While a healthy dose of venting is certainly vital to healing from a traumatic event like a breakup, there's a fine line between processing and ruminating. And talking through the same problems over and over again isn't just detrimental to your own mental health—it can wear on your friendships, too. Here's what you need to know about how to balance talking through your problems and taking your venting too far.
Are Your Rehabbing Or Ruminating? Here's When To Stop Talking About Your Breakup
The benefits of talking it out.
Whether you were blindsided or your breakup was a long time coming, if you're struggling to see your situation clearly, talking it out is important. As Jennifer L. Taitz, certified clinical psychologist and author of How to Be Single and Happy, explains, getting perspective and support from a close friend is vital. "Being vulnerable and honest is essential for being close," she explains, adding, "actually, I met one of my closest friends when I asked her how she was coping post broken engagement and shared I was going through the same thing. We barely knew each other at the time, just shared mutual friends and went to the same fitness studio. You can open up to people and you should wholeheartedly take interest in others."
Yes, talking it out too many times can be detrimental.
Linda Carroll, a licensed marriage and family therapist, believes people get a bit of an endorphin rush from rehashing a tragic event like a breakup. "When anthropologist Helen Fisher examined people’s brains who were grieving a relationship's end, she found the part of the brain which lit up was the same as when a person was physically burned. In other words, the pain Is physical," she says. "I suggest you get a week to rage and rave and grieve full time. Then it should decrease by 10 percent a week. If that isn’t happening, it might be time to see a professional—your friends are not equipped to help at this point, and I encourage people to get help before it becomes a part of your identity."
While Taitz doesn't believe following any particular is necessary, she cautions that venting about your own problems for weeks or months on end can put your nonromantic relationships at risk. "Consider whether you’re being reciprocal and balancing time with a friend so you focus on both your needs," she says.
She adds that a fun night out can often prove to be a lot more helpful to the healing process than a night spent rehashing the same problems over and over again. "If you're going through something miserable, a night out can be replenishing," she explains. "People don’t love it when others go on and on about the same issues, and it probably isn't serving you either."
What Taitz encourages people to do is think about if ruminating is actually making them happier or helping them heal. In most cases, rumination only makes them more unhappy. "Think about if that is helping you live better," she says. "Learning to be in the moment is a proven path to feeling happier, and obsessing is guaranteed to make you sad."
Love learning more about how relationships really work? Here's why being in a relationship won't actually make you happier.