PSYCHOLOGY

Your Friends Are Not Your Personal Trauma Dumping Ground

Some consideration goes a long way

Michelle Teheux
Minds Without Borders
6 min readJun 6, 2024

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Photo by Kyle Broad on Unsplash

When a friend is going through a tough time, it’s an act of kindness to listen as they cry or vent about their breakup, lost job or other personal trauma.

The difficulty comes in understanding the difference between being a caring friend and being used as a convenient trauma dump.

I’ve been guilty of trauma dumping

I’ve written before how traumatic the sudden end of my first marriage was. During those early days, I had a routine. I would say I was going to lunch, and then I’d go to my car, call an old friend, and cry for an hour before drying my eyes, fixing my makeup and returning to my desk to impersonate a fully functioning person for the rest of the day.

That could not have been fun for my friend. Did he have nothing better to do than to listen to my angst for an hour every single workday? He never complained or said I was keeping him from his own life. How many lunches with friends did he skip because I needed to sob for an hour? He’s never said.

But 22 years later, we are still friends, and I’ve thanked him numerous times for being there when I needed him.

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Michelle Teheux
Minds Without Borders

Lover of literature. Former newspaper editor. Fascinated by everything. Contact: michelleteheux@gmail.com. To buy me a coffee: https://ko-fi.com/michelleteheux