Is complaining necessary for relationships?

Is complaining necessary for relationships… to put it more precisely, do people need to complain ( and not be ashamed or put down for it) in order to establish so called boundaries?

No one likes to hear someone complaining. To live with someone who complains constantly is highly draining and depressing and annoying(angering). In articles I’ve read, it stated that its not the problems the complainer is stressing about, but that its their way of gaining empathy or affection and if one doesn’t give that to them, they will complain louder and pour out another bucket of self pity…

The thing is,  it is obviously a rather ineffective way of someone getting empathy or sympathy or affection, but even if this person asked outright for empathy or sympathy or affection, I still don't think they'd get it...  who does that? (I don't even think that would be satisfying to either camp)    Is their problem that they are asking for something they have no right in asking for?    Meaning, if no one wants to give you empathy or sympathy, does this mean they are not deserving of what you are hoping for?   Also, when people speak up and state what they want clearly (what their boundary is) it still does not mean they will be given the respect they want or need from the other.   What does someone do then, ... BUT complain about that seeming lack of respect.?    Is that the wrong way to handle the situation then?  

So, when is complaining legitimate?  And would it not be necessary for proper boundaries to be formed in relationships (since how does anyone really know what another's boundaries are until they cross it somehow?)  ... and furthermore, how can someone perceive the other's boundary even after they had discussed it if the situation is not something that person picks up on or finds fault with?   For example, two people sharing an apartment- the one says the apartment is super dirty and needs washed every day while the other doesn't perceive the apartment as dirty at all and only cleans maybe once a week.   To the one who cleans only once a week, they are content and view the one that wants/needs (?) it cleaned every day as being 'nuts"... Who should change?  Who is right?  Is the one who cleans only once a week wrong?  Should they go against their own perception that to clean every day is a waste of energy and time and also a delusion?  How do people in relationships handle mismatched perceptions?  

I’m just trying to understand this all in the light of both psychology teachings **and **Church/Jesus teachings. There seem to be people whom I’d think have a reason to complain having seemingly been disrespected constantly and others who seem to just not hold a legitimate reason to complain (and that they are just having a pity party)… but this is judging I’d suppose…however, we are still called to make a judgement that is prudent and wise on matters as both scenarios call for different reactions. Maybe I am only perceiving the one having the right to complain because that is how I would feel (sympathy). Maybe I would be wrong to do this!? … To the one whose complaining is perceived as legitimate, their complaining seems necessary- what are their other options but to complain? To the one whose complaining is perceived as an annoyance, then its just that and rather they are acting badly, or even perceived as being somehow mentally ill (The “You’re being too sensitive!” comment)… but can we always trust our gut on these perceptions? Are we doing wrong in Christ’s eyes when we just get annoyed at another’s complaining that seems not legitimate? Is there some way to knowing for sure which complaints are legitimate and which are not?

Since my conversation to Christ, it seems to me that either scenario demands compassion and a giving spirit, but what if you are just not able to give what the self pitier wants from you? AND would it not be bad for someone to give into a true self pitier and coddle them, therefore NOT what Christ would want you do do (since it is bad for them and not what they really need to hear). ??? Sometimes I believe that we have so many problems is because so many people think compassion is to coddle. But again, that is another differentiating perception… or is it?!! Some people are so fragile that if you gave them the truth, they might crumble… what then is the correct thing to do? Even if you treated them like you would treat yourself (i.e. do unto others as you would want others to do unto you") is not always the best route as what you’d do to yourself is perceived as “cruel” to them!!! Everyone is seemingly psychologically comprised differently. Sometimes I wonder if “do onto others as you would want others to do onto you”… is only for our own SELF contentment- that we did what we felt was best and therefore have no guilt in maybe actually hurting someone badly. Crazy thought, I know, but how does that work when people are different and would prefer something different than what we’d think is the correct thing to give/do for that situation? -That how we would ‘do onto others as we would want someone else to do onto us’ is actually not how the other would act or prefer we ‘do onto them’?

I hope this all made sense (I admit what I wrote here is probably ‘choppy’, in that I don’t know how to express these notions adequately and with precise terminology) and I’m also hoping someone knows what I’m trying to get at here and can help me come to a better understanding of how to deal with these situations.

This is a great question!

WOW ! So what happens that prompted all that? :wink:

There are two kind of complaining. One is where you complain to someone with the hope that they can help solve the problem in some way. I don’t see how you can have any meaningful, intimate relationship without complaining in this form because you wouldn’t be able to get anything done. If you don’t tell your coworkers that someone’s car is blocking you from leaving, then you are stuck there until someone decides to move their car on their own. If you don’t tell your spouse that they need to close the garage door when they come in, your tools will get stolen. If you don’t tell your mother that you hurt your knee, she won’t know to get you a bandaid. As so on.

The other type of complaining is when you are venting your frustration. I think that everyone needs to have at least one person who they can confide in this way and preferably not pay them for the service. Obviously, this kind of complaining is not healthy in every relationship and can be abused in any relationship.

I don’t think so.

Actually, there was an incident today that prompted the post, but the thoughts have been there for a very long time just by observing human nature, pondering solutions to human troubles, listening to friends, watching people ‘vent’ as Allegra put it. Its a serious question though. I had not made any attempts to query about it until now. Not even sure if I put it together concisely - probably not.

I’m not sure I’d find an answer… perhaps its too objective to every situation and person, but I do not know how this works with what we are told to do via The Gospels, or how it would actually work out eventually to bring about peace. Its just something I noticed that doesn’t ‘fit’ with God’s Word… or at least my perception of it. :shrug:

I’m not going to get any help with this, am I? :D:p;)

Well, I don’t think it’s really about complaining per se.
It’s about how we dialog with others. If one does it with respect, it can be taken as constructive discussion, whereas if we do it with malice, or disrespect, it’s complaining.

I have a plaque in my kitchen that read “NO b------ in the Kitchen!”
Its all in the presentation. :slight_smile:

I do agree my title question was not really accurate as a ‘subject heading’… as I said, I’m not really sure if conveyed concisely and correctly and adequately what the question really is, so bear with me. The questions are real though.

I do say too that of course* how *someone ‘complains’ is going to have an effect on the response given- but not always too. Its the moral expectation and hope that if we treat people well, others will treat us well too… but that is not always the case. Someone can constructively discuss an issue that doesn’t mean that they will get a favorable and hoped for response.

Complaining isn’t neccessary, resolving differences amicably IS! May your relationships always resolve amicably!


Just an observation on this subject. I know a couple of people who love to celebrate their own moral superiority and emotional fortitude due to the fact that they “never complain.” (I put that in quotes because that is their perspective and it isn’t always shared by those around them.) The same person then proceeds to complain about other people’s complaining. Whether a person is seeking help with a specific problem or complaining in order to express their pain, when a person rejects their complaining as excessive or immoral, they are running the risk of simply lacking in empathy, and that’s not good. Yes, it’s possible to be excessive in one’s complaining, or complain too strongly about things that aren’t really that significant, but it’s also possible to be a compassionless jerk who can’t be bothered anyone’s problems but their own.

Perhaps we should not paint it in the same brush. It depends on what it is and why. Thus not every two things on complaint may be the same. They have to be addressed individually and when we do that, we have to follow the Christian principle - in love.

Sometimes it is difficult to know whether it is out of love or just from our own selfish and self centered reason. A good bench mark would be to ask the other person, whether he/she felt loved by our complaint.

So it is difficult because we can have more than a hundred reasons to justify our action. The other alternative is to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to guide us in what we should do.

To be a Christian is never easy. It is easier to do the physical parts - going for mass, Confession or giving alms. The emotional part can be more elusive.

In the Bible, it gives a negative picture to those who complain. So generally, complaint is not a positive thing, unless it is necessary and when we do it, it has to be in love.

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