Not playing the ‘Who’s the bigger victim?’ game

One of the types of people that feed off my energy and whom I am slowly weaning off are the ones who play what I like to call the ‘Who’s the bigger victim?’ game. These are the people that appear to connect with you quickly from the start by sharing their problems. Because of the highly personalised and emotional nature of the stories, the intimacy of the relation is escalated very quickly.

The relation then becomes defined by you having to rescue them or at the very least, being available to listen to their endless tales of woe, which you realise much later, they aren’t interested in solving, merely recounting over and over. Try sharing something of your own problems with them, and you find that they can get competitive, and try to convince you that you’ve got it good, and your problems don’t come anywhere close to theirs, or even better, you find you have to turn around and comfort them for having inadvertently ignited their insecurities with your own!


I often mistake the emotionality for genuine connection, until a minor crisis of my own hits and their dis-engagement becomes too apparent, and I feel like a complete sucker.

Example 1. Here’s an old post recounting the story of ‘Yolanda’ and how she sucked me dry. I haven’t heard from or spoken to Yolanda in about a year and I can’t say I miss her. The last time we were in touch, she made a big fuss about visiting me (she lives in a different country), but first she had to find out if her sisters (living in the same country as me) needed her, after all they are her sisters and she doesn’t see them often. After much to-ing and fro-ing, me trying to ring around her extended family and so on, she doesn’t show up, and then doesn’t even ring or email later to explain or anything! Just silence. A light gone out. That’s just plain rudeness, isn’t it? Whatever the crisis was?

Example 2. My recent frequent canceller texts me on the day she stands me up to ask how the event went, and what a lousy day she had on the phone with the tax office. That’s also rudeness, isn’t it? Other reasons for which she’s cancelled appointments: she’s writing out a job application, I can’t possibly understand her stress, because I have a job; she decided to go shopping before the stores shut because she has to buy her sister a present; and my favourite, she’s going home (this is after turning up to meet me and leaving right away) to comfort her boyfriend because he’s had a bad day.

Oh dear, am I starting to sound like a doormat? Or is it wrong to take people at their word when they say they want to have a drink with you?

Example 3. A friend unhappily married. Dumps all the minutiae of their misery on you but stoically insists they cannot leave their spouse. Then ends off the conversation with: And how are you doing? [I’m fine.] Okay, good to hear. Have to put the kids to bed now. Bye!

I don’t want to play anymore.

Image: Showdown Game Show. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

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6 Responses to Not playing the ‘Who’s the bigger victim?’ game

  1. nray says:

    Hitch, do you ever get overtly angry at their display of bad manners and selfishness? ‘Cause I find that helps in letting people know what is acceptable to us and what is not.

    By the way, I was so happy to see two new posts here today, I amost didn’t notice the new masthead picture: I love the blue, the vista, the sense of space.

  2. hitchhiker72 says:

    Hey Neeti,

    Angry just gets me ‘mad woman’ looks. Reasonable, self-aware people rarely behave so extremely anyway. The kind of people I’m talking about don’t want anyone pointing out to them what’s acceptable and what’s not; they don’t want to know they are capable of offending anyone. I once attempted a calm, objective attempt to explain to someone why stringing people along wasn’t polite, and got a tirade in return. She was sooooo upset and offended that I ‘could think such things of her’. I ended up having to apologise to her for making her upset!

    Some people have a lot invested in their self-image. Woe betide anyone who tries to shatter it.

    Incidentally, I happened to read this post by Mystic Medusa (http://mysticmedusa.com/2009/07/13/dancing-with-dickheads-what-your-enemies-taught-you/) which really hit the nail on the head for me. She writes:

    ‘I learned the hard way that if you attempt to be nice/friendly/polite to low-rent people, they take it as a sign of utter craven weakness on your part & that seeing as they’re going to loathe you ANYWAY, you may as well disengage and get on with individuating, living well et al.’

    Exactly.

  3. nray says:

    Dear Hitch, I’m with you all the way on disengaging. It brings to mind this quote I got from Lucy’s FB page: “Saying no to what has nothing to do with you is saying yes to your own soul.”

    It’s just I’d like to see their ass kicked :)

  4. hitchhiker72 says:

    Agree about ass-kicking :P But referring to the same article by Mystic Medusa:

    ‘The Mutables (Pisces, Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius) tend to forget & airily assume that life/qi/karma/elan vitale will take care of the enemy.’

    I frequently say their karma will catch up with them. :P:P:P Astrology is fun.

  5. nray says:

    I’m all the belligerence of a T-Square in fixed sign in mutable houses and I like to *fantasize* (Pisces ASC) about kicking ass :)

    Astrology rocks. It also kicks ass!

  6. leslie devries says:

    I once spent a year reading all the pop literature about “psychic vampires” and it was very helpful. There are loads of books about the phenom. if you haven’t seen them, some are free on Google Books even

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