osirus: (RisingPun)
[personal profile] osirus
Posting here instead of Facebook because I'm not about vaguebooking into Facebook drama. But while Facebook recently may have spurred this post, I've had the issue pop up repeatedly over the past 15 years at least.

Posit:

You have an acquaintance named Ivanna whose company you find generally pleasant. Although you are not super-close, you gravitate towards her at parties to chat.

Another acquaintance of yours Alex, tells you that in fact Ivanna is TERRIBLE, insofar as Ivanna has definitely been terrible to Alex in the past.

What's your move?

*Avoid inviting Alex and Ivanna to the same parties, but otherwise don't get involved at all. It's not really your business, and Ivanna has always been perfectly friendly to you.

*Start disassociating yourself from Ivanna, because a friend says she's sort of awful.

*Launch a low-key investigation by seeing what other people who know Ivanna think of her.

*Some other thing.


Possible answer-changing factors:
*Maybe you are closer to and have a longer relationship with Alex (or Ivanna).

*Maybe you have many friends who love Ivanna's company.

*Maybe Alex isn't the first person to say that Ivanna can be mean behind closed doors.

*What is Terribleness? (A single horrible incident vs. repeated infractions)(unnecessary rudeness vs. racist comment vs. screwing things up for a job opportunity vs. anything physical)

Date: 2016-03-11 12:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] 2h2o.livejournal.com
My philosophy is to judge people by how they behave in front of me, because what I don't witness may have subtleties I can't anticipate and because I know people have said things about me that have lacked proper context. It's not my job to sort out other people's relationships, so in the case of a party I'd invite everyone I want to see and let them sort themselves out.

In the case that this is a metaphor: Don't vote for Trump.

Date: 2016-03-11 07:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] osirusbrisbane.livejournal.com
Ha, I did think of Trump briefly, although his terrible is on display and record for all to see.

Date: 2016-03-11 02:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] idealforcolors.livejournal.com
I think there is no universal answer, it really really depends on the friendships. If you're closer to and have a longer relationship with Alex, and are more or less friendly acquaintances with Ivanna, I would put more weight on Alex's opinions and comfort, and stop making a concerted effort to hang out with Ivanna or invite her to things, though I wouldn't try to actively avoid her or "cut her off," it's fine to be friendly if you find yourself in the same place. This is equivalent to subtly cooling down a casual friendship with your best friend's messy ex, in my mind - more a show of support for the best friend's comfort than a verdict on the ex's worth as a person. I don't see any way to get involved beyond that that would help solve anyone's problems.

If you really like Ivanna, and are closer to her or feel like you want to be, that's different. I'd maybe go for the low-key investigation route, and if you find out other people say she's mean, well, how much can you trust someone who has turned on others? But maybe you will find that only Alex has had an issue with her, and you will have to judge whether maybe it's a clash of personalities that doesn't reflect terribly on Ivanna in particular.

How awful the offense is is another factor. If it's "spoke in an angry tone to me and it hurt my feelings," that's very different than "date rape" or something adjacent....

Date: 2016-03-11 07:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] osirusbrisbane.livejournal.com
yeah, forgot to add "How Terrible" as one of the decision points, but absolutely that's a big factor.

And yeah, exes of friends... that certainly comes up sometimes.

Date: 2016-03-11 10:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kimberkit.livejournal.com
What she said!

Date: 2016-03-12 06:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ltlbird.livejournal.com
I think I adopt a combo of the advice you've gotten. I think some people's opinions bear more weight for me than others' either because I am closer with them or because their assessments of folks have matched mine in the past. But I have also in some situations adopted a "not my issue" approach to parties and such - I love Evite for this, as the affected people can see who is coming and make a decision accordingly. But if I really want to see one person and not have them beg off because of the other, I may at times invite only one or the other to an event (usually a smaller gathering.)

Date: 2016-03-24 05:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] osirusbrisbane.livejournal.com
Yeah, my default is usually to invite everyone I like and let them sort it out, with a few exceptions.

Date: 2016-03-14 06:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] g-me.livejournal.com
I really like what idealforcolors said, and don't have too much to add, other than that when I've been in similar situations re: party or social gathering invites, I tend to invite both and let them figure it out, and make sure that the information about the other's potential attendance is available. In some cases I have deliberately let the individual parties know that the other is invited, and perhaps why I did not choose to exclude them. I do think that the level of terribleness matters, because there's a difference between someone doing something stupid, or unwise, for example, and someone doing something truly awful. In that case you have to use your individual judgement and your relationship to each individual to figure out the best course of action. My default, if both relationships are somewhat equal, is to just be up front with the person/people about it and let them figure out their own stuff. I also tend to ramp down on relationships that have a lot of drama in them, so I can't say that I've often found myself in exactly this situation...but it's definitely happened.

Date: 2016-03-24 05:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] osirusbrisbane.livejournal.com
Yeah, as I've gotten older I've become increasingly enamored of a nice boring life without drama, which I mostly achieved successfully, but does mean I'm out of practice with drama when any pops up.

Date: 2016-03-14 08:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sylvantechie.livejournal.com
I'd engage Alex in conversation to try to understand why I was told whatever-it-was about Ivanna - is Alex looking for support (emotional and/or towards some specific goal)? Trying to warn me? Looking for advice? Trying to hurt Ivanna? Looking for an indirect communication channel with Ivanna (and to which/what purpose)? Doing some kind of investigation of his own? Trying to protect/improve his general social group? I don't want to put an alleged victim 'on trial', but Alex is the active agent in the situation so I think getting a better understanding of his goals / motivations / situation is paramount before doing anything regarding Ivanna.

Positing some level of trust of both Ivanna and Alex, some kind of low-key investigation seems like a good step - if someone I trust (to some extent) has an issue with someone else I trust (to some extent), I need some more clarity about the actual state of the world. Initially it's going to be based purely on relative trust levels - sometimes that's enough (if there's great disparity), but I pretty much always would want to know more before I do (or don't do) anything.

Date: 2016-03-24 05:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] osirusbrisbane.livejournal.com
In the most recent case, Alex was just ranting. In a previous case, Alex wanted Ivanna shunned -- which I totally understood but felt that taking sides was not in my job description.
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