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How Can You Regain Trust in Someone Who Blurted out Something You Told Them in Confidence?
As the saying goes — loose lips sink ships… but in the case of Southern Charm, that should read friendships!
On the latest episode of Southern Charm, Madison LeCroy blurted out a secret that Austen Kroll told her about Shep Rose giving Danni Baird chlamydia. Madison was feuding with Shep and wanted to hurt him, even if that meant also embarrassing Danni and throwing Austen under the bus, too (Danni and Shep deny the allegation). Austen mentioned that it was the second time Madison repeated a secret he told her, and was definitely upset at the betrayal of trust.
So, what if something like this happens to you? Is it possible to trust a friend who has been known to share secrets with others — especially someone who may be using that information as a weapon?
Personal Space spoke with Dr. Melanie Ross Mills, relationship and friendship expert, to learn how to spot the difference between an honest mistake and a potential personality flaw, after a secret has been spilled.
Mills explained that having healthy friendships means not sharing “private information that your friends share” and “building them up when others speak their name instead of uncovering them.”
If you yourself have exposed a friend’s secret and would like to make amends, Mills clarified that it is “possible that trust can be restored.” Regaining your friend’s trust mostly depends on their willingness to “listen to the circumstances and extend forgiveness.”
In this case, Austen attempted to smooth things over with Shep... but it wasn't an easy task. Because of the nature of the betrayal, Shep made it clear that Madison’s behavior affected the nature of Austen’s relationship with him and what he could trust telling him.
Now, Mills noted that it’s usually “the partner’s responsibility to honor the privacy of friends.” However, in this case, Madison should own up to “spilling the beans” because now his friends “will probably be cognizant of what they are sharing around their buddy.”
According to Mills, if someone has betrayed you, and “it’s an isolated incident and not a character challenge of being untrustworthy” it is possible to restore trust in that person. A good first step in mending a friendship is by having a heart-to-heart with this friend.
“Let them know how much you value their friendship” and “share the importance of confidentiality.” It’s important to tell them “the value you place on honoring your friendship with everything from private texts to table talk.” Austen didn't intend for Madison to use the gossip he shared as ammunition, so he is more likely to be forgiven than someone who spilled it on purpose.
Mills added, “There’s a difference between making a mistake, using poor judgement, or an isolated incident,” versus someone who “doesn’t know how to discern when/where to hold their tongue.”
Austen admitted that Madison would do anything to get herself “off of the fire” and that he “never should have gossiped to Madison.” So, in that particular case, he has learned his lesson and knows that it was not just an isolated incident for her.
Looking At Behavior Patterns
In a situation where it was clear that one person has betrayed a friend’s confidence, it’s possible that it might happen again if it is part of their nature. Mills advised that the “uncovered” party should “look at patterns, listen to their heart, and decide if this was an isolated incident or a personality pattern.” It is a good indication that a friend “isn't trustworthy” if they are “willing to throw anyone under the bus at the end of the day for their benefit.”
If you were the friend who acted in an untrustworthy matter, a step in restoring trust would be to meet with them in person to “discern how responsive and/or open they are to working through the situation.” After that, “making an effort to let them know that they really do matter to you” is key. It seemed as though Madison was interested in bridging that gap with Danni, who got caught in her crossfire, when she met up with Kathryn Dennis to figure out how to apologize.
Evaluating Other Friends’ Behaviors
If you have a friend you know has exposed others, even if it did not involve you, it’s probably a good time to evaluate the types of secrets you tell that person. Mills explained, “If this is a pattern in this person’s life… unfortunately you can’t trust that they won’t do it to you also.”
Even if it is hard to imagine them betraying your trust, “feel grateful for this knowledge, love the person for who they are, and don’t text or share information that’s not meant for others.”
Cameran Eubanks also mentioned on the Southern Charm After Show (clip above) that the incident makes her “question what I would confide in Madison.” Once again, “an isolated incident offers more grace and room for imperfections, versus a habit of lacking discernment that calls for some adjusting.” Cameran recognized that Madison may not be a person she can trust with her secrets because of how she reacts when she feels backed against a corner.
The Bottom Line
“Unless someone is sharing information to be part of a solution, be weary of sharing your private information with those that wrestle with holding their tongue.” If your friend is dating someone who has been known to blurt secrets, you may want to protect yourself by not sharing with that person if he can’t help but tell his partner.
Mills noted, “Sometimes we can be wading in dangerous waters with friends that wrestle with gossip and not even realize it until we are dealing with the fallout.” This doesn’t mean everyone’s untrustworthy, but “proceeding with caution is always wise.”
These types of situations are where we see true friendship play out in life. “When everything’s going great, it’s going great,” but “conflict shines light on where we stand in the friendship.” The good news is that working through conflict can “make us a better version of ourselves in the end.”