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July 2024

My Friends Gossip to Me About Each Other

Question

Hi Amber

I have never been one to gossip or have an interest in secrets. I have also always been a fence sitter, from as early as I can remember up until now, mainly because I hate confrontation, but I also hate the idea of being disliked for my opinions. It’s safer to stay impartial to either side of the argument when it comes to friendship problems.

So, you can imagine my anxiety when my friendship group started bickering. It started with small ‘low blows’ to certain people and has now eventuated to full-blown gossiping behind each other’s backs. I haven’t chosen a side or participated in the gossiping and my friends know this which is why they all come to me when they want to vent about one another. I hate it so much because I feel like I’m taking part in the gossiping even though I barely entertain the conversation.

I don’t want to be the one to mediate the bickering but it’s getting out of control. We will hang out normally but once we leave each other, I will get texts from my friends saying nasty things about one another. What do I do? Do I just ignore it in the hope it will settle down? I don’t want to intervene as that will make me uncomfortable, but I feel like I have no choice. Help!

Answer

Hey there,

The first thing I want to say is that I can empathise with you so deeply on this! Friendship gossip and drama are such a common experience, and for a lot of us, it’s something that is so uncomfortable. While gossip is a part of human nature and has had evolutionary benefits in helping us to learn and grow, it can also be quite damaging and harmful.

There are a few things I’d encourage you to consider. First of all, it seems like this gossip and bickering is something that really doesn’t feel true to who you are as a person. I want to acknowledge how easy it can be to get caught up in the whirlwind of it all, especially when your friends come to you as someone they can trust to talk to and someone they know will listen. I think a question I’d encourage you to ask yourself is, do these conversations align with my values and the kind of person I want to be? Take a little bit of time to reflect on your values, what they are, and if engaging in these conversations is aligned with that. If you’re taking part in the gossiping and walking away feeling icky, I think the answer is pretty clear. If that is the case, and this isn’t feeling right for you, I think the next thing you need to do is set some boundaries. You can be there for your friends and support them, and also be clear that engaging in this kind of talk is not something you’re open to anymore. Having this conversation in a kind and constructive way sounds like it’s really important not just for you, but also for maintaining your relationships. It sounds like there’s the potential here for a lot of resentment to build up behind the scenes with all that is being left unsaid on your side.

I want to wrap this up by reminding you, dear reader, that having differences in values with your friends and having personal boundaries does not mean that these friendships need to end. Healthy conversations about values and boundaries can add so much depth and understanding to a relationship and are important for the maintenance of our friendships. It’s like watering our plants to keep them alive. If this isn’t the case, and your friends can’t respect your values and boundaries, I wonder if it might be time to reflect on whether these friendships are your best fit.

I know having these conversations is uncomfortable, however, remember that when we are uncomfortable we also grow. There is no growth in the comfort zone. I wish you all the best with your constructive conversation, and I trust you’ll make the best choice for you moving forward.

To read more of Amber’s advice, click here.

To read more about gossiping, head here.

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Amber Sargeant

Meet Amber Sargeant, The Modern Muse’s resident psychologist, however, you might know her better as The Anxious Psych on TikTok or from her clinic The Sunshine Club Psychology. With a Masters of Professional Psychology, and a Masters of Psychology Practice (Clinical) under her belt, Amber works with all different kinds of presentations from anxiety and depression to personality disorders, ADHD, and everything in between. Her TikTok forms a community hub for accessible information about mental health and psychology in a way that is more approachable and understandable to the average person.

Amber is also someone who also struggles with Anxiety and aims to highlight that while we each have our own experience with difficult emotions and situations, we can learn to manage effectively and to make sure we are still able to build the life we want. Amber is such a warm and passionate clinician and we are so lucky to have her on our team. We can’t wait for her to help our readers “find their sunshine”.