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Is a Friend to All a Friend to None? An Expert’s Take on VPR

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“A friend to all is a friend to none” isn’t just a popular adage: the phrase famously said by Aristotle is now the source of drama in the season 11 finale of “Vanderpump Rules.”

In the May 7 episode, Scheana Shay finds herself caught in the crossfire between former couple Ariana Madix and Tom Sandoval. Although Shay originally pledged her loyalty to Madix after the revelation of Sandoval’s affair with Rachel Leviss, throughout the course of the season, Shay seemed to be conflicted leaving her friendship with Sandoval completely behind.

In one private conversation in the finale, Shay tells Madix that she hopes Sandoval is changing and becoming better. “I just want to continue to see if he’s on a path of growth,” Shay says. Madix assures Shay that while she wasn’t comfortable hearing about Sandoval’s growth, she loves her and values the friendship.

Later in the episode, however, Shay listens to Sandoval as he alleges that Madix doesn’t actually care about their friendship. “When push comes to shove, I’m fucking there,” Sandoval says. In response, Shay says, “I know you are, Tom. You have been there for me, that’s why I’m struggling because you have been a good friend.”

Many people on social media questioned Shay’s contradicting interactions with both Madix and Sandoval. One TikTok commenter said “Scheana once again proving that a friend to all is a friend to none.” Another comment said “Scheana’s favorite line is ‘well, they didn’t do anything to me personally.'”

Although it’s hard to say what’s true when it comes to reality TV — after all, producers were probably encouraging Shay and other cast members to interact with both Madix and Sandoval — the scenario does beg the question: is a friend to all a friend to none?

Is a Friend to All a Friend to None?

The saying “a friend to all is a friend to none” implies that it’s impossible to be friends with everyone in times of conflict, and although there is nuance in every relationship, licensed professional counselor Ashley Hamm believes the statement to be often true.

“Attempting to make everyone happy keeps you from connecting with your own true desires for yourself, your ability to prioritize which relationships matter the most to you, and your capacity to respect the boundaries of the people you love,” Hamm says.

By being friends with everyone, you risk diluting the depth of your connections and compromising your authenticity. Because true friendship requires respect, trust, and genuineness, it’s impossible to commit to these standards with every person in your life.

If you do try to be a friend to all, it can even backfire: “When we make our attempts to please everyone, it can neglect the needs and requests of the people we care about the most in the process,” Hamm says.

This may be the case with Shay, as she seems to be uncomfortable with people disliking her, says Hamm. “If Scheana believes Tom deserves another chance, she likely needs to be prepared to live with the consequences of that, which may include Ariana trusting her less or being less close with her,” Hamm says. “It certainly might be possible for Scheana to maintain friendships with both, but she might also experience a different type of relationship with Ariana as a result of that.”

In the end, it’s probably best to assume that the saying “a friend to all is a friend to none” was stated for a reason. And ultimately, staying true to yourself and your values is the important part of maintaining friendships with those closest to you.

Taylor Andrews is a balance editor at POPSUGAR who specializes in topics relating to sex, relationships, dating, sexual health, mental health, and more. In her six years working in editorial, she’s written about how semen is digested, why sex aftercare is the move, and how the overturn of Roe killed situationships.

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