By Barton Goldsmith Tribune News Service
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Therapist Barton Goldmsith explains why it is important to be careful when venting about relationships to our friends. It may seem counterintuitive, but Goldsmith suggests our BFFs are often NOT the best people to talk with about our boyfriend/girlfriend troubles.
Tribune News Service
Most people are aware that talking about your troubles to a trusted friend can be helpful, right? Well, most unfortunately, it's not always a good idea.
Imagine this scenario: you go to your BFF to help you deal with some relationship issues you're having with your mate. The two of you have been friends for years, you trust each other, and you have been there for each other in times of stress. Yes, it does seem that this is a safe place to vent your feelings and get some support. But it doesn't always go that way, and here is how it can backfire.
When we are upset, we can be a little overly dramatic and color the situation as we see it without recognizing our significant other's point of view. As you bash your partner (even though you may still deeply love him or her), the friend who is listening to you may unconsciously take in all your pain and develop some resentment toward the person who has hurt you.
Even if your friend knows your partner, your friend is still your BFF, not your partner's, which is why you chose to talk with this friend in the first place, right?
Now let's project down the road a few weeks. It seems that the fight with your mate has blown over, you are back together and lovebirds once again, and the rancor has disappeared. Things are going great, and you are having lunch again with your BFF, whom you haven't seen since the big fight.
At lunch, the talk immediately goes to how things are. Your friend may be expecting you to be in the same place, upset and angry about your partner's behavior, but you are no longer there. Suddenly, you and your friend are no longer connecting.
Unfortunately, your friend was not around for the healing and reconnecting process you did with your other half but is still upset with your partner and may not want to get on the bandwagon of "my life and love are great!"
Now your friend is sitting with the discomfort of how to deal with his or her own feelings as well as incorporate your resolution and reconnection with your partner. So your BFF may not be able to be as supportive as you would like. Feeling your friend's inability to join you in your happiness may cause you to back away emotionally from him or her. Not good.
This is why it is so important to be careful when venting to someone who loves us and wants to be on our side. It may seem counterintuitive, but our BFFs are often not the best people to talk with about our relationship troubles.
After thirty years of counseling, the scenario I just described is something I have heard happen many, many times. It is a mistake that most of us have made at one point or another. It's wiser to at least filter some of your feelings before sharing them with a good friend. It's a rare friend who can give you objective feedback when you are expressing unfiltered emotional pain. And you need greater objectivity to see things appropriately.
So when you and your mate have hit a speed bump, slow down and think about your feelings, even write them down. It may save you from getting angry and sad. And if you need to talk to someone, I highly recommend that you choose someone who can see the whole relationship, not just your side of it. ___ (Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of "The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.")