Did you ever watch a perfectly beautiful juicy red watermelon fall to the floor and actually hear that splat sound? It’s shocking. And it’s a big mess to clean up. And if you have company coming in ten minutes, you might become very upset. Relationships are like the watermelon, except that they are never perfect. Sometimes a “friendship” can force you to summon all your best virtues – patience, kindness, persistence – before you blow up.
What makes someone a difficult person? So many ways, we cannot count them. People who are relatives – Mom, hubby, siblings – are the toughest kinds of people to work with because you cannot erase them from your life. Others may be necessary; still others are “optional.” You can make your own list, but dealing with people who are difficult can be exhausting. Some examples follow.
- If I happen to work at home, like many writers and teachers, I am NOT free during work-time for social calls, shopping trips, or other distractions. If a friend starts a phone call with “I knew you’d be at home…” what happens?
- If I am punctual to the nth degree, a person is difficult if her habitual lateness becomes too much, if she says, “that’s who I am!” or “You should enjoy the quiet!”
- If I need space, silence, time to think things over, his constant chatter is annoying.
- If she is into comparisons –“You are lucky, I’m the one with no job, kids who hate me, etc.” – you definitely do not want to tell her about your own difficulties.
- If she calls and tells me about her problem – the same problem – over and over – and will not accept any suggestions about making life better, is there any hope?
- If she uses racial, ethnic, sexist language which makes me cringe, may I object?
- If her hobby is gossiping, how do I respond?
APPLY THE ABCD METHOD
AWFUL behavior, language must stop. Speak up. Make it clear that you won’t accept any.
BE HONEST. Have a talk with yourself. How important is this relationship? What is stopping me from either mending it or saying farewell? Am I staying friends because she has no other friends? If she does favors for me, do I owe her my friendship? Does she have financial problems and says “I need to borrow $” how do react?
CARE for yourself and your schedule, and your needs. If you are late for a deadline because of a friend’s late night call, that would be nasty. If we don’t take care, we can’t be happy, or healthy, or reasonably sane. Self-care comes before any relationship.
DO WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO. If you decide to part ways, you will survive. You can handle a tantrum, a silent time. You will survive – minus that person. Say NO when you mean NO, and YES when you mean YES, and TIO (I’ll think it over) if you don’t want to respond immediately.
There’s an overused statement that seems to fit very well here, so: “There is a reason that some people from your past do not make it into your future.” If you happen to have a difficult person in your circle, think about the relationship. Take charge of your life.