There is nothing worse than overhearing your so-called friends and family talking about you when they think you're not listening. Hearing these terrible comments from a private conversation hit harder than they would if you were part of the conversation because you know it's how they really feel about you. It's happened to all of us, no matter who we are.
A Reddit thread recently asked people to share hurtful conversations they overheard where they were the topic of discussion. Hopefully, after reading these stories, we'll stop running our friends and family through the mud behind their backs. All posts have been edited for clarity.
This Parent Took Fat Shaming To Another Level
“I was a youth pastor a church for a stretch of time. I once overheard a parent of one of my youth talking with one of my coworkers about how overweight I was and how I didn’t care about my life. They talked about I was setting a terrible example for the youth and how I just disregarded my own health. They said I was going to die by age 30 (I’m 27), and then the mom said that the only reason she got onto the staff parish relations committee, the committee who does all the hiring at the church, was just so she could get me fired because I was overweight. She said she manipulated the pastor to get elected to the committee just to make me sign a contract that if I didn’t lose the weight, I would be fired.
Needless to say, I don’t work there anymore because I left on my own.
It was a very corrupt church in general, and I’m at a much better place now.”
What His Wife Told Him Only Made Him More Upset
“My wife had a falling out with some friends of mine that she met through me. We had known them a long time but I had known them for much longer. I was upset with her one night because they were always asking why she never came around anymore but she refused to see them. I always thought it was because of this little side business project they went into together that didn’t work out.
I was driving my wife somewhere, and I got upset with her because she wouldn’t make up with them and move past it like they did, and it sucks that she never came with me when I would go over there. So she finally broke and told me the truth.
Every time she went over there without me, they would badmouth me, putting down my personality, my humor, and much more. I guess they thought she would be ok with it, like a joking ‘Haha, my husband can be such an idiot, right?’ But she wasn’t ok with it.
She’s not a confrontational person, so she never really spoke up, but she was disgusted by the way they spoke about me behind my back, and refused to have anything to do with them. She had been letting me think it was all her fault and she took it because she knew the truth would hurt my feelings. And it did.
I still see them from time to time, but it’s definitely not the same. I go over when they ask, but I don’t initiate anything anymore, I don’t stay long anymore, and I guess I’m not as warm towards them. Normally, I’m not above a confrontation over something like this, but in this case, I don’t know… I just don’t want to have that conversation with them. I’ve known them a long time, and I know that they’re actually good people, but now there’s an elephant in the room, of sorts.”
And People Wonder Why She’s Depressed
“When my oldest sister died in 2008, my other sister was crying to my mother about how she felt alone. My mother was trying to reassure her and said, ‘You still have your younger sister though.’ But my sister said, ‘Who cares about her? I want [oldest sister] back.’
I get it, but this was around the same time my mother told me to my face that it should have been me who died instead because I didn’t have a husband or kids like my oldest sister did. It seemed like absolutely no one wanted me in my family and they all wished I could have switched places with the one we lost.
People wonder why I’m depressed now.
My mother never apologized to me and ended up getting even more abusive as time wore on, but she passed away in 2012.
I eventually moved out of the house and went to live with an abusive boyfriend. But for the past five years, I’ve lived down south, and after many trials and tribulations… MANY of them… I now have my own apartment and two beautiful cats. I’m completely alone other than that though, which is even more depressing,”
When He Opened The Computer, He Didn’t Expect This…
“I had just moved into my dorm for my second year of college. My roommate was my best friend since the ninth grade. My stuff hadn’t arrived yet, and it was my time to register, so I asked him if I could use his computer. He said sure.
I sat down, and he had AIM open to a conversation with another friend of ours. I didn’t scroll up, but from what was just visible on screen, they were talking about how weird I was and how awful it would be rooming with me.
I closed it so he wouldn’t realize that I read his conversation, registered, and left. We still lived together that year, but we didn’t hang out at all. We just cohabited. I never asked him to hang out as friends, he never asked me.
Move-out day that year was the last time we spoke. That was over 10 years ago. We chatted every day for six years, then haven’t spoken since. I still don’t know if I did or said something to flip how he felt about me, or if he never really liked me to begin with. The possibility of the latter really messes up your future friendships. The former does too, knowing you’re capable of unknowingly saying or doing something to throw away a six-year friendship.”
Hurtful Comments From The Grave
“Not overheard, but actually read in a file about me.
My mother passed away suddenly and I received a file from my father that she was meaning to give to me. It was a psychological profile, along with it tests, personality tests, and other stuff. This wasn’t a surprise to me since I’m autistic and have been in therapy since I was a child.
There was a part, however, about my family and their trouble with living with me. Especially my brothers and my dad were having problems coping and learning how my existing pained them was difficult. My parents got divorced basically because of me. My brothers were embarrassed by me.
I’m doing better than expected. I was never supposed to be living on my own, there was talk about assisted living or even an institution, but somehow I managed to leave home as soon as I turned 18. I got married, had kids, and even though I struggle a lot, I get by.
I have a good relationship with all my brothers, even though they still have trouble treating me as an adult.
It’s like always thinking everybody knows you’re challenged except you. And then finding out it’s true.”
She Couldn’t Believe What Her “Friends” Were Saying
“When i was in the fifth grade, one of my friends accidentally invited me to an online chatroom called the ‘I hate [My Name]’ chat room. When someone realized I was in the chat, they unloaded on me, pointing out every flaw I had and why no one in school liked me. The rest of the chat room followed suit and said some pretty awful things to me, including how I should kill myself and that no one would miss me. A few of my closest friends even chimed in at this point and agreed with everything being said.
I started to self mutilate and pretty much went the rest of middle school and high school without friends and was unable to trust people or get close to people. To this day, I can pretty much count how many true friends I have on one hand.
Kids can be awful.”
These Comments Certainly Didn’t Help Their Mental Illness
“I have a really bad anxiety disorder. Not like, self diagnosed 14-year-old Tumblr user who thinks mental illnesses are quirky, but full on, spent months in a psych ward, bits of my body going numb, falling down stairs, constant tremor, dangerously high heart rate, didn’t leave the house for months, became nearly mute at one point, tried to kill myself, this has completely destroyed my life, dropped out of uni, level anxiety.
I’ve had a few jobs, but to cut a long story short, I have been terrible at them all because my constant panic makes everything incredibly hard.
I recently started a new job in a pub. I’ve pushed myself to my absolute limits with how hard I’ve fought my fears, I’ve literally carried on working while I’ve lost my vision with panic, numerous times. I spill drinks because of my tremor. I push through severe chest pain and near complete numbness in my limbs to keep working. It’s a nightmare. That said, I am proud of myself. I’ve had this job for six months now, and to go from being hospitalized, near mute and terrified to leave my room a few years ago, to holding down a job is a massive achievement for me.
There are some older men who come into the pub most days. They’ve always been kind to me and I felt really proud that I’ve been able to function normally enough to do what I need to do and get them what they need.
Things were fine until the other week when I overheard them laughing about how ‘quiet’ and ‘weird’ and ‘shaky’ I am. I just want to be normal, but I know that this level of functioning is the best it’s gonna get for me. It was just awful having confirmation that despite working SO HARD to just function, I will never fit in, I will never be normal, and people are always going to wonder ‘what’s wrong’ with me.
Ugh. Everyone jumping on the mental illness bandwagon because they think it’s cool and quirky make me furious. They have no idea what it’s like. I’d rather die than spend the rest of my life like this.”
When You’re Compared To A School Shooter
“I’m not even sure if I wasn’t supposed to hear it or not but this one girl in my freshman year of high school spent a good 10 minutes trying to be friendly with me completely out of nowhere in gym class. This may not be so bad, but I had some rather awful experiences in middle school which made it hard to trust people I didn’t know, so I obviously wasn’t very receptive to her. For all I knew, it was a dare from her friends or something.
She walked away, not too far, but I could tell she was talking with her friends. I heard her say, ‘Oh my god, he looks just like that guy who shot up Virginia Tech.’
Again, may not seem like much, but after the VT shooting, no one in middle school looked at me like a human being. Like the shooter, I’m also Korean, and a bit of a loner with very few friends, and after the shooting happened, people must have assumed I’d end up doing the same. After that day, I had no friends and no one to turn to, not even my sister who avoided me at school because she found me annoying.
Due to said past related to the VT shooting, her saying I looked like the guy who did it struck something in me, and I broke down. And she saw me crying, but she didn’t have a single bit of remorse.
I’m fine now; this happened about eight years ago and I’m over it. I later found out this girl was a friend of my sister’s, and they got in an argument over it because she didn’t understand just how awful what she said was, and because she didn’t understand, she felt that I ‘overreacted to words’ and ‘shouldn’t be such a drama queen.'”
The Friendship Never Recovered From This Phone Call
“I was 7 and basically poor trailer trash, but I asked my friend if I could stay the night. He called his mom to ask and I overheard her say, ‘Tell him no, I don’t want roaches and lice.’
It really cut me deep. To this day, I have extreme anxiety about keeping my house clean. I couldn’t help that I was poor, and our roaches didn’t pay rent. After hearing that, I stopped hanging out with my friend and haven’t seen either of them since then. I’m 28 now.”
He Grabbed His Coat And Walked Out
“I went out to a bar with some friends for a birthday party for my ex-girlfriend. She really messed me up when she left me, like really bad, but I was trying to be nice since she invited me. I figured I’d go out and be there for a drink or two.
A mutual friend who had been broken up with a few days before was there, so as I made the rounds, I talked to her and tried to do whatever I could to let her know it would be ok. I’m no therapist, but I did my best. I knew what a bad breakup felt like, as I was also going through one, so I tried to help.
After I left the table, I overheard her talking to my ex at the bar about me trying to give her advice and she said, ‘Well nobody has ever loved him, so what does he know about any of this?’ And they started laughing. I don’t think they know I heard, but I grabbed my coat immediately and took a long walk home.
I don’t need people like that in my life. I haven’t willingly seen either of them since.”
She Lost A Baby, And Her Mom Wanted Her To Know Why
“I overhead my mother telling the rest of my family that my baby died because of my negligence. My baby died of SIDS.
I did not have a relationship for with my mother for a year after that because she later said it to my face after multiple doctors, funeral directors, and therapists explained how SIDS can’t be intentionally caused. She knew what it was and still chose to believe it was my fault. This is also coming from the woman who told me I deserved to be violated when I was 18. So, I wasn’t too in shock, but I was disgusted and wanted nothing to do with her at the time.
As the years passed (this was September of 2014), it has become painfully obvious that she is mentally unstable and can’t be trusted to be left to her own devices. No confirmed substance abuse but many signs. I like to think I’m a understanding and forgiving person, and while I haven’t forgiven her for those comments, I do still love her and keep an eye on her.
She currently lives with me, which is not the most fun, but I do believe if she did not reside with my family, she’d be homeless and dead. While she may deserve this for the many awful things she’s done in my childhood, she’s still my mom. I don’t want to be the kind of person she’s become, so I tolerate her. It’s not the best situation but she doesn’t have that much longer to live.
I waited five years to heal from my daughter’s passing before getting pregnant again. That was an immediate shock, which was sadly followed by a miscarriage. However, I’m currently in my second trimester with my rainbow baby. My husband and I are very excited, but we are establishing strict boundaries for baby and my mother.
We don’t want or child exposed to my mother’s toxicity.”
No Mother Should Say This
“I am 12 years younger than my older sisters and I was unplanned. At age 7, I overheard my mom crying and saying I was the reason she didn’t love my dad anymore, why we were poor, why she wasn’t happy, and that she didn’t want to be a mom anymore. She said she ‘didn’t know how to love someone who ruined her entire life.’
It was Christmas Eve and she was wasted, talking to her best friend on the phone. It broke my heart and spirit, and that was only the beginning of my awful childhood.
According to my sister, our mom called her up crying one night about what a terrible mom she was to me. My sister said she could tell my mom was expecting her to disagree and make her feel better. Instead, my sister replied, ‘Good, you SHOULD feel bad,’ and my mom was totally shocked at my sister’s reply. It made me feel a little better to know that at some point in time, maybe, possibly, she felt bad about being a terrible mother to me?
I’m 29 now and moved out when I was 15 to protect myself. I have no contact with my parents and I’m fully aware it wasn’t my fault I was born, But man, this memory still gets me.
As I got older, she started saying all those things to my face and was absolutely awful to me. Although I don’t speak to my parents, I hear (through the family grape vine) that she and my dad divorced about four years ago and she’s now dating a nice man and she’s super happy. Everyone tells me that she’s a ‘totally new person.’ New person or not, I just don’t think I can forgive her for taking away my childhood and forcing me into such a difficult early adulthood.”
When A Stop In The Ladies Room Ends In Disaster
“About nine years ago, I was getting married so a hen’s night was in order. I had originally wanted to book a bus and have a tour of a nearby vineyard but my bridesmaids said it wasn’t a good idea because not everyone liked to walk around a spacious vineyard. Ideas were thrown back and forth and eventually it was settle for a night in the city with laser bowling and karaoke with pizza and drinks. We’d have our own room and I was so excited to get out of my comfort zone and have a fun night.
I invited my small group of friends and some family and took the opportunity to ask some girls I knew through a bridesmaid but hadn’t taken it to the next level. I thought I would like to get to know them better and expand my social group, so I asked them along and they accepted my invite.
I am very much an introvert, quiet and can be nervous in social situations around new people, so this was a big step for me!
On the night of the party, I was pumped but worried that everyone was having a good time. These ladies arrived an hour late, pizza had to start about 20 minutes after we arrived otherwise we’d lose our bowling time, and it would change our booking for karaoke. So we couldn’t wait any longer and started to eat and drink. When they finally got there, they were mad because we started without them. Not thinking much of it, because it was my night, I apologized then enjoyed drinking and bowling followed by karaoke!
After a few drinks, I needed to go to the ladies room. As I walked in, I heard those girls talking at the mirrors, fixing their makeup.
Girl 1: ‘OMG, this is the WORST hen’s night I’ve ever been to.’
Girl 2: ‘Yes! What was she thinking, who thinks bowling and karaoke would be a good time?’
Girl 1: ‘What a loser. She started the party without us too. Let’s get out of this hole and go clubbing.’ A mutual friend was standing there nodding her head at both ladies.
As I walked in, I stopped to say hello and ask about how they’re enjoying themselves. But instead, I heard everything. Their heads turned and their eyes all stared straight into mine. I stood there gaping like a fish, said nothing, turned my heels and locked myself in the toilet cubicle to have a cry and melt down.
I’m not sure how long I was in there, but long enough for people to notice and come find me. Both ladies left without saying a word and never apologized despite seeing them at mutual friend’s party later on.”
This Is Something Straight Out Of “Mean Girls”
“My sophomore year of high school, three girls bullied me mercilessly. I heard a lot of things that hurt my feelings but the worst one was this one day when my dad was helping me carry things into school for a project. We passed by one of the girls with some of her friends who didn’t know me and I heard her go, ‘Why does she dress like that? She’s so weird. She’s literally always happy about every little thing, it’s so annoying.’
My dad and I both heard it. He is very socially awkward so he couldn’t bring himself to say anything. He also didn’t want to acknowledge that he heard it because I think he thinks I didn’t want him to bring it up. I saw his heart break in his eyes. I can imagine his pain. I know I would break down in tears if someone ever said something mean about him whether he was there or not.
We both just kept walking and we stopped talking. It was a long and silent walk. I don’t know why she criticized what I was wearing. I was wearing leggings and a plain t-shirt.
I felt better in junior year, but that was short-lived. The bullying had gotten so bad that they would tweet about me and then throw me down if I tried to stand up for myself. They’d make up names for me and whisper them when I was doing presentations in class to throw me off. One time, I found out my grandmother died while I was in class and one of the girls said, ‘SHES CRYING!’ really loud. Thankfully, my teacher didn’t put up with her. They also bullied her daughter at points, but I was their main target. She would tell them off. One even physically wrecked my school project.
One day, I just couldn’t handle it. During my free period, I went to the auditorium and cried. I didn’t know the tech director was in there with some of my peers. They came up to me and I remember saying, ‘How do you handle it when someone doesn’t like you?’ And they all knew who I was talking about. I remember these sweet kids (most of them were a part of the LGBTQ+ community, and they knew what it felt like to be bullied) told me they were jealous. They told me that I was beautiful and smart and that everyone in the school (it was a tiny school) liked me and they couldn’t handle that. They also told me they couldn’t handle that I was happy in life. That always stuck with me. It changed my view. The girls were all overweight and rude and mean. They were always complaining too. It was clear they weren’t happy.
One of the mean girls tried to sabotage me in senior year by taking my project I worked for months on and tore it to shreds. It was a trifold board and she ripped everything off of it and scribbled on it. The principal knew what I was going through and told me that if I thought it was sabotage they would treat it as such, which is reason to suspend or even expel. I believe in karma, so I told them I believed her that it was an accident and she was let go with a detention.
Well, karma did get them. One of them was arrested a few weeks after graduation. Another was dumped by her boyfriend and now suffers from hair loss. The third dropped out of college (or was kicked out, which is likely for her). But I did get my own little revenge on the girl who wrecked my project before graduation. We were friends for a few months in freshman year when we were both new. I had a stick of concealer in my backpack that she always borrowed. One day, I realized it was what made me break out. I kept it in the bottom of my bag for four years without a cap collecting crumbs and dirt and bacteria. I had completely forgotten about it. This girl had the nerve to ask me to borrow it one day in senior year after wrecking my project. I gently wiped the top of it off so it appeared clean and let her borrow it. She came in later that week with horrible skin. She had broken out EVERYWHERE. I didn’t even feel bad.”