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Emotional Leeches Going Fishing

Someone in a group I belong to is having trouble with her neighbor being all up in her business. They’d had a friendly relationship, historically speaking, but something changed that, accordingly, changed the character of their neighborly relationship to each other.

modem-router-internet-670x335Here’s what started the “problem snowball” rolling downhill:

“After the internet technician came in 2016 [to hook up my internet access], my neighbor remarked that she wished she had access to wifi at her place, instead of going to the library to use the little iPad clone someone gave her.

The neighbor offered to help pay the bill, and the group member put out a number of $20 a month as acceptable. But after two years, the internet connection holder has not seen a penny of what she thought she had an agreement with her neighbor about.

This is a situation that happens, I think, a lot, so I wanted to talk about it today using that example.

Oftentimes, I find people will make “fishing” comments like that neighbor did because they want you to offer them something, but they don’t want to put themselves in your debt by asking. In their minds, no obligation is created on them if you are the one who offered.

This type of behavior can be manipulative. Sometimes, the person doing it isn’t even conscious of it. But, sometimes, you run into people who are actually *very good at this kind of manipulation.*

Offering to help pay for something is often just a social courtesy for some folks. They expect you to insist that no payment is necessary. They will likely be rudely awakened if/when you actually put a dollar figure out there instead of insisting there was no need. But it’s not rude of you to request payment for something you’re offering. Remember, you were under no obligation to offer them anything at all. And you were well within your rights to ask for some kind of payment.

There’s an additional component to this too:  Sometimes the person you’re dealing with is simply emotionally immature. Think of it as you would when a two-year-old yells “hungry!” and the parent rushes to feed the child. A two-year-old “tells” because they haven’t yet learned how to “ask.” But functional adults need to ask for what they want or need, not just “tell” you something and expect you to spring into action to meet a need or want that they haven’t actually “asked” you to meet.

Here’s the cure:  Train yourself to just let such comments from adults lie there without a response. I know this can be very difficult to do because I’ve had to do it myself. But it really only involves keeping your mouth shut. You’re not under any obligation to rush in to someone’s rescue, though we often do so out of kindness. Even just making sympathetic “hmmmm, uh-huh” type  noises acknowledges their statement without you having to “rescue” or offer anything.

There are unintended consequences for performing these types of rescues.

What happened here is that a neighbor got access to more than just this generous person’s internet. The offer to let the neighbor use the wifi created a psychic cord between them. And that’s why the neighbor is now all up in this person’s business. The generous person responded to a tell just like a parent would, and they rushed in to fill a need without actually being asked to fill it. And now the generous person has got a demanding child on their hands, one who is upset that the generous person isn’t doing more emotional labor in their relationship.

crying baby pic joffi at pixabay

(Photo: joffi@pixabay)

Relieving the neighbor of the need to leave the house so she could go to the library and use the internet access there has also infantilized her, in a way. It made the neighbor’s world smaller, to some degree.

These two people are now clearly feeding off of negative energy from each other. And the psychic cord, represented by the internet access, needs to be cut or removed. If one can’t accomplish that via creative visualization alone, it may be that the neighbor’s actual access to the internet needs to be revoked in order to sever that connection both psychically and physically.

Taking away the neighbor’s internet access may provoke a toddler-style tantrum. It sucks, but we all know the saying–“no good deed goes unpunished.”

Guard your energy well. And remember that you are under NO obligation to “rescue” an ostensibly functional adult, especially if they aren’t able to ask for what they want.

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