Vail Relationships column: Recognizing people who act entitled
Editor’s note: This is the first part of a two-part series.
Dear Neil: I have an adult stepson who is 37. He and his wife have three kids (6, 5 and 3). Since I retired in 2012, they assumed that I would be their on-call babysitter. One day, he brought his daughter over to my house first thing in the morning for me to babysit, without calling or asking me first. I wasn’t feeling well and told him so. He got angry and left with his daughter — and I didn’t see them for two years, even though they live 10 minutes away from me. Now that I am retired, no one is entitled to my time. Since they discovered that their emotional blackmail wasn’t working, they have come back around.
Time is My Own in South Carolina
Dear Neil: I had a spouse who acted like it was my life’s mission to afford her as much spending money as she wanted. After I became ill and had my colon removed, I cut down on work — and she cleaned out the house of all furniture and belongings and left. When we divorced, she expected me to surrender my entire engineer’s paycheck to her, and she requested lifetime alimony and maintenance, which was denied by the court. She then demanded that I co-sign her new mortgage. If this doesn’t illustrate an attitude of entitlement, I don’t know what does.
Expected to Work Till I Drop in Michigan
Dear Time and Working: People who act entitled often believe they are the center of the universe. They are demanding — obsessed with their own needs and desires to such a degree that frequently they ignore the wishes of others — or treat the desires of others as much less important. They are not very sensitive to someone else’s feelings, wishes and aspirations. They are takers, not givers.
Here are the behaviors of someone who acts entitled:
• They are controlling, manipulative or bullying in order to get their way.
• They will make demands or ask for sacrifices of others, which are essentially designed to benefit them.
• They are extremely impatient.
• They get angry easily — and show it.
• They will act punishing of people who oppose them or who attempt to interfere with what they want.
• They will often be critical of you (and others), because they do not tolerate disappointment well.
• Their happiness and well-being comes first.
• They take more than they give.
Acting entitled is alienating to almost everyone, and it ensures that the entitled person will have unhealthy relationships with others. I will address what you can do, or how you might respond to someone’s sense of entitlement, in next week’s column.
Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Westminster and Boulder. He is the author of the best-selling book, “Love, Sex and Staying Warm: Creating a Vital Relationship.” Contact him at 303-758-8777, or visit neilrosenthal.com.