If you were in relationship with a high conflict person, you may be living the "never-ending story" of divorce, a high conflict divorce. If that's how it feels, get relationship help right away.
High conflict people are tenacious. Like pitbulls with bones, they just don't seem to want to let you go!
The GOOD NEWS: Only 10% of divorces are considered high conflict.
The BAD NEWS: 10% of that 10% is an ongoing high conflict divorce that will likely never change.
But, if you're in that 1% there are some things you really need to know about high conflict people. They can keep you feeling put down and strung out in stressful ways...and they have that tenacious ability to keep it up for years!
- Usually want things their way.
- Want to be the center of attention in most things in order to fulfill their unmet emotional needs.
- Avoid taking responsibility for their own problems, and especially not for any part they might play in the problems of others.
- Will go to great lengths to get you to agree with their rigid point of view or perspective.
- Will not take in, reflect on, or welcome any feedback or input from you, no matter how truthful, factual or accurate.
- Keep themselves stressed with their internal conflict, and that spills over on to you and the children.
- Are always looking for someone to blame for everything. It is never their fault or their doings that cause problems.
- Will use the children as pawns to fulfill their need for control, no matter the consequences for the children.
AND...They honestly are unaware of most of these things, and confused and annoyed when you point them out!
If these things sound like someone you have divorced, it's important for you to know that, although you have likely been enabling this behavior for all the time you've known this person, it is time to stop! You have likely taken on some version of "There must be something wrong with me for this to be going on." The most likely thing that is going on for you is that you are, in fact, enabling their behavior by having weak, low or inconsistent boundaries which they repeatedly ignore and/or trample!
Are you unwittingly enabling the behavior of a high conflict person?
Enablers make excuses for high conflict people and, basically, let them get away with inappropriate, unwarranted blaming behaviors!
When you let them walk over you, confuse you, upset you, irritate you, or make you furious, stressed and/or unwell, you are enabling them, making it possible for them to think that they can treat you that way and everything is all right.
You need to draw some lines in the sand in ink!
Enablers think relationship is all about compromise. Emotionally intimate, healthy relationships are focused on high cooperation and collaboration. Compromise plays a minor role. Enablers are willing to compromise way too much in service of maintaining a relationship with a high conflict person.
Enablers tend to have poor or porous boundaries and a poor sense of their own values and rights. They seek validation from the high conflict person and that person is only willing to offer random reinforcement when it suits their purposes. This is crazy-making behavior: "Come closer but go away!"
Enablers give themselves away, thinking they are "putting their all" into the relationship. They allow people to treat them poorly, disrespectfully and dishonestly. They accept blame which is the greatest weapon of a high conflict person. High conflict people are heat-seeking missiles for targets of blame...and they see those targets everywhere! Couple that with their tendency to hang on and you have the recipe for a high conflict divorce!
Enablers think that if they just are kinder, quieter, less demanding, more understanding, selfless, or endlessly patient, the high conflict person will come around, like them better, or stop their corrosive behaviors. They won't!
What has to stop is the enabling. That's trickier than you might think so getting some relationship help is wise.
I know, it's easier said than done. That's why my specialty is relationship help for high conflict situations. If you think you are ready to learn more about ways you may be enabling--even when you think you are not--and how to step away from the continuous conflict, let's talk soon.
© Rhoberta Shaler, PhD, The Relationship Help Doctor
I help the partners, exes, and adult children of relentlessly difficult people save their sanity and stop the crazy-making. If you need that help, I offer many ways to get it through membership, group coaching, and private sessions. A good place to get acquainted is by receiving blog updates HERE. and get my free ebook, Let's talk soon.