Conflict Tactics of Destructive Relationships

Most people who are in relationships have fights or arguments. Conflict can even be healthy for a relationship. If it is done respectfully, conflict should teach you more about your loved one and how to co-exist together. There are some who utilize conflict to gain control or the upper hand in a relationship or lash out and destroy the ones they love. When conflict become toxic, it can cause the demise of a relationship. Some signs that indicate your relationship is destructive are:

1) Name-calling. A form of psychological abuse, which causes a person to feel low and inferior. It can even be a contributing factor to relationship PTSD and cause a person to regress to a child-like state. Name-calling is very hurtful and devalues people. Hurtful words are often a trigger for those who have been abused by someone they love.

2) Degradation. The act of treating someone poorly by putting them down and causing them to feel devalued. Acts of degradation are psychologically abusive and cause feelings of shame and humiliation. When degradation is utilized,  then one is attempting to control the relationship by making someone feel inferior by increasing the likelihood of low self-esteem.

3) Retaliation. When someone has thoughts about retaliation, they want to even a score with you and unable to move on until this is accomplished. They believe that you owe them something and acts of revenge must be deployed until your debt is paid in full. Feelings of retaliation are often feelings of anger that stemmed from feeling hurt or sadness.

4) Physical aggression. When someone puts their hands on you they are attempting to dominate and hurt you at the same time. A person is lashing out physically because they are hurting emotionally, and they want to hurt you as much, if not more than you hurt them. When someone is abusive physically, acts of violence can escalate, and leave long-lasting scars and damage beyond repair.

5) Using your past against you. Sometimes when mistakes are made in the relationship, it will be against you in an argument becoming ammunition. Your past is a constant reminder that you are a bad person. The other person is unable to forgive you and move on which causes the relationship to stay stuck.

6) Destructiveness against possessions or animals. When people become destructive toward animals or material possessions, they intentionally hurt you in the worst way possible. A violent person is not a rational thinker and violence will continue to escalate.

7) Resentment. When someone is resentful, they are bitter about things that have happened in the relationship. Emotions such as bitterness can turn into hatred which is a strong negative emotion. When feelings of resentment set in, they are very difficult to let go despite how much the other person tries to right their wrongs. Feelings of resentment can lead to destructive thinking such “I hate….” or “they should pay for what they did to me.”

8) Refusal to take ownership of mistakes. A person who refuses to admit that they have made mistakes will most likely refuse to apologize or be willing to problem-solve issues in the relationship. They find fault in and project the blame onto others. They refuse to self-evaluate or do the inner reflective work that can help them grow emotionally which will stunt the growth of the relationship.

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This blog was written by Dr. Natalie Jones, PsyD, LPCC. This blog is meant to be educational and not meant to diagnose anyone or to be used in place of therapy or treatment with a licensed mental health professional.

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© 2021 Dr. Natalie Jones, PsyD, LPCC

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