“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

Personality disorders have been in the news quite a bit lately due to a high-profile celebrity trial. There are several different personality disorders described in medical literature such as narcissistic, histrionic, paranoid, borderline, avoidant, anti-social and schizoid personality disorders. They each have commonalities with some form of the following features: ego-centric behavior, distortion of facts, inflexibility and difficulty with impulse control. How does this translate into their personal relationships? Have you been wondering, “does my partner have a personality disorder”? Let’s look at some of the key signs of a personality disorder.

1. They make you feel like you’re “crazy” – They have a way of turning anything around on you and making you feel like you’re the crazy one. They unfold a laundry list of your faults at a moment’s notice and find a way to twist situations to put you in the hot seat of blame.

2. You have to walk on eggshells – You feel like you have to walk on eggshells to avoid angering them or avoid conflicts. Their ire comes easily and often doesn’t make sense to you.

3. Couples therapy doesn’t work – In general, therapy outcomes for people with personality disorders are fairly poor. People with personality disorders are often manipulative and have a way of twisting situations around into their favor and reflecting badly on you. Individually, therapy can work if the person with the disorder is deeply committed to change, however, in most cases, therapy doesn’t “stick” in any lasting or meaningful way.

4. They are like Jekyll and Hyde – People with personality disorders have different personas or versions of themselves. They have a public persona they use with friends, co-workers and others that seems like a completely different person entirely from who they are in private when others aren’t around.

5. They resist change – People with personality disorders resist change for themselves. They do expect others to change to meet their expectations or needs but see no need to make any changes to themselves. Even when they promise to change certain behaviors, those changes are temporary before the person reverts back to their previous behaviors.

6. Everything is about them – Everything is about what they think or feel. Their thoughts, actions and perceptions are “always right”. They are superior and how something impacts them is the primary concern.

7. They don’t accept responsibility – Nothing is ever their fault. If they do admit fault, it is only temporary until the situation is diffused and they can find a way to twist and manipulate things around into being your fault instead. Even their apologies are eventually deflected and twisted around to shift blame to someone else – usually you.

8. They manipulate people and situations – People with personality disorders are manipulative. They generally lack the ability to empathize with others though they can learn to fake empathy from watching you and others around them. Their ultimate goal is to manipulate the people involved or the situation into something that is favorable for them or gives them the response and recognition they want.

This list really just scratches the surface of the signs of personality disorders. There are many characteristics these disorders share but each also has its own set of behaviors. Does my partner have a personality disorder? If most or all of the items on this list describe them, the answer is “highly likely”. Know that these people cannot be “changed” and even acknowledging they have any type of issue is difficult and not likely. However, knowledge is power. Knowing the truth gives you the power to decide if you want to continue with this person.