People have warned you about how a certain person is difficult.
And you used to dismiss them, because you’d rather not judge people before you got to know them.
Lately, however, you’re starting to realize that they might actually be right.
Well, it’s time you find out for sure.
Here are 12 signs you’re dealing with a really difficult person (and that you should probably keep them at a distance).
1) You feel tense when they’re around
You can be in the Bahamas sipping piña colada and yet you simply can’t relax when they’re around.
They might even be smiling and acting happy, but still you’re on edge.
You just know that what peace you’re enjoying is fragile and literally ANYTHING could set them off.
It’s quite tempting to think of them as a walking, smiling bomb.
You try your best to be chill and act cool but it’s just not happening. There’s always this worry in the back of your head that you might say something to make them start a scene.
2) They call the shots—always!
It’s nice to take charge every now and then, but the problem with them is that they never want to have others take their turn.
They’re almost like a three-year-old child in how they insist on always being the one to call the shots!
If you’re together, they’ll be the one to choose what you’ll eat or where you’ll go. And if you work with them, they always make the decisions even if they’re not your boss.
They might still consider that other people have ideas too, but they’re nonetheless firmly convinced that their way is the best way.
In other words, they’re a bit narcissistic.
3) Anyone who’s “against” them is an enemy
They’re okay—in a way—so long as you agree with them.
But you might as well bring the wrath of heaven down upon you if you ever dare disagree with them.
It doesn’t even have to be anything particularly important. It might just be you saying that you don’t like the food they picked, or that their ideas could use some improvement.
But it doesn’t matter, because this kind of person simply will not let you off lightly.
They will see this as you ATTACKING them and you being disloyal to them. They don’t want that. So of course, they’ll go to great lengths to make you regret it.
4 They’re excessively critical
Difficult people are known for one thing—they’re experts at spotting flaws.
Now, it’s fine to be critical in the right situations. Proper criticism and scrutiny, when given with consent, is important for self-improvement.
But the thing with difficult people is that they enjoy flaunting their sharp eyes way too much.
They always have something negative to say about the people and things around them.
They’re the kind of person who’d make you go “why can’t you just sit down and let people have fun?”
5) They need things done in a certain way
It can be very challenging to keep them happy sometimes.
Nothing against those people who simply happen to be obsessive, but difficult people take their obsession to an unhealthy degree.
They want their food done in a certain way, they want their apartment cleaned in a certain way, they want their clothes arranged in a certain way…everything, really.
And if you ever fall short of their expectations—which is eventually bound to happen—then they’ll get so overboard “correcting” you that you can’t help but think that you should be paid when you’re around them.
6) They’re quite manipulative
Their entrance into your life was nothing short of a storm.
They’re a veritable whirlwind of feel-good energy and, before you know it, you’ve taken a liking to them.
But just as you figured that you’ve finally found a new bestie, you find them trying to make you feel guilty over things that aren’t exactly that big of a deal.
And yet, they’ve already managed to love-bomb you so thoroughly that you didn’t quite realize what they were doing.
But if you really think back on your interactions, they’re always toying with your emotions and making you do the things they want you to do.
7) They take offense at anything you do
You can’t tell what exactly is going to set them off.
You could be doing nothing but sitting on the couch or staring at the ceiling and somehow they’ll find a way to be offended.
They might say something like “Why are you acting all bored while waiting for me? Am I such a burden to you?!”
You swear that from the way they act it’s almost like the world itself is against them.
It’s exhausting thinking about how you can actually avoid getting them mad.
The truth is that they likely have some deep-seated self-esteem issues and unless they recognize it and do something about it, they’ll always see malice in everyone else’s actions.
8) They make things extra complicated
As a rule of thumb, we all want to get things done in the easiest way possible. Not so with difficult people, unfortunately.
For some reason, they always end up making things a hundred times more complicated than they need to be.
So if you’re planning to throw a party, they’ll obsess over the guest list to make sure the people invited would get along. They might also obsess over the food choices to make sure everyone is happy and impressed.
If something can be easily done in three steps, they’ll figure out a way to get it done in 20.
Talk to them about how things aren’t that complicated, and they’ll hiss at you until you back down.
9) Debates and discussions always escalate into fights
Difficult people are not a good sport.
They take everything personally, especially when someone makes them look “stupid”.
You might just be trying to do some small talk about music, but if you ever correct them about something—like who killed John Lennon—then they’ll assume you’re saying that they are ignorant.
It gets far, far worse when you’re trying to talk about sensitive topics like history, religion, and politics.
It’s hard to have a proper discussion with them and, for this reason, you might rather just not talk with them at all.
10) They’re masters at passive-aggression
Piss them off, and they’ll act passive aggressive towards you even four whole years later.
It’s not that they don’t know how to communicate. Most of the time they actually understand the principle of communication and can be good communicators if they want it.
They simply want to be petty—to be passive aggressive.
Part of it is most definitely pride. Why should they tell you that they want an apology if they can instead make your life hell until you get down on your knees?
It goes without saying that you need to be careful with people like these. There are those who will actively spin lies about you and even try to get you fired if they could.
11) They can’t just let things slide
As we grow older, we learn that sometimes while we may want to make a point, the best choice is to move on.
We choose our battles, saving our energy for the things that are actually important.
And this is precisely what difficult people DON’T do.
They don’t believe they should pick their battles. As far as they’re concerned, every problem is equally important.
Minor things like someone using their special mug or someone making a comment about their work would get them fuming all day, all week, and even all year round.
They’ll even stay awake and spend all night telling themselves about the many petty ways they can “pay back” the insult.
12) They make you feel confused about your relationship
They go hot one day, then cold the next. They sang your praises yesterday and then suddenly started blaming you for everything to ever go wrong with their life the day after.
They might say that you’re BFFs, but you can almost feel them ignoring you for months on end even when by all accounts you had plenty of opportunity to chat.
It could be just a consequence of them being manipulative. Or it could be because they’re especially emotionally volatile.
There are many different reasons why difficult people act like this, and the exact reasons why differ from person to person.
But should you bother understanding them because of these reasons? It’s all up to you.
There are many different reasons why difficult people are difficult. The ways they’re being difficult aren’t exactly going to be consistent either.
Sometimes they’re just going through tough times and it’s just something temporary.
And at other times they might be difficult because they’re an aggressive, mean-spirited, and manipulative person at heart.
Whatever their reasons might be, difficult people are best handled with care until they sort themselves out.
We only have so much energy we can spare, after all, and you’re better off spending it with people who aren’t going to make your life a living hell.