Is Bitching Good For You?
Cosmopolitan - South Africa|December 2018
Is Bitching Good For You?

We all love a bit of goss – but we often tend to feel a bit guilty afterwards. Time to relax, says Jaime Waddington – psychologists are claiming that having a bit of a rant is actually good for us!

One of the reasons Mean Girls resonated with so many of us was because we all saw a bit of ourselves in the characters. I’m not talking about deciding whether butter is a carb, or wearing pink on Wednesdays – I’m talking about their kneejerk stab-in-the-back bitchiness. Because let’s face it: we all bitch.

Whether it’s having a moan about an irritating friend or criticising the boss in front of your colleagues, there’s nothing quite as soothing as letting off steam behind someone’s back. Yet sometimes that eagerness to tear someone down can leave a nasty taste in your mouth, and a feeling in your heart that some things are better left unsaid.

But what if I told you psychologists have discovered that a good bitch isn’t just therapeutic – it’s a crucial part of human bonding?

It’s human nature

Despite bitching’s dodgy reputation, evidence suggests we need to stop feeling bad about it. ‘When we talk about someone behind their back, the reward is the feeling of emotional closeness in the moment with the person with whom you are gossiping,’ says Johannesburg clinical psychologist Chantal da Cruz. ‘The emotional connection is achieved by being open and vulnerable, and by possibly receiving validation and empathy. It’s also satisfying – you feel a sense of community and belonging in the moment.’

That bond tends to be even stronger when the information is negative. Why? Because it’s more risky to share a negative view, so the trust between you and that person becomes even greater.

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December 2018