Home > China China, Communication, Dating and Relationships, Discover People > And then I realized why we complain to each other

And then I realized why we complain to each other

Probably the first rule you should know before going on a blind date is: Do not complain. Even though you’re in pain, you have a lot of things going on, you just got yourself into some new trouble…do not complain. Because nobody wants to be with someone who constantly nag about their own problems and frustration which have (in most cases) absolutely nothing to do with you, and you definitely do not want to leave that impression the first time you meet someone.


What about close friends? I remember this line from my childhood: if you share your happiness with your friends, it doubles; if you share your sadness with your friends, it reduces half. Oh how powerful. But in real life more than often people, especially close friends, and especially girlfriends, complain to each other all the time. Is it really because “if I don’t turn to you about this I have nobody else to talk about it?”  

Maybe that’s true in some cases. But if you do that too often it may becomes a burden to your friends. Yes they care about you, but it doesn’t mean you can take advantage of their kindness or time. To think about it in this way, if you were your friends, would you be willing to listen to your own nagging for a few hours, and every other weekend? If your answer is yes, then either you are very enduring and patient, or you are narcissistic. At least I used to think so.

But during my trip to Asia a few weeks ago I realized something new about the nature of complain that I never thought about before.  I was grabbing drinks with 2 girlfriends and one of them was telling us about her charming, capable, rich boyfriend for almost the entire evening, especially about how good he is to her. I was amused actually and enjoyed very much their stories. Then toward the end of the night the other girlfriend walked me back to my hotel and said on the way:

-She is great but I just can’t bear it when she talks about how wonderful her boyfriend is every single time we meet up.

I was surprised.

-Well I didn’t realize that’s a problem. Isn’t it good to know that she is happy?

-Well yeah and I get it. But what do you expect me to say? Congratulations? When I get together with my other girlfriends we always complain to each other about work and about the problems of the guys we’re seeing. But at least then I feel I have something to say and maybe I can be of help. Oh btw, that girl’s boyfriend? He divorced once and has kids too.

Probably I was all wrong about this but at that moment I realized why girls complain to each other: to achieve the delicate balance in your friendship. Because if your life is too perfect it is a threat to your other girlfriends; if your boyfriend is too cute or too good to you they might get jealous and question why it is you but not them; so we complain, even though the unhappy moment is only 5% of your life you still want to exaggerate in front of your friends to the degree that you feel your “misery” is even to theirs and you guys can deal with each other in peace.

Sounds scary right? Probably it is an Asian thing, and probably it is a girl thing, you know the implicit competitions everywhere (think about Gossip Girl)…and then I got quite happy because I thought I was quite distant from that thought as in: I am not afraid of sharing happiness with my girlfriends and that I have no problem dealing with other girl’s good fortune.

But again I was wrong. When my other friend announced she skipped the line and got into World Expo Canadian pavilion with a Canadian guy and the France pavilion with a French guy (while I had to take care of my mom most of the time during my Expo trip), I tried very hard to squeeze a smile on my face: That is so wonderful! I said, and suddenly I realized how my other girlfriend has felt when she said to me: what do you expect me to say? Congratulations?

This emotion is probably unhealthy but honestly you cannot deny it. This is fascinating to me. I guess the only lesson I can learn from this experience is: next time when I talk in front of my friends about good things happened to me, I will be subtle about it. I certainly hope my real good friends will always “be happy for me”; but in the mean time as a true good friend to them, I care about their perspectives and should always protect their sensitive hearts as well.

  1. Wendy
    October 13, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    I like how this article is so straight to the point. People hate you when you brag about things. There’s one rule to follow: 低调做人,高调做事。=)
    Welcome back! I miss your writing! ❤

    • October 14, 2010 at 5:50 pm

      Thanks Wendy. I guess there is a limit for everything. I missed writing too. Was hoping to write during the trip but it was too much of a hassle. but will have more to come!

  2. Yuqing Deng
    October 26, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Complaint is the product of negative emotion. Negative emotions are contagious. Too much negativity ruins any close human relationship.

    There is nothing wrong about telling people pleasant things in life.
    However, if one repeat the same thing one thausand times, any excitement
    fades and boredom ensues. That is why thrillers can only be watched once
    and one night stand is best be indeed one night. Simple pleasure can only
    go that far. However, true happiness brings variaty. Although it is the same
    theme everytime, each has its own uniqueness that is never boring.

  3. November 1, 2010 at 10:00 am

    But wait! What is wrong with saying to your friends, “Oh my goodness, that is SO WONDERFUL!” “What a blessing you ran into!” “Isn’t it such a great feeling to have a boyfriend so thoughtful?” and so on.

    When people tell me lovely things, I am prompted to respond with lovely comments. You are right–subtle balance is the goal–but I never feel bad when someone shares with me the good news of their life. I always think, “If it’s possible for them, it’s possible for me, too!”

    • November 3, 2010 at 12:20 pm

      You are right, I say that too. And I hope more people will say that to me too! There’re always two sides to a story aren’t there?

  1. February 18, 2011 at 8:36 pm
  2. February 18, 2011 at 10:51 pm

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