There may come a time in your relationship with your difficult person when you realize it is never going to work out. You are never going to reach a middle ground. You are never going to change their behaviour.
Is it OK to give up? Absolutely!
I ended a friendship I had with someone who became too high maintenance for me. She moved into the category of a difficult person because it seemed that I could never be the friend she wanted me to be. It didn't matter what I did -- it wasn't enough, or it wasn't right.
(Photo: Kevin Kozicki via Getty Images)
I tried for a very long time to find the middle ground in our friendship. I was never successful.
I thought about accepting her the way she was, giving her what she needed and not worrying about what I needed. I was unable to do that stress-free (because I couldn't emotionally detach myself).
I tried to find middle ground (to change things), and wasn't successful.
It wasn't worth it to me. I decided to walk away.
So I left the friendship. I gave up on it, and I'm OK with that.
What I didn't do was continue the friendship, complain about her high-maintenance personality and continue to be stressed during our time together. It wasn't worth it to me. I decided to walk away.
That was the right solution for me, but we all have choices to make in life. Times when you have to decide to accept a situation, change it or leave it.
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Accept the situation the way it is
Emotionally detach yourself from your relationship (thereby removing all of the stress the situation causes). This is the "let go of it" approach to dealing with your difficult person. Just let it go. Accept that it is what it is, and decide you aren't going to worry about it anymore.
I have accepted that it snows in January in Ottawa, and I don't give it another moment of thought. I have accepted that politicians don't always do what they say they are going to do. I have accepted that my teenaged daughter is not ever going to clean the way I want her to.
Try to change the situation so it works better for you
You've probably already tried to do this. Tried to make the situation tolerable or to deal with it in some way. You attended a seminar on dealing with difficult people, you read books, you searched the Internet for advice. You formed an action plan, a strategy and had an end result in mind.
Walk away from the situation entirely
In the case of a difficult person, this means leaving the relationship. Quit your job, change departments, no longer work with this person ever again. It means leaving the relationship and the family that goes with it. You can say hello when you see the person in the future, but the relationship will be similar to what you would have with a stranger. You leave the relationship emotionally.
When you give up, you choose to either accept the situation or leave the situation.
Accepting and leaving are not the same as quitting. By choosing to accept or leave, you are making a choice that is right for you. That isn't quitting. Quitting implies a lack of choice. When you choose to accept or leave, you are making a choice. You have chosen what is right for you.
Go ahead and give up on your difficult relationship if that is the right decision for you. It's a smart person who knows when to stop pushing forward and try another path.
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Follow Rhonda Scharf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RhondaScharf