The Cost of Truth in Relationships

Jan 21 , 2023
By Kidist Yidnekachew

I found myself in an awkward situation one of the days last week. The plan was to have lunch with two of my friends, but one of them was fashionably late, so we started chatting while having a macchiato.

My friend led off with how she felt left out, ignored, and unappreciated in the friendship. I sympathized with her and tried to listen to her valid expressions while trying to give my point of view. Suddenly, she redirected the blame, saying inappropriate things about the other friend. I was quick to defend our mutual friend, in absentia, but my attempt was unsuccessful.

I could not leave as we were both waiting for the same friend, who had become the subject of our conversation. Staying quiet was the only option I could think of then, hoping the friend would take it as a cue to stop. It did not work.

The 'friend' finally arrived after what seemed like an eternity. To my surprise, she greeted her warmly as not she uttered foul incentive a few minutes ago. The whole vibe changed immediately. I was perplexed but remained shushed while they engaged each other and, in the meantime, unsure whether or not to put the batter on the table, trying to make sense of it all.

I kept hinting at my friend to pour her heart out, expecting her to explain herself instead of using strong words behind her back that could jeopardize our friendship. But she changed topics one after the other evading the matter.

After a few minutes, she got up and left for the bathroom.

The newcomer took turns in belittling the other friend. The saying what goes around comes around struck my mind as she conveyed her ill feelings towards the friend.

With shock, I responded that the way she greeted her looked like nothing but an interaction between best friends. Her response was that she did not intend to hurt her feelings and rather pretence was easier. It was better to not stand each other, rather than sham how indifferent they felt. At that moment, I was unsure if either of my friends liked me. I wondered if they would talk about me in my absence the same way they were talking about each other. I immediately pushed the thought away from my head.

A few minutes later, my friend returned from the bathroom. All I hoped to do was be honest and stop them from pretending and talking behind each other's backs. But also thought I could destroy the many years of built friendship and that it is better to keep quiet.

There will be moments when one is required to speak up. People speak when moved, angered by injustice, or have strong emotions to express. But in everyday patty conversations, speaking from the mind could sever a relationship, whereas staying quiet could salvage it.

Keeping something to self could be a blessing and a curse. Suffering to keep the peace could come off as a good gesture but not speaking up against injustice regards a person as a coward.

I believe close friends, at least, should not be offended. Sometimes criticism comes from love and a mindset that wishes to change the mind of those close to us. Although what seems wrong to one person might be right for the other.

Having an open mind to understand others is essential, an honest opinion that expresses internal desire is vital.

I wanted to speak the truth and stand up for what I thought was right, but I left at bay. The fear of offending people or hurting their feelings got the better of me. Maybe that is the case with my friends, but I learned that expressing our true feelings is not always easy.

PUBLISHED ON Jan 21,2023 [ VOL 23 , NO 1186]

Kidist Yidnekachew is interested in art, human nature and behaviour. She has studied psychology, journalism and communications and can be reached at (

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