Love, Life Stories

I had to figure out who my fake friends were the hard way

How does someone else's word trump our friendship?

I can’t tell you how many times someone has iced me out because they were given alternative facts by a mutual “friend.” It’s the rumor of a rumor that’s always bothered me more than any other.

No one second guesses themselves more than I do. (And when I do fail to criticize myself, my mother is sure to come in with the assist.) I have a lot of issues—we all do—but I pride myself on my loyalty to my friends. No matter what you do, I won’t judge you. No matter what happens, I’ll always have your back.

Because I know how badly it hurts to feel like your loved ones have betrayed you. And I never want anyone I love to feel that too. Anyone who’s ever been close to me should know that about me.

There was a time in my life where I had multiple friends completely cease communication with me. In two cases, the person later acted hostile towards me after months of not speaking to each other. I confronted them both, demanding to know why I was being treated like shit. I’ve never treated you badly, I said to one of them. You were the one who stopped being my friend. That was when I found out that both of them had been told I was saying various things behind their backs, spilling their secrets.

You know how it goes.

They wouldn’t tell me who it was that said it. Or even exactly what was said. Just that it was more than one person.

After a while, I had a strong feeling who these snakes were, because the things that I had “said” were tidbits of gossip that I had heard myself (and never repeated)— after these friends stopped speaking to me— from a very specific few.

Other friends started to drop out of my life, all connected to the same people. My suspicions were confirmed when yet another friend casually mentioned that the culprits in question had tried to convince them that I was at it again. While, unlike the others, they did name them, I was asked not to say anything. My friend said that they didn’t believe these people, but I still felt uneasy.

I felt hurt.

Honestly, I wanted that friend to confront those people about their poorly-constructed lies. I wanted them to not keep protecting those who clearly didn’t have either of our interests at heart. Because that’s what every single one of them has done.

I guess I kind of wanted someone to have my back for once.

Close friendships are a pact. At least, that’s how I see them. When someone tells me something about a close friend, I don’t just automatically switch allegiances. If I’ve been told that a good friend is stabbing me in the back, I want to confront that friend with sources. And if I find that they’ve been falsely accused, I’d want to confront the person accusing them together.

But people hate confrontation. They prefer to quietly keep endorsing assholes.

It never ends, honestly.

In high school, one of my friends cut out every single one of us. She had started hanging out with this other girl who told her all kinds of things about her friends, whispering like a devil in her ear. When she came to her senses later, I told her I wished she had come to me sooner. I could have vouched for all of us; not a bit of it was true. It happened again in college when someone else accused me of similar crimes.

Again, it wasn’t until a friend and I had reconnected over other reasons that she brought it up and I was able to actually defend my case. And as I’m moving into the world beyond classrooms and living with your parents, I’m still seeing it happen in workplaces and social scenes alike.

I wish our first instinct wasn’t to believe the worst of our friends.

Although it seems to happen to me way more frequently, I have seen others deal with being accused of the same thing. I wish more people would think, wait a minute, my friend wouldn’t do that. 

You should know your friends.

You should know that you’ve surrounded yourself with people who wouldn’t hurt you. And if you’re ever not sure, you probably need to make some changes.

I find myself approaching relationships differently now. I always excessively reassure people who confide in me that I won’t say a word. I find myself proceeding with extreme caution when I feel myself really connecting with someone. And I resent the hell out of it. I shouldn’t have to constantly feel the need to prove my trustworthiness. 

But it’s as if my actions are never enough. What someone else tells them will almost always win.

There needs to be more honesty, more transparency among good friends. These games of “a birdy told me” only create more drama. It’s a weird mini-culture of silence.

I’m tired of the “you can’t tell them I told you.” I’m tired of the constant “someone accused you of something horrible, but I can’t tell you who so that you can confront them and clear this up.”

Most of all, I’m tired of my friends not knowing me.