First of all, let me state for the record that not all women are the same. Our relationships with friends both male and female differ as widely as we do personally, but let us assume some generalizations as we delve into what women are saying to one another–and about you.
Yes, they probably talk about you
The good: Talking to others allows women to relieve pressures and solve problems. Some women depend on a sort of group mind to overcome personal issues. We bounce ideas and situations off one another and so come to understand what is normal or acceptable. We get help by brainstorming ideas and working through potential solutions before we try them on you. Instead of saving up anger, resentment or frustration and blowing up at home, we get it out with our girlfriends.
We reduce the stress of keeping our feelings and opinions inside by talking to trusted friends. We have a relationship with our closest friends that is as dependable, loving and deeply personal as the one we share with you, our boyfriends/partners/husbands. We feel comfortable with them, intimate. We aren’t out actively trying to betray a trust.
The bad: Women probably shouldn’t bring serious, personal issues outside of the sphere of the couple. Any discussion involving potentially embarrassing matters, health or sexual health issues, or troubles that belong solely to the partner not doing the talking should be omitted from conversation. That said, they probably won’t be. Issues that deep and influential beg to be talked about.
Couples should have their own discussion about where boundaries will be drawn if there are any concerns. Each partner should respect the feelings of the other and respect any rules on sharing. Men gossip, too–though often not about the same topics, so guys should be aware of their own lapses.
The topics are juicy
The good: Juicy stories often have a short lifespan. Yes, when you first hear that new tidbit of gossip, it can be shocking, but the message quickly begins to depreciate, losing its entertainment value. Once a tale is out there, it is old news immediately, competing with every other story in the world around us.
Few of us have incidents titillating enough to overwhelm what infotainment news sources can dig up. Daily responsibilities, our incoming texts, email, Twitter–they’re all in competition for our time. What was your story again? No matter how embarrassing the details, people are already beginning to forget what it was they heard about you.
The bad: If you travel in the same small circle of shared friends and don’t have separate girls’ nights/boys’ nights, the chances of your story coming up in conversation increases. This may destroy any natural limits the tale has on coming back to your buddies. It may be used against you at every opportunity, in every dumb joke, until the next victim comes along. If you have a classy group of friends, they’ll probably at least wait until you’re out of earshot to make the jokes.
The story may be one-sided
The good: Women will freely discuss (and quickly point out) their own and one another’s shortfalls. We tend to share to make each other jealous or to celebrate our good fortune. Because we will share both good and bad information about our lives, it is equally likely (if you’re a thoughtful and nice guy) that as many positive examples are being shared as negative.
The bad: If the story is about you, you may not come off looking good. A woman seeking sympathy while sharing a nagging problem isn’t necessarily going to tell her friends about what she did leading up to the incident. After all, she doesn’t want them gossiping about her. She may feel free to tell everything you did wrong–especially if she is a bit at fault–in order to dress up her own side. Plus, it makes a better story.
The damage done
The good: Do you really care if her girlfriends know you snore or have athlete’s foot? Even if the topic is something like her suspicion that you’re cheating, it makes you come off as a more mysterious and interesting fellow. After all, before, you were that guy on the Xbox who barely looked up when the gals came and went. Now, they wonder. You’ll get appraising looks, maybe even an offer. Laugh it off. Talk is cheap.
The bad: You probably do care if, for example, her girlfriends know you caught something from your old girlfriend. In the worst case scenario, try to see the positives. You had a former girlfriend (and some good times, it would seem). The rest, eh. We have bodies, we make mistakes, stuff happens. If her judgment regarding sharing is suspect, have a talk about it. Otherwise, don’t waste your time worrying and wondering. People are going to think what they think. You have better things to do.
If you have made it far enough to have her talking about you (to have anyone talking about you), you have made an impact. A woman can’t get passionately detailed in her gossip unless she is involved. And if she is that involved, she is passionate about you. We don’t go out of our way to tell our friends about some random person we met today. We talk about the people who are in our lives, influencing our emotions and stirring up drama. Enjoy the spotlight.
Photo by clarita @ http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/84825