What it Really Means When Someone is “Spoiled” – It’s Not What Most People Think

By Rachel Puryear

One not-very-nice thing we sometimes hear some people say about others is that someone is “spoiled”.

It’s a condescending remark. It’s also usually rooted in jealousy and resentment. Most often, that’s all that’s behind it – just sour grapes. Often it’s said by someone who, themselves, doesn’t even recognize their own good fortune or wants everyone else to suffer the way that they did (or the way they believe they did), as an inherent part of their personality.

Notably, such a comment tends to be directed at children and women most commonly – and I don’t believe it’s a coincidence (though women are no less offenders than men in making the remarks).

There is such a thing as actually being spoiled. However, it’s not what most people think it is – nor do people who refer to someone else as spoiled tend to correctly designate them as such.

Note: The points described below can be the case for either a child or an adult. In the case of a child, it’s based on how the adults responsible for them relate to them. In the case of an adult, it’s based on the relationship dynamics they have with those close to them. For instance, for an adult abuser, they may get others around them to “spoil” them (as described below) by using abusive tactics in a dysfunctional relationship – which can include intimidation, guilt, unequal power, exploiting fears, and so forth.

Two young boys jumping on a bed in a bedroom with windows and having a big pillow fight, with feathers flying all over the room, and they are both laughing and having lots of fun. By Allen Taylor.

At What Point is a Person Truly Overindulged by Others Around Them?

The point at which someone is truly ‘spoiled’ – that is, indulged by others to the point where it lets them feel entitled, and gives them an undue sense of superiority; includes the following:

  • The person is allowed to evade fair consequences of their actions, rather than letting them experience the consequences for themselves.
  • Others simply enable or excuse bad behavior for them, rather than holding them accountable for their own behavior.
  • The person is not expected to show appropriate gratitude, appreciation, and reciprocity for good things done for or given to them.

What is Healthy Indulgence?

  • Showering someone with affection, gifts, and other good treatment is great – just so long as it’s not to reward bad behavior, or used because they are bullying someone into it and it’s just done to placate the abuser.
  • Forgiveness, leniency, and excusing mistakes and wrongs are not necessarily overindulging someone. If someone has shown adequate remorse for what happened, made efforts to make amends, acknowledged the impact their behavior had and apologized; and those impacted by the behavior genuinely want to forgive rather than feeling pressured to do so, then the forgiveness is not overindulging someone else. Likewise, if someone made an honest mistake; and has made efforts to learn from it and did what they could to fix things; then excusing a mistake is not overindulgent – furthermore, under the circumstances in might be perfectly fair and reasonable to do so.

Basically, the difference in healthy indulgence versus over-indulgence; boils down to showing someone love freely, versus crippling them by not holding them accountable or encouraging empathy for others in them. Remember – showing genuine love for someone else, also helps them better show love for others, as well.


Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to accountability. If you enjoyed this content and want to see more of it, please hit “like” and subscribe, if you have not done so already. xoxo

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