“It's rare for a toxic person to change their behavior. More often, the only thing that varies is their target and the blame they place. Because some toxic people are difficult to identify, keep in mind that a victim mindset is sometimes a red flag. So, listen when someone talks about their life and circumstances. If the list of people they blame is long... it's probably only a matter of time before you're on that list.”
- Steve Mariboli
I love this quote by Steve Mariboli. It perfectly describes the nature of our cognitive dissonance and “monkey mind” in the aftermath of these pathologically toxic relationships. I have empathy for those struggling with psychopathology that are struggling to become healthier and to learn coping mechanisms to deal with their unhealthy behaviors; however, for people with Cluster B psychopathologies, their personality disorders manifest in high-conflict, all-or-nothing thinking that is not suitable for sustaining long-term therapeutic treatments necessary to become “normal” or neurotypical. I also have much more empathy for those of us that must deal with the massive recovery efforts necessary for healing long-term post-traumatic stress disorders from living with a person with abnormal behaviors that caused major problems to our psyches, our physical well-being, our finances, and to those we care about most: our children.
If you’re a follower of my blogs, you know that I only speak about the four personality disorders in the DSM-V, Cluster B: Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Anti-Social Personality Disorder (ASPD), and Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD). In this article, I cover the two most common types that I see and deal with as an attorney helping others divorce the pathological partners in their lives – those divorcing narcissists and divorcing borderlines.
One of the most common questions that my clients and my survivors in my domestic abuse support group ask me (contact us to find out more about our private support group) is, “Is he/she really happier without me and with that new partner?” My answer has almost become so automatic that it’s not something I chant: “No. No. No.” I’m not prophetic, but one thing I know is that your ex-partner does not have a personality disorder unless the following are true, which is the topic of this blog. This has to do with the 3 “Ps” of Personality Disorders. Cluster B psychopathologies manifest as maladaptive ways of dealing with others. The more problematic traits that the person has, the more likely that he/she is on the NPD or BPD spectrum.
3 Reasons Your Ex-Narcissist or Borderline is Not Happier in the New Relationship
- P1 = Problematic: Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder (as well as all 8 of the other personality disorders) must be problematic and cause harm to others or to that individual. This is why so many of us call survivors of narcissists and borderlines, “victims of relational harm and trauma.” A healthy person with healthy traits understands that to exist peacefully in society, we must sometimes be willing to compromise and to accept another person’s viewpoints, even though we don’t agree with them. Ever get a narcissist to compromise? Yeah, neither have I. Remember, their “all-or-nothing” thinking doesn’t make it possible. People with NPD are exploitative and highly arrogant, often deceitful and aggressive, which causes many problems in many parts of their lives. People with NPD and BPD cause significant levels of distress to others and sometimes to themselves (more true for those with BPD).
- P2= Pervasive. Remember, personality disorders affect many different areas of life. There may be frequent job changes, career changes, difficult relationships that abruptly end with others, reckless driving, drugging, gambling, drinking, shopping. There could be repeated acts of acting in or acting out with BPD (harm to self or angry outbursts to others). To quell their never-ending anxiety, the narcissist or borderline may be unable to stop obsessing with routines and desire to adhere strictly to those routines. Narcissists are unable to show an appropriate level of emotion or have a very limited range of emotions. You may see them cry for themselves, but they probably won’t cry for others because they lack empathy. People with NPD and BPD are also very suspicious and believe that others are out to manipulate them, when they are often the ones engaging in manipulative and exploitative behaviors.
- P3= Persistent. Personality disorders begin in childhood, exist in adolescence, and continue into adulthood. These aren’t just a set of behaviors that can be modified and eliminated. Personality disorders include a set of traits that are a part of that person, hard-wired into their personalities. I always liken it to your shadow. Wherever you go, your shadow follows, even if you can’t see it. That means that wherever the narcissist goes, his narcissistic personality follows, and it will wreak havoc on others. The mood swings and hostility, callous attitudes, lack of empathy for others, and a constant need for instant gratification will always be there because these things are hardwired into the narcissist or borderline’s personalities. They will always seek approval and have intense and repeated emotional outbursts when they are triggered. The person with NPD will always compare herself to others and devalue others.
Summary and Healing/Tips for Recovery
Just because we’ve had horrible relationship experiences and have suffered great relational harm with people with personality disorders, let’s not focus too much on what they’ve done to us, but with time, what we can do for others, and why we continue to believe they’re happier in their new relationships.
Don’t fall for the illusion twice: we unwittingly fell for his easy-going-guy façade in the beginning (the honeymoon period)– only to find out that Mr. Easy Going was Mr. Easy Anger, raging with the slightest narcissistic injury; now, why are we again falling for the illusion that they’re happier in another relationship? Wherever she goes, her narcissism follows because it’s ingrained in her personality as a hard-wired trait!
Stop the cognitive dissonance by staying off of social media, don’t worry about who she is with – trust me, she’s no different now. And unfortunately, with time, the new person will be on the list of victims. Refer to look at the 3 Ps and quote by Steve Mariboli, above. High-conflict behaviors follow her and the list of victims grows.
I write these blogs as part of my own healing and as part of my goal to help others understand that there is so much more happiness on the other side of divorce after a pathologically toxic relationship. My own personal experience as well as my professional experience have taught me that the cyclical nature of these relationships is a hallmark of a toxic relationship.
When a narcissist has no viable intimate relationships in her horizon to fulfill her narcissistic supply tank, she may attempt to come back to you, and again, the honeymoon period is very short-lived. Know that the person you believe you fell in love with was more about you – what validation can you not give yourself? As soon as you stop looking for approval in your actions and you learn about the nature of toxic relationships, you will stop going back for more abuse. A healthy relationship takes time, and anyone who professes their love to you within days or weeks is most likely very emotionally damaged, but that person will never have the insight or honesty necessary to accept responsibility, and each relationship with another adult will end the same way for him/her. Becoming unstuck will be your ticket to emotional freedom and give you the ability to finally start healing from the aftermath of an abusive relationship, but you have to get out first.
Fairfax Family Law and Divorce Lawyer: An attorney with experience in divorcing a narcissist can help you redirect the blame to the narcissist, and help you understand that although people can fall out of love, it doesn’t happen so abruptly and silently, as it does in a marriage to a narcissist.
If you’re looking for an experienced Virginia family and divorce law attorney, contact Keithley Law, PLLC today by calling (703) 454-5147 and schedule an initial consultation in our Fairfax law office. We have decades of legal experience in high-conflict divorces.
Legal Disclaimer: The information provided on “Keithleylaw.com” is strictly for educational purposes and to provide you with general educational information about Virginia laws. Since state laws are subject to change, please schedule an appointment with our office to further discuss your personal situation. This public information is neither intended to, nor will, create an attorney-client relationship. This website may be considered AN ADVERTISEMENT or Advertising Material under the Rules of Professional Conduct governing lawyers in Virginia. This website is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. This website may not comply with other state ethics’ rules governing attorney advertising.