Bad-Mouthing Your Ex Is Good For Your Mental Health (To A Point)

Bad-mouthing your ex is a long-standing tradition that our society cannot — nay — will not do away with. Even in Hollywood, we see it often, much to the delight of the tabloids. Remember when Rob Kardashian slut-shamed Blac Chyna? Or when Rob slut-shamed Rita Ora? We're sensing a theme here. Even Kanye "Ye" West got in on the game when he started dating Rob's sister, Kim Kardashian, and thought it was a good idea to slut-shame his ex-girlfriend, Amber Rose. In fact, there are entire lists of celebs who can't help but talk trash about the people they once loved. So, no wonder we all love a good gab-fest with our gals once a relationship goes sour.


We've all done it — we were dating someone for a significant amount of time and poured much of our hopes and effort into making it work. But, for whatever reason, it didn't. We might be filled with anger or disappointment or grief. And, if the relationship ended because you found out your partner was cheating, that might amplify those feelings, including the need to tell all of your besties exactly what went down. Gosh, it feels good to spill all the tea and the dirty laundry you have on your ex, right? It turns out there might actually be some science behind it.

It's cathartic to bad-mouth your ex

According to experts, your mental health gets a boost when you trash-talk your ex. "...It can be emotionally cathartic to talk very candidly about any quote-unquote 'negative' feelings about your ex, point blank," marriage and family therapist Emily Simonian told Bustle. She says it's "classic processing," adding, "As you are able to process your thoughts, not only does it give you awareness, it also releases tension that might be built up, releasing that negative emotional energy." Manifestation coach Maria Concha agreed, saying, "If you need to honor certain feelings and emotions and let it out [...] I'm all about releasing it and letting it out in a healthy way, in a way that serves you."


According to relationship counselor Praney Anand, trash-talking helps you cope. "It can [...] provide a sense of support. It would be wrong to completely condemn this behavior, as it is just a way of coping with the situation," he told the Hindustan Times. Additionally, pettiness after a breakup is also therapeutic. The experts suggest journaling or blogging (with fake names if you have a public blog) if you need a creative outlet for your emotions since it can take time to get over a breakup. Relationship expert Mary George Varghese said, "We all have our ways of coping with tough situations." Just make sure you're not hurting others in the process.

So, could trash-talking become harmful? Yes, and you'll know when you've crossed that line.


Resolve your emotions and don't react

So, when does the mental health benefit of bad-mouthing your ex turn toxic? According to experts, it's when you go from trying to process your emotions to simply trying to hurt your ex. Be honest — are you telling your friends all the sordid details so he'll hear it through your mutual friends? Are you publicly blogging about it, knowing he'll read it? Emily Simonian told Bustle, "You know that it's crossed a line if it's impairing your ability to live your life in a mentally healthy way where you are able to move on," says Simonian. Coach Maria Concha agreed, noting you are responsible for the negative energy you put out into the world. "If your energy is focused on the other person — whether it's good will or bad will, no matter your intention — your focus is on someone else, and not you," she told the outlet.


Toronto-based breakup coach and dating strategist Natalia Juarez told The Toronto Star that discerning this is "the difference between reacting and responding." She added, "If you did break up in a bad way, there's work for you to do to get right with it [...] it's those repressed emotions that end up driving your reactions."

So, if you have unresolved emotions, trash-talking will feel good in the interim, but it's not a long-term solution. Once you've had your gab-fest, make sure to book a sesh with your therapist, journal, meditate, and move on.