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"My friend can't keep secrets"

I have this friend and she doesn't know when to shut up. She tells people everything I say. I can say something like, “Look that guy has a really bad hair cut,” and immediately after I say it, she’ll go up to that person and say “Hey, Lori thinks your hair looks bad.” It makes people mad at me.

Maybe the problem isn't her but it's me not knowing when to shut up?

What do you think? What should I do?

7 June 2006
Name: Lori
Age: 15

Dear Lori,

I had a friend like that in high school and she drove me nuts with her big mouth! I knew if I told her something in confidence it was likely to be broadcast over the loudspeakers at my school later that same day – okay, maybe she didn’t have access to the loudspeakers, but by the way she spread gossip (faster than wildfire) you would have thought she did. Eventually I cut her out. Not necessarily because of her big mouth, but because I finally realized she had absolutely no redeeming qualities. Big mouth aside, she just wasn’t a very good friend.

It seems to me you’re in a similar predicament and it’s time for you to determine whether your Big Mouth Friend is worth keeping around. What does she bring to the table? Is she fun to be around? Does she bring out good qualities in you? Does she make you laugh? Does she always know the IT thing to do on Friday nights? Clearly we know her skills do not lie in keeping secrets, but if there are other things about her you love (even if they seem superficial) than she may be worth holding onto.

There’s an old saying that goes, “Take the best and leave the rest.” If you decide Big Mouth gets to stay, then this is what you’re going to have to do – take her great qualities, and ignore the negative ones.

If you know she blabs everything you tell her, then stop telling her things! Accept she’s not good with keeping her mouth shut, and make use of what she is good at instead. If she’s uber-fun to go out with, then let her be your weekend pal.

I have a friend who’s no good at listening or helping me with problems, but she’s so fun to hang out with so I know to invite her whenever I go out, and I have another friend who’s more introverted and doesn’t love going out, but she’s extremely empathetic and intuitive. I talk to her about my problems (and vice versa), but I don’t usually spend my crazy weekend nights with her. See what I mean? Different friends bring different things to the table; take the best and leave the rest.

On the other hand, like my old friend, if Big Mouth has no pleasant qualities, then it might very well be time to wave goodbye to her and her vocal chords. Who wants to hold onto a friend who brings you nothing but grief and aggravation? Doesn’t sound like fun to me!

Letting go of toxic friends is hard, but definitely necessary.  Like bad relationships, when friendships start to wear you down and make you feel badly, it’s time to move on and lose the excess baggage. And you never know – removing Big Mouth from your life (if that’s what you choose to do) may leave a perfect opening for a new friend to enter your life; a friend who can actually keep her mouth shut!

Good luck!

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