Venting vs Bitching

Just thought I’d write a few lines about what I see as the difference between venting and bitching.

To me, venting is when you choose someone appropriate and share something that’s on your mind. It’s an unburdening, but once it’s done, it’s done. Sometimes it might take a while; other times – an example being when I called my sister this morning – just one sentence will do it. It’s “complaining with a purpose”, if you like.

Bitching, on the other hand, is re-hashing a vent over and over. It’s no longer “complaining with a purpose”: the purpose has become complaining. A vent has a beginning, and an end, when you feel that you’ve spoken and been heard, and hopefully something has shifted, or at least been realized. A bitch doesn’t have an end, because it’s become the end in itself.

So, in my opinion, venting is healthy and helpful, but getting stuck in bitching is less helpful. Hey, we all do it now and then (well, I do, so I’ll make a sweeping generalization!) but these days I try to stick with a vent rather than a bitch.

This morning … well, it was just magic. My sister is an awesome listener, so full credit to her, but I’m also going to give myself a little pat on the back (yeah, I did it, and I can feel OK about it, too! – I don’t like praising myself). Anyway, I had this thing on my mind which was really upsetting me, I called her up, asked her to listen, and just spoke one sentence – and *poof* the anger was gone. It was processed, turned into something different; I could see the situation differently.

What do you think? Is there a difference between what I call venting, and what I call bitching? Or am I just playing with words?


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26 responses to “Venting vs Bitching

  1. hellokalykitty

    I think there is definitely a difference. I love the description “bitching with a purpose”. But just bitching really doesn’t have an end. It’s like the difference between constructive criticism and just criticism 🙂


  2. i think there is a difference, for sure. for me, i would add to ‘bitching’ that perhaps the person may, subconsciously or not, NOT want a solution. that perhaps they have somehow become dependent on bitching whatever it is they are bitching about. at the same time, i think some people come back to bitching over the same thing, because they just haven’t found a solution to move on. they want to. but they don’t know how. and there may lie a subtle difference.

    i will vent about on-going problems with certain relationships in my life. the hope is that something melts away with each vent as i find a solution. but it sometimes takes awhile for me to find that solution.

    take my MIL – she’s a lovely lady but quite horrible with attention towards other people’s feelings and intent. she doesn’t mean to do this – she just has lived all her life thinking she knows what a person is thinking or feeling based on what she would feel, with more disrespect than the average person over the other person’s individuality. i’ve probably vented (and bitched) about her for all of the 12 years i’ve known her. lol! it took me a long time to see that she wasn’t doing it intentionally. regardless of how frustrating and annoying she can be – she meant well. she just lacks self-awareness to be better on how she does it.

    i think with each passing year or two, the vent has either lessened or shifted as i get closer to the problem – and therefore, closer to the solution. i’m sure at the beginning, it looked like bitching, but when i look back, i see it as a series of venting over a very difficult problem. whether that problem was directly with her or an inner struggle with myself (it has been, actually, a combination of both).

    i think, however, if some one bitches about the same thing every opportunity they get over a vast amount of time, it’s probably better for them to ask themselves exactly what they expect to come out of it. it shouldn’t be to the point of draining the person at the other end (which we’ve all been guilty about – myself included – but we learn).

    so there’s definitely a delicate balance, i think. 🙂 i’m not saying i’m right – just the way i see it. regardless, it’s an interesting point you’ve brought to light!


    • I like the way you’ve teased this out further – thank you!


      • lol! you don’t mind my babbling? :p i tend to analyze things – my mind sometimes never stops which is probably why i was in tears when i finally went to therapy!


      • Not at all! Sorry it’s taken me 10 hours to reply, Tuesdays are a long day for me. I love a good babble 🙂 And the points you raised really did help me to think even more deeply. I was a bit pushed for time when I commented this morning, but I really did appreciate your words.


  3. Interesting post. While we are actively depressed/dysthymic, we tend to see things in a distorted fashion (through dark glasses) and also to look outside of ourselves for something to blame to try to understand our uncomfortable feelings. We also become myoptic and miss options we would otherwise see. Knowing that, it is a good idea to share what’s bothering us with someone who knows us well, who we know may either be able to change our perspective, or help find a solution.
    I agree that bitching can become addictive and merely reinforce the bad feelings, which is not helpful if we are trying to heal or to find a solution. Sometimes bitching also becomes a boundary issue, in that it isn’t other peoples’ job to absorb our constant complaints or make us feel good.

    Thanks for making me think so early in the morning.
    Sending you sunshine and fresh gentle breezes.


  4. happilydpressed

    I think you’re hitting it right on the mark


  5. ocdjm

    I agree. Venting is fine, bitching gets old quick.


  6. I think you hit it right on the nose.


  7. Pretty much spot on.
    For me a vent is outline the situation and how it made you feel – job done.
    Bitching is much focussed on the person causing the anger, and will generally re-hash every thing this person has done. It’s also generally not limited to a one off. You will bitch to anyone who’ll listen 🙂


  8. I think venting is healthy and as long as you say your piece and it is done then you can move on. Bitching is when you continually find fault with a person or situation and will tell anyone who listens.
    Venting is generally what I do when I come home from work and I say “Do you know what xxxx said to me today?” and then launch into something and how it made me feel.
    The important thing to remember when venting to your other half is laying the ground rules first “Babe, I don’t want you to fix this. Please just listen”.


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