Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;
I probably have a big mouth. But I’ll let you be the judge of that.
A friend of mine recently conveyed info about a fight between her partner and another friend. I found the exchange interesting and I wanted some perspective on it, so I wrote it up as an anonymous situation with all the names changed and sent it to an advice columnist in a paper which no one who knows her reads. I told my friend that I did it and sent her a copy. She was very upset. I had no idea she would be, but even though there was no exposure involved, she felt as if she’d been betrayed.
I guess I didn’t realize it was a confidence because it wasn’t presented to me as such. Now I wonder if I am some kind of asshole. If I’d done it behind her back, I could understand her reaction. But I think my innocence of intent was expressed by the fact that I was completely open about it. I didn’t go around telling her friends what happened. I’m not the sort to spread rumors or give away secrets. I just sent an anonymous letter to a column her friends would never see.
Now I feel guilty and awful even though I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong. At the same time, I know I wouldn’t have been upset by the same thing, under the same circumstances.
Am I just too open? Or am I just a jerk?
Dear A Nonymous
You are not a jerk you had good intentions. The problem is that advice in any form helps only if the parties involved ask for help- otherwise it is always seen as an invasion of privacy.
Even if you are 100% absolutely correct, that is beside the point. Next time, observe and take notes of their behaviors for yourself and your future self-help book… but don’t send them a copy.
Dr. Brilliant Cliché
Granny says: No one likes to see their personal life displayed on a public page, no matter how much anonymity is involved.
Your intentions may have been in the right place, but your sense of tact was way off. All I can say is that I hope you expressed understanding and that your friendship is solid enough to withstand an oops. Weak friendships have fallen apart over less than this. But deeper understanding between people doesn’t come from constant harmony as much as it does from being tested by the trials of life. That’s how we know who our real friends are. If you’re really friends, you’ll work this out.