Author Bill Eddy identifies warning signs in his book ‘5 Types of People Who Can Ruin Your Life’
Who can you trust? Oftentimes, we make that decision within seconds without information about whoever we are dealing with. The good news: you can trust most people. About 80 to 90 percent of people are reasonably reliable in who they say they are and what they’ll do, abiding by normal social standards that help people get along.
The Bad News
Some people can ruin your life, destroying your reputation, sense of self, or career. This group of people makes about 10 percent of humanity, or 1 in 10 people. This translates to roughly 35 million people in North America. These folks have an extreme version of “HCP,” or a high-conflict personality. HCPs are defined by various tell-tale signs, including compulsively escalating disagreements and intense target blaming. This can be coupled with verbal, emotional, financial, and sometimes even physical abuse for months or even years after the initial minor conflict.
Most of these people initially present themselves as extremely friendly, innocent, charming, with a tendency to lie. They lack boundaries, hinting at the fast intimacy they could bring to a relationship, and how they might end one as well.
If you suspect you might be involved with someone like this, look for some of these clues:
Unhelpful All or Nothing Thinking
“People always abandon me” or “people always take advantage of me” are statements HCPs tend to use. They reframe conflicts to draw people to their side, experiencing “highs” from fantastical storytelling. You later realize that they have always been strong and even abusive themselves, they just feel like victims.
It can be exciting to have someone like you without much restraint. Most often, people don’t know they are being love-bombed until the same HCPs show how intensely negative they can be in a major conflict and the devaluation begins. This can be confusing, heartbreaking, and traumatizing. Before getting to this point, the relationship might feel overwhelming or move too quickly. Your boundaries and agency probably aren’t respected, even after stating them openly.
This person has a history of extreme behavior, justifying it with excuses such as feeling angry, hurt, tired, stressed, or responding to someone else’s extreme behavior. Ask yourself this: would 90 percent of people do what this person has done? A common dynamic with HCPs is engaging in aggressive acts and denying their aggression to avoid consequences or feeling guilt. HCPs will touch you without consent fairly early on and hide their behavior afterward. They’ll even deflect their behavior onto their targets of blame in efforts to gain sympathy and attention.
While some of these behaviors can be isolated incidents, it’s best to keep note. Splitting up with these people will result in the most extreme behavior. If you notice repeated patterns, save yourself some time and run for the hills!
To learn more about mental health, check out Oprah.com