If you've gotten into the habit of venting too much about your relationship, you may notice a few negative side effects cropping up as a result. These might start to impact your relationship, your friendships, and even your own health. And that's why it's so important to be aware of how you handle your frustrations.
Of course, it's always OK to reach out to friends and family. In fact, if you just need to get something off your chest, or ask for a quick piece of relationship advice, venting can be a good thing. "When venting is healthy, the boundaries are clear: you are momentarily expressing frustration to get support and eventually seek a resolution," Michelle Farris, licensed psychotherapist and anger management specialist, tells Bustle.
If you're facing an ongoing issue, however, and you can't stop talking about it, i'll be "important to discuss these feelings with your partner or with a professional," Charese L. Josie, LCSW, therapist and owner of CJ Counseling and Consulting, tells Bustle. Because, at that point, discussing it further with anyone else will probably only lead to more issues, including some of the negative side effects listed below. Read on for a few mistakes to avoid, as well as how you may want to begin approaching venting differently.
It Can Skew Your Perspective
"Venting can inadvertently keep us from maintaining perspective," Abby Brown, PsyD, a licensed clinical psychologist at Cityscape Counseling, tells Bustle. And that's because, even though your friends are well-meaning, it can be tough for them to remain objective while listening to you vent day in and day out.
Friends will naturally be on your side, and the more you share, the more they'll turn against your partner. If you notice that they are agreeing with everything you say, or only viewing your partner in a negative way, it may be time to take a step back.
It Can Send Mixed Messages
Believe it or not, venting about your relationship can send mixed messages, even if that wasn't your intent. For example, if you vent to a friend or coworker who may be attracted to you, they can take that as an invitation to make a move, Dr. Saniyyah Mayo, a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice, tells Bustle.
If your relationship isn't ending, and you aren't looking to connect with someone else, proceed with caution, Mayo says. The last thing you want to do is vent to someone who isn't rooting for your relationship, and create an even more confusing situation.
Friends Can Jump To Conclusions
It's not uncommon for friends and family to jump to conclusions about your relationship or your partner, especially if they've gotten used to hearing you vent, and have formed opinions about your dating patterns as a result, Gabrielle Freire, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle.
Since this can result in the giving of unhelpful advice, "it might be best to talk about your relationship challenges with one or two people who know both sides of the situation, rather than just one side of the situation," Freire says.
If it seems like friends are making wild accusations or giving advice out of the blue, cut back on the venting for a while.
You Might Not Resolve The Issue
If, rather than sitting down and discussing an issue directly with your partner, you choose to complain to your family and friends instead, you can't really expect the issue to ever be resolved, Christine Scott-Hudson, MA, MFT, ATR, a licensed psychotherapist, tells Bustle. "It is much more respectful, and ultimately, more productive to be proactive in resolving conflict," she says, "by communicating your needs and concerns directly with your partner."
Of course, it's always OK to complain about everyday annoyances in your relationship, and laugh it off with friends. But for bigger stuff, you should keep it in the family, so to speak, and go directly to your partner instead.
It Can Be Tough To Undo Negative Opinions
If all you ever do is vent about your partner, without ever sharing fun stories or positive things, then it's going to be really tough for friends and family to form a good opinion of them.
Even if you've moved past whatever you were venting about, it can be very hard to undo their negative opinion, after hearing your anguish and pain, Dr. Deidra A. Sorrell, a licensed professional counselor, tells Bustle.
And while that's understandable, this predicament can be avoided by choosing to vent less often. Or, at the very least, also talking about the positive aspects of your relationship.
You Might Receive Unhelpful Advice
"If you make a practice of venting, you're really put yourself at risk for getting some advice that may not fit your needs and your relationship," Freire says. For example, if your partner cancelled plans at the last minute, and this is the third time they've cancelled last minute in the past two months, your best friend may suggest that you leave your partner, she says.
But what if your partner is working late to pay off bills, and your best friend doesn't know that? As Freire says, "That 'shoot from the hip' advice may not take into account the full picture." And it can truly steer you wrong.
It Can Turn Into Gossip
Unfortunately, "venting can quickly turn into other people gossiping about your life," Michelle Terry, MA, LMHC, a licensed mental health counselor, tells Bustle. "It's a risk every time you tell someone what's going on in your relationship."
So be careful about who you talk to, and what you say, especially if it's private information. It can help to speak with a friend who doesn't know your partner, Terry says. But even more helpful to turn to a therapist.
You'll know that everything you say will be kept private, she says, and a therapist can help you make changes that will improve your relationship.
It Can Wear People Down
While it's fine to vent to friends and family on occasion, going overboard can put a strain on your relationships, tire friends out, and make others feel overwhelmed.
"If you want to get a sense of how your venting affects people, ask them," Karen R. Koenig, MEd, LCSW, a licensed psychotherapist and author, tells Bustle. "If they’re honest, they’ll tell you if they think it’s helpful for you and how it feels to them."
They might be willing to listen, but may also suggest other ways for you to feel better, such as seeing a therapist, talking to your partner, or getting out smaller frustrations in a constructive way, possibly by exercising.
It Can Damage Your Partner's Reputation
It's so easy to say things in the heat of the moment that you really don't mean. But while you may move on, keep in mind that whoever you vented to now has that information.
That's why, as Mayo says, you should never vent to someone who doesn't like your partner, such as a friend who's developed a negative opinion, as they can take that info and run with it. And it can unfairly impact your partner.
It Can Impact Future Get-Togethers
If you're venting 24/7, and your friends and family start to form negative opinions about your partner, it can make for a pretty awkward situation the next time you're all together, Dr. Fran Walfish, a family and relationship psychotherapist, tells Bustle.
This can even lead to your partner bailing on get-togethers, Walfish says, or not wanting to be involved in family gatherings. "It’s best to talk to a therapist, counselor, or other clean-slate person rather than spreading bad press about your partner and then regretting it," she says.
Because, while there is such a thing as positive and constructive venting, it can easily turn into a negative, and lead to all sorts of unwanted side effects.
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