There’s a significant difference between a relationship merely not working out, and suffering the aftermath of a breakup with someone who had a narcissistic or psychopathic personality disorder. If you’ve ever wondered if you’re in a relationship with someone who is pathological, read below to see if these signs ring true.
Determining Whether It’s Pathological
There are a few ways to identify pathological love relationships. Keep in mind that there are other types of toxic and abusive relationships, but pathological love relationships follow a unique pattern with telltale features. The first is if you or your partner has a narcissistic, borderline, antisocial, or psychopathy disorder. Another factor is that the partner without the personality disorder will also have habits that, in some ways, attract people with personality disorders (we’ll get to these below). The next determining factor is if your relationship has a pattern of drama and erratic behavior. The perfect storm of these characteristics can make for a very traumatizing relationship.
The Personality Traits That Make You Attractive to Psychopaths
Cluster B personality disorders (which includes narcissism, borderline, antisocial, and psychopathic personality disorders) are characterized by drama and unpredictability. People with these disorders tend to fall in love with people who exhibit certain personality traits because they are easier to control.
The first trait, as you might have guessed, is agreeableness. Agreeableness is a great trait to have in most situations, but people with Cluster B personality disorders will tend to take advantage of it. Agreeableness goes hand in hand with the natural ability to trust someone beyond what other people who avoid relationships with these personality types would be willing to do. In most relationships, trust is built and proven over time, but people who are naturally trusting may start with a baseline of trust that is hard to destroy.
The other personality traits people with personality disorders seek are high levels of empathy and cooperation. These, too, are excellent characteristics in general, but they also can make you prone to dating people who are manipulative and domineering.
Noticing Red Flags
These disorders are tough to recognize at the beginning of a relationship because those who have Cluster B personality disorders are good at hiding red flags. Sometimes they can seem like your dream partner for years before you see their real personality. However, if the relationship’s pace feels fast—if not to you, then to family and friends—this can be a red flag. The intensity can present as falling in love when, in fact, the person with the personality disorder can be trying to manipulate you into a quick commitment.
Even if you’re a trusting person, make an effort to see red flags if you think you may be in a relationship with someone with a personality disorder. Ask other people about behaviors that seem inconsistent to you to help give you some perspective. Consider doing a background check on your partner, even if it goes against your nature.
Why These Personality Disorders Are So Hard to Spot
People with these personality disorders have become good at disguising their true nature. They don’t give intimacy a chance. Instead, they hide their personality at the beginning of the relationship and mimic normal behaviors that are not a genuine reflection of who they are inside. The bad news is that some people with these personality disorders cannot sustain long-term changes, even with treatment. However, depending on the severity of the disorder, some people can learn better behaviors if they are genuinely committed to therapy and their partner.
If you’ve been in a relationship with someone narcissistic, psychopathic, or who has borderline or antisocial disorders, it’s always best to speak with a professional who can help you through the aftermath. Contact someone today.
Bio: Dr. Nazanin Moali is a clinical psychologist and sex therapist in the Los Angeles area. She works with various individuals to understand and improve their sexuality. Dr. Moali conducts personal consultation sessions in her Torrance and Hermosa Beach offices, or via a secure, online video-counseling platform. Click here to download the 101 Ways to Keep Your Relationship Hot checklist. Download her new ebook, How to Increase Your Libido – For Women, here.