Help Rejecting Complainer

May 24, 2022

Help Rejecting Complainer


There are children and adults who are needy. And then there are children and adults who are realllllly needy. And often the second category also complains. A lot. But yet, they have no interest in actually helping themselves or even listening to what you have to say. They are simply stuck in their own sorrow. And that is how they like it. 




They are called “Help Rejecting Complainers” (HRCs), a phrase used by noted Psychotherapist Irving Yalom.


These are the Chronic Complainers. 


This group of people (and they come in all ages) characteristically, directly or indirectly always ask for help, but equally characteristically, never accept it. 


HRCs thrive and feel comfortable when they put their problems on people they feel close to and want attention from. Deep down they are looking for sympathy and closeness, but (clearly!) they have no idea how to get it. 


Any idea, solution or piece of advice you offer them, will fall on deaf ears, and usually these HRCs will respond with a multitude of reasons why the advice given to them won’t work. 

”Yes, but…” is one of their favorite things to say. 


(And men, no! The answer is EN-OH (read: no!). I’m a Marriage Therapist. I know what you’re thinking: “Wait, aren’t all women Help Rejecting Complainers?” 


Short Answer: No! 😡🤨

We’re not.  

We just liked to be heard, and we aren’t always looking for solutions.  Usually, we’re just the sympathy and closeness … but hold on, that’s a whole different newsletter.) 

HRC’s thrive on negativity and staying stuck in their negativity. Whether they are seeing the particular situation correctly is usually irrelevant.  Because they don’t care what the truth is. They are unhappy and want you to know it. 


Often, HRCs graduate to a new level and they begin to blame their problems on either you or the advice you gave. 


If you have an HRC in your life - remember this: Do not become a PPS - “Pushy Problem Solver.” (I came up with that term myself 🤣.)


Be sure not to fall into the inviting trap of consistently trying to solve their problems.  


Whether it’s a spouse, child, friend, neighbor, co-worker, a boss, a sibling, a parent or anyone who you’re close to — you must start to recognize the HRC’s patterns and extricate yourself with a polite dose of empathy: 


“I’m so sorry you’re having a rough day,” or even “I wish I could help. But chances are you won’t like my suggestions, so just know that I’m here for you” or “wow, that’s a tough one.” Listen for a minute or two, validate their pain, but don’t get stuck with them in their negativity and don’t offer solutions. 


Additional response options: ”How can I help you with this? Are you just looking to vent? Are you looking for empathy? Are you looking for advice or help with problem-solving?” And typically, when that fails, you can say something empathetic like: “I’m sorry to hear this is still a problem for you…” 


Sometimes, these responses will help put the ball back into their court and have the HRC assume responsibility. After all, very often they are just looking for closeness but don’t know how to get it.


Another reason to not take hold of their problems is that it is not good for you — because negativity can become overwhelming. If you separate yourself from their negativity - you will not have to endure unnecessary stress trying to help someone who typically does not want to be helped.  


(Also, one final point, if you’re reading this and think “hey, maybe I’m an HRC, then… stop! 🤣) 


Until next week! 




P.S. True story. I once had to speak to a parent about their child who was a chronic complainer in class and the teacher wasn’t sure how to handle it. So I tried to schedule a parent meeting. When I called Mother, she wanted to come in on a day that I wasn’t in school and when I told her I wasn’t available, she started complaining about my work schedule, and how crazy it was that I wasn’t in school every day. It was actually so comical! 



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