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Pandora's avatar

Do you create or feed the monster you know?

Asked by Pandora (22964 points ) November 13th, 2012

My brother-in-law is always complaining about his mom and even though he lives countries apart from her he is always giving in to her demands and wants.
My husband manages to talk to her every week without much incident because he knows how to say no and mean it. He knows if you feed a mouse a cookie it will come back as a super sized rat. So every once in a while she will test him out and find no cookie.

Then you have the creators of monsters that don’t exist. The ones that twist everything you say. You say; “drive safely”, and they come back with, why do you always think I’m a horrible driver? They ask,“do these two things look good together”, and you answer honestly and they say you are always critical.

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16 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I tell the monster to take a long walk on a short pier. The monster goes away.

JLeslie's avatar

I used to feed monsters much more, but as I get older I do it much less. Life is too short. I would say with my own relatives I still do sacrifice myself a little more than I should, but I don’t do it anymore for inlaws and friends.

Your husband might do it more if he were the only child and didn’t have his brother to bear the brunt of it.

janbb's avatar

Not any more. She died.

rojo's avatar

@Pandora I had a S-I-L like that!
No matter what I said her response was always “What do you mean by that?” It took years, literally decades, for her to accept the fact that most of the time I meant what I said and there are not deep, dark undertones or insults implied. It did make conversation challenging and something I was wont to avoid if I could but this meant I had less contact with my brother so I adopted a “get over it” attitude.
I used to think it came from being the second wife and believing she was constantly being compared to wife #1 but as I came to know her better I realized it was more than that; there was a full blown inferiority complex in action. A result (I am assuming here) of being a child late in marriage and growing up with an adult sister who made her feel like she was her parents little “mistake” and from what I can tell her parents did nothing to dissuade this notion.

Coloma's avatar

I dump them without a backward glance. I simply do not deal with emotionally hypersensitive and high maintenance people. Try to manipulate me and you’ll be gone so fast you won’t know WTH happened. lol
I have dumped 2 high maintenance female friends in the last couple years,

The first was a hypersensitive and insecure type that took EVERYTHING I said, the majority of the time, in a twisted and personal sort of way. Once I had her to try a new lipstick I bought because I thought the color would look nice on her, she accused me of criticizing her makeup. WTF? Another time I was trying to cheer her up after a breakup and tried to get her excited about traveling and she accused my pep talk as me ” pressuring” her to take a trip she couldn’t afford!

Unbelievable!

The 2nd was a very sneaky manipulative type and when I called her out on some of her games she, of course, flipped out and went into one of the best guilt tripping and victimized, academy award winning drama performances ever. It was really quite noteworthy. haha
Life’s too short to waste on emotionally unstable people.
Fools be gone!

linguaphile's avatar

My ex husband was like that and got worse the longer we stayed married. He would always restate my comments in his own words and turn it towards the negative. He even did it recently when we were discussing my (and his) daughter—I said “We are going to this place, then will be at that place, then will be home for your phone call.” He replies, “Wow, that’s a lot. I know you’re too busy to let her talk to me.” That’s just one example out of 15 years of examples. I am not able to cut him off just yet—my daughter’s 10 so I have 8 more years to deal with him.

When I try to correct him or get him to understand what I really mean, it becomes an endless “you-said/I-said/you-meant/I-meant” back and forth that totally loses the point of the actual conversation.

I got my help from the book Too Nice for Your Own Good and learned how to avoid becoming defensive. When he twists what I say, I just, “ehm,” then repeat or rephrase what I said and don’t validate his rephrasing at all with a defense. That has worked on the most part- the monster no longer gets fed!

That kind of negative interpretation is one strategy to throw others off balance and gain control of the conversation/situation. It forces the other person to go on the defensive and lose their center. If it works, the person will continue using it. Not buying into the strategy at all by redirecting the conversation back to the point really does work.

Only138's avatar

I give the monster booze. We are good friends. :)

Pandora's avatar

@Only138 LOL! I won’t waste my booze that way. I just drink it myself. :)

Pandora's avatar

@linguaphile Sounds like a good book to give my B-I-L.
@Coloma Ah, yes, they are sometimes good for a laugh. I sometimes like to point out how outrageous they sound. Then let them know, that I meant it in a critical way. They never have a comeback for that.
@rojo I use to sympathize with people like that but like @Coloma, I find life is too short to constantly keep reassuring insecure people. I may still do it once or twice but I make it clear after a while that they need to stop directing their fears and insecurity towards me because I find needy people tiresome in someone who is a grown adult.
@JLeslie Maybe but I doubt in my husbands case. He hardly use to deal with her drama before he met me. He was her favorite and his brother use to avoid her all together. They are the two oldest. His brother stayed away from home for several years because he couldn’t handle her drama. Funny thing is what brought them together again was when my husband married me. She convinced his brother that I was a horrible person that was going to destroy my husbands life. Funny how that worked out for him. LOL
There are more siblings. My husband almost wrote her off completely. I had to convince him to keep in contact with his mom because she is his mother. I just told him to not get wrapped up in the crazy and he should be fine. I took my own advice with my mom and our relationship has gotten better over the years. It really is about feeding the crazy. I find if we set boundaries they eventually give up being nuts around you. Occasionally they will still test the waters.

augustlan's avatar

My mother has borderline personality disorder, and no amount of boundaries in the world kept her at bay. I kept making them, she kept right on breaking them. Eventually, I had to give up on the relationship entirely, in order to preserve my own sanity.

JLeslie's avatar

@Pandora Ok, so she positioned the other brother because she knew competing with you would be very difficult. Rather she knew your husband would be on your side not hers.

Pandora's avatar

@JLeslie Knowing her. Probably. My mom raised me to speak my mind when I felt something was wrong and I always did. That back fired on her a few times. LOL
She always would say; “God gave you a tongue and the ability to talk so use it!”

linguaphile's avatar

Last night- my ex did it again… sent me a text: “I’m really emotional on my birthday.” “And to answer your unasked question, no I didn’t cry in front of our son.” I hadn’t even been thinking that question so I don’t have to say anything to have things twisted. I didn’t acknowledge any of his texts—my text back was “BabyLingua wants to get on the phone with you- are you home?”

Hope that book helps your BIL!!

JLeslie's avatar

@Pandora Any chance the brother orchestrated it? I was just thinking about how my husband and I were getting along so well with his parents. We lived near each other and we had stayed with them three months while we built our second house and became very close. I was incredibly grateful to my MIL for helping me, because when I lived with her I had a back injury. I credit her for being able to put the injury behind me. She did everything for me, launfry, cook, clean. She knows how much I valued her help. Then her daughet moved back to town and things became wierd, it got really bad after a few years and when her daughter, my SIL got pissed at my husband and I her mom chose sides kind of, and sided with her daughter. It was really bad for a while. Bad and ridiculous all at once. What a waste of time.

Pandora's avatar

@JLeslie No. I believe he did vie to be the favorite son and simply ended up with more than he can chew. He’s the kind of person who try’s to buy affection and found out how costly that can be. My MIL is like that as well so he thinks this is the way to be. I guess that is why they didn’t understand my relationship with my husband. They figured I must have married him to milk him for all he’s worth. I’m sure it confused them as to why I would pick such a poor man at the time.
I remember thinking how offended I was. Not because they thought of me in such a way but because they didn’t see there was so much about him to love. Maybe it is simply karma.

JLeslie's avatar

@Pandora I can understand that. I hate feeling misperceived by others. I agree usually it is the other person projecting their own self image.

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