Some people are difficult sometimes. Other people are perennially difficult. These are called High-Conflict People. They create different relationship issues that need specific relationship advice to help you live with, love, or leave them.
I’m not talking about annoying people today. They may have habits, quirks, and strange ideas. Annoying, but not draining. I’m talking about the people who draw you in, and then drain you. These are the ones Albert J. Bernstein, PhD, calls “emotional vampires.”
Yes, that’s dramatic, and it may sound extreme. When you think about it, though, that’s what happens. You are drawn in because they seem interesting, up, bright, talented, charming, intriguing, mischievous, and seductive. You like them. They’re delightful. They’re different. You trust them. You are hooked. And, they have their teeth in your neck.
After a while, the light begins to fade. The colors wash out. The life goes out of it. You expected more. Unfortunately, you got less and less. You give, and they take. The balance is gone. You begin to realize that you’re doing all you can to give them what they want, so that you can hopefully retrieve that balance. What you find is that the scales keep tipping in their favor.
Are you beginning to feel this? You’ll likely feel it before you believe it. It’s draining. It’s tiring. It’s exhausting. The more you give, the more you get taken.
Good people are endlessly hopeful, it seems. They think that, if they give, give in, appease, and deliver, it will finally be recognized, and the high-conflict person will give back. No, that’s not the way it works. That game is:
“Give me what I want until it hurts, and then, I will ask you for more…and I’ll make you wrong if you don’t give it to me!”
You’ll know you’re in relationship with a high-conflict person if you’ve every said this sentence:
“No matter what I do, what I give, what hoops I jump, what extremes I go to make things good, it will always be my fault things are not working out.”
If you are already aware that everything will be your fault, you have learned that devastating lesson. It’s devastating because it is a battle that has no truce. You have only three options:
- Give everything you have way beyond when it hurts…and, oh, by the way, they do not care if you hurt because, to them, it is your own fault.
- Walk away and leave everything you have behind…and, if you have children, be prepared for endless battles, because they will concoct all kinds of charges against you for things that likely did not happen.
- Get help to understand, manage, and cope with high-conflict behaviors, and put what you learn into practice every moment…and, this is your only hope for sanity, so choose this one first!
Yes, you can learn to work with these behavior if you love a person with high-conflict personality traits, an emotional vampire.
It’s not an easy shift, because it requires that you have clear values and boundaries held in place with assertive communication skills. You may be a little worn-down by living with these traits for so long, so it will take you some extra umph to learn these strategies and put them in place. IT’S WORTH IT!
Did I mention that high-conflict traits don’t go away? You have to learn to manage them so you can return to your old confidence and believe in your own sanity. Emotional vampires do their best to rob you of both. You can get them back.
You cannot get there without relationship help. You are not herding cats, you’re engaging vampires. That takes special skills, believe me! And, your family and friends cannot give you the rules of engagement for vampires, either.
Get the relationship advice you need to stand up, speak up, and show up in ways that make a positive difference in your life and relationship. Choose that!
Listen to today’s Coupleology™ Podcast on High-Conflict People & Emotional Vampires:
If you know you need help to understand and manage emotional vampire behavior, I offer a Virtual Retreat you can attend from your home or office: Living With–Or Leaving–An Emotional Vampire. Learn more and register here.