5) Flipper versus Self-doubter
The best defense is often offense, and flippers know that game very well. When confronted with any inquiry, challenge, or criticism, they turn it back on the person expressing that position. “You should know, being the master of what you’re accusing me of.” “What about you? You’re guilty of the same thing you’re accusing me of.” “You’re just projecting. This is really your problem.”
If the flipping successfully puts the other partner on the witness stand, he or she will begin to defend and be effectively disarmed, no longer able to keep the original thought or feeling alive.
These disputes usually end when the self-doubter takes full responsibility for the problem and promises to change. The flipper too often then walks away smug, as if he or she should never have been challenged in the first place.
Want to know more about conflict patterns in relationships? Check this video about conflict patterns that can ruin relationships out below!
6) Escalating Yellers
These disputes typically start out as simple disagreements but the partners rapidly escalate the battle into one that is won by the person who can yell the loudest and the longest. Since neither partner is listening to the other and is both cornered and cornerer, he or she uses the sheer power of noisy and contemptuous attacks to win the argument. They behave like enemies, hell-bent to destroy by sheer power alone.
The body language of both combatants alternates between sticking fingers or breasts out as if in a threatening posture and retreating back only to yell from a distance and then re-attack. Once the partners get going, they are in an angry dance of intertwined enemies. The interaction only ends when both partners have exhausted themselves and retreated into seclusion.
7) Answer-seeker versus Truth Dodger
This kind of dispute always starts out with one partner seeking comfort, resolution, transparency, reasons, or rationalizations for a behavior that is causing the other distress. The receiving partner immediately feels rebellious and stalked and fights back by becoming intensely elusive with half-truths or evasive answers. He or she may even begin doing unrelated tasks to avoid the escalating confrontation.
The more one partner avoids answering the inquiries, the more the other partner presses for answers. The argument escalates into suspicions of betrayal and refusals to be accountable, only making things worse.
Often the partner who avoids does so by continuing to divert from the subject. Their goal is to get the seeker-for-answers to go off track and focus on a subject that is easier to answer.
The interaction ends when the person seeking trust gives up, certain that there is more hidden than he or she initially suspected. If these futile searches for truth continue, the trust will eventually erode.
8) Drama Queen/King versus Scoffer
This kind of conflict is a competition between one partner who becomes exaggeratingly dramatic during an argument and the other who makes it his or her goal to unmask the performer by uncovering the true motive behind the behavior.
The partner seeped in his or her own intense and vivid portrayal can easily and quickly shift emotions to fit the desired outcome. The mocking and undermining foil seeks only to make a travesty of the over-arching passion play.
This interaction can get very icy and mutually invalidating. The dramatic partner must end the scene with an impressive outpouring of offended or wounded responses, slamming doors, or the like to make an exit statement. The abandoned critic sits with his or her claimed victory of successful invalidation, often feeling smug and triumphant.