Dear Ms. Wai – Caught Gossiping Online

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Dear Ms. Wai,

I don’t have a lot of close girlfriends around me I can talk to. Instead I use wechat groups and over the years, even though they are in cities far away from me, I have made some really close friends. Some are from my home country living in China, some have Chinese husbands, and I feel like they understand me and my  situation better than most people. I really enjoy chatting with them and going to the for advice. I’ve even met a few in person and they are really great.

I sometimes say some less than wonderful things about my husband. I’m not cruel but some of his habits and customs I have a hard time dealing with. So I turn to my online girlfriends for advice. But the other day my hubby was using my phone and he ended up scrolling through a chat history and seeing some pretty personal stuff I had written about him.

Again, it wasn’t anything horrible, I love my husband so, so much, but we were talking about gift giving habits and I was joking with other ladies about what a poor gift giver my husband was. He was livid. He said our relationship was private and I shouldn’t be gossiping with other women. That he never reveals personal details about our relationship to his male friends and he felt betrayed that I would. He insists that I quit these groups.

The thing is he doesn’t know what it feels like to be alone, living in another country and always being the outsider. These groups are my lifeline at times and I don’t have anyone else I can talk to about these things. My friends from home certainly can’t understand and neither can my Chinese co-workers. Only women in similar situations really understand what life in China is like and I don’t want to lose these groups.

What should I do?

Women have relied on the comfort and advice of other women since time began.

“The first rule of female friendships is you do not mention what is gossiped about.” Heh heh. All joking aside, I get why your hubby is upset. A group of gossiping female friends is one of the most nerve-wracking things to a guy. I’ve had ex-boyfriends who haven’t wanted to spend time with my best female friends because they were just worried at how much the female friend knew about them.

To imagine a bunch of women siting around laughing at some deficiency in him is a lot for any ego to bear. Think about if you were out to dinner with a group of his friends and you go to the bathroom and when you come back the table is laughing and cuts off immediately when they see you and quickly change the topic. Of course your mind would race to all the terrible things your hubby was sharing about you and how they were joking at your expense. You would feel uncomfortable and embarrassed. That’s how your guy felt when he say the chat group.

But I am also a female and I know the power of female friendships. It sounds like something you need to keep your sanity and humor and honestly, women since the beginning of time have needed other women just for that. Long before there were chat rooms there were sewing circles and red tents and who knows what else where women could gossip and seek advice about their life and their relationships.

So I think you should continue with one caveat: out of sight, out of mind. Not that you need to lock up your phone or lie to your hubby, but maybe keep the chatting on the DL for a little while while he gets over the embarrassment. Delete the chat history (so he won’t see it again and feel shame again) and keep your chatting to times he isn’t around. It might come off as a bit deceitful, but no husband should ever tell you who you can and can’t be friends with (or who you can talk to). If he is really upset say you won’t mention anything about personal secrets or real private stuff between you but these women are more than just voices on a phone, that they are your real friends and you are not giving them up.

Women need other women for friendship, understanding and help and no man should ever insist that you are not allowed to have that. But you also don’t want to intentionally ignore him and do something he doesn’t like directly in front of him. So keep up the chatting, just try to be discrete about it for awhile while he cools off and eventually forgets.

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Ms Wai

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