Gasp. “You’ve actually talked shit about your best friend behind their back? Then you’re not a real best friend to them.”
Is what I would imagine a typical person to say to me if I ever told them that yes, there have been times where I would like to figuratively slap my best friend in the face for doing something that annoys me or frustrates me, but am too passive aggressive to directly tell them. So my outlet?
I vent about them to other people.
But does that make me a bad friend? Of course it doesn’t. To say that there have been a pair of best friends who have never, ever talked bad about each other behind their backs is an unsettling idea to me. I’m almost one hundred percent sure that everyone has complained about their best friend to other people at some point in their life, and I think it’s completely okay to do so.
Of course, there is a difference between acceptable and unacceptable venting/complaining. To me, if you’re complaining about your best friend behind their back (or vice versa) and you’re doing it continuously and refusing to confront issues that may be bothering you, then there’s a deeper-rooted problem that isn’t being relieved by complaining.
I love to browse Reddit on my free time and I saw a post titled, “If a friend confides in you to complain about other friends, they’re probably complaining about you to [that] friend too.” This post was supposed to be advice. As if its underlying meaning was supposed to be something among the lines of Hey, if your friend is actually your friend, then they have to be an angel and never talk bad about anything, ever.
Well, I think that’s bogus. And the top comment made by u/jadad21 in reply to the post nicely summarizes how I feel:
I actually dislike the pretense that certain people are saints and don’t talk bad about other people. My best friend and I annoy the shit out of each other, and we know exactly when we’re doing that.
And I actually think there are good things to come out of complaining to other people. At least in my experience, the listeners give me really good advice that allows me to look at whatever problem I have against my best friend in a different perspective. It allows me to cool down because internalizing problems and negative feelings always leads to repressed emotions. Like a balloon that pops, or a bottle that cracks from the built up frustration.
Real friendship do not depend on the amount of tolerance you have displayed over the course of your friendship. Rather, real friendship, just like any other relationship, requires work. It requires you to work out problems, find solutions, and ultimately accept your best friend for who they are. And if that includes “talking shit” about your best friend for a moment, then let that be.