Love & Relationships

Is It Ever Okay To Share Your Friends' Business With Your Partner? Maybe.

The older we get, the more we communicate our boundaries. With age, we also more clearly understand those boundaries and how to effectively, and immediately speak on them confidently. For many years, I remained connected with a friend whose boyfriend would always come to me and call me "lonely" or mention a discussion I had only had in private with her.

Back then, not only was it that anything I said to her in confidence was being reiterated without my permission. But there was also the sass of that man to repeat tidbits of our conversations back to me coupled with her audacity not to check him then and there whenever he did. But, as a much older adult, I realize people can’t do what they don’t know, and based on her choice of partner – it now seems to be a given that boundaries and respect weren’t two things that were high on her list of priorities…respectfully.

We stayed friends for many years, and honestly, I wouldn’t have had a problem with it had her man kept his mouth shut. I’m about to tell on myself when I say, “I thought we were all doing that? I thought we were all telling our man the tea at the end of our days?” I mean, I don’t have a man 90 percent of the time – so more often than not the secrets have been safe, but like?!

But, I’ve since seen several online posts in passing that suggest this is actually against the girl code – leaving me to feel validated but also guilty for my acts of treason. I thought it would be safe to get some more insight from an expert as listening to internet rhetoric can, at times, be overrated.

According to Dr. Ayanna Abrams, a licensed clinical psychologist, it depends. "It depends on four relationships – not just the one with your friend. This answer depends on your friendship, your partnership, your friend's relationship with your partner, and your relationship to the shared information.”

Dr. Abrams went on to provide a list of questions that can help us better understand if what you want to share with your partner is information your man is even qualified to know. Here is the list of questions that Dr. Abrams suggests you use as a flowchart of sorts:

1. What is my relationship with this friend?

How close are we? What stage of friendship are we in? Is this vulnerable information that feels particularly intimate or difficult for them to share? Did my friend ask me not to share?

​2. What's my relationship with my partner? 

What do I know about them and how do they hold information about me or the people in my life? Have they shown respect for people's privacy or do I know that they sometimes have trouble with privacy/secrets?

​3. How does the shared information affect me? 

Does it overjoy me, upset me, might it impact me and I'm anxious about it? (This could help determine what information you're sharing–are you sharing context for how it impacts you or are you sharing it as gossip?)

​4. Is this information something that I believe my friend wouldn't mind my partner knowing?

Do they have any connection to each other (or is it strained or fairly distant?)

​5. What's motivating me to share? 

Do I need support, am I trying to connect with my partner through sharing things that happen to me within other relationships? Do we have a practice of sharing what's going on with our friends? How do I feel about sharing this information with anyone?

What can seem harmless to us may be a cause for immediate termination for others. This is a great opportunity to point out the importance of communicating and setting boundaries in all relationships, early and often. This is often recommended in romantic relationships but it can solve a lot of the issues stemming from miscommunication in platonic relationships as well.

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