18 Things People Shouldn’t Comment On Unless They Have Experienced Them

When discussing sensitive or deeply personal topics, it’s important to approach them with empathy, understanding, and respect. Certain experiences are so unique or profound that commenting on them without firsthand knowledge can be insensitive or even harmful. Stay away from these topics unless you’re coming from personal experience.

Grieving the Loss of a Loved One

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Grief is a deeply personal process that varies greatly from person to person. When people act like there is a timeline for grief or a very specific way it should look, it can demean the person who is grieving. Unless you have been there and have something encouraging to say, it is best to just be a quiet shoulder to cry on.

Struggling with Mental Illness

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Mental health issues are deeply personal and can’t be fully understood from the outside. Mental Health America says, “Over half (54.7%) of adults with a mental illness do not receive treatment, totaling over 28 million individuals.” Luckily, with the rise of awareness about mental health issues, many no longer have to suffer in silence. Please remember that when someone comes to you with their depression or anxiety, telling them to “stay positive” is about as helpful as telling someone with the stomach flu to just not throw up.

Battling a Serious Illness

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People love to tell those battling serious illnesses what they should be experiencing based on something they read online or heard from a friend of a friend’s aunt’s mailman. The physical and emotional challenges of dealing with serious health conditions are complex. They need to listen to actual doctors and their own bodies, not someone with a degree from WebMD.

Living in Poverty or Homelessness

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It’s easy to say that if they had worked harder, they would not be poor or homeless, but the reality is that there are many complex reasons people find themselves in poverty. CBS said in 2023, “More than 650,000 people experienced homelessness on a single night in January, a 12% jump from 2022.” But a writer on Publicola says, “Virtually none of the homeless and formerly homeless people I’ve met, nor the outreach workers who go out to offer help and make sure they’re OK, say that homeless people prefer to be homeless.” Instead of judging someone for being less financially secure than you, remind yourself that we are all one emergency away from being on the streets ourselves.

Experiencing Trauma

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Trauma can have lasting effects on an individual’s mental and emotional well-being. People can struggle with PTSD, anxiety, depression, and a host of other problems after dealing with trauma. Your well-meaning advice can come off as condescending or, worse, cause further emotional damage.

Surviving Abuse

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Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse leaves scars that can’t be seen or fully understood by outsiders. Domestic violence survivors, in particular, should never have to hear, “Why did you let that happen?” which often leads to more and more abuse victims not leaving the situation because they are afraid to reach out for help. Reaching out to those who are going through a tough time and offering them avenues for support can help someone get out of a bad situation.

If you or someone you know needs support regarding domestic violence, text START to 88788.

Living with Chronic Pain or Disabilities

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Chronic pain and disabilities affect every aspect of life, from daily activities to mental health. Some chronic pain sufferers and disabled people have visible disabilities, while others may have invisible ones. Either way, commentary on what you believe they should be able to do is completely unnecessary and in poor taste.

Overcoming Addiction

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The journey to recovery from addiction is fraught with challenges and setbacks. For those who have never struggled with addiction, it is impossible to understand the strength it takes every single day to stay clean. Staying sober takes encouragement, not opinions from those who have never been there.

Facing Discrimination

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Experiencing discrimination due to race, gender, sexuality, or other factors can have profound impacts. If you have never experienced discrimination, it can be hard to put yourself in their shoes. Just try to remember that we all experience the world differently and to never dismiss someone else’s experience because it does not look like your own.

Dealing with Infertility and Miscarriages

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Honestly, you should not comment on anything to do with another woman’s reproductive story. Dealing with infertility and miscarriages can be an emotional rollercoaster for women and their partners (if they have one), and they don’t need commentary from people who aren’t on the ride. Just offer support, and whatever the person needs at the moment.

Being a Refugee

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Most of us in the U.S. will never have to worry about picking up and leaving our homes and resettling in another country unless it’s our choice to do so. The trauma and challenges of leaving one’s home country and resettling elsewhere are profound. Dealing with the pain of what happened that made you flee while acclimating to a new culture is stressful and deserves nothing but grace from those they encounter.

Adopting a Child

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Adopting a child is a huge decision, one that many couples and singles struggle to make for years. On top of that, the adoption process and the experience of becoming an adoptive parent come with unique challenges and joys. It’s not as easy as swiping babies or children you like on an app, and boom, they’re in your life. The process is grueling, followed by adapting to a new human in your life.

Undergoing Gender Transition

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Unless you know what it feels like to not feel at home in your body, or like you were meant to be in a different one, you can’t relate to someone who is transitioning. The journey of transitioning is deeply personal and filled with challenges that only those who have gone through it can understand. To be an ally, just stand by the person and offer support in whatever way they need.

Being Wrongfully Accused

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The experience of being wrongfully accused of a crime or misconduct can have lasting impacts on an individual’s life. It’s not as though the time when people believed you were guilty is just erased and you move forward like nothing happened. People often lose their jobs, friends, and peace of mind after going through the justice system when they did nothing wrong. “The psychological impact of being falsely accused can lead to anxiety, depression, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),” according to Henry & Beaver.

Caring for a Loved One with a Serious Illness

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There are a million thoughts and emotions a caregiver goes through when their loved one has a serious illness. The task of caregiving alone is a challenging one, along with dealing with their own emotions. The challenges and emotional toll of caregiving are profound and should be treated with respect and kindness, not unsolicited advice.

Experiencing War

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The horrors and traumas of war are something that can only be fully understood by those who have lived through them. Whether someone was in the military or a civilian on the ground during a time of war, those of us who have only lived in peace cannot fathom what they have seen and experienced. Sharing what you think of war from the news or movies just makes you look bad.

Living as an Immigrant

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There are a multitude of challenges that come with being an immigrant, from learning a new culture and language to dealing with the emotions of what you left behind. Even when you leave for a place you consider to be a better life, there are a lot of thoughts, emotions, and doubts you will have to face.

Coming Out

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The process of coming out as LGBTQ+ is deeply personal and can be fraught with difficulty. Some have it “easy” with friends and family who instantly accept them for who they are, while others face losing people who they thought loved them. Slate even asks straight people to “stop asking for coming out stories.” Though the LGBTQ+ community has made great strides for equality, remember that there are still those out there who don’t see the love in “love is love.”

If you or someone you know would like some support, text the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

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