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Do you have a friend that complains about everything?


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I was just wondering what does anyone do about a chronic complainer? I have a good friend that I've found myself distancing from because of the complaining. The start of every conversation is usually:


Her: Hey, how are you?

Me: Alright, and you?

Her: *****goes on for a good solid at least twenty minutes of complaints about her work (which is highly technical and I don't understand what she is saying anyway) and the people there and anything else that has happened during the day to tick her off.


She has always done this, but I guess as time goes on I've found myself more and more turned off by it and I think in the begininng of our friendship I thought it was just a spell. But now, it seems that she should at least do something proactive to stop what is going on or drop it. I dread starting conversations with her because of this.


I have tried talking to her, but it doesn't seem like she is getting the point and I don't want to be rude to get my point accross. Any suggestions?

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I had a friend who was like this. I swear, it started to feel like I was her therapist. She would call me up, moan and complain for 20-30 minutes straight, and sometimes not even bother to ask about me or anything in my life.


I just started distancing myself from her. Stop returning some of her calls, got off the phone pretty quickly when she started complaining, didn't go out with her unless there were other people going.


After a while she noticed that I was pulling back, an she sent me an e-mail asking why. I explained, in pretty blunt terms. I told her that I felt like I was doing all the giving, and she was doing all the taking. She did not take this very well, and got pretty angry, and that was the end of our friendship.


We didn't talk for over a year. Last summer out of the blue I got an e-mail from her. I guess she had been in therapy and had realized that the way she was acting had driven people away (I was not the only friend who eventually dropped her).


When people are so caught up in their own misery, and in the habit of endlessly complaining about it it's hard to talk to them about it. My friend immediately got defensive. But I felt like I had to back off for my own peace of mind.

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I usually just cut back on the amount of time/access those people have.


I spent most of my 30's in therapy. At one point, my counselor said something that has stuck with me for years and (IMO) has proven itself to be true time and time again. She said:


"(my name), some people just like to (rhymes-with-witch)."


Sounds like your friend might be one of those.

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I have a friend like that and have had friends like that. I distance myself too. Sometimes I say "so, tell me something good that is going on!" The problem also is that when there is a real problem - a serious illness, surgery, serious family issues - I am so drained from listening to the on and on little stuff that I don't have much left for the real stuff which doesn't feel right but it is how i feel.


One friend suggested giving the complainer an empty coffee can and asking the complainer to put one note per day in the "I can, Can" - that would say something she "can do" that is positive. Haven't tried that yet.

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People complain because it gives them attention. Period. That's the payoff. When people present their problems, other people tend to want to come to their rescue with either compassion, intrigue, interest, or friendly words.


We learn this behavior as children, and clever adults tend to maximize the benefit even when it's done subconsciously. The crying child gets the hugs and pats on the back.


Take ENA for example. Those who present the biggest dilemas, the most dire problems, the most unusual, sad stories, are usually presented with the greatest amount of feedback, compassion, and kind words. Sometimes, it's the rather silent ones who don't ask for much help, don't bat the eyelash, don't seek the attention, that actually require the most help. And just as often, it's the beautiful, well-adjusted person with the fantastic job, great significant other, and anything else you can name that have a way to turn even the most mundance occurrences into outright disasters.


"I broke a nail on the way to work! Argh!!!!!" When some people are a little bit too content and complacent, they'll even invent ways to create drama so that the attention they think they're missing will come their way. Who cares about a perfectly happy, perfectly content person that never complains? Unless they have an exceptional and witty personality, they are virtually ignored. It's the folks with problems that get your attention.


For your friend, this is her learned behavior. Complain, cry, moan, whine, and do it often enough and you'll surely be the center of attention. People are madly, and undeniably in love with their misery. Try to take it away from them, and they'd rather die. It becomes their identity, and nothing is worse then trying to take away one's identity.


Case in point, anyone here on ENA that presents the same problems over, and over, and over again, are offered perfectly legitimate and valuable advice to solve their problems, and then they choose to completely ignore this advice so that they don't have to let go of their problems, their misery, their identity. I even offered to buy a a particular self-help book for a particular poster, and I knew it could help him if he read it, and he outright refused.


"Don't help me! Let me have my problems! Don't take away my misery.... it is all that I am!"


That's what people do, and if you don't believe me then why is it that we live in Western culture, that by global standards every single one of us are insanely rich, that we are given every convenience that life has to offer, that we have potential friendships waiting at every corner, at every restaurant, in every class, in every store, at every lecture, and yet we still find and even invent new ways to be miserable.


Compare our standard of life to those in 3rd world countries. There is no comparison, but you won't see most of these people contemplating suicide. Why is it that sometimes, those with the least are the happiest people you'll ever see. And those with the most want to blow their brains out.


/ rant.

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when you talked about it, how exactly did that go?


Well, when she started complaining about a lady at her office who only drank coffee and didn't do any work in her opinion, I asked her with all the problems in that office has she tried looking for work anywhere else?


I didn't specifically say 'your complaining is bothering me' because I think it might ruin our friendship.

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If you want to keep talking to her, can you just change the subject? Let her come to a natural conclusion, then turn the conversation around.


A dear friend of mine did that with me when I was going through a bad breakup last year. Granted, he was one of my best friends and cared, and let me express my grief unconditionally, but if he began to get tired he'd often try to change the subject to something happier. It was because he wanted to see me happier though, not because he wanted to try to distance himself.


Still, point taken. Though that was an unusually stressful situation for me, I feel I'm more careful now when I talk with others about personal things that are bugging me.

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Get away from them.

Friends like that are easier to deal with than relatives.

I have a sib who recites the same litany of paranoid grievances at every opportunity.

Some people are like crying children and want to be picked up and comforted.

It's unsightly in a 64 year-old man...

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I have a close friend who is exactly like that. She complains about everyone at her workplace. At first she only complained about 1 or 2 ppl but in the past yr or so she has been complaining about EVERYONE at work including her close gf at work.

Another friend of mine has realised she complains about doing her PhD. So she said last week, 'u chose to do a phd and u know what u r in for (ie the long hours and low pay) so stop complaining about it bc u chose to do it. If u dont want to do it, quit then.' Which is so true. Like u said Juicey, I dont want to tell her that her complaining is bothering me bc I too dont want it to ruin our friendship.

Listening to her gets soooo draining at times. The more I have to sit there and listen, the more I want to distance myself from her which I think is what im going to do. But the thing is, the more I distance myself from her, the more she'll think im ditching her for my new bf, and then she'll probably complain about me to someone else. But then who cares if she thinks that?

It's her problem.

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