Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Hi, Carolyn: I told a few close girlfriends that I was pregnant when I was about eight weeks along. I’d been drinking water at happy hours, and I assumed they knew something was up anyway — but more importantly, I was excited, and I knew I’d want their support if something went wrong. I made it very clear they shouldn’t tell anyone else (except their husbands).
Well, one of the husbands, “John,” still managed to tell at least one other mutual friend the very next day. A few weeks later, when I was ready to share the news with her, she told me she already knew. John told her that my announcement had inspired some serious conversations between him and his wife (my very close friend).
I’m trying to be sensitive to the fact that these announcements can affect people in different and very personal ways, but I still can’t get over the fact that my pregnancy (and the request that it be kept a secret) was taken so lightly by a couple I am very close to. I get that people tend to filter news like that through their own “stuff,” but I’m still hurt and irritated.
I’m wondering if it’s worth it to say something to John. Not an “I’m so mad at you” kind of comment, but a “Hey, that really wasn’t cool.” It won’t make a difference now, but I want him to know that I know — and that it really upset me.
I’ll admit a strong bias upfront: When you share news, you lose control of it. Period. No matter how strongly worded your request that others don’t tell.
I can see getting upset when someone close-close to you betrays a confidence that comes back to harm you. That definitely warrants a talk, and even a re-evaluation of the friendship, depending on how the friend responds.
Using that as the worst-case scenario, I draw rings out from there in decreasing severity. When a close friend betrays a confidence that’s negative but ultimately harmless, for one. When a not-so-close friend blabs something bad. When a not-so-close person blabs something neutral. Etc.
When I put your situation into this framework, I see your close friend doing with your news exactly what you asked — sharing only with her spouse. The spouse then blabbed to one person as part of a larger conversation.
I see this as annoying but well within the margin of error you can expect when sharing news. You might not agree, but I hope you’ll think about adopting that view anyway just because it’s easier on your psyche in the end. Letting go of the things you can’t control is one of the surer ways to reduce the amount of your life you spend “really upset.”
If after pondering that you think, OK, but I still want him to know it wasn’t cool, then do what you have to do.
Re: Pregnancy: There is nothing I hate more than being told a secret, or anything that comes with strings attached. The minute someone says, “Please don’t tell anyone I told you,” I say, “Don’t make me keep secrets that you are not keeping.”
Simple and elegant, thanks.
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