Auntie SparkNotes: Should I Keep My Distance?
I'm a college student who has kept up good relations with her friends...until last night. So there's this guy named William who's friends with my friend Maggie. And last week William and I were at a party and were sitting on the couch and talking pretty closely. Maggie was also at the same party and spent some time with us and was being really friendly and I thought everything was going great.
Fast-forward a week later and there's another party Maggie, William, and I are at. Before this party Maggie and I were cool and there was no sign of weirdness about myself and William getting closer as friends. So, not thinking I was doing anything was wrong, I kissed William at the party (which thankfully Maggie did not see). After a while, I told my other friend Morgan, who's also friends with Maggie, that I kissed William, and I said it out loud within Maggie's earshot because I didn't think anything of it.
Morgan pulls me aside and tells me that William was Maggie's ex and that she is hurt over what I did. My eyes bulged and I was in shock that I had just found this out and was never made aware of this. I asked Morgan if I should apologize the next morning and she told me never to mention it and to give Maggie space and time to heal.
I feel awful about the whole situation, but I can't help but notice that she never gave me a single sign to back off, and William never told me about their past relationship either. I really want Maggie back as a friend. I've asked others for their opinion and they said to apologize directly, which is personally my preference , but Morgan is one of Maggie's closest friends, and if she says I need to give Maggie space, then I feel like I should try it because I really don't want to burn any more bridges.
I guess my main question is, how do I get Maggie to forgive me? And if you think I should give her space, how long do you think I should do it? Also, am I really the person in the wrong for this situation, or did I miss something?
Funny thing about that, Sparkler—I was about to ask you the same question.
Because unless I'm missing something, it seems entirely possible that under the surface of your supposed falling-out with Maggie is a big, fat pile of nothing. Like, is it just me, or does this entire agonized drama hinge entirely on the secondhand say-so of a third party, rather than any direct conflict between you? Do you have even a single iota of evidence that Maggie upset at you, outside of Morgan telling you that she is?
Of course, maybe the answer to that question is yes, and you just studiously omitted it from your letter. But if you haven't left anything out (and also just for future reference, generally), know that it behooves you to be extremely skeptical of people who try to step into your relationship with someone else and take control of the narrative this way. ("Friend is pissed at you. No, don't ask HER about it. In fact, NEVER MENTION IT TO HER. And don't try to do anything normal like, say, talk it out or try to apologize! Because, uh, reasons.")
With that said, even if Morgan is telling the truth about Maggie being upset that you kissed her ex—an act no reasonable person could fault you for when you never even knew they'd dated to begin with—it was and is totally wrong to try to keep you from making amends directly. Which is why, if you haven't already, you should contact Maggie right now (don't wait!) and tell her you miss her and would like to talk. If she really is upset at you, she can tell you so herself, and you guys can work through it—and yes, you can apologize, although I'd urge you to be strategic about it. Be sorry for the situation (e.g. "I'm so sorry you were hurt, I would have approached it differently if I'd had any idea that there was history between you and William"), but don't let guilt send you down the road of validating unreasonable, unhealthy expectations on Maggie's part (e.g. promising not to pursue William in the future because she's got dibs, forever). The tension between you and Maggie doesn't stem from you having wronged her; this is a complicated, unfortunate situation that's nobody's fault.
...Uh, except maybe Morgan's. But that's why, when you have this conversation, it should start like this: "Morgan pressed me pretty hard not to talk to you about this, but I care about you, and I'm not ready to just give up on our friendship unless you tell me so yourself. So, can we talk?"
In other words, while you make amends, do make sure Maggie is at least aware that her friend is meddling in her relationships. If she knows and she's okay with it, then fine. But if she didn't know, then now she will—and hopefully, she'll appreciate that you cared enough to reach out to her despite being warned away.
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