If it's always spills and thrills, peaks and valleys, you may be involved with someone with high-conflict traits.
If you can describe your relationship as usually having to be "walking on eggshells", it's even more likely.
And, it's exhausting!
As you likely know, I often write about passive-aggressive behaviors, and there are many available blog posts to help you with that. Today, I am starting to add blog posts on the joys and ploys of living with, working with, or loving a person with high conflict behaviors. I especially want to help you identify particular traits that are crazy-making to you, so that you can recognize what may really be going on.
High conflict behaviors and high conflict traits can be characterized by rampant impulsivity. People often try to pass off consistently impulsive behaviors as spontaneity. That's way more than spontaneity! Impulsivity includes wild mood swings, rages, demands, threats, changing decisions, changing positions to win arguments, flip-flopping, manipulating, seducing and controlling. Clearly not about spontaneity!
Due to your own kindness, compassion or co-dependence, you may do your best to excuse these behaviors, or brush them aside. You may ascribe such qualities as "exuberant", "wild", "dramatic", "emotional", "child-like", "attention-seeking" to them, or just throw up your hands and say "Well, that's the way they are." And, it's true. They ARE like that. But, if you are questioning your sanity when you are around them--wise though that might be--you CAN look at the situation with more assertiveness and confidence.
If your self-examination seems to come up clear in these situations, these ways of looking at the operator of your roller coaster might help:
- Is s/he always overly dramatic?
- Will s/he return the conversation or concern to themselves when the topic turns to someone else?
- Does s/he think that special attention to his or her needs is always deserved, no matter what anyone else may need or want?
- Does s/he have a pattern of manipulating, seducing or controlling to exert pressure to get his/her way?
- Is s/he usually moody and the only predictable thing is his or her moodiness?
- Does s/he cling to you--desperate that you don't leave--while telling you how much s/he loathes you and how awful you are?
- Is s/he unusually demanding or needy?
- Is s/he often inappropriately flirtatious to get attention or his or her way?
- Does s/he tend to do big dramatic, over-the-top responses, while actually seeming to be relatively shallow in their perceptions or feelings?
- Does s/he have strong opinions, but if you question them, cannot offer anything much to support them?
- Is it difficult to follow him/her because interests shift like the winds and s/he is easily swayed by the opinion of others?
Do any of these sound overly familiar and too often experienced with the person you have in mind? It well could be that you have a high-conflict person in your life. That's one big cause of that sinking feeling of being on a roller coaster over which you have no control!
If you think you might have just discovered the name for your ongoing pain, difficulty and complexity, that may be a relief for two reasons:
- It's not you, it's them. (Just before you do your happy dance, though, know that it may well be a fire you are feeding!)
- When you know what something is, you can find a way to learn how to understand, manage or deal with it.
High conflict people--Hijackals™--thrive on attention, being right, and keeping you walking on eggshells.
Walking on eggshells on a roller coaster is impossible.
Are you ready to stop?[success] My free Passive-Aggressive Checklist will help you clearly identify whether or not the behavior that is crazy-making is, in fact, passive-aggressive.
Take the free IDENTIFYING PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR CHECKLIST. [/success]
© Rhoberta Shaler, PhD
The Relationship Help Doctor
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.