Never Satisfied

Have you ever been in a relationship with a person who was just too hard to please. Someone that no matter what you gave them it was never enough. Your time, your effort and your hard earned money all wasted in vain, that person were never satisfied. You even went into debt buying the things they wanted and they would to be happy for a short while but then it was back to wanting something else. The stuff you gave them accumulated leaving you with the task of taking care of it or cleaning around it, a constant reminder of your foolishness.

Was this relationship worth the effort? Was it satisfying? Are you still in it?

Was and is this relationship with yourself? If so then isn’t never too late to redefine it and begin again. Hopefully you can do this with a little understanding and compassion for yourself, otherwise seek professional help.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter something you are keeping “just in case”.

Eco Tip for the Day

Instead of shopping go for a walk with a friend, a swim at the beach or take in a movie.

For a full list of my eco tips so far click here

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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Continue reading with these posts:

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  • Getting the stuff out of your home It has come to my attention, both through comments on my blog and through real life experience, that one of the issues people have with their clutter, once they finally decide to be rid of […]
  • You just never know. Firstly I would just like to apologise for my recent extended absence from the blog this month. Unfortunately my mother took ill and I rushed off interstate to visit her in hospital and to […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. OH, Colleen, this sounds just like my mother used to be. She has been changing recently so the saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is wrong. For years my mother was an “I wish—er.” There was always something she wished she had and if it was really important to her she would talk about it endlessly. Both my dad and I tended to end up getting it just to shut her up only to have her start on a new thing. I have since learned that I can’t do that financially. After sitting her down and talking to her about it she is beginning to pick up on doing it and has begun to stop. I told her we weren’t getting anything new until we could pay cash for it and without messing up the budget. I have also learned to ask her if it is really that important and why. It makes her think and then she backs off.

    • I love the way you now communicate with your mother. I think this has made all the difference in your mission to declutter together. It must surely also have changed the dynamics of your relationship for the better.

    • Deb J, you are really an inspiration, and if I may add, a very good daughter and friend. You have been persistent but patient with your mom, and unselfishly giving toward your friends. The world needs more people like you.

      • Thank you, JoH. It’s funny, I don’t feel like I’m doing anything special. I just want to help because I know that these people need it.

  2. I was there once, although I didn’t go into debt, I did deplete my savings trying to make it work. One day I looked at him and reminded him that he once said I was the happiest person he ever knew and asked him if he still could say that. He knew what was coming and answered with a question of his own “you want me to leave don’t you?” He left that day and I claimed my life once again to be the happy person he used to know. For the record, he is my son’s father and we have worked to remain on good terms for our family, we were attended his wedding together and he is with us for every holiday and big event. It’s never too late.

    • Good for you Lois. Maintaining an amicable relationship with ex spouses when children are involved is so so important. Unfortunately your situation, I fear, is in the minority in these circumstances.

  3. Money has been tighter this year than in the previous years, and that has been good for me. My husband and I both aspire to simple living in a smallish space and only the possessions that we like and use, but it is easy to get distracted from that ideal. Money being tight brings simplicity, patience, and re-use back into focus.

    The scary ceiling fan was fixed today! The repairman said it was one of the worst installation jobs he’d seen, and we were lucky it hadn’t fallen from the ceiling yet. Yikes. I wonder what other surprises the previous owners of our home have left for us?

    • Hi Rebecca J, I am glad that you and your husband are on the same page when it comes to simple living. Sometimes a little cash flow shortage can change people for the better.

      I am glad that the ceiling fan is all fixed, that could have been real nasty.

  4. I am wondering when anyone is going to admit that the relationship I have written about today is/was with themselves.

    • It may be that a person who suffers from this doesn’t actually realize it even though it is painfully obvious to those of us who live with them. Or perhaps it is a matter of perspective. In my eyes, my partner is never satisfied, always needing more, better, another, an improvement…. To him perhaps that’s just the way life is. Lots of emotional baggage in this particular minefield so we work around the edges of it and I tread very carefully…. W

      • The sounds fairly wise Wendy. We all see life from a different perspective.

      • WendyB, I understand the mine field. I have learned with Mom that slow and easy does the trick. I think that the biggest thing that got through to her was when I started talking through why I was getting rid of a particular item. She always had a “stroke” when I wanted to get rid of anything. In her mind it was always valuable and should be sold (for much more than you could get for it). As I began to talk about my thoughts on getting rid of something it seems to finally click with her. It was not done to get her on my side or to try to push her into doing the same thing but just as a way to explain my actions/thoughts. Now she is right in there with me. I hope that someday your partner will “see the light” and begin to do the same.

  5. Colleen your post was very clever as it wound its way to the punchline of asking the question “Was this relationship with yourself?”
    Since I’ve fortunately never been in that sort of relationship with someone else I was able to keep reading up to that point without summoning up all the associations of another person – but I imagine if some readers had that experience it might have distracted them from seeing your question as clearly as I did 🙂
    Although I have never been in debt and have always had a dislike of clutter and excess, I have certainly been guilty in the past of wasting money on unnecessary items and being prey to certain types of advertising. Now, like you, advertising has the opposite effect on me and it is very liberating to be free of its influence.

    • Hi Megan S, I am glad you noticed the punchline. I was wondering if some didn’t notice or others were deliberately ignoring it. We shall see as the day progresses. I am however very please for you that you now enjoy a life without the desire to constantly acquire. It sure is very freeing.

  6. Hi Colleen! I immediately envisioned my relationship with myself. Because I read until the end and I was once like that. I wished I had money to buy the biggest house, all the clothes and shoes my heart desires. I wanted a house decorated like a magazine one…But it never happened! I only started to feel happy about my possessions the moment I took control of them. My never satisfied side wanted more and more storage space. To what? To store all the unused stuff around the house that never got used because it was excessive to my needs…So as I learned to be happy with what I have, I bought less and did become satisfied with every thing I have. Today I was saying to a family member how very fortunate I am: I have a lovely house, in a nice location, a good life, an excellent family, a good job. My son asked me if we were poor because we could not buy everything he wanted (toys-a mother has to draw a line 😀 ): I told him no, we are not poor, we were rich. I elaborated telling him that we have excellent medical care, have good food on the table and eat out whenever we want, he goes to a good school and we have a roof over our heads and nice clothes to use. So in material terms, I feel super rich. And finally I am happy with what I have and crave having even less clutter around the house.

    • Good for you Andréia and what an excellent response you gave your son. I hope he will learn from you that a happy life isn’t about getting and having stuff but enough love, shelter, clothing and food to keep him happy and comfortable. You rescued your relationship just in time to raise happy healthy children.

      • Thanks Colleen! I hope I succeed at the task, raising children can be a trial at times… 😉

  7. Alas I don’t really have anything to add on the Never Satisfied theme, I’m afraid. I think we are all guilty of it to some degree but sometimes, some people have more of a problem than others in this area.

    I had some auction stuff leave in the post this morning, boy it felt good waving goodbye to clothes I no longer fit. Obviously I’m not going to make back what I paid for them originally, but its nice having a small stash of money sitting there earmarked for me to buy new clothes.

    I need some opinions – some years ago a friend immigrated and left me with some stuff that she was going to send for. And of course, after a few years it became obvious that she no longer planned to send for it, and so eventually I got her permission to get rid of it – books to charity book sales and there was a box of pashminas, every colour under the sun, by memory there was 28 or so. I kept a few that I liked the colour: royal blue, black (because its practical), turquoise and a red one. Oh an a patterned brown and copper one. I have googled how to wear a pashmina but I haven’t been able to ‘rock’ the look as a scarf or shawl but I do like the colours. Does anyone have any other suggestions for what I could use them for? None of the colours will go with my sofa as throw blanket.

    • Hi Moni I would just get rid of them. Have you asked your daughters if they want them?

    • If they match your walls maybe you could hand them on a wall or a door as art for a while. I hung a sarong on my door in my last house to add colour to the hall way and had it gathered through a large shell (with a hole in it) in the centre. It looked lovely. In my current home I had a different silk sarong hanging as art on a wall for a while until I redecorated the whole room. They both added colour, design and talking points when friends saw them. Maybe you can do something like that.

  8. Thought provoking stuff Colleen . Which means I am thinking about it constantly but unable to write anything specific down 🙂

    • Out of sight but not our of mind my friend. Give it some more thought and you can tell me all about it next week. Perhaps we might have to have two UpWords days when you get back.

  9. I can relate to this on a couple of different levels. Not exactly how you put it in the post but in many ways similar to it. I had people in my life who I knew for several years and I thought I was friends with them. As with all of my friends, I would do special things for them on many occasions or just because. It is just my nature and it is how I have always treated people who were my friends. It was not always gifts that I gave to them, but many times I utilized my precious time to help them with whatever they needed. I never said no to a request, because as a friend, if I could help them that is what I did. Once I parted ways (moved) with many of these people that I thought were good friends, I never heard anything ever from them again. I learned my lesson, but even as an adult, it hurt because I felt nothing but “used”. It felt like as long as I had something to offer that they needed, then they wanted me, otherwise, out of sight, out of mind and they had no use for me. I am past all of that, but it is hard to forget, because I treated people how I wanted to be treated and I know now I did not get the same in return.

    On the other front, personally, I can relate to this also. I spent the better part of a year or more accumulating. I had accumulated useless stuff prior to this period, but this time it was on a whole different level. I don’t know why I did it except that I knew I was getting ready to have some major changes take place in my life, so I think I reacted to those changes by acquiring. I was always on the search for the next item, spending hours shopping. Most of the time it was for items that had no particular purpose. I am beyond that now and when I do shop I am “aware and present” in the moment. I am conscious and cautious of what I am doing. It not only is helps the finances but it is helps me mentally. I can tell you with certainty that since I have found this blog and have started decluttering, that most of the items I acquired during that period of searching for a year or more, have left my home. I cannot tell you how many times I asked myself, “Why did I buy this?” or “I don’t even like this, so why did I get it?”. I have kept very little of what I purchased during that time which just means to me that I was stressed over the unknown changes that were coming and bought on impulse. I should have found another outlet for my stress because everything turned out okay so I do not know what I was worried about. I learned from it though. By letting the majority of those items go, it helped me not only to see the error of my ways, but it gave me focus to get rid of more useless junk and my life is better for it. I don’t have things sitting around reminding me of that difficult time but now even more than that is leaving out the door and it is freeing space in my home and in my mind. That freedom I cannot put a price on.

    • Hi Jen there is probably a big connection between your first paragraph and the second without you realising it. As I was reading the first I was equating it to my own life experience. Although I have never been one to lavish gifts on people I do tend to try to be there for them when they need me. Similar to your situation I have moved away from friends, not once but over and over. I have only had very limited contact after the separation but I have never seen that as a negative. I appreciated the friendships for what they were. Was glad to have been so lucky to know these people and the lessons I learned from then and then moved on. I am sure they felt the same about me. Perhaps your friends felt the same about you but you just see things differently. Did they also do kind things for you when you were together. They may still think of you fondly while you are resenting them. I think myself so lucky that I have moved many times and yet have always had at least one beautiful friendship in each location or time frame. Some of those beautiful people I still send a Christmas card each year but others I don’t. But should our paths ever cross again I feel sure we will take up where we left off.

      I think your second paragraph is closely related to your first because you describe how you bought yourself stuff to compensate for stress and fear you were living under. You also bought things for friends to show your affection. To me the bad relationship here was with stuff. Stuff does not make things better, friendships or unpleasant times. In fact the guilt and resentment of buying stuff and then regretting it is the problem. It is best that friendships are build on love and trust and that we weather the storms in life by meeting them head on. The best friendships are the ones that you don’t have to work at or buy and often the storms in life are bigger in our minds than they are in reality. It is the way we see things that often has us believing the worse.

      • You have made some valid points in your reply and I appreciate you taking the time to share your insight with me. I was making a choice to look at the negative instead of the positive, of which there are many. I have had many moves as well and with each one I can name at least a few that are close friends to this day. I think that the most recent move was one of the hardest on me and thus I tried to compensate for my feelings by shopping, using it as a kind of therapy. I have never been one to ask much for myself from others, but I am sure that there were many who would have been willing to reciprocate if I did reach out in a time of need. Yes, like you asked, it was not all one sided. I think that I was letting what I saw as negative dilute the overwhelming positive aspects of some friendships. Overall I should look back on that time in a positive light, (and I am usually a very positive person), and refuse to let myself think negatively. It certainly is not healthy for my well being. I know that I touched many people’s lives in a positive manner, and they did the same for me, and that is what is most important.

        • That-a-girl Jen. Let me share something with you. I have a friend who is a very kind person, too kind for her own good. She can’t say no to anyone and if they ever offer to help on in return she can never say yes. Some people take her kindness far to much for granted to the point of taking advantage of her. She is waring herself out and making herself sick from working so hard trying to please everyone all the time. The moral of this story is that kindness isn’t a one way street and if we aren’t kind to ourselves and allow other to be also then that is just not good for a person.

  10. Today’s mission, Declutter something you are keeping “just in case”.

    It sounds funny to me now, but I had last year’s issue of Consumer Reports magazine because it was the issue that reviewed automobiles. I had kept it ‘just in case’ one of our cars had to be replaced and we needed an easy place to get information. I realized that was silly as the information is available online should we need it for some reason. I thumbed through it last night and the magazine got placed into the donate box this morning.

  11. A thought provoking post, with an unexpected twist, reflecting the relationship back onto yourself. Well done.

    Thanks for your great thoughts. It has definitely got me thinking.


  1. […] are three great responses to my post Never Satisfied ~ Deb J, Andréia and Megan […]

  2. […] Never satisfied ? It’s time to rethink and take action! […]

  3. […] Deb J shares some advice on how she got her mom on board with the decluttering in this comment. […]