Relationship Connection: My best friend broke my confidence and spread gossip

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Question

I recently learned that my best friend shared some deeply personal information about my life with another person without my permission. This information spread to other people and eventually got back to me. Due to of a string of previous betrayals in my life, trusting others hasn’t been easy for me. The discovery has devastated me and caused me to wonder if I can ever trust anyone again.

It’s so confusing why she would share my information with someone else, especially when she knew how sensitive it is and the fact that I haven’t told anyone else about it. I’m not sure what to do now because I feel pretty shut down and untrusting.

Answer

Your friend made a serious mistake that needs to be repaired if you’re going to continue forward in a trusting and supportive relationship.

It’s understandable that you would feel frozen and unsure about what to do. When we are betrayed by someone to whom we’ve given our full confidence and trust, we feel lost and unsure as to what we can trust.

Even if your friendship doesn’t recover from this betrayal, your courage to speak up about the impact it’s had on you will help you heal and move forward in your life.

We may never know why your friend broke your trust and shared your personal information. In fact, she may not even know. Even though your friend may not have had malicious intentions when sharing your private information, her carelessness creates a divide between you and other people.

Even if you don’t want to continue in the friendship, I still believe it’s important for you to speak up and close that gap. She needs a chance to correct what she did, and you need to know who you can trust. Working things out with your friend is an important part of the healing process.

Please recognize that even though you feel humiliated by her sharing your personal struggles, you have done nothing wrong by having these personal challenges. Just because these things were shared in a spirit of judgment and criticism doesn’t mean that something is wrong with you. Gossip can make us feel inferior to others, especially when they ignore their own humanity and elevate themselves above others.

It takes great courage to speak up to someone who has betrayed our trust. It requires us to be vulnerable at a time when we already feel so exposed and foolish. I encourage you to speak with her as soon as possible and let her know how her actions have affected you and created serious consequences.

Regardless of her intentions, it’s important for her to know how this friendship has been dramatically altered because of her words. You don’t have to be aggressive or return unkindness to her, but you can speak clearly about how shocked and devastated you were to learn this information.

More than an explanation, you need to know she feels deep remorse and sorrow for her actions. Broken trust can be repaired, but only when there is remorse on the part of the offender. Let her see the full impact this has had on you. You trusted her once to share this deeply personal information with her, so it’s critical that she understands how much you counted on her to protect your confidence.

If she’s remorseful and wants to repair the damage, then ask her to return and speak with her confidants to let them know she was wrong in sharing this information. See if she will request that they don’t share it with anyone else.

Additionally, she can share your strengths with them and show them who you really are instead of spotlighting this one-dimensional detail of your life. You are more than your struggles, and she can not only apologize to you and them for painting you in a negative light but also shine the light of truth on your strengths.

Hopefully your friend will feel remorse and want to know what she can do to fix her mistake. You may not want her to feel bad for her mistake and reassure her that what she did wasn’t that serious. Stay honest with her and let her see the effect this has had on you so she can make it right and you can begin rebuilding a friendship on a foundation of integrity, compassion and mutual respect.

Stay connected!

Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Have a relationship question for Geoff to answer? Submit to:

Email: geoff@lovingmarriage.com

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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5 Comments

  • DRT October 17, 2018 at 9:02 am

    I believe strongly in the old bookkeeper motto, Trust But Verify!
    But I believe even more strongly, Trust No One. If you have something to say that you don’t want the whole world to know, then keep your mouth shut.

  • ladybugavenger October 17, 2018 at 10:04 am

    You’ll do good to live by these two rules:

    1. Trust no one
    2. Only tell people information that you wouldn’t mind the public knowing 😉

  • KR567 October 17, 2018 at 2:41 pm

    if one person besides you know it then it’s no longer a secret

  • Redbud October 17, 2018 at 2:43 pm

    I learned a long time ago not to trust anyone. Even if you share information with your best friend in the whole world, if that relationship sours, then what do you do? Trust no one.

  • Diana October 17, 2018 at 10:35 pm

    Honey, people are gonna talk until the day you die. Then they’ll talk about someone else. Let them talk and someday they will be facing their enemy and her name is Karma.

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