Branch County

Ask Amy: I blabbed about a big secret, now my relatives are upset with me



Dear Amy: I have caused a huge riff in our family.

I was supposed to keep a secret for “Niece A” and unintentionally blurted it out at a family function.

This led to “Niece B” running out and buying a house before Niece A did, which upstaged Niece A, causing her to be very upset.

Then I told Niece A that the house Niece B bought was crap (a foreclosure), not knowing that B’s father was standing right behind me.

Now both families are upset with me.

I’ve apologized and tried to make amends with Niece A, but she is standoffish, and her parents are upset with me.

I’m very upset with myself for letting the cat out of the bag for Niece A, but obviously I had no idea that B would upstage her like that.

The two families have been jealous of each other for a long time.

When there is a family get-together, there is a lot of tension. The two cousins avoid each other and don’t appear to be speaking.

I feel this is all my fault, though the tension has been building for years between the two families.

How do I fix this?

– Big Mouth

Dear Big Mouth: The way to fix this is to learn to modulate your behavior and – when around family members to always behave as if your utterances might be broadcast and shared.

The way to build trust is to behave consistently, judiciously, and discreetly. This is a tall order – for anyone, but especially for you, and it takes practice.

You are not responsible for the long-running negative dynamic between these various family members. Given the tension between them, you provided a handy target by inserting yourself into their drama.

The only good news is that after they’ve figuratively “shot the messenger” (you), their shared animus toward you might actually bring them closer together. You may need to apologize again and individually to the people you’ve offended. After that, let things lie.

You can email Amy Dickinson at askamy@amydickinson.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.

©2023 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.



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