When you first met him — he seemed confident, charming, and challenging (in an intriguing way). Now, he just seems like a jerk.
Or, perhaps when you first met her, she seemed mysterious, delightfully unpredictable, and she kept you guessing in the most alluring way. Now, she seems like an alien.
Love-hate relationships seem funny, and even romantic … in the movies. But in real life, they wreak havoc on your health and happiness.
Once you get involved with difficult people, you’ll second-guess yourself constantly and question your sanity whenever you try to solve everyday issues. It’s even more problematic when you’re married to one!
It’s important to know that for difficult people, much of their behavior is a result of their early life situations. You see, it’s not that your partner WON’T play nice; he or she CAN’T. And you can’t make them or fix them, either.
Yes, it’s frustrating. You’re considerate. You bend. You overextend, make excuses, give them space, support them, and give in. You don’t expect too much, but nothing changes. It’s infuriating, and the happy relationship you hoped for feels miserable and, sometimes, even hopeless.
You might have been so well-raised that you think, “If only I was more patient, more nurturing, more kind and understanding, then this crazy-making would stop.” You look to yourself as the first source of the problem. It’s always a good start, but in this case, it’s time to stop that.
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You need to look squarely at these eight traits and see how many your partner has. If it’s a lot, then you’ll probably want to get some help in managing your relationship:
Keep in mind that difficult people …
1. … make you question if you can trust them. You tell yourself that you’re safe with them, but all too often you find there are cracks in the foundation, and misplace your trust. They go so far that you feel like a bad person for not trusting them, even though you know you cannot.
2. … are hard to communicate with. In fact, communication with them is vague. Nothing ever seems permanently pinned down. Everything is in flux. Decisions you think you made together get changed, negated, or twisted. That leaves you twisting in the wind.
3. … have no real interest in stopping the conflicts. They seem bound and determined to keep them going … and you’re right—these people thrive on conflict and want to keep things in a state of constant chaos.
4. … won’t let you get close to them emotionally. As soon as you get too close (by their definition), they do something to break the connection. Yet, strangely, they tell you that you are the one who is emotionally distant. People with these traits fear closeness, all the while claiming that they don’t get enough of it. Crazy-making!
5. … blame you for everything. It’s always your fault. It’s NEVER their fault. If,by chance, you’re not the one blamed, then it’s the weather, the family, the office, the government, or God. For that reason, you often finally give up trying to solve problems, and too often, you give in. Attempts at being rational with them are exhausting. You can’t be right because they cannot be wrong!
6. … act on feelings, not facts. Their response to any situation is how they feel about it, not focusing on what actually happened. Because they feel it, it makes it so, and what you think has no bearing on the matter. They also make assumptions and presumptions about your ideas, feelings, motives, and needs. They won’t ask you directly. They honestly believe — and need to believe — that they know you better than and more in-depth than you know yourself.
7. … refuse — and are likely incapable of — self-reflection. When you are so busy making assumptions about your partner, and knowing that your partner is always wrong, why bother with introspection? Also, self-reflection is for courageous people who are not afraid of life. People with the traits described here find the very idea of looking inward completely terrifying.
8. … operate from fear at all times. That is why every disagreement is a possible war. They fear any conversation they cannot control. That’s why nothing is ever their fault; they’re petrified that the opposite is a possibility.
If these traits set off alarm bells for you, don’t panic. When your partner has these traits, you will either argue a whole lot, or one of you will shut down, withhold, and dish out the silent treatment. Neither strategy will work.
If you love your partner and you want the relationship to work, you’ll need some expert help to shift your thinking, move away from blame, and establish some new patterns of interaction. Unfortunately, you’ll need to change first. Only then will you know what’s possible for the relationship.
Crazy-making behaviors may still persist, but you can put an end to second-guessing yourself and questioning your sanity.
Underneath, he still is confident and charming; she still is mysterious and delightful, but you need help. You cannot solve this on your own.