Fights can make a friendship stronger
I recently had a fight with a friend.
It started off innocently enough. She sent a text to 4 friends, myself included, asking to celebrate her birthday. Since my birthday is the same month, I asked if we could celebrate mine the same day.
I didn’t think it would be a problem since, 2 years ago, we’d combined our birthdays. That time, I had been the one who originally planned a celebration, and my friend asked if she could join. I thought it made sense — it’s a lot easier to coordinate one party instead of two at a busy time of the year. Everyone had a good time, so I thought — why not do it again?
Apparently she wasn’t willing to return the favor, though, because I received a separate text from her a couple of days later asking that I allow her to be the focus of her party because she had suffered so much loss in the last two years.
This made me see red.
The problem was not what she wanted, but how she asked for it. If she had said, “Would it be possible for us to do two separate parties this year?” I would have responded with a “sure, that’s fine.” But instead, her text hit me in an emotional place because of the losses I had suffered myself.
Just a few days before, I had gone to a memorial service for a friend. I was still dealing with the raw pain of that loss. In addition, in the last two years I’ve fought cancer, lost a breast and lost a husband.
I felt my friend was being insensitive to my pain, and I let her have it with both barrels. I pointed out to her that other people had suffered loss as well, yet they were able to look beyond that and acknowledge other people.
She sent me a text asking me to be patient, she wanted a chance for us to cool off. That was very wise on her part. She waited until the next day to respond.
She told me she was sorry for my being upset. She clarified why it was important that she have her own party this year. I apologized for my emotional outburst but told her my emotions were raw from my friend’s death. She told me she understood.
We reaffirmed that we cared for each other and consider each other to be good friends. We both agreed that the big social faux pas on my part was making my request to join her party in a group text — which I told her I would be more careful about in future.
We had her party. It went well. We scheduled another day for mine.
All’s well that ends well? Yes and no. On the one hand, the kerfuffle showed me the limits of our friendship. I know that just because I will graciously offer her something, she might not do the same for me.
Yet, on the other hand — it’s also brought us greater intimacy. We know each others’ stress points better. And she was able to see things from my point of view, and I put myself in her shoes.
This is what happens when you fight with a friend. Conflict comes with a risk but it also has a reward. It can end the relationship or take it to a deeper place. If you can commit to working on finding compromises and solutions that work for both parties, then you build the friendship on stronger ground.
That’s what my friend and I did.