When friends get together, they talk. They laugh. They trade stories. They listen. They confide. Within the give-and-take confines of close friendships, we feel safe in sharing our secrets. Vulnerability researcher Brené Brown calls this safe space "the vault," and here, there is one unspoken rule.
What I share with you, you will hold in confidence. What you share with me, I will hold in confidence.
However, as Brené explains in a recent talk for OWN's SuperSoul Sessions speaker series, that's only one door to the vault. Based on what she's seen in her research, there's another door on the other side of the vault, one that's often overlooked.
"Here's where we lose trust with people. If a good friend comes up to me and says, 'Oh, my God, did you hear about Caroline? They're getting a divorce, and it is ugly. I'm pretty sure her partner's cheating,'" Brené says. "You have just shared something with me that was not yours to share. And now ... my trust for you is completely diminished."
That's because trust should extend beyond what exists between the two people involved in a friendship.
"The vault is not just about 'you hold my confidences.' It's that, 'in our relationship, I see that you acknowledge confidentiality,'" Brené clarifies.
The reason this piece of the friendship puzzle tends to be overlooked is because so many people use gossip in order to feel closer to someone. So the line between sharing and oversharing is deliberately side-stepped, all in the name of bolstering the friendship. The reality, Brené points out, is that this type of friendship is merely superficial.
"Here's the tricky thing about the vault. A lot of times, we share things that are not ours to share as a way to hotwire a connection with a friend," she says. "Our closeness is built on talking bad about other people. You know what I call that? Common enemy intimacy."
In this type of friendship, trust and truth are foreign concepts.
"What we have is not real. The intimacy we have is built on hating the same people," Brené says. "And that's counterfeit. That's counterfeit trust. That's not real."
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