How to Deal with a Needy Person in Your Life

We all have people in our lives who try to weigh us down with their problems. They’re the ones who can suck the life out of you with their gloom and doom attitude. If you feel drained and exasperated after a conversation and find yourself casing the room the quickest way out, chances are you are dealing with a needy person.

The Disgruntled Co-Worker

You sit down at your desk, ready to work. You feel a tap on the shoulder, and hear that malicious voice behind you. She plops down in your extra chair before you can stop her and starts complaining. The boss is unfair, the workload is too demanding, and Jean, from the HR department, wouldn’t grant her vacation request. The list goes on, and your work gets further behind.

The Meddling Mother-in Law

Your husband’s mother is bored and miserable since her retirement. She calls you several times a day to “check in.” When she calls, she wants to know what you’re cooking for dinner, what the kids are doing after school while you’re at the gym, and whether you remembered to send a thank you note to Aunt Betty for the Christmas presents. You try to be patient, but the woman is driving you crazy.

The Sad Sack

You’ve been friends since high school, but you can feel your relationship slowly deteriorating. Ever since your friend got a divorce 6 months ago, she is a changed person. She is weepy all the time, calls you to tell you how lonely she is, and rarely gets out of her pajamas on the weekend. Her kids run amuck, and you feel obligated to step in and help. When you see her number on your caller ID, you cringe, but guilt makes you pick up the phone.

What Can You Do?

Don’t be pulled in. You have a right to say, “I’m sorry, but I’m working right now, so I can’t talk to you.” You are not obligated to answer questions regarding your personal business, so don’t do it. If you are not comfortable with the direction the conversation is taking, change the subject.

People are responsible for their own happiness. If you’re feeling too much pressure from a friend or relative who is working through a crisis, recommend a good therapist or life coach.

Remember, people will burden you as long as you let them. Taking control of your own life and setting boundaries does not mean you aren’t sympathetic to the needs of others. It simply means that you are aware of your own limitations.

Cite this page: N., Pam M.S., "How to Deal with a Needy Person in Your Life," in PsychologyDictionary.org, January 25, 2016, https://psychologydictionary.org/article/how-to-deal-with-a-needy-person-in-your-life/ (accessed December 11, 2019).
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