Rules of Venting

Venting can be therapeutic and allow people to become closer. It can also allow us to talk through our problems and understand each other better. But it can just as easily annoy, exhaust, and upset us. It can be hard to find a balance.

I’ve learned a few things over the years that might help you to air out your grievances without bringing your friends down with you.

1. Know who you can talk to.

Not everyone is a good person to vent to about everything. Maybe your mother always tries to offer advice whether you asked for it or not. Maybe your best friend doesn’t feel comfortable talking about relationship woes because they’re going through their own issues.

To avoid friction between you and your loved ones, keep these things in mind before you turn to someone for help. Don’t be afraid to defend your own boundaries, either. If somebody starts talking about a topic that makes you feel uncomfortable, let them know right away. It’s better to cut an unpleasant conversation short than to let negative feelings fester.

2. Ask if they have time/energy.

Even the most understanding person might still have circumstances that take priority. Or maybe they had an exhausting day and can barely make small talk let alone listen to and process a long rant.

It’s always a good idea to ask if the person you want to talk to has the time and the mental/emotional energy.

If you’re the one being vented to, and you’re starting to feel drained, let the other person know. Some people tend to be short-tempered when they’re tired, which can lead to tragic misunderstandings.

3. Establish why you’re venting.

Do you need advice, or do you just need a listening ear? Maybe you need both. Mention this beforehand so that it’s easier for the other person to know how to respond. And if you’re on the receiving end of it, respect the person’s wishes. Don’t offer unsolicited advice.

If they ask for advice and you don’t know what to say, be honest with them and help guide them towards resources that might be more helpful.

4. Recognize when venting isn’t helping.

Venting should make you feel relieved, not worse. If after a while you find that you’re repeating yourself, your mind isn’t any clearer, or your blood is boiling, it might be time to take a step back.

Maybe the conversation went off track and isn’t headed in a helpful direction. Maybe the solution to the problem is action rather than words. Maybe you need rest and self-care more than you need to vent. For your sake and the sake of the listener, keep track of your emotions and conversation. If you’re the listener and you sense that the conversation doesn’t seem to be very helpful, speak up. Try to steer the conversation to a more constructive place or wrap it up instead.

5. Don’t let venting monopolize the relationship.

This route can be tempting if you’ve been dealing with a frustrating or upsetting situation for a while, but relationships are give and take. It can’t be doom and gloom all the time. Spending time with people simply to spend time with them can do wonders for your mental and emotional health. It provides you with happy memories and positive interactions.

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