Complaining Can Improve Your Relationshiops if Done Right

Complaining Can Ruin or Improve Your Relationships 

Complaining is an interesting topic. People often think that complaining ruins relationships, but if it’s done right, it can actually help us change things for the better, improve our relationships, and empower us to feel effective.

How Complaining Can Cause Stress or Hurt our Relationships

Dalila Jusic-LaBerge, Heal from divorceComplaining can lead to feeling frustrated if it’s not done right. It can ruin your relationship with loved ones. If we come from a perspective of a victim, complaining can affect us negatively. In other words, if our mindset is that someone else is in power and they have malicious intentions, it can make us feel even more powerless. Complaining from this place can lead to feeling more stressed out and frustrated. This perpetuates your role of the victim.

A more empowering way of complaining would be if we approach the issue as someone who wants to help out with the situation.  It’s also helpful if we don’t accuse others of wrongdoing.

Complaining or Problem Solving at Workplace

For instance, at the workplace, we can demonstrate leadership qualities by approaching a person who is responsible for something that we want to change. Instead of saying something like, “Such and such is wrong,” we can say, “I would like to help with such and such.” I have a suggestion on how we can improve it. I can do…” Then you can offer to help with specific tasks.

The first example is a complaint that can lead to people feeling alienated and blamed for shortcomings, and in the second, example we are trying to build the relationships and provide a solution to a less than desirable situation.

Complaining or Asserting Yourself in Personal Relationships

Dalila Jusic-LaBerge. Complaining can help relationshipsSimilarly, when it comes to personal relationships it’s important that we are assertive and that we express ourselves openly. But, this needs to be done in a tactful way. Complaining can ruin our relationships, but it can also bring us closer to our loved ones if it’s done in a caring way.

For example, in romantic relationships, by expressing our dissatisfaction to our partner about something that doesn’t work for us, we are demonstrating good boundaries and that we will not put up with everything. This can also show your partner that you care about him or her enough to bring up the issue.

Complaining that Feels Like Attacking

For instance, if a woman is dating a man who’s not ready to tie the knot, she may be frustrated and wonder how she can proceed. Some women just stay quiet and hope that he’ll change his mind. Some women may lash out and complain in the way that makes her partner feel attacked. She may say, “You are just a player.” This kind of complaining can be harmful to her relationship. She is basically accusing her partner of something that he may be offended by. He may have so many other reasons why he is not ready to commit. This can lead her partner to wonder, “Why is she with me if she doesn’t appreciate who I really am?” This automatically may lead him to lose appreciation for the women and her sincerity.

Complaining with Respect for Your Partner while Asserting Yourself

Instead of attacking him or staying completely quiet, she can say something like, ” I really enjoy being with you, but I understand that you are not interested in commitment. Commitment is important to me, and unfortunately, I have to date other men in order to find a partner that is on the same path as I am. I’m sorry that it’s not you because I truly like spending time with you.”

When we empower and uplift the other person, we automatically gain because the other person is not on the defense. There is so much more chance of you reaching him with your communication.  When you complain in this way he understands that you care about him and about yourself too.  You gain value in his eyes.  He may find out that you are more important to him than non-commitment. By complaining in an assertive and loving way, you actually gave him a chance to figure this out.

These contrasting examples can have vastly different outcomes. In the first set of examples, you come across as someone who wants to force or control others, and in the second, you show love and dignity.

Complaining Can Be Empowering if You Focus on Yourself

Complaining from the place of loveComplaining can be good or bad for you depending on your focus while you are doing it.  If you focus on the other person, you perpetuate the above-mentioned victim mentality. This is definitely not good for you. This means that you assume that the responsible person has ill intentions towards you and you feel powerless about it. You complain about the other party being a certain way. Can you change others? We heard it numerous times, No! Not a good idea. It just brings out resentment in the other person and makes us feel frustrated and powerless.

Focusing on Yourself and Your Needs Leads to Empowerment and Assertiveness

Focusing on yourself instead can help you feel empowered. Complaining from this perspective can help you set and maintain clear boundaries. Basically, instead of wondering why someone is doing something to you, you can focus on what you need and what doesn’t work for you. This means that you come from the place of self-love instead of feeling victimized or feeling disdain for the other person. For instance,  when focusing on your needs you would complain, “You know, this just doesn’t work for me. I need….” This allows the person to understand you and change accordingly or leave. If you complained focusing on the other person, you would say, “You always do ….” This causes you to perpetuate feeling powerless because you will never get the person to change. And the other party feels attacked, and therefore they will never change. Read more about how Understanding Anger Can Empower Women in my article published in PsychCentral.

I hope this helps out. Does this resonate with you? What are the steps that you will take in order to complain in the more effective ways? Leave me a comment.

About the Author

I’m a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist serving Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Westlake Village, Thousand Oaks, Malibu, Oak Park, etc. I specialize helping divorced women transition from despair to a joyful life.

  • Anna says:

    Great article! It is so important what language we use when stating our needs. Thank you!

    • Thank you, Anna. I appreciate. It’s so true. I remember when I was growing up, I would say, “I don’t care how people receive it. I speak my truth.” I was a child of integrity. That was my main value. I would still like to think that I have integrity, but now I understand that communication isn’t just what I have to say but also what I want people to understand. So learning this, helped me be more aware of how my words impact others. Words are very powerful. Effective communication can spare us so much misery.

  • jcmmanuel says:

    Words are revealing attitude and attitude is key here. I think a key phrase here is your “If you focus on the other person, you perpetuate the abovementioned victim mentality”. I recognize this, although I usually approach the problem in a slightly different way. I have often argued (in conversations about friendship for instance – or “romantic relations” as you say) that self-complaint is a showstopper for such relations. And I think there is a connection between self-complaint (as a bad thing) and “focus on the other person” (as an equally bad thing). Because self-complaint means a certain lack of understanding of the real problem – you look for the problem elsewhere instead of inside yourself. Consequently, self-complaint will often attribute (part of) the cause of the problem to an external source – someone else, which could be a “friend”.

    Or, to put it the opposite way: the real complaint is not self-complaint, but rather complaint “against yourself” – you understand that the source of a problem usually has at least something to do with some sort of inner struggle. Consequently, you will not typically tend to attribute (part of) the cause of your problem to someone else – who “should” then do everything he or she can do to help you out. This is putting the burden on the other – and the reason why friendship may then often fails is, that this burden is simply too heavy for most of us – because it cannot be solved by someone else.

    • JCMmanuel,
      Thank you for such a thoughtful response. I love your point about taking personal responsibility and reflecting on self. I feel when we get to this point in life, the real life starts. Warm Regards-Dalila

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