There is a BIG difference between a momentarily difficult partner and a chronically difficult partner.
Difficult people have bad days, weeks, or moments that are related to stress and life events. Sometimes, a bad mood or temporary hormone imbalance makes that difference.
A chronically difficult partner, though, is often--if not always--difficult. You walk on eggshells around him or her because you don't know what the next reaction will be. It's a bit like Hallowe'en: are you going to get a trick or a treat? The tide can change in a millisecond and leave you stranded.
Have you experienced that? One minute, your partner is loving, kind, and co-operative, the next everything is wrong--and more importantly--all your fault! When that is a frequent experience, you are likely with a chronically difficult partner. I coined the term, Hijackal™ for this behavior and for the person engaging in it. If this definition hits home for you, you can finally get some clarity about what's really going on in your relationship:
"A Hijackal is a person who hijacks a relationship for his or her own purposes while scavenging it for power, status, and control."
Whew! Does that sound familiar?
Things are going well? They take the credit. Things are a mess? It's all your fault. It's simple. You will always be wrong and they will never take responsibility for anything. You get the picture, especially if you are living it. It may be your partner, or your mother or co-worker. Hijackals are everywhere.
A funny things about Hijackals, though, is that they usually behave the worst at home. That is crazy-making because, when you describe their behavior at home to someone from work, the two are unrecognizable. People don't believe you, right? They think that you are the one with the problem!
As an only child, it was crazy-making. I knew how my mother was at home. She was ugly, cold, calculating, and distant. With customers at work, she was engaging, laughed often, remembered everyone, and kept them coming back. However, co-workers soon learned they were unsafe to speak up, question her work, or count on her for friendship. She had an opinion on everyone and everything and they were all negative. At church, she was all about how she looked, and getting a good parking space that showed our family's status in the pecking order. At home, she was a horror: at church, all sweetness and light. Public face and private face in complete contrast. A true Hijackal!
Is this sounding familiar to you? If you've had a Hijackal parent, you have another sad issue. It is all too familiar to you so you don't recognize Hijackal behavior readily. It's too "normal" for you to notice how awful it is. Therefore, you'll attract Hijackals and you won't notice for a long while. Then, the struggles begin. It happened to me. I was a Hijackal magnet in my early life, and it took me a long time to recognize the truth of it all. (Fortunately, if you are a Hijackal magnet, you can change all that. It takes work, insights, and new strategies, but you can do it, and I can help.)
A difficult person gets back to normal and all is well. A chronically difficult person just wants more and more power, status, and control. It's never enough. You'll never be right. Your partner will never be wrong. You'll be on edge, while s/he is in control. You'll try to be reasonable, and s/he turns and twists everything back to you being wrong, inadequate, foolish, thoughtless, or impatient.
If you are nodding your head with a dawning sense that all the upset may have little to do with you and everything to do with the fact that your partner has Hijackal behaviors, yippee! That is the beginning of getting your life back. Let's talk soon.
If you have a #Hijackal in your life, or think you might have, get my free ebook, How To Spot A Hijackal, at Hijackals.com Need help to know your next best steps? If you would like more help, subscribe to my Tips for Relationships, and listen to my Podcasts. Start with an introductory session. Talk soon!
Disclaimer: All advice, insights and suggestions made here are not to be construed as psychological or legal advice. Any actions you undertake as a result of reading any article, book, video, ebook or blog post from Rhoberta Shaler, PhD, are entirely your own. Having worked with individuals and couples for more than twenty-five years, she offers her insights and opinions for your consideration only.