16

I had, what I thought, was a close friend. I told her something in the strictest of confidence and made it clear that it was personal and not to be repeated and that I had told no one else, which was true, no one else knew.

I then went to our workplace and someone came up to me and in a gossiping fashion said: "I heard bla bla bla" and repeated back the very thing I had told my friend. I asked her "how did you know that". She replied "oh so and so told" and so and so wasn't even my friend, but a third party, showing how viral the information had gone.

I was furious and felt betrayed. How can I convey this to my friend?

  • 1
    As an aside, you might mention it to or ask your friend about it before accusing them - even if it's the only reasonable possibility, I've found it helps to account for unreasonable ones. Whatever explanation they give might also help you figure out how to proceed. – Megha Aug 18 '17 at 3:47
  • @Megha that's the whole point of the question :) – user57 Aug 18 '17 at 3:53
  • I really just meant starting off, calmly, with something like "I heard this from X, who said they heard it from Y", and letting them respond... instead of starting out with, say, asking who they told and why or what a betrayal it was to tell. My comment isn't about how to get your point across or how to deal with her after, it's just a possible opening line. – Megha Aug 21 '17 at 22:42
  • @Megha maybe you can write an answer? – user57 Aug 22 '17 at 2:40
12

The answer may be that you cannot trust her. Some people are terrible at keeping secrets and blab things, no matter how much they fight it. (Frankly, it's rare to find someone who will keep a secret entirely to themselves forever, but some are especially bad.) These people tend to describe themselves as "having no filter". I'm assuming your friend falls under this category since she immediately blabbed such a large secret. They can be great friends in every other way, so you don't necessarily need to cut her out of your life, but you may need to refrain from sharing any more of your deepest and darkest secrets.

What you can do is forgive your friend. Talk to her and let her know how you feel. Ask her why she did what she did, and give her a chance to apologize and try to make amends. If you need time, that's okay, tell her that. Once you are ready to forgive, do so. But forgiving doesn't mean that you will forget what happened or that you will trust her with secrets again; it means you are letting go of your anger and resentment, and that she doesn't "owe" you anything.

At this point, you can talk about sharing secrets again. This will depend a lot on her, what she's willing to do, and how honest (with both you and herself) she's willing to be. Is she generally terrible at keeping secrets, or was this a rare moment of weakness? Does she want to be responsible for keeping your secrets, or would she rather you shared that burden with someone else? Is she willing to improve? Is she willing to be your friend if you don't trust her with that responsibility?

If you both decide that you want to be able to share secrets with her, then I'd let her practice with smaller ones. If you decide it's best to keep some things to yourself, then share your problems in a more vague way in the future, so that she can't betray you but can still support you.

It's likely she will be offended if you tell her you can't trust her anymore, or if you refuse to give details on some things. Blabbermouths tend to blab their own "secrets" too, and they often don't understand why it's such a big deal when they do it to other people who keep things more private. It doesn't mean they're trying to hurt you or don't care for you; they just don't get the impact their actions have. I've had some success with getting them to understand how it makes me feel to have my secrets revealed, and sometimes they learn to keep things to themselves. But sometimes they can't or won't change, and you have to decide if you're okay with that or not.

  • 3
    "Does she want to be responsible for keeping your secrets, or would she rather you shared that burden with someone else?" - very good point! I can see how some people wouldn't want that responsibility. – Casebash Jul 22 '17 at 9:11
  • Upvote for "Frankly, it's rare to find someone who will keep a secret entirely to themselves forever"; it's deeply true and I personally feel like we should always keep in mind that the person we are confiding in will probably, eventually, confide our secret to someone else. – essay Jul 1 at 12:50
13

You don't necessarily have to trust her again, at least not for a long time.

At the end of the day trust is something that's earned, and if you break that trust, it becomes even harder to earn it back again. In the long term to help reinforce how much she's betrayed your trust try not to trust her as much with things, tell her things "don't matter", eventually she'll realise just how much it meant that she kept the secret, and hopefully will learn not to do it again.

In the short term, it may be worth taking her to one side (or a location where it's just you two), and having a word, telling her that you really thought you could trust her with that particular piece of information, and how it meant a lot to you that she could keep it. You can also try putting her in your shoes, by asking her "How would you feel if I told someone a secret you told me?". Provided you still want to be friends with her you want her to realise what she's done wrong, but without coming across as rude or angry (while you might well be angry, being angry might damage the relationship or provoke an argument).

  • 1
    This is generally a good answer, but I have an issue with the passive aggressiveness you suggest in the middle paragraph. If you she asks about something you'd like to tell her but can't trust her with, just tell her that, or don't bring up the subject in the first place. – Kat Jul 21 '17 at 23:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy