How to Deal With High-Maintenance People (Without Going Insane)

argumentWhy are some people sooooo draining?

We all have at least a couple of those super high-maintenance types in our lives, and because the energy-sucking vampires tend to be either relatives or co-workers or in-laws, simply cutting ties usually isn't an option.

So how do we deal with these people on a regular basis without losing our minds? Is it even possible?

Apparently, yes -- there are a few methods for staying sane when the crazy train comes crashing into town.

Of course I'm not naming any names, but let's say you know one or more of these (completely fictitious) people ...

The "all eyes on ME" old friend

Okay, you know the Kristen Wiig character "Penelope" on SNL? She's the stereotypical one-upper: "I've known them for, like, seven years. So, just a little bit longer. I've just known them for a really long time, so -- longer, just better friends. So -- longer than you guys. So -- "


How to deal?!

Remember, "High-maintenance people live in a world that revolves around them." If you have to hang with someone like this, keep your expectations low -- and DON'T put yourself out there. (Because they probably won't appreciate the effort.)

The "always has to be right" mom

Good luck arguing with this lady! You'd think it was her job to prove you wrong.

How to deal?!

As with small, stubborn children -- choose your battles wisely. "It's important to pick only the battles you need to win. If you don't, you're just going to end up exhausting yourself."

The "tasmanian devil sister"

She's a whirlwind of disaster and somehow manages to pull you into every single screw-up (and make you feel like it's your fault!).

How to deal?!

Brace yourself for the drama you KNOW is coming anyway. At least this way you're prepared for the next meltdown, whereas lying to yourself ("THIS time I'm going to have a nice, calm lunch with my sister!") is just going to make things worse.

The "oh, you don't mind, do you?" co-worker

Let me guess -- you did a favor for this person once, and they took that gesture as an invitation to use you like a dishrag.

How to deal?!

Lay some ground rules. It won't be fun, but it MUST be done. You can be nice about it, but make limitations clear: Your busiest hours are such-and-such to such-and-such so you'd appreciate not being disturbed during that window of time, etc.

Any of these high-maintenance personality profiles sound familiar to you?

How do you deal with the high-maintenance people in your life?


Image via Amanda Wood/Flickr

emotional health, mental health, relationships


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paren... parentalrights1

Lol who told you you can't cut ties with all those people? Noone is obligated to be associated with family, in laws, or coworkers. Cutting ties is a very valid option.

AliNo... AliNoelle

I have a high maintenance someone in my life and since we are related by marriage and I have to be around her at times I just do my best to ignore and then go laugh about it over a drink or 3 when it's over.

Gilmo... GilmoreGirl29

I have a high maintainence sister in law and I disagree that you can't cut ties, or at least severely limit the time you spend with them. It's really not that hard. When she called, I didn't answer. When she texted, I waited anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour to reply, and then it was a basic answer. Requests/offers to hang out were met with "I'm busy" or "Not this time."
Now I only see her at holidays and birthdays, if that. When I do have to see her it is never one on one anymore, so I either ignore her all together (except for the polite hello) or limit the conversation.

I disagree that you are obligated to "deal" with them. Some family you may not be able to get rid of all together, but I don't think you need to continually subject yourself to the drama either.

PS. My life is much calmer and HAPPIER since putting up this huge wall with sister in law.

the4m... the4mutts

My mother was this way, an emotionally abusive as well.

One time I decided that durring my SOs vacation, I would take a break from visiting people, and we would do whatever we wanted without worrying about "need to be here by 5pm" or something. I was 2 months from giving birth, and my 3 older kids were with my ex-husband for his vacation. *it was great they got them at the same time*

I told EVERYONE ahead of time, and remined EVERYONE with a countdown on fb.

The entire week I ignored my mom, because starting on day 1, she decided that I was "abusing and neglecting" my family, by taking "me" time.

I came back to like 20 bitchy emails from her and my brother, calling me and my kids foul names and everything.

This was almost 3 years ago.

I haven't seen either of them since.

Jscot... Jscott1216

@the4mutts, I too have a mother like yours, And did the same thing. I agree cutting ties is most certainly an option ESP when the person acts in such a manner that negatively impacts you, your so and your kids lives. Sometimes cutting ties is the ONLY option. Things are much more peaceful and drama free in the end.

the4m... the4mutts

Thank y'all. Its not an easy thing to do. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done.

But now, my life is peaceful for the most part. I never realized how unhappy she was making me, my kids, and my friends too!

The blog talks about dealing with high maitenance people that you can't get rid of, but sometimes they need to be kicked to the curb, and nobody should feel guilty for ridding themselves of a toxic influence on their lives

Todd Vrancic

The only people you really can't rid yourself of is your co-workers.  I have noticed that people do not have a choice about their co-workers or even how closely they have to work with them.  It might be painful, but you can cut ties with family, and then the pain will be over.

nonmember avatar Joe S.

As far as inlaws/family go, it's easier to cut them out of your life. They may call you names or gossip about you to other family members, but they don't have any control over you.

I had bosses and co-workers who were high maintenance, and it's a little more difficult cutting them off because you have to see them 8+ hours/day and they could possibly get you fired. The best you can do in this situation is to not take it personally and don't take your work drama home-your SO/kids don't need to be tortured for hours on end hearing about how so and so called you a jerk.

If that doesn't work, either find a new job or report them to people above their pay grade. I had to hear my wife recently go on for 6 hours non-stop about a bad manager-I finally told her to stop whining and either ignore her or find a new job (she started looking for a new job).

nonmember avatar Seriously

well the definition of High Maintenance, a woman that is certainly such a Loser.

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