There are many behaviors high conflict people have that might be considered problematic. Generally, these are behaviors that make you feel uncomfortable or unhappy. Feeling uncomfortable or unhappy may just be your starting point. So let’s look at some ways to determine if these are likely high conflict personality disorder traits or not.
Feeling uncomfortable or unhappy may just be your starting point. So let's take a look.
The: “Who Does That?!” Question
If you’re experiencing a behavior that feels uncomfortable, ask yourself, “How many other people do I know that do that exact same thing?”
As Bill Eddy writes in his book The 5 Types of People Who Can Ruin Your Life, people with PDs do things that 90% of people would never consider doing. If you find yourself asking, “Who DOES that?” and you can’t really come up with a good answer, there might be personality disorder traits acting up.
Do These Behaviors Show Up In A Variety of Settings?
Personality disorder traits tend to show up in a variety of settings, as opposed to traits that may not qualify as an actual disorder.
Non-disorder traits may be annoying and frustrating, but they usually show up just at work, or just at home, for example. However, disorder traits are not usually specific to only one situation or one relationship.
So, you might ask yourself, “Is this person not getting along very well in other relationships or is it just with me?”
Do The Behaviors Cause Real Distress?
A third aspect to consider is whether the high conflict behaviors cause distress - distress, such as loss of jobs and financial distress, loss of romantic or family relationships, or loss of friendships.
Though your high conflict person may not think there is a problem, from the outside, there are clear patterns of distress caused by their personality.
One thing I’ll mention is that most people with personality disorder traits don’t readily identify their behaviors as causing their distress. Instead, they blame someone or something else.
Blame, Blame and More Blame
Lastly, I encourage you to consider a fourth aspect of high conflict personality behaviors - blame. When a high conflict person is upset, they will have a habit of pointing the finger at someone or something else. They frequently - if not all the time - do not see their role in the conflict.
The high conflict person may even seek out substance use, hoarding, or social media stalking as coping mechanisms. They may be really quick to anger.
All of these are signs that the high conflict person you’ve been dealing with may have personality disorder traits and those traits are causing distress.
If you're not sure whether you're in a high conflict relationship or not, that's okay, too. Take this quiz and learn more!
But not all high conflict personalities are the same!
Sometimes you will see 5 types of high conflict personalities. I prefer to categorize high conflict personalities into 6 major types. And it’s helpful to dig into each one, because the strategies and techniques you use will be different. If you’re interested in learning more about the types of high conflict personalities, explore the high conflict relationships online course. You can sign up for the whole course or just take the first module which covers fundamental concepts - like, the six high conflict personality disorders, defining a high conflict relationship, and more.