Know Someone Who Never Stops Complaining? Here’s What They’re Actually Saying.

We all complain sometimes, but it can be tiresome to try to stay positive and motivated in the presence of a chronic complainer. A chronic complainer will complain about anything and everything they find inconvenient. The constant stream of complaints and dissatisfaction can get into one’s nerves and drive them insane.

Let’s take a look at the inner workings of a chronic complainer from a psychological perspective.

The Attention Seeker

In a social setting, some people get more attention than others. This is because people are naturally drawn to people who radiate more confidence and charisma. Therefore, when someone doesn’t naturally get as much attention as they like, they might try to gain it by force.

Complaining is an easy, go-to strategy because we are socially programmed to give attention to a complain. Doing otherwise would make us look impolite and rude. A chronic complainer abuses this social etiquette for their gain.

The Hard Worker

We are all lazy sometimes. And that’s fine. But for some people, admitting that can be difficult. So they try to build a fake image of themselves as harder workers than they actually are. This is more prominent on social media, and among working moms.

By constantly complaining about how little sleep they got, how bad the traffic was in the morning, or sometimes their minor health issues, they try to make you think that they’re working extra hard.

Sometimes they can be completely oblivious to the fact that they’re complaining to people who are working harder than them!

Fishing for Sympathy

This type of chronic complainer will always try to look more miserable than others. This is similar to a person who fakes a disability in public. Wheres they might do it for financial benefits, a constant complainer does it to gain pity from others.

While they enjoy the shower of kind words, they also use these comments to validate their hardships, how mundane they might be.

To Complain Is to Control

We are all socially programmed to listen to a person’s complaint. A chronic complainer uses this concept to create themselves an illusion of power and control over others.

He or she knows that the other party won’t dare to shut them down because that would be socially unacceptable and make them look insincere.

How to Deal With One

Often times, you can’t directly confront the culprit about it because you actually like them as a person and don’t want to hurt their feelings. But sometimes you might be forced to take an action because the constant complaining can bring down your energy too.

Usually it won’t work if you simply ask them to put up with their misfortunes like everyone else. This is because they are used to seeing their struggles as more special than those of others.

The best method is to offer them actual solutions to the problems they complain about. They might not take them, because they never wanted an solutions in the first place; they just wanted to complain. But overtime, they’ll get the hint and stop. Also, having a go-to strategy for every time they start complaining will keep your mind at peace.

Finally, now that you know the underlying reasons behind a chronic complainer, you will be able to tolerate them more, and even empathize with them.


Rittelmeyer LF Jr. Coping with the chronic complainer. Am Fam Physician. 1985 Feb;31(2):211-5. PMID: 3883723.

Kowalski R.M., Erickson J.R. (1997) Complaining. In: Kowalski R.M. (eds) Aversive Interpersonal Behaviors. The Springer Series in Social/Clinical Psychology. Springer, Boston, MA.

Lipowski ZJ. Somatization: a borderland between medicine and psychiatry. CMAJ. 1986 Sep 15;135(6):609-14. PMID: 3489512; PMCID: PMC1491312.

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