Life can be full of frustrations, and all of us handle them differently. For some of us, we bottle it up and keep our feelings to ourselves; for others, talking can be a great source of comfort and can bring a sense of resolution.
But what does it mean when a girl you know and like starts venting to you? Do you wonder if it means something more or do you try to solve her problems? Does it in fact mean anything at all?
Regardless of the reasons for it, I’ll outline some healthy ways you can interpret this behavior while also giving you the tools to support your friend through what they’re going through.
What is venting?
Venting can have both positive and negative expressions. When someone takes their frustrations out on you by venting at you, this can be an extremely unhealthy and toxic dynamic; however, when someone is venting to you, this can be a way for this person to purge the feelings or thoughts they’ve been struggling with, not necessarily about you, in order to find some kind of release.
Yes, it can be forceful, but when not directed at you, it is quite natural.
Regardless of gender, we all need to get things off our chest in order to process our emotions. This is why having good friends is vital.
What does it mean when a girl vents to you?
The first takeaway is that if anyone is willing to vent to you by expressing their feelings and emotions, it means they trust you and value your friendship. They believe that you won’t expose or exploit that information.
It also means they value your opinion. If they’re willing to trust you, it means they’re probably willing to hear what you have to say about it too. While giving somebody advice is not the first port of call when someone vents to you, you’ll have the opportunity to impart some of your wisdom at a later point when your friend is no longer so wound up.
Often, your friend is also looking for validation. They might feel they’ve been cheated or treated poorly, and they want sympathy and understanding. This is why advice is not always the route to go down: problems can often solve themselves, but those raw emotions that get in the way of our ability to process need to be dealt with first. The fact they’re talking to you means that they see you as a safe space. It’s important not to abuse that if you truly value their friendship.
One important thing to note is that trust does not necessarily indicate sexual attraction or a desire for physical intimacy. Trust is earned, so you’ve been doing something right, but trust can also be lost by misinterpreting signals.
And venting is a strong signal, by all accounts. If a girl vents to you, it can be tempting to layer further meaning onto it. The sharing of personal experiences can lead to a feeling of closeness and intimacy that may not necessarily have anything sexual attached, but we can find ourselves interpreting these signals as something more.
So if you find yourself wondering if the girl you’re listening to is attracted to you, take a moment to pause and re-center. If she is, you’ll find out; but if she isn’t, you’re not supporting her in the moment, and that can harm your relationship with her long term.
What do I do when a girl vents to me?
So what can you do when a girl, or indeed anyone, vents to you?
Here’s a short list of ways you can support your friends and help them process what they’re going through.
- Pay attention to what they say: listen actively, don’t just nod and smile. If you want any sort of meaningful relationship with this person, you’re going to need to remember what they’ve said when they’ve bared their soul to you.
- Validate their feelings: you may not agree with what they’ve said or what they feel, but you cannot alter how they’ve perceived it. Denying their right to those feelings by implying they’re not right or fair will do more damage to your relationship over the long term than you realize presently.
- Offer support and give comfort: respond to what they’re telling you and empathize. Consider how you’d like to be treated in the same situation and offer the same level of support. We don’t want others to railroad or gaslight us; treat others how you’d like to be treated.
- If asked, and ONLY if asked, give advice: when people vent, they are usually releasing a ton of pent-up tension. If you batter them with unwarranted advice, you may find they clam up and refuse to open up to you again in the future. That being said, if they ask for your advice, feel free to give them your opinion sensitively and gently, being sure you continue to validate their feelings. It will show that you’ve been listening and have considered their perspective.
- Don’t ever go public with what they’ve shared: what someone shares with you is personal. Keep it that way in order to maintain your friendships. There is nothing worse than being sold out by someone you put your trust in, and it can forever ruin friendships.
Supporting those who vent to you
When someone vents to you, it’s a really positive sign. It means they trust you and value your friendship and insight. While it can be tempting to read into those signs, particularly if it’s a girl and you’re attracted to girls, the best way you can respond is to listen, support and encourage them and ignore your own feelings in that moment.
Pay attention to what they say and don’t overreact. Feeling accepted and understood is a feeling we all yearn for, so if you go out of your way to empathize with and respect your friends and partners, you’ll have their trust for life.
Daniel Hagon is a writer with a Bachelor’s degree in History and a work history spanning financial education, day trading, healthcare and English teaching across three different continents. When he’s not writing stories, Daniel can be found reading, swing or salsa dancing, or wine tasting in a sun-drenched vineyard on some remote part of the country. He currently lives in Canada with his girlfriend and their two cats.