Giving more doesn’t help

This particular anti-time-stealer hack has parallels with a defensive driving technique I learnt recently. During a driving lesson, I was driving towards a bend in the road with an impatient driver much too close behind me. My instructor gently reminded me (as if I needed reminding) that if I stopped suddenly, her car would almost certainly hit the back of the one I was driving. I followed my panicky instinct, which was to go faster in an effort to make her keep back, even though I was unhappy with my speed because I couldn’t see round the corner. As I came towards the bend, I was suddenly faced with an oncoming car, going too fast on the wrong side of the road. I panicked even more. My instructor braked and we narrowly avoided collision.

“Don’t ever think that going faster will get an impatient driver off your tail,” he said. “They’ll just go faster themselves and stay just as close.” He told me that the correct driving technique when someone’s tailgating you is to slow down to give yourself time to react to what’s ahead and also lessen the consequences if you do have to brake suddenly.

It’s the same with time-stealers. If you run yourself ragged trying to keep up with (or exceed) their demands, they will increase their demands. Victims sometimes make the mistake of calculating that if they usually see a pest once a week for an hour, then seeing them for four hours in one go will buy them three pest-free weeks. The time-stealer will calculate that the victim has agreed to see them for four hours this week, so they must have more time than they claimed. They will expect to see the victim for four hours every week from then on.

Trying to buy yourself future pest-free time by giving a time-stealer lots of time now simply doesn’t work. It’s the social equivalent of speeding up because you have a tailgater behind you. It doesn’t buy you time; it takes time away from you.

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