Dear Auntie Sparknotes,
I have this friend who is incredibly interested in my relationship with my boyfriend. (She and my boyfriend were good friends, and she sort of instigated our getting together, we've now been together for a year and a half.) She has this way of joking that can be kind of mean. I'm often told that 1) I'm lame, 2) no one likes me, 3) I'm a slut (which is a joke because I'm the total opposite), 4) I'm an idiot, and 5) a myriad of other insults laced between joking punches and obscene names. And if I fight back, she starts shouting and it escalates. In other words, I can't be serious with her because she doesn't respect me and every confrontation turns into a joke.
My boyfriend doesn't like her anymore because of this, and I think she's hurt and bitter. Everything that I told her in confidence does not seem personal to her. She openly tells other people, while I'm in clear earshot, about my sex life. She also steals my phone and reads my text messages out loud while "awwww-ing" in the most annoying way. But at the same time, I feel bad for her. She's very open about her own sex life (and as such, has a reputation as a slut), and I think she may just want to share that quality with me. But I want it to stop, and every time I try to tell her, she laughs it off and ignores me.
How can I solve this issue without turning it into a huge plate of high school drama? Because my biggest fear is that we'll have a fight, and she'll spread all of my secrets to every corner of the school, which has happened to other people who have crossed her. So how do I break the cycle without becoming another of her victims?
Fortunately, Sparkler, there's a quick and easy way to escape this situation with minimal fallout! And I'm going to tell you what it is...
...but first, I have point out that man, is your letter ever a textbook illustration of a self-made mess. So, before we do anything else, here are Three Important Lessons for future reference.
Lesson 1: Don't do things in private that you'd be horrified to admit to in public.
It's not that you can't have any secrets. It's just that if your secrets are such that their revelation is your "worst fear," then you need to either a) stop doing things you're ashamed of, or b) stop caring so much what people think. Because dude, having something to hide is an instant recipe for stress and unhappiness. For instance: you seem super-anxious about people thinking you're "slutty"... but the only apparent difference between you (the "total opposite" of a slut) and your friend (she of the slutty reputation) is that she's not embarrassed to admit being sexually active. And when there's that sort of disconnect between who you are and who you want people to think you are, you're going to run into problems.
Lesson 2: But if you're going to do things you're ashamed of, don't tell people about them!
Here's the thing about an embarrassing secret: as soon as you tell someone about it, it's not a secret anymore. It's just, y'know, embarrassing. And since compromising info is only as secure as the least-trustworthy person who has it, sharing your shameful, reputation-damaging secrets with another person is a huge risk. Which brings me to...
Lesson 3: But if you're going to do things you're ashamed of, AND you're going to tell people about them, then for the love of Pete, don't tell the biggest loudmouth you know.
Because while I completely and totally understand the frustration of having a friend disclose publicly what you told her in confidence, there's still the part where you chose to confide in this friend... who's coarse, provocative, and nosy; who has no boundaries, and no sense of subtlety, and doesn't see intimate information as "personal"; and who, as you so aptly pointed out, has a particular favorite way of exacting vengeance on those who spite her.
...And you're surprised that she turned out not to be the best person with whom to share your most secret secrets?
Which is to say, avoiding high school drama is a whole lot easier when you're not courting it at every turn. (And for the record, a person who freely discloses her own most intimate information is generally unlikely to see the big deal about sharing yours.)
Okay? Okay. And now, as promised, here's the solution for your immediate mess:
Based on your description, your friend is a very particular type of dame—one whose brassy, brash, say-anything personality can be a lot of fun, but who also uses sarcastic showmanship (a.k.a. her insulting "jokes") to cover the fact that she's super-insecure. And so, to avoid making a scene or making her defensive, you should a talk to her in private. Choose a time when things are calm (i.e. not in the immediate aftermath of one of her obnoxious comments), and tell her kindly but directly that a) you value her friendship, but b) it really upsets you when she shares your personal info with other people, and so c) please do not do that anymore, you mean it.
And then, implement the aforementioned lessons: close up that gap between your reputation and your real self, put a password on your phone, and (without any dramatic fanfare) simply stop telling this girl anything you wouldn't want the world to know. No drama, no fighting—just a step backward that's so small, discreet, and unremarkable, nobody will even notice it's there.
Do you have a mouthy friend who blabs your secrets? Tell us how you handled it! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Related post: Auntie SparkNotes: Bully BFF