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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 5334
Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology helping with relationships
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How do I deal with a relative who is always asking me for money,

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How do I deal with a relative who is always asking me for money, large amounts like 3k or more at a time, and becomes extremely manipulative when I say no? She will escalate the emotional pressure on me to the point she actually tells me she will kill herself if I don't give her the money to pay her rent. She has done this many times in the past, she says she is borrowing money from me then never pays it back and then appears to forget she owes me. It's really upsetting to me and has completely destroyed any relationship we ever had. She has been doing this for 30 years to me, she used to do it to our grandmother, she has a small income but simply will not live within her means and when she gets a large chunk of money she buys expensive cars and things like that instead of saving.

Hi! I'll be glad to help you with this issue.

I can imagine how frustrating and confusing this situation must be for you. You are clearly a loving and caring person. How do I know? Because this situation never happens to people who are selfish and uncaring.

And this is actually the key to my answer to you that you need to consider and think about. Your relative is using your caring and desire to give as a weapon against you. And this is so hard because we wish to think the best of people and feel bad if we actually say that they are acting in selfish ways and using us. It's not pleasant and we want to think the best of people.

But it's important to think the best of her in what she really is: she's a person who needs to think of herself as a victim to avoid taking responsibility for herself. This is a mental health issue, a disorder. To think the best of her is to recognize your relative has a mental health issue she's not dealing with. And here's the important follow up:

You're not a professional; you're not a psychologist or therapist. You can't help her with her problem. To give her money over and over is what we call in psychology "enabling". It means in her case allowing her to continue to avoid facing her problems and to live dysfunctionally. Her manipulating is part of the disorder and to give her money under threats is enabling her.

Enabling has become a widely discussed topic on the internet. (That gives you the idea: you're not alone in facing this problem of manipulative and needy relatives--I hope that made you smile.) So do a search on enabling and become familiar with the term. It is used often in relationship to alcoholics and addicts, but that's the same concept: those addictive behaviors are enabled by bailing them out, giving them money, etc.

Therefore, you have to free yourself from that. You have to recognize that you are not responsible for her. If she is so distraught that she threatens suicide, then you need to give her the phone number of a hotline. Here is the number for the national suicide hotline:



They have professionals on call at all times ready to help anyone with such thoughts. This is the way we help someone who's ill: we refer them to a doctor. And that's what you need to do as well. Here's a wonderful book you can also get on the net:

The Enabler by Angelyn Miller. This is excellent and not just for the usual enabling of alcoholism, etc.

Okay, I wish you the very best!

My goal is for you to feel like you've gotten Great Service from me and the site. If we need to continue the discussion for that to happen, then please feel free to reply and we'll continue working on this. If the answer has given you the help you need, please remember to give a rating of 5 (Great Service) or 4 (Informative and helpful), or even 3 (Got the job done) button. This will make sure that I am credited for the answer and you are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing any of these buttons. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "For Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, XXXXX XXXXX

Dr. Mark and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thanks for your response. I have realized my giving in is enabling her to continue not being responsible, but it is really traumatic for me when she attacks me with all her manipulative tricks. I will check out the book you recommend and hope to learn something that will help me respond in a healthier way.
Yes, she counts on that. She counts on causing you distress so that you give in to her dysfunction. But you have to keep this firmly in your consciousness:

I am not a professional. I'm feeling distress because she has a disorder. This is a traumatic feeling because I'm in the presence of a mental, emotional disorder. I'm not a professional and I have to direct her to get to a professional.

Remember: if she was having a medical disorder, the above would be just as true, right? So this is not a make believe I'm recommending. It's the proper procedure for family to follow when there is a disorder in a relative.

All the best to you,

Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Hi, Hermes! I'm very glad that I was able to help you with this and thank you for your positive rating. If I can help you in the future in any way, please don't hesitate to let me know.

All the best,
Dr. Mark