Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Tell Me About It: Friend's upset when confidence is broken

is upset when confidence is broken

Q: I recently confided in a good friend some personal news, and told her not to tell anyone. I didn't think trusting her was a problem, as she has confided in me numerous times in the past and I have kept her personal stories to myself.

Within a few days, she had told two other friends. Although she apologized profusely, I was still angry. I told her I should never have confided to anyone in the first place. She responded by saying I was right and shouldn't have confided in anyone, as even well-meaning folks like her can say things they don't mean to.

I feel like she's trying to justify her behavior. Am I overreacting? And how do I move forward from what I see as a betrayal in trust (even if she says she didn't do it on purpose)?

Trusted Friendship

A: Before I dissect this, I want to make it clear upfront that your friend is in the wrong.

That said, there are ways you can tweak your own behavior next time you feel a secret disclosure coming on:

— "I didn't think trusting her was a problem, as she has confided in me numerous times in the past." This isn't proof that you can trust her; it's proof she can trust you . So next time you spill, choose your listener more logically. Someone who starts sentences with "Hey, did you hear . . . " might not make a very good vault.

— She's right that if leaks upset you this much, then you shouldn't tell anybody. And, you're right that her saying this is self-serving. Except . . .

— "I told her I should never have confided to anyone": You handed her the line yourself. While she's still guilty of weaseling, it's not as if she thought, hmm, how can I get out of the blame here. She apologized profusely, and then agreed with you that sharing was a mistake. Right?

— Which brings us to the most important aspect of sharing: You. Pick your confidants carefully, yes, but know yourself above all. Your need for secrecy and your methods for handling secrets need to be in sync.

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