We have all said and heard these fateful words “now, you can’t tell anyone…” followed by a huge bit of information that leads to “girrrllll” and “are you serious?!” But what are we really doing when we ask others to keep our secrets?
Recently, a friend told me a story about a secret she had been asked to keep. The problem was, the secret was actually impacting her in a negative way. It was making her look at a third party differently and she really wanted others to know what was going on, so they could help her manage the situation.
So I asked her, “this person who told you the secret, how is it affecting them?” She said, “she’s fine. she’s forgiven him and moved on.” So what was my advice? I told her she should go off on the friend who told her the secret, not be mad at the mutual friend. In hindsight, that probably wasn’t the best advice… sorry friend :-).
So here’s the deal. The original secret keeper has deprived my friend of the very things she needed in order to be able to move on – the need to pass on the information, get validation on their feelings, vent, and feel better by talking to someone who knows all sides. Now, my friend has helped someone feel better, who in turn made her feel worse by passing on the burden of holding in hurtful information. Further, this person has asked my friend to keep a secret that she herself couldn’t even keep.
Why do we do this? We need to stop putting a burden on our friends to keep our secrets, particularly when it involves a mutual friend. Should you be able to confide in your friends? OF COURSE! But part of being a friend includes caring enough about the other person to know and appreciate which secrets of yours they can handle, and which ones they are better off not knowing. ESPECIALLY when it relates to a significant other. We as women are good for venting to our friends about the horrible thing our partner has done only to take them back a week, a day, or an hour later. Our friends carry that hurt for months, but we get over it… until it happens again and we go back to that same friend and unload more of our junk.
Oddly, the day we find out that our “so-called friend” has been telling our business, we usually decide that this person is not a real friend. Well let me ask you this… If you were the original person who told your business, does that mean that you also are not your friend? Could it be that the same way you felt a strong desire to get it off your chest, your friend was also not equip to carry the weight of the information?
I’m not making excuses for people who gossip, or people who maliciously spread rumors or personal information, but what I am saying is that is important that we truly consider the information we share and the person we are sharing it with. I am a very trusting individual and I pride myself on keeping other people’s secrets, but I have also learned that everyone is not like me and I need to be very careful with what I say and to whom I say it, because words and intentions sometimes get twisted.
Ladies, if you have issues that you really need to share with someone and you want to make sure that person “doesn’t tell anyone”, I suggest you hire a therapist. It is literally their job to keep your secrets, and you’ll probably get great advice that won’t involve going off on anyone… sorry friend :-).