We get in the door of our friend’s apartment, we drop our keys and our bag in a heap on the nearest elevated surface, and we launch into our burdens and woes in the same breath as our greeting. Or maybe we feign a little half-assed “how are you” with a glazed look in our eye, impatiently waiting our turn to go full steam ahead.
OK, maybe it’s not always that obvious (but we’ve all been there). Sometimes it’s more nuanced. Maybe it’s more like anytime a friend calls or reaches out, we get that urge to express all that is unholy in our lives, ASAP. Because that’s what friends are for, right? Well, in a way, certainly. But there is an art to a vent sesh, especially in a loving, symbiotic, reciprocal relationship. We spoke with medical and spiritual intuitive and licensed counselor, Katie Beecher, on the topic, because she’s an expert in helping people use their intuition to communicate and heal.
“We have all known a ‘dumper,’” Beecher starts, and we’ve probably all been one! And yes, it’s as unflattering as it sounds. “It’s ‘that person’ who talks about themselves and their problems, without stopping to consider what other people are feeling or doing. They might even get angry if you aren’t available to listen, even if you are in the middle of something important. They are the people who make you grateful for caller ID.”
Before slamming your face into your palm if this sounds even remotely like you, be easy on yourself. We’ve most likely all been there, especially in these incredibly rocky, uncertain times. It’s about finding awareness and accessing growth as both a friend and partner in these circumstances.
Beecher states that in her experience, “People like this usually aren’t uncaring or narcissistic, they are just caught up in their own emotions and pain so much that they are unaware of how their behavior is impacting others.” And, it’s possible that they “come from families where boundaries were not respected, so they never learned how to set them.”
But, of course, there is a big difference between venting and dumping. Beecher clarifies, “It’s very important not to hold in our feelings, but we need to do it appropriately and with consideration of others. We need to appreciate the people in our lives who are willing to listen and respect their time and their feelings. No matter how much you may need to talk about what you are going through, if a friend is stressed or hurting, the last thing they want or need is to hear about someone else’s problems. It’s important to understand that and not take it personally.”
If we’re being a “dumper,” we’d hate to be avoided due to that behavior, so it’s important not to do that to a friend who happens to be dumping on us, too. “Avoiding them won’t solve the problem and may even make the situation worse. Setting healthy boundaries is an important part of self-care, and when you do it, you are modeling that behavior for others as well,” Beecher explains. Letting someone know how we’re feeling so we can avoid being dumped on is just as important as considering someone else’s state prior to our own unburdening. It’s an act of loving awareness on both sides.
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