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Dear Dish-It: I Don't Trust My BFF

Dear Dish-It,

My best friend tells her other friend absolutely everything. And if she doesn’t tell her my secrets outright, she gives her enough hints to figure it out. Her friend, Emily, then blabs it to everyone else. I’m so mad and I’ve told my BFF to stop but she never listens! I really don’t trust her. At one point she liked my crush at the same time I did and now, even though she says she’s over it, she always wants me to conference him in to our conversations and then talks to him the whole time – I don’t get in a word! She still talks to him on Myspace, too, and she wants me to tell her everything he says to me and let her read every text he sends. I don’t mind sharing secrets with my BFF as long as I know she’s not going to tell anyone else. I don’t know what to do!

Not so friendly friends

Dear NSFF,

It seems to me that trust is at the root of all your problems with your BFF. No matter the type of relationship, be it romantic, friendly or between you and your parents, an essential ingredient is trust. Trust defines every interaction in a relationship, it builds intimacy and it strengthens bonds. Without trust no relationship can thrive. Unfortunately people don’t always cherish trust the way that they should. Because it is often given freely at first it is also easily taken for granted. When trust has been damaged it can spell doom for a friendship and it can be very hard, if not impossible, to earn back.

Whether or not trust can ever be restored between you and your BFF depends on how badly it was damaged and how betrayed you feel by her. Since she has betrayed your trust a few times, you know first-hand how hard it can be to let go, move on and fix your friendship. You may even be feeling like you just want to cut your losses and end the friendship, and I don’t blame you if you do. But if you do want to repair the damage, if you want to salvage the friendship and rebuild trust, there are some steps you need to follow. While your BFF has her work cut out for her in terms of earning back your trust, you also have a job to do. So how do you move past a major burn and put things back on track? It’s hard but it can be done and these three pointers can help.

Let your anger out

In a quest to save a relationship people who have been hurt often bend over backwards to please their betrayer. Why? Because when we have been betrayed or burned the person who hurts us has sent a clear message that on some level we don’t matter to them as much as they matter to us. In a rebound state of fear of loss this often translates in to the hurt party trying to earn back the other person’s good opinion. It is a knee-jerk reaction and always ends in resentment. The best way to start the healing process is to acknowledge that there has been pain, betrayal and a loss of trust. Once the cards are on the table everybody will have a clearer picture of what they need to do to set things right.

Resolve to let it out and then let it go

Once you let your feelings out you need to let the incident go. This does not mean blind forgiveness, but there is an element of forgiveness involved in this step. If the person who hurt you apologizes and you accept then you need to never rehash the incident. Doing so will only bring back your anger and keep you in emotional limbo. Don’t bring it up as a weapon. Don’t hold it over the other person every time you feel wronged in the future. Acknowledge that it happened, make your feelings and expectations known, and then stop focusing on what damaged the trust and set your sights on rebuilding. You’re only human, you may slip up and throw the incident in the face of your betrayer and if you do don’t beat yourself up over it, apologize and move on. While this step may seem like letting the person who hurt you get off easy in reality you are making things easier on your self by allowing yourself to be hurt and moving past it.

Know that things can never go back to the way they once were and keep your eyes wide open to future betrayals.

The sad reality is that once trust has been damaged it can’t simply go back to the way it once was, no matter how much both parties may want it to. People who do not value trust enough to respect it in the first place more often than not continue that pattern in the future. This doesn’t mean that it is a waste of time trying to rebuild trust it just means that the new trust has to be different. Call it a more mature trust. While trusting a person who has hurt you isn’t impossible it will never be the same kind of wide-eyed trust we give to people when we first let them in. This is not really a bad thing even though it may seem like a loss. Seeing people for who they really are rather than through rose-colored lenses can be a healthy thing. So when you decide to try to give trust a second chance just know that you will be more sensitive to the prospect of another betrayal and forgive yourself if doubt seeps in without real reason.

If you've got a burning question, need some love advice or find yourself thinking about things like sex, depression, self-esteem, boyfriends, girlfriends, best friends, bullying or peer pressure, don't hesitate to Dish-It here. Send your questions to deardish@kidzworld.com. And if you hang out in the chat rooms with other Kidzworld members who know you by your username, just send in your secret question using a different nickname if you want to stay anonymous – we promise that no one will ever know it's you. Remember: Dish-It gets a load of letters every day so it may take a while to reply to yours. Keep checking back for her reply, or watch for answered Dish-It questions that are similar to your own.

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