Don’t be the answer

It’s Narcissist Friday!

It feels good to save the day. Mighty Mouse, the cartoon superhero, would fly up into the sky with the words, “Here I come to save the day!” Even a mouse can feel important when he is the hero.

Narcissists and other abusers know that you want to help people. They know that you feel good when you are the answer to someone’s prayers and hopes. So they will use that as a hook to manipulate you.

Years ago I interviewed for a church in Michigan. The congregation had a lot of problems. They brought us to the church, gave us the grand tour, and made a lot of promises. Then they sent us off with these words, “You are our last hope.” I was a new pastor, but those words terrified me. Somehow, I was able to feel the threat in them.

You are no one’s “last hope.” You might be able to help others in significant ways, but you do not want them to be dependent on you. Beware of those who look to you as a sort of savior, the answer to all their problems.

There are several kinds of abusers. Some are what we call “overt.” They are usually loud and control others by intimidation and power. Others we call “covert.” They are able to twist your heart until you find yourself controlled by their neediness. They seem to have no power but use others as tools with ease.

The covert abuser has just the kind of needs you will be tempted to fill. I have seen these folks take money, time, love, and loyalty with no scruples. They are users who have a different way of getting what they want.

And they will make you feel like you are their last hope, the answer to their prayers. They will overwhelm you with praise and gratitude—at first. After a short time, they become demanding and expect you to come running when they cry. You will find yourself drained and weakened, used up, by their constant expectations. All because you felt like you could save their day.

It is good to help people, but you must avoid the role of deliverer. There is one Deliverer, one Savior. The best you can do is turn people to Him. If you find them looking to you as the answer, rather than to Him, back away.

Obviously, some people cultivate the savior side of the relationship. They want to be the answer for others. That gives them control. But you don’t need to control others. You just want to be kind. So, set some limits and be willing to say no.

You are not the answer people need. No matter how good it feels, you cannot take on that role. It isn’t good for them and it will come back to bite you.


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4 responses to “Don’t be the answer

  1. Annie Rogers

    The timing of this couldn’t be better. My ex-husband came by yesterday – sweet, friendly, talkative, nice (unlike his usual self) in the hopes that I would negate the remaining alimony he owes. His “chickens have come home to roost” – back in debt, current love interest leaving, maybe another lay off at work. The covert “please save me because you love to help people in need” was on point. BUT I stayed strong; firm but kind. The answer was “no” and he went away no doubt shocked that he couldn’t manipulate me – also angry too. He’s suffering the consequences of his decision to leave our marriage, run up credit card debit, never denying himself any “toys” he wants but this time I’m not there to rescue him. Your comments were such a confirmation to me…thanks!!!

  2. Lisa Muller Munoz

    Excellent clarification. Thank you!

  3. KitKat

    I had a friend at a church that I left and she was the only person who “understood” why I left and still wanted to remain friends. I was so pleased and happy that my friend was there for me and supported me at a difficult time. As time progressed, we would meet up have lovely chats and talk about all our projects around our homes. She was swamped as she had a cleaning business she was running and decided that we could get more done at our homes if I went to her house once a month and helped her and she then came to my house the next month and helped me. It worked fine for awhile. Then it was more about her house and less and less about mine. I have been a seamstress for a very long time and she asked me to make blinds for her living room windows. Work that she only wanted me to do and she would pay me. I said, “Okay, call around and get a quote from a company that does that kind of work and I will take 25% of what they would charge. After six weeks of work I was finally done. I got a card in the mail with a check for $800 dollars. No phone call, no contact after that and I knew something was wrong. These blinds were a whole lot of work, as she had bought some drapes because she liked the material and wanted me to make the blinds from what she had bought. I had to take them all apart and refit everything to custom order for her windows. She had 7 windows and one was a big picture window. So this was no small feat. When I finally called her and said I had no idea it would be that much, her tone was of such that I knew she thought it was too much. Her quote from the company she called was in the thousands. Because I valued our friendship I returned $300 and she was her old self again. After that the meetings got less and less and she would only call me when she wanted me to do something for her. We would exchange birthday gifts and Christmas gifts, but when my birthday would roll around she would forget. But a week or two before her birthday I would get a call. She then asked me about another job and she proposed it in such a way as just asking for advice about it. She then said, “When can you get it done?”. Then I was at her house at a later time and I had gotten very upset about something that was happening and was on the verge of tears. There was no, “It will be okay.” Or “I’m so sorry, what can I do?” She actually asked, “You’ll still do the project for me, right?” And it was then I decided that I could not associate with her anymore. There were other things too that happened but trying to be a good friend I let a lot of it slide. But for me her insensitivity to my circumstances was the last straw. I never did her project, and I have not called her since. I was only there for what she wanted me to do for her. We had been friends for 40 years.

  4. Hope

    This is also a good message reversed, as a caution against seeing another person as our last hope.

    After years of marriage and years of counseling, some of it disastrous, I’ve thought that the guy we’re counseling with now (our 7th in 40+ years) is our last hope.

    Of course, only God can change the heart and sometimes He chooses not to.

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