Conflict as zero sum

It is the hallmark of a certain kind of person to see all conflict as zero sum, win/lose, an existential fight to the death. Most people, who experience conflict as just part of life, know that with sufficient goodwill conlict can almost always be resolved. Unless you see all conflict as a deadly threat to yourself.

If you know somebody who has no skill at resolving conflict, you can avoid tension with them as much as possible by remaining mild, but understand that one day, if conflict arises between you, there will be no solution outside of the end of the relationship.

This limited view of the world, seeing any kind of conflict, no matter how minor, as a deadly threat and compromise as fatal, pathetic, weakness, cannot be overcome by your understanding, your patience, your love, your friendship, your own willingness to compromise. This type sees compromise as surrender, cowardly capitulation, abject submission, humiliation.

When they do apologize to you (to end the conflict immediately, without further discussion) it will be with restrictions, caveats, qualifications and the need to make you understand that they are only apologizing because you are weak, not because they did anything that hurt you, something that would have hurt them .

Once you see an inability to resolve conflict or compromise, know the score. You are dealing with somebody who has no idea how to work out conflicts with others. It may feel like your fault because you can’t fix something that should otherwise be relatively simple to work out, but after you’ve done everything possible to make amends, and the implacability remains, time to walk away.

That walk will be the best thing you can do for yourself, unbearably sad as it also feels when you take those first steps away from someone you have long cared about.

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