“She told me she was in ‘desperate need’ of a state-of-the-art computer only six months after she ‘needed’ a ‘loan’ because the lease on her Lexus had expired. Crystal wasn’t even apologetic when she asked me to foot the bill. She just rattled off a bunch of reasons about why she couldn’t pay for them and why I should.”
Mike continued. “When Crystal was younger, I used to think she’d outgrow this pattern. But she’s 25 years old now and I don’t see anything changing. She wants what she wants and doesn’t care how her wants affect me or her mother. We try to reason with her or tell her no but she’s an expert at wearing us down.”
False entitlement is on the rise today, reinforced by our culture that proclaims “you deserve the best” and “you’re worth it” without making any connection between “deserving the best” because you can afford it or “you’re worth it” because you’ve earned it.
If there’s a person in your life who reminds you of Crystal, here are some strategies to help you break the pattern:
- Create concrete, specific boundaries to protect your time, money and belongings.A person with false entitlement will invade these boundaries unless you articulate what’s okay with you and what’s not.
- Clearly state what the consequences will be for disrespecting boundaries. If the “taker” in your life tests your limits, enforce the consequences you’ve previously discussed. Don’t let yourself be talked into giving her one more chance.
- Stay the course. Refuse to be blackmailed by threats, name-calling, temper tantrums or pouting. Do not continue to rescue him from the consequences of his irresponsible behavior.
- When she tells you “you’re the greatest,” take it with a grain of salt. Though today you may be the object of her affection, tomorrow you’ll be the cause of her woes.
- If you believe he’s spending inappropriately or his expectations are out of line, say so. Create limits on credit cards, phone bills and whatever else you view as false entitlement.
- Don’t let a monologue about her needs go on forever. Segue into other topics or end the conversation. This also applies to phone, text and e-mail correspondence.
- Don’t loan, give him money or be talked into buying things for him unless you’re truly okay with it. If you do decide to offer a loan, make sure you’re clear about how and when he’ll pay you back.
- Be cognizant of your own “rescuer fantasy.” Do you feel responsible for making your loved one happy and feel awful when she’s feeling deprived? If the answer is “yes,” it’s time for you to do some soul-searching about your own psyche.
Avoid getting sucked into the reasoning behind the person who has a sense of false entitlement. Once you’re sucked in, you’ll find yourself in a never-ending struggle to just keep your head above water.