When Healthy People Vent vs When Toxic People “Vent”

I have had more people come to me with their problems during my lifetime than I can remember.  It just seems to be a fact of my life.  Most of the time, I find people usually just want someone to validate them & say things like, “I understand” or, “I’m sorry that happened to you!”  It can be draining, but I can handle that. 

Then there are the emotional vampires like narcissists who only want a listening ear.  Unlike other more functional people, they don’t want validation.  They don’t want advice.  They want to treat someone as their emotional trash can, dumping all of their negativity onto that person in order to make themselves feel better with no regard to that person’s feelings.

For a long time, I didn’t realize one of these two types of people was just using me & being toxic.  Eventually I figured out some ways to tell the difference & I hope sharing them will help you.

If someone needs to vent, often they have respect for your time.  They will ask if you have a few minutes because they need to vent.  You are free to say not now & their feelings won’t be hurt.  The more toxic the person, the less likely they will do this & the more likely they also will take up a LOT of your time.  As an added “bonus”- they won’t apologize for taking up your time when they realize they have been talking for hours.

Someone who is venting wants a solution.  If there isn’t one, they are frustrated about that fact.  A person who is toxic has no desire for a solution.  Instead, they simply ramble on & on about their issue, & every time a possible solution is offered, they offer reasons why that solution won’t work. 

Similarly, the toxic person also isn’t open to constructive criticism.  If they have done something wrong in the scenario they are discussing, they don’t want to hear about it.  They get defensive or make up excuses as to why what they did was ok & the other person was all wrong.  Healthy people are open to constructive criticism & will own up to any mistakes they have made.

If you are the listener & you try to show the speaker in this situation the perspective of someone else, a healthy person is willing to consider that.  A toxic person isn’t.  They don’t care about the other person’s perspective in the slightest, only about their own.

When the speaking person was clearly wronged, you can see the difference easily between a toxic person & a healthy one.  The toxic person will not only be upset about what happened, but will play the victim.  In other words, they will accept no responsibility for any wrong they have contributed to the situation, they will claim life is so hard & unfair for them, claim they had no other option but to be in this painful situation & more.

Toxic people in these situations also are notorious for dumping a barrage of issues at once on their listeners.  They don’t seem to notice that the listener has become overwhelmed, either.  They just keep on talking.  Healthy people don’t do this.  They vent about one issue, sometimes two, but that is all.  They also notice if their listener is feeling overwhelmed.

If you have the misfortune of one of these toxic types treating you as their trash can, my heart goes out to you!  Just remember, you have every right to set boundaries.  You can leave the room or hang up the phone.  You can refuse to take their calls if they call you often.  And yes, you even have the right to end the relationship.  Protect your mental health!

23 Comments

Filed under Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health

23 responses to “When Healthy People Vent vs When Toxic People “Vent”

  1. Cynthia, well said. You captured well the dilemma my wife faces with some of her overbearing friends. I nodded yes throughout your piece. Keith

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    • Thank you!

      I’m not surprised. It sounds like she’s dealt with this sort of thing a lot. That is so hard! My heart goes out to her!

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      • Cynthia, I am glad you mentioned what may seem like a small thing, but is telling – the lack of respect for someone else’s time. The toxic overbearing person will wax on 95% or so of the time with my wife. My wife will get in a few comments, but her main job is to listen. But, these are not short affairs – she will be with this person for two hours, unless she has somewhere she must go, even if it is a fabricated errand. Finally, some of the folks will call in the 5:30 pm to 7 pm window when we are getting ready for or eating dinner. That is insensitive, in my view. Keith

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        • It really seems small & insignificant, but truly it’s not. It is very disrespectful!

          Your poor wife! I truly feel her pain! The same has happened to me so many times. I’ve even used my cell to call house phone or vice versa so I could say, “My call waiting is beeping- I should go”. (she’s welcome to use that trick if she likes!) It seems like when people see you’re a caring person, the toxic ones think it’s now your job to care for them, to listen to them drone on & on no matter what is happening in your life & to say “You poor thing!!” rather than try to offer real help. It is utterly exhausting, inconsiderate & disrespectful!!

          I saw a short story some time back. A lady said she has a friend who knows she struggles with C-PTSD (I think? May have been another mental disorder, I forget now) & when this friend needs to talk, she asks the friend if the friend has the ability to listen for a while. The friend doesn’t just dump- she is respectful & that meant the world to this lady. I see why- that is so caring & respectful!

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          • Good suggestion. I will share that tip with her. I like the respectful example you used at the end. Keith

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            • Hopefully it helps her! I also used to ring the doorbell when I had dogs to make them bark. Then it was “doorbell rang.. you hear the dogs barking?” lol It worked! If you two have a dog, that could work for her too!

              Wasn’t that great?! I wish more folks did that. Such a good, caring friend to think of that!

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  2. kavyag

    There is this girl who feels entitled to tell me her problems whole day – literally whole day. When I block her or don’t respond to her she thinks that I am the problem and not her. Irony is she herself have narcissistic parents and yet she is treating me like this. I sometimes wish that these people die their existence is only a pain to everyone. A person with a conscience wouldn’t do it.

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  3. Thank you so much for this.. that third last paragraph made a current situation I have been dealing with painfully clear. the person keeps playing victim and they are asking something of me that is completely unfair and even when I tell them this they keep playing the victim card even going so far as to speak of suicide.. I have had to decide this week to cut contact completely I have been back and forward on it but this really helped to clarify things.. thanks again.

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  4. ibikenyc

    My world, and welcome to it!

    (If I have to hear one more complaint about a thing he COULD fix. . . )

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  5. So true, toxic people don’t listen. They hear you say things and then twist things for their benefit, I love your explanation of a healthy and unhealthy relationship.

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  6. Very, very true! Having recently disengaged from a toxic partner, I can relate to this so much. He was NEVER wrong. I was ALWAYS wrong. And, boy oh boy, if I expressed a need of my own….torrents of screaming and ranting and demands that I agree with him. It was maddening! But, it’s done and I am on the road to healing! Thanks for this blog! It was helpful! ♥︎

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