So here’s the scenario, you and your best friend have told each other everything for years and now she’s got a husband, fiancé or boyfriend – long term, she thinks – and you find out that she’s told him one of your secrets. It’s something you needed to get off your chest but asked her expressly not to share.
Begrudgingly, she admits she told him. Then, she gets defensive. They don’t have ANY secrets between each other, your friend tells you, not even yours.
Since I’m usually perpetually single, this kind of scenario has happened to me more than once – most memorably – at a holiday party last year. A friend’s boyfriend was feeling festive and felt compelled to conduct a personality assessment. Interesting, because I’d probably only ever had two conversations with him. They were “how’s the weather?” type conversations. And yet, he seemed to have a unique understanding of what I needed to do to improve myself and my relationships.
Needless to say this attack put a damper on my friendship, the one I never intended on having with him and the one I thought I had with her.
Gossip is one of my hot button issues. It pisses me off. However, according to Dr. Harriet Lerner, one of the most respected voices on human relationships, a pure person-to-person relationship is only an ideal.
Gossip, she writes in her book The Dance of Intimacy, is one of the most universal forms of triangling, “We consolidate our relationship with one party at the expense of a third – or we attempt to dilute our anxiety by getting others into our camp,” writes Lerner. “Gossip has nothing to do with intentions. Our conscious intentions may only be the best.”
So when you meet your mother for lunch and talk about your father or sister, or when two of your girlfriends get together to talk about you, it’s perfectly normal. “Triangles take countless forms, but we can count on the fact that when tensions rise between two parties, a third will be triangled in, lowering anxiety in the original pair.”
Blah. Blah. Blah. So it’s normal, does that make it right? What if I don’t like her husband, fiancé or boyfriend? What if I don’t trust him with my secrets? And what happens to my secrets when they break up? I think it’s a breach of our friendship’s trust. Now he – and anyone he decides to tell – knows my secrets too. What do you think?