As an active, outgoing person seeking to have more in life, you will attract all kinds of people. Many of these people will help you and support your goals. Some will become lifelong friends. Some will be lovers. Still others will teach and/or guide you. Good people, by and large, attract good people. But if, in addition to your capacity for growth, you have a generous spirit, you will also attract another sort of person — the Chronic Taker.
The Chronic Taker comes in all shapes and sizes. He may be your best friend or a family member, an employee or a partner, a casual acquaintance, a vendor, a customer, or even a teacher. The Chronic Taker needs your help, but not just once or every now and then. He needs it always. The Chronic Taker admits weaknesses, confesses mistakes, and identifies all his many problems.
You cannot have a five-minute conversation with the CT without discovering some new calamity that has beset him. You are the CTs salvation. You listen. You care. You give him suggestions, make connections, and even lend him money. You do those things because you think you may be the only one he can turn to and because it makes you feel good.
The Problem With Chronic Giving
Chronic Takers are attractive to accomplishment-oriented people for two reasons. First, they give you the opportunity to help — and there is nothing that feels better than helping. Second, they come to you with complicated problems — and there is nothing achievement-oriented people like better than problems. The intellectual and emotional rewards for solving problems are almost as great as the joy in helping.
Here’s an interesting thing you should know about CTs: You like them a whole lot more than they like you. It might surprise you to realize that CTs almost always resent the people who help them. I dont know exactly where the resentment comes from or what its ingredients are (though fear and envy must be a part), but I have observed this reaction time and again. The big difference between Chronic Takers and independent people who occasionally need help is that CTs never get themselves entirely out of trouble. There is always something wrong. Always something that needs fixing.
Despite all your best efforts — and all your time and money and wisdom — CTs never manage to climb out of the holes they’ve dug themselves into. If you are a Chronic Taker, stop being one immediately Recognize that nobody owes you anything. Face the fact that anything you want must be worked for and try to understand that the hard work you need to do will give you pleasure. If you have one Chronic Taker in your life, you probably have half a dozen. Identify who they are. Be sure to distinguish between CTs (who give back nothing) and high-maintenance partners (who give back what they get but require a lot of extra attention to do so). Once you have your list, make yourself a promise that you will never again take their bait.
The next time one of your CTs comes to you with a problem, do one of two things.
1. Sympathize, but offer no help whatsoever.
2. Sympathize and then tell him one of your problems.
Try either of these tricks and you will be amazed at how fast the CT loses interest in you. When the CT senses that he is wasting his woes on someone equally afflicted, he will exit pronto. If he values your relationship/friendship, he will come back. If he doesn’t, he wont. By eliminating Chronic Takers from your life in this way, you will have (1) more time to spend on worthwhile relationships and (2) less stress from carrying the weight of countless problems that arent your problems at all.
As an added bonus, a truly dysfunctional relationship may be upgraded to a genuine friendship — and your friend may figure out how to solve his own problems. One possible exception: If the CT is a family member, you might want to take care of him as part of your family responsibility. If you do that, recognize that you arent helping him so much as you are keeping the familys business in the family. This would apply, most obviously, to someone with an alcohol or drug problem. Sorry to end this message on such a depressing note. Oh, well.