7 Signs Someone Is ‘Emotionally Dumping’ Their Problems On You That Go Far Beyond Normal Venting

There are ways to combat this toxic nature and reshape the way we interact with one another.

woman comforting upset friend venting Josep Suria / Shutterstock

Everyone needs to vent now and then. It’s healthy to release the things that stress us out so they don’t hold power over us.

However, there’s a fine line between healthy venting and what others identify as “emotional dumping.”

It involves expressing one’s feelings or perspective about a particular situation without considering the mental and emotional toll this behavior may be taking on the other person, according to Dr. Nicole LePera, a holistic psychologist, who elaborated on the details of this behavior in a Facebook post.


Psychotherapist Bobbi Banks, who goes by heybobbiebanks on Instagram, also shared a post listing some common ways people emotionally dump their stress onto others.

Here are seven signs someone is emotionally dumping their problems on you, affecting your emotional well-being:

1. They talk about the same problems over and over

Sometimes, when a person is working to recover from a stressful situation, they will feel the need to vent about the situation over and over. This is a natural response, and it’s important to be mindful of the other person’s capacity to listen and support. 


However, there are certain situations that surpass the natural coping mechanism to vent and constitute a larger flaw.



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David Bennett, a hypnosis coach on TikTok, explained that the human brain can take two paths when faced with challenging circumstances. One is resolving the issue, which leads to growth and reflection. 


Yet, when someone struggles to find a solution and the challenge doesn’t go away, their mind will follow another path, " escalating into a stress response” of discomfort and anger, which leads to a cycle of repetitive venting. 

Because these individuals can’t find a solution, they resort to short-term relief through the addictive act of emotional dumping rather than finding long-term relief by taking steps to solve the issue. 

While venting is a part of life, when someone continues to drag on the same problems with seemingly no solution or call to action, this behavior can consume other individuals’ energies. 

2. You often feel drained or overwhelmed after talking with them

If you have a relationship with someone who frequently emotionally dumps their problems onto you, this friendship is not healthy. Rather, these individuals, often without realizing it, are projecting their stress onto you.


This is why it’s necessary to set boundaries and hold space for yourself before freely handing out your energy to others who only want an outlet to release their anxiety. 



Careen, who goes by careenofcups on TikTok, shared how she used to dump her stress on others emotionally, and they eventually distanced themselves. She’s learned to understand this flawed behavior by now being on the receiving end. 

“Sometimes people are so wounded, so unconscious, and feel so alone that they don’t know what else to do with all the things inside of them, so they want to get out to a safe space,” she said. But for us, being on the receiving end, it can be really exhausting.”


While it’s natural to want to empathize and be there for these individuals, everyone is dealing with their own problems, and it’s not your responsibility to take on another’s stress in addition to your own. 

3. They don’t show respect for your emotional space

A true connection relies on the reciprocation of respect and energy. But when someone doesn’t show any consideration toward your boundaries when dumping their emotional drama onto you, they lack the awareness to observe how their behavior drains others.

It can be difficult to set emotional boundaries with friends and loved ones who don’t have a healthy way of processing their feelings, especially when we have grown so accustomed to this mutual dynamic. Still, there are healthy ways to navigate this.



Raele, a communication coach who goes by wellwithraele on TikTok, shared some helpful responses that can encourage you to set boundaries without hurting others' feelings.


“I know we both like to vent, but sometimes I would appreciate it if you just checked in first before you did,” Raele exemplified. “It can be a great little buffer and I'll be sure to do the same too for you.”

She additionally suggested going to activities, like exercise classes, painting classes, or a movie theater, with this individual to help them release their emotions productively. More often than not, people don’t mean to disrespect our boundaries; they just don’t yet have the awareness to understand their flawed actions.

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4. Their perspective is often one-sided

Emotional dumping typically doesn’t involve a willingness to observe multiple perspectives. Rather, the emotional dumper can only focus on how the situation affects them personally. 


You likely feel like conversations with this person are often one-sided and inconsiderate of your listening capability. You additionally might feel more like a therapist than a friend, struggling to get through to them, no matter how you try to communicate it. Sometimes, when dumpers are stubborn and set in their ways, refusing to see the broader picture, the best thing to do is distance yourself to protect your energy.



“It may take ignoring phone calls or answering texts later on (or not at all) to get your point across (silence is also a boundary),” according to Foundcare. “Sometimes the most supportive thing you can do for another is to encourage them to seek help in other ways (like with a therapist).”

5. They get stuck on a cycle of complaints

Everyone likes to complain occasionally — it’s a common way to vent our frustrations. However, it’s one case to complain about an inconvenience now and then and another to get stuck in a cycle of complaints, usually about the same subject. 


In fact, according to Ryan Dunlap, who goes by conflictish on TikTok, too much complaining can actually lead to more stress and rewire the brain for negativity, making it much more difficult to break the cycle. Additionally, this cycle of complaining can be contagious, causing us to respond with our own complaints, which will only lead to conflict and strained relationships.



Dunlap explained that the best way to combat habitual complainers is by demonstrating gratitude.

However, it’s important to note that simply telling someone to be grateful won’t help them break this harmful cycle, but demonstrating gratitude toward them might help them cultivate a more loving awareness of themselves and their lives. 


“Gratitude has actually been shown in research to reduce cortisol, the same stress hormone that complaining produces,” Dunlap said. “Simply telling someone to be grateful doesn't relieve them of the tension they’re feeling. So after they’ve complained, I’d say, ‘Hey, thanks so much for sharing that, and I’m grateful that you trust me with these kinds of conversations.'"

6. They don’t seek solutions or take accountability

Because emotional dumpers are so blinded by their heavy load of stress, they truly believe they are stuck, but what they fail to realize is that their belief that they are stuck is what is keeping them stuck. Thus, they will struggle to take accountability for their own contribution to their stress and reluctance to find solutions.

In his video, Dunlap added that by offering to help an emotional dumper find a solution to their problem, “we give them an opportunity to feel grateful for real help.”

While this is a small effort made towards a greater issue, continuously offering them opportunities to feel grateful just by having you by their side will slowly reduce their stress, and they may even begin feeling appreciative again.


While this action may instill change in some, it may go unnoticed or unacknowledged by others who lack emotional self-awareness

It may not always be possible to distance ourselves from emotional dumpers who are loved ones we care about. In these cases, it’s vital to help them redirect their focus to finding solutions and regaining emotional control over their lives.

7. They aren’t receptive to feedback or questioning 

In many cases, when we do try to offer solutions or ask the emotional dumper questions to help them reevaluate their self-imposed stress, they may not be receptive to this feedback. 


It can then be difficult to get through to them in a mature and impactful way. 



When you find yourself in this situation, there is only so much you can do other than respect the timing of their journeys. 

By maintaining a healthy distance to protect your peace, communicating your needs, whether they’re understanding or not, and continuously eliciting gratitude and love, you can eventually teach emotional dumpers the toxicity of their ways simply by example. They’ll slowly rise from the immobility of their harmful patterns. Anyone can learn to grow and change their ways if they simply try. 


Don’t accept this mindless behavior from others, and help them become aware of their toxic habits contributing to your stress. 

Giving others grace for battling such stressful circumstances is important, and no one deserves to process these issues on their own. That’s why it’s necessary to express your sympathy to them while offering calls to action. 

However, you can only do so much to help until you begin to notice a downward spiral in your own mental health, especially when others lack the necessary awareness of their contradictory and selfish behavior.

The truth is, we have all succumbed to the tendency to express our stress to others, particularly those we feel close to, so much so that it has become normal. 

By fostering awareness of this bad habit, maintaining and respecting boundaries, and simply asking if another is capable of listening to our problems, we can drive a catalyst for change in how we interact with each other.


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Francesca Duarte is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team based in Orlando, FL. She covers lifestyle, human interest, adventure, and spirituality topics.