Understanding People With Constant Relationship Conflict

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Periods of Peace and Calm Are the Exception

We all know people whose lives and relationships are defined by conflict. They’re often fighting battles on multiple fronts, always upset with and hostile towards somebody. For these individuals periods of peace and calm are not the norm but the exception, they’re brief interludes between the storms. The cumulative result is alienation from friends, family, and other intimates.

These people might be shocked to discover the simple truth that what all of their myriad conflicted relationships have in common is them! They are the common denominator in all of it. They carry the burden of responsibility, they are the primary conflict creators, though they don’t see it that way.

Projection of Conflict Onto an External Object

They blame everything and everyone except for themselves for their strained relationships. They project the roiling broiling turmoil within their own psyches onto the people around them. They place most or all of the responsibility for things going off the rails onto these intimates. They use these intimates as unwitting scapegoats, blaming them for their own bitterness, their own unhappiness, their own psychic turmoil.

Unresolved conflict in the psyche is always looking for an escape valve in a misguided unconscious attempt to find momentary relief from the building psychic pressure. This escape valve often comes in the form of turning the painful, hard to understand inner conflict into outer relationship conflict, which makes it easier to cope with because it’s visible and because it’s at least partially transferred to some unsuspecting victim, who is suddenly forced to take on some of the emotional and psychological burden.

The Other Shoe Always Drops Before Long

The challenge of being around these sorts of people is that unconsciously they’re always looking for some pretext to discharge their painful psychic burden, they’re always waiting for some behavior from the other that they can use as justification for conflict. So it’s always just a matter of time until the other shoe drops, always just a matter of time until something ‘unacceptable’ happens that demands retribution. While we’re all guilty of less than noble behaviors at times, for the types of people we’re talking about here calling out these behaviors is not at all about improving the relationship or being concerned with justice or fairness or any other supposedly healthy intention. These are all rationalizations used to cover up the true motivation. Like we said this true motivation is to discharge painful unresolved inner psychic conflict onto some external source in order to find temporary relief from the building pressure.