On Griping

Staff writer Rachel Brownjohn‘s post for this week focuses on the effect that griping can have on how we and those we gripe to view others.

They say the fastest way to make a friend is to have a common enemy (Right? Don’t they say that?). A mutual distaste for onions can be a head start on the road to easy conversation. But can griping go too far? Can we be transitioning into negativity all too often to see the good things right in front of us?


Particularly in relationships, why are we always so quick to talk about the negative? We get together and gripe. And it’s kind of…gross. Let’s stop that.


When I was 19 I dated a pretty crummy guy – but he wasn’t truly awful all the time. I used to talk to my Mom everyday on the phone and gripe about all the silly, ‘dumb boy stuff’, he would do – in fact, it became the only thing I talked to her about. And when I learned that she wasn’t crazy about him, I was shocked, “What do you mean you don’t LOVE this guy whose negative traits I’ve been discussing exclusively for the past 8 months!” I marveled. Obviously she wouldn’t like him, he sounded like a real jerk. That thinking was so backward! I want my friends and family to love the people I love! So why wouldn’t I focus on the wonderful? And if there was legitimately nothing wonderful to focus on, why didn’t I break up with him sooner?


Is it society? I know it can get a bit cringe worthy to talk about too much lovey –dovey stuff. It can feel like you’re showing off, bragging. But shouldn’t we be our significant other’s fans? Shouldn’t we be on their side? When all we do is gripe, it starts to feel like they’re the opposition. Shouldn’t we be playing for the same team? I’ve read at least three articles in Cosmo about how saying good things about your partner improves your relationship (And I’m sorry I couldn’t find them on Google, trust me, they exist). The more I think about it, the more it must be true! The things we talk about are the things we dwell on – and if we focus our energy on the positive we’re more likely to be thinking about positive things!  And then we’ll all just be so happy and wonderful! (Do you want to gag yet, I know…but really!) There are like a frillion books written on the power of positive thinking, naturally, this thinking should be a part of our relationships too– when we are willing to think good things about our partners, we are bound to feel good things about them, and in turn have good relationships.


And when it comes to our friendships – shouldn’t we be rejoicing in each other’s happiness? Like with my mom, when I only hear negative things about friends’ relationships, I put my protective pants on and start to wonder if that significant other really is good enough for them. How could we not be wondering if that’s all we hear?  And if that’s really the case, all that grumbling is really just something to talk about. And not even a good thing! Something to talk about that makes the person we’re talking with experience negative emotions about the person we love.


Why do we keep doing this? And if we really have so many complaints, why are we involved with such a gripe-inducing person? Let’s make a deal and start focusing on the good. And not cringe when relationships are oh so good. Of course, venting is necessary sometimes. Or sometimes we need to lean on each other to understand a situation. But those other times, those times when we are griping just to gripe…yuck! Let’s not do that anymore. Deal?  Deal.  Come on, get happy!