More Thoughts About ‘The Toilet Function of Friendship’ – Avoid or Minimize Contact with the Rachels and Fletchers of the World 

More Thoughts About ‘The Toilet Function of Friendship’ – Avoid or Minimize Contact with the Rachels and Fletchers of the World 

I did a blog post about this about three weeks ago:
((Link): When You’re in Imbalanced, Unfair Relationships – You’re the Free Therapist, The Supportive, Sounding Board Who Listens to Other People’s Non-Stop Complaining, But They Don’t Listen to You – re: The Toilet Function of Friendship).

I had more I wanted to say about this.

This guy’s blog post – Joseph Burgo’s post – about “The Toilet Function of Friendship” that I blogged about previously really hit home with me…

 especially since I am a recovered codependent who, over 35+ years during the time I was codependent (and used to have clinical depression and had low self esteem), kept attracting abusive, mean, nasty, self absorbed, pessimistic, depressed, emotionally needy and psychologically wounded or personality disordered people to me,

…and the comments left by people at the bottom of his post were also very eye opening or informative.

I wanted to discuss a few comments visitors left to his post, above all, a post by someone calling herself “Rachel,” and a comment by “Fletcher.”

I’ll probably save Fletcher’s and Rachel’s comments for last.

I notice a lot of the people who left comments below the post on Burgo’s blog say that they have been on the receiving end of this situation, where they attract negative or hurting friends who cope with life’s stress by “dumping” and venting about their problems to a sympathetic listener.

I too was in that position for many years, and it left me resentful, exhausted, and with nothing to show for it.

I’ve always been a very good, attentive listener.

I’m not the sort of person who attempts to pivot every conversation back on to herself, so… meaning…

If you’re my acquaintance or friend, and you stop by my cubicle during the work day or call me at home to confide in me about some problem you are having, I used to just sit there and let you talk for how ever many hours you wanted to rant and confide.

Even if I was wanting to get off the phone after 20 to 40 minutes, I was reluctant to end the phone call, so I’d sit there while the emotionally needy friend or family member droned on and on and on (or ranted and ranted in anger) about whatever problems they were having.

(I used to never, or very rarely, put time limits on people when they would complain to me, which left me utterly exhausted.

In my codependent years, I felt guilty if I tried to end people’s “complain and gripe” fests prematurely (because I was getting physically tired listening, or they were interrupting my work or whatever the reason), and I was afraid they’d break off friendship with me if I refused to allow them to use me as their “emotional toilet” or “free therapist.”

Only in the last few years, as I reflect upon my past, do I realize HOW UNFAIR this was to me.)

My habit was to just sit and listen thoughtfully, to nod my head in sympathy as you would rattle off your life’s stress to me, whether it was about your lazy, selfish boyfriend, or your ex-husband who wouldn’t pay child support, or your jerk boss making your work life awful – whatever it was.

And when I would finally speak up, after listening to you vent, I would only make empathetic, non-judgmental comments.

Back in my codependent, people pleasing days, I would tell you I was sorry you were under so much stress, and I hoped your situation would improve. I would validate your feelings, validate your situation, so you would feel heard and understood.

I rarely, oh so rarely, would give people who talked to me to complain to me, advice, judgement, criticism, or platitudes.

All of those relationship habits and qualities of mine that I had for many years made me very, very attractive to needy, angry, depressed, narcissistic, pessimistic, or unhappy people.

I now know better.

I think it does take a lot of life experience to get here, to be able to look at my past, to see where my Mom and church were in error to teach me as they did, (with their teachings being largely responsible for turning me into an attractive target for hurting, angry, or emotionally needy people), to see clearly the patterns of behavior.

Most of the people who used me to get their emotional needs met (but who seldom met mine in return) had very deep psychological problems or maladaptive coping skills.

Some had clinical depression (which I also had myself for over 30+ years), some may have been Covert Narcissists, some choose to cope with pain, disappointment, or anger in life by complaining to someone else – and I was often that “someone else.”

Some of these people have deeply entrenched psychological issues, and there is no amount of me listening to them and consoling them that is going to heal them. That concept took me much later in life to figure out, and that point was confirmed in various articles or books I read by psychologists and psychiatrists in the last few years.

These types of people really need to see a psychologist or licensed therapist over a period of weeks or months to work on their inner problems and relational styles that lead them to cope with their frustration or anger in life by constantly “dumping” them verbally on to a trusted friend for months or years.

If you are a people pleaser, an empath, or a codependent (whatever label you use for yourself), you need to accept that you will not get your needs met by ignoring your own and running around meeting other people’s needs, if that is one of your secret motivations for why you help others or act as their “emotional toilet” or “free therapist.”

(Some codependents think it’s not acceptable for them to get their needs met; they got the message from their family or church while they were growing up that it’s supposedly “selfish” for one to get one’s own needs met.

And no, it is not selfish to get one’s own needs met, or to expect people who say they are your friends to sometimes meet your needs in return. It’s part of a normal, healthy childhood or adulthood to get one’s needs met.)

If you’re a people pleaser, a codependent, you will have to be more intentional about when, to whom, under what circumstances, and for how long you will show someone else care, compassion, concern, or give them financial assistance.

Because if you do not learn to get comfortable with putting limits on your time, compassion, finances, and energy, you will be exploited and taken advantage of by many people who never (or rarely) meet your needs in return. All these people over decades will drain you dry and leave you exhausted.

I do think there are some times in life where it’s appropriate to grant people more emotional support than usual and not expect much in return.

But such occasions should be exceptions, such as, if your friend is in the grieving process over the death of a loved one, in such occasions, it may be acceptable to allow them to complain to you for hours over two to four years as they process the loss.

But if you have a friend who more or less contacts you regularly to complain a lot about every issue (and I mean the non-exceptions – just to rant about how they hate their job, their boyfriend is inconsiderate – your more tedious, normal life situations that are not as stressful, as say, a death in the family) – or maybe the same two or three (trivial, mundane) issues repeatedly – you really need to put limits on that person.

Most people who do this venting are only using you to get their emotional needs met, and they will NOT return the same non-judgmental emotional support to you that you granted them for weeks or years.

SAMPLE COMMENTS

From the (Link): Burgo blog post, some comments left by some of his blog visitors:

Tracey

by Tracey
Dec 10, 2020

Wow! What a powerful article and one I, too needed to hear and to equally recognize both sides.

I have ‘friends’ who dump on me that I should un-friend, but I have been loathe to do so for myriad reasons.

First and foremost being how to explain the action I’m taking and how to deal with the unknown reactions & emotions of others.

Taking that a step further, if the offender accepts the charge of being a dumper, shows remorse and a genuine interest in changing/correcting their behavior, then what?

I feel neither qualified nor comfortable that I could impartially participate in that process.

Secondly, If I’m brutally honest with myself, I surmise a significant amount of my reluctance has more to do with: having only a very small circle of friends, naturally, I’m not anxious to cut ties leaving me with fewer still; not feeling that I’m in a place to commit to ‘doing the work’ of going through the stages of the grieving process to achieve healthy closure and move on;
the realization and admission that I have allowed myself to be sucked into some reciprocal dumping, which makes me feel a bit hypocritical; and finally, my current feelings of inadequacy, insecurity and low self-esteem which undermine my pursuit of new, healthier and more equitable relationships. ….
— end —

I think a lot of people pleasers and codependents can relate to what Tracey said – I got the message growing up (from my mother, the Christian faith I was raised in, and secular gender stereotypes for women) that if I wanted friends to care about me and listen to me talk about my problems, this meant I had to earn that.

I was led to believe that I had to earn this care and attention from others by listening to my friends complain for hours about their problems and extend them empathy (even though I usually found such constant listening to complaints exhausting, boring, and I resented it).

(As an introverted person, being an attentive listener comes naturally to me, I’m good at it, but it doesn’t mean that I enjoy listening to people approach me often to complain for hours over months about their issues.)

I was afraid if I didn’t continually play this role of empathetic listener, that these friends would resent me or dump me.

As a recovered codependent, I can tell you this is in fact true!

Some of the people in your life are only in your life because you do favors for them – you give them money; you do kind gestures like often buy them coffee… or, if like me, you listen to them complain for hours over months or years about their problems, they rarely listen to you talk about yours, and you don’t address this imbalance.

These kinds of people are thrilled with this type of situation – they are happy that you are willing to listen to them complain for hours over years but that they don’t have to listen to you talk about YOUR problems.

They don’t have to invest emotional labor into YOU. They are quite happy with that arrangement. They love that they are getting THEIR needs met but that they don’t have to meet YOUR needs in return.

Once you begin getting over codependency and enacting boundaries, once you start addressing the unfair situations in these types of “friendships,” oh yes, many of your so-called friends will get angry about you confronting them about it, with you demanding that they start meeting YOUR needs every so often, and they will stop reaching out to you.

And you need to learn that is fine.

Such people (the parasites!) were never true friends to start with.

Hermes

Hermes said:

… I can be severe in discouraging “dumpers” and as you say, life and experience teaches you to see them coming 1000 yards away!
— end excerpt —

I relate to that! As I’ve gotten into middle age, gotten rid of the codependency my Mom and Christian faith instilled into me, I’ve gotten much faster at spotting the “pity me, feel sorry for me” type of folks who have no intention of fixing their problems.

And now that I realize it’s not “mean” or “selfish” of me to minimize contact with such people, or to avoid such people, or switch the topic to a neutral topic (or exit the conversation altogether) when they start whining about their problems,  I am so much happier now!

For years, I was more fooled and drawn in by the “sad sacks” (sometimes these are (Link): covert narcissists) I met along the way, the people who would go on in a “pity me, feel sorry for me!” way who wanted me to console them all the time.

A lot of these people had a tendency to want to share with me how they were victims in life and to share with me all their personal pains and abuse since childhood. They played on my heartstrings.

I’ve now since gotten much faster at recognizing these types of people, and I back off, instead of feeling responsible for helping them or validating them (it’s not my job to fix them or cheer them up).

Lara

Comment by Lara – I agree with her on this:

Lara says:

This toilet idea is an interesting observation, and I can say that in my own life I have had to cut people off that seemed to want only to dump and never gain insight from their experiences.

That said, I think there are situations that call for a complete giving over to the friend when they are facing some great trauma like a cancer diagnosis or loss of a loved one. In that case, being there for them DOES mean just listening, letting them dump their pain, their fear and whatever else concerns them in order to be supportive.

There is no solution to be offered in those kinds of circumstances, and it is a supreme act of compassion to just shut up and let them get everything out and be a sounding board.

I feel that you have to put your friends needs above your own in these types of instances; it is the only way to show true love for them and be supportive in a way that takes into account the magnitude of their difficulties.

I would not expect a friend facing cancer to reciprocate my friendship to the extent that he or she might have done before, nor would I ever expect them to be open to advice when facing such a devastating cirumstance.

So in these types of instances, I would happily be a toilet for as long as they need me to be one. It is my gift to them to give my love and support–and not recieve anything in return.
— end Lara’s comment —

I totally agree with Lara. I do think it would be very harsh, or too extreme, to never, ever be flexible in how one deals with friends or family who are in emotional pain.

I think when and where and to whom and for how long to extend compassion, empathy and attention, should be done on a case- by- case basis.

There may be times in life, if your friend or family is going through a particular problem (ie, death in the family), it may be appropriate or permissible to allow them to use you as an “emotional toilet” for however long they need to (or up to a few years).

The amount and duration of empathy, time, and attention given would depend on the person and the situation.

Unfortunately, if you are a codependent, a people pleaser, and/or an empath, your boundaries are so vague or don’t even exist, that you end up taking on too much for too long from anyone and everyone you meet.

You believe it’s your duty to fix and rescue every hurting person who comes to you – but it is not.

You may believe it’s your responsibility or obligation to let a negative, hurting, or angry friend contact you and complain for many hours per day on a regular basis for however long they want – but it is not.

It’s okay to put limits on how much you help people, for how long, under what circumstances, and which people.

Steve

Regarding this comment by Steve…

Steven Meer says:
December 25, 2010 at 12:10 am

I can relate strongly to the kind of “friends” you are describing.

As for myself, it did not take me many years to see, and make them see, that I was not the kind of person that they could continue to do this to. I had enough “real” friends to know that the loss of these people was a welcome relief.

I think the main reason why I let myself get dragged into these situations earlier in life, was the mistaken belief that after they dumped their crap on me, I could then offer them some advice that they would at least listen to and might consider to follow.

In my ignorance, I could see no other reason for why they would be dumping all of this crap on me, unless they wanted my input.

I did not understand that this was a one-way exchange for them – my function was just, as you said, to be their toilet.

Since then, I set myself up with some healthy boundaries – one being that friendship is not a one-way street. If a friendship becomes one, I don’t need to continue it….
— end excerpts by Steve —

Honestly, I found this comment by Steve a little annoying.

Steve, most of the time, when people come to you sobbing, crying, or raging about their divorce, their grandma dying, job problems, or having gotten pulled over by a cop this morning for speeding and they received a ticket, they are NOT looking for advice!

Why is this so hard for most people to accept or understand?

Steve, if you personally go to someone upset or angry after a stressful life event, do you personally appreciate it when the listener starts giving you advice? Probably not.

Receiving advice when you’re upset, hurting, worried, or angry over a situation feels very dismissive to most people – it adds insult to injury.

When most people contact you, Steve, to complain about their issues, whether in a sad or angry way, they are seeking validation, empathy, and encouragement.

Seldom in life will people approach you, me, or whomever, to cry or rant about their crummy job or dead pet dog or horrible ex-spouse because they want your or my advice, or are looking to you or me for solutions.

I know when I am upset in the moment and call a friend to complain, I am not looking for advice, judgement, victim blaming, shame or criticism, but just for the person to sit quietly for 40 or so minutes while I vent, and then have them validate my negative feelings and situation. I am NOT looking for solutions or advice at that time.

My problem as a lifelong people pleaser is that while I know most hurting people approach me simply wanting to vent, and they just want me to listen without judging or giving advice, I had to put limits on this.

The older I get, I no longer have the stamina (nor the interest) to allow people to phone me for HOURS on end every few days to complain, especially if it’s about the same problem over a period of years.

But I do realize when people call me (or text me) to complain, they’re not looking for advice – they just want to get things off their chest.

I do realize that rather than constantly complain about the same problem repeatedly, that eventually, the complainer will need to take ownership of their life and of the problem and start dealing with it, working on a solution.

Constant complaining about a problem feels good for awhile but will ultimately do nothing to solve the issue you’re complaining about. That’s the flip side of that situation.

Catherine

I related to Catherine’s comments:

… I always knew deep down that I excused my relationships with these people because I felt sorry for all their mental problems. It is now decades that I have put up with their miserable and self piteous behaviour.

You have made me see, that I matter just as much as they do and I have a right to choose to be happy.

For many years I had dysfunctional friendships. I listened to all their dumpings, terrified that if I queried their behaviour I would be dumped.

In both instances after many years of friendships I was dumped.

I was devastated and felt worthless even though towards the end of these friendships I had become very disgruntled and felt that I was always supporting them and they were not there for me.

But you know what, after about three years, even though it saddens me, I feel it is the best thing that happened for I began to see how little I had mattered to them.
— end excerpts —

You really must visit Burgo’s page to read all the comments in the comments section, because if you’re anything like me, you will find plenty that resonate.

❇️ Fletcher and Rachel ❇️

And now, we get to the heart of this post.

I wanted to share and discuss the comments by “Fletcher” and “Rachel” at Burgo’s blog.

First, I’ll present the comments then discuss them below:

Comment by Fletcher
March 5, 2017

There is a lot of good advice with dealing with friends who do this but I’m realizing I am the dumper.

I find relief in talking to people about my problems, I just want someone to recognize and sympathize with my pain. I’m typically not even really looking for advice.

In the past I have definitely had to check myself when i realize i’m overburdening the other person, even though there’s so much more i still want to tell them. I guess I am stuck in the “early mode of communication” you’re talking about.

Anyone have any insights on how someone can learn to move forward from this?
— end comment —

Comment by Rachel
July 15, 2017

Hi there, this is a really interesting article for me as I think I am using people like this.

I feel like when I am upset I need someone to witness my feelings then I have no further need for them – like a tissue.

My sister (whom I have been using in this way) pointed out that I should update people about how I’m doing as they will worry about me and the difficult situations I describe.

I realised that I felt a little resentful of this and didn’t want to have to worry about others’ feelings about me as well as my own concerns. I just wanted them to be there when I needed them.

I can see this is exactly the toilet syndrome you describe.

Obviously I have since been trying to be more aware of others’ concern for me. I think this is a big issue for me though as I think I basically avoid friendships because I end up feeling like I am depressing to be around and end up using people and feeling guilty and it is an effort to think of others all the time then feeling like I’m not being a good friend.

I have noticed passive aggressive behaviours in others which support their feeling potentially like I’m using them – forgetting about arrangements to speak to share support, or just withdrawing from it.

I don’t know how to change this (I can’t afford therapy).

I am going through an extremely difficult time at the moment as my husband is extremely depressed and I am trying to support him and hold back my negativity about him as it sends him spiralling down; he also became romantically involved with a girl at work so i have been particularly struggling since I found out about this. How can I change and grow?
— end comment —

➡️ Avoid the Rachels and the Fletchers! ⬅️

At least Fletcher is asking for help on how to change, I will grant him that. I guess maybe even Rachel asks towards the end how to curb this tendency.

But if you’re a people pleaser, an empath, a codependent, I want you to go back and really re-read those comments by Fletcher and Rachel, and read them closely.

This part of Rachel’s comment especially struck me as being off- the- charts self-absorbed or narcissistic:

I feel like when I am upset I need someone to witness my feelings then I have no further need for them – like a tissue. …

I realised that I felt a little resentful of this and didn’t want to have to worry about others’ feelings about me as well as my own concerns. I just wanted them to be there when I needed them.
— end —

I mean yikes! Who wants someone calling them up regularly to rant or cry about their problems who quite clearly doesn’t want to know them outside of their purpose of being their free therapist they gripe to? It’s kind of dehumanizing.

And yes, I’ve had friends and family in years past who I could get that vibe off, and it hurt my feelings and angered me.

I was being used, and I felt as though I was being used – and it was a bad feeling.

I would have friends or family call me any time they were upset to cry or complain – but that is the only time they called – to complain.

They never (or very rarely) called or e-mailed to ask how I was doing, or to just “chit chat.” It would become clear that they were only contacting me to dump their problems on me.

These people, Fletcher and Rachel (assuming they’re not trolling and are being completely honest and serious), are the types of people who will approach you constantly to talk to you for hours and hours over months and years about their frustrations and woes in life – and they will leave you mentally exhausted and possibly simmering with resentment as a result.

If you, the codependent (or people pleaser),

  • do NOT learn to set boundaries and get over your guilt or fear of saying “No” to people
  • and don’t learn to put limits on your time,
  • if you are too afraid of telling these people who call you (or text or e-mail) often to constantly complain to you to stop calling you as often to complain,

you will attract the Fletchers and Rachels to you in the first place, and you will keep on attracting these sorts of people.

If it’s not that you attract such needy and hurting self absorbed people, once one of them happens into your orbit, once they see you are a great, empathetic listener, and if you cannot or will not put boundaries on them, they will, I can guarantee you, make a daily or weekly habit out of contacting you to complain to you about their problems.

I know from first-hand experience! I lived like this for over 35 years!

It was NOT rewarding in any way, shape, or form to act as other people’s free therapist, maternal figure, or emotional toilet.

The Fletchers and Rachels may be otherwise lovely, nice human beings – but do you really, really want them to run you ragged for months or years texting, e-mailing, or phoning for hours on a regular basis, dumping all their life problems on you?

If you’re a codependent, you are probably ALREADY dealing with parents, co-workers, or siblings who are dumping on you and expecting you to coddle and console them – you really do not need any more people like this doing this same thing to you.

At least on some level Fletcher and Rachel are a bit more self aware than 99.9% of other emotionally needy people I’ve come across in my life. They both seem to realize that they are guilty of using other people as free therapists and maybe want to stop this habit.

The majority of other emotionally needy people whose primary preference for dealing with stress, anxiety, anger, or depression in life is to phone or text a friend regularly about it either do not realize they are wearing out their sympathetic friends, or some of them may know to some point they are doing this, but they DO NOT CARE.

Listen to me codependent, boundary-less person:
There ARE people out there – whether they are angry complainers, “pity me please, console me all the time!” covert narcissists, emotionally troubled or depressed people, who have NO QUALMS about contacting YOU to dump their problems on you.
Furthermore, if you permit it to continue, if you don’t set limits on them, you will be receiving many regular phone calls (or texts) from them where they expect you to listen and supply them with consoling, sweet, understanding words.

This can go on for months or years (literally. I’ve had co-workers, friends, and family who used me as their free therapist for many years).

It is the responsibility of these people to self-soothe and to find other coping mechanisms for the disappointments and stresses of life (like the rest of us do), and not turn to you constantly, every time, they are upset and expect you to console them. That is not fair to you.

God bless this Rachel person – hopefully she’s in a better place now – she published her post back in April (or summer?) of 2017 on Burgo’s blog – but honestly, I would not want to be the individual who Rachel phones, e-mails, or texts to receive emotional support.

Until I worked on my own issues, escaped codependency, and developed self esteem and boundaries, I used to consistently attract people just like Rachel and Fletcher.

Or, if one of the Rachels or Fletchers happened to fall into my life, once they were in my life, my formerly codependent self felt duty-bound and obligated to play the part of their “free therapist” (even though I usually hated and dreaded constantly getting such phone calls or e-mails), and I used to feel very guilty ever saying “no” to them, or avoiding their whiny, sad sack, or angry phone calls.

I therefore resentfully and reluctantly ended up sinking a lot of my time and energy into listening to hours and hours of whiny, ranting, or sad phone calls (or reading such e-mails) from neurotic, narcissist, self absorbed, depressed, or upset people for over 30 years.

Yes, I used to attract people just like them, just like the Fletchers and Rachels, who, once they saw I was a sweet, understanding, boundary-less people-pleaser who gave non-judgmental emotional support, would call or text me every day (or quite frequently) and use me as their “free therapist,” their “emotional toilet,” or as some kind of loving, nurturing, maternal figure.

I played those roles many years for many emotionally wounded, covert narcissistic, lonely, depressed, angry, or negative people, and it wore me out.

Looking back on my life, I now resent and regret the time and effort I poured in to such people.

It was almost always one-sided – I was the one doing all the listening and consoling, while those who came to me for these purposes didn’t usually want to be there for me in return.

If  you’re a sweet, caring, empathetic person who feels telling people “no” is selfish, wrong or mean – maybe you were taught in childhood by your parents or your religious faith that your needs do not matter – you will keep on attracting draining, emotionally wounded, non-stop emotionally needy people just like Fletcher and Rachel.

Maybe you have an expectation that if you listen to people like Fletcher and Rachel complain or cry for hours about THEIR problems for months or years, and you believe if you give them understanding and concern when they contact you to cry or complain, that they will return the favor one day when you’re the one who needs a friend to listen – this is false!

I can tell you right now this is a false hope.

The Fletchers and Rachels are psychological vampires who will suck you dry. Their emotional needs are limitless. They are bottomless pits of emotional need – you will never, ever be able to fill their voids.

They will suck up your time, energy, and good will, but if you ever try to phone or e-mail them about YOUR problems so that they can console or comfort YOU, they will not do so, or it will be pretty rare.

The Fletchers and Rachels and people similar to them may even act cranky, angry, or incredulous that YOU expect THEM to meet YOUR emotional needs (even if, up until now, you have been meeting their emotional needs for a long time), since they feel so needy themselves; they feel as though they are more in need of emotional support than anyone who comes to them.

I’m sorry if this Rachel person was having marriage problems – she posted back in 2017, maybe she and her marriage are doing better now (let’s hope they are) – and I’m not saying this to be cruel, but this comes from hard-won life experience: Fletcher and Rachel are the type of people I would not want to befriend – not anymore.

Up until a couple of years ago, I used to think I had to “earn” friendship with other people, which means, I assumed wrongly for many years that if I wanted friends, it meant I had to do things like the exhausting task of listening to unhappy people complain for hours over years.

God bless these people (the Fletchers and Rachels), hope they’re doing fine now, but I do not want to be the one who they call or e-mail regularly with their life’s problems.

I already spent (wasted!) over 35 years serving such people, and I didn’t get my needs met in return. I was run ragged by such people and left totally drained.

Rachel and Fletcher are the very sort of people I would’ve attracted during my 35+ years of being a codependent (aside from the bullies and abusers), back when I believed it was my obligation to rescue other people and do things like listen to them complain or weep for hours over months about their problems (while they more often than not ignored my problems and didn’t care to listen to me talk about mine).

If you’re a people pleaser, a codependent, or someone with a soft heart and poor boundaries – especially if you’re under the age of 40 reading this – please accept reality. Please realize you cannot save or fix the troubled or hurting people you encounter.

Please do not feel it’s your duty or job to listen to and console people with mental health problems, or who always seem sad (or angry), who seem to prefer to deal with problems in life by contacting you to complain or cry about them.

There are a lot of people like that out there – psychologically wounded or emotionally needy people – and a lot of them are hoping to run into an empathetic, good listener just like you.

And once they find you, and they see what a kind-hearted person you are, and they discover that you don’t have boundaries, they will absolutely begin to contact you regularly to complain or cry all the time about their problems.

Such troubled people who are looking for an empathetic listener will usually NOT inquire about you, take an interest in you or your life, nor will they care to meet your emotional needs.

And after so many weeks or years of that dynamic, you will get tired of it.

You need to spot these types of people quickly to minimize contact with them; if one happens to slip through, you need to have boundaries and be assertive to repel them.

Those posts by Fletcher and Rachel are very educational and should be a wake-up call to any “bleeding heart” codependents or overly-empathetic, people pleasers out there who tend to feel so very sorry for every hurting person who approaches them with a sob story.

You’re seeing emotionally needy people in those comments flat out admit on a guy’s blog that they are on the prowl to use someone kind and understanding just like you, and they are not terribly concerned with meeting your needs in return.

If you think you are prone to attracting these types of people, please do some research on people pleasing, having boundaries, codependency, and being assertive. Please stop allowing yourself to be used by people who are bottomless pits of emotional needs.

All of your kindness and listening will not ultimately be able to save or repair these chronically psychologically hurting or troubled people, and most of them will not meet your needs in return (most of them don’t even want to meet your needs, but they do want you to meet theirs). You are wasting your time, energy, and attention on such people.


(Link): How empathic reversal makes you vulnerable to narcissists [and other selfish people] – 6.56 minutes long – a video by Dr. Ramani

I disagree with Dr. Ramani slightly on the point in this video I am sharing where she says that “narcissists do not have a radar” for picking up codependent, overly empathetic, people pleasing people –

I will take her word for it (regarding selfish people not having radar for codependents) that this may be true of some selfish people, but in my experience of having been a pretty extreme codependent until my  mid-40s, some selfish people (whether they have narcissism or whatever disorder, or are simply just very selfish and self absorbed), do in fact have such radar, and they use it to their advantage.

Some selfish people (I’d say most of the ones I encountered in my life)
were able to detect very quickly that I was codependent (i.e., very passive, lacking in boundaries, afraid or reluctant to say “no”),
and sometimes, when they realized I was a codependent, their faces would light up, beaming, (once they recognized I was a “push over”), because they felt they “hit the jackpot” any time they run into a boundary-less people pleasers like that, because they know how easy it is to exploit people like that.

Some narcissists, definitely sociopaths, and other types of selfish people can spot codependents (empaths) very quickly and are on the look-out for codependents – that was my experience for over three decades.

I’ve also seen in material by other mental health professionals that diagnosed sociopaths admit to them that yes, they, the sociopaths, can quickly deduce if a new person they meet is an easy mark or not, and easy marks (codependents, etc) are their preferred prey.

I had to learn at a young age to spot such people quickly, in order to protect myself (spot them to keep away from them as best I could), so that “radar” is a two-way street.

In other words, if you’re the prey (and empaths and codependents are prey with narcissists and other types of selfish people), you want to be able to spot the typical predators quickly, for your own safety.

Other than that one caveat I felt this was a pretty good video:


Related:

(Link): Offering Unconditional, Indefinite Emotional Support to Anyone and Everyone, or to the Same Person for Years, in Whatever Situations – It’s a Trap!

(Link): Victim Syndrome (‘Are You A Victim of the Victim Syndrome’) – by Insead

(Link): Not all Narcissists are Grandiose – the ‘Vulnerable’ Type can be Just as Dangerous 

(Link): Pathologies of Victimhood by R. Gunderman – The Dangers of Victimhood Mentality

(Link): Victim Blaming Codependents or Victim Blaming People Who Exhibit Codependent Behaviors

(Link): Help! I Think I Made a Terrible Mistake When Helping My Elderly Neighbor (The Codependency, People Pleasing Trap)

(Link): Chronic Pain and the Self Pity, Depression Trap

(Link): When Narcissists Fake Being Sick to Manipulate You – Re: Boundaries, etc

(Link): People Using Fake Sickness or Hardship To Con People Out Of Their Money, Attention, or Empathy

(Link): Avoid Getting Entangled with Covert Narcissists – You Can Waste Your Time, Effort, Money or Giving that Exhausting Emotional Support and It Won’t Make A Difference to the Recipient

(Link): How To Deal With Chronic Complainers, by Guy Winch, Ph.D.

This “Emma” person I blogged about here was another “Rachel” or “Fletcher” in my life:
(Link): Emma Responds – My Comments

(Link): How to Recognize and Respond to Energy Vampires at Home, Work, and More

(Link): Sick of the Chronic Complainer? Here’s How to Fix Their Behavior By Sophie Deutsch

(Link): Five Tips to Help You Quiet the Chronic Complainer in You Life by Lisa Fields

(Link):Acceptance (vs. Denial, Anger, or Should-ing) – Helps in Healing and Getting Through Painful Events and Dealing With Things You Cannot Change

(Link): Mental Illness Doesn’t Make You Special by Freddie Deboer

(Link): Are You Stuck in the “I’ll Feel Better When” Cycle? by Diana Hill, phD

(Link):  When You’re in Imbalanced, Unfair Relationships – You’re the Free Therapist, The Supportive, Sounding Board Who Listens to Other People’s Non-Stop Complaining, But They Don’t Listen to You – re: The Toilet Function of Friendship

(Link): The ‘Paralyzed in a Wheelchair’ Analogy – Regarding: Clinical Depression – Also: The Cynical or Victimhood Filter

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