Personality Disorders and Intimacy are Incongruous
Those with personality disorders mask their intractability and emotional immaturity with pleasing pseudo-personas that advertise a misleading ability to be emotionally intimate.
People diagnosed with personality disorders such as narcissistic personality disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Schizoid PD, Schizotypal PD, Histrionic Personality, Avoidant Personality, Dependent Personality and so forth, to some degree or other, learn how to mask their rigid, intractable needy and emotionally arrested personalities and unhealthy relational styles by adopting well-worn and pseudo-pleasing personas. These pseudo-pleasing often larger than life personas eventually crack when the personality-disordered believe they have you right where they want you. When they have your adoration. When you are in hot pursuit. When they have you involved, committed, attached, invested, and caring. They have you essentially sitting like an unsuspecting deer in the headlights of the on-coming truck of who they really are. Or more to the point who they really aren’t. The full extent of their relational rigidity and often cold, aloof, and self-focused and/or self absorbed truth is revealed under the pressure of attempts at closeness and intimacy.
Essentially those with personality disorders, to varying degrees, lack the emotional maturity needed to have consistent, congruent, and age-appropriate intimate relationships.
The very essence of being personality disordered means that one is not flexible enough to engage consistently in the mutuality and reciprocity required for healthy relationships.
Those with personality disorders either are not able to, or have tremendous difficulty, with the dialectical dyad of healthy relating. Personality disordered individuals are for the most part very black and white. They live in painful inner-worlds of dissociative split-off opposites.
Those with personality disorders are largely fear-based, cathect negatively and albeit with compromised and varying ability to invest emotionally in the here and now. They are often very emotionally sensitive and very emotionally reactive. They have unresolved narcissistic injury of a deep intrapsychic nature.
Personality Disorders impact age-appropriate relating because those diagnosed with them have experience developmental arrests that have interfered with their ability to learn and master the stage of early childhood development required for the attainment of a healthy personality functional and flexible style of relating.
The traits found in the definitions of personality disorders are also traits common to all human beings. However, what leaves one person with a given personality disorder and the next person with a healthier personality has to do with the degree of the frequency and intensity of the outlined traits.
Personality Disorders are characterized by long-term, maladaptive patterns of perception, emotional regulation, anxiety, and impulse control that have resulted in entrenched and inflexible patterned ways of acting and reacting to interactions, situations and environments and any encountered stressers from said.
Personality Disorders negatively impact relating because the traits most common in most of them compromise their sufferersʼ ability to acquire the emotional maturation necessary to have the skills required to facilitate and maintain healthy age-appropriate bonding, attachment, frustration tolerance, and the over-all coping skills to successfully regulate their responses to thwarted needs, delayed gratification and differences of opinion. The unpredictability of interpersonal relating and/or environmental stressers, along with a lacking capacity to flow with the moving in and out between closeness and distance that is required for healthy intimacy often bear witness to the personality disordered relating in toxic and/or abusive ways.
Those who have a personality disorder and a subsequent emotionally immature and/or toxic dysfunctional relational style often struggle with isolation, alienation, and protracted loneliness. Loneliness that as I talk about in my Ebook, Loneliness – Its Challenges, Lessons, Purpose and Meaning and its Promise of Life Transformation is really a harbinger of lessons that the non personality disordered will benefit from learning about themselves. Lessons that will awaken your awareness about Toxic Relationships and The Need to Let Go of these types of relationships.
Lacking various interpersonal skills, and emotional maturation, people with Personality Disorders, are often forced to adopt what they see mirrored among others as a seeming successful, desired, and pleasing persona in efforts to find ways to bridge the gaps between their own challenges and what is expected of them based largely on their chronological age coupled with their intellectual capacity.
When it comes to interpersonal relationships, sadly for many, in the beginning it can be very difficult to spot the personality disordered from the average. Of course, time and getting to know someone can and will penetrate the mask of the social or pleasing pseudo persona.
In the interpersonal relating of intimate other relationships the personality-disordered not only lose the mask of their plastic personas but they often ultimately reveal the brokenness of deep intrapsychic wounds that result in controlling, dominating, intimidating, manipulating, punishing, needy, clinging, angry, raging, unforgiving, and aloof abusers.
Not all who have a personality disorder will be abusive. However, most profiles of what an abuser is, a verbal abuser, an emotional abuser, a batterer, do describe the traits of many who have Personality Disorders.
It is always important to take time to get to know anyone you think you want to relate to. It is even more important if you stop to consider that there are more and more people diagnosed with personality disorders everyday.
It is difficult to have a personality disorder, a disorder of one’s self, and to then have any secure base from which to relate in non-shame based ways. Shame has a profound effect on the way that many with Personality Disorders do relate and that effect is usually negative and pervasive.
Shame-based individuals lack self-esteem, lack self-worth, lack self-confidence and are often insecure and end up having a controlling relational style due to the fact that the fragmented self acts from a place of desperation, and often hopelessness and helplessness. Vulnerabilities that a shame-based self cannot tolerate and will end up projecting onto those it tries to relate intimately too.
Most personality disorders do not easily lend themselves to successful healthy adult emotional intimacy. In fact, the issues and challenges faced by those with personality disorders are more often than not the direct antithesis of the ability and capacity to be emotionally available, emotionally honest, emotionally mature and emotionally intimate.
Personality Disorders and intimacy are incongruous until and unless those diagnosed get substantial and successful professional help. Doubting this will only more often than not, for those with personality disorders and those who try to be in relationships with them, end up in untold pain and heartache.
After having been in one of these types of toxic relationships there is a definite need for each person to engage a process of Toxic Relationship Recovery
© A.J. Mahari 2007