Q: I’ve been deeply hurt after finding out a friend, whom I trusted, criticised aspects of my personal life behind my back to a mutual acquaintance. I am now filled with anger and resentment every time we meet, but don’t have the courage to confront her about it. We are both women in our 40s.
Sadly, the greatest hurt is often inflicted by those closest to us. It’s always an unpleasant experience to find out that someone you thought you knew well has acted in a way that causes you to have to re-evaluate the relationship completely.
There are two paths you could take. The first is to ignore what has happened and try to move forward with the friendship. It could be that your friend slipped up and voiced thoughts she should have kept to herself.
Friendships, like other relationships, are not always straightforward. We are human and that makes us fallible. Whether you can forgive and forget is up to you.
Relationship dynamics are complex and I wonder what your mutual acquaintances felt they were gaining by telling you what had been said behind your back.
It’s worth taking the time to consider whether they were so aghast at what was being said that they felt morally obligated to share it with you, or if there was some ulterior motive on their part? Clearly, by telling you, they were going to cause you pain. Only you can decide whether you think they were right to do so.
The second path is to confront your friend. Before you choose to do this, I want you to think very carefully about what was actually said. Was it simply malicious and unwarranted or did it hurt you because there was some truth to it? Sometimes words can cut the deepest when there is a degree of honesty attached to them. That is not to say your friend should ever have said them to another, but it might help you to understand the depth of your own anger if you take the time to unpick why you are so upset.
Just the thought of confrontation sends many of us into cold sweat. However, for anger to dissipate and air to be cleared we need to talk things out. Rather than getting worked up and confronting your friend in anger, arrange a meeting on neutral territory and tell her what was relayed to you, and then tell her how those words made you feel. Then take it from there. It may be that you can get past this and patch things up.
There is also the possibility that things may not end satisfactorily and you will go your separate ways.
This is something you need to come to terms with as a possible consequence before you embark on this course of action.
Whatever you decide to do, do it with a cool head. That way you’ll minimise the fallout and emerge with your own sense of integrity intact.
Russell Hemmings is a life coach and cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist, and author of The Mind Diet and Active Positive Parenting (russellhemmings.co.uk). Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org.