Hoping to rid your life of toxic people in 2018? It may not be as easy as you think. A study published this week in theAmerican Sociological Review looked at why it’s so difficult to cut difficult people out of your life. The answer: They’re usually tied to you tightly, either by blood or work.
In research performed by professors at the University of California, Berkeley, and Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, more than 1,100 adults were asked to name and describe people in their lives, including those they found difficult or demanding. The “difficult” cohort made up about 15 percent of those named in the surveys, and were most likely to include close family members – particularly female relatives and aging parents.
“These are people with whom our lives are so complexly intertwined,” Shira Offer, Ph.D., says in a statement. “Many are close family whom we need and even love; others we just canst escape. Social norms do not allow us to simply walk away from them, however much this might be tempting to do sometimes.”
Researchers posit that women are more likely to be labeled “difficult” because of their greater roles within the family, while aging parents require more care and attention than they can return. Co-workers – often impossible to get rid of – were also more likely to be labeled “difficult,” whereas friends were less likely.