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Take a Whine Appreciation Class

This week Hannah's Bad Advice targets the chronic complainers.

by
Hannah Sternberg

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May 22, 2013 - 2:00 pm
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Sound familiar?

Sound familiar?

Submit your questions about friendship, relationships, careers, family, or life decisions to PJMBadAdvice@gmail.com or leave a question in the comments section, and I’ll answer it in Bad Advice, PJ Lifestyle’s new advice column every Wednesday!

Dear Bad Advice,

My friend is absolutely driving me up the wall! She complains about everything. I know not a lot of things are going great for her in her life right now, but I wish she had a better attitude. If I tell her to have a better attitude when she’s complaining about things, she gets mad and storms off. How do I handle her? She’s fun and a great friend most of the time, but her complaining is getting on my last nerve.

- Not a whine appreciator

This is going to sound like bad advice, but quit complaining about your complaining friend.

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All Comments   (7)
All Comments   (7)
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And then there are those whiny posters on facebook who by golly just have more hangnails, headaches, horrible bosses, and hard times than anyone on the planet. At least their leased BMW is still running OK, for now. And the pictures from the most recent party they threw themselves turned out OK, considering the party planner messed up the lighting and used clear bulbs instead of frosted ones. And they buy a house in an area that has large common areas and fence restrictions and they promptly hire a company to put up a fence, get sued by their neighbors, but at least the realtors offer to sell their house for no fee. And if someone would have just told them...avoid the whiners if you can. Life is short.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Indeed, I find it's best for everyone if I hide those folks from my newsfeed. They might have other qualities I appreciate and admire, but not seeing their daily woes on FB definitely improves our relationship and my respect for them!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Please allow me to complain about my constantly-complaining sister! :-)

Actually, I try not to buy into her mindset, as Allstonian wisely warns against. The constant complainer "wins," if you continually allow them to get under your skin.

Not only does my sister complain a lot, but she has made some very bad choices in her life: cheating on a good husband, refusing to reconcile with him, not doing anything about finding a decent job, constantly antagonizing friends and family, etc., etc. And despite all of her very bad choices, she always finds someone else to blame for her self-inflicted misery. She even blames our kind, responsible, loving parents, who did not spoil us, but who, according to her bizarre thinking, supposedly ruined her life by not preparing her for every possible situation which might arise due to her own mistakes. And if you get into a conversation with her, she will be sure to let you know this.

People like my sister seem to wallow in their own misery, and have a "grass-is-greener" attitude about other people's lives, which is, of course, completely unrealistic. I have found that Hannah's advice to change the subject to more positive themes sometimes helps in conversations with her. And, there are times when I just need to tell my sister what's what, even though that always creates a firestorm, and there are other times when I need to break off contact for at least a while. My sister needs to take responsibility for herself, and until that happens, she will continue to inflict misery on herself and others.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Thanks for always faithfully reading my pieces, Egil! I'm always cheered to see your comments! Sorry to hear about your sister. That can be incredibly draining. Would you like me to tackle this issue in a future advice column? I'd just copy your comment and then address it. I do think that dealing with that kind of behavior within the family is very different from coping with it in a friend, especially if the complaining is combined with a self-destructive streak. Let me know if you'd like advice!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Thank you very much Hannah! I always enjoy your articles and find them very rewarding. And yes, that would be fine to use this issue in a future column. I'd be very interested in seeing what you and others have to say.

So far, the most effective way that I've found to deal with my sister is long periods of avoidance. Sometimes this isn't possible, and when that is the case, I try to be firm but fair in what I say to her. She enjoys provoking people into arguments, and then gets very upset with them personally, so she's a "piece of work." Lately I've managed to often avoid getting sucked into her provocations, but its not always easy. :-)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"This is going to sound like bad advice, but quit complaining about your complaining friend."

Working in the Social Services, I usually get a bit prickly about laymen speaking sagely about these sort of things (as truly, most people don't know squat about the deep details of these sort of things - motivations, emotional and psychological issues, etc.). But in this instance, you are spot-on.

Once you begin to complain all the time about the complaining friend, well, you've bought into their mindset *and* are enabling them in the bargain. Then the two of you begin to "feed off" each other, perpetuating it.

Instead, you must keep putting it to your friend as to solving their issues rather than merely complaining about them. This works with *some* of them, presenting them with more positive options to their woes.

However, many simply *like* to complain all the time - God knows I work with many of these - and they cannot be "cured." You're either going to have to accept and tolerate it, or not be friends with this person anymore.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Thank you for your thoughtful reply! And you're right about complainers feeding off of each other. I know I've been guilty of that myself sometimes! Complaining can really be quite an addiction.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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