Why Do We Hide Other People’s Bad Behaviors?

Why do we hide other people’s bad behaviors? I don’t have the answer for this question – just the question. I’ve noticed that many people, especially family members, spouses/partners, and friends help hide other people’s bad behavior. Here is one example: a husband/father is a nasty alcoholic and the wife and children keep this destructive behavior a secret (often from each other and certainly from outsiders).  This causes stress among the family members and the secret begins to build walls between them and friends.  Also, they can’t get help because they cannot speak about the problem. Why? Maybe shame, maybe misguided ideas about privacy and loyalty.

Here are just a few others: a friend who cheats at school, a colleague’s bad work performance, a friend’s unkind remarks, or someone’s infidelities.  Why?  Is it ‘live and let live’?  Do we feel like we are snitches if we reveal their behaviors?  Do we have some odd notion of not wanting to be a second grade tattle-tale?  Do we believe that it is none of our business?  Trouble is – some of these behaviors are very much our business, affect our lives and have implications for our work and friendships. I don’t have the answer – I worry that we are silent out of laziness, not wanting to be bothered, or being fearful for ourselves in some way.  I would like to hear what other people think.

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