10 draining behaviors of people who are difficult to be around

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Have you ever met one of those people who just leave you absolutely exhausted?

Not because you’re doing exciting activities together, or anything like that. But because just being around them is a massive drain on your mental energy.

The truth is, some people are just difficult to be around. And it’s their energy-sapping behavior that makes you want to get far away from them and do something more valuable with your time.

Keep an eye out for these exhausting behaviors that can make people extremely difficult to spend time with.

1) They are constantly negative

Is there anything worse than that someone who always looks on the dark side?

I’m talking about people who always see things in the worst possible light. People who are pessimistic about the future and cynical about the actions and motivations of everyone around them.

Tell them you’ve met someone new, and they will tell you it probably won’t work out. Tell them you just got a promotion at work, and they will tell you you’re being exploited.

Look, I’m not always the most positive person myself. But I’ve learned the hard way that being constantly negative makes you difficult to be around. Plus, it has a damaging effect not only on your own mental health, but that of everyone around you.

As psychologist and author Sherrie Bourg Carter writes, emotions are contagious.

“Studies have found that the mimicry of a frown or a smile or other kinds of emotional expression trigger reactions in our brains that cause us to interpret those expressions as our own feelings,” she writes.

“Simply put, as a species, we are innately vulnerable to “catching” other people’s emotions.”

That’s what makes negative people so draining to be around. Spend time around them, and you may find yourself getting dragged into their negativity.

Better, then, to avoid them where possible.

2) They are extremely critical

Negativity often goes hand-in-hand with being critical.

There’s nothing wrong with criticizing things that deserve it. People who pretend everything is great all the time can be just as irritating as those who claim that nothing is.

But constantly criticizing everyone and everything around you makes you an extremely unlikable person. It also makes you really draining to spend any time with.

Criticizing others constantly is a bad habit, and it shows someone who has a negative opinion on just about everything. Plus, if they are often criticizing you, it can start to erode your self-esteem.

3) They are self-centered

Usually, our parents try to teach us not to be self-centered when we are kids. But not everyone gets the memo.

There are lots of different ways a person can be self-centered. And one of the most annoying in regular conversation is that they have a need to dominate the conversation completely.

No matter what you are talking about, they will bring the conversation back to themselves. To these people, all that matters is their experience, their feelings, and their life. Everything else is just background.

Talking to someone like that, you soon start to realize the awful truth. They don’t really care about you, your feelings, or your experiences. To them, you’re just a background character in the story of their own life.

And that’s an attitude that makes them extremely hard to be around.

4) They lack empathy

Honestly, a lot of the traits on this list can be linked back to a lack of empathy.

Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s position and understand their experience and emotions.

While it’s something that normally comes naturally to human beings, there are several psychological disorders, such as narcissistic personality disorder, that make a person capable of experiencing empathy.

It’s not always a major disorder that causes this. Some people have just never bothered to develop their empathy, and remain stuck in a childish attitude where only they matter.

“Empathy isn’t an all-or-nothing quality,” says psychologist Kendra Cherry. “Some people are naturally more empathetic, while others are less so. Other factors, including situational variables, can affect how much empathy people feel at any given time.”

A person who lacks empathy can’t or won’t put themselves in anyone else’s position. That means they struggle to understand how other people feel, and often can be quite selfish, callous, and rude.

And because they can’t put themselves in other people’s shoes, they can’t see themselves from the outside, meaning they often don’t realize just how draining they are to be around.

5) They play the victim

There’s nothing worse than a professional victim.

And yet, many people like to frame themselves as a victim to gain sympathy from other people.

Sometimes, they genuinely believe what they are saying. They really believe that they are the innocent victims of other people.

But the more you talk to them, the more you realize what a negative trait this is.

If they have problems with their partner, it’s always the other person’s fault. Problems at work? It must be an evil boss or selfish coworkers.

Problems with life in general? That must be a corrupt government or society that is holding them back.

Unfortunately, people who won’t take responsibility for their own path through life often never get any better. Instead of working to improve things, they are content to sit around blaming everybody else and never getting anywhere.

6) They are dishonest

Very few of us are 100% honest all the time. But being around someone you can’t trust can be emotionally draining.

There are lots of reasons people lie, of course. Sometimes it’s to get out of trouble. Sometimes it’s to make themselves look better to others. Sometimes it’s an attempt to manipulate those around them.

If you’re constantly catching someone out in a lie, you’re right to wonder if it’s even worth spending time around them.

7) They are manipulative

 An even worse trait of people you don’t want to be around is that they are manipulative.

Telling lies is just one way a person may try to manipulate you. They may also play the victim to gain your sympathy or use guilt trips to make you feel bad.

Sometimes, this manipulation can be a sign of a serious personality disorder. Other times, it’s just someone who lacks the basic empathy to understand that other people are not there for them to use for their own goals.

Either way, it quickly gets exhausting being the target of other people’s games. Most of the time, it’s better to distance yourself from anyone who’s trying to manipulate you and your emotions.

8) They are passive-aggressive

The rules of society say that we can’t – or at least shouldn’t – be openly aggressive toward others. And sometimes, people don’t want to admit that they have negative feelings toward the people around them. This can cause them to unconsciously become passive-aggressive.

“Essentially, you ‘hide’ your little acts of violence in plain sight. This makes passive-aggression uniquely insidious and destructive,” says therapist Alisa Munoz.

Passive aggression can look like:

  •       Not refusing to do what someone asks, but sulking or doing it badly instead;
  •       Being late for appointments;
  •       Giving someone the silent treatment;
  •       Sarcasm;
  •       Giving backhanded compliments that are more like insults.

As you can probably guess, these behaviors make someone extremely tiring to spend time with.

9) They are inflexible

Sooner or later, all human relationships require some measure of compromise. So when you find yourself spending time with someone who refuses to compromise on anything, you can quickly start to find yourself becoming exhausted from their company.

It might be little things, like what to have for dinner. Or it might be big things, like your opinions on politics or personal morality.

But sooner or later, it becomes apparent that these people will not change their views or behavior, no matter what. And that makes them draining and even pointless to talk to.

10) They are unreliable

In many ways, being reliable is just basic manners.

It means not being late, or explaining to people why you are when it was out of your control. It means showing up when you say you are going to. It means being there for people when they need you.

When someone is consistently unreliable, it starts to make you feel like they don’t really care enough to put in the effort to follow through on the things they say.

And that can make them very annoying to be around.

Energy-draining people

There can be lots of different ways that a person can sap your energy. But ultimately, they all add up to the same thing: this is not someone you want to be around.

Keep an eye out for these draining behaviors. Because when you spot them, you know straight away that this is not a person you’re going to enjoy spending time with.

Lucas Graham

Lucas Graham, based in Auckland, writes about the psychology behind everyday decisions and life choices. His perspective is grounded in the belief that understanding oneself is the key to better decision-making. Lucas’s articles are a mix of personal anecdotes and observations, offering readers relatable and down-to-earth advice.

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