DEAR HARRIETTE: My best friend is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. She recently introduced me to her other friends, and I was surprised to find out that they’re pretty much a group of bullies. They don’t seem like very good people at all. We hung out with them for about three hours, and they spent at least two of those hours talking badly about other people. They even gossiped about their own friends! Now I am feeling unsure about whether or not my best friend does the same to me when I’m not around. I don’t trust mean girls, and it worries me that I have befriended someone who surrounds herself with them. Could my friend be a mean girl as well? Should I approach my best friend about how uncomfortable her other friends have made me? -- Too Much Gossip
DEAR TOO MUCH GOSSIP: Recall how your best friend treats you. Look back in time to recall specific moments you two have shared together. How has she treated you? This is important because you want to judge her based on her actions, not those of her friends.
That said, you do need to check her on her friends’ behavior. Talk to her about the time you just spent with her and her other friends. Highlight moments when you were taken aback by their behavior -- the gossiping especially. Ask her if she notices that they do that a lot. Tell her you consider that behavior to be rude and unkind. Ask her directly if she participates in that friend-bashing talk.
Listen to your friend to get a sense of where she stands in this. Find out why she chooses to spend time with these people. Let her know that you have no interest in seeing them again, but more, you are concerned that they are likely talking about you -- and her -- behind your backs.