Auntie SparkNotes: My Friend Says I Threw Her Under the Bus
I am a college freshman. Woohoo! I love college. I love my school, my dorm, my classes, and the people in it. I usually hang out with a group of girls in a different dorm, and I hang with some international guys.
My problem is this: apparently I broke girl code. One of the international guys kind of likes a girl in my circle of friends and he asked me about her. Well, the only thing she ever says about this guy (who she has only spoken to once) is that he is creepy. So I told him that. She found out and she said I threw her under the bus. I don't understand how I threw her under the bus. I was just being truthful and speaking how I always do. And he wanted to know. I do have a verbal filter, but I didn't even think that what I said was wrong or bad.
Auntie, please help me! Help me understand how me telling him the truth put me in the wrong. Is it better to just come flat out and say something or is it written in girl code that you're supposed to skate around the truth? Am I just making mountains out of molehills? I just don't understand.
P.S. The girl upset with me won't really talk to me now. She didn't even have the guts to confront me on the matter, her neighbor told me.
Before we go any further, Sparkler, I'm sorry—and I mean this in the nicest possible way—but I nevertheless have to ask: did you, by any chance, spend the 18 years or so before college living under a very large rock?
Because no, of course it's not written in girl code that you're supposed to "skate around the truth." It is, however, written in the Code of Decent Human Beings Everywhere that you're supposed to be tactful, kind, discreet, and considerate with the information that people choose to share with you. Your friend confided in you when she told you that she found this guy creepy. She trusted you. And whether or not you think she's right in her assessment of his character, she had every right to feel totally hurt and angry and betrayed when you turned around and tattled to him about what she'd said.
Which, considering that this is a lesson most people learn around the same time that they learn to tie their shoes, makes your cluelessness pretty peculiar. Blowing up somebody's spot like this is the sort of thing really little kids do—and then learn not to do, usually after the first time their lack of discretion ends up causing a conflict or really hurting someone's feelings. ("Mommy! Daddy told his friends that your new haircut makes you look like a fat Rupert Grint!") It's not about telling the truth; it's about telling the truth tactfully, kindly, and with respect. And surely you realize that you would have been just as honest, and answered the guy's question just as well, if you'd said, "I'm pretty sure she's not interested," or even, "I don't think you've made a great impression so far, but she might give you a chance if you try talking to her about x or inviting her to y."
Basically, darling, you had a lot of options when it came to how you told the truth… and you chose to tell it in the one way that made your friend look like a jerk.
Why you did that, only you know. Maybe it was an honest mistake, and maybe you really don't have a clue as to how your behavior comes off. But to the casual observer—and more importantly, to your friend—it doesn't look like an honest mistake. What it looks like, actually, is that not only did you throw her under the bus, but that you did it to make yourself look cool in front of a guy.
Hopefully, it's starting to dawn on you that this was, indeed, a pretty egregious screw-up on your part—and that it's not exactly a mystery why your friend has distanced herself from you. But even if you don't necessarily understand why she was so hurt by what you did, please remember this moment the next time you have an opportunity to spill somebody else's beans... and if you must spill them, do it with caution, because nobody wants to be friends with a chronic tactless bean-spiller.