High Conflict People = Never Ending Divorce

high conflictThe story is one I hear repeatedly. Why can’t our divorce just be over? The reality is that people must understand that the same issues that played a role during marriage play a role during divorce and play a role after divorce. Rarely do things change.

Try this on for size. Think about the people in your life. Is there anyone who consistently makes life difficult for others? Is there someone who blames others for his or her own problems? Is there someone who exhibits no empathy and seems to create drama where there was no drama? Is there someone who tries to persuade others to agree with his or her point of view? Is there someone who rallies others in the group to attack his or her target (s) of blame?

High conflict people have distorted thoughts, emotions, actions and reactions. They will not accept honest or helpful feedback from others. They believe that they are the injured parties. They are and were wronged and in their opinions nothing will change that. They continue to see themselves as the victims. Even when the issues that created the problems in their lives leave the scene, their personalities keep conflict in the present.

Have you ever heard the expression, “He would cut off his own nose to spite his face?” There you go!

Think about your marriage and or your divorce. Is your ex or soon to be ex a person who sees life as black and white… all or nothing? Is this person unable to be flexible or compromise?

I have often written about the fact that divorce is not unlike death and that there is a grieving process that must be experienced if one is to move on with life. In case you missed those posts, the healing process must go through stages of grief including:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

An emotionally healthy person is able to come to peace after his or her divorce. This person still feels the pain but the pain doesn’t control his or her life. So why are some people unable to let the divorce be finished?

High Conflict People

High conflict people get stuck in stage two of the grieving process. They continue fight in an effort to prevent the feeling of loss. Sometimes and often times, these people continue the battle for years and even the rest of their lives. Many times there were abandonment issues from their childhoods and these can be the foundation for penetrating emotions that cause them to relive the original pain over and over again.

In many cases, high conflict people may become involved in extreme behaviors. They may seek revenge. They may prolong the divorce process. They may stalk the target of their blame and or spread rumors and lies about the target in an effort to prove that they are the real victims.

What can the blame game do for high conflict people? It can help them feel better about themselves because they feel stronger and they feel better about the negative effects of their own behavior. It can help them to remain unaware of the negative consequences of their own behaviors.

Sadly, high conflict people remain in conflict with the assumed target of blame and their actions have a negative impact on everyone in their lives. By attracting negative advocates to help in blaming the target… you… the high conflict person avoids facing the results of his or her own behavior.

You may want to read this article in Psychology Today.

Photo: Alan Cleaver

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