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I just created this account because I really don't know how to deal with this. A close friend and I have been talking for a few months about her coming to my hometown for the summer, but we didn't set any specific dates. Meanwhile I invited (let's call him this for the purpose of this question) my boyfriend to come over as well, and we set on a week. Meanwhile, due to life and schedules my friend tells me she can only come that same week (that I had already told her my other "friend" was coming over). She doesn't want to come at the same time as the boy, which I understand, she doesn't want to be the third wheel. So I speak with the boy and ask him if he can come another time, to which he replies "no, sorry. Why?" I just tell him nevermind and go back to my friend and tell her he can't change his week. She replies something along the lines of "it's up to you then" and gets really mad that I didn't check with her before setting the date with the other person, because we had been planning for months and I decided two weeks ago to invite the boy, and I chose him over her.

I don't really want to apologize because I don't think I was in the wrong, but I want to keep the friendship. How can I resolve this fight, preferably without apologizing ?

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    What is more important to you -- letting your friend know that you did nothing wrong, or resolving the fight and keeping your friendship? – さりげない告白 Jul 12 at 6:50
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    Things is what do you want to admit you weren't in the wrong ? Not blocking all your weekend because you didn't block one week end ? Or that you didn't blocked one week-end before hand, which would have been preferable. And why do you absolutely no apologize ? Pride ? Is this worth more thant this friendship ? – Walfrat Jul 12 at 9:06
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    Thank you for the edit. I want to mend the friendship, without having to apologize because I am not sorry. It's not a question of pride. I feel that apologize in this situation would be lying. The reason I created this thread is because I'd like to have another option besides apologizing. – Blue Pineapple Jul 13 at 0:48
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Respond with Empathy

...because we had been planning for months and I decided two weeks ago to invite the boy, and I chose him over her.

Whether intentional or not, you've made your priorities clear: the boy is more important to you than your friend. Your friend is seeing this and reacting. This isn't necessarily a good or bad thing.

To respond, I'd approach this from assuming two scenarios: First, assuming good faith from your friend, then not.

Assuming Good Faith

Imagine it from the other side: you talk for months with a friend in another town, getting excited about seeing them. Up until now, you've heard nothing but how much the other person is looking looking forward to seeing you. When you finally know when you can meet with them, they say they already made plans, and won't change them to hang out with you.

I know how I'd feel in that situation. My friend who had been talking for months about seeing me, perhaps even implicitly showing how important it was to meet me, won't change plans on the only week I can meet with them all summer. I'd feel lied to, maybe even betrayed. I might even get angry, and feel like lashing out at my friend, or feel like turning a cold shoulder to protect myself.

One option here is to acknowledge, empathize, and validate those feelings. In this situation, for reconciliation, I'd want empathy from the other person. I'd want to hear words like,

  • I can totally see how you'd be angry/upset about this.
  • I know it sucks to hope for plans and not be able to go through with them.
  • I was looking forward to seeing you as well. I value you as a friend."

If this person is important to you, you might even consider offering a counter: visiting them instead, another week. if they can't leave, maybe you can.

In this case, you still react with empathy, but also assert yourself. (You might do this anyway.) Continuing from above, add "My plans with my boyfriend were set before yours, and I'm not changing them."

If there are repeated protests, return to acknowledging their feelings, empathizing with your friend's position, and asserting yourself.

An aside: Assuming Bad Faith

Your friend saying that the "only" week she can visit is the same week your boyfriend is visiting, and only after you tell her your boyfriend is visiting that week is suspicions to me. If that's the order, it might be a ploy to manipulate you to monopolize your time. If this is a one-off situation, you might pass this off.

You would still respond the same way, but assert your boundaries: you had plans already made, and you don't plan on changing them.

(In response to the comment:) I only bring this up to cover all the bases. You can not know what they are thinking, and assuming anything malicious without evidence (e.g., them outright saying it) or a consistent pattern of behavior, AND not addressing it with them, would be premature. If you've had a good relationship in the past, it's probably not the case. Communication is a fickle, complex process and it's easy to loose nuance when we're not around each other all the time...and even when we are. Unless there's a preponderance of evidence to the contrary, I'd continue to assume good faith. :-)

  • "My plans with my boyfriend were set before yours, and I'm not changing them" - this is something I told her or tried to explain at least. And also that I made plans with him because he had to travel and had to set on a week asap in order to fit it in this schedule. Before this she didn't tell me there would be such a small window of when she could come, or I'd set up a date with her before I did with the boy. All this I tried to explain already. The second option (assuming bad faith) would break my heart if it turns out to be true. Thank you for your advice – Blue Pineapple Jul 15 at 21:57
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    "Whether intentional or not, you've made your priorities clear: the boy is more important to you than your friend." Which do yo think shows that: making plans without checking with the friend, or refusing to change plans? I don't think the latter shows that the boyfriend is more important, it shows boyfriend+keeping commitments is more important. – Acccumulation Jul 15 at 22:43
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    @Acccumulation - an interesting observation. I can see it that way, too. For a friend that expected to meet, and expected that they would be able to meet, the friend might feel like the one whose commitment isn't being met, and the friend doesn't feel as important as the boyfriend. I listed the base assumption: one person was more important than the other, but I agree that keeping the commitment is another part of it. – Robert P Jul 15 at 23:39
  • @BluePineapple - I added a little more to the bad faith answer. The nice thing about an empathy based response is it works no matter the other person's goals. :) – Robert P Jul 15 at 23:44
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    @acccumulation that is what I explain to her, that I had already set on a date with someone else (that couldn't change it now) and I wouldn't feel right to not keep that commitment. I'm just going to go against the "not saying thanks in the comments" rule to thank everyone for the input and advice give. I spoke with her again with a lot of emphasis on the empathy part and I believe the issue has been solved. I apologized for hurting her feelings while asserting myself, and she apologize for the hurtful things she said because she felt hurt. – Blue Pineapple Jul 17 at 0:42
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You made plans with your friend, and (regardless of the reason) you are unable to keep those plans. This happens. I can understand why your friend is disappointed, as this was obviously something she was looking forward to.

In this situation you are best of re-arranging these plans with your friend, explaining to her that this time with her is important to you and that you regret not being able to keep to your original plans.

As for not apologizing: you can always tell your friend that you are sorry that any friction has been created between the two of you, or similar - effectively giving your friend an apology without actually indicating that you have done anything wrong.

In general, and for the future, I would try your best to keep to any plans you have made in the past otherwise you might get a reputation for being unreliable. But even with the best intentions nobody is able to keep to every plan they make - and in those situations re-arranging plans is often the best way forward.

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