Remaining Neutral

In recovery, I am learning how to remain neutral in certain situations.

For example, the other day an acquaintance of mine (I'll call her Mary) called inquiring about mutual friends, who had recently gone through a divorce. Mary wanted to know all the details about a particular person's divorce and started making critical remarks about one of the partners.

Rather than taking sides, I remained neutral. I could easily have defended my friend or joined into the criticism. I could have given out all kinds of supporting details. But I chose not to do so. Criticism, fault-finding, and blame don't help me, my friends, or anyone involved. It just doesn't help.

When Mary started asking me about all the gory details as to the "why" of the divorce, I responded by saying (in a polite tone), "You know, there really are two sides to the story and I've heard both sides. I'm sure they (i.e., the couple) would appreciate your wanting to get the story straight from them rather than from me."

This response allowed me to remain neutral and keep myself and my opinions and judgments out of the conversation. For me, this is healthy. For me, this is also honoring my friend, because I don't want Mary going to this person and saying, "Well, you know Toma told me thus-and-so . . ."

See what I mean?

Other situations where I am learning to remain neutral are arguments between my employees; arguments between my ex-wife and my kids; and discussions with my parents about my siblings. I practice the same principle at church, and whenever I'm around my ex-wife's friends and family.

Participating in destructive, unhealthy conversations and gossip circles only promotes harm, hurt feelings, and in the end, benefits no one.

As a recovering co-dependent, I refuse to be drawn into such conversations or situations where I become a go-between or a link in a gossip chain.

There are appropriate and healthy times to discuss and/or disclose such information. But there are more inappropriate and unhealthy opportunities to do so. In recovery, I am learning to discern the difference.

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APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, December 2). Remaining Neutral, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 19 from

Last Updated: August 8, 2014

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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