Patty*, 15, doesn’t know how it all started. “I was just talking to Jay a lot about this band that we both like. The next thing I knew, there were rumors that I was making him my ‘project’—that I was out to win his affection.” What made the situation more complicated was that Patty’s best bud has had a major crush on Jay for years. “My best friend Sheila actually believed the rumors! She got so hurt by the idea that I’d flirt with Jay even if I knew she was waiting for him to ask her out.”
Sheila stopped talking to Patty and wouldn’t listen to her explanations. The stories snowballed. People started gossiping about how Patty would call and text Jay every day, and would even visit him at home. Things got even worse when the only other person who could prove everyone wrong started thinking that there was some truth to the rumors. “I couldn’t believe it when Jay confronted me to ask if he was really my ‘project’. He even told me he doesn’t like aggressive girls. Even if he was fully aware that we hardly talk about anything but music, he began to doubt his own judgment of the situation because of all the gossip!”
Patty spent nights crying. She had lost her best friend over a petty thing that wasn’t even true. She could understand the sense of betrayal Sheila felt, but couldn’t fathom why her best friend would choose to believe other people over her.
Sheila eventually realized there was no truth to the rumors. But things were never the same between the two friends. “I felt uncomfortable around her,” confessed Patty. “I kept remembering that she didn’t trust me enough to listen to my side. Instead, she chose to believe the rumors.” They eventually drifted apart.
* names have been changed
What are the consequences of gossiping? Read more on the next page.