That’s what friends are for

Missed church again this Sunday, just got off Gtalk with a friend who talked to me about venting.

Pouring out grievances, hurts and frustrations. That venting. Not the largest Frapuccino size that Starbucks sells.

He said he “made the mistake” of venting his disappointments about a person at work to his friends, which had me as something of a loss. Why did he consider it as a mistake, I asked? Well, it’s because his friends to whom he vented told that person about what he said.

“What the f…”

(Yes, that “f…” leads exactly to what you think it leads to. I’m not really predisposed to expletives, but extremely retarded situations like this tend to bring out the worst in me)

Does anyone still know what it means to be a confidante?

I’m not trying to act self-righteous, but when friends approach me to talk about things that bother or frustrate them, I try to make sure that whatever they tell me stays with me alone. It stops here and goes no further. I don’t know about other people, but for me that’s what it means to confide. “Confide” obviously has the same etymology as the words “confidence” and “confidential”. To pour out one’s feelings to someone he could trust to keep it a secret. Because, well, venting normally happens at the height of a person’s emotions, and more often than not, in situations like this words not normally uttered when a person is calm get unleashed almost uncontrollably. But that’s fine, it’s not backstabbing or spreading harmful gossip (unless the person talks to a variety of people with the explicit intention to ruin someone’s name). The person just needs to release his bottled up feelings.

But more importantly, when a person confides, he bares his innermost feelings, and therefore becomes completely vulnerable to whatever negative opinions we might have about him as a result. So in a manner of speaking, confiding also includes a certain degree of risk: would we be able to accept this person after getting a glimpse of his deepest and most profound feelings? The fact that he opened up means he trusts us to be able to do that, to accept him for who he is. That’s what friends are for, right?

So if he trusts us enough to reveal his secrets or pour out his emotions, it follows that the only people who should know about what he has to say are those whom he has chosen to tell them to. The people whom he trusts. As for the others, they shouldn’t. They’re not entitled to such information. It’s your friend’s secret, and only he has the right to disclose it to anyone he chooses. Not you. You follow?

You should be honored if you (either alone or as part of an inner circle of confidantes) are chosen by a friend to listen to his hurts. That means he trusts you, that at some point in your friendship you have earned his confidence and proven yourself to be trustworthy. But with great trust comes great responsibility. Anything imparted to you at the height of a friend’s emotions is understood to be told in confidence. It should be kept within the two (or group) of you. A SECRET.

Conveying anything expressed in confidence by someone to another (whether the subject of that person’s venting or anyone else) doesn’t make you anything but one: UNTRUSTWORTHY. Unfit to keep a secret. A loudmouth.

Trust is a basic building block of friendship. Let’s all try to be worthy of being trusted by our friends.

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An incorrigible Gen-X cynic who writes too damn much