This is topic I need a sign stapled to my forehead. in forum Books, Films, Food and Culture at Hatrack River Forum.

To visit this topic, use this URL:;f=2;t=031891

Posted by Zeugma (Member # 6636) on :
One that says, "Warning: I am not a shoulder to cry on."

All my life I've attracted needy, helpless people who attach themselves to me very quickly, depend on me, and are devastated when I either can't or don't want to be their crutch or their bestest friend ever. I've always been pretty clueless about social relationships, so it tends to happen before I even realize it. As far as I'm concerned, one day I'm being polite to someone I don't mind, and the next day they're pouring out all their problems on me and relying on me for emotional support, relationship support, and even tech support!

Obviously I'm sending out some sort of signal that's telling needy people that they can count on me for anything, but that couldn't be more wrong. I'm very closed-off and unwilling to invest a lot of energy in anyone unless I feel I have a good reason to, in part because of this long string of people, from my POV, taking advantage of my support. I much prefer walling myself off and leading my rich inner life with a small handful of friends and loved ones who I know are just fine supporting themselves without my constant help.

Maybe I should stop being polite to people and kind to strangers, so people know right from the start that I'm not someone to seek out for friendship.
Posted by Farmgirl (Member # 5567) on :
Whatever that is -- I have it to.

I can be in a GROUP of people walking down the street past a homeless man, and he will come up and talk to ME out of the group.

I have attracted many mentally unstable people who think they need every waking moment of my time be spent with them helping with their problems.

I try hard to balance this with Christian love for others and helps and things, but it has always baffled me why it is alway ME they pick out.

Posted by Zeugma (Member # 6636) on :
Now that I'm calming down a little, though, I have to say that, whatever this signal is, it has definitely come in handy in job interviews. [Razz]
Posted by mothertree (Member # 4999) on :
I was talking a bit about benfitting others in the good and evil thread. It's hard to understand the balance involved in not getting pulled into other people's egos. I'm not sure what it is that emotionally needy people are picking up on, but I imagine it is weakness, like how predators pick the slowest Zebra. I hope you don't take that as an insult, I think it is what you are asking. I mean, I assume it's a subconscious quality. The needy people obviously don't think of themselves as emotional vampires. But as my mom apparently said to my older sister, "who would you rather be, you or them?" It kind of sucks that she never said that to me.

I'm bad at job interviews, or at least I seem to be. I don't know. Maybe we do have signs stapled to our foreheads that only we cannot read.

[ February 16, 2005, 12:01 PM: Message edited by: mothertree ]
Posted by Scott R (Member # 567) on :
My wife has it, too.

EDIT: 'It,' being the odd signal that weird ducks swim toward without fail.

I do not-- anymore.

Learn the value of a good sneer. You don't have to say anything. Just look back at them and sneer.

Of course, then you'll have guilt about not helping whatever odd duck you didn't help-- but trust me: with enough practice, you can get over that too.

[ February 16, 2005, 12:05 PM: Message edited by: Scott R ]
Posted by Farmgirl (Member # 5567) on :
But I don't WANT to get cynical and sneery. I love my fellow humans...

Now that you mention that, Zeugma -- that is a very good point! Thinking back, I can't think of ANY job -- if I actually make it to the interview stage -- that I didn't get the job (or at least get an offer).

My middle son has a similar gift. He is just one of those people who others "instantly trust" - without him really knowing why. Since he wants a career that involves buying/selling real estate -- this is a very good gift to have!

Posted by Jim-Me (Member # 6426) on :
Speaking as someone who has spent the last year struggling with learning not to be a needy emotional vampire, I think it's a sign that you are a loving, compassionate person. I know the moment someone showed any recognition of the fact that I might be of value or have any virtue, my thirst for that recognition (what my therapist calls "being seen") would cause me to cling to these people with such intensity that it's often referred to as an addiction (though, as far as I know, there isn't a physical withdrawal).

For what it's worth, it means that the small flashes of kindness you show these people seem like giant baths of love and approval to them. I don't think it's a fault in you or something you should change because of other people's reaction to you but I can definitely understand how it gets old.
Posted by Zeugma (Member # 6636) on :
I was always told, "You can never have too many friends, which means you should never ever do anything to make someone not like you!"

Yeah, that hasn't worked out so well.

God, I hate hurting people. I'm so tired of having to choose between my own happiness and well-being, and that of whoever my latest dependent happens to be.

This time around, I even saw it coming... I'm getting better about the warning signs.... but it still somehow spiraled out of control before I knew what had happened. Someone at work who's in a different department, but in a similarly bad work situation, thought that we were best buds who were going to start our own company together and do all this stuff and bitch about office politics all the time and talk about our crazy families 24/7.... I've told her on and off that I'm not really interested in the kind of work she's thinking I can do with her, that I'm sick of the office politics and they're giving me migraines, that I'm not really looking for group therapy at work.... I guess the message didn't get through. Now her department is really going nuts on her, I'm not really interested in hearing every little detail of every problem, and I'm freaking SICK of coding web pages for FREE!

Aaaaaaaagh! Frustration..... rising!

[ February 16, 2005, 12:12 PM: Message edited by: Zeugma ]
Posted by Farmgirl (Member # 5567) on :
:: bathes Jim-Me in virtual love ::
Posted by Farmgirl (Member # 5567) on :
(((( Zeugma ))))
Posted by Zeugma (Member # 6636) on :
Jim, you're absolutely right, and for what it's worth, I do genuinely feel for these kinds of people, even when I'm really frustrated and stressed-out by them.

I'd say most, if not all, of these situations have been exactly as you described... I tend to treat people well, and especially when I'm in a good mood, I like to spread it around. Even though I'm really rather anti-social, I smile a lot, open doors for people when I don't think they'll be offended by it, and really enjoy walking up to confused-looking strangers and asking if they need directions, often walking them to their destination if it's complicated. I gave one woman last summer a ride home from work, because she was new to the country and I couldn't communicate walking directions. I really like helping people, in small, self-contained situations. You know, like when I'll never see them again.

When it comes to helping people on a deeper level, though, I'm just not able or willing to do it unless there's a good reason to do it. It's selfish, and a defense mechanism I've picked up over the years.

The problem, I guess, is when people assume that my small gestures mean there's no limit to my ability or desire to help others.

Hence the need for the sign. Or maybe I could just tell people as I meet them. "Hi, nice to meet you, I'd be happy to help you with anything small, but please leave me alone after that."

Posted by Jim-Me (Member # 6426) on :
See? that's why people like me seek you out, FG.

Thanks, though. [Blushing]

Zeugma, it is possible to politely but firmly tell people the things you are telling us here... but it's hard to do.
Posted by Zeugma (Member # 6636) on :
Yeah, Jim. This time around, I've been dropping BIG HUGE hints for the past several weeks, telling her that I don't want to be involved in the office politics anymore whenever she drops in to tell me all about them, how I'm tired of doing web work for free, and how busy I am with other things lately. She nods and agrees and keeps right on going with the bitching and the planning and the one-sided commiserating.

I've been trying to avoid having to flat-out tell her that this has gone too far, that I'm not looking for a buddy to bitch about work or family or life with, that I can't solve her problems with her coworkers, so I'm tired of hearing every detail thrown at me like I can, that I'm just tired of working with her and her constant neediness. [Frown] When I started to really question my role in her web project this morning, she started questioning me, saying I must have been told not to work with her, and I'm just not telling the truth. Then she came over to my office and asked me twice more, on the verge of tears, all the while bitching more about the politics. Which, yes, the politics here are ridiculous, but I'm DONE! No more!!

I feel like that woman in "As Good as it Gets": Why can't I just work with NORMAL PEOPLE!!!!

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2