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Inner Circle Dating and the friends caught in the crossfire

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This is a throwback from earlier this year. It was a letter we received, in situations that we’ve all been through at some point. Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

THE EMAIL

Streetz,

As we get older our networks continue to expand and there’s always a conversation among the fellas about dating inside or outside the circle. Problem is because we are Black people we usually don’t have a choice but to either stay in the circle, or be completely oblivious to any circle. Here’s my situation;

My boy dated this girl for a few years, they were pretty serious about each other, but after some complications that were never remediated they called it quits. Ad then after that there was a back and forth, ending with my boy deciding that there was no real reason for him to keep in contact with her. No hard feelings, wishes her the best, but can’t see the motivation to maintain on the relationship.

Well, the problem is this girl is significantly ingrained in my network. Meaning, that we come into contact with each other on a regular basis. One of my pain points is that they live in separate cities, but I live in the city that she lives in. Hence why they never see each other, but I see her A LOT.

My only question is, since she cares about him a lot and he won’t reply to her attempts at communication. She asks me about him. Nothing serious, but I just feel awkward. It’s one thing for you to bump into the ex of an old mate and she asks, “How’s such and such?” She only asking that because that’s how she know you. But, when the person is genuinely a friend and a member of your circle. It’s awkward, especially because I care about both of them as friends. So I don’t feel close enough to share details, but I feel close enough that I’m not going to blatantly ignore her question. So what would you do? Should I just plead the Fif? Should I keep it high-level and say he’s fine? (Note: Tried that, she asked me a follow up question. Then I had to start speaking Yiddish again.) Is it cool for me to go out of my way never to run into her, and have to deal with this? (You know, run away from my problems.)

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

-FIF

The Response

Whats good FIF,

You’re issue is one that I’ve dealt with from both sides. I’ve been the friend-in-common, and the friend-of-the-inquired. This is one, if not THE biggest pitfall of dating within a circle of friends. All you have to do is watch your favorite sitcom (Friends, Seinfeld, GirlFriends, SATC), and you’ll see that even in the fictional universe of TV Land, there will always be complications with inner circle dating. I absolutely abhor it, and definitely advocate against it if it can be avoided, and if you can overcome issues like this.

To give background, I’ve dated within my circle before, and when you do this, you’re close friends will automatically gain interest in your relationship. People within the relationship will start discussing your issues, and everyone will have an opinion. No matter what, someone will break that golden code, and then it gets messy.

When me and my inner circle GF called it quits, it automatically set up a tumultuous situation for those left in the aftermath of our relationship ground zero. They almost didn’t know how to function if we were both in the same vicinity, and it just made for awkward situations.

HATED when she would talk to our common friends about our problems. You never want to look like a sucka in front of your friends, and your friends don’t need to know ALL your business!

On the flipside, I’ve been unknowingly placed in the middle of relationship issues between two people I consider great friends. I knew their issues, because they both spoke to me in confidence. it was like I had the entire piece of the puzzle to their issues. Because of my moral compass, I invoke the Prime Directive where I do not interfere. I will offer them real talk advice, but I won’t put down the other, or try to influence either way. I care about them enough to be real and make sure their common best interest is upheld.

I say all of this to say, you shouldn’t plead the fif, because it’s disrespectful to her. You should keep it succinct, and if she asks follow-ups, tell her that you don’t really speak to him like that to know. Otherwise, be real and tell her you feel uncomfortable answering those questions and you don’t want to seem like an informant. She’ll have to respect that, and if not, then cut her off. No need to avoid her either, because if she’s in your circle, you’re DEFINITELY going to see her often.

So be real or be succinct, but don’t be a middleman to a dead relationship.

That’s my answer this week. What would you do? What would you tell our friend above? What did you think of my response? Please evaluate and retaliate #WaltClydefrazierRap.

Comment(27)

  1. I could not agree with you ore on this advice!

    I once had a friend in college whose breakup ripped up the whole fam- almost pitting the boys against the girls. Dude was cheating bringing new girl over to the boys house and a few of the girls who dated those boys over there knew and did not say anything. Even some of the boys who knew the girl in question longer and closer never said a word.

    Once the girl found out and it came to light who also knew, they were dead to her. The family was scorched- then she started questioning all the homies around her, including myself and we stopped being friends because of all the mess… SMH

    Never, never, never again….
    My recent post The Plus Size Boxing Day/ After Christmas Holiday Sales

  2. Kinda of in a similar situation . Me and my ex friends are friends and I’m actually still cool with his boys. But I don’t ask about him it’s none of my business as long as nothing terrible like death or a serous illness has happened I really dont need to know.

    I agree either let her know your not comfortable sharing your boys business with her or keep it funky and let her down easy tell her he’s over it no hard feelings. If she gets mad then she was just using you as a link to him.
    It’s hard to avoid inner circle dating especially in certain areas Social networks make it even worse because everybody knows everybody. Not only that when the outer circle dating pool seems to be getting cold the first thing most ask is if your friend knows any nice people.

  3. I wouldn’t advise inner circle dating. Had a situation like that back in high school. This new girl transferred to our school. She just happen to pick our lunch table to sit at. My female best friends informed me that she liked me so we started dating. We ended up breaking up because she cheated on me multiple times. However, since she was good friends with my friends, I had to see her everywhere we went. And I hated this chick. I mean, everytime I saw a shooting star, I wished for one thing. Not the well-being of Africa. Not Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian to play Hopscotch in a live minefield. Not for Gucci Mane to use chapstick for once in his life. No, I wished for my ex girlfriend to get visciously mauled to death by a pod of dolphin. That’s how much I hated her. But I couldn’t do anything about it. I wasn’t gonna stop hanging out my friends. I had them first. Why should I leave? So things were extremely awkward and drama filled from the break up until graduation.

    Inner circle dating is def a no-no.

    1. I mean, everytime I saw a shooting star, I wished for one thing. Not the well-being of Africa. Not Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian to play Hopscotch in a live minefield. Not for Gucci Mane to use chapstick for once in his life. No, I wished for my ex girlfriend to get visciously mauled to death by a pod of dolphin.

      Lmaoooo … Well Dayum

        1. Well yea, dolphin. The way I figure, you MUST be the epitome of evil if the happiest most adorable creature in all the animal kingdom wants to do harm to you.

  4. Inner circle dating is not recommended… But what about when you've dated the person for so long that they build genuine ties with those close to you?

    Anyway, being a middle [wo]man, I have learned… You're going to be a good friend to one, and inevitably a bad friend to the other. I got stuck in a situation like that between my best friend and her bf who was my closest male friend at the time. Whenever they had a problem, HE would come to me asking me a whole bunch of questions and for advice. When things went down and he got mad at me for withholding information, everyone would say I was not riding the fence… But there was no fence for me to ride. At the end of the day, SHE was my best friend. And HE was putting me in an awk situation by venting to me knowing she's my bff and asking me all these questions.

    I have also been on the other side. Another bff is close to my ex. They were close friends when I met them. Have known them both for 10 years. Dated my ex for 8 years on and off… Till we broke up like 2 years ago. I get anxiety attacks when I even hear about my ex. Hence I told all of our mutual friends NOT to tell me his business… No matter how much I begged and asked. And for them not to tell him my business under any circumstances. And I am happy to say that they have kept their words to me. They give me vague answers whenever I ask how he's doing. Or claim they "don't know." And whenever he texts asking about me, they don't reply. This way, no one gets involved and becomes a messenger. If anyone did, I'd have to cut them off right along with him. :-/

  5. Im an advocate of tough love. Someone like that I would have to drag before a mirror and force them to take a good hard look at their own feelings. Because if you are so heavily and frequently inquiring about an ex then CLEARLY there are more feelings pent up in you than you are willing to admit too.

    As for Inner circle dating, if they were just “talking” and it never progressed to a relationship then she is FAIR GAME once the talking between them has ended. But if they had a serious relationship going…..NO WAY! That’s way too awkward. Can’t have y’all thinking back to the good tines, reminiscing about his he sexed you that one time and ish.

  6. I completely agree. The ex-girlfriend, even if she means well, is selfishly putting her friend in a bad situation. When someone chooses to have no contact with you, you have to accept that they no longer want you privy to the details of their life. Trying to get info from mutual friends is an attempt to keep something alive when the other person’s already killed it. A little tough love from the mutual friend may be in order.

  7. Great advice Streetz….me being an upfront "tell it like it T-I- Is type of person in the past I've told people straight up I would rather Not be involved in your personal business. I'm not a licensed professional therapist and I'm not a relationship expert. You may want to see professional help and ask someone more qualified to seriously help you. I've dealt with this with my cousin and her husband. I did give my opinions to both of them once or twice and that was it. If anything I tell my friends Not to involve outside people in your relationships……try to work it out amongst yourselves First. Outside people and their opinions tend to complicate things and make them harder than what they have to be.

  8. Comment cont'd…..
    I'm also a simplistic person when it comes to problem solving. So when I offer people solutions they are very simple and non-complicated and to the point and it involves stuff that many people just don't really want to do for whatever reason and them saying things they don't want to say.
    At any, I would not avoid the woman but I would say to her "If you ask me how he/she is doing as far as are they still alive and well and I say fine then please leave it at that." "If there is anything else you want to know then ask them directly, if thats not possible and they don't respond then obviously they don't want to be bothered so why do you want to talk to someone who doesn't want to talk to you?" "Let it go and leave well enough alone and move on with your life." And that would be all I would have to say. Any follow-up questions after "how is he/she doing" I would shut down immediately and that would put an end to that.

  9. This comment is kinda tangetial (Moment of silence for newly used words).

    I have learned that it's best to keep your significant other's friends at bay. I don't make it a point to develop a friendship with the friends and they'll know that i'm not trying to win them over simply because I'm dating their friend. I don't exchange numbers, i don't ask for advice, i don't do any of that ish that at the end of the day doesn't give me more points because i don't care about points. The friends will remain loyal and the best case scenario is them taking the reality approach and just keep it real and unbias. So if that's you trying to get in good with the friends………. STOP IT BRO …. You are Losing!!!!
    I'm not saying that i'm rude, mean, short, or unpleasant when friends are involved, but i'm just me and see them as a separate entity … I'm impartial.

  10. Its honestly a horrible situation to be in. I've dated someone within my circle before, and we both decided to keep it on the low so that no one (including us) would feel uncomfortable. Things didnt work out, but we're still friends, our friends never knew so they don't feel any type of way about it, and things aren't awkward. Me being a private person, I tend to keep all of my relationships on the hush though, so it wasnt anything out of the norm for me.

    If I were you, I would just make it clear that she needs to move on and stop asking about him.

  11. I don't know if any one has said this or not but this can not only happen in romatic relationships but in friendships as well. I have been the friend stuck between 2 of my friends who no longer liked each other. Just tell the girl that you value her and her ex's friendship and you don't feel comfortable talking about her ex with her. If she is truely your friend she will respect that and no longer bring up her ex around you.

  12. I'm currently in a middle man nightmare. Boy A started dating Bestfriend A. It didn't work out and they both came to me for advice. Boy A is now my really good friend and has started dating Bestfriend A's mentee. I know, Bestfriend A doesn't know. And all I can do is toss my hands up and say "ask them sh!t"…

    The best thing to do is to nip that in the bud the first time it happens- "i'm not going to discuss the situation with either of you."

  13. Chinese fire and ice wall between your peoples. Have a friend group and a party group. Church group, hobby group, etc. Then there are the people you date and the people you just do the nasty with. Keep em separate. Hang with different crowds that don’t know each other. If you must dip into a group to get your dating or sex, keep it a secret. I’ve always done this instinctually.

  14. I have been in this situtation before and I alway play the neutral role. I want my friends to feel like they can come to me and vent but I make it clear that I will not spill the beans about what the other has confided in me nor will I advise either of how they should proceed….

  15. In my older age, i've reevaluated the friendships I have and thought to myself that dating inside the circle might be better than dating without. I put a lot on how long you've been friends with a person. Sometimes people will date a person they know nothing about over a person they know a lot about.

  16. How come white people can so easily jump from relationship to relationship in their inner circle? Britney givin all the lil homies BJ's and nobody pays any mind, and at the end of it, Britney goes and marries one of those niggas. Lol.

    Nah but really, it is horrible to be in this situation. I understand why inner circle dating is appealing: I'm constantly around the same old niggas. Ideally, of course, it would be easy to fall into a relationship with one of them. It would be nice, too, cause you feel like you can kind of trust them. You know each other's backgrounds; you know that they're not sociopathic killers (ideally). But maaaan thats a fuckin circus act and test of loyalties to be caught in between. And I refuse to be part of that.
    My recent post I'm not playin white explorer meets African jungle hoe with you

  17. DON'T keep coming to me because somebody is NOT getting back in touch with you. DO the damn math and keep it moving. What the hell I look like? LOL. No…seriously. I don't like or appreciate being thrust in to the middle of folks drama. If somebody is not getting back to you………….. *crickets chirpin* …….. *crickets STILL chirpin*…….. shall I go on?

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