Do you have a dog in this hunt?

December 15, 2023

dog-in-this-huntDog in this hunt: stake in the outcome.

My position on any given personal situation, especially big ones like relationship endings, is to determine if I have a dog in that hunt.

Meaning, does this have anything to do with me?

What does this have to do with me? is a completely clarifying question.  So let me explain:

When I got divorced the first time, most of our friends remained available to us both. If we wanted them in our life, they were there. It didn’t matter who was the “primary” friend.  Our relationship’s demise had nothing to do with them. And we didn’t make them choose. They realized they did not have a dog in that hunt.

When I divorced my rebound husband, his parents stayed close to me. In touch. Now, I’m sure there were many and complicated reasons. But also they said that they didn’t have a dog in the hunt. It was not their issue. Their relationship with me was separate.

On the other hand, when some relationships have ended. a few people who had been very close to me absolutely disappeared. No note. No call. No card. No goodbye. Just…gone.

I found this exceptionally painful. They had no dog in the hunt at all. But they decided there were sides and they picked one.

I decided then and there that I would never do that to anyone. That if I didn’t have a dog in the hunt, I didn’t have to take sides. If it isn’t my issue, if I am not involved, why would I?

In Sicilian culture, we have something called omerta, which is a twisted form of loyalty. It’s really a Mafia thing. La Cosa Nostra. There are always sides in La Cosa Nostra. Your life might depend on it. (Yes, it exists. No, it’s not the romanticized Hollywood version.)

But. We are not the Mafia. La Cosa Nostra’s rules do not apply. It’s never that black and white.

Besides, I am not really big on loyalty pledges. I think they’re dumb. Outdated. And never take into account the nuances that are just part of life.  As you know if you follow me on social media or here.

If we are not involved in a relationship’s demise, there’s no reason why we can’t be generally supportive of both parties. We don’t need to know the details. They’re unimportant. What IS important is that we not ghost someone during their toughest time. Not when we don’t have a dog in the hunt.

The easiest guide to how to be with friends during any relationship breakdown is to ask: what does this have to do with me? 

If the answer is nothing, there is no need to choose sides.


12 comments on “Do you have a dog in this hunt?
  1. Although I agree in general, sometimes one side is badly hurt, truly wronged, and a long term relationship with the person who is hurting can make supporting them matter more than the other person in the ended relationship.

    • Yes, I do think that often one side is more hurt than the other and such was the case for me, too. But it’s my true belief that providing support for one side does not mean you have to banish the other. I am a big believer in supporting my loved ones but am not a big believer in taking sides in situations that do not involve me. It’s not a loyalty test. One can support without taking one side or the other That’s a core belief for me based on my own personal experience.It was incredibly painful to be dropped through no fault of my own. Especially since I was the “wronged party” if there was such a thing.

  2. Alana says:

    After my uncle (the blood relative) and his first wife divorced, I stayed good friends with his ex-wife. Yes no dog in the hunt. I had always liked her and considered her a good friend for the next 20 or so years, until she passed away.

  3. Yes, true. Life isn’t that black and white.


    My best friend divorced and insisted I choose. I was surprised as she had brought this charming, brilliant man in our lives. But she was my best friend and she was so hurt. (She never remarried) I felt it was part of her healing to have me there. We are still extremely close (no best friend at almost 70…but many besties) text of call every day. I keep her from jumping off cliffs and she pushes me to the precipice. As a rule people are with me forever. I love my friends. Just like you and I disagree on politics, but we agree on men, dogs, future lives and loyalty. What is more important? I decided early on in our relationship that your “Carol-ness” was more valuable than politics. As you said how does that affect me? See you could finally teach me when to use effect and affect!
    Kisses to to all the pups. And you.

  5. Laurie Stone says:

    Strangely, I’ve had no good friends get divorced, but if they did, I can’t imagine not staying friends with all parties involved. It would be too hard saying goodbye.

  6. Estelle says:

    I agree. It’s the same as saying “I have no skin in the game”. It’s a good way to look at a situation.

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