When Mom Friends Clash

by Christine Burke
mom friends clash
FilippoBacci / iStock

We all know her — the friend of a friend whom we can’t stand. Maybe she’s loud and obnoxious or she’s constantly ensconced in personal drama. Maybe she’s catty and hurtful when no one else is around. Or maybe her parenting is enough to make you roll your eyes in your glass of chardonnay when she walks into a party.

In any case, if you’ve hung out in the mommy social network long enough, you’ve no doubt run into a woman you cannot stand. Or, worse, she may be friends with a good friend and it can feel like you are doomed to terse smiles and forced conversation at social gatherings.

First world problems, I know, but it really sucks when you might lose a friend over someone who makes you want to stab your eyeballs out. Friendship drama is never fun and it can feel like you are right back in the halls of high school when you have an issue with a friend of a friend.

So, what exactly are you supposed to do when a good friend spends time with someone who doesn’t float your boat? It can be a touchy minefield when it comes to being honest with your friend — there’s a fine line between strengthening your bond and appearing like a jealous twit who can’t play nicely at a jewelry party. If you find yourself suddenly revisiting a situation that reminds you of high school drama at your next moms’ night out, I’ve found these suggestions to be helpful.

1. Remember that your friend chose you, too.

Friendship isn’t a competition and we aren’t all sprinting to the finish to get a medal. Your friend sees qualities in you that bring her joy. You might make her laugh until she pees or be that friend who shows up with wine on a shitty day. Her other friend may have clicked with her on a personal level that your friend is keeping in confidence and there are reasons she’s chosen this mom to be in her life. Trust that your friend can see past the bullshit and give the new friend a chance.

2. Don’t trash talk the other friend, no matter how much you loathe her.

Sometimes, a new addition to a mom group is like a shiny new penny. At first, the friend may seem to fit in, but over time, her copper veneer may tarnish and you’ll see her true colors. In this situation, while it may be blatantly apparent that your friend’s new friend isn’t worth the paper she’s printed on, saying so directly will only make you look like a catty bitch. If you’ve chosen your friends wisely, it won’t take long for that new friendship to go broke.

3. Bow out gracefully for the sake of your friendship.

Not too long ago, I was in a situation where it was clear that I was the person a mutual friend couldn’t stand. The mutual friend was standoffish and dismissive towards me and I was shocked to realize that I might have unknowingly offended her in some way.

As the night wore on, the tension thrown at me was unbearable, and as much as I love spending time with the hostess, I could tell that it was causing her stress on what should have been a casually fun evening. Because I cared about my friend, I feigned an excuse and left early. I don’t look at it as letting the mean girl win, either. I made a choice to put my good friend’s feelings first and that felt right.

4. If you talk to your friend about your feelings, stick to the facts.

Let’s face it: Moms can be a catty bunch, and sometimes we let our emotions get in the way. Before you approach your friend about your dislike for one of her friends, take some time to reflect on why you are bothered by the new friendship. Does her friend engage in risky behavior that concerns you? Have you been the direct recipient of hurtful words or behavior? Or, are you just jealous that she spends more time with her than she does you?

Whatever the reason, be specific and succinct and use facts. Tell your friend about a specific instance that made you uncomfortable and use “I feel” statements to cushion the discomfort. Tell your friend how much you value her and her friendship and offer ways to make the situation better. Be prepared though — she may just choose her over you.

5. It’s not you, it’s them.

If you find yourself being treated poorly by a friend of a friend, consider the source of their behavior. Have you been friends long with your mutual friend? Is the new friend being snarky because she feels left out of all the inside jokes you and your good friend have shared over the years? Consider the reasons behind why the new friend doesn’t jive with you. She may be intimidated by your overly outgoing personality or feel insecure about herself professionally.

But, regardless of why you feel put out, as long as you’ve tried to be nice and have made an effort to be pleasant, you can hold your head up high knowing that you are a good friend to the ones who matter to you. Don’t let the bitter taste of a sour grape get in the way of the sweet wine of your lasting friendships.

In most cases, there’s enough of your friend to go around and there’s no need to fight. Obviously we’re not children, but sometimes we have to mutter that old advice “I’m rubber and you’re glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you” under our breath.