We can’t help ourselves from channeling our inner Amy Poehler in Mean Girls every now and then. We want the 411; we need the hot gossip. And this tendency not only crosses generations, but — contrary to what we might expect — much of the gossip is neutral or positive: A 2007 study by Duke University of gossip among fourth-grade girls indicated gossiping can be healthy. So, it’s pretty accurate to say that where there are friends, there is gossip. But are convos about our colleague’s nasty breakup really benefiting our interpersonal relationships? April Masini, a relationship expert and the founder of Ask April, gives us a cautious yes — if done honestly and righteously. Read on to check out the ways in which gossip can be a force for good!

Two women gossip together

1. Gossiping can lead to closeness. Sharing secrets is a sure sign of intimacy — a priority in any relationship. For this reason, Masini says private information functions as a sort of “currency” between two people; the more “currency” a partner accumulates, the more valuable the relationship becomes. However, Masini warns against relying too heavily on gossip as the foundation for a friendship or romantic relationship: “In real life, gossip is often not true, and sharing it can breed closeness based on fallacy.” As important as intimacy is to a relationship, honesty always wins.

2. Gossiping can expose one’s character. When trying to get to know someone — whether that someone is a date, coworker, or friend — what they say about others is often more telling than what they say about themselves. The topics of their gossip as well as their intentions in sharing this information are indicative of their character and should be weighed as such. Gossiping, Masini explains, is “a way to get to know someone and decide if you want to draw closer or shy away because of it.” When deciding whether to take steps forward in a new relationship, take heed of any hateful or malicious gossip you hear from the person.

3. Gossiping can foster empathy. Gossiping, when reduced to its basic elements, is nothing more than the sharing of information — and sometimes that can be really valuable, relationship-salvaging information. When a person is acting out in a relationship, gossip — or rather, information — about the goings-on of this person’s life can serve as an explanation of or justification for their actions. “Gossip may clue you in on a difficult time that this person is going through, which is the catalyst for their bad behavior toward you,” Masini reveals. This insight obtained via gossip can allow for more empathy and, ultimately, a more successful relationship.

Although Masini doesn’t believe gossiping is necessarily an activity to be esteemed, she agrees that “gossip that conveys valuable information that can serve the relationship is a good thing.”

 Do you agree or disagree? Gossip with us on Twitter @BritandCo!

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