7 Ways To Spot A 'Hijackal:' The Latest Relationship Predator

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Ways To Spot A Hijackal

Your partner is charming and delightful in social settings, but harsh and blaming at home. That behavior is so confusing that you assume you're the problem, and you feel stuck, caught, confused, and betrayed. The ground is always shifting, and your partner always tells you that you’re wrong, crazy, or making things up.

Be warned: There is a VERY good chance that you're in a toxic relationship with a Hijackal! 

Lurking in the shadows, pouncing unexpectedly, keeping you insecure, unsafe, and on-guard, Hijackals are everywhere. Unfortunately, the most likely place to find them is at home (oh, yes, and in political arenas!)

What’s most important to Hijackals are their own desires, thoughts, beliefs, needs, and wants, and they make those very clear (and expect you to take them on as your priorities, too. After all, why wouldn’t you?)

Hijackals act as though they're sure you have nothing more pressing to do than make them happy, meet their demands, or live up to their expectations!

You extend yourself to give them what they want — even well beyond your comfort zone — but it's never enough. And if you were hoping they will reciprocate, forget about it! Loving a Hijackal means no matter how hard you try to appease, you'll always displease them on some level, because they always want more.  

Drama, drama, drama! It’s exhausting, frustrating, annoying, and crazy-making! 

So, who are these chronically difficult people who want — and desperately NEED — to always be right, faultless, irresponsible, and center stage in the relationship? In my e-book series, Escaping the Hijackal Trap: The Definitive Guide to Dealing with Chronically Difficult People," I coined the term, "Hijackals", and defined them as "people who hijack relationships for their own purposes while relentlessly scavenging them for power, status, and control."

Shocked, upset, and unforgiving when not always "Queen or King for a Day", it’s their way or the highway. When you don’t treat them accordingly, all hell breaks loose.

Is this all sounding familiar? If so, here are seven ways to know for sure if you're in a relationship with a Hijackal:  

1. They dominate conversations and always wants to be the focus of attention.  

You’ve had a rough day and you just want someone to listen — not fix you. Your Hijackal says: "Oh, stop! You’re not the only one in the trenches, Babe. Let me tell you about my day."

2. They use your innermost fears, thoughts and feelings against you. 

You're feeling close, safe, and vulnerable. You open up, hoping for empathy, validation, and emotional intimacy. Your Hijackal seizes the moment, encouraging you to share: "Oh, really, you’re afraid of the dark. I had no idea. I feel for you." (No, they don’t!)

A few days later, during an argument: "You’re such a baby. You’re even afraid of the dark! Why don’t you grow up?"

3. They pretend to care how you feel, then turn the blame on you. 

Your teenage daughter is acting out, and your Hijackal seems to listen as you discuss the problems at school. You ask him to be more involved in the situation.  

In response, he instantly flips the blame on you with: "So, you think I should care about how embarrassing it is for you to deal with issues at school? I have no problems with our kid, so it’s all on you. Don’t ruin my relationship with her, too."

4. They put their own interests, needs, wants, and wishes before yours.

You want to take your whole family to visit your parents who are getting too old to visit you anymore. Your Hijackal says: "What makes you think that I have to go along? They're your parents, and I am not taking time out of my life to meet your need for a 'happy family' visit."

5. They take everything to the extreme to win. (P.S. Disagree with her and life will be hell.)

Always needing control, your Hijackal jumps to anger, threats, demands, anger, or even, tears over small things.

You ask her to come along to an important work-related dinner: "What’s wrong with you? I have a life, too. We’re not joined at the hip. You should have asked me earlier, but, of course you didn’t, because you don’t have any respect for my time. You knew this would upset me, and, I can count on you to always go out of your way to upset me. Damn you! I’m out of here!" (Tears. Book thrown. Door slams.)

6. They change their mind, feelings, and focus quickly … and conveniently.

You’ve just had a lovely dinner at home together. You’re feeling close, and able to let your guard down. For a lovely moment, you see the partner you fell in love with, and there's no conflict. Heaven!

Cuddling on the sofa in front of the fire, you say: "This is just like when we were dating, remember?"

Your Hijackal's reply: "Yeah, back when you cared enough to please me, but that’s sure changed!"

7. They HAVE to win … in every situation.

Whether it’s where you’re going for vacation, or what happened to you when you were a child, a Hijackal HAS to be right, especially about how wrong you are!

"No matter what you say, I know you don’t want to leave me. You can't manage without me anyway because you’re so needy. You can't stand being alone. Pushing me away would be a big mistake. After all, you’ve told me many times that your life began when you met me."

Of course, she can be charming, alluring, and magnetic. Of course, he can be amusing, engaging, and promising. But, only as long as the spotlight is shining in her direction and things are going his way. Turn it away or off, and things quickly become churlish, manipulative, and even nasty. Hijackals can turn on a dime.

Oh, yes, and if you’re looking for fair, loving treatment that you can count on, forget about it. Hijackals are in it to win it… and that makes you the loser in every case.

Do you recognize your partner in these seven traits? If so, they are dangerous to your emotional well-being (and in many cases, dangerous to your physical safety, too).

Out your Hijackal in your own mind. See her or him clearly, without your rose-colored glasses and ready excuses for their bad behavior. Trying to be understanding will never help this situation.

Hijackals are not quirky pets you must please and appease. They are dangerous, and will pounce on you, ripping your self-esteem to shreds. You think they’ll change with enough love, time, patience, and your unending belief in them. No! They won’t.

Hijackals are predators, and you're behaving like bait. STOP! It won't be easy (and you’ll need expert help to do it) but it's the only way to free yourself from a Hijackal.

Dr. Rhoberta Shaler, The Relationship Help Doctor, specializes in working with the partners, exes, adult children, and co-workers of chronically difficult people: Hijackals. If you have a Hijackal in your life, get help now. Visit for resources, to book a free half-hour consultation, or to access my free ebook, "How to Spot A Hijackal."