A reader writes: Hey Dr. Rick–I appreciate all of your suggestions on dealing with people you don’t like (but are stuck with :) What does one do with someone who simply likes to complain about how life has basically ended up the way it has for her?
This is a classic case of chronic negativity with a secondary whining infection. It could be terminal. You’re going to have to ultimately save yourself. Staying and suffering with her is not an option. It will rob you of energy and only give her someone to whom she will complain even more.
You will need to draw a line. Tell her you like her, you want to support her, but you are not going to listen to how bad things are. If she wants to complain or be negative, that’s her choice but you won’t be around for the ride. If you hold that line, she may be inclined to talk about something that is not complaining or negative. Thank her and appreciate her when she does.
There is so much more to say on this subject that your question inspired a podcast and there is also a previous one that focuses on this behavior from a different angle. Visit http://www.rickbrinkman.com/podcasts