By Patricia Elie
During my teenage years, I remember my girlfriend’s father sitting us down and telling us that we should value our friendship because in life, we are lucky if we have one good friend. We responded with “Only one friend?” We couldn’t wrap our heads around why her father would think it was acceptable to have only one friend. That would mean we would only have one person to hang out with, one friend to shop with, and one person to share our secrets with.
As I got older though, it made more sense.
In high school, your existence revolved around your friends and how many of them you had. It was all a numbers game. Starting around that time, I reflected on my girlfriend’s wise father and began to realize that he was absolutely right. If you can get one truly good and loyal friend, you’re lucky. Trustworthiness is one of the most important qualities of a friendship. So a friend who thinks it’s okay to repeat any information you have shared with them to a third (fourth and fifth) party may inevitably destroy a valuable relationship.
Imagine that you told your girlfriend that you just lost your job. During the conversation, you explain to her that you do not know how you are going to pay your bills and ask that she keep the conversation about your circumstances between the two of you. But soon after you confide in her, you find out that she repeated the details of the conversation to a mutual friend in the hopes that this friend can lend you a helping hand. She meant well, right?
Or say that you’re going through a bitter divorce and you haven’t told anyone but family. Your friend confronts you and states that you are acting differently and wants to make sure everything is okay. You tell her about your circumstances and ask her not to tell others. Coincidentally, your girlfriend bumps into your estranged husband later. She tells him that she is very sorry to hear that your relationship is on the outs and encourages him to reconcile the marriage. She also meant well, right?
Well, I don’t know about you, but in both instances, I would be upset.
When a friend trusts you enough to share a private matter, they share it under the assumption that you will not repeat it, regardless of the blabbermouth’s intentions. If your friend wanted the world to know their business, they would share the news on their own. As a friend, it’s important to always exercise discretion when even thinking about repeating information given to you by someone who confides in you. I always put myself in my friends’ shoes and ask myself how I would feel if I was in their predicament. If I know I would be annoyed, upset or angry, then I keep my lips sealed.
We lean on our girlfriends in the hopes that they can be a listening ear. We allow ourselves to be completely vulnerable, hoping that they are listening with a nonjudgmental ear. We know that our girls have our backs through thick and thin and that the things we tell them, we share in confidence. As my friend’s father said, in life, we are lucky to have one good friend, so why damage that bond by talking about your girlfriend’s personal matters with others?
Check out the newest episode of Unspoken today and share your thoughts on this topic.
Patricia Elie is the creator and writer of “Unspoken Web Series,” a dramedy about five fabulously single life-long girlfriends from college who seem to break all the rules of friendship. Subscribe and Watch “Unspoken Web Series.”