If I had to give everyone in a good relationship some advice straight from my heart it would be this: treat your partner like you did when you first met them. Honour them, love them and check the relationship temperature often. Why? Because I can’t bear mopping up the tears of the dumped. It’s so very sad.
Most counsellors recommend having an adult conversation to resolve differences and maintain connection. Years of experience shows me that we don’t do it. Too many people say to me: “Why didn’t they just talk to me about the problem instead of leaving?”
Let’s be honest here: when most people are asked about problems in the relationship, they simply say: “I don’t agree”; “I don’t do that”; “I was like this when you met me”; “Why should I change who I am?”; “You are trying to control me”.
It all makes sense at the time, until they land on my couch devastated because their loved one has moved on. So I implore you, figure out how to have a proper conversation where both parties are equally respected and both parties are listening to what is needed and what is meant, rather than just reacting.
The types of people who are least likely to be prepared to listen to feedback are often people with a personality disorder. It’s very difficult for someone who is unaware they have a disorder to realise their brain is not their friend. They are the victim of thoughts, which are negative and destructive. It is said that the more intelligent you are, the more at risk you are to cognitive distortion. You believe all your thoughts are perfect, because you are so smart.
How do you know if you have a personality disorder? A simplified answer is, when your behaviour is causing problems in your relationship and negatively impacting your life.
How do you know if you’re in a relationship with someone who has a disorder? Does your partner regularly scream at you, shut you out, feel terribly hurt by just about anything you do or don’t do, to the point that you are walking on eggshells and monitoring your own behaviour to avoid triggering them?
People with borderline personality disorder (BPD), for example, are easily triggered and will say nasty things and accuse their partner of not caring. They behave as if they are being abandoned and they need masses of attention. They want their partner to treat them as if they are the centre of the universe every day.
If these behaviours sound familiar to you, you might want to consider the possibility that you have BPD or are in a relationship with someone who has it.
If you think this might be the case, seek professional help. Find a therapist who understands BPD and commit to a year of regular therapy. Also, work with your GP or a psychiatrist to find the medication that stops the negative thoughts and huge emotional reactions.
Suzanne Loubris is a relationships counsellor and organisational psychologist. You’ll find her at Leah Dique & Associates in Nambour, or visit behaviourthatworks.com.