Ask the Coach — Week 10

This is the column where, each week, I’ll be answering one website visitor’s question in hopes of supporting all visitors through shared (and likely, relevant) challenges, triumphs, and struggles.

Dear Kerri,

Why do I keep attracting new friends that prove to be untrustworthy? Everything seems great, and then one day they open up to me and start gossiping about all of their friends, and most of what they are saying isn’t very nice.  I don’t know how to continue being friends with someone who does that because I worry what they may be saying about me so I end up pulling away.

Confused in New Hampshire

Dear Confused,

Thanks for your question. It’s one I’m sure lots of people can relate to.

It’s always good to pay attention to the repetitive challenges the Universe sends us. These friends of yours who come into your life and gossip about others are giving you a great opportunity to set some boundaries.

While pulling away is one way to set boundaries, if it’s a friendship you’d like to keep, develop, and grow, then I’d encourage you to consider a conversation with that person about your discomfort with gossip.

Imagine saying something like this, “Jane, in honor of our friendship, I want to be honest with you. When we’re together and you begin talking about someone who’s not with us, it makes me uncomfortable. I’d much rather have our time together be spent on sharing, laughing, and celebrating one another. So I’m asking you to refrain from gossiping when we’re hanging out so we both can be more present for each other.”

How would it feel to have that kind of conversation (tweaked to sound like your own voice)? Chances are, you’ll have to remind your friend of this new boundary a couple times before she gets it. If, after reminders, she is still not honoring your needs and that’s that may be when it’s time to think about ending the friendship.

When you think about the friendships you’ve pulled away from, are there ones you miss and you could consider having a chat like the one above with them?

Setting boundaries is so incredibly important to our quality of life. When we do it, we create energetic space for even more wonderful people to come into our lives. Don’t let gossiping friends occupy the space of mutual, loving, fun, authentic friendships. Give them the chance to be that type of person and see if the relationship evolves.

Sending love,

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