Ever notice that conversations with one particular person inevitably end with them as the subject, no matter where things started?  That talking with them is rarely if ever about anything but what is going on with them and what they need?  You go out, sit and end up with a tab to pay and a head full of all of their stuff and you don’t quite know how it happened?  But they are your best friend, significant other, family member and that’s just how it’s always been and what can be done?  That’s just the way it is, right?

Well, is it?  If anyone else treated you that way, would you put up with it?  If you met someone at a party who acted like that would you feel trapped in talking with them or would you politely move away and avoid them for the rest of the night?  Or leave the party because, wow, boring?  If you don’t allow that kind of treatment in any other aspect of your life, why are you allowing it in this one relationship?

There are many different remedies for this type of thing so there’s no need to throw the baby out with the bath water.  You can limit the time you spend with this person and make sure the time you spend is doing something that prevents conversation such as going to movies or concerts, going skiing or high-speed boating, or let your mind be creative and see what you can figure out that would be fun and not involve giving them a venue for filling up your head with their stuff.  This is a positive win/win as it allows you to enjoy their company in a positive way, expands your relationship into new avenues, and if they don’t want to participate you have enjoyed yourself AND avoided the droning conversation.

Talking directly to the person about the issue is always an option, but before going virtuously into battle to make them see the error of their ways, first remember, the only thing you can actually change is you.  Trying to change another person is a mission of futility. Besides, if they aren’t listening to you under regular circumstances, what makes them think they will under stress being confronted by someone who is emotionally charged about an issue they didn’t realize was an issue?  Instead of diving into the right and wrong, setting battle lines, preparing for finger-pointing and he said/she said circular arguments, have a conversation about your boundaries.  Let the person know that you are changing how you operate in life and these are the new rules.  Then be prepared to make no exceptions, to have them challenged, and to hold your ground.  It’s hard, emotional work, but it gets results.

Or you can take a time out.  It’s the softer version of the nuclear option that TV and movies and novels love, the ultimatum with the person walking away never to be seen again.  Taking a time out means you state clearly and unambiguously that you need space away, that you’re suspending interaction and communication with the person.  This can be for a specified amount of time or not, but is at your discretion and non-negotiable.

There will always be moments when we realize we’re in a situation where we are bored, we’re stuck doing something we don’t want, we suffer through something for the better good or just to be polite.  But we don’t need to make this a staple of our daily diet.  We don’t have to do this as a regular part of our life or have this as an aspect of our relationships.  We have choices and create our life as we go along.  Choose to carve out a new space where the people in your want to be in your life because of you.  You’re worth it.