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How to deal with a person who never stops talking about themselves

(62 Posts)
jeanie99 Wed 01-Jul-20 03:57:16

This is such a difficult one for me.
An acquaintance rang today she must have been on the phone for over a hour talking about herself.
She doesn't understand the art of conversation at all and just goes on and on jumping from one subject to another and going back years and years and providing detail after detail.
I was expecting a phone call from my friend so had to explain this to her and the call ended.
However she messaged me and said she would like to have a run out in the car and bring something for me at the same time. This was very kind of her and would save me time going to hers however.
When she arrived she just continued from the phone call this morning and I never thought she would leave.
I just had to say I'm sorry but I must get on I have so much to do, which was totally true.
I do feel sorry for this lady she lives alone her husband died last year so is clearly very lonely. When I have managed to get the odd word in I do make suggestions for her to join clubs, things of interest she might like to do but it falls on deaf ears.
I have never come across anyone quite like this and do so hate to be rude.
Is there an answer.

OceanMama Wed 01-Jul-20 05:06:34

I think so much depends on the person and relationship you want to have with them. If you know her well enough, you could talk to her about it. You could withdraw from her, or cut back on seeing her, if you find it too much to handle. That might seem unkind but I know I'm at place in life where I have limited energy for that sort of thing, so sometimes it's necessary to pick who you have around you to keep on top of your own well being. So that depends on how many emotional demands you might have. You could ask her, "Would you like to hear about xyz?" It could be she's lonely and just let's rip when she gets a chance to speak to someone. Do you go to any groups (probably not at the moment) that you could invite her to? Church, coffee group? Just some ideas, but it depends individually.

OceanMama Wed 01-Jul-20 05:20:55

Wanted to add, it's of course perfectly fine if you don't want to invite her into any of your groups. I can understand sometimes wanting to keep something for you. I just thought it might give her the courage to go if she went with someone she knew the first time, and it gives her a chance to expand her social circle and the number of people to talk with. If she's not so isolated, it might take care of itself. OTOH, some people are just like this regardless.

grandMattie Wed 01-Jul-20 06:09:36

Interesting. I know several people like that. They talk too much because they are lonely, and they are lonely because they talk too much.
This woman is definitely a 90/10% person, i.e. she talks for 90%of the time... most people I know are generally about 75/25 with me doing the 25!
If you have the strength to see her, it would be a great kindness, but be prepared for the torrent of words.

Marydoll Wed 01-Jul-20 07:15:49

The poor lady must be very lonely and obviously sees you as a good friend. My husband has a friend like that, she often phones when she has had a few drinks and we can't get her off the phone. There is no easy solution, as I know I feel guilty if I try to get her off the phone.

When I was working and up to my eyes preparing school work, she would phone and I would get very stressed, as she insisted on telling me her life story before speaking to DH.
If I tried to tell her I was busy, she would take the huff.
I don't envy you.

As Grandmattie says, it would be a kindness to speak to her, however difficult you find it. However, I do understand how frustrating it is for you.

Harris27 Wed 01-Jul-20 07:18:42

So many lonely people so sad.

Dorsetcupcake61 Wed 01-Jul-20 07:38:17

Dear Jeanie,this is indeed a hard one. I have a friend of nearly 20 years who is very similar. We met when our childeren became best friends shortly after starting school. On the whole I tend to hear from her when she is worried or having a problem and like you conversations can be a quick how are you and then the rest more or less dominated by what's troubling HER! It can be frustrating and very draining. In many ways her social skills are terrible! You may wonder why we are still friends.? At the root of it there have also been many giggles over the years. Shes also hard working,honest and basically a very kind person. Over the years I have learned a lot about her childhood which was genuinely awful including neglect and time spent in care. I look at where she is today and I'm proud of how well she has done considering the challenges shes faced. There have been times when I've stepped back a little but we've never had an argument. I think our friendships come in many different forms and meet different needs . I would say even though we are the same age I'm a big sister/mother figure that she never really had. She views me as her best friend and I in return know that in her own way she is always there for me as best as she can be. She is loyal and never catty about other people. Like any friendship/ relationship ours is built over shared memories, some of which are very happy and time. It's about balance. If the friendship is overwhelming with no positive points gradually withdraw. In the past I have felt frustrated but have remembered her good points. She often appeared to want a sounding board but ignored suggestions/advice. Over time that has improved because she values my opinion and there have been times where I have been uncharacteristically blunt! All I can suggest is that you probably are not going to change drastically who she is and how she communicates. Only you can decide whether it's a friendship worth developing. You can approach the lack of two way communication subtly or bluntly,or maybe with gentle humour but always with kindness. Think carefully about introducing her to any of your friendship groups if you think her one sided approach may cause friction. Maybe there is a voluntary role somewhere she would be perfect for? Good lucksmile

SpringyChicken Wed 01-Jul-20 07:56:59

Jeanie, was she the same when her husband was alive? If she doesn’t phone too often, I’d put the phone on speaker so that you can (quietly go about other jobs).

SpringyChicken Wed 01-Jul-20 07:57:48

Oops, brackets shouldn’t be there!

lemsip Wed 01-Jul-20 08:08:18

with a situation such as this, you have to cut in with a totally different subject....say, have you heard about,..... did you see...what do you think?... get them talking about something random! It's your own fault if you let someone go on and on then moan about it later!! It may be a relief to the person to talk about something else, something funny maybe!

TheFrugalPiggy Wed 01-Jul-20 08:11:16

My SIL, of 31 years, is exactly the same. She only ever talks about herself continuously. She never asks questions about anyone else. You could have anything happen in your life good or bad and she will not comment on it. It's very sad as this has made family relationships very difficult. She is probably the most self centered person you could wish to meet. A lot of people are on constant transmit. I find that you can't really have a 'normal' healthy relationship with them. To this end, I distance myself from them.

Furret Wed 01-Jul-20 08:31:31

I think the clue is in the fact that she lives alone and is lonely. Do we have a duty to indulge people like this? I think we have but recognise it’s not easy.

Perhaps you could set aside an hour every week when you go and visit her (then it’s easier for you to leave than turf her out of your house). Make it a regular date, take a cake.

It will give her something to look forward to. Towards the end ask her ‘do you want to hear my news?’ and at least give her the chance to listen.

If this sounds like I’m talking from experience then yes, I am.

Alexa Wed 01-Jul-20 09:19:57

I sort of agree with Lemsip: talk about something else. If possible.

Your friend may be unable to talk about anything that interests you. In that case you are doing well but should stop the phone call sooner for your friend's sake. If she caries on like that your long lasting patience might be exhausted.

MerylStreep Wed 01-Jul-20 09:25:25

Springychicken
I've become an expert at: loading the dishwasher/ opening drawers/ hanging clothes in wardrobe etc, silently.😃
I could say more but as we know some posts find their way onto FB of which she is an avid reader.
All I will say is: I feel all your pain 😥

lemongrove Wed 01-Jul-20 09:29:55

Meryl 🤣
I have a similar friend to the OP, I have known her for most of my life, and she is similar to this.She isn’t at all lonely btw, is happily married with a good social life.I just find a comfy chair when she phones.

FindingNemo15 Wed 01-Jul-20 09:35:22

I have a similar friend who is married, but they do not do much as a couple. When I see her she tells me the same story at least three times which incidentally I have heard on many occasions before. Other people have also commented on her doing the same to them, so I think people tend to avoid her.

If I butt in and say is that when so and so happened or I remember that etc., she still carries on from the beginning with fine details. She is also a gossip, whispers in front of people which I find embarrassing and makes hurtful comments.

I find it quite exhausting and tend to put off seeing her. I think I only put up with all this as I feel sorry for her.

Ladyleftfieldlover Wed 01-Jul-20 09:55:22

I have a friend who only ever talks about herself on the phone and it is hard to get a word in. Last time I made the excuse (after an hour) of being desperate for the loo and the time before that I had to get a drink as I was so thirsty. She has a habit of telling me the same things about her sons and their families ad nauseum. I mutter that she told me that last time, but she keeps on. I have known her for over thirty years and she has always been the same.

Kate1949 Wed 01-Jul-20 10:00:56

There's a similar thread under the Ask a Gran forum which might give you some ideas. It's 'Is it just me?'

Illte Wed 01-Jul-20 10:02:11

Since lockdown I've used that phone from that friend as exercise time.
I walk round and round the living room, up and down the stairs.

I hit my 10,000 steps easily!

Esmerelda Wed 01-Jul-20 10:03:51

Good suggestion from Furret here, and if you feel very brave you could just try to stop her mid-flow (by holding up your hand, palm out, in a stop sign) and quietly say "Please stop, you are overwhelming me with all this chatter about yourself. Let's talk about (something else) instead".

Coconut Wed 01-Jul-20 10:07:22

Some people just do not respond to subtle, they are so locked in their own bubble and just have no empathy for others. Of course you have to show sympathy for her situation, however as a “friend” she is clearly draining you. Personally I would email her or send a letter, saying that you so value her friendship, but explain how she makes you feel. She may take offence and cut any ties, however, she may thank you and say that she didn’t realise how she comes across. Only you can decide if it’s worth the risk, good luck.

Patsy429 Wed 01-Jul-20 10:18:13

So difficult to end a conversation as the friend is not listening anyway. I've resorted to ringing the doorbell before now and saying, "Sorry, I have to go. There's someone at the door!"

sandelf Wed 01-Jul-20 10:19:16

Oh I do feel for you. We must have kind faces!!! I seem to have a lot of friends who have no idea about ping-pong! Maybe we are just too slow jumping in - some people seem unable to bear a moments silence.

Belleringer Wed 01-Jul-20 10:21:05

I also have a friend like that. When it gets too much I go and ring our very loud doorbell, and say 'sorry, got to go, someone at the door’. I can’t do it every time of course, but we do seem to have a lot of callers 🙂

Davida1968 Wed 01-Jul-20 10:25:51

Jeannie, you have my sympathy; I know someone exactly like this and I appreciate fully just how "draining " their company can be. After years of being talked at, I've ceased to see, or to initiate contact with, this person because I decided that life is just to short to waste my time with "friends" who have absolutely no interest in me, and whose company I don't enjoy. It may sound harsh but it was the best solution for me. My advice it to put yourself first and decide what is best for you .