YOU'RE THE ONLY ONE I CAN TELL                                           Inside the Language of Women's Friendships

#5 on the washington post nonfiction bestseller list

Through research into the unique ways women talk to one another, this warm and wise exploration of female friendship will help women lean into the comfort these powerful relationships offer and avoid the hurt feelings that come from common miscommunications.

Best friend, old friend, good friend, bff, college roommate, neighbor, workplace confidante: Women’s friendships are a lifeline in times of trouble and a support system for daily life. A friend can be like a sister, daughter, mother, mentor, therapist, or confessor—or she can be all of these at once. She’s seen you at your worst and celebrates you at your best. Figuring out what it means to be friends is, in the end, no less than figuring out how we connect to other people.
In this illuminating and validating new book, New York Times bestselling author Deborah Tannen deconstructs the ways women friends talk and how those ways can bring friends closer or pull them apart. From casual chatting to intimate confiding, from talking about problems to telling what you had for dinner, Tannen uncovers the patterns of communication and miscommunication that affect friendships at different points in our lives. She shows how even the best of friends—with the best intentions—can say the wrong thing, and how words can repair the damage done by words. Through Tannen’s signature insight, humor, and ability to present pitch-perfect real-life dialogue, readers will see themselves and their friendships on every page. The book explains

• the power of women friends who show empathy, give advice—or just listen
• how women use talk to connect to friends—and to subtly compete
• how “Fear of Being Left Out” and “Fear of Getting Kicked Out” can haunt women’s friendships
• how social media is reshaping communication and relationships

Drawing on interviews with eighty women of diverse backgrounds, ranging in age from nine to ninety-seven, You’re the Only One I Can Tell gets to the heart of women’s friendships—how they work or fail, how they help or hurt, and how we can make them better.

Watch a video of Deborah Tannen's talk about the book here.

Listen to an audio recording of Deborah Tannen's talk about the book here

in the media

Listen to Deborah Tannen's interview on NPR's WPR The Joy Cardin Show

Listen to Deborah Tannen's interview on's Lexicon Valley podcast.

Listen to Deborah Tannen's live interview on NPR's 1A.

Listen to Deborah Tannen's interview on WESU's For Women Over 40.

Read Deborah's Tannen's article on

Read Deborah's Tannen's article in The New York Times.

Read Deborah Tannen's article in The Atlantic.

Read Deborah Tannen's article in New York Magazine


Wall Street Journal Review

buy the Book

Barnes & Noble / Amazon / iBooks / Penguin Random House 

Indiebound / Find an Independent Bookseller Near You

upcoming public appearances


may 23 at 3:30 pm                                             vi at palo alto                                                   palto alto, ca                                                    vi website

may 24 at 7:00 pm                                             books, inc.                                                    1491 shattuck ave, berkeley, ca                     event details here

may 25 at 7:00 pm                                               book passage                                                   sausalito, ca                                               event details here    

june 2 at 7:00 pm                                             unitarian universalist fellowship of redwood city, ca                                             $20 donation recommended for a benefit for the second harvest food bank        uufrc website                                 

maryland/washington, DC

june 15 at 7:30 pm                                             Friendship heights village center               chevy chase, md                                             village center website