Q: “One of my friends told me that one of my old friends was talking about me! She told me that they were calling me a h*e even though I’ve never dated anyone and they said I’m trying to “steal a boy” away from them! I haven't talked to him in months and I don’t like him anymore. When I’m around them they act like nothings wrong and I don't know what to do. Do I confront them or tell them what I think of them? Please help!” - Anonymous
*I will answer this specific question but also go into more depth about being on the other end, and gossiping in general*
A: You were called a nasty and derogatory word that implies you are sexually active when you’ve never even dated someone… you’re in middle school for crying out loud! If your friend group has to make a cruel remark about trivial matters like your appearance or false statements that put your character on the line, this is an obvious sign of her insecurity. We both know this girl is very very intimidated by you. If she felt confident in her chances with this boy, there’s no way she would target you. If she genuinely cared about you but was still concerned that you might be interfering with her crush for whatever reason, she should take it up with you to make sure that’s not the case. This is a HER problem! I’ll talk more about how to confront her towards the end of this post.
More on gossiping….
I wonder what people say about me behind closed doors. When it comes to spreading rumors or when you find out that someone is speaking poorly about you, it feels like a deep stab in the gut. Why don’t they like me? What did I ever do to them? It isn’t even true!
Unless you’re a perfect human, it's almost inevitable that you’ve gossiped or spoken behind someone’s back at one point in your life. Is it something to be proud of? No. But is it kind of nice to air out your anger and emotions about someone without having to say it to their face? Ashamedly, yes. It’s all fun and games until the words get traced back to your mouth and your actions color your reputation. It’s an seemingly inconsequential activity to engage in until it’s about you.
You might have experienced instances where someone has made a subjective comment about you to other people like, “she’s annoying” or “she’s ugly”. These comments are not based in fact, it’s just one person’s ruthless opinion. But even more shameful and irritating than those little, meaningless digs are the full-fledged rumors that might be going around- labeling you as a h**, and on a larger scale, being accused of cheating on a test or false presumptions about your family. No matter the content of these rumors, small or big, you are being painted as someone you’re not.
When someone has to go out of their way to talk about you in a setting where you are not present, it really means more about that person than you.
Let’s say you find out your good friends are talking behind your back about a problem that happened at school or some tension in the friend group. While your friends might have the right to be irritated with you for a silly or false reason, or even bring it up with some other girls in the group, this does not excuse her from addressing this with you privately. If she fails to have this conservation with you head on at least shortly after the problem occurs, this shows her indecency and lack of respect for you. Of course you are all still young and hopefully you’ll learn to have mature conversations, but if your good friends are having an issue with you, you shouldn’t be the last one to hear about it… and definitely shouldn’t have to hear it from anyone else.
Maybe there are some kids at school that barely know you and are saying some nasty things. Plain and simple: They’re just bored. Their lives are uninteresting and they’ll take any little opportunity to be a part of the drama just for the fun of it. If these aren’t your close friends, it might hurt but don’t take it personally.
Taking The Blame
I received a question from a different girl who was asking a question about a situation where she was the gossiper. She confessed that she had a little role but it wasn’t all her. Some of the other girls started the conversation and she just chimed in… now she’s the one taking all the blame. My advice to anyone in this situation is to own up to what you said and tell the truth. Here’s something you could say to the person you were gossiping about- “I said [insert your exact words of what actually came out of your mouth or someone else will] and I feel really awful. My intention wasn’t to hurt you and I should have never said those things. If I were you, I’d be really hurt too and I promise this won’t happen again”. That’s all you really can say. Don’t dig yourself into a deeper hole than you’re already in.
At the end of the day there will always be two sides to a story. You might not trust that your friends are being completely honest with you… acting like everything is great when you’re hanging out in person. Because it can be awkward, pretending like it doesn’t exist to spare both of your feelings may feel like the easier route. The only way your friendships are going to last and be rid of the toxicity is by talking things out. Approach someone who has gossiped about you with a very mild temper. Explain that you are upset and frustrated but also allow them to fully explain themselves too. Ask simple questions to get to the bottom of the whole issue and make sure this happens face to face! NOT OVER TEXT. I REPEAT. NOT. OVER. TEXT. Say something along the lines of “what made you feel like you had to speak to everyone else except for me?”, “Is there something I did that made you so upset?”, “I feel betrayed right now but I want to make this better. I apologize if I did anything wrong and want to know what I can do in the future so this problem doesn’t arise again”. If your efforts to have a mature conversation don’t work out then find new friends because these people suck.
Bigger Takeaways and AMAZING Advice
1. I’ve learned the hard way that you have to be very careful about who you tell things to because secrets spread like wildfire. I know what it’s like to want to so badly babble on about something someone told you that you know you shouldn’t repeat. Just remember that if you tell it to a single other person, you’re basically telling the world. Being untrustworthy and spreading lies or breaching someone’s privacy will always come back to haunt you.
2. If someone shares a rumor with you “stay out of it and don’t spread it. Before you believe what you hear, do your research,” an Instagram follower advised.
3. If you’re the girl who's constantly saying bad things about people, your friends might wonder if you say mean things about them behind their backs too. They will have a hard time trusting you. Same goes for the tone of your friend group. If you hear them gossiping about other people all the time, they are most definitely saying these things about you. “Be friends with people who stick up for you when you aren't there!”, as advised by another Instagram follower.
Be the girl who's known for highlighting the good in people. Make SPECIFIC compliments like “I genuinely think she’s so pretty”, “she was so gracious helping with my homework, I’m super appreciative of her”, or “you should hear her original songs, her voice is amazing”. Be a light in peoples’ lives and BE KIND! Worry about yourself and if you find out people are saying things about you then stand up for yourself!!!
We got this,