There’s nothing wrong with venting. It’s necessary. Healthy, even. We all do it, which is it’s only fair that we give our friends the space and attention to vent to us.
Among the 11 Signs of a Genuine Friendship are the qualities of being present, listening, and helping with stress. This means that being a good friend requires lending an ear when your bestie has a complaint to air.
But sometimes friends are like broken records. It could be the same problem that keeps recurring in her life or perhaps, a single incident that she just can’t get past. Here’s how to stay supportive, even when you’re sick of it.
Make her feel comfortable
Any great friend will listen, but you should go the extra mile. Clear a Tuesday night for her. Pick up moscato and cupcakes, and let her know she has the floor. She’ll be grateful you allotted this time for her and as a result, might ease up on the here-and-there complaints.
Help her solve her problems
There’s nothing to complain about if there are no problems to begin with. Let her know your genuine thoughts. If you think she should stand up to a bad roommate or find a new job, say so. Offer up advice, but also don’t assume she’ll follow it.
As therapist Miriam Kirmayer says, “It’s really easy to feel like we are spinning in circles when a friend keeps asking for and refusing our advice, and this makes it difficult to know how to continue to support them or intervene.”
Give a bit of time and space to see if your friend actually wants to take your advice or if she’s just searching for validation and comfort. Ultimately, it’s up to her to change her circumstances.
Remember the times she was a good friend to you
In a trying situation like this, it can be helpful to take a brief walk down memory lane to recollect all the moments during which she was a good friend to you. Maybe she comforted you after a breakup or reassured you when you were nervous about applying to grad schools. No one ever said friendship was easy, but when you have a great friend, it’s worth it. So be the great friend to her that she’s been to you.
Set boundaries for yourself
There will come a time when you can tell whether someone is complaining about a particular situation and someone is a chronic complainer. It is not your responsibility to fulfill the roles of life coach, parent, or therapist. Even the ladies of Sex and the City gave Carrie an intervention when she wouldn’t stop talking about Mr. Big post-breakup.
If you feel that you need to distance yourself from constant complaining, do so in a kind and gentle manner. Self-care is essential to emotional health. If you’re not emotionally healthy yourself, it can inhibit your ability to be a good friend. Never allow yourself to believe that setting limits makes you a bad friend.