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Friends That Talk Behind Your Back

A friend asked me over dinner, “Ryan, since you know so much about communication and relationships, what should someone do about friends that talk behind your back? Should you dump them or keep them? Well, that’s a good question, I think!

Introduction—Friends that Talk Behind Your BACK! (Not Cool)

Young or old, it’s never fun to learn that the people you regard as your friends are talking about you behind your back. You might feel mixed emotions like hurt, anger, and betrayal. And the sad thing is that this is so prevalent in our society that none even bats an eye when we talk about being betrayed or gossiped about.

No matter how hard you try to avoid drama in your life, some people just live for the drama, so they will always find a way to stir or cook something up from nothing and blow it out of proportion without thinking about its consequences.

And often, these people are the ones we consider to be our closest friends. In many cases, people who talk behind your back are so good at lying you won’t even doubt their friendship for a second.

They can act how they want to be perceived, only to backstab you after getting the necessary information. This might sound like a teen drama from a TV show, but these things happen in real life too!

So what is it about backbiting and gossiping that people seem so attracted to? And why do they do it? The short answer is that the people who take part in such activities are people who are anxious or insecure. There might be many reasons why this person cannot muster up the courage to tell you these things to your face. If you want detailed answers, continue reading.

Boys and guys can be vicious with this behavior. And it can take a strong toll!
Boys and guys can be vicious with this behavior. And it can take a strong toll!

Why Are People Talking Behind Your Back?

As we mentioned, there can be a plethora of reasons why people talk behind your back. Sometimes it’s out of spite, and sometimes they might even have genuine reasons, although this is quite unlikely. One thing to understand is that saying “talking behind your back” usually denotes something negative.

Of course, people might also say nice things behind your back, but something about that just doesn’t sit right with many people! It’s easier for humans to say nice things to each other- fake or not, rather than give each other the ugly truths.

Expert advice: This issue is so common that there are literal studies of the behavior. Don’t feel hurt by it. It’s very common!

To Avoid Conflict

We are compassionate beings who like to coexist in harmony within our communities, so sometimes, people talk behind your back for the greater good- PEACE.

Say what you will about these people, but at least they are not thinking of intentionally hurting the person in question by telling them these possibly hurtful things to their faces. 

They Are Willing To Put Up With You Despite That One Thing They Don’t Like

If you find out that your friends are talking about you behind your back about a specific thing that you did or do that annoys them, but they are still hanging out with you, it could mean that they are okay with putting up with you through everything else.

Maybe it was a one-time thing, or that the issue is so minor they are willing to look past it for the sake of the friendship. Granted, your real friends will be upfront about it and help you work on it if it can be improved. But they cannot tell you; you have every right to question them when you discover the backbiting.


If your friends talk behind you, they might be insecure about your existence in the friend group. But what is it about you that they find so threatening? It’s hard to pinpoint one specific answer to this question. Still, we will say that in many cases, the threat of superiority in terms of appearance, status, intellect, or even success can be a trigger to insecure people.

Related: Lying by omission

Just For Fun

This is the worst reason among all the reasons listed here. Some people just live to gossip and feed on them. Maybe these people are also insecure or have such crippling anxiety that they don’t feel safe unless they focus the limelight on someone to talk about.

If you look at it from a psychological point of view, you could come up with many reasons why they find this activity uplifting. Maybe they even use it as a coping mechanism for their anxiety. Whatever the reasons are, the fear of being seen or vulnerable can drive people to do crazy things, and that includes betraying your friends for your benefit.

Friends that talk behind your back: It's hurtful and that's the honest truth!
Friends that talk behind your back: It’s hurtful and that’s the honest truth!

To Protect You

Some people might talk behind your back for the sole reason of protecting your feelings. While this is not a justified reason why anyone should talk behind anyone’s back, it is the most genuine on this list. Perhaps they think you are too sensitive to handle the comments, so they decide to talk about it amongst themselves and sort out the problem.

In such a case, they do feel bad that they cannot be more forthcoming with their thoughts, but they are doing it with your best interest in mind, so when you do find out about it, it’s a good idea to give them a chance to explain themselves rather than just cutting ties with them permanently.

How To Deal With Friends Who Talk Behind Your Back—Friends That Talk Behind Your Back Are Yuck!

Here’s how to deal with friends who talk behind your back!!!

Validate The Source

Let your inner investigator come out and do some digging. It’s not the wisest thing to do to blindly agree with or believe what other people say about your friends.

But it is also not an impossible scenario, so always validate your sources before you confront your friend lest you find u tater it was all a rumor, and you break your friends’ trust forever.

Be Careful What You Say

When you are busy collecting information in the background, if you are still chummy with your friends, try to keep your interactions short and be very careful about what you say in front of them.

Although you’re unsure if the rumors are true, it is best to always be one step ahead of them.

Friends that talk behind your back: The behavior is more common in woman groups!
Friends that talk behind your back: The behavior is more common in women groups!

Confront, Don’t Accuse

Although it might be a difficult pill to swallow, ask yourself, “Why would they talk about me behind my back?” You might not have the answers, and the situation can aggravate your temper, but it is never a good idea to accuse someone of doing something when you don’t have all the facts.

Even when you do have the facts, consider giving your friends a chance to explain themselves so that you get both sides of the story. This does not mean that you are a pushover or that things can return to normal, but at least you are aware of both perspectives, which might shed light on something more substantial.

During this process, you want to be as calm as possible. Perhaps you can ask your friend to meet you alone somewhere quiet and private so you can have a good conversation without creating more drama.

See also: Signs your husband hates you

Prepare Yourself For A Reaction

It will take a lot from you to confront your friend in the first place, but that’s not even the worst part. Now you have to anticipate your friend’s reaction and deal with that.

Regardless of whether your friends are lying about the gossip or are telling the truth, it is a basic instinct to have a negative reaction to such confrontations.

It will take even more patience if your friends deny the accusations, but you already have all the credible information against them.

Try To Get An Answer

Once the initial heat from the confrontation is over, both parties try to calm down and have a mature discussion. This is going to be the deciding point for you. Either your friend decides to own up to the rumors and apologize or give his reasons for the behavior.

On the other hand, if your friend is not open to a conversation or a discussion, maybe it is time to reconsider your friendship.

Make A Logical And Practical Analysis

Whether your friends lie to you about the whole situation can never be determined on your own accord. All that you can do is choose to either believe them or not.

Sometimes you might be clouded with bias because your friend seemed so apologetic, and you don’t like the idea of a broken friendship, so you forgive them without a second thought.

Hopefully, your friends are genuine when they apologize or give you the reasons behind their behavior, but if that isn’t the case, you fall prey to another one of their ruses.

Friends that talk behind your back: It's okay to confront them about the situation!
Friends that talk behind your back: It’s okay to confront them about the situation!

Moving On Or Letting Go—Friends That Talk Behind Your Back Are Yuck!

In the end, there are only two decisions to choose from. You can keep the friendship but move on from this big obstacle or let them go for good. In both scenarios, adapting and adjusting your life to return to normalcy will not be easy.

If you decide to give the friendship another try, be sure to set your boundaries and let your friends know where you stand.

If they are true friends, they will respect whatever reevaluations you make in the relationship, and you’ll see it in their efforts to make it up to you.

How To Know If Your Friend Is Talking About You Behind Your Back

How to know if your friend is talking behind your back…

Are They Avoiding Your Questions?

When a friend of yours is talking about you behind your back, they might not be able to answer your questions straight.

When you hear about backstabbing, ask them questions about the topic. They might have something to hide if they are avoiding the questions or diverting them towards another topic. Perhaps they are talking about these issues with someone else other than you.

Expert advice: Sometimes, learning how to deal with this type of situation can be a very good thing. It is considered social development.

Do They Give You Backhanded Compliments? Friends That Talk Behind Your Back Are Yuck!

It is practically impossible to tell from talking to someone that they might gossip about you behind your back.

But if you are already suspicious about someone who might be talking about you behind your back, remember they are probably upset or mad at you for something.

You might not know it yet, but what other reason can a friend of yours have to talk about you behind your back other than for something that you might have said or done which has upset them?

Then yes, they’re going to do it

If this is the case, they will probably give you backhanded compliments.

They might be trying to hide their true feelings by pretending that everything is okay, but if the issue persists, they might start to resent the very sight of you, which makes them passive-aggressively throw nasty comments under the guise of a joke.

They might even end their sentences with a “just joking” or “just kidding,” but they might just be trying to hide their frustration or anger towards you.

See also: Worst personality traits

Are Your Other Friends Aware Of This Rumor As Well? Friends That Talk Behind Your Back Are Yuck!

Maybe someone from your same circle is talking about you behind your back. If this is the case, look for a trusted mutual friend and confront them before you confront the person who is talking about you.

Maybe you think they know something about the rumors. Assure them that you will not throw them under the bus if the situation comes to that.

If they want to be far away from the drama, let them. You should also respect other people’s choices and boundaries, so don’t push them too far if they don’t want to talk about it.

Also, if they agree to tell you in full confidence, don’t betray them by slipping their name into the conversation when you confront your friend.

Does The Group Of Friends Change Their Behavior When You Approach Them?

If you notice that their behavior changes every time you approach the group, they might be talking about you.

If you see that they are all talking about something from a distance, but when you walk towards them, they suddenly get quiet or make weird eye contact with each other, it is a telltale sign that they are probably trying to hide something from you.

In Conclusion—What To Do About Friends That Talk Behind Your Back!!

People will say that some relationships are worth a second and third try, but if you have friends who are constantly gossiping or talking about other people all the time, it’s better to go out and find new friends.

If they are so interested in always talking about other people’s lives, they are probably also talking about yours. It’s better to distance yourself from such people as it might also pollute your mind.

Sometimes doing nothing is the best way to deal with haters.

They might just be doing it to get your attention, but the best way to deal with such people is never to give them what they want.

Fact checked:
Board reviewed by Marianne Tomlinson, LCSW (Couples and Family Therapy). Content is rigorously reviewed by a team of qualified and experienced fact checkers. Learn more.

About the author

Ryan Sanderson (LCSW) Ryan is a game and relationship enthusiast who enjoys all things quizzes, games, fun, love, relationships, and family. He's a licensed social worker and helps families, couples, and children in need. He's spoken about love and relationships on Salon.com, Forbes, and Mirror, to name a few.

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