Life can get extra in the worst way possible. Deadlines, family drama, and internal bullshit can be a recipe for burnout. And when this worst-case scenario happens, who do we turn to?
We don’t really call 911. Instead, we turn to a “vent buddy.”
Though you may not know the term, you definitely have a “vent buddy” in your friend group. Think of them as an integral part of your emotional support system. They’re the exorcist of our inner demons. They’re that “one friend” who is our emergency contact when things don’t go our way, or when life gets a bit too much.
According to Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU), having a “vent buddy” can keep stress levels at bay. A 2009 study explains how “disclosing stress” is a common coping mechanism. This phenomenon is actually called co-rumination, “an excessive focus on problems and negative feelings.”
There are two ways co-rumination works: One is through co-brooding, while the other is through co-reflection. Both show the positive and negative effects of venting to our friends. Here are their definitions by Margot Bastin from the University of Leuven in Belgium, who studies adolescent behavior.
“Co-brooding tends to focus on all the potentially bad consequences of a particular problem. On the other hand, co-reflection involves speculating about specific elements of a problem in order to gain a greater understanding of the situation,” she tells Quartz.
Co-rumination is essential to friendships and is the reason why we express our frustrations to our “vent buddies.” “The safer and more attached two individuals feel, the more likely they are to engage in intense and emotionally charged sharing,” she explains. According to Bastin, venting is great, but we must be aware of how we vent. After all, apart from letting out steam, our “vent buddies” teach us empathy.
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Smart Parenting’s article on the matter reminds people that our “vent buddy” needs a “vent buddy,” too. If they took on your bullshit, take on their bullshit as well. “This can be a way to help your friend stay sane and mentally healthy and to deepen your friendship with one another.”
Getting a “vent buddy” is a must. Let out steam through rant sessions, but let them rant to you too, and have solutions for each other’s problems. Don’t fight negativity with more negativity. And of course—don’t make everything about you.
Art by Tyra Monzones