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Personality Disorders in Relationships (& Understanding Manipulation)

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Personality Disorders are difficult in relationships because they have massive power by indulging in manipulation. So if you are in a relationship with someone who has a personality disorder it’s crucial that you figure out how you give up your own power in the relationship.

 

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Relationships with Personality Disorders Episode #35

You have to determine how you participate in the dysfunction. It doesn’t happen alone, it happens with you.

What bothers me is that it’s easy to label a partner as having a personality disorder because you’ve read about it on the internet, as if that is the only problem. It can be a form of escaping blame. It’s tricky to diagnose people when you are in the field much less as a lay person. I’m afraid it’s become too ordinary to use the label in order to say “It’s her/him NOT ME”.

I also believe we all have some personality disorder energy until we really grow up to understand how important character is. As adolescents we can act as if we are personality disordered because it is all about US & we spill over on to everybody around us. Personality disorders are about deeply flawed character & they often lack self awareness.

Most personality disorders thrive on believing “Love Me No Matter What”. This means: You should give me unconditional love no matter how often I mistreat you and that is a legitimate expectation. I believe this is a symptom of flawed character in relationships. This expectation applies to parents & children under the age of 18. The P.D. partner often will not recognize this within themselves but it is a disturbed expectation. Character means having respect for your partner & remorse for having done them wrong.

Love is not a “Get out of Jail Free” card.

Love means opening yourself up to being influenced by your partner to be a better person. Wanting to be a better person is what having character means. Unitarians talk about salvation through character. Improving who we are because we are in relationship to others is an important task of growing up.

If you love someone who suffers from a personality disorder you are likely to put up with too much crap. You need to develop more self respect & speak up about your limits. You need to learn more about establishing boundaries. I would suggest the book Boundaries by Ann Katherine as a good place to start. Limits & boundaries are the secret to success.

Another survival skill with anybody who is difficult; is to make more distinctions about what is reasonable & what is unreasonable. Not visiting my parents in a year & seeing yours every week is lopsided & unreasonable. When you want people to change you have to get them to think about things in a fresh, new way. Personality Disorders can be very myopic.

You need to interrupt the Drama Triangle mentioned in episode #12 of this podcast. The 3 positions in the Drama Triangle are Victim, Rescuer & Persecutor. It’s the intensity that seduces people to run around this triangle by shifting into all 3 roles with your partner. So the victim often has the most power & believes they are blameless, the rescuer is good because they are the helper & enabling isn’t really so bad……while the Persecutor is full of power they self righteously deserve.

You have to learn how NOT to get caught up in playing this game. You have to have enough self awareness to achieve disengagement from the drama. Remember growing up is honestly facing painful situations. This can be tough to break away from.

#1. The most important change you can make would be to develop more self respect which also might lead to the end of the relationship. Respect is the most important ingredient to all relationship survival.

#2. You need to stop enabling your partner to always win.

#3. You need to find out if your P.D. partner is willing to develop more character and learn to negotiate instead of manipulate. You need to learn to negotiate more successfully and learn to be less manipulated. Negotiating is absent in relationships with a personality disorder.

#4. You need to give up much of your own people pleasing behavior and learn to be more disagreeable, less easily manipulated.

#5. You might have to accept the reality you may need to lose the relationship because your partner refuses to change.

There are two personality disorders that get talked about the most: narcissists & borderlines. Keep in mind there is most often a wide range to how deep this problem might run in someone. They are not flexible & often behave in very rigid ways. So lets probe these two in particular.

Borderlines don’t have a sense of self. They are very empty inside & grab onto someone in a relationship in order to stay afloat. Often they find power in outbursts of anger & many short lived relationships. If you love someone who is Borderline your relationship feels like “I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me” which is the title of a book that could be very helpful. The authors are Jerold J. Kreisman & Hal Straus.

Narcissistic P.D. has an extreme sense of self importance & entitlement. They lack empathy and lie very easily in order to serve their own interests. A book that might help you in how to handle this in a relationship would be: Disarming the Narcissist: Surviving and Thriving with the Self-Absorbed by Wendy Terrie Behary and Jeffrey Young.

All personality disorders share a very rigid point of view. They are Black/White or 1/10 or Either/Or which leaves no room for negotiating or compromise. You have to find out if your partner is interested in learning about the Grey in between the Black/White, the 4567 in between the 1/10 or the “and” in between the Either/Or. If they must always be right or need to win constantly then you have your hands full.

If they refuse to learn or don’t want to change you need to get the book Who’s Pulling Your Strings by Harriet Braiker. If you insist on staying then you have to figure out how to define yourself in the world so that you are not stuck or feeling trapped. You have to define your boundaries by staying crystal clear about what you can tolerate & what you won’t tolerate.

You are the only one who can decide what’s worth it to you. My belief is that you would need to learn more about the opposite of care taking others which is ……….(take a moment & think about it)

I believe the opposite energy of being overly care taking is being more SELF PROTECTIVE. Your personality disorder partner most often lacks empathy & will win at any cost. You have to learn the skills of protecting yourself.

Relationships with personality disorders can be extremely difficult. They often avoid therapy. You also might get lucky & they might be willing to grow & change. Some professionals believe they are too stuck. I believe if they want to change they can be successful, they have to be willing to do a lot of hard work.

My challenge for you today; Stop & consider are you too easily manipulated or Are you good at manipulating or do you have some expertise in both?? Consider is your relationship way too lopsided?? Ask yourself how often do you consider being fair or ask your partner to value being fair? Most importantly are you using the label of personality disorder to let yourself off the hook?

My next episode in September will be on The Secrets of Connection & Disconnection.

I know a lot of you have been telling people about the show and I really appreciate it. Do me a favor & follow me on instagram & twitter @rhodaoncouples. Feel free to retweet I’d really appreciate it. Thanks for being part of my audience & Keeping it real with Rhoda.

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