Relationships have enough challenges when two healthy, balanced people are involved. However, when one partner has a personality disorder, the challenges can seem insurmountable. An individual with a personality disorder is “wired” differently than most of the rest of us. This can lead to bewildering, confusing, and often hurtful behavior the other partner struggles to understand. If you find yourself at a loss to understand how your partner can act the way he or she does, and your attempts to improve the relationship seem to fail, it is possible your partner may be one of an estimated 4-10% of the general population affected by the pathology of a personality disorder. While only a licensed mental health professional can diagnose the condition, it is helpful to know what to look for. Here are 9 common signs of a personality disorder:
1. Lack of empathy. Often people with personality disorders like narcissism and sociopathy/psychopathy share this trait. This is an inability to relate to others and their emotional state; i.e., a sociopath is unable to put themselves into another person’s shoes. If empathy is shown, it is a false front and over time the lack of emotional depth can become more apparent.
2. Lack of remorse or guilt. The sociopath/psychopath is afflicted with this trait. Such an individual does not feel badly for the hurt his or her actions cause, and may even consider it the victim’s fault for being weak and allowing the sociopath to take advantage.
3. Lack of impulse control. People with pathology often do not delay gratification and can become addictive and compulsive as a result. This can result in destructive and risky behavior such as affairs, alcoholism, and drug addiction.
4. Manipulation and compulsive lying. Your partner may lie about everything, big and small, in order to achieve his or her agendas.
5. Grandiose sense of self worth and need for admiration from others. This is common in narcissists. Your partner may exaggerate accomplishments, expect preferential treatment, act in a haughty manner, and feel he or she should associate with high powered or special people and institutions.
6. Consistent irresponsibility. Pathological individuals frequently have difficulty holding down a job and may live a parasitic lifestyle, using others for what they can get. Bills may not get paid, and commitments, such as marital, may not be fulfilled.
7. Is exploitative and uses others to achieve his or her ends. Your partner may be very comfortable with taking people, including you, for what they can get out of them.
8. Extreme black and white thinking, and/or idealization of perfect love, beauty, power, etc. One moment you may be on a pedestal, the next you may be completely devalued.
9. A tendency toward criminal behavior, flaunting the rules of society. This tendency may include violence toward others.