The cushion of obligations

We’ve already established that politeness makes it difficult for victims of time-stealers to simply say that they don’t want to see the time-stealer because they’d rather be doing something more enjoyable. However true it might be, it’s still hurtful and rude. So a good anti-pest technique is to create a cushion of obligations between you and the time-stealer. You’d love to meet up, but you have to work, or look after a sick pet, or do some last-minute DIY.

Urgent obligations are better for last-minute cancellations – a friend in crisis, a burst water pipe. But tedious obligations are better as an ongoing source of excuses.

When you see your pest, always mention your tedious obligations. Be as boring as you like. The time-stealer might get tired of always sympathising about your sick grandmother and move on to stealing somebody else’s time.

Some pests refuse to accept that their victims have any obligations that can’t be abandoned. My own experience of this is a friend repeatedly asking me to quit the volunteer work I had been doing every Saturday for three years, because he wanted to spend time with me on Saturdays.

Another example: I have also been asked to take the day off work at short notice in order to attend a charity fashion show that a time-stealer was organising. “Call in sick,” she said. When I refused, she said I didn’t care about the charity. (The fashion show never happened; asking me was about control, not about the imaginary show.)

Note 1: Many victims have experienced the self-loathing that comes of having used another friend’s divorce or bereavement to help them escape a time-grab. “She was just sobbing down the phone… She needs my help right now.” You’re not only exploiting someone else’s misery, you’re also manipulating your pest into feeling guilty for pestering you; and if you’re using manipulative techniques, how can you keep the moral high ground and differentiate yourself from the time-stealer?

Note 2: Academic work rarely cuts the mustard as a pest-escaping obligation, whether you’re at school or university. If your time-stealer is also supposed to be studying, you will make them feel insecure that they’re doing less work than you. This makes them more likely to nag you. Schoolkids can’t go far wrong with inventing a tyrannical parent who makes them do lots of chores. University students will have to fall back on part-time jobs and depressed friends.

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Explore posts in the same categories: anti-time-stealer hacks, lies, manipulation, time-stealers

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