Most relationship breakdowns and issues can be successfully dealt with through effective counselling but some cannot and should not. Simply put, there are times when relationships are fundamentally unhealthy for one or both partners. In those cases, the relationship needs to be ended. You’ll be asking the question “how can I end my relationship?”.
However, ending an unhealthy relationship isn’t always that easy, when your partner (or yourself) has some underlying mental health issue or what is classified by experts as a personality disorder. The breakup can become very emotionally traumatic, even violent, and in some cases, your partner might simply refuse to ‘allow you to go’. In this case, you’ll be asking the question “how can I end this abusive relationship?”.
Indicators of a relationship breakdown
If your partner has become persistently controlling, manipulative or aggressive, these are three things that should never be ignored. It’s easy to give a partner ‘just one more chance’ but if the behaviour repeats itself, this is a red flag.
Control, manipulation and aggression can be signs that leaving the relationship is needed for your well being (and in some cases your partners).
In the section that follows, we will use some labels like BPD, NPD and ASPD. It’s very important that we shouldn’t try to diagnose our partners ourselves. That requires a trained professional. But it is equally important to note warning signs that should not be ignored and act on them.
Note with the current coronavirus situation, if you don’t want to come directly to our practice, it’s fine to begin discussions over the phone, by Skype, etc.
There are three typical personality types in your partner that can lead to difficult, upsetting or even dangerous break-up situations and three different scenarios:
The Partner who just won’t let go – Possible Borderline Personality Disorder
If your partner behaves neurotically and your partner clings on desperately to you, threatening self-harm at the point of the attempted breakup or obsessively pursuing you once you have attempted to separate, they may have a condition called Borderline Personality Disorder or BPD. Partners with BPD are deeply insecure and they will grab on to you emotionally as if you were a lifeboat on a sinking ship. The BPD partner will use many methods to try to keep you or to get you back – and you may feel guilty about the breakup.
At Safe Place Therapy we know why it’s important to get out of these relationships and can help you through this process. We can also – if your partner is willing – help them to mitigate their BPD condition. That also means if you are reading this and you think you might have BPD, we can help you.
The Partner who just thinks of themselves – Possible Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Sometimes you live with a partner who can be charming and fun but you eventually realise they are utterly selfish. You are simply there for their benefit. This kind of partner clings on to you, or you may realise they are simply attempting to manipulate you into staying in the relationship. They may be highly emotionally abusive at one time, then apparently loving at another. They may have a condition called Narcissistic Personality Disorder or NPD. We have dedicated pages on our site linked to this topic that will help you answer the questions ‘how do I break up with a Narcissist’ and also generally ‘how do I break up with an abusive partner.”
Equally, it may be you who is worried you might be showing these behaviours. If you are reading this and asking yourself “do I have NPD?”. We are happy to start the discussion using a phone, Skype, etc. if you prefer.
The Partner who has no empathy – Possible Antisocial Personality Disorder
Our final kind of dysfunctional relationship is when a partner has an antisocial personality disorder or ASPD. The non-technical term for this group is “Psychopaths”. The word “Psychopath” is much misunderstood and much misused, so let’s spend a minute on reality backed by the latest science.
About 2% of all humans have always been born with a differently wired brain to the rest of us “neurotypicals”. This wiring shows up very clearly on MRI scans. Just as some people have colour blindness, so this group has emotional blindness. The amount of blindness varies but it is difficult for these individuals to empathise. If they are lucky and have a very warm, stable, trauma-free and supportive childhood, they generally get along in life fairly well.
However, others become classically psychopathic in their behaviours. That means, they really don’t care about hurting others -including you- are highly manipulative, impulsive and believe that rules don’t apply to them. They are also highly reward-driven. That’s why some smart psychopaths become very successful and in fact, this 2% is over-represented in sales, politics, senior management in big corporations, and the media. The less smart ones fill our prisons.
If you are asking the question ‘am I in a relationship with a Psychopath?’ or ‘how do I break up with a psychopath?’ then contact us. Professional help can be needed to get out of the relationship safely. Psychopathy in adults is generally regarded as being almost impossible to treat and some Psychopaths are expert manipulators.
Safe Place Therapy has effective answers to questions about ending a relationship safely.
We cover all aspects of you breaking up with a narcissist, dealing with emotional abuse and separation from manipulative and controlling partners.
We are also here for you if you are asking yourself “am I narcissistic?”
Splitting up with a narcissistic or abusive partner is one of the hardest things to do. We are here to help.