tell them clearly and calmly what you want to do and then leave it up to them to deal with your decision.
It could pan out that the two of them become friends again and ultimately ostracize you as a result. But do you want to stay friends with people who do something like that?
Having friends is important in our life, but I think we need friends who are trustworthy and make us feel good just by being friends with them.
Masami Ohinata, professor