The One Kind of Person to Avoid at all Costs

chicagotj.org avoid people like this


Amorphophallus is a member of a group of plants native to the Paleo-tropics that attract their food in a rather unorthodox manner. These plants emit chemicals that smells just like rotting meat. This smell in turn attracts carrion-loving insects like flies and beetles. But the tasty meat they seek is not immediately accessible. No, the insects must dig deep, traveling further and further into the plants, committing ever increasing levels of energy and resources….falling further and further into the trap. 

The window of escape closes fast. 

Once the insects have burrowed far inside the plants, Amorphophallus springs to life. Biological mechanisms trap the insects, who are either eaten or used to pollinate the plants. The irony is plain. Although by every appearance, the insects could obtain what they needed from the plants, there was never actually anything present to meet those needs. Rather, the plant uses the insects for what it needs, while giving nothing but deception in return. It’s like a customer who makes a reservation at a restaurant and simply orders water. There is a huge lack of “met expectations” that screams for explanation.

They are empty shells, leaky buckets searching desperately to be filled by anyone who wanders too close.

Like the patron and the plant, you can probably identify a few people in your life that will study and observe you and then output the appearance that they can provide you what you are looking for. Do not be deceived. They have no good thing for you, nor have they any intention on trying. You can detect these people because they will seek out your attention.  They crave it, as a vampire craves blood.They are psychological addicts that will drop you like a bad memory once they’ve had their hit of attention. 

You may be looking for conversation or a relationship from this kind of person. Don’t. They will dangle the scent of those things you are seeking in front of you, enticing and drawing you to investigate and pay them attention. They will lead you to ask questions and to invest in their lives. They are the man or woman who flirts with you and puts forth every sign that they are interested, yet inexplicably pulls back when you inevitably press forward.

They are the people who consistently send you positive energy, and then suddenly close the valve, sending minimal energy or giving that vibe of “How did we get on this conversation?” They are the ones who make plans while planning to never keep the plans they have made. Do not push forward. They are empty shells, leaky buckets desperately trying to be filled by anyone who wanders too close. Because their self-esteem is so low, they need constant reinforcement about their own acceptance in society and their inherent personal value as an attractive human being. 

These people are like relationship investments that offer no returns. As the tragic mass shooting in Orlando by Omar Mateen has reminded us, our exact time to live and thrive on this Earth is unknowable and therefore limited by definition. So take your emotional currency to individuals that will reciprocate. 

Begin to think of relationships in terms of ROI. Take an inventory of the people in your circle. Who takes the most and who gives the most? What relationship do you have to this person? A very young child gives very little and requires a lot. This reciprocity is completely acceptable given the fact that we are talking about child. A teenager may not garner the same consideration. Take note of the individuals who unjustifiably offer little reciprocity.

For those that come up lacking,  do not sit on the emotions that result from the realization that you are in a one-sided relationship. Be very candid with these people and tell them that they’re not carrying their socio-relational weight, and that it must stop immediately. Stop believing that it is wrong to measure your relationships with others on the basis of what they provide for you. If you give and give and give and never receive anything in return, you will burn out.

At the end of the day, be honest with yourself. If these people simply are not good for you, just be done with them. No excuses, no long goodbyes and no second chances. If, once confronted with your suspicions of non-reciprocity, these people see the error of their ways and show sustained genuine effort, forgive and try again.