Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Martyr Syndrome

This post may be a bit of a vent, but hopefully some of you can sympathize and/or back me up on this.

Do you have friends, family, coworkers, or whoevers that just LOVE to be the ones that are put out? They'll stand because someone might possibly want that empty chair; they'll ask for something and then complain when they finally get it; their favorite phrase seems to be "No, really, I'm fine. It's not that bad."

I have a friend like this. She's the friend that ended up in our "group," and she never quite got completely eased out. Her life is so rough, as demonstrated by the following email excerpt:

We're getting married in the fall. I'm actually finishing up save-the-dates,now. It's both nice having him here, and irritating at times. As excited as I was, for the first time in several years I've got no personal space or "alone time" which will take some adjustment.  He's selling cars in a nearby town, which causes me a lot of stress too.  However, it's a job and all I told him was find a job so he did just that.

Let us examine this statement. Her fiance moved across five states to be with her, but now she doesn't have enough personal time. She TOLD him to get a job, but doesn't like his job. She has everything she's asked for - nay, demanded - but it's never enough. Evident in this is the total control of the martyr. Their ability to complain is based on the fact that they control so much in their lives.

AND THEN THEY BITCH.

How does one handle this? Laying down the law doesn't seem to help - it just fuels their "woe is me" fire. One can try to prevent indulging their whims, but that's usually easier said than done.

Have you dealt with someone like this? How did you deal?

25 comments:

Saille said...

Hi,
My ex-boyfriend's mother was like that. She always complained about how much work she needs to do, how no-one helps her in the kitchen, how on the weekend everyone enjoys themselves while she cooks or cleans etc. And yet when anyone offered to do anything it was always the same - either she said "No, I'm fine NOW" (as in you're too late and should have offered earlier - no matter when it was done), "No, I can do it better myself / I know how I want it done and you would just do it wrong", or "No, please, enjoy yourself, it's the weekend after all" with a martyr face, and would literally grab the knife or brush etc from your hands if you tried to actually do something to help her. I felt guilty for the whole time while I was in their house for months while visiting but finally stopped either asking if she needed help or trying to do anything.

As far as I know she is still exactly the same, and I'm SO glad I don't have to go through all the guilt trips anymore!

Serial Monogamist said...

Yikes. She sounds like a catch. Someone who starts out her marriage that way is just BOUND to be filled with happiness throughout their lives together ... right?

Gia said...

UGH. I hate that attitude - everything is always worse for them and its a stupid competition to make sure they out-worse everyone else. Yep, I got some friends like that. Yep, it's annoying. Nope, got no advice.

Dzeintra said...

...That sounds remarkably like my mother. Always going on about how much she's given up for me in her life and how hard it was and so on, and how she expects me to pay for her retirement in the lap of luxury while I work to the bone to pay for it and all.

Nothing is ever good enough, if you -do- do something for her, then she expects you to do it every day, and if you don't, guilt trip. I know how you feel but, sadly, I have no idea how to help other than ignore them.

Galax said...

she's so impossible, i'm glad that everybody who are close to me don't have that kind of attitude. and I will never want to deal with a person like that.

Anonymous said...

My grandmother does this. The only effective way I've found to deal with her and is NOT put up with the bullshit in anyway. If she tries to guilt me, I ignore it and continue with my life as normal.

My mother spent her life pandering to her mother's martyring and guilt tripping and it's majorly fucked with her head. She's only just starting to be self-confident because she can see through the bullshit now.

Jasmin H Please said...

I am loving this blog!

Not only do i DETEST women like that, I know several, and it annoys me how they still get things thrown into their laps, hello!? KARMAPOLICE? Unfair.

Brenda Nelson said...

Whoops, I do have to admit to being guilty of this at times, but really do try to stop it. My mother was like this. I do think it is very much a learned behavior. Either learned from our parents, or learned as a child that when you want attention, sometimes being the martyr is the way to get it. Really it is a bit sad that people, including myself, have to feel the need to resort to this sort of behavior. Its a pity, and I tried not to let my daughter fall into its trap.

Anyhow excellent dating and relationship blog, very entertaining, and oh so true.

Dating Professionals said...

I think that women like this usually need a good friend to point out these minor details to them as only a good friend can. Either this person is inhumanely self obsessed and genuinely doesn't see that he is doing his best or her 'friends' do not give her enough home truths.

Yes you let her have a moan and listen, that part is easy, then mentally tutting aside, you suggest that maybe she is lucky to have a guy who listens to her needs and acts on them even when he is unhappy doing so. That she should appreciate him more because he will do a job he hates to help pay for her dream wedding.

Hopefully she will see she's marrying her superman and treat him better appreciating what he has done and then he wont feel like he made a massive mistake.

Tao Of Badass said...

First step would be to set boundaries. Here the boyfriend is too whipped to speak his truth. I mean he is basically her B****. You are a man not her girlfriend with a D***.

Kristina Knight said...

Maybe I am missing the point, but I wouldn't deal with someone that does nothing but complain, even after I have been more than accommodating.

But, I'm angry ;)

crazycatholic11 said...

My mom is like this I dealt with it by going to college and not being near her.

amanda28 said...

I found this really good book called players exposed. Its by two guys that used to manipulate women and I guess they decided to write a book about it. The authors are Timothy Richardson and Eugene weems. A friend of mine found it online and bought it so I read it and I loved the book. I think every woman should read it.

Anonymous said...

Smart post. I never thought of martyrs as control freaks, they just get on my nerves.

Cyndi Briggs said...

Oh, yes. This is seriously frustrating. I choose the old behavioral modification method: I don't offer sympathy, advice, or even much of a facial expression. I nod, say, "hm" in a non-committal way, and change the subject. I find that people stop seeking me out to talk once I stop giving them what they want (attention and sympathy). Great post!

Jordan said...

From the sounds of the email this woman is horribly confused. From the excerpt the man appears to be portraying redeeming qualities, though in real life he may be spineless. If talks like this over email, I cannot imagine how it would be to talk with her at home.

People who can't be happy with anything they have will never be happy, even if they get what they want.

GreenEyedLady said...

I guess you can't deal with a person like this until they deal with themselves. I would say - if you can run away and let them sort out their issues. Or if you can't run away - maybe try to talk things through? Explain how it makes you feel when they act like this..
Anyway, I hate this kind of attitude!

Emily said...

Can I admit to exemplifying these qualities from time-to-time? It actually WAS my significant other who called me out on it, and I have been trying to shape up ever since. What good does it do, honestly? Shape up or ship out was his attitude towards me. And you know what, I'm shaping up!

Single catholics said...

This is a great post! Thanks for sharing!!!!

Anonymous said...

MY ex-best friend is like that. She would complain when she had a boyfriend then complain about the boyfriend she had. She had a lot of other issues too. I finally told her about them and she got really mad, we haven't spoken since. I can really say I don't miss the drama.

Anonymous said...

Call her on it, firmly and EVERY TIME. I suspect her boyfriend's had an abusive mother he was always trying to please and never could (that's how he found this charming specimen), and if she ever has kids she will do the same thing to them. It may not be physical abuse, but it sure is MENTAL ABUSE.

It's a shame sociopaths don't marry each other, but then that wouldn't be any fun for them.

CALL HER ON IT>

Ryan said...

Hmm, I guess there is no easy way to put it across, but maybe you could try asking her to take a day off, and go see for herself what her man does for her. Like literally what he goes through day after day, and advise them to sit down and have a good long chat about how things are panning out and each others feelings about the relationship. I am a firm believer in the process of negotiation and using words to solve conflict. If all else fails, well lets just hope he can pay the alimony.

ask away said...

I like this article!!!! So interesting

Alphan said...

It's the result of not being able to make a firm decision on what one really wants. Like in dating this is the type that's hit by SRS (Sudden Repulsion Syndrome)- a sudden loss of love in a boyfriend or girlfriend, but still wants to move on with an unhappy relationship. On the other hand it might be an attitude of manipulation - literally wishing to be all over and everything. Very annoying indeed. I've interacted with many such characters whom I've had to shake off my life or just ignore to be able to move on with what I believe is important.

Anonymous said...

All people are annoying in their own way. The fact that you are annoyed by this persons behavior & attitude and feel that you need to be the one to correct it is a bit condescending on your part. How dare you tell someone how to act. If they were hurting or endangering someone else with their behavior then you could step in, but you just simply don't like the way this person acts--that is YOUR problem. Not theirs.
My advice...remove yourself from the relationship and ignore any attempts from them to keep it going. If it comes down to having to explain your abscence, tell them that you do not like they way they handle themselves in life,and you choose not to hang out with someone you don't really like. You don't have to like everyone, nor do you have to be friends with someone you don't really like. It's called freedom of choice!