You cannot do enough to make them happy, get their approval, or feel you can relax. That takes relationship help.
You may well be living or working with a high-conflict person if:
- you never quite feel you can trust them
- you always feel as though you are being seduced in some way
- they seldom take responsibility for anything because it is always your fault, somehow
- one day they see you as their angel, the next, their devil
- they're favorite exercise is jumping to conclusions
- they use their emotions rather than facts as supposed tools of logic and reason
- they belong to the "there ain't no flies on me" School of Dubious Self-reflection
- fears they have are wildly exaggerated
If you've never heard the term "high-conflict" applied to people, let me tell you a little about the folks I'm talking about. You'll recognize them right away. Often, though, people are so close to them that they fail to see the patterns. Here are a few serious patterns that come clear when you can stand back and look at them objectively over time:
- They love to blame others, for everything and anything. Nothing lands at their feet. It is always someone else who has caused the problem, the failure, the lack, or the upset.
- They don't seem interested--and may be incapable--of caring about the feelings or events that are affecting others. They seem to lack empathy.
- They are both unwilling--and, again, unable--to examine and/or thoughtfully reflect on their own behavior. It's all about others.
- They don't respond to Einstein's definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. They are sure they are right, even if they fail repeatedly.
- They find it almost impossible to accept or heal from losing someone or something in their life.
- They will do double flips to avoid taking responsibility for a problem. And, surprisingly, they don't want to take responsibility for a solution, either.
- They are constantly seeing the negative in everything and everyone, Doris or Donald Downer!
I call these people Hijackals®.
Are you still plagued by someone you divorced long ago who simply will not let you rest, or stop criticizing you, your life, your choices, or your parenting? It could be that you are in relationship with a high-conflict person. If several of these traits ring true, it's possible that you are.
So, now what?
Know that, for the most part, people with several of these traits operating consistently are not able, and are usually not willing, to take responsibility for their actions. They think they are acting appropriately. That is why they are so adamant that they are right. They are surprised that you are upset with them, actually. They get defensive. They honestly think that you are "making them" act in extreme ways that have negative effects on their personal and professional lives. Really! That's true.
You now see that this is much more than just a difficult person. A high-conflict personality requires you to see around, think around and work around them. Arguing with them and reasoning with them is unlikely to bring about a positive result. Unfortunately, their high-conflict tendencies seldom show up during courtship. It takes time for these traits and patterns to emerge. And, they are not unreasonable in every relationship, in every environment. They might be just fine at work, for instance, and very difficult to live with at home. When you get really close to them for an extended time, they just cannot keep the covers on their real selves, and their dysfunctional behavior patterns emerge, and are hopefully recognized. Then, steps can be taken.
Think you may be living with a high-conflict person and need relationship help. We need to talk!
Dr. Rhoberta Shaler offers private and couples sessions to get the support, skills and solutions you need to engage lovingly or disengage peacefully. As the Relationship Help Doctor, she mediates, teaches and facilitates so that you and your partner can make healthy relationship decisions. Book a 1-hour introductory session today. Take a step toward saving your sanity soon.