In the previous post, we discussed the personality disorder associated with pervasive distrust and suspiciousness of others, the paranoid personality. Today, I’ll be introducing three other disorders that will likely cause major issues in your relationships and can even be dangerous at times.
The other three disorders have a lot in common. I am talking about the antisocial, the borderline, and the narcissistic personalities. This group is associated with dramatic, overly emotional or unpredictable thinking or behavior and it severely affects relationships. Each one of these personalities have sparked much interest from psychology experts and warranted many years of research. Some fantastic books have been written to cover the intricacies and unfortunate consequences of such personalities.
These personalities are generally very difficult to deal with in a relationship and at times even dangerous. Being in a relationship with such an individual WILL take a toll on your emotional and mental health.
The Antisocial personality is definitely a challenging one to get along and co-exist with. Most people may not even realize they are in a relationship with one. These individuals have a disregard for others’ needs or feelings, a pattern of lying, stealing, using aliases, conning others, recurring problems with the law, repeated violation of the rights of others, aggressive, often violent behavior, disregard for the safety of self or others, impulsive behavior, irresponsible, and a lack of remorse for behavior.
The most important piece to understand is that their world view is a personal rather than interpersonal one. This means that they are only focused on themselves and no one else. They simply cannot understand someone else’s point of view at the same time as their own. They anticipate the reactions of others only after responding to their own desires and needs. Individuals with such personality disorder traits don’t care about others, although they may be great at pretending they care. They target the vulnerable, the gullible, the susceptible and they measure success by how well they’ve exploited others.
In some of the most extreme examples, individuals like Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Al Capone, John Gotti, Scott Peterson, Bernie Madoff, and Jerry Sandusky fit this dangerous profile. They could be intelligent, attractive, successful, with a high-power status and level of responsibility. They are persistently calculating and manipulative, and love controlling people like puppets. They have no empathy or remorse. They beat their spouses, abuse patients, terrorize employees, embezzle money, and prey on the faithful. They are not good parents; they are absent or distant, brutal at times. They may teach them to lie, cheat, avoid responsibility, or break the rules to get their way.
If you think you may be in a relationship with an Antisocial personality individual, please read Dangerous Personalities by Jay Navarro, an FBI profiler. Most importantly, do not isolate yourself, talk to others about it, and start looking for resources to safely distance yourself from this relationship.
Meghan & Craig’s Story
Meghan is a smart, funny, and educated 30-year-old. She also comes from a wealthy family and never had to worry about money, but she’s had a job since she was 16. She is warm, patient, with a heart of gold. Meghan’s misfortune and struggles have been around her weight, which she believes kept Prince Charming out of her life. She met Craig on a cruise. He was a charming, attractive 40- year-old who showered her with attention and compliments from Day 1. He quickly figured out that she was starved for an intimate connection and played all his cards right.
They married a year later. Meghan was smitten with Craig, and couldn’t believe her luck. However, certain red flags started popping up. Craig always had an excuse for not getting or keeping a job. He lived in her house and she paid for everything. Two years into the relationship, he started flirting with other women, but he always seemed to have an excuse. If Meghan pushed too hard, all he had to say was “well, I guess if you are tired of me, we can always part ways, but I love you, and always will.” He knew that was Meghan’s vulnerable spot, and she always backed off.
Luckily, Meghan had a strong, supportive family and a group of friends who helped her see that Craig was not interested in having a relationship with her, but was just using her for her money. When Meghan asked him for a divorce after 5 years, he asked for half of her money and made the process completely miserable for her.
The next challenging personality disorder is the borderline one.
The Borderline personality is known for instability and pronounced intensity in most, if not all aspects of their functioning, including self-image, moodiness, behavior, and relationships.
They often show impulsive and risky behavior, such as having unsafe sex, gambling or binge eating. They have an unstable or fragile self-image, often as a reaction to interpersonal stress, suicidal behavior or threats of self-injury. They have an intense fear of being alone or abandoned, ongoing feelings of emptiness, frequent, intense displays of anger, and stress-related paranoia that comes and goes.
They are notorious for angry outbursts, ongoing crises, and sometimes suicidal threats.
Brent & Lindsay’s Story:
When Brent met Lindsay, he found her attractive, full of life, warm, and extremely physically and emotionally affectionate. Dating her was incredible. She idolized him, the sex was fantastic, and he reciprocated the attention with lavish dinners and romantic gifts. They got married fast, after only one year of dating. Everything seemed to change after the honeymoon.
Lindsay’s mood changed from raging to depressed. She would blame Brent when things didn’t go well for her, even though he may not have had anything to do with it. She would take little things out of context and turn them into mountains of criticism, sarcasm, and painful insults. Brent has no idea what happened. They have kids and he still thinks she is funny, sexy, and smart. He is still very much in love with her, but is dumbfounded and has no idea what to do. Her insults and the pain she inflicts on him are intolerable at times. He feels that being married to her is heaven one minute, and hell the next.
Finally, the last one to cover is the Narcissistic personality. This one has been making the news in the last couple of years due to association with President Trump, but the truth is that it is a very common disorder among CEOs, lawyers, politicians, doctors, and Hollywood people. It’s almost a requirement for high achievers, however it’s not a productive condition for relationships. And, narcissists are made not born, so most of them come from unhealthy family dynamics.
Although men have been accused of this condition, especially in the workplace, in my practice, I’ve treated more individuals struggling with the aftermath of being raised by a narcissistic mother, which is also a very painful journey. For that, I highly recommend Dr. Judy’s WTF podcast, you can listen here.
Individuals that exhibit narcissistic personality traits are known for the belief that they are special and more important than others. They are completely obsessed with themselves and their social standing.
They have excessive fantasies about power, success and attractiveness. They generally fail to recognize others’ needs and feelings. If they do manage to appear concerned or interested in helping others, it is usually because it would serve their interest or they would be publicly recognized for their actions.
They like to exaggerate their achievements or talents, expect and require constant praise and admiration. They don’t like to follow any rules or agreements that inconvenience them and they will always rationalize their actions. They are masterful at twisting confrontations toward attributing blame and fault to other people.
It’s never their fault. If they are faced with limits or criticism, they will turn nasty, defensive, and vindictive. Most importantly, they lack empathy. They seriously don’t understand the concept, let alone share that emotional experience. They would also qualify for labels such as emotionally unavailable or avoidant-dismissive.
John & Wendy’s Story
John and Wendy are both ambitious people with successful careers. They are both in sales. They are both extremely social, fun to be around, and like to go 100 miles per hour. Wendy is more of a techie and likes to sell based on the features of the product. John is the typical BS-er, but he is so extremely charming and engaging, and you have no idea what he is really selling to you.
They met at a sales event, and John swept Wendy off her feet. His magnetism and self-confidence were so powerful, Wendy couldn’t resist him. Yes, he talked a lot about himself, but she was used to having those sales guys around. They all liked to talk about themselves. It’s part of the job description.
They started dating and got engaged 6 months into their relationship because they couldn’t keep their hands off each other. A year later, they were married. As soon as they moved in with each other, Wendy started to notice that John’s personality was exhausting and started to wear her down.
He wasn’t really taking a break. He continued to talk about himself and didn’t really give her a chance to take part in a two-way conversation. She struggled to have her views and feelings heard. When she got a word in, if it wasn’t in agreement with John, her comments were likely to be corrected, dismissed, or ignored. He interrupted and quickly switched the focus back to him. He showed little genuine interest in her day, her struggles, her opinions, or her experiences.
He often expected preferential treatment from Wendy and from others. He expected her and others to cater (often instantly) to his needs without being considerate in return. The world revolved around him.
Wendy felt stuck. She didn’t even know how to approach the topic with John. She felt defeated before she even started.
Next week, we’ll cover what you should do if you feel like you are in a relationship with someone who has one of these personality disorders, so don’t forget to check back. If you’d like access to my other resources in the meantime, please go to my Marriage and Relationship Resource Center.
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.