Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

If you know someone disapproves of a behavior, would you ever tell them you are engaging in that behavior?

Asked by wundayatta (58648points) April 8th, 2010

Once I told a friend that I had to protect myself, so I wasn’t going to tell her about something I was doing that I knew she strongly disapproved of. She said that there is a clear distinction between voicing a different view point, and actually attacking someone for theirs.

I have to say I don’t grok this. To make an extreme example, if you knew a friend didn’t approve of murder (and who does?), would you tell them about a murder you’d committed (assuming there are no issues of accessories and other legal things that would get your friend into trouble if you tell them)?

Wouldn’t it be reasonable to expect the friend to think worse of you if you tell them? Maybe even to stop liking you? Or is it reasonable to expect them to compartmentalize things: I don’t like what you do, but I still like you.

Is that possible? How can you separate a person’s action from the person? What do you think? Examples would be very helpful in illustrating your thoughts on this issue.

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45 Answers

filmfann's avatar

Friends help you move.
Real friends help you move bodies.

I have friends that I love and I trust, and they would know I would do anything for them. Including moving bodies.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I’d tell them and not worry if they liked it or not.My friends can’t possibly approve of everything I do!LOL! Do I care?No.It’s my life to live not theirs.

wonderingwhy's avatar

I wouldn’t tell them because that’s a fast track to being caught. But I get what you mean. I think it depends on the depth of the bond. I have friends, though admittedly very few, who know full well they can come to me about anything, no matter what (unless it’s going to get me slapped with a 10–20 accessory charge, then I’d really prefer they leave me out of it if at all possible). In those cases it depends on the motive and the result, more than the act, because of the depth of our bond I will always hear them out and in all but the worse cases, I’m not sure it would completely severe it, though it may take time to recover. With others, where the bond is significantly less, their actions often speak louder than words as the saying goes. It would be very tough to separate the two without hearing some damn good explanation, which I may not be inclined to hear depending on the act/result. But in all cases I’m thinking of extremes, minor incidents are just that and even a basic friendship is likely to be unswayed by them.

jca's avatar

if it were not necessary to reveal the info then i would not reveal it. if we were talking about anal sex, let’s say, and the friend said they disapproved of it, since it’s probably not necessary to tell them i like anal sex, i would not feel a need to reveal that.

rahm_sahriv's avatar

I think it is reasonable to compartmentalize things. It isn’t easy at times. For example, an issue that came up today. My cousin’s kids (aged five) found a pic of my cousin’s old dog that we had to have put down. They started asking questions and my cousin went into this whole thing about how people and animals get older and then ‘go be with Jesus’. Personally I find that wrong on so many levels, one of being if she was a true Catholic as she claims she would know that apologetics teach that animals DO NOT have souls (I think they are full of bullshit), I disapprove of what she told her kids, I hate it, but I still love my cousin.

MrsDufresne's avatar

I would [metaphorically] yell it in a megaphone toward them, but that’s just me.
I’m loopy about honesty like that.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Why force your friend to “compartmentalize”? I would not burden them with the knowledge.

Exhausted's avatar

I guess it depends on what it is. It would be much harder to admit to someone you do something you know they have an adversion for if you desire their approval, but what about being gay and not telling someone you know b/c you’ve heard them express disgust toward the lifestyle? Or if you knew your friend hated people who litter, but you do it all the time? Are you asking if I would alter my behavior when I was around them so they wouldn’t know I was a litterbug? Or, do I just tell them, I do it all the time and I don’t see anything wrong with it? Probably everybody I know practices some type of behavior that I abhor for one reason or another, but I don’t find it necessary to make an issue of it. I am sure that I do many things that they have difficulty tolerating as well. I don’t keep many things to myself, so people know what to expect in regard to me and I appreciate when people offer me the same in return. I find it much easier to associate people that are not trying to hide stuff or won’t tell me what’s bothering them and leave me to try and figure it out for myself. I let people live their lives and I like it when they let me live mine, even if they don’t like what I do with it. I give respect and I appreciate it in return.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I don’t tell anyone that I Fluther.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Some friends I can tell anything to and others I am like @worriedguy in that I wouldn’t want to burden them.

phillis's avatar

It is entirely possible to compartmentalize, and that’s what most people do, sometimes even to thier detriment. In an extreme example, a battered wife compartmentalizes that her husband really does love her, and only beats her when he’s drunk, so she stays. In an emotionally healthy person, compartmentalizing is what allows us to forgive others and show mercy.

We can’t forget that people have varying thresholds of what they find acceptable. It’s not only genetic, but is clearly based on thier life experiences, as well (nature vs nurture). Our tolerance levels change dramatically, the more educated we become on an issue. A grandmother might find her mentally ill grandchild a disgrace to the family’s good name, but the grandhild’s therapist is quite clearly able to separate the person’s actions from who the person truly is. They aren’t one and the same.

A person is not defined solely by thier mistakes. This is why mothers of death row inmates always say thier mass murderer child is really good and decent in his heart. Unfortunately, we can’t give so much credence to that, even if the mother is right. We have to protect ourselves.

I’ve seen people (even recently) who have a total inability to cull the difference between voicing an opinion that differs from someone else’s, and beating them over the head with thier “horrible” viewpoint. These people labor under delusions that they are greater than they actually are. These are the people to whom you have to be careful what you say. They twist things around based on warped notions of what they think is right and will judge you harshly in a heartbeat without reservation.

marinelife's avatar

I would be unlikely to tell my friend about the behavior they had voiced disapproval of unless I felt that their not knowing would be a friendship deal breaker. Then I would tell them and let them decide what to do.

mollypop51797's avatar

I wouldn’t, and shouldn’t be worried of their opinions. I mean, everyday, our personalities are molded by advertisements on tv on the computer on billboards, and personal opinions of others around us. My friends can think what they want of me, they can judge me if they want to, but they’re my friends. And if they do or don’t want to be then that’s their problem. But I will not let others’ opinions influence my ideas and actions.

hug_of_war's avatar

Killing someone is a bit different than being a furry. If I’m a furry and I know my friend doesn’t approve I’d tell them anyway because if they can’t deal with a part of my lifestyle, even a private part that they would never see we wouldn’t really be friends. I have had friends who have done things I don’t agree with but we stayed friends anyway. You can acknowledge between each other you don’t see eye to eye without it dominating the relationship. If I call someone my friend I can’t feel like they are going to freak out for me displaying to them a negative behavior. That’s different than killing someone though.

escapedone7's avatar

There are some things I would only confess to a priest and a defense attorney.

Does it directly effect her? Is there some reason she needs to know?

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

I’d skip over that detail. Getting in an argument wouldn’t be useful to the situation.

OneMoreMinute's avatar

Have you been watching too much Dexter?

leave the Cold Case alone…...(an I’m not talkin beer!)

Why people tell so much information about themselves, I’ll never know. I know my farts stink, but does that stop me from telling them that they smell like cinnamon and have rainbows.

Rangie's avatar

I think the age of the person answering this question matters. At least for me it does. I am now of the older gereration, and I have become more strict about things than I use to be. I would like to answer your Q in reverse. I have a friend that has a problem with shoplifting. She expressed that to me one day. I must admit, I was a bit shocked. She has just about everything she could want. I told her that I didn’t think any has the right to take something that they didn’t pay for. She shrugged and that was that. Until we went shopping. Now that I was aware of her problem, I was looking for it, and if you look for it, you probably will find it. And I did, she had slipped an inexpensive little bathroom deodorizer in her purse. I approached her in the store, (so she would have a chance to rethink and return it before she got caught) and said, I am your friend, and I would hate to see you get in trouble. She jabbered something and went on shopping. I didn’t want to walk out of the store with her for fear of her getting caught. So I told her I would be at the store next door. We are now distant friends, I will never go shopping with her again.

OneMoreMinute's avatar

@wundayatta What would be your motive in your revealing such a story? Are you asking this friend for some kind of help, or you want to bond with a deep and dark secret?

I keep some things to myself, and I would probably be more popular if I kept a lot more to myself. But sometimes I feel the need to just share with a friend anyways, and I have paid the price of being distanced by them. It’s happened over politics. Then I think, well, if they don’t want to be my friend over politics, then it’s really not that much of a friendship to begin with.

@flimflam LOL! funny!

Rangie's avatar

What would be the point? Who gains, who looses, who feels good, who feels bad? Isn’t it enough just to know you have a difference of opinion, that you either live with or you don’t. No, I would not open that can. Now, if my friend opens it and wants my opinion, I will be happy to give it.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I am better than anybody else, but if I approve of what I am doing, then I don’t need anyone else’s approval. end of story

wundayatta's avatar

When I find out that a friend is doing something I highly disapprove of, it is hard for me to stay close to that person. I’ve broken off a relationship with a friend because I thought he wasn’t treating his girlfriend right. I’ve pulled back from people who get involved with people I think are harmful to them and others, or from people who are involved with destructive habits.

In another way of looking at this, I’ve never knowingly become a good friend of a conservative. I’ll talk to them. Have dinner with them. But I wouldn’t trust a conservative with much else. We just see the world too differently, and I would not expect them to be trustworthy—in terms of doing what I consider to be the right thing.

How much of a friend is someone if you can’t share yourself with them? I guess they are some kind of friend, but there is and always will be a limit to the relationship—unless they can separate you from the behavior they disapprove of. I don’t understand how anyone could do that. It seems hypocritical. Either you believe what you believe, or you are pretending. If you believe what you believe, you could not be friends with someone who did things you really disapproved of, could you?

phillis's avatar

Why is it hypocritical to be able to separate the person from an action? That’s actually a very high functioning thing to be able to do, which is why most people can’t do it. I mean, if someone confessed to me that they rape children or beat the elderly, then sure….I’m taking my ball and going home. Predation on those who cannot defend themselves is repulsive to me. But most things we’re discussing here are not to such extremes. It’s not such a stretch to accept a person for who they are. You don’t have to be best buds with everybody.

Trillian's avatar

Some things are simply nobody’s business. During the time that I had a girlfriend I never told my Mother. She would not have approved and would have nagged me constantly. And it was really none of her business.
Some things belong to you alone and not to your friends or acquaintances.

Exhausted's avatar

I think others are responsible for their own behavior. It is not up to me to decide what they should or shouldn’t do, so I don’t. There are people that have quirks that I find irritating so I tolerate them if absolutely necessary, but don’t put any effort into trying to spend time with them. If I don’t agree with other people’s basic philosophy of life, I honor the fact they have a right to believe how ever they choose. Who I am to stand in judgement of them? I don’t have to agree. I can like a person and not like things they do. If we all removed ourselves from every person that we don’t agree with, there would be a lot more seperation than there already is in this world. Our ability to tolerate other people’s differences has made the world a very big place and I personally think that is a good thing. (this does not apply to people that commit crimes against others)

OneMoreMinute's avatar

My friends all seem to do or have several things that I am not in line with, but they are still my friends. If anything, I am the one who has the most things out of the world unordinary, but I like to use the term Unique, it’s more endearing! I may not be the black sheep, but I’m the craziest sheep in my flock! And I don’t want it any other way!

But, I do have one big thing that keeps me from getting too close with others….(drum rolllllll…..)
SMOKING CIGARETTES!!!! LOL! I just cannot stand the smell of cigarette tobacco.
So, tell me, what had to have happened in my life to cause this to land on my top three NO-NO-Bad-Bad-get the F away from me list? That’s the one thing that makes me turn green.

Rangie's avatar

@wundayatta So, just how many friend do you have? It appears to me that you have eliminated everyone but yourself. Perhaps a twin would suffice.

Rangie's avatar

@OneMoreMinute I am with you 100% I wish they could ban those nasty things off the earth. The only thing they can do is cause illness. I literally get sick at my stomach when I smell Cigarette smoke. I heard on the news that San Luis Obispo, California was talking about banning smoking in all public places in the City. Maybe I will have to move there.

OneMoreMinute's avatar

@Rangie I love San Lois Obisbo! It’s SOOO beautiful there!

KhiaKarma's avatar

We all learn from each other. Sharing and accepting people maybe not their actions is how we grow. If it was a small thing and I wasn’t close to them, I would’t worry about it, gotta choose your battles. But if it was someone who I wanted to be able to be myself around and spend time with, then I would be more likely…

Rangie's avatar

@KhiaKarma If is was something small, it wouldn’t be worth discussing. However, if it was something BIG, I probably wouldn’t be doing it anyway.
To me what wundayatta is asking is, would you open your purse or wallet and let your friends go through it? The answer is for me a big NO. That is my personal business. There is nothing to hide, it is just my one personal thing where I keep personal things.
Do they need to know what’s in my purse to be my friend?

Rangie's avatar

@OneMoreMinute Yes, and if they pass this ban, it will be even more beautiful.

OneMoreMinute's avatar

@Rangie Boy I’m with you on that privacy thing. I am a very private person too. I’ve been burned many a times because of one opinion or another, or one too many secrets!
I love secrets much more than others, I guess.

wundayatta's avatar

@Rangie I don’t have a whole lot of friends, but that’s just because I’m not very good at keeping in touch. I find there are plenty of people in the world who are interested in the same kinds of things that I am interested in, and are interesting people, and share my politics and values. I don’t think I’m actually all that picky for all that I proclaim here.

The reason why I don’t have a lot of friends, I think, is because of shyness. Or perhaps shame. I like a lot of people. I’m just afraid to let them see much of me. In particular, one part of me. The part that is too intense and too much for most people. The part that tends to drive people away when they find out about it. So I don’t talk about it and no one local really knows me. The people who really do know me live far away.

At one point, I was hoping we could all live together in one community. I still hope that someday we could have a community of people like us who live together, but I doubt it will ever happen. We’re too disorganized. Too many dancers and artists and writers and not enough agents and developers and marketers.

OneMoreMinute's avatar

Do you need a cook? I can be the cook!

KhiaKarma's avatar

@Rangie I don’t think you have to share everything…..some stuff is meant to be just yours. But if you want to achieve something out of the relationship some vulnerable sharing is necessary.

snowberry's avatar

OK, this is really long, and I haven’t read all the answers. But here’s a situation I had where I chose to not tell people what I was doing. I had my babies at home. Homebirth.

There were quite a number of folks who were not happy with my choice, and I got a lot of crap about it from a number of people who thought they had a lot of clout with me. They started out by telling me how dangerous it was. I told them I’d already done my homework, that I knew the statistics and body processes far better than they did, and was comfortable with my decision. So they started labeling me as “rebellious” (which in my religiously repressive church was a very bad thing). So I stopped telling people. I judiciously cut everyone out of my life that gave me bad vibes, and only listened to the positive ones.

The point is if you want to accomplish something huge, you have to be very careful what you think about. If you allow people to poison your mind with what “can’t happen”, or how terrible you are for even thinking of doing it, you’re much less likely to actually meet your goal.

By the way, I ended up having 4 homebirths, all very healthy children. (not all at the same time of course).

Rangie's avatar

@wundayatta I don’t mean to be smart mouth, but you sound quite young. I also suffered for many years with the shyness thing. With a few visits to my doctor and a daily dose of mild effexor I have come a very long way. I will talk to anybody now, I don’t hide in a corner anymore. I make friend just about anywhere I go. Now, if it is a thing shame, then you know what you can do about that. Face it, work through it and be done with it.
But, you rule out so many people for reasons that are not really important. Maybe you can rethink your tolerance of other folks rights, just as they consider yours. I wish you the very best in your endeavors.

Rangie's avatar

I think if you feel you need to tell on yourself for something, get a diary. When you are over it, you can burn it. Everybody wins.

jeanmay's avatar

I used to be an awful person to be around, indulging in all kinds of selfish and despicable behaviour which would warrant disapproval from anyone. At the time I was so self-righteous and arrogant that I made no attempt to hide my actions from friends or anyone. Thankfully for me, my friends have somehow managed to stick by me, and thanks to them I have faith that you can always find some good in others.

We are all human, and nobody’s perfect. I really can’t think of many situations where I would disown or distance myself from a genuine friend. (But of course there are people who you’re not going to be friends with in life.) Friendship and love is not an exact science to me; I can’t decide a persons character based on x actions + y behaviour = bad friend. In some senses it’s not even a choice; certain people just are my friends and they always will be, no matter how I may disapprove of their behaviour.

wundayatta's avatar

@Rangie Perhaps this is a different kind of shyness from what you are thinking of. I have no problem talking to people—on their own or in large groups. I am quite entertaining. A lot of people like me and are even impressed with me.

That’s fine, as far as it goes. But at a certain point, I can’t let them in any more. Perhaps shy is not the right word. But I use it because I feel shy to share some deep, important parts of me because I know most people would condemn me for them. I mean, I see it every day here.

Maybe it’s not so much shame, as self preservation.

You may not think it’s important how people treat other people, but I do.

I’m not sure tolerance of rights has anything to do with it.

I’m happy for you that shame is such an easy thing to deal with. I hope you will be tolerant of those for whom it is not such an easy thing.

Anyway, I really appreciate your concern for me, and your advice is quite…. precious. I have learned,]—the hard way—not to give unsolicited advice.

PacificToast's avatar

I don’t like what you do, but I still like you. This song by Relient K speaks just of your problem. I believe we should love the sinner, not the sin.

davidbetterman's avatar

I would never tell anyone if I had committed a murder (which I haven’t * looks around nervously*)

Rangie's avatar

@wundayatta I don’t care what your shame is, I would not condemn you. I don’t have that kind of power and even if I did I would not use it. Everybody makes mistakes, and I would bend over backward to be tolerant. I hope you don’t think I think I am perfect. I am my own biggest critic. My unsolicited advise is only meant as a friendly hand out.
If one of my friends would condemn me, I would probably find new friends. I often wonder, what is in the background of people that are quick to condemn another.
I will be friends with you, unless you choose not to be.


If I knew someone didn’t like a certain behavior, I would not tell that person that I did that, because it would only be obnoxious on my part. Why would I want to stir up conflict?

jbran's avatar

It depends on who that person is and if I wanted to get on there nerves by telling them that I did that behavior. If I wanted to get on there nerves and irritate them then I would tell them. Otherwise I probably wouldn’t.

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