General Question

Jude's avatar

Have you ever known anyone whom after telling them about your difficulities, they then try to top you with their own miseries?

Asked by Jude (32162points) May 30th, 2009

Why do (some) people do this?

I have a brother who is like this and it’s rather irritating.

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26 Answers

marcosthecuban's avatar

yup. it was especially “hilarious” when my wife was pregnant with our kids. ladies would come up to her and tell her their horror stories!

asmonet's avatar

It’s called one-upping.

It stems from insecurity and occasionally a bit of a victim complex.

Identify them, then move on.
You can choose to not share your issues with this person, and avoid the issue entirely.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

A couple of times, but I usually don’t tell people my difficulties. It is not up to them to put up with my problems, so usually no one find out, with the exception of a few of my closest friends.

SuperMouse's avatar

Yes! Gimmedat and I call it “trumping” and we have begun to call people on it. It is surprising to me how many people do it!

jackfright's avatar


i make it a point to do it if i find that i’ve just invested/wasted time to listening to a misery that isn’t as bad as i was hoping for. i do it to knock their egos- retaliation for wasting my time :)

MacBean's avatar

Yes, and I hate it. And most of the people I know can’t really “beat” me anymore, so now I’ve stopped talking about my problems most of the time because I don’t want to seem like I’m trying to one-up anybody.

jackfright's avatar

also, this is a fantastic way to minimize whining amongst your friends

DeanV's avatar

High School is full of these people…

casheroo's avatar

I can’t stand people like this. It’s bizarre behavior, especially because they are trying to show that their pain is worse than yours…no one knows what another person is feeling.

MacBean's avatar

@casheroo—That’s exactly why I don’t share in a way that can be taken as one-upping anymore. If the other person’s papercut is bothering them, that truly sucks for them. It doesn’t really matter if my arm’s falling off; just because my pain would be fairly universally thought of as more serious doesn’t mean that theirs isn’t valid. I just offer sympathy and move on. I wish more people would do that instead of having the “Oh, yeah? Well, listen to this!” mentality.

Edit: Also, papercuts effing hurt.

SuperMouse's avatar

@casheroo what a good point, now I am wondering, why do so many feel compelled to convince people their pain is worse?

aprilsimnel's avatar

Hahaha! It’s a Mclusky album!

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

lol bitching about being outbitched while attempting to initially bitch…

that shit makes me /guffaw.

Darwin's avatar

Well, it is one way to get the spotlight on you instead of them. Also, I suspect it makes those that do it feel better about themselves somehow.

And if you think that’s bad, guess what happened to me the other day when…

Mamradpivo's avatar

The woman in the office next to mine one-ups every story anyone has ever told her. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t want to talk about anything cool I may have done when she’s around because she will have a lame story about her white trash family that she’s convinced is better at everything ever than amythin anyone else has ever or will ever do.

cyn's avatar

they just want attention! trolling, my friend…
they are called victims

MacBean's avatar

I have to add this: When I was younger, I used to share my problems with people because I thought it could help them in a misery-loves-company/schadenfreude sort of way. Like hearing that things were crappy for other people, too, might make them feel that maybe their problems weren’t so bad. When I figured out that more often than not people actually just feel like their problems are being trivialized, I stopped. Maybe some people honestly have good intentions but just haven’t come to this realization yet?

augustlan's avatar

Well, hell. I think I am this person, for the same reason @MacBean stated above. I’m trying to be better about it though. Forgive me?

MacBean's avatar

@augustlan: We all lurve you and you know it.

There’s also a big difference in how people present their problems. This has a major effect on how it makes people feel. Having traded miseries with you, Lan, I think you probably don’t make people feel trivialized much, if ever. For example, if I were to complain to you about a particular ache or pain, I think you’d be more likely to answer with something like, “I completely sympathize” and then talk about what’s bothering you. The true one-uppers are more like, “You think that’s bad!? Wait until you hear this!” You’re clearly caring, not obnoxious. You make people feel like they’re not alone.

End love letter. XD

augustlan's avatar

Aw, Bean. I love you, too. :D

veronasgirl's avatar

I had a friend who was like this. It’s really hard to have a friendship with someone who acts this way. You tell them about these bad things that are happening to you because you want feedback, understanding, sympathy, or an advocate for your cause. But when someone just ignores your concerns and tries to one-up their situation its really discouraging. You begin to feel like they don’t care about you at all and they are only concerned with themselves and their problems. They could at least pretend to care…

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

so who’s worse? the person that initially bitches? the person who then bitches in response? or the person who bitches about someone bitching right after they originally bitched? see what I’m getting at here? everyone’s just bitching….

MacBean's avatar

@ABoyNamedBoobs03 Everyone has the right to bitch sometimes. The person who is worse is the one who makes the other feel that their problems are trivial and unimportant.

Jude's avatar

I was talking to my sister last night and she was telling me about her issues with menopause, namely that she’s been having serious “night sweats”. She told me that she’s going to mention it to my brother (the “one upper”) and see what he has to say. I told her that he’ll probably complain about the fact that he is growing man boobs due to estrogen that he is receiving from somewhere. And, when we see him on Saturday, he’ll have a training bra on and a sweat band. Silly one upper..

RedPowerLady's avatar

I believe some people are just trying to identify with your pain.

Some people just have poor social skills and are just trying to “stay on topic”.

Others do get in a sort of contest about whose experience is worse. This is most definitely annoying. I find it helpful to acknowledge their pain and move on. The acknowledgment is the key.

A lot of the time these people feel like they went through crap and no one cared, no one acknowledged their pain. So when someone brings up their own pain and gets sympathy or even just a good story from it, it brings about their feelings of pain and trauma and hurt. It is a typical psychological response from them not having their needs met.

Just throwing the idea out there that even though sometimes it is quite annoying it’s not always due to someone being a pain in the arse. There are other possibilities. And even when it is annoying it is most likely due to the fact that this person really has been through heck and didn’t get their needs met. Now, there are some just annoying people out there, but it is better to presume they are in the other category.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

not a lot of people i know do this, but i’ve known a few, and it is infuriating after awhile. doing it a few times isn’t a big deal – and it’s pretty easy to tell when they’re trying to empathize – but when they’re trying to ‘upstage’ you? it drives me up the wall. i had a friend who, whenever i made even a small complaint about something (i.e. “my mom was in such a bad mood yesterday and gave me hell all day”), she would go on for 20 minutes with a rundown of every horrible thing she could think of that had happened to her, and would embellish on most of the things she recalled.

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