Related: self-help

The reasons people tolerate chronic complainers, drama queens and crisis junkies may be surprising, according to Paula Renaye, award-winning author of the acclaimed new self-help book, Living the Life You Love: The No-Nonsense Guide to Total Transformation. Known for her compassionate tough-love approach, Renaye offers a frank and fresh perspective to relationship dynamics and reveals why the situations may not be as straightforward as they seem.

According to Renaye, complaining isn't always a sign that someone is seeking a solution for the problem and, surprisingly, the opposite may be true. "Complaining is a great way to pretend you're doing something about your problems," she says. "But it's really just a way to blow off enough steam so you can continue to tolerate what you know you need to change."

Even more surprising are the possible reasons for interacting with chronic complainers and crisis junkies. "We all need sympathy and commiseration at times," Renaye says. "But there's a big difference between helping someone over a bump in the road and listening to the same old complaints and wallowing in the dramas with them. So, why do it?"

The answer, she says, is in understanding the personal motivations and payoffs the situation provides. She recommends an honest self-evaluation and offers a variety of potential reasons for maintaining drama-laden relationships. Some possibilities are:

  • Opportunities to experience dramatic situations without having to live them firsthand.
  • A way to feel self-satisfaction for successfully solving problems without having to implement the solutions.
  • Focusing on others' problems provides a distraction from addressing unresolved personal issues.
  • The interaction assuages guilt or fulfills a responsibility or obligation.
  • It's the "nice" thing to do.
  • It's easier to tolerate the drama than speak up and risk rejection and loss.
  • The relationship fulfills the desire to feel needed.

Renaye emphasizes that recognizing the reason for participating in the drama is the key to disengaging from it. However, she cautions that no longer participating in the drama will change the dynamics of the relationship. "If you don't let chronic complainers complain, they will likely go find someone who will," says Renaye. "If so, that doesn't mean you've lost a friend. It just means you never really had one."

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