A No-Win Situation: What to Do When You’re Caught in the Middle

We’ve all found ourselves in situations where we feel as though we’re caught between a rock and a hard place. Faced with making a necessary decision, our choices are less than favorable and all options have potentially serious consequences. Your best friend confides that she’s having an affair and begs you not to tell her husband. But her husband is your brother-in-law. Your two best friends have a falling out and each insists that you ally with them and break off all contact with the other. The problem is you still care about each one. Two invitations arrive in your mailbox requesting you attend major events on the same day: a wedding for your neighbor whom you’ve known for fifteen years and the christening of your niece’s baby. Not wanting to offend either or risk your relationship with them, you find yourself caught in a no-win situation where somebody is going to end up being upset with you.

Ideally, we’d like to be able to explain our quandary to each party and have the support we need to make a fair decision. We’d like to believe that each person cares enough about us to understand that our decision may not align with the one they would prefer yet they would respect our decision and that our relationship would remain intact. In some cases, we’re fortunate enough to have such loving people in our lives. Other times not so much. People may become offended or irate. In some cases, they may resort to threats, coercion, manipulation, temper tantrums or bribery in order to have us comply with their demands.

This behavior is a clear indication of their own insecurities, fears, selfishness, and personal issues. They need to control the situation and those involved (you) based on an irrational fear that if they allow others to freely make their own determination the concerned person will not be OK with those choices. Perhaps others will think poorly of them, they may have to face devastating consequences should the truth be told or they may be viewed as less important than the other party should you favor one over the other. In doing so, you run the risk of offending and possibly losing someone you care about. Yet if you do not follow your heart and do what you believe is right, then you live with shame and regret.
So, how does one handle a situation where all parties are clearly not going to be happy with the outcome? Some feel you should do what is best for you and not worry about anyone else. But you care. How can you turn that off? And do you even want to?

Here are some points to consider:
1. Take into consideration everyone’s perspective, needs, and requests. Eliminate any that are unreasonable or ask you to go against what you believe to be just.
2. Identify whose needs are greater at that point in time.
3. Encourage all parties to do what is right. (This can present a challenge since right is a subjective term.)
4. Seek a resolution that has the most benefits for the majority of people and the least amount of consequences for said parties.
5. Relinquish the need to satisfy anyone involved. While it’s important to care about each person you are not responsible for how they interpret your actions or how they feel about them.

And most importantly, the one critical consideration we must never concede to:
6. Always do what you believe is morally right. Never compromise your values for anyone. You only have to answer to yourself and to your Creator.
When you make morally right decisions, not everyone will support you but you will have a sense of inner peace knowing that you did what God expected of you. And nothing that happens after the fact matters as much.

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