8 traits of high-maintenance people that make them difficult to be around

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

Understanding social interactions can be a bit of a tightrope walk at times, especially when you find yourself in the company of high-maintenance individuals.

You know the ones—the people who demand constant attention, who need everything just so, and whose moods can swing on a dime.

I’ve tried to understand them and accommodate them, but all my attempts so far have been fruitless.

Often, it’s not even a big blow-up that brings it home. It’s that creeping realization that being around this person is draining you more than it’s energizing you, even if your instinct is to keep the peace at any cost.

With this in mind, let’s delve into the traits that make high-maintenance people so challenging to be around, even if facing this truth might sting a little.

1) They constantly need to be the center of attention

For high-maintenance individuals, it’s all about them, all the time.

You might have noticed it—their knack for steering every conversation back to themselves, their achievements, their problems, their life.

Not to say that sharing is bad, but there’s a difference between mutual exchange and monopolizing a discussion.

If you find yourself constantly pushed into the role of an audience member, always listening but rarely heard, then you’re probably dealing with a high-maintenance personality.

This tendency to hog attention might not seem like a big deal initially, but over time, it can leave you feeling sidelined and unheard. Not exactly the recipe for healthy social interactions, right?

This trait alone can make high-maintenance people quite difficult to be around. It’s exhausting having to orbit someone else’s world all the time.

2) They have unrealistic expectations

I remember that time when I planned a surprise party for a high-maintenance friend. I thought it was perfect, but all they did was nitpick about the decorations, the food, the guest list, everything!

This is something you might have experienced too—the impossible standards that high-maintenance people set.

It’s not their perfectionism that can bother others; it’s their need to make everything align with their exact vision.

From expecting you to always be available for them to insist on only the finest things in life, their demands can border on the absurd.

And if you fail to meet these expectations? Brace yourself for a bunch of criticism and cold-shoulder treatment.

Living up to these unrealistic expectations is not just draining, but downright impossible. It makes being around such individuals a constant uphill climb.

3) They’re rarely satisfied

I’ve got this cousin who, in my opinion, is the epitome of a high-maintenance person. She’s always looking for something more, something better, something bigger.

I remember one Christmas when I spent hours choosing what I thought was the perfect gift for her. I was excited to see her reaction, but all she did was give it a cursory glance and mumble a half-hearted thank you.

That incident really brought it home for me: with high-maintenance people, no matter what you do, it’s often not enough.

They’re perpetually unsatisfied, always on the hunt for the next best thing. It’s like they’re on a never-ending quest for perfection that leaves little room for contentment.

This constant dissatisfaction can make them incredibly tough to please and even tougher to be around. It feels like you’re always walking on eggshells, never quite sure if what you’re doing or saying will meet their lofty standards.

4) They have a hard time with compromise

In any relationship, be it personal or professional, compromise is key. It’s what keeps our interactions running smoothly.

But when you’re dealing with high-maintenance individuals, compromise often feels like a one-way street. It’s their way or the highway.

This is due to their deep-rooted fear of losing control. It can make them stubborn and rigid, resistant to any form of change or adjustment.

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering why your high-maintenance friend can’t just go with the flow once in a while, this might be why.

Their inability to compromise and adapt can make social situations tense and frustrating, turning even simple decisions into a battle of wills.

5) They’re emotionally exhaustive

Here’s the thing about high-maintenance individuals: they don’t just demand a lot of time and effort; they demand a lot of emotional energy too.

One moment you’re their best friend, and the next you’re the villain because you didn’t live up to their expectations or you said something they didn’t agree with.

This emotional instability can be incredibly draining. It feels like you’re always walking a minefield, carefully treading on their emotions without triggering an outburst or meltdown.

6) They lack empathy

Empathy is important in any relationship, be it romantic or platonic.

But with high-maintenance individuals, empathy often seems to be in short supply. They’re so wrapped up in their own world that they struggle to see beyond it.

You might have noticed this when you’ve tried to share your feelings or problems with them, only to have the conversation hijacked and turned back toward their issues.

Or maybe you’ve seen them dismiss or belittle the feelings of others because they didn’t align with their own perspective.

This lack of empathy can make it difficult to form a genuine connection with them. It’s hard to feel seen and heard when the other person is unable or unwilling to step into your shoes.

Their inability to empathize can make social interactions feel one-sided and superficial, adding to the challenge of being around them.

7) They’re resistant to feedback

We all make mistakes, and we all have areas where we can improve. It’s part of being human.

But try telling that to a high-maintenance person.

They seem to have this unshakeable belief that they’re always right, and anyone who dares to suggest otherwise is met with resistance or outright hostility.

Try offering constructive criticism to one. There’s a good chance it’ll blow up in your face.

Resistance to feedback makes it challenging to address issues or resolve conflicts with them. It can lead to a build-up of frustration and resentment, making it increasingly difficult to maintain a healthy relationship with them.

Their inability to accept and learn from feedback not only hinders their personal growth but also adds to the strain of being around them.

8) They create unnecessary drama

Life has enough challenges without adding unnecessary drama to the mix. But for high-maintenance people, drama seems to be their bread and butter.

It might be a minor disagreement blown out of proportion, or a simple request turned into a major crisis. They seem to thrive in these situations, often at the expense of those around them.

I’ve often found myself caught up in situations where I’ve thought, “Why is this even a big deal?”

But for them, it’s all part of the narrative they’ve created. It’s like they need the drama to validate their existence or to keep themselves in the spotlight.

A constant need for drama can make interactions with them exhausting and anxiety-inducing. It’s like living in a soap opera where you never know what plot twist is coming next.

Final thoughts

If you’ve recognized some of these traits in people you know, remember that this article should not make you blame or judge high-maintenance people.

We all have our issues, which means that understanding these traits can help your relationships and protect your own emotional well-being.

Start by acknowledging the impact that these high-maintenance traits have on you. Recognize when you’re feeling drained or stressed after interactions. Pay attention when your own needs are being sidelined or ignored.

Once you’re aware of these patterns, it becomes easier to set boundaries. Remember, it’s okay to say no, to prioritize your own needs, and to step back if the relationship is causing more harm than good.

Change doesn’t happen overnight, and it’s okay to seek help. Consider reaching out to a professional counselor or therapist who can guide you through this process.

Above all, be gentle with yourself. The world is cruel enough on its own – you should be the kindest person to yourself.

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.

7 signs you’re in a complicated relationship that is wearing you down

People who never play mind games in their relationships usually have these 7 unique strengths