You run to your friend to tell her something that you expect her to keep confidential, as a 'secret'. Later that day, this secret of yours comes flying back to you through someone else. How does it feel? Sucks, right? Even family members betray us, sometimes. Ever told your mom a secret and she shares it with your dad? Ever told your brother a secret and he revealed it to your parents behind your back out of revenge over some stupid fight? We expect a guarantee of privacy and respect of confidentiality from people who we trust. We feel emotionally betrayed and upset when people don't stand up to our expectation. We start distrusting others as well and eventually become way too private. We become hesitant or uncomfortable when we have to disclose some of our secrets because of this history. Research has shown that self-disclosing to people you trust has a better impact on life, therefore, it is evident that inculcating this habit can lead to a healthier lifestyle.
Why do people reveal secrets?
1. Sometimes people reveal your secrets to others because they don't see any harm in doing so. They might unveil your secrets to people who don't know you (would it still be considered betraying?). It might help if your friend keeps your name anonymous while sharing your secret to the other person. But then, what's the need to talk about your secret at all, right?
2. Few people get carried away in conversations and before they know it, they have spilled the beans just to be a part of the conversation. It happens unconsciously, and it takes time for that person to realize that they made a mistake.
3. There are people whom you call friends, but it's not the same from the other side. People are really good at pretending after all. It often happens that you share your secrets with people who hold a special place in your life but you don't mean as much to them. They don't mind revealing your secrets to others because they don't bother to care about your space and privacy.
4. Sometimes, the problem is with us. We never learn from our mistakes. Many of us repeat the same mistake of trusting the person who had earlier leaked our secret. We give them the benefit of the doubt and dive into numerous leaps of faith on them. We hope that maybe this time they won't betray us. Never ends well, does it?
5. Well, most people don't have a lot of people to share their secrets and feelings with. Therefore, they are left with no choice other than to go to this one friend again and again.
6. Few others commit the mistake of trusting the wrong person because they are too excited to talk about this 'secret' that they forget to recall how much they suffered the previous time because of the betrayal.
How to know if we should trust someone?
Experience. Don't just blindly trust whoever comes your way. A new friend is less likely to understand the level trust that has to be placed so early. They don't know how friendship with you works, and they aren't even that close to you right now. Take time to build friendship and then after the foundation is strong, start by sharing little things and build your trust.
The balance between revealing too much and revealing too less must be taken care of, as it varies from one person to person. There should be mutual self-disclosure for a healthy friendship. The theory of self-disclosure proposes that you tend to reciprocate because you assume that someone who discloses to you likes and trusts you. The more you self-disclose in turn, the more the partner likes and trusts you, and then self-discloses even more. This is the social attraction-trust hypothesis of self-disclosure reciprocity. The second hypothesis is based on the social exchange theory, which proposes that we reciprocate self-disclosure in order to keep a balance in the relationship: You disclose, therefore I disclose.
Another way of knowing if the person is trustworthy or not is by observing if this person spills the secrets of other people to you or not. You might enjoy when this friend of yours leaks some other friends' secret to you but just pause for a second to think, what if he reveals your secrets to others as well? If he/she can do this his/her friends then why not you?
I understand that it is difficult to evaluate who earns your trust and who doesn't. No one can guarantee 100% loyalty to you. Once or twice we all fail to keep things to ourselves, either intentionally or intentionally.
How to get rid of this problem once and for all?
Trust yourself. Be your own friend. Who else can keep your secrets better than you? We all talk to ourselves all the time. Besides, when you are your own friend, you don't have to care about being judged. You can't lie to yourself, after all. It's very important that you exercise control over yourself when it comes to sharing information with others. Don't forget whom to trust and whom to not, just because you are too upset or too excited to share things. If you really need to express yourself, you can always write down your feelings on a piece of paper as your journal. This process of venting bottled up emotions is known as catharsis and helps in releasing feelings without having to depend on someone else.