Woe Is Me! “Why Won’t My Best Friend Tell Me Her Secrets?”
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
My female best friend won’t tell us anything! I find out about her relationships and crushes from other people, and I hate it! What do I do to change this?
— Nosey, But In A Loving Way
DR: I understand you’re feeling left out, but tell me: why do you feel entitled to this information? Not everyone likes discussing their love life at length, and she may just be one of them. However, if she’s discussing it with other people, and not you, then I think it’s time for you to try to understand why, rather than hating her for it — you can’t remedy the situation without addressing what’s causing it. Is it possible she feels judged by you — either because you’ve had poor opinions of her love interests in the past, or because you’ve judged her for trying to have a love life at all? Let me put it this way: woe might be her, too, since she doesn’t feel comfortable sharing details of her life with her best friend. If you can’t figure out the reason, you could potentially try to talk to her about it — provided you hear her out, and try to understand her, without getting defensive immediately. Also, you could just let it be, and give her some space. It’s her life, after all, and if she’s not sharing it with you for whatever reason… well, it’s her prerogative.
LG: I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest your female best friend may not think of you as her best friend. I know that’s harsh — but also likely true. If she was the kind of person who keeps things to herself, you might have a woe here. But it sounds like she’s willing to share her personal relationships and emotions with others — just not with you. And the thing is, you really don’t deserve to know her innermost feelings or intimate experiences; she doesn’t owe you them. Honestly, there is a distasteful subtext of ownership to your complaint, as though you are entitled to her confidences. You’re not; trust has to be earned. It’s her business whom she likes and dates — and also whom she tells about it. You want to be one of the people she tells? Try being a better friend by not expecting her to share things with you that she clearly doesn’t want to share. She has picked up on these expectations — believe it — and probably resents you for them. Maybe a better question for you to ask is: What have I done to make her uncomfortable sharing these things with me? How can I be a better, more trustworthy, and less entitled friend? Best of luck, self-reflector.
ADT: So I’m torn — it’s pretty obvious that she doesn’t trust you enough to reveal her various shenanigans with various boys to you. Here’s where you need to do some serious introspecting to figure out if this is happening because you’re too judgmental or because your friend is self-destructing and doesn’t want you to witness it. If it’s the latter, then you have to figure out a way to get her to trust you and pull her back from danger. Self-destructing friends are vulnerable, silly, arrogant about their awful and dangerous habits, and completely in the dark about what they’re doing to themselves. Again — it’s important that you’re not judging her for just sleeping around with a few guys. If you are, well, stop! Make sure you’re on the right side of things and win your person back!
KB: Stop being so damn nosy? Listen, you are not entitled to anyone’s secrets. What I hear in your question is a lot of subtext about your presumptions about this friendship, and about what kind of a friend you are to her. Let’s be clear: your friend shares with you what she wants to share with you. If she’s not sharing details of her love life with you, it could be for any number of reasons. Let’s just list a few: she is very private about her love life, she is worried about public shaming, she thinks you have a big mouth, she thinks you will judge her, she has other friends who give her better advice about her love life — I could go on. The point is that you need to get over it. She has her reasons, and while you may take that personally, you shouldn’t. It’s important to remember that no one person — best friend, life partner, parent — can ever provide us with 100% of the emotional support and fulfillment we need. It’s totally natural to gain different things from different relationships in one’s life. In this instance, your best friend does not want you to be her support system for her love life. That’s okay! She has her reasons. If you really value the friendship, you’ll give her her space, respect that preference, and learn to embrace and value the other things you share.
SK: I love that you care about your best friend and want to know more about her life. But maybe it’s not fair to expect that she tells you everything? I relate partly to your best friend in this scenario, and what keeps me from sharing every detail about my life is that I like my privacy as is. Some things I would rather keep to myself than tell even the people closest to me, you know? You might feel a little odd that you pour your heart out or she is the first person you tell everything to, and she doesn’t do the same. But if she doesn’t do that for anyone, I think you can let her off the hook?
But if it’s the other way round, and you’re the only one she kind of keeps out of the loop, then I think you need to have a bigger conversation about your friendship and what you mean to each other! The sense of betrayal you feel when you hear about her life from others is super understandable. There are a bunch of things that factor in here: did she tell you things before and has suddenly stopped? Does she take you for granted? If something is hurting you, even unintentionally from her end, I think you should try reaching out — not from the perspective of wanting to change her, but for the sake of understanding her better.