This perplexes me because I just haven't seen it happening very much. But a few days' back, I read something said by Rav Levi Yitzhak Bender, in a new set of books I picked up from the Meah Shearim Breslev Bookstore called: 'Words of Faith' that explained what's really going on.
"It's forbidden to tell what passed over you"
There, Rav Bender explained that to friends "it's forbidden to tell what passed over you." He continues:
"Know this: To join a friend in personal matters - especially sins and iniquities, does much damage.
"However, it is fitting that friends encourage each other with soul-restoring words. But chalila to dig after mistakes - even if you mean well. This is absolutely prohibited.
"We often see people dig for another's wounds. This is a very great defect. Relations between people should only be in chizuk, happy talk, encouraging words or Torah and doing good. And to seek the good points in each other. But it is forbidden to make sins known - except to Hashem Yitbarach alone."
This was a tremendous revelation to me, because I'd always believed that the hallmark of a close friend was that you could bare your soul before them, tell them everything going on with you, and that this would only strengthen your bond and connection.
Trouble is, in real life normally the opposite happens:
Friendships can get far too intense too fast; you end up with people dumping their biggest, most heart-wrenching problems straight in their friend's lap, and then usually, the friend gets overwhelmed by the other person's troubles and then sooner or later just wants to run away.
I've seen this happen so many times, and yet, until I read the wise words of Rav Levi Yitzhak Bender, it never occurred to me that the paradigm for true friendship I had was warped.
True friendship doesn't mean you know all the deepest secrets, and darkest corners of your friend's life. Rav Bender summed it up like this:
"I go in my way, he goes in his way. I have no interest to check after how he runs his personal life. What I have to say to him is only this:
My Brother - Be strong! Hold on and do not be discouraged by anything!...
"This is the whole point of speaking amongst friends. To unearth and illuminate your friend's unique good points. And to shine to him from your special point. But not more than this."
There's a load more to say, and I may well come back to this topic in another post, but in the meantime, these few simple sentences have solved a massive difficulty, or kushia, that I've been wrestling with for years.
As Rav Bender makes clear, heart-to-hearts, where you spend a few hours moaning about your finances, or your husband, or your kids, or your work, or your in-laws, actually don't build friendships and people - they do exactly the opposite.
Just nobody knows that.
Now that I do, I'm going to ask God to help me avoid these types of 'deep and meaningful' conversations that always seem so holy and healthy, but usually just lead to getting enmeshed in trying to solve other people's problems for them.
That's not my place. That's not my job. Instead, what needs to happen is that you, me and everyone just need to start telling our friends and acquaintances:
My sister - be strong! Hold on and do not be discouraged by anything!!
And then, politely change the subject.