Don’t Take the Bait! Protecting Yourself from High-Conflict Personalities

Many stepmoms experience High-Conflict Personalities (HCP). HCP love to engage in battle. According to Alison Patton, licensed attorney and mediator, “High-conflict personalities unconsciously thrive on conflict. No matter what you do, they will create more conflict. They don’t play by the same rules and they are not logical, so don’t think you’ll be able to convince or change them with facts and reality. Knowing this from the start will help you set appropriate boundaries for all interactions as well as retain your mental health.”

HCP have an observable pattern. The High-Conflict Institute identifies these observable characteristics as:

  1. All or nothing thinking
  2. Unmanaged emotions
  3. Extreme behaviors
  4. Blaming others

These patterns can involve attacks, bullying/cyberbullying behaviors, manipulation, controlling behaviors, harassment, obsession, stalking, making threats, and turning small issues into explosive arguments.

Stepmoms can become an easy target for the HCP in their life. Protect yourself from becoming a target and scapegoat. You can stop engaging in conflict by utilizing many strategies.

  1. Cut contact: You do not have to be in contact with someone. If you are currently in contact with a HCP, then cutting contact might be your best option. You can block them from accessing you through your cellphone, social media, email, and other forums. Remind yourself, “I can remove myself from people that threaten my peace.”
  2. Don’t take their conflict personally: How people handle themselves has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with them. Their behaviors are a reflection of who they are. Remind yourself, “Their energy is not my energy.”
  3. Focus on what you can control: You can only control yourself. When under attack from a HCP it can become challenging to focus on yourself.  Remind yourself of this mantra, “I can only control myself.” Focus on healthy ways to rise above the HCP behaviors.

Find strategies that will work best for you in your situation. High-Conflict personalities thrive on conflict. In order to minimize the presence of a HCP in your life you can protect yourself and not take the bait.

High Conflict Institute

Sign up here for a Free Clarity Session with Nicole, where she will work to understand your situation, help you get clear on what you want as a stepparent, and give recommendations on a plan that would help you the most.

  1. You have some MAJOR patience lady! Good for you, and good for your man standing by your side!



    1. Thank you. Blessed my husband is in “cahoots” with me.
      Some people love to poke and poke and poke. I’m a work progress for sure.

      Liked by 1 person


      1. It takes a special kind of woman to do what we do! Your step kids are so lucky to have you in their lives!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is fitting for me today. I am going to be calling my step-son’s mom tonight to discuss some issues that have been occuring. I always get nervous as I have become the primary person for her to communicate with. I basically have to write down everything that I’m going to say and follow the script. It’s super frustrating because I know when she lies but it’s not worth it to call her out on it. It’s also impossible to talk with her about anything serious because it’s automatically brought up that I’m “attacking” her. So this was good to read to refresh my memory for tonight that I can say what I need to say but I don’t need to fall into her trap.

    Liked by 1 person


    1. Glad it can help. Try to leave emotion out of it if you can. A script is a good idea. We try to keep everything in writing at this point to avoid he said, she said situations. Good luck! Sending u some positive mojo

      Liked by 1 person


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