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Help-rejecting complainers

I just came across this term for the first time a few days ago. I was surprised that there's a clinical term to describe my mother and people like her. They can complain for hours at a time about their unsolvable problems, and they reject any potential solutions you suggest for their problems. They don't really want their problems to be solved; they just want to unload on you and spread their misery around.

by Anonymousreply 3706/29/2020

How to respond to them: "What are you going to do to fix this problem?"

by Anonymousreply 106/27/2020

This sort of person should be distinguished from those who just need to talk to someone about the things that are bothering them and aren't really interested in having you butt in and try to solve their problems for them.

by Anonymousreply 206/27/2020

I learned to avoid people like that when I was young, r2. They might as well be talking to a wall--they're not interested in your responses, only in the sound of their own complaining voices.

by Anonymousreply 306/27/2020

R3 is right. When my mother calls, she launches into repeating her talking points about her problems. It's like she goes into a trance. I can lay the phone down and fold my laundry for half an hour. When I pick up the phone, she's still talking, and she never realizes I was gone.

by Anonymousreply 406/27/2020

They are closely related to the people who ask for your advice, but really just want you to re-affirm what they have already chosen to do about whatever situation. People do this even when paying for said advice. Some go as far as repeating their questions over and over so you will eventually tell them what they want to hear. And when they go on about their poorly chosen path, they will blame you when it blows up.

by Anonymousreply 506/27/2020

Oh you just empty listen! "No, that's awful!" "She didn't really say that?" "I'm so sorry that happened to you."

They're just venting. It won't hurt you in any way to hear it. Be tough.

by Anonymousreply 606/27/2020

R6, it does hurt, when they do it for two hours at a time, and it's a repeat of the exact same complaints from before. After they unload on you, you feel exhausted. It sucks out your energy and positivity; it ruins your day.

by Anonymousreply 706/27/2020

R7, be tougher. I am serious- the world is about to get so much harder and you need to toughen up. Your "energy" and "positivity" are imaginary concepts created by modern marketing teams and psychologists.

by Anonymousreply 806/27/2020

[quote] They're just venting. It won't hurt you in any way to hear it.

Fuck of with your stupid doormat bottom bullshit.

by Anonymousreply 906/27/2020

R9... so you don't want solutions, you just want to complain?

by Anonymousreply 1006/27/2020

OMG, we all have the same mothers.

by Anonymousreply 1106/27/2020

R10, R9 is not the OP. I'm the OP. There are lots of solutions. I'm not cruel enough to markle my mother completely. I just need to set some rules about what she cannot talk about to me. I must be the only lesbian in the world who has trouble stating my boundaries.

by Anonymousreply 1206/27/2020

R12, oh shit you're a woman!!? Ok that's a different story. I'm sorry: yeah, no mother-daughter relationships are rife. Just answer every other call or email for a while. Give yourself a break.

But be strong. No one can get to you if you don't let them. It's incredibly hard when it's your mother (whose already in your head) but you are the master of your fate.

by Anonymousreply 1306/27/2020

I agree with r6, don't feed the conversation and may I add:

"Oh yeah?"

"Oh really?"


by Anonymousreply 1406/27/2020


by Anonymousreply 1506/27/2020

Thanks, R13. I'm not the only one she does it to. It seems to have started in her late teens, and her relationship with her parents never quite recovered from it. The behavior strained her relationships with all four of her sisters. She divorced her husband last year, but she still calls him daily to talk about her health concerns. Awhile back, I hinted to her how devastating it was to listen to her gloom and doom; then, she called me less frequently, and she began calling my sister too. (Until then, my sister had thought I was exaggerating about the situation.)

She's a very thoughtful person who always goes out of her way to avoid inconveniencing other people, but it hasn't occurred to her how much harm she does to other people by unloading on them.

by Anonymousreply 1606/27/2020

One of my friends had a name for a person like this. She called one person we knew in common a "Positive Energy Suck". I have a female friend who constantly complains during her calls to me. She once (in a very rare moment of self-awareness) said to me, "lots of terrible things happen to you. But I notice you never complain about them". I said, "well, I don't see how complaining is going to change the situation. I just have to get in there and try to fix it". She said, " I don't feel that way at all. Complaining is the only thing that makes me feel better". And there it is, in a nutshell.

by Anonymousreply 1706/27/2020

My mother became that way when she developed dementia.

It was utterly exhausting, so finally I settled on a stock answer: "Remember what we discussed, Mama? I won't stay and listen to you complain UNLESS you can also come up with a potential solution. If you're cold, put a jacket or pullover on. If you're fretting about too many lights burning, feel free to get up and turn them off. Etc, etc, etc."

by Anonymousreply 1806/27/2020

This is my mother to a T. Didn't know that the constant assholishness was a sign of dementia. I'm pretty sure she has undiagnosed Borderline PD, so it's hard to tell where the BPD ends and the dementia begins.

When she talks, I don't listen, ever. I am constantly rude to her and I don't care, because she's annoying as hell and I don't want to listen to any more of her stupid ravings.

by Anonymousreply 1906/27/2020

It's OK to just listen and be present in many cases. Sometimes people just need to talk.

But yes, OP and others are talking about people who suck all the energy out of a room, who constantly complain.

by Anonymousreply 2006/27/2020

A neighbor in my apartment building bitched about petty things. When I said "If you didn't have something to complain about you wouldn't know you're alive," she said "That's not true." And thankfully now won't speak to me when I see her in the hall.

by Anonymousreply 2106/27/2020

This is a tough one for me because I think some of it is personality preferences. I have friends that are "negative" but it doesn't bother me. I talk to people according to my mood at the time. Mom on a rant and I'm fatigued? I don't pick up or cut it short. Sometimes I like it though.

by Anonymousreply 2206/27/2020

R21 is my heroine!

by Anonymousreply 2306/27/2020

Some people truly are energy vampires.

by Anonymousreply 2406/27/2020

A woman I've known for decades is rapidly becoming an ex-friend. She complains and complains about her life and her stress and refuses to take advice from anyone in her life and it's fucking old. I was in therapy for years and knew that her problems were like mine so I recommended she find a therapist. She came back with "I went once and hated it. All he did was STARE at me." That's how she approaches all her problems, she gets dismissive and it gets old listening to her bitch and knowing she'll never fix them.

by Anonymousreply 2506/27/2020

[quote]They can complain for hours at a time about their unsolvable problems, and they reject any potential solutions you suggest for their problems. They don't really want their problems to be solved; they just want to unload on you and spread their misery around.

More generally, isn't that the definition for all women -- and the definition of all men is people who want to solve women's problems rather than listen to them?

At least I've heard that explanation, from either sex as a defining complaint about the opposite sex for decades.

by Anonymousreply 2606/27/2020

They’re blowing off steam, that’s all. They don’t want your help. I grew up saying nothing but negative things, because that’s what I heard my mother say. She was the most negative, critical person I’ve ever met, but I didn’t know it. Since she’d brought me up, I thought it was how to normally interact with people - by criticizing & saying witty/nasty things.

. I stopped doing it when someone told me I was always negative. I realized they were right & I changed. But I do like to blow off steam every once in a while. That doesn’t mean I want to hear seventeen options on what you think I should do. Just shut up & let them blow off steam. It’s how they communicate.

Another thing about my mother - she had 7 siblings. She despised the spouses of every one of them. Why? Because people complain about their spouses sometimes. And when my aunts or uncles complained about their spouse, my mother took it to mean her sibling hated their spouse. “He’s no good! He says mean things to her! He’s a wise guy! I hate him!” One of her brothers always complained about his wife. He was just a complainer, that’s all. But my mother despised his wife & always talked shit about her. Meanwhile, the spouse adored her husband & did everything for him. She just had some quirks that he complained about.

If a person is a complainer, let them complain. You’re not going to change them, so accept that this is how they communicate. They don’t want your solutions.

by Anonymousreply 2706/27/2020

If you want to be kind: "Mmm-hmm" "Mmm-hmm" "Ah" "Mmm-hmm" "I see"

If you want not to encourage this: glassy stare and semi-trance state and, at the conclusion, "Well, then. I should be going now. Bye"

by Anonymousreply 2806/27/2020

R27, Italian or Jewish?

by Anonymousreply 2906/29/2020


by Anonymousreply 3006/29/2020

It can seem self defeating and obnoxious but it frequently happens when someone has tried again and again to help themselves and failed. Learned helplessness ensues.

by Anonymousreply 3106/29/2020

Some people are simply black holes of negative energy. It's best to avoid them.

by Anonymousreply 3206/29/2020

R29, no way! Who else uses "wise guy"?!

by Anonymousreply 3306/29/2020

My mother was unexpectedly widowed at 65 (dad was 59–fast moving lung cancer, three pack a day Chesterfield smoker). Because they had retired two years earlier, they lived in a suburb where they didn’t know people (other than my useless brother and know it all wife). My sister and I each were “required” to do a 1-hour phone call every Sunday morning (we both lived a distance from her) that mainly consisted of her complaints. Because she was such an emotionally unhappy person, neither my sister nor I could be honest with her about our lives (at the time my sister was raising three kids, working, and dealing with trying to make her marriage work after she discovered her husband was cheating—they got through it and seem to have a decent marriage; I couldn’t be honest about my sexuality, as mom would have seen it as an illness AND her fault). But if we weren’t cheery, mom would say “You don’t sound very happy,” not as an invitation to be forthcoming but as another way we disappointed her. One Sunday she snarled at my sister (who is as nice as can be) and my sister said, “I don’t deserve that,” and hung up. My mom called me immediately and said, “She’s right. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” The following week she saw a psychiatrist who put her on antidepressants and anti anxiety meds, I helped her adopt a cat, and I think she found some peace. She died a year later of leukemia and a stroke. I was saddled with her cat (who grew to be affectionate) but I think my sister and I have never quite gotten over feeling we didn’t satisfy her (who could). My brother died two years after my mother. This all happened 25 years ago, but it is still there.

by Anonymousreply 3406/29/2020

I was always complaining about my horrible parents who everyone agreed were horrible and knew there was nothing I could do about it. Still I couldn't stop complaining about them and people got tired of me and now I'm friendless. My parents will be fucking me over from beyond the grave which will make them extremely happy.

And if you don't want to listen to me bitch about them endlessly then you can fuck off too.

by Anonymousreply 3506/29/2020

R35, a therapist might be able to help you with cognitive brain therapy. I admit that I complain too, but when I'm complaining, I at least try to make the stories funny or entertaining for the listener.

After her last two-hour unloading session, my mother has noticed a chill coming from me. She'll lay low for awhile. Then she'll blow up some tiny inconvenience into a huge problem that requires me to rescue her. And in the process, we'll happen to start talking again, without her having to apologize. As usual.

by Anonymousreply 3606/29/2020

Oh yes, this reminds me so much of Mommie Dearest.

by Anonymousreply 3706/29/2020
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