Not playing the ‘Who’s the bigger victim?’ game
13 July 2009 6 Comments
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.