What do you do when you catch your friend back talking about you?
: Ouch. This one hurts a lot. Finding out a friend spreading rumors or secrets about you is probably one of the worst feelings ever. It’s horrible to catch someone you trusted being toxic. It sucks because you can’t look at them the way you did before. You can’t tell if their smiles, gestures, and eyes are really the ones that you used to know. You can’t look back into past conversations and times you spent with him/her without painful doubt.
Then you ask yourself, “When did all this even start?”
As difficult as it sounds, begin by trying not to assume anything. Don’t let yourself jump to conclusions, starting the never ending cycle of overthinking. Who knows? There really might be something that you’ve been doing wrong. Your friend’s words, although not directed at you, can be an opportunity for you to set things in perspective.
If you think the relationship between you and your friend is worth more than the risks and the uncomfortable hiccups of confrontation, openly and honestly talk to him/her about it. If he/she is a genuine friend of yours, he/she will respond well. Try finding a time and place where you can talk to your friend privately.
When you do meet up with the friend, make sure to use lots of “I” statements to directly show your own feelings, without beating around the bush. For example: “I feel uncomfortable when you _______.” “I was sad when I heard you _______.”
Talk things out rationally and maturely to find the roots of the problem. Both of you need to clearly communicate what one other thought and felt from this incident.
But at the end of the day, it’s you who decides whether the friendship continues or not. Was it a simple misunderstanding? Did he/she apologize genuinely? Was it his/her first offense? Balance out self-respect and care for your friend in making the final call to your relationship. Remember that you have to be the one happy with this decision!
The closer a friend is to you, well, he/she is in a better position to hurt you. So don’t forget what it means for your friend when he/she opens up vulnerabilities and insecurities to you. You’re someone special to that person.
: Personally, I went through this one way too often. The two typical scenarios I found myself with were 1) catching my friend casually discussing my flaws and 2) catching my friend straight out spreading rumors and labeling me. Now, what you should do varies immensely depending on which scenario you’re facing.
Case 1. Backtalks
“I hate the way she talks like a brat.”
“Why does she only hang out with guys?”
…And the vicious remarks go on and on …and on. The casual flaws that my friends slurred around hurt more than any other unreasonable rumors or swears I heard. It was a more direct stab in the back. You may ask, why would they go behind my back to complain about my personality, my lifestyle, or even my physical appearance, when they could simply confront me face to face?
See, their lack of courage to discuss this in person is the reason why you shouldn’t react the same way they did. Instead, gather your valiant guts and talk to them. If you don’t have the courage to confront them face to face, give them a call or text them if you must.
As much as you’re angry, try not to be the aggressive one. Ask them if you’ve been bothering them in any way and listen to what they have to say. Honestly, what your friend was speaking about without you knowing might have been a legitimate flaw, a quality that you can fix or improve on. Accept it and react maturely. But tell the good friend of yours that next time, he or she should direct the hurtful remarks to you and not to anyone else.
Case 2. Rumors
“Did you know that she ____.”
“Oh my goodness, she’s such a *****.”
…And the rumors spread, and I became a packaged, labeled product by the moment. Honestly, it’s unacceptable for friends to back talk or spread rumors in any way. The most ideal way to react to this one would be to pretend like you haven’t heard anything. Ignore and forget. But also ignore and forget your friend. He or she’s not a friend once they have went behind your back to judge and wreck you.
Most probably, if you continue to ignore the rumors and take care of yourself, get your things done, and keep high standards, the rumors will subside. If you really didn’t do anything wrong, you have no reason to remain conscious about what your friend chattered about.
Eventually, your friend might come up to you and ask, “Why aren’t we hanging out these days? What’s up?” or something of that sort. Then, you have every right to say, “You probably know the reason more than I do.”
But before making any hurried decisions, consider how much your friend meant to you, whether or not the rumors are true or your friend actually spread the rumors in the first place, if your friendship can carry on even after this incident, and how your friend will regain your trust. My point: be rational and keep your cool.
Best of luck.
– The Blueprint Advice Team
*If you have any questions about friends, relationships, life, or just anything, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll answer them in the next column!
Header: Irene Jung (’16)