Language drives how we think and view the world around us. And changing how you speak about your ex-partner can change your attitude towards your co-parenting relationship

Venting to friends and family members can be a healthy approach to dealing with a separation. But if it’s happening frequently and the venting becomes more about badmouthing your ex than trying to get your feelings heard, it can have negative effects on both you and those around you, including the children.

Complaining about an ex may also seem like a natural first step to moving forward. However, the language we use can end up dictating our outlook on life and foster our own negative attitudes.

Here are reasons that badmouthing your former partner to friends or family can hurt you in the long run, as well as some other ways to find relief after a separation.

Friends aren’t therapists

While it may feel really good to trash talk your ex to your friends—lamenting every single thing that went wrong and trying to verbally convince yourself that you’re much better off—it may be difficult for your friends to offer the advice you actually need to hear. In these situations, it’s probable that you’re putting all of your energy into criticizing this other person, and not evaluating yourself: your own needs, wants, or emotional suffering.

Friends could thus be put in an almost impossible spot: they’ll want to support you and commiserate with you, yet they may be too afraid to be honest with you about your own flaws or contributions to the separation. This is why it’s better to discuss these topics in detail with a professional rather than a friend, if you notice that the badmouthing is starting to get out of hand.

Plus, remember that no one wants to be around an overly negative person all the time. You may find that you’ll start pushing your friends away if all you do together is talk about your failed relationship and your ex’s flaws.

The impact on children

If children are involved in a separation or divorce, it’s even more important to practice talking about the other parent respectfully, not criticizing him or her in front of children or family members. And especially not to the children.

If one parent has clear and open negative feelings about the other, it can be a very confusing situation for a kid. Which parent are they supposed to trust? Do they have to pick sides? This leads to stress and the potential for emotional issues.

Even if the separation wasn’t amicable, remember that it will benefit the children to see their parents interacting in a respectful way, even if it isn’t a close relationship anymore. Complaining about the other parent to the child or to friends will continue to build a hostile environment for everyone involved, and this is especially concerning when a co-parenting situation is unavoidable.

You won’t be able to move on

Many people think that badmouthing is simply venting and that venting is the only way to let go of something and move on. While it is absolutely important to talk through feelings surrounding a breakup or separation, too much venting can hinder you from moving on.

When you continue to talk negatively about someone, you are giving them power over your life, however small. Even though you are criticizing them, you are letting their flaws or hurtful actions dictate how you react and continue to view the world.

It’s worth trying to either forgive them or at least remember that there were other positive things about them—even while recognizing that a person’s actions hurt you or made you angry. What did the situation teach you? What could you have done differently?

When you hold on to a grudge or to resentment, you won’t be able to fully live your life the way you want to. That grudge will always be there—holding you back and cultivating negative thoughts.

Acceptance of responsibility wins over blame

Finally, remember that you may have had a role in what went wrong. Talking through your feelings and the end of the relationship with a therapist can help you realize that maybe there was an underlying problem in the relationship all along, or that both partners were at fault in some way.

Badmouthing your ex tends to lead to blaming them exclusively. And while that person may have made a mistake, it’s very likely that you also made some in the duration of the relationship. Take responsibility for your own actions and contributions to the separation, and you may feel like you no longer have a need to put down your ex-partner to anyone. The Family Plan App can help you and your family manage co-parenting after a separation or divorce. There will be lots of emotions involved, so the logistics aren’t always easy to handle. The app provides assistance with scheduling, finances, and communication to help you reduce conflict and make transitions as easy as possible.