Do You Radiate or Drain?

radiating warmthAre you a Radiator or a Drain?

A good friend of mine uses this analogy a lot and I’d like to share it with you.

A life changing experience caused my friend to re-evaluate her life; part of that was a stocktake of her many friends. As a form of shorthand she divided them up into radiators and drains.

Giving Warmth

Radiators were those who left her feeling warm, who gave something back. They obviously had their own issues from time to time when they needed support, but generally, being with them was life enhancing and a positive experience. They were warm people who happily shared their joy and interest in life and quite simply, made her feel better about the world.

Taking Energy

Drains were the opposite; they were literally energy draining people to be with and, generally took more from the friendship than they gave. They were focussed on their own issues and rarely properly listened to others. Time spent with them was exhausting, dispiriting and predictably downbeat. They may have started out as good friends but over time things had changed and habit was keeping the friendship going.


How do you think your friends and family would categorise you? And how do you feel about your friends? Maybe it’s time for your own stocktake. Time to fill your life with sunshine and warmth and break some old habits? What do you think? Do you find it easy to end old friendships which have run their course?


Posted on October 28th, 2009 by

13 Responses to “Do You Radiate or Drain?”

  1. I hope I'm a radiator. says:

    As always a lovely thought provoking blog. Not checked in in a while. It looks GREAT!

  2. Jim Connolly says:

    So much value in so few words – genius!!

  3. Caroline Pickford says:

    This is so true. I have been a radiator and a drain at different times. However, I now know the difference and make a concerted effort not to do the drain bit cos I can see how it saps energy. Here is a toast to all our radiator friends. They are precious.!

    • Jane says:

      Hi Caroline, we all need support in our lives and hopefully we are all happy to give it from time to time. It’s a question of balance I guess. Sometimes you realise that the balance has tipped too far in one direction. As Claire says in her response, not supporting friends in a crisis is mean, but being ‘dumped on’ continually is also mean. Only you can decide what works for you.

  4. Claire says:

    That’s mean – a friend feels low and needs some support so you cut off their friendship?

    What happened to finding out what the problem was and supporting them through it?

    Surely that’s friendship!

    • Jane says:

      Claire, thanks for responding. I can see what you are saying, but no, that isn’t what it means. I am absolutely up for supporting ones friends! All of us need the support of our friends in life and sometimes much more than others. But drains are those who don’t give support back even when they are OK too. I am certainly not advocating selfishly cutting off friends who have a problem! You are right- that would be mean! Best wishes to you, Jane

  5. Maggie says:


    I think this is a handy way to start evaluating relationships. I’ve experienced a ‘draining’ relationship to the point of emotional exhaustion and althought very hard finishing that friendship was the right thing to do. In some situations it’s not so difficult and just having a little less frequent contact can do the trick.

    • Jane says:

      Thanks Maggie. It is hard to take a serious look at our relationships and can feel cold and calculating. But I think it’s a serious part of self development sometimes, particularly if we are generous and givers by nature. Sometimes, as you say, we end up by exhausting ourselves. I find, when the balance in a friendship is right, giving to friends who need your help and support is not exhausting but rewarding and life affirming. Here’s to good friends!

  6. carline Pickford says:

    Hi Claire and Jane
    I may not have written my comment above well, sorry. What I meant was that I was going to try not to ‘drain’ others in future (not that I would reject friends reaching out for help).

    • Jane says:

      Your message was understood, Caroline! I’m glad this post has provoked so much thought. As I actually do know YOU I can say you are most definietly not a ‘drain’ but a true radiator!

  7. The older you get the more relevant this is – we are all hectic and our friends (real) are so important – life is too short…quality not quantity

    • Jane says:

      Thanks Jane. I have been talking with several people over the last few months who have been feeling guilty about long term (but not necessarily deep) friendships ending, but I think it’s a fact we life. We do take stock from time to time and friendships which worked well when we were young don’t always work particularly well as we change and develop with age. But when they do, those enduring friendships are worth their weight in gold and well worth looking after!

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