November 23, 2021 Stacey Mendelson 0 Comments

I bet you have a high-conflict ex. The ex who behaves like an asshole.  Wouldn’t life be better if that stopped? Let me show you how to make your ex behave better. The way out of a high-conflict relationship with your ex is to stop creating it.


The current dance between you and you ex

Every communication from your ex is hostile and aggressive. S/he speaks to you in a demeaning tone. The emails are laced with accusations and blame. There is way too much unnecessary commentary.

You respond in one of 2 ways:

  1. Anger. Your brain tells you that s/he is an asshole and should not be saying those things to you. You explode in response, or bottle it up and spend the day reeling.
  2. Compliance. You walk on eggshells in an attempt not to poke the bear. You just take it.

Your role in allowing the behaviour

The way that you show up in the face of this behaviour will either put an end to it or keep it going. Both responses listed above will maintain the assholery status-quo. As the old saying goes, people treat you the way the you allow them to and it often mirrors how you treat yourself.

The ultimate goal here is a civilized and self-respectful coexistence. A little “inner clean up” is required in pursuit of this fantastic result. You need to reconcile that you probably have a role in creating this dynamic and your ex’s behaviour.

Step away from the crazy

The first step is deciding what constitutes acceptable behaviour and what does not.

When someone behaves in an unacceptable way – remove yourself from the situation. If there is a crazy person on the subway car, change cars. Don’t try to reason with crazy. Just remove yourself. Don’t try to defend yourself or reason with your ex. Just hang up or walk away.

No defending + no fight + no engagement = no conflict. 

If you think this exemplifies a win for the ex – you are mistaken. The ex who behaves like a toddler is looking for attention. Walking away is a huge win for you. It speaks loud and says – I am no longer going to tolerate this nonsense. Consistency with this will prevent the conflict and make your ex behave better.


Minimize the crazy

The other thing that you can do to make your ex behave better is set the stage to minimize assholery. Predict and sidestep conflict with the skill of strategic communication.

We become so fixated on our ex’s crazy that we inadvertently set the stage for it to be unleashed. Let’s be honest – we kind of want to see them screw up. It proves our narrative and provides evidence that they behave badly. But, you can prevent conflict by skillfully communicating with your ex about things that have historically triggered the crazy. It looks like this:

Instead of waiting for your ex to forget to claim a PD day or holiday time in accordance with the court order, send an email when you get the kid’s schedule that outlines all of the PD days and offer to split them up for the whole year. That way you can plan your schedule in advance and your ex won’t get hostile when s/he forgets to follow the protocol outlined in the order. This is a matter of mitigating the problems that you know are bound to occur due to your ex’s deficiencies. Does this make you their secretary? No. It makes you an amazing parent and keeps the conflict at bay. So put on your grown up undies and be the adult.

Achieving this goal will enable you to advocate for your children without fear. It sets an amazing example for your children of how to manage the tough customer. Most of all, getting to this result will create peace in your life.