Are You A Conflict Addict?

10 Nov

I used to have a friend here in Hawaii – we’ll call her Jennifer – and, I could swear she was a conflict addict. Even after I moved back to the mainland, I would typically get at least one call per week from Jennifer, complaining about a conflict she had that week.

Just so you get an idea of the types of conflicts she had, here’s one: I received a call by a very upset Jennifer because, the night before, she had gone to dinner with friends who had the nerve to change the subject of the conversation when Jennifer wasn’t ready to do so just yet. I’m serious – this really happened.

I would characterize Jennifer as a conflict addict because nearly every life experience seemed to come with a companion conflict. It was exhausting for me, so I can only imagine how exhausting it must have been for her. Except, it WASN’T exhausting for her – quite the opposite, in fact. Conflict was the very nectar which gave her the energy to make it through the day.addiction

After giving it some thought, I surmised a theory: Could Jennifer be avoiding her “real” problems by focusing on life’s daily minutiae? Could be.

I know Jennifer had real-life marital problems, issues with her in-laws, and long-standing conflict with her Mother. But, frankly, I didn’t hear much about that. I only heard complaints that someone in our play group wanted to eat lunch at an earlier time than she, and that was a major problem.

After researching the subject, I came across the idea of conflict addicts in the Huffington Post. Here’s what Valerie DeLoach had to say about ex-spouses who continually create conflict:

“…just remember that your ex is most likely one of these conflict addicts who needs conflict with you to avoid having to take a hard look at his/her own life.”

Is this you? Do you thrive off small conflicts much like a drug addict thrives off drugs?

If so, it’s important to figure out why (maybe with the help of a good therapist), and begin focusing on the problems in your life that REALLY matter.


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