I came across this word "emotional dumping" just recently and was interested to know what it meant. What I found was very interesting indeed, and in fact I am sure most of us would have come across this behavior without finding out the word that represent the behavior. It basically means unloading your heavy / intense emotions (there are no negative emotions, just emotions that are not regulated properly) onto your friends, and perhaps without the need or want to take responsibility / accountability for change. A site I came across was more direct and honest; "emotional dumping just means unloading your emotional crap onto your friends".
What are some signs of emotional dumping? It
Overwhelms others with their issues
Keeps repeating the same thing
In victim mode
No accountability for their part in the issue
Not open to solutions
While emotional dumping is not helpful to all parties, venting seems to suggest a much more empowering situation in a relationship. It doesn't blame others, doesn't keep repeating the same topic, is time limited, no victimizing, shows accountability for their part in the issue, and is open to solutions after expressing themselves. It is ok to vent / talk about your issues with your friends or partner because sometimes you don't have anyone you trust except your friends or you just don't know where to look for help, and that is fine but keep them to a limit. Knowing the difference between venting and dumping is a positive start in having clarity in your relationships.
Having and creating a healthy relationship:
In any relationship, it is a two way conversation, you get to speak, you also need to listen with care to the other person's feelings and issues.
Respect the needs of others, their time and their safe space. That means - no calling at odd hours to tell them of your problems. I can totally understand the need to calm your emotions especially if you are upset, anger or frustrated with some issues. This is where seeking a therapist would help you with teaching you some tools to self-regulate until you are able to make an appointment with the therapist or with your friends at a more proper hour when they are available.
Have no expectations - expecting them to agree with you, to respond to your calls, expecting them to take your side and validate you.
Work on your own issues with a professional / therapist. You will have the tools to help yourself towards self growth and self healing.
Here are some good reasons to seek for professional help rather than dumping it on your friends:
You are given the safe space to talk about anything and everything without the fear of being judged.
You have the safety of confidentiality, that no one would talk about your issues to others within your circle.
You would be given the safe space to explore your emotions and with the perspective of a third person.
Therapists are trained to listen and observe the unspoken words which would be helpful in the sessions.
It is a good start to take on self-care, self-love, self-responsibility and accountability to working on your Self.
You learn to know your worth, your value, and you learn to validate yourself without relying on others which is a core issue when your emotions are dependent on others on how they make you feel - that is giving your power away.
When you feel more calm and grounded, you would be able to find clarity and make better decisions for yourself.
Your therapist has the ability to empathize and encourage you in your journey towards self-growth and self-healing.
Leaving your problems at the therapy session is a great way to meet your friends with a lighter baggage and you get to enjoy the friendship / relationship in a healthier and positive manner.
However, that saying, no one can help you to evolve / heal except yourself. It gets tiring and draining for others and yourself if you keep chasing the issues around and around without finding a way out of the cycle. You may even lose your friends / partners along the way because it gets too much for them and especially if respect is not shown towards the relationship. I know I had years where I used to call up some good friends who are grounded and sensible because I just had no where to turn to. They had been kind enough to lend me their ear and support without which I wouldn't have found my way of out of it (my issues). I am forever grateful to them for being there for me. That saying, my way of coping ever since has been much better, using self-reflection, journalling, the tools I have learnt from counselling and seeking advise from professionals - therapists & counsellors. Yes, even professional therapists and counsellors seek the help of other therapists as a form of self-care so that we can be here for you fully and wholly. Have a more positive relationship with your Self and others by helping your Self first.