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Friend or Frenemy? - Gossip Girl!!!

“Cutting bad friendships out of your life isn’t a selfish act but a noble act of self-care.”


Gossip is defined as casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true. Gossip differs from the tendency to talk about other people in that gossip tends to focus on negative information to demean the target.

If the information being talked about were positive, it would be labelled praise or envy. Additionally, gossip is talking about people who aren’t present.

In an article for Psychology Today, Why People Gossip, Dr. Schafer confirms that most people like to gossip.

According to Dr. Schafer, gossip typically centres on the negative aspects of a person’s personal appearance, personal achievements, or personal behaviours.

A less benign form of gossip is when people discuss information about celebrities or other people highlighted in tabloids, social media, and particularly on reality TV.

The Real Housewives are an example of frenemies whose relationships are based on gossip. My fave is the Real Housewives of Atlanta. I love the drama between Nene and the girls. Gossip is central to their relationships and to the show. I don't believe that these shows would be as popular if the women were well-behaved and nobody gossiped about the other.

Research indicates that women have a greater tendency to gossip than men as we tend to engage in more chit-chat. Allegedly women find gossip to have greater social value, which allows us to gather more information about possible competitors in the game of finding a mate.

There are many reasons why women gossip and I've highlighted 3 from Dr. Schafer's list below.

Motivations for gossiping

Revenge - Some people gossip to seek revenge. People who do not like a person will typically seek out other people who share a mutual dislike for the same person. Subsequent conversations centre on negative evaluations of that person. The dislike for the target of the gossip is validated and justifies hurtful behaviour.

Because it's enjoyable - Many people gossip because gossiping is enjoyable for the sense of power it gives them. Talking about other people gives an individual a sense of relief because he or she is not experiencing the same calamities.

Makes them feel powerful - People also like to gossip because it gives them a sense that they possess secret information about another person, which gives them a sense of power. People want to be seen as being in the know when it comes to the latest gossip about others. If knowledge is power, gossip is turbocharged power. In order to display their power and reinforce their egos, people must share the information with other individuals.

Gossiping comes naturally and most of the time occurs almost unconsciously to break up the monotony of routine activities or simply to spice up conversations. Social media is an ideal platform for gossip. Comments are posted anonymously about an individual. Gossip on social media tends to be more harmful because the negative information has a wide audience and remains visible for a long time.

I took to heart the saying, “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” I'm not perfect but for the most part, I'm repulsed by gossip.

I am the person that will stay quiet or leave the room if others are gossipping. I've even spoken up, asking the person sharing the gossip if they have permission to share that information. I am usually looked on as a killjoy or a buzz kill when I do that but over time, people no longer gossip in my presence.

As I said before, I am not perfect as I recall an incident in which my loose lips caused a lot of pain to a friend I loved dearly.

My friend had gotten into a relationship with a man who was still married. They met secretly but most of her close friends knew about the affair. I judged her decision and when some mutual friends were speculating about her new partner, I chimed in offering details that I did not have the right to share.

I recall at the time feeling a mix of guilt and a delicious sense of power that I knew something that they didn't.

My friend was heartbroken and no matter how hard I tried to repair the situation, our friendship never recovered from that episode of gossip. I still feel sick when I think about it today.

If your friendship is characterised by gossip, you are in a toxic dynamic and may want to assess if this is the kind of friendship you want.

When you stop contributing to the gossip, you may find that there is not much substance, common values, or common interest in your friendship. Gossipping can create a false sense of closeness in friendships but this is not sustainable for a healthy long-term friendship.

If you prefer to do this process at your own pace and time, join my self-paced Navigating Friendships Course

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