Do You Need to Break Up With a Friend Who Publicly Embarrassed You?

Friends should have your back but what if it's just a joke ... gone wrong?

A true friend should have your back in private — and in public. But when The Real Housewives of Potomac’s Karen Huger held a press conference in a steakhouse to defend her husband’s unpaid tax issues of $4.5 million earlier this season, pal Gizelle Bryant’s reaction wasn’t exactly supportive.

ICYMI, Gizelle has been friends with Karen for more than 10 years, and she showed up at the venue wearing a pink jacket and a T-shirt that read on the front “#GodBlessKarenHuger” (which seemed like girlfriend power). But as Gizelle sauntered out, she removed her jacket revealing the back of her tee which read, “#FreeKaren #FreeUncleBen #TaxReform.” Gizelle tried to play it off as a joke. Karen’s reaction was far from amused.

“When a friend betrays your personal secrets in a public setting, it can be horrifying and embarrassing,” declared Fran Greene, a relationship expert and author of The Secret Rules of Flirting. “You feel violated, betrayed, scared, pissed off and rageful — all at the same time.”

Karen threw her own blows, exclaiming that Gizelle was “as tacky as hell” and liked to kick people when they are down. Greene suggested there are other ways to deal with the situation.

“You can’t out-humiliate someone once it’s been done to you. Instead, you can respond very matter of factly. You want to show what they said hasn’t fazed you – so you’re not calling attention to how you’ve been outed. Or you can be more direct and tell your friend this isn’t the place for that type of conversation.

If this is the first time your friend has embarrassed you in a public setting, take a moment to get her alone where you can tell her why it was upsetting. “A great way to have that conversation is to give her the benefit of the doubt,” Greene suggested. “You can say, ‘I’m sure you didn’t mean to embarrass me — but let me explain how I felt when you said that.’” If she’s the type of friend to respond, “My life is an open book,” point out that while she doesn’t mind sharing hers with the world, she should respect your choice to keep your matters private.

In this case, it wasn’t the first time Gizelle had spoken publicity on Karen financial sitch; she tweeted about it as well. If your friend is airing out your dirty life laundry on a regular basis, you may have to make a move like Karen, and announce that the friendship is done. 

“Nobody needs to humiliate someone, and if they are, they’re doing it for their own ego. Usually, it’s because the humiliator isn’t feeling that good about themselves,” Greene shared. “People cross the line, but once you’ve brought it to their attention, and they cross it again, you have to accept you really can’t trust this person."

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