Last week was heavy, but if you missed it go here. We discussed three dangerous personality disorders, the antisocial, the borderline, and narcissistic personalities. In this post, we’ll cover what you can do about it if you’ve found yourself in one of these relationships.
About 25% of the population share some of these difficult personality traits, which means you are bound to run into someone matching this description. How would you know if you are in a relationship with one right now?
- Being in a relationship with one can suck the life out of you
- They inspire anger in you and the people around them
- They can put you on a pedestal and make you feel like you are the center of their world until you no longer meet their needs or disagree with them
- They are highly sensitive to any criticism or negative feedback
- They crave attention
- They are persuasive blamers, meaning they are skilled at convincing you it’s your fault
- Their rage reaction is disproportionate to the offense
- They launch attacks against your intelligence, emotions, and sanity
- Will recruit others as negative advocates against you
- Their strong feelings against something or someone will create the facts (in healthy people, the facts create the feelings)
People with personality disorders often seem to have two personalities, which don’t come out and become obvious until you’ve known them for a while, the chase or conquest phase is over and you are married, or when you see them under stress or in a crisis.
|“I want greater self-awareness, but can I continue to be unaware of my bad qualities?”|
- Won’t and can’t take responsibility for their actions
- They think they are justified in their reactions and they are acting appropriately
- They are in heavy denial about their behaviors
- They become surprised, angered, or enraged when others point out these traits
- They don’t attend therapy or engage in self-improvement efforts because they don’t think they have a problem
Now, before we rush to diagnose ourselves or our spouse with a personality disorder, please understand that in order to qualify for a diagnosis, these “unlikable” traits should be displayed or experienced not just once in a while, but on a regular basis, in different settings (meaning at home, at work, on vacation), with different people (with partners, children, friends, co-workers), and at a very intense level.
Take some time and become a proficient observer of actions, not just words. Although difficult to do, take your momentary emotional needs out of the equation. Think of what you would tell your best friend if she or he were in a relationship with your partner. We often give better advice to our friends than we give ourselves. Control the space and distance and set some healthy boundaries to give yourself a chance to clear your head.
If this post series speaks to you and you feel like your partner may fit some of these strong personality traits, but you are still invested in your relationship and want to make it work, I strongly recommend a combination of individual and couples’ therapy with an experienced clinician with lengthy experience in personality disorders.
If your partner refuses to try therapy, you should seek individual counseling for yourself to help you:
- Understand the unhealthy patterns in your relationship
- Learn more about the disorder and how to differentiate between the disorder and the rest of the person
- Identify trigger points and high-risk situations that lead to painful interactions
- Examine your own behaviors and actions and understand how they affect the dynamic
- Set boundaries to protect yourself emotionally and mentally
- Develop coping strategies for when the times get tough
Here are some additional great resources that specifically focus on dealing with these disorders. They will teach you assertive approaches on managing such high-conflict relationships or preparing for a potential separation:
If you have any questions about this series, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me via email, firstname.lastname@example.org. I always love hearing from my readers! I also have a free resource center that has helped many people get started on their journey of healing and self-discovery. If you or someone you know would benefit from these resources, please go HERE.
ABOUT: Dr. Ruxandra LeMay is a private practice psychologist in Litchfield Park, Arizona with experience in family therapy, ADHD, stress and anxiety management, and executive coaching. She is the author of My Spouse Wants More Sex Than Me: The 2-Minute Solution For a Happier Marriage. Click HERE to check out her free resources on effective communication, emotional unavailability, intimacy, and anxiety management or join her at www.ruxandralemay.com for monthly blog posts.