It’s suggested that people feel their emotions instead of keeping them internalized. But do you recognize the moments when you’re guilty of emotional dumping or venting?
When letting frustrations go, there’s an appropriate way to do so. It means showing consideration for everyone who is kind enough to listen.
No one wants to have friends, loved ones, or even a mate avoid conversations. It’s vital to carry yourself in the same way you would want to be treated.
Healthy boundaries are a critical component of your well-being. In setting these, you lead by example.
In this way, others will know how far to take their own unleashing of emotions. You will have the same consideration in recognizing the individual’s emotional state before you proceed with unburdening your frustrations as well, sort of a gesture of respect for each side.
What is emotional dumping?
When attempting to describe what is emotional dumping, the behavior is essentially venting but of a toxic level.
You might be unloading emotional distress without permission from the individual overwhelmed by the information or feelings, and the person listening might not be ready for such a heavy topic.
While expressing worries, fears, and even discussing stressors left to fester allows the processing of those challenges; toxic emotional dumping occurs when you share unconsciously, inappropriately, and with hopes of repeatedly receiving a similar empathetic response.
The need for continued validation creates an awkwardness causing your “audience” to find ways to distance themselves from you. That’s primarily because the mate, friend, or family member doesn’t know how to respond, plus there’s a degree of discomfort in listening to intimate emotional details.
Not to mention a developing resentment for you not recognizing how emotional dumping vs. emotional sharing can affect those around you.
Examples of emotional dumping
Emotional dumping is a behavior that drains the energy of the individuals held captive by those dumping loads of personal thoughts and feelings on them. Some examples of emotional dumping include:
No compromising or attempt to find a solution to the issue, only a need for validation
The problem is either repetitive or dumping a bunch of issues on someone
Discussions happen at will, not on any specific or designated schedule, so most people are caught unaware
5 signs of emotional dumping
When you believe you’re venting to someone, but these people are starting to find excuses for putting space between themselves and you, more dumping might be pushing your friends, family, and even a partner away.
While “dumpers” are typically unaware of their behavior, there are signs of emotional dumping that you can make yourself aware of. Check these out:
1. You don’t check on people
Asking those in your social circle about their life doesn’t cross your mind, nor do you provide a safe zone for them to seek advice.
2. One-sided relationships
Relationships are typically one-sided, with you sharing but neglecting to listen or hear personal experiences from their side.
While you share your emotions and feelings, you don’t give anyone the opportunity to voice their take on the experience.
4. Repeating past patterns
Without progressing forward, finding a coping method, or even reframing the content, you will repeatedly go over the same experience.
5. Overwhelming the person with your stress
Sharing emotionally at an inappropriate moment or a time when the person you’re discussing your feelings with is in a vulnerable or stressed state themselves.
Here is a video on what an “energy vampire” is and how draining this person can be.
Emotional dumping vs. venting: What’s the difference?
When looking at emotional dumping vs. venting, the two differ in that dumping is a much more toxic scenario than venting. Venting, when handled appropriately, can be a healthy exchange between two people and is usually focused on one topic with the intention of finding a solution.
When the “audience” of someone who dumps steps away, these people are left feeling overwhelmed and exhausted from the exchange. They have often been caught unaware when the partner, friend, or loved one comes along with a load of feelings, emotions, or even trauma they weren’t anticipating and generally at the most inopportune moment.
With venting vs. dumping, the venting couple is sharing their emotions. Still, in the dumping situation, the person doing the dumping is not concerned with the other person’s feelings at all.
It is a one-sided partnership with no room for a mate to get support or express themself.
In this podcastwith Dr. Caroline Leaf, she goes into greater detail on healthy venting vs. emotional dumping.
5 methods for creating boundaries against emotional dumping
Learning how to stop emotional dumping means you might have to set some boundaries or intentions with the person doing the dumping.
It’s essential to recognize the differences between emotional dumping vs. venting first to make sure there isn’t one specific issue that the two of you need to work towards a resolution.
If you’re dealing with emotional dumping relationships, whether friends, family, or even a partner, it’s crucial to find a healthy way to respond that will effectively break the pattern, similarly to how to respond when someone is venting – with a set of rules. Let’s check some of these out.
1. You’re not capable of actively listening to the problem
Suppose you have an emotional dumping spouse who is draining your energy and wants to break the pattern.
In that case, a boundary you can place on the mate is to indicate that you recognize their pain, but while you would like to provide the needed support, you simply have no capacity for listening in that moment.
You can offer alternatives like perhaps reaching out to someone in their social circle more capable of handling these sorts of issues, contacting a counselor to guide them through the problem, or coping through various practices, including meditation .
2. Set a timer for the discussion
Another construction way to handle emotional dumping vs. venting is to set a timer for the conversation when you see the person approaching and have an understanding of what’s about to transpire.
Explain what you’re doing and let them know that you only have perhaps 15 minutes for the discussion. Ask them if that will be okay for them. When the timer goes off, end the dialogue.
When someone attempts to drain your energy without your consent, you will need to stop the conversation at the start.
Let the person know you wish they would have informed you they needed someone to offer support to ensure you had the energy to do so instead of just presuming it would be okay.
Let them know a better day that you can have the discussion when you are more prepared to listen.
You can check out this bookentitled “Dodging Energy Vampires” to learn more about how to handle these situations.
4. Letting the individual know the conversation is too uncomfortable
In some situations, emotional dumping vs. venting can simply be too awkward, depending on the conversation and the scope of your relationship.
Suppose someone suddenly and abruptly begins speaking to you at an inappropriate moment about an emotional situation that you feel uncomfortable talking with them about.
In that case, it’s okay to stop the discussion and let the individual know you would prefer to keep your dialog less intimate. That’s a fair and reasonable boundary.
5. Put some distance between the two of you
When looking at emotional dumping vs. venting, there is less two-sided interaction and a more one-sided relationship. Because of that, one person is left to feel isolated from friendships, a partnership, or even relatives.
In some cases, a boundary that might need to be set is that you spend limited amounts of time together or distance yourself from that person for personal well-being.
It’s okay to be honest with the individual about why it’s necessary to give them a fair chance to decide if the limited relationship works for them.
What is venting?
Venting is when two people express feelings, emotions, or thought processes. It can be a helpful way to discuss negative emotions that might otherwise become internalized and get worse over time.
Talking things through in this way means to alleviate stress and can make people feel better if each person plays an active part in listening during the outburst, however . . .
The suggestion is that people vent while in an angry state or an emotional condition. In contrast, if individuals would wait until they cool down and regain their composure to express themselves calmly with a more positive mindset, it would be much more healing in the grand scheme.
So, generally speaking, when we run to someone ready to vent, we’re high off of an angry tirade due to something someone did to us or an event that created anger and frustration within us. We need to get those negative feelings out and do so in an outburst of emotion.
We can either cope with these feelings on our own until they dissipate and then talk them out with someone when we become calm.
Or go to a friend, family member, or mate at the height of our emotion and relieve that stress and agitation until we become calm and de-stressed – which is better? That might be a bit of a debate for some.
Venting can be healthy in a partnership if the mates acceptably use the tool. It’s wise to use emotion healthfully when attempting to have a rational discussion or communicate effectively. Some signs that you’re using a healthy venting pattern include:
1. Emotion can’t be avoided altogether
Emotion can’t be entirely avoided when venting in a relationship, but choosing to react as healthfully as possible is the idea. That would require taking a second to consider your next move before making it.
Something to consider is your dialogue. Instead of using “you” statements, speak with “I” as the focus. You don’t want to start pointing fingers or blaming others for your feelings; instead, indicate, “I felt this way because.”
Avoid trying to cram all the problems in one sitting. When engaging in healthy venting, couples will stay with a single topic working through that issue until there’s a solution, and make a mental note to handle separate things another time.
Something that should never be done is bringing up issues already previously resolved. If you felt there was not a satisfactory solution, that should have been dealt with at that time. The past is now in the past.
3. Open yourself up to a solution
With healthy venting, you should always consider what you hope to gain from the behavior with your partner.
No one should give up because the problem might be somewhat challenging, or someone is trying to take the role of the victim, and there should be no brushing the problem aside with no resolution. These things will come back to cause more significant issues later.
Work together through the session to construct a satisfactory solution for each person’s needs.
4. Writing or journaling your emotions
A suggestion for healthy venting is to write or journal your feelings and emotions in an effort to organize these before approaching your mate. This can bring you to a calmer mindset allowing you to recognize your genuine thoughts on the issue at hand to discuss it with greater clarity.
5. Paying attention and hearing the other person
When you actively listen while someone is venting emotions, the mate feels as though their perspective is acknowledged making the session a healthy, productive discussion.
Each of you will understand the issue differently, making it vital that you take the time to hear the other person’s point of view in order to work through the problem more effectively.
When looking at emotional dumping vs. venting, the two are sort of opposite ends of the spectrum. Dumping involves one person voicing their concerns and feelings to an audience for validation.
Venting, on the other hand, or healthy venting, let’s be clear, requires two people engaging in a somewhat emotional dialogue in an effort to come to some kind of resolution that will satisfy each person’s needs or, in the case of a friendship, help the individual who is having the difficulty.
The commonalities with both are there need to be healthy boundaries set and good intentions for everyone’s greatest good. The only ones who might face some difficulties with boundaries are the emotional dumpers.
Still, if you offer them alternatives for people they can reach out to, most would benefit from therapy, and they will likely do much better than dumping on people who have no capacity to genuinely help them.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.