A Crisis in Bonding

Third of 11 articles on high conflict people in church. Previous article: Seeing the Patterns

Some of us, a few of us, were raised in families that provided for us and taught us how to bond with others successfully. We are able to have secure attachments to the significant people in our lives. Others of us, likely most of us, struggle in some ways with our bonding and attachments. Our relationships are not as secure as we want at times.

Some experience their difficulties bonding as their fault. They are sure the other person will ultimately not approve of them. Their bonding style is anxious.

Others experience their bonding difficulties as the other person’s fault and that the other person is causing the trouble. Their bonding style is dismissive.

A few people think that both parties are so flawed that bonding isn’t safe. Their bonding style is fearful.

Each of these basic bonding approaches can be found on a continuum of being more or less anxious or dismissive or fearful in our relationships. Every person who struggles to create secure relationships have ploys and strategies to make the relationships more secure snd stable. There are many healthy and effective ways people strengthen their relationships.

High conflict people can often be found on the far end of the continuum of different bonding styles. They don’t just have difficulty bonding and forming healthy attachments. They are in crisis. They respond to this crisis in a number of particularly unhealthy ways. We call these compensating behaviors.

When a high conflict person addresses you, attempts to bond with you with a compensating behavior, you may see right through it. You may find it annoys you or even repels you.

Occasionally their compensating behavior fits right into your own needs, deficits or compensating behavior. When that happens you are far more vulnerable to their destructive patterns.

Occasionally their compensating behavior fits right into your own needs, deficits or compensating behavior. When that happens you are far more vulnerable to their destructive patterns.

Here are some common approaches:

Manipulation: The high conflict person seeks to change your behavior through deceptive tactics. They conceal their intentions while exploiting your vulnerabilities. They are not concerned with the harm this may do to you.

Seduction: The high conflict person seeks to entice you to make a choice you would otherwise not make. Often this enticement is sexual in nature and the increased sexual arousal is the leverage they have over you. This has been a notorious danger for pastors.

Lying: There are some high conflict people who lie as a tool, a tactic and way of operating in this world. They have no remorse for their deception. They may have convinced themselves what they say is true in fact or “emotionally” true. They tell you what you need to hear to pick up their cause, to attach to them.

Dramatic Stories: Some high conflict people are capable of telling the most amazingly horrific stories that never happened. They are such compelling stories and you will be moved to compassion. It doesn’t matter if they are factual or accurate because their stories will still move you. You will be tempted to judge other people harshly. You will bond with them. You will join their team. Their stories will hook you if your aren’t careful.

Mirroring: Mirroring is a normal occurrence between people as they build rapport. High conflict people will intentionally mirror your body language to create the sensation in you that there is a stronger social connection than really exists. This is a method of false bonding. It is an artificial foundation for trusting. But that is what they want from you.

Litigation: High conflict people will use litigation to remain in contact and relationship with you, even if it is the most painful, expensive and negative bond of all.

Neediness: Compassionate people can quickly become hooked by needy, high conflict people. They build bonds by making you their savior. Only you can help. Only you understand. Only you. This is a set up and can expose you to all kinds of trouble.

Gift giving: Gift giving creates bonds and obligations. High conflict people exploit this to create bonds with you. Sometimes their gifts are too extravagant or somewhat inappropriate. Maybe just a little. But you have this obligation to them now. You owe them.

This isn’t an exhaustive list. Just enough to get your feet wet.

Next Step: Have you been connecting these behaviors with someone in your life or church? Can you also see how they use these ploys to bond with you even if it is a negative bond?

Do you find you are especially agitated by one of these ploys? Are you more resentful? Fearful of being hooked by one? Can you identify where you are vulnerable?

Next Article: Driven By Fear

Disclaimer: This website is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for qualified professional help such as accountants, lawyers, therapists or others. Please seek out appropriate professionals as needed. All choices you make, actions you take and their outcomes are yours alone and not the responsibility of the authors or publishers of this website.

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