We all have ’em: The friends (or acquaintances, relatives, or coworkers) who bleed you dry, whether of money, compassion, patience–or all of the above. They may not seem similar on the surface, and each may have a quite different M.O. But they all have one thing in common: They’re starved for attention, and their appetite is insatiable. See if you recognize any of these blood-suckers:
1. The Drama-Hating Drama Queen
“Oh, I just can’t stand the drama!” she’ll complain about her mother-in-law. “For God’s sake, does she need attention that much?” she’ll gripe about a fellow employee. This type of person ostensibly hates “drama,” but secretly–or perhaps not-so-secretly–her main purpose in life is to create drama. The Drama-Hating Drama Queen takes attention-seeking to lofty new heights, whether it’s tearfully storming out of a party, feigning hurt feelings because her boyfriend says hi a woman (thereby forcing the boyfriend either to run after her in a gesture of chivalry or remain at the party and risk being seen as a jerk), or threatening to quit her job for the umpteemth time because she’s constantly being overloaded with extra work since “less qualified” employees can’t pull their weight. Whatever the situation, if there’s a stage, she’s at its center. This woman can give Meryl Streep a run for her money.
2. The “Woe is Me” Perpetual Victim
He’s the guy who just can’t catch a break. First his girlfriend dumps him for another guy–and takes the dog with her. Then his car dies on the coldest day of the year and nobody even thinks of offering to give him a jump. You don’t have to feel sorry for him–he feels sorry enough for himself. He’s a spotlight-seeker for all the wrong reasons. If you’ve lost your job, he’s lost two. If you’ve been divorced twice, he’s been divorced three times. If you were on Welfare for 6 months, he lived on the streets for two years. He never gets ahead–because he’s happy where he is: sucking the life out of those who offer their sympathy, until there’s no sympathy left to give. And what happens then? He moves on to the next sucker.
3. The Passive-Aggressive Facebook Poster
Most people have at least one of these Facebook “friends.” When they’re bored and there’s nothing new to post, they’ll concoct a vague complaint, or post a real one about one of your recent encounters, with just enough details left out to make you wonder, “Is she talking about me?” For instance, she might post something like, “When you’re down and out, you find out who your true friends are.” If she’s successful at her ruse, you may bite, and ask, “Were you referring to me in your post?” Of course, she’ll swear she wasn’t. And chances are, she probably wasn’t–because she posted it for attention from anyone who’s sensitive or insecure enough to care. Once she assures you that she wasn’t, indeed, posting about you, she’ll leave you wondering who she really was referring to, and, in time–a week, a month–she’ll post another doozy, e.g., “Some people let their phones go to voicemail when you know they’re just sitting there!” Again, it’s probably not directed toward you–or anyone else for that matter!
4. The Check-Dodging Freeloader
She has a job, a car, and a nice apartment–but she never has money. That doesn’t keep her from stopping after work for drinks, or having a girls’ night out, or going out for pizza or seeing the latest movie. She hopes to get lost in the crowd when the bar tab comes, and usually manages to do so. In line at the movie theater, she’ll whisper, “Hold my place. I gotta go back to the car for my wallet” knowing that, to save embarrassment (and to keep the line moving), you’ll pay her way. “I’ll pay you back later,” she says, but “later” never comes. Just before the check arrives, she’ll say, “Be right back” and hide out in the ladies’ room until she thinks the coast is clear, and, when she returns to the table, she’ll act surprised that the bill’s already been paid. Almost always, she’ll pretend to dig for her wallet–allowing someone in the group enough time to feel embarrassed for her and say, “Don’t worry about it.” Then, with a satisfied smile, she’ll offer, “Well, it’s on me next time!”
5. The Over-Sharer
She’s the new hire who tells you her life story within her first hour on the job. Or the Facebook poster who posts so many details about her sex life, she could make Christian Grey blush. These are people who desperately want to belong, who want to seem important, who want your attention and want to hold your attention. They think that salacious details will keep you on the edge of your seat, when, more often than not, they make you want to run the other way. For some reason, over-sharers are drawn to me. I remember one over-sharing co-worker years ago who bragged about how her boyfriend “painted the fence with the skill of Leonardo Da Vinci.” I told her we didn’t have a fence, but we had several different guys who took turns mowing the lawn every week. “Do tell!” she cackled. I mentioned this encounter to a girlfriend of mine, and that’s how I found out that painting the fence had nothing to do with paint. Or fences.
6. The Pathological Liar
He’s the one who tells you it’s bright and sunny outside as you’re standing in a downpour with earth-shaking thunder, and seems perplexed that you don’t believe him. These people often lie for the sake of lying, and, depending on which psychologists you believe–and which coexisting psychological disorders these pathological liars have–they may get a thrill out of lying, not know how to tell the truth, or actually believe that they are telling the truth. They don’t just lie about things they don’t want you to know which, whether right or wrong, could be understandable in some ways. No, these are people who lie about things that don’t matter, like the name of a friend of theirs that you’ll never meet, or the color of someone’s shirt or handbag. The problem (other than the fact that they’re liars) with these people is that they have no credibility at all, so it’s impossible to have any kind of real friendship with them. If and when they do tell the truth, much like the boy who cried “wolf!” it will be too late.
7. The Bragger
Her Facebook page looks like an issue of Conde Nast Traveler. She’s been everywhere, met everyone, done everything, and her mid-century modern house was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright himself. She’s perpetually tan, perpetually blonde, and so perfectly petite, she can barely see above the wheel of her brand-new Porsche Cayenne. Her son’s the captain of the football team, and his biggest dilemma is choosing between Harvard or Yale (full scholarship, of course). She has money, but not nearly as much as she’d like you to think, since her house is rented and her Porsche is leased, and she’s spiritually thirsty and emotionally empty, so she looks for the envy of others as a source of personal worth. She will cleverly bait you into talking about any subject so that she can brag about her latest triumph, real or imagined. She’ll notice your 14-karat-gold, 1-carat-diamond engagement ring, for instance, and mention how beautiful it is. “Oh my God…I forgot to tell you!” she conveniently remembers. “Joe is having mine reset in platinum. But, because it’s only two carats, the jeweler suggested an anniversary eternity band to make it really shine!” As you fantasize about knocking out her newly veneered teeth, take a deep breath and remember that, beneath those veneers are rotted stumps. Then smile your beautifully crooked–beautifully real–smile.