You think of yourself as a caring and sympathetic friend. But when it comes to your long-time friend—let’s call her Margot—you hit your wit’s end every time you spend time with her. Whether it’s the mailwoman who supposedly loses every important bill, the coworker who keeps taking her parking space or the son who doesn’t call enough—any time you’re with her, Margot is complaining about something.
And so, you offer advice, “Update your mailing address, drive to work a few minutes earlier, put some time on Billy’s calendar.” To these (highly reasonable) suggestions, she usually brushes them off and mutters something like “that’ll never work.”
If you have a Margot in your life, you’re not alone. Think of all the TV characters who complain relentlessly—Olivia Soprano, Hannah Horvath, Ross Geller, Joffrey Baratheon, to name a few.
In fact, there’s a term for the Margots out there. Coined by psychiatrist Jerome Frank, these people are called help-rejecting complainers, or HRCs. Typically, they complain relentlessly as if their problems are insurmountable (they’re likely not); they reject advice or guidance; and because they usually have no intention of problem solving, the behavior becomes toxic to your relationship—there’s only so much negativity a person can take. Here are signs you have a HRC in your life and also how to deal with them.