One of the best parts of any interpersonal relationship is that they offer us a safe space to open up, vent, or simply unload. We all know how much better we feel after catching up with a girlfriend over a glass of wine and getting some much-needed advice on how best to cope with an intrusive mother-in-law or the reappearance of our ex. And we also know how good it feels when we can offer heartfelt advice and support in return to the people that we love. This loving exchange is the sign of any great relationship.
There are times in our lives when we turn to our friends more than usual: who else has called their best friend 900 times when they got left heartbroken? Or needed some extra TLC from our partner when things at work are off the charts? But there can be a fine line between opening up to a friend in times of need and venting in a healthy way, and simply treating them like your trash receptacle. It’s so important to ensure that we maintain awareness around the energy we bring to the relationships in our lives and the impact that our unloading may have on another person. Sometimes we must ask ourselves whether our advice-seeking is moving from the healthy end of the friendship spectrum to the straight-up draining.
Here are a few signs that you might be using your friend/partner as your emotional dumpster…
1. You Are Overly Dependent on Them
Are you relying on this person to help you with every decision or to unpack every situation in your life? Do you reach to call and text them as soon as you are faced with any uncertainty? Are you developing an expectation for them to be on call whenever you need them? Becoming too dependent on someone can cause excessive strain to any relationship. If this is the case, it may be time to consider expanding your support network or perhaps finding a therapist who can act as a soundboard and who can help provide a more impartial perspective within your decision-making processes.
2. There Is an Imbalance:
All healthy friendships and relationships should be based on mutual respect, support, and love, but sometimes they become imbalanced. If you find yourself constantly seeking reassurance and advice from the other but are not taking time to hold space for them in return, then you will likely leave the other person feeling drained and taken advantage of. When this happens, it may be time to turn to a professional for the much-needed advice you are seeking and invest some concentrated effort back into your friendship.
3. You Ignore Their Advice
Are you turning to your friend for advice about the same thing time and time again? Have you promised to take their advice, only to do the exact opposite an hour later? You may find yourself in this kind of cycle when you are self-sabotaging. If this is happening, it may be time to begin some deeper inner work to heal any pain or trauma driving this self-sabotaging behavior.
4. Things Feel Unmanageable
No matter how well your friend/partner knows you and how much love there is between you, there are some things that simply cannot be fixed at home. Having professional support can sometimes be the best, and only, solution for problems that feel overwhelming or unmanageable. Remember, investing in yourself outside of the friendship means you’ll be able to turn up for those you love in a more meaningful way.
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