5 thoughts on “How To Deal With A Help-Rejecting Complainer

  • February 26, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    I have found myself on both sides of this. For me, many times it is much easier to solve someone else’s problems and know exactly what they should do.

    At other times, my sister is a great help to me. She says “Do you want to whine about it, or do you want to solve the problem?” Really, usually I want to do both.

  • February 26, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    There’s another permutation of this situation. What if you already have mechanisms in place to solve the problems? You pretty much know what you need to do, and you’re working on it as best you can. You are not sitting stagnant. But perhaps you’re having a bad day – you want to talk, vent a bit. Maybe you just want someone to be with you in a supportive way for a while. Some folks can’t do that. They feel like they have to solve your problems even when that’s not what you need at that time. They may offer insensitive suggestions in a well-meaning effort to fix you when all you need is a friend. Just something to think about. Not needing someone else to fix you (sometimes with unhelpful suggestions) is not rejecting help. The “help” is inappropriate if someone doesn’t want it or is getting their help elsewhere.

    • February 26, 2013 at 9:48 pm

      You make an excellent point, but we’re talking about chronic help-rejecting complainers, people whose M.O. is to ask for help and then reject it.
      Everyone needs someone to confide in, however, and even to vent, and yes, complain to on occasion, in those cases, as you say, it’s best to be a good listener. You can even ask the individual, “Would you like my opinion or may I offer a suggestion? If you just want me to listen, that’s okay, too.”

  • August 14, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    I never find reductionist labels like “help rejecting complainer” useful and can serve as yet another way to pile on and judge the person in distress. Ask anyone with a difficult illness, or with a new baby or just in a complicated no-good-solution dilemma. Unwanted advice can be its own kind of entrapment as in the huffy, “well, you NEVER will take MY suggestions.”

    Often this distress-useless solution stasis is a tango for two. I’m glad this article addresses the advice-giver as well as the “complainer.”

  • May 27, 2017 at 9:04 am

    i am married to someone like this. they do it with health professionals too. he has stacks of pill bottles as he constantly needs help with this physical problem or that physical problem, but when given a prescription, claims “it didn’t work” or simply refuses to take the pills once prescribed. bringing his behavior to his attention did nothing. if anything, it made it worse because it meant he was getting attention. I will have to try the ‘agreeing’ approach. that might work. my way of dealing with it now is to just walk away when the complaining starts and say nothing. I do think I have learned to tell the difference between the attention seeking and a real need for support, but this behavior just wears one down after a while and it’s hard to stop caring after a while. I also find people like this unable or unwilling to be supportive of others in need because it means they are no longer getting the attention and have to give attention to someone else. they don’t like doing that.


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