Should You Tell Your Friend When Someone Is Gossipping About Them?

I have an alcoholic friend who recently hit bottom and found her way to AA. This is the first time she has ever shown up at their door. She has been in denial about the severity of her problem but when she hit bottom, she did so with such a thud. She was in a meeting the next day and she has been going regularly ever since.

I’m proud of her and I understand enough about addiction to know her sobriety is precarious. I feel protective of her. Actually, I feel protective of anyone who is trying to right their life so when I found out someone in this gal’s inner circle was blabbing on her… well, what to do?

The gossip was revealing highly personal details about this gal’s last night of drinking. The person who told me about it was snickering. He was mocking her which told me a lot about how this information was shared. It was catty. So do I call her and let her know?

I thought about it long and hard. I did not want to jeopardize her sobriety. I wondered if this was a case of, “What you don’t know won’t hurt you.” But on the other hand she’s got a fox in the henhouse, you know?

In the end I called her and she was terribly hurt. She told me she had been warned about this girl before but had overrode her better judgment… we all know how that goes.

It’s a few days later and today we spoke again. She said she dipped down pretty low, having the information but had steeled herself and said she now felt stronger and more resolved to be sober. I was greatly relieved.

I really don’t know that I did the right thing. But I realize with Mars conjunct Mercury in the righteous, up front and blurting 9th house, I really don’t have the capacity to look at a friend and withhold information that is pertinent to them. What about you?


If you know someone is talking (nasty) behind someone’s back, do you tell them? Why or why not?

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Should You Tell Your Friend When Someone Is Gossipping About Them? — 27 Comments

  1. First, I’d like to say I agree with what you did. Bravo! Your friend is going into recovery and it sounds like she doesn’t need the blabbermouths holding her back in this way. They sound like jerks–and my apologies if they are close to you. She does need to know about the fox…

    But I don’t do this. I don’t tell people. A couple of reasons why: I want the ‘buck to stop with me.’ Also, I am trying to take life to the next step and grow the courage to say: “Your behaviour is not right, you are not being a very good friend to XXX by talking shit about them, and I don’t want to hear it.”

    I have a Pisces pal with her NN in 12th House Pisces and she says this to people a lot: “I’m offended by this talk.” They usually apologize to her, when they’ve talked about someone else!

    Anyway, there’s my aspirations, Pisces-like…

  2. For the record, the gossiper wasn’t talking to me, or I’d have confronted her big time. I heard through the person she talked to and did not confront him because he’d have turned around and dialed the gossiper as soon as I hung up to say… ‘Elsa is pissed and will probably tell. ” 🙂

    Instead I acted as if it were nothing so there was no breech. Then I thought it through and decided to call her. I don’t think this is necessarily true for all but in my case, I just don’t have friends I would keep information from (to protect them). It seems more respectful to tell them they are being betrayed and let them figure out what they want to do about it, up to and including dumping me, the gal with the bad news.

    Bottom line, I just couldn’t sit on it. I could see the gossiper buddying up to my pal for some more info so she could run around badmouthing her with it. Ugh.

    • Seems respectful to me, too, to tell the person being gossiped about!

      The two who admitted to me having been privy to speculation fueled by distorted interpretation of *me*… Love them forever.

  3. It really depends on the situation. If it is something very important, yes. If it is simply gossip that would only hurt the person if they heard it, no. It is pointless.
    I do tell the person who is gossiping how I feel though. I make it very clear how I feel about it and them for doing it.

  4. If the person is shooting their mouth off right in front of me, I do damage control of whatever variety is called for. If the person is being an ass, I hit them hard. If they’re simply badly misinformed, then I try to set them straight.

    And then I wait and see what happens. If they knock it off, or if they’re in no position to affect the person they’re babbling about, I let it go. But if they keep it up or try to tamper with the person, then all bets are off. That goes double if they’re blithering about someone close to me.

  5. In my opinion you did the right thing (mars in cancer in the 9th). This was not a situation to be mocked. This probably gave her more courage to do what she needs to do.

  6. I would have done what you did, mars merc conjunction in the 9th as well, but in sagittarius. I would want my friend to tell me, if I was the subject of conversation, so I would want to do the same for them. Especially in a situation like that.

    I’ve run into this a lot, where people don’t tell me these things till years later and I end up feeling so stupid and used by the person that’s shit talking. I really wish people would just tell me so I know the truth!

  7. It can be hard for person being betrayed to hear the truth, but I think you have to tell a friend about the knife in their back. You did the right thing.

    Some people are into character assasination and this behavior has to be exposed (Mars in Scorpio, Sun and Merc in Cap and 8th).

  8. I tell people because I want to be sure they know where I stand before any ugliness comes out in the open. I wish somebody would tell me in confidence who is my friend and who isn’t. I mean, how can I be a person’s friend and let them be blindsided by this stuff?

    • It rarely happens though because I’m not in the gossip loop. I hate being the last person to find out something and then wonder why my so-called friends didn’t clue me in. I think a person who has knowledge also has their reputation on the line, even if they’re not the gossiper.

    • Indeed. Most hearty agreement, here. (Even without welcoming gossip, if you hear it, you’re involved. The friend merits knowing that someone is using them as social currency. Otherwise, you are no true friend to them.)

  9. I would want to know because I’d want to know that person was not to be trusted. I had a friend I withdrew from because the relationship was toxic. She seemed to try to be nice to me for awhile, but years later, I heard she was spreading rumors that I was on drugs to other people and my parents. I thought maybe it was possible to be friends again, but it verified to me that I made the right choice to distrust her and separate from her. Seems she’s been spreading bad rumors about me for years.

  10. Yes I do tell them and I would want to know if someone talked about me behind my back. I can’t stand fake, gossipy people. I’m a Sagittarius Sun/Leo Moon.

  11. those people who snicker behind your back aren’t friends. maybe in their case, they got close cause, the saying, get close to your enemy kind of thing. keep your friends close, your enemies closer. though why would they go and blow their cover if they are telling another close friend of theirs? I would have told my friend though, because that information of having a fox in the hen house is terrible. the fox could eat up all your eggs! because they infiltrated, they were not true hens.

  12. I had a case that was a family-secret and it was relevant for my cousin. Several people know about this and did not tell him anyting. I did. It was a very very difficult descision. I still feel the pain when I write this here. But he was gratefull I did tell him and I am glad I did. Some persons in my family is not happy with me. But I am happy with myself here!

  13. I feel like you did the right thing in telling your friend about the woman who was gossiping about her. I would do the same and hope others would do the same for me. One thing I was wondering was what if someone tells you a secret a secret about how they feel about another person? You see I am friends with a couple and have known both for a very long time, one night I was hanging out with one of them and they told me they wanted to break things up. This news was very disheartening, but not surprising because I knew for a long time he wasn’t happy, but I didn’t and couldn’t tell my other friend because that’s the boy friends truth to tell. Would you keep quiet in that instance like I did or go and tell your other friend? I feel like there is a fine line when you should and should not disclose information like that even if you feel really guilty.

  14. Based on my personal experience, if my relationship with the “victim” of whatever it may be, gossiping, cheating, etc. is closer than the relationship they have with the “perpetrator”, then I would tell them. If the relationship between the victim and the perpetrator is closer, I would refrain from doing anything and let them find out (or deny it) by themselves.

  15. Alcoholics tend to ignore, take the high road, snooze over the bad press that comes to them. Which can hurt them in a big way down the road. You did the right thing. It sobered her enough to stop. No favors are done not telling someone the bad press their getting especially if this person is seen as a confidant. It could get way uglier.

  16. I tend to not say anything. Mostly because I don’t like being in the middle of other peoples drama. The type of people who gossip never quit and before you know it you’ll be their target. I just distance myself. Once again, this is why I don’t have that many friends.

  17. This is why I screen my friends. I don’t hang out with people who gossip. The few friends I have don’t hang out with people who gossip either. If someone is gossiping about someone else, they’ll sure enough gossip about you too.

    • I agree too, I would rather have a few really trusted friends than loads of “frenemies” who just want to spread gossip. Take care!

  18. THis is rough for me because I love gossip, even if it makes me a “nasty woman” (so be it). I am all Virgo/Pisces. I want to know/I want to avoid at the same time. With so much Saturn and Chiron, inserting myself into other people’s business or inciting drama has always turned out catastrophically. Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind? Who knows? I’ve had this kind of relationship with Sagittarius friends. Their ability to pull back and see things academically, objectively, is a revelation to me and so refreshing. I guess, they can “handle” it. But it’s definitely a case-by-case situation.

    • I don’t think you are a bad/malicious person. Gossipers don’t care what they are spreading about others, nor how it can potentially harm someone- they’re more narrow minded, yes? They’re doing something that can cause themselves damage eventually because they’re thinking of instant gratification.

      Btw, it isn’t wrong to talk about others if you’re trying to understand or learn from another person’s situation and you come from a good place. It’s more about intentions, no?

      Anyway none of us are perfect. We’ve all gossiped. We all occasionally go against our better judgement. Hopefully we learn from those occasions though- it’s how we build our character.

  19. It depends. I have been put in a situation where someone came to me and blabber about this other person but I cut her short and told her to say it to that woman’s face and leave me out of it because I won’t tag along with her in that crap. This was a woman 10 years older than me and I cut contact with her because eventually more of her unwanted behavior came out . I didn’t mention it to the other person because it was just cattiness. On the other hand I’ve been one to be trashed about, this girl that I’ve never even talked to was in a group of larger nr of pals with a colleague and my ex. Well both the colleague and the ex told me that this person has said horrible things about me and to this day they never wanted to tell me what it was because it was ‘that’ bad and it would hurt me terribly. I side-eye anyone trashing people whom you’ve never even bothered to say hello to. (but I am a scorpio midheaven so this is on brand, dude). But to this day I am still curious on what that was. So you either shut up and never say it. Or you tell them exactly what it is, don’t leave people hanging, that’s just cruel in its own way.

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