personal growth personal stories

What can you do about an emotionally draining person?

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Do you notice feeling drained, trampled or just worn out after an encounter with an acquaintance or loved one? Maybe this person only wants to have interactions with you when they need support or maybe they tend to unload on you all the time.

How do you distinguish between someone going through a “rough patch” in life and someone who is just an emotional drain on you all the time?

I know someone who never asks how we are doing and insists on dominating the conversations and dwelling on all the “woe is me” crap. When the conversation shifts from all the pity me stuff it becomes very superficial. It feels like this person doesn’t care to know who we truly are, is not even thinking about how we are feeling and only maintains the relationship so they can have someone to dump stuff on.

We have stopped participating in the whiny conversations and have stopped pitying them and feeling bad for them. We are no longer enabling them but they just keep dumping the crap on us.

I have a hard time with people who take more than they give in a relationship. It is not healthy or fair and it really puts a strain on the relationship. So what can you do?

We often get criticized for pointing out the positive stuff about the situation when this person whines on about all the negative. When we express displeasure over the drama, sad stories or rude comments we are made to feel stupid for feeling or thinking that way. It is clear our views and opinions are not welcome or accepted yet we are expected to remain in the encounter and act as they want us to.

Naturally we have begun to distance ourselves from the undesirable encounters because it is obvious that we are not even close to getting anything positive from it. A relationship is supposed to be give and take, not just give, give, give… So what can you do other than just stop communicating with them?

<p>A city girl turned farmer. Yes women do farm ;) Owner and operator of direct to consumer, Ryder Family Farm in Southern Illinois.<br /> Wearing many hats I'm also a mother to 3, a wife, a yogi, a farmer, a 4-H & Girl Scout leader & hospitality manager.</p>

20 thoughts on “What can you do about an emotionally draining person?

  1. For 7 years I had a friend like this. No matter if somebody was sick, unhappy, upset… she was MORE so. I called her the energy sucker. She wanted nothing but my energy and I freely gave it until I realized that getting it back was too hard. She created chaos in her life where none existed because she thrived on the victim role and the drama. I had to break it off with her, and I couldn’t even do it to her face, I had to do it via email… because she was one of the over dramatic ones who would have yelled and over-talked and never heard a word of my explanations of why I had to end it. I had to end it because my daughter was age 2 and was starting to understand that Mommy was being treated badly and I didn’t want to show my daughter that allowing yourself to be treated badly is EVER okay. Sorry…I didn’t mean to hijack your post.

    Hyphen Mama’s last blog post..New Math

  2. You must be talking about my mom. Breaking it off with her 3 yrs ago was one of the best things that I have ever done. It has been heartbreaking on one hand because she is my mom but on the other hand it was such a relief! Without all of the negativity and the naysaying my life is not as bumpy or tramatic all the time. Hyphen Mama did a good thing for herself and her child. You will feel better when your life moves on without the emotional drain. And do it email because I agree with Hyphen Mama, your words will go on deaf ears.

    April’s last blog post..Problem Solved!!

  3. It sounds like you’ve done all you can since you have pointed things out to them. I guess putting some distance will be healthier for you and maybe they will start to “see” things in a different light. Sometimes that is what it takes. You can’t control anyone else. You can only control your own actions. Hopefully they will wake up before they lose a valuable friendship and relationship.

    teeni’s last blog post..Sign Up for the Story Game

  4. I don’t know anybody quite to that extreme of the ‘me me me’ syndrome you mention, but I think you did the right thing. I am generally a positive person, and surround myself with other positive people. Of course there are always situations we can’t avoid negative people, (work/school etc) but that is where it ends for me. I don’t deal with them any more than I have too. I realize that sounds cold, and yes I do have compassion for people, but if I let myself, I can get to caught up in thier problems, and start feeling responsible for their mood. Guilt then comes into it, like if I stop talking to them, do they have anyone else to unload on? Do they just need one person willing to listen? Will I or can I make a difference? Every person, every situation, is different, and only you can decide at what point it no longer healthy for you to be a part of it. Seven years is a long time, and obviously very draining. The best thing you can do (in my opinion) is be honest, whether it is email, phone, or face to face, and explain why. If enough people do it to them (without being cruel) it is possible they will realize what they are doing. Once again, it is only my thoughts, and I really am a nice person,, lol.

  5. There are none of those people I hang out with. I have pointed out to some folk who had hooks in their energy what was going on, and they actually made a change.

    witchypoo’s last blog post..Mom

  6. I say drop them like a hot potato and run as fast as you can in the other direction. Clearly, this person wants only to be interesting and not interested. In other words, as you said – it’s all about them. Give them a mirror and wish them luck – they probably won’t even notice you’ve left the room.

    writer chick’s last blog post..The Terrible Two’s

  7. I so realted to this…I have what I would call a distant friend (now). She always has some excessive drama going on at home, work, with friends or fellow spiritual seekers. I initially got caught up, thinking she really needed to talk about her distress, but she then started to become insulting. I am older by 10-12 yrs. and have a physical disability that I am successfully ( but slowly) overcoming. She uses my age and my physical challenge to insult me. Anyone over 50 should just accept death and uselessness, disabled people need to understand they aren’t a focus anyone should have. Medical treatments to assist various illnesses are a waste of precious resources etc., the list can go on. I pulled away and expressed my discomfort with her behavior and comments. She claimed it was because I am over sensitive and passive aggressive and always overreact.

    After months of not speaking, she contacted me to tell me of her need for knee surgery, I haave been through it and offered suggestions to make sure she got appropriate treatment and physical therapy. I commiserated as best I could, but didn’t really engage in the “oh, poor me”. It felt like a trap and I wasn’t going there, ever again. She is exhausting. I am always the idiot when speaking to her, no matter the topic. If people are harassing her and I suggest being a bit more open to what they may be trying to tell her, then I am being judgmental and those people know what is affecting them. She has issues at work, but taking them to HR is STUPID, how could I even suggest that. It doesn’t end. I am like this sounding board that is not supposed to respond, she just dumps her stuff and is gone. Shut up and listen !

    We don’t actually speak much anymore, she may occasionally e-mail me with some woe and issue, I just wish her well and remind her that she will find out what she needs to do. We don’t discuss anything. I never offered only advice, I listened more than most people would, but when that became a flaw, then I just backed off!

    I dread seeing her e-mails.

  8. As I was reading a self-help skills book and the word came up ( emotionally draining person ) I decided to analyze my own situation , I have been working parttime for the last 18 months and things sometimes get really
    thouth and all I need is be hear .No one else will solve
    my umnemploymentbut just that Hang in there !! would help me a lot .
    Am I been a emotionally drain person ????????


  9. I am dealing with a “friend” right now who fits this article to a T. I have been distancing myself from her because she is emotionally draining and toxic. Everytime I bring up a different topic – away from her usually topic (her abusive boyfriend) the conversation with-in 1 minute is back on him. I have tested this theory multiple times, brought up something like my new job – for example, “I can’t wait to start my new job in the fall – I have already met so many wonderful people, I think it will be a great new start in my life.” Her was her response, “I only wish I could start my life with (his name) – why doesn’t he realise he needs to get a job?”
    Is this a normal response to a friend who just told you about how excited she is for a new job?

    I think my soon to be ex friend is in for a real life shocker when I completely stop talkin’ to her – she can find someone else to unload her constant 24-7-365 drama on. It is such old news. Ugh.

    1. Kay,
      Speak up and tell her that you’d like more give in the give and take friendship. If that gets you nowhere I say distance on.
      For me, if the relationship is worth speaking up about my feelings I do. If not I just quietly move on.

  10. There are is a lot of great advice here, I have this acquaintance whom I worked with about 3 years back. I gave her a Bible with my number if she ever needed to talk since I had to go back to college in the fall. I didn’t hear back from her until a month ago, and it was so random… She had told me about this person she was with who was a complete jerk, and she’s still in love with him so much that every time she called, she would keep me on the phone about him for hours if I didn’t tell her I have to go to sleep. I mentioned to her about having limited minutes on my phone and we could use facebook or email, but she rather call and talk for an hour or so about that guy even after I shared a similar experience and how I handled it, and things worked out for the best, true story! She just kept talking about that guy like “someday he’ll want to be with me” I am bewildered why someone would go through all of that again no matter what anyone said… I did try to help but I feel like she just wants me to say “he’s a swell guy, even though he made you walk in the snow to a payphone, while pregnant, to call your mom, just because he didn’t want to lend his phone… really!” I won’t say any names, but this is messed up!

  11. I hope you realize that these people are probably going through something and you are not helping them through it. I knew a girl like this and she was going through something that just destroyed her, but she couldn’t say it and her depression just came out in little bits in every aspect of her life, but everyone just thought she was self-pitying herself and she ended up killing herself. I have not forgiven myself for letting that happen to her and I genuinely hope that people will stop interpretting this as you have.

  12. That’s a very sad story Zoey, and a very perticular case. Some people really do need serious help but others just don’t want to help themselves and there is a honest diffrence. There are people that need help and ask for it and people that ask for help but don’t really want it. If you are dealing with someone who needs serious help, there is only so much one human being can do not being a professional. The person you spoke of needed support but much MUCH more. Don’t feel personally responsible for things that happen when there was truly nothing more you could do other than be someone to lean on. There are people in this world who need professional consuling and care. There are also people that want compassion for situations under their control that they personally don’t want to change. I can only say sorry for your personal situation but there is a diffrence between serious depression and someone who wants to constantly complain and unload on you. People like that need to be left to their own devices but people who honestly need help is another story all together.

  13. I can’t breathe when my mother is near me. She literally sucks up all of my energy with her constant neediess. Family illnesses (older brother) can bring out so many things in families that were just under the surface. My mother has always been somewhat emotionally abusive to me. I was never able to have my own feelings, I was never good enough, I could always do better, strong need to be perfect, feeling responsible for her mood/emotions, invalidating me by telling me that I exaggerate or that I am not feeling a certain way. I have NEVER felt like I can be me in front of her. She has no idea who I am as a person. She is too caught up in telling me what I should be doing, how it should be done, how I should treat others, how I should feel and show my feelings. I am always in survival mode, walking on eggshells and avoiding rocking the boat at any cost. Now that my brother is sick she is constantly looking for me to fulfill her emotional needs. She is the neediest and most pathetic person I know. She has a toxic personality and is a negative person who has drained me of any emotion I might have had. I feel horrible for my brother and I want to be compassionate towards him but my mother has forced him down my throat. Did you call him, what did he say, did you go over there, what are you doing for him?????? Like somehow I am responsible for the situation or I have some way to change it. I have my own business and a family of my own. I call and talk to him everyday and while I am not able to be there all the time, I try to be there emotionally. Lately it has been difficult to do that however, b/c she has drained me of my emotions.

  14. My mother JUST drained me.. i am sufering withe issue of not having a baby and she would say how much i need to pray more, how she feels jelous for other peoples daughters when they get babies and she almost killed me. i left the house with my husband and feel much better. why did i ever go to her place after all these years. why? why?

    1. I understand your feeling! I ask myself the same thing. I can’t just give up on the relationship although I know that is what needs to happen to make me happy!

  15. I have a childhood friend like this whom I recently got back in touch with, I was so thrilled, still love and care for her, but omg, she is a total mess, always in a crisis, never wants to talk unless it’s 2 am in the morning and she’s drunk fueled on pot and alcohol to unload on me, and lectures, lectures, because her kids and husband ignore her, I am done being a dumping ground for this mess.She never wants to meet for lunch, dinner, or anything. Just dump on me, but that’s over with. Her problems are worse than anyone according to her, she’s accomplished more than anyone in the past, it’s always someone else’s fault, her grown children are a mess except for one. And I am done done. Her voice would ring in my ear after the calls were over and my anxiety levels would be at an all time high after hours of listening to her, being interrupted, being talked over. It’s been so peaceful the past week, letting her late night calls go to voicemail and her texts responded to with excuses.

  16. thanks i needed them stories i had that with a relative.poor me dramas..i was told not to phone but found it hard so i went about it in a different way sent her a letterto her that she was advertising work she found out it was my handwriting called the police i went down to the police station handed my self in…hour and a half later told to go away..unothodox but it worked…4 weeks later i feel coming back to my old self???

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