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The Roots of Entitlement

One of the best examples I’ve ever read about entitlement I read in the book Freeing Yourself From the Narcissist by Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D. The story goes that Ayn Rand, the famous author, was married but had a (much) younger boyfriend she insisted she must see once a week. Her husband was aware of her boyfriend and on the nights Rand spent with him, her husband spent drowning his sorrows at the local bar. Rand didn’t care about her husband’s sentiments, instead she insisted she must be free to have this relationship.

(Why anyone stays with someone who insists on having a side relationship of this nature is an exploration for another article.)

Entitlement is often shocking and should be to any thinking person.

Here are some other examples of entitlement:

Your husband gets upset when you are drinking wine on a Friday evening out (without the kids) yet he keeps a bottle of whiskey at the office and repeatedly takes sips throughout the day.

Your boss becomes upset when you don’t immediately answer your phone and the nature of your job is that you are often in meetings and busy.

Your friend shows up late 30 minutes late to every lunch meeting you have with her but when you bring up how you wish she would be on time she reminds you of the time you were late 5 years ago.

Your partner wants dinner on the table every night at the same time. Your schedule or desires as a human being aren’t relevant.

Your mother subtly complains that the gifts you gave her for Christmas aren’t exactly what she was expecting even though you way overspent your budget.

Your father who lives in another state comes for a long visit completely unannounced and then expects you to be available to spend a lot of time with him.

Your two friends get into the car with you and one of them spends the next 20 minutes talking without asking anyone else how they are doing or even noticing if they are invested in the conversation.

Your spouse won’t work because he’s working on his career as a rock star/author/sports player/start-up business/professional smoker of weed. If he could just have time to pursue his dreams then you both could be rich but you keep wanting him to contribute to the family income.

Your boyfriend wants you to stay up really late with him to resolve the argument but you have to be at work at 8am.

Your wife keeps asking to take elaborate vacations that you can’t afford even though she isn’t working and wants to try for a baby soon.

A man is married but having an affair. When he is caught he says he says the reason he cheats is because you are cold or don’t satisfy him in some way.

Someone won’t pay their bill, pay someone back, give back a book or clothing item.

Your partner stays home with the kids but becomes intoxicated while watching them.

Entitlement is something that people working from a reasonable framework do not understand, therefore they become prey to the entitled person. It is critical to understand it so you don’t invest in someone who isn’t invested in you.

In order for a child to grow up into an entitled adult there must be a special blend of both material spoiling and emotional neglect. The emotional neglect may have been subtle or profound but it is mixed with an overindulgence that usually involves the parent repeatedly asking the child “What do you want?” and then arranging life accordingly. They give their all their time, buy them whatever things they want and let them pick the activities, as well as make excuses for their tantrums.

One of my client’s described this parenting style as being a Disney Dad. “Disney Dads” take you wherever you want to go but they aren’t there when you are need someone. Another client told me that whenever she and her friend were talking, her friend’s child would interrupt and the friend would drop everything to listen to him, thus interrupting her and her friend. This creates entitlement.

Many times a narcissistic parent will do everything a child wants yet they will laugh at the child when their boyfriend breaks up with them or if they don’t get an A on a test or if they make a mistake. They are mistuned emotionally and overindulgent materially.

Therefore the child becomes, in turn, someone who lacks the ability to emotionally connect to others and yet expects people will listen and cater to them.

What can you do when you realize you are involved in a relationship with an entitled individual? Well, first ask yourself, “Is this acceptable to me?” Is it acceptable that I have to give more than I will receive? Is it acceptable to me to put my feelings in second (last) place? Also ask yourself, “If I am capable of empathy, aren’t other people capable as well?” Entitled people will remain entitled as long as it serves them. When it doesn’t, they will have to find a new way to relate and GROW.

Don’t be the person hindering their growth. 🙂

You might have to get away from the person. Telling them what they are doing wrong usually doesn’t work if they are genuinely entitled. It’s about THEM, remember?

Finally, tune into your children’s emotions rather than reflexively giving in to their demands. It’s okay to say no – it teaches your child to self-regulate – a crucial ability. It’s also okay to say yes. But when they are sad, contact that. When they are having trouble problem solving, help them. When they are feeling embarrassed, tell them it’s going to be okay. But if they are wanting to talk and you are talking to your friend, ask them not to interrupt until you are done. Similarly, sometimes if you want pizza and they want Chinese, get pizza some of the time guilt free. They’ll adjust just fine.

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Free Clear Mind Therapy provides in-person therapy in Fishers & Indianapolis and online therapy across Indiana. Specializing in anxiety therapy for teens, adults, and kids.

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