If you’ve been through a rough breakup, where you've been mistreated in any way—cheated on, emotionally or physically abused, having had to deal with a narcissist, psychopath, or sociopath—you probably have the urge to exorcise those demons by talking out the bad stuff. And, while venting to a close, trusted companion or a therapist can be cathartic, you need to be careful about how and with whom you do it. Here are a few things to consider:
1. Many people prefer not to take sides.
I’m sure you’ve heard people say, "You just weren’t a match." That’s what they say when they don’t want to take sides or get involved. Even your best friends might say this, especially if they’ve heard the same story too many times. They’ll give you a sympathetic ear for a while, but then they brush it off with "he/she just wasn’t right for you." Aggravating, yes, because, to you, it doesn't feel like a blameless breakup—but you’ve got to let them off the hook. They just want to see you happy and are hoping leaving your relationship that "didn’t work" will help you find your well-being again.
2. Some people may need to keep interacting with your ex.
Perhaps your ex still haunts the places where they socialize, maybe they see the person at work, or they just want to keep them as a Facebook friend. There's no need to create drama with the friends you still have, unless your ex was abusive and the only way to keep yourself safe is to cut all ties. In those cases, it's absolutely your right to expect your close friends to sever their connection with the ex as well.
3. You can't save the next victim.
This is often one of our strongest rationales for spreading the truth about an ex who turned out to be a wolf in sheep's clothing: to forewarn their next victims and save them years of misery. The only problem is that those conquests are not going to believe you. They’ll just chalk up your remarks to bitterness while continuing with their infatuation. As hard as it is, you just have to let them learn their own lessons, even if it has to be the hard way.
4. Preoccupation feeds attachment.
Whether you decide to speak out or not, limit the amount of time you spend talking and thinking about your ex. Even this potentially empowering act can perpetuate your unhealthy attachment if you give it too much power. And the longer you stay attached, the less able you are to move on. It’s unhealthy, it’s unattractive, and eventually, even you will find it boring.
5. You'll be best served letting a therapist or support group be your open ear.
There are places for venting—support groups, coaches, or therapists. If you were at all abused, reach out to counselors and support groups specifically intended for survivors. That's where real recovery begins.
Want more insight into your relationships? Find out the five things couples who stay together do every day and the ways your sex life can show you what's wrong in your relationship.