High Conflict People and the Limits of Intimacy

Pastors are accustomed to having deep bonds with others. They are often capable of great intimacy with others. They are a source of comfort to people in their times of greatest need. They see deep into the details of other’s lives and hearts. It is their job. It is their life. It us an important, intrinsic part of who they are.

High conflict people are not capable of this sort of relationship. They are not able to risk exposing their real selves to others. Asking them to, pushing them or demanding this from them will not go well. It will not lead to greater intimacy. They will push back, rebuff you, and leave you hanging. It may be confusing to you and you may struggle with being cut out.

The closer the person is to you the more disappointing this is for you. Your example of vulnerability and revealing your true self will not be reciprocated. The relationship will only go so deep. The profound fears of high conflict people will enforce this.

This can be a difficult relationship to maintain. It will be professional and at arm’s distance. The pastor will carry the weight of it including managing expectations and boundaries. You will need to accept the person and rhe relationship at the level it is.

Next Steps: Are you struggling with a relationship that seems one sided? Are you giving, sharing your true self hoping to and continually disappointed that they are not able to share at the same level? Look to their actions and past their words.

Are you getting your needs for close connection met at home or with friends? Why is the connection with this person so essential? Are boundaries being pushed, bent or trampled upon?

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