Difficult people are energy consumers, hence the title “difficult”. When you spend time with them, and sometimes just when you are in their presence, you feel exhausted. Most people, after trying to handle difficult people a few times without success, label them as “difficult” and after a while, they give up trying.
I was a difficult child for my parents and they gave up on me. My teachers gave up on me and even my friends gave up on me. I needed lots of courage to go through self-reflection and recognize I was not an easy child, not an easy student and not an easy friend. Lucky me, I was only 16 years old when I realized that difficult people are very lonely, they are in lots of pain and no one around helps them, because they cannot take the risk of associating with them.
Difficult people do not have many friends because they are hard work. They usually stick to the group of people that have no choice but suffer their presence, like family, old friends and work colleagues. These people tolerate their presence, but start to resent them if they have to be with them for a long time. They will never initiate an interaction outside what they have to.
Every difficult adult was once a difficult child. At least, they had some difficulties that have made them develop those “difficulties” as a defense mechanism. Difficult children usually say, “No one wants to be my friend”. Grownups change it to, “I don’t need (many) friends”, or, “They’re stupid, anyway”, because their social difficulty is already part of their identity and they cannot see themselves without it. If someone told them they were difficult, they truly would not understand what it made them say it. They do not recognize their difficulty as a problem, usually because it is not a problem for them but for others.
I believe that difficult people struggle to recognize and manage their own feelings. Much like a person with a learning difficulty, difficult people have an emotional or social disability. It is a cycle. Their challenges make them difficult, so others avoid their company, which makes their disability even worse. Their need for company and external sources makes them more difficult, so they get less help and support. It never ends.