“I hate him so much!” “This is so unfair.” “I’m going to go broke by the time this divorce is over!” “Why is God doing this to me?” “I hate my life.” “Who’s going to want me now that I’m 45 and single again?” “He already has a girlfriend!” “My kids are going to grow up so messed up.” “I’m scared.” “Last week, he threw the child support check at me.” “He’s such a jerk.” “I can’t even be in the same room with him!” “He makes me sick!” Sound familiar? These are all examples of what venting to someone might look like.
What does venting mean?
Venting is expressing yourself verbally, usually with a lot of emotion. I know this because I vent a lot. I vented a ton during my divorce, and I still vent today—about many things in my life. I think venting to someone is one of the healthiest ways of coping with fear, anxiety, anger, and other emotions. But what happens when you vent to someone and you get a reaction you don’t want?
Here are some examples of not getting what you want when you vent to someone:
1. Oh, wow, that never happened to me. (I’m sorry, are we talking about you? And how is telling me you’ve never had this problem helpful?
2. Stop complaining. You have your health, don’t you? (So I’m not allowed to express how devastated I am about my husband and I getting divorced because I don’t have cancer?)
3. You’ll be fine. (That’s a nice thing to say, but I’m not fine now! I’m infuriated and I just want to scream!)
4. Let me give you some advice…(I don’t want your advice! I just want to feel heard and validated, like I’m not going crazy!)
Why people vent:
I vent because if something is really bothering me, venting to someone about it is extremely cathartic. People don’t vent because they want advice from the person they are venting to. They usually don’t expect anything from that person except for them to HEAR what we’re venting about.
People who vent want to feel validated. They want people to understand how much pain they are in, how much fear they have, how angry they are. I don’t even think people venting want the other person to respond with something like, “Yeah, I hate him too!” Or “You’re right, he is an asshole.” Well, maybe they do. It certainly can’t hurt, right?!
Venting has so many benefits, even if the person you are venting to isn’t even listening! (which half the time, I think people tune out during a venting rant.)
The benefits of venting:
1. Venting is equivalent to “getting something off your chest.” When you do this, you immediately feel like weight is lifted off of you—like you got out some of your frustration. I actually often feel tired after venting. Venting takes energy because there is so much emotion happening.
2. Venting will make you a nicer person because you don’t have all of this toxicity bottled up inside of you.
3. Venting will show you a lot about the person you are venting to. What was the reaction? Was it one of my above reactions (of what not to say?) Or, did the person just nod and show empathy and listen? (which is a great reaction to venting.)
4. Venting might stop you from calling your soon-to-be-ex and going off on him! Think about it. Once you get those words out, you might not feel you need to say them again.
5. Venting can be done on paper, by the way. If you want to vent, but no one is around or you feel like you are venting too much to your friends and family, try journaling your pain and frustration.
If you think about it, journaling is venting. And the bonus you get by venting on paper is that you can re-read it at any time and get that validation again. So, it’s like you’re venting again.
Who you shouldn’t vent to, and when you should and shouldn’t vent:
1. Vent to: a therapist or in a support group, or to a close family member or friend. But be careful. You don’t want what you say to get back to your soon-to-be ex. So make sure you are venting to people you really trust.
2. Do not vent to: Your soon-to-be ex’s family or friends, or anyone in your community who is gossipy. Also, do not vent on a public Facebook page! The negatives that happen when you do that could be an entirely different article.
3. Don’t vent too much—in other words, don’t start venting every time you talk to or get together with your girlfriends. That can cause burnout, and they might stop returning your calls. Remember that everyone has problems-even those who are happily married, and they might want to vent, too.
Venting is healthy and I would highly recommend it. But one more piece of advice…
The other day, I called my mom and started venting about a problem I’m having. I found myself yelling at her as she tried to console me because I didn’t want to be consoled. I just wanted to express my frustration, fear, disappointment, and anxiety. So, my last piece of advice about venting to someone is, if you are mean to that person, call them back and apologize, and let them know it has nothing to do with them, that you just needed to vent.