Do nurses tend to be enablers?

  1. A coworker yesterday was distracted by a drama with a friend. She had refused to loan her car to the friend, so the friend started texting how she would be better off dead, was a waste of a space, etc. It came out that this friend had done this before, my coworker had caved in. She's repeatedly loaned money without getting repaid, the friend manipulates her with these histrionics and has done so for years. This coworker is over 70 and is still working, to pay off "one more big bill" and because she loves nursing, so she's not rolling in money . The friend is 20 years younger.

    My coworker said that the friend was really fun and she cared about her. She said she really needs to be liked. I suggested that she was an enabler. She said, well, you know how we nurses are...

    I told her that I am not like that at all! I would never stay friends with someone who wants to repeatedly borrow money, let alone not pay it back! I hate drama and inconsiderate people! I've had my better nature taken advantage of in the past and learned from it that I don't like it and don't want users in my life.

    So what do you think, do nurses tend to be enablers?
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    About Emergent, RN

    Joined: Dec '13; Posts: 2,363; Likes: 17,290

    39 Comments

  3. by   llg
    I think a lot of nurses are enablers ... but not all of us. I find myself slipping in that direction now and then ... but then I pull myself back and have learned to say "No" when I need to. I guess I am somewhat "in the middle."
  4. by   brownbook
    Total anecdote, but I hear of, read about, nurses who's husbands are abusive, alcohics, etc.

    I am an enabler with my family, but I guess on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being to the point of abusiveness, financial ruin, family members always drunk or doped up. I'm a 2 -3..... okay sometimes a 4.


    My husband and children came along before I became a nurse.
  5. by   Kitiger
    I'll loan money ... but if it isn't paid back, I won't throw good money after bad. I don't have to cave in, in order to be a friend.

    I guess that puts me in the middle, too.
  6. by   sallyrnrrt
    I wish I could say I was never an enabler.......


    My barriers are a little higher now....
  7. by   Horseshoe
    Not an enabler. I would never tolerate the treatment you are describing above. With friends like that, who needs enemies?
  8. by   Emergent
    Do you think enablers are essentially buying friends?
  9. by   Kitiger
    Quote from Emergent
    Do you think enablers are essentially buying friends?
    No, not usually. I think they are people with good hearts, but maybe not always wise in their dealings.
  10. by   cleback
    Some would say I'm an ice princess so I guess not?
  11. by   macawake
    Quote from Emergent
    So what do you think, do nurses tend to be enablers?
    If a friend or a loved one find themselves in a serious mess of their own making, I will move heaven and earth in order to help them IF, and only if, I'm convinced that they are truly trying to better themselves. If on the other hand, they're only looking for an easy way to get out of a situation that was brought on by irresponsible or self-destructive behavior, it's my firm belief that I would be doing them a huge long-term disservice if I shielded them from the consequences of their actions. So, their motivation for reaching out to is crucial. I will gladly be an empowerer for someone who is genuinely trying to do better, I will not be an enabler for someone who isn't motivated to stop their self-destructive and/or manipulative behavior. I'm quite tough and have no problems saying no. Neither at work nor in my personal life.

    I think that my previous career has shaped the way I respond to attempts to use or manipulate me. Apart from my work background, another factor that makes me an unlikely candidate in the role of enabler is that I simple don't derive any satisfaction from being needed. The respect of others is much more likely to boost my self-esteem than being needed is (Freud could likely have a field day analyzing that iittle revelation about my psyche ). To be quite honest, I don't like being needed and will quickly lose interest in any person, who's not a child or a patient under my care, who spends time with me primarily because they need me. Frankly, I find neediness a huge turnoff. (Of course this doesn't mean that I won't help and support someone I care about even during times when they are struggling or suffering, I just don't want a relationship whose main foundation is need).

    To answer you question if nurses tend to be enablers. Well, this is entirely anecdotal, but in my experience I think that people who choose nurturing professions like nursing, might have a psychological "makeup" that makes them more vulnerable to fall in the "enabler trap" than many other groups of people/professions have. Of course there are always exceptions and outliers in any group, but if I compare my former workmates in law enforcement with my current ones in healthcare, then yes I think enablers might be more prevalent among nurses.

    Quote from Emergent
    A coworker yesterday was distracted by a drama with a friend. She had refused to loan her car to the friend, so the friend started texting how she would be better off dead, was a waste of a space, etc. It came out that this friend had done this before, my coworker had caved in.
    The above is a prime example of a "friend" who I would stop spending time with unless they completetly changed the way they choose to interact with me. Especially if this is a pattern with her. I would never put up with that type of behavior. I would text or call her right back and say; stop that immediately. I'm working. I have neither the time nor the inclination to deal with this drama at the moment, but I will get back to you when I'm off-duty and have time to talk. The next time I talked to her I would explain to her while our friendship is important to me (if that's the case), if she chooses to carry on with that manipulative behavior, she and I are over. And mean it.

    I'm convinced there has to be some kind of psychological reward for the person who accepts the kind of treatment that you've described in your OP. Hopefully someone or something will help her, and others like her, realize that this doesn't sound like a healthy relationship.
  12. by   broughden
    Quote from Emergent
    A coworker yesterday was distracted by a drama with a friend. She had refused to loan her car to the friend, so the friend started texting how she would be better off dead, was a waste of a space, etc. It came out that this friend had done this before, my coworker had caved in. She's repeatedly loaned money without getting repaid, the friend manipulates her with these histrionics and has done so for years. This coworker is over 70 and is still working, to pay off "one more big bill" and because she loves nursing, so she's not rolling in money . The friend is 20 years younger.

    My coworker said that the friend was really fun and she cared about her. She said she really needs to be liked. I suggested that she was an enabler. She said, well, you know how we nurses are...

    I told her that I am not like that at all! I would never stay friends with someone who wants to repeatedly borrow money, let alone not pay it back! I hate drama and inconsiderate people! I've had my better nature taken advantage of in the past and learned from it that I don't like it and don't want users in my life.

    So what do you think, do nurses tend to be enablers?
    I dont think your friend is an "enabler" unless she is in fact enabling something ie addiction.
    What it sounds like is that she is in a codependent relationship with a friend, and is being manipulated and psychologically abused.
    I also bet, as a former cop, that the abuser is siphoning financial support off of her. Which is usually the MO for abusers like this.

    Manipulative people brainwash their partners using something called 'perspecticide' - here are the signs it's happening to you | The Independent

    And I dont think its a "nurse" centered problem as much as it is a female related problem, and nursing just happens to be dominated by women.
    Generally women have a higher stronger urge to please and connect socially with those around them.
    In the current age of #MeToo how many victims have we now heard come forward and blame themselves for what happened to them?
    As a former cop I saw female rape and assault victims internalize blame and guilt way way way to often, rather than directing it as anger toward their attacker.
    How many times have you heard a female friend say she doesnt understand how to get a man to understand she doesnt want to go out with him? But simultaneously is worried about hurting "his" feelings more than protecting her own boundaries?

    As a father now it's been one of my predominate goals in life to teach my daughter that some people are idiots/monsters, sometimes those monsters will try to hurt her, and if they do it's their fault not hers and its okay to get angry!
    Last edit by broughden on Jun 18
  13. by   TriciaJ
    Quote from macawake
    If a friend or a loved one find themselves in a serious mess of their own making, I will move heaven and earth in order to help them IF, and only if, I'm convinced that they are truly trying to better themselves. If on the other hand, they're only looking for an easy way to get out of a situation that was brought on by irresponsible or self-destructive behavior, it's my firm belief that I would be doing them a huge long-term disservice if I shielded them from the consequences of their actions. So, their motivation for reaching out to is crucial. I will gladly be an empowerer for someone who is genuinely trying to do better, I will not be an enabler for someone who isn't motivated to stop their self-destructive and/or manipulative behavior. I'm quite tough and have no problems saying no. Neither at work nor in my personal life.

    I think that my previous career has shaped the way I respond to attempts to use or manipulate me. Apart from my work background, another factor that makes me an unlikely candidate in the role of enabler is that I simple don't derive any satisfaction from being needed. The respect of others is much more likely to boost my self-esteem than being needed is (Freud could likely have a field day analyzing that iittle revelation about my psyche ). To be quite honest, I don't like being needed and will quickly lose interest in any person, who's not a child or a patient under my care, who spends time with me primarily because they need me. Frankly, I find neediness a huge turnoff. (Of course this doesn't mean that I won't help and support someone I care about even during times when they are struggling or suffering, I just don't want a relationship whose main foundation is need).

    To answer you question if nurses tend to be enablers. Well, this is entirely anecdotal, but in my experience I think that people who choose nurturing professions like nursing, might have a psychological "makeup" that makes them more vulnerable to fall in the "enabler trap" than many other groups of people/professions have. Of course there are always exceptions and outliers in any group, but if I compare my former workmates in law enforcement with my current ones in healthcare, then yes I think enablers might be more prevalent among nurses.



    The above is a prime example of a "friend" who I would stop spending time with unless they completetly changed the way they choose to interact with me. Especially if this is a pattern with her. I would never put up with that type of behavior. I would text or call her right back and say; stop that immediately. I'm working. I have neither the time nor the inclination to deal with this drama at the moment, but I will get back to you when I'm off-duty and have time to talk. The next time I talked to her I would explain to her while our friendship is important to me (if that's the case), if she chooses to carry on with that manipulative behavior, she and I are over. And mean it.

    I'm convinced there has to be some kind of psychological reward for the person who accepts the kind of treatment that you've described in your OP. Hopefully someone or something will help her, and others like her, realize that this doesn't sound like a healthy relationship.
    I couldn't have said this better. I have no problems extending a helping hand when someone is having a problem but I don't cultivate relationships with people who are chronically needy. I certainly would not tolerate the behaviour described by the OP. That is definitely not a friend. It blows me away that someone who made it to the age of 70 and spent her life "giving at the office" would need to keep someone like this around.

    I do believe people put up with a lot of crap because for some reason it makes them feel good about themselves. It's a form of virtue-signalling. "See what a good person I am to be there for...(insert abusive spouse, spoiled children, manipulative friends, etc.)? Some people need someone to feel superior to which is the payoff for tolerating bad behaviour.
  14. by   brandy1017
    Yes I've witnessed a lot of nurses are enablers and I've seen them get taken advantage, some by boyfriends or spouses, others by grown children. I see nurses hook up with guys who refuse to work and then take care of them. I can't for the life of me imagine why anybody would work as hard as we do in nursing and then let some guy lay around living the good life. Oh hell no, it is why I'm totally fine being single. I see the choices of coworkers and think I'd never put up with that ****! It's one thing if they got laid off or were disabled, but to be able bodied and perfectly fine not working I just don't get it.

    As to children, part of it is probably not teaching their kids independence and financial responsibility. I can understand helping your kids out as they are your flesh and blood, but you need to help them be independent as you aren't always going to be there and probably can't afford it anyway. This brings up the larger matter that many nurses like the general public are clueless about money and personal finance and make all sorts of expensive mistakes. We work too hard to not make the most of our money!

    It's a shame that personal finance isn't being taught in school, but anyone can learn the basics if they simply take the time to read some books and money articles on the internet and even some credit unions teach the financial basics including how to buy a house. I've mentioned a few books before like Personal Finance for Dummies by Eric Tyson, Deal with your Debt and Your Credit Score by Liz Weston, and Smart Women Finish Rich by David Bach. Financial guru's such as Suze Orman and Dave Ramsey also have books. With the amount of info available today with the internet, there is really no reason for anyone to lack financial savvy. If you don't make the effort to learn you will find yourself taken advantage of by banks and credit card companies and overpaying for their services. They prefer it that way so they can make record profits thru fees and then reward themselves with bonuses!
    Last edit by brandy1017 on Jun 18

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