The relationship was no longer serving the needs of your partner and they have ended their commitment to you. It may have been your decision, or it may have been your decision disguised as their decision. Perhaps you were constantly checking his phone and one day, he flew into a rage about it and broke up with you. Everybody wants to know what happened.
The short version, just at the end. You tell people you checked his phone once or twice because you had a sneaking suspicion he was texting a woman from work. And he was, except that it was about work and he broke up with you. Out of nowhere.
The story gains momentum, gets repeated, it was never your fault. Before you know it, you are discussing what kind of person would break up so suddenly? You reach for the DSM-V manual and begin searching for an explanation about his behavior. Could it have been a personality disorder?
There are so many lovely disorders to choose from. Life-long disorders your ex will never recover from. Disorders which doomed your relationship from the start and will prevent them ever meeting anyone else. Look at Narcissistic Personality Disorder. One of the requirements is an inability to maintain long-term relationships, which your ex just demonstrated. If only your ex would get help with a therapist or psychoactive drug, maybe it would work. Someone needs to tell them there is help out there!
You write an email offering your ex some advice. “I have come to realise it wasn’t you that ended the relationship, but the patterns of grandiose thinking, sense of entitlement and lack of empathy characteristic of your narcissistic personality disorder. I’m here to help. Call me.”
They don’t call you. Who wouldn’t want to overcome a life-long disease? A narcissist, that’s who! You tell everyone, especially your mutual friends, your ex is a ticking bomb just walking around un-diagnosed. What about an intervention with all our mutual friends? Let’s start a campaign. Would crowd-funding be out of the question? We could raise money for ten sessions and a firm diagnosis.
You read the list of criteria again for narcissism. “Believes that he or she is special and unique” is one of them. Then you realise you feel like that, as well. You look for a less relatable offense. “Exaggerates achievements and talents.” He certainly did that. You are also guilty of this. “Excessively attuned to reactions of others, but only if perceived as relevant to self.” This is getting tricky, because you worry what people think of you all the time.
You successfully diagnose yourself with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Wait, it says that narcissists never see themselves this way and are resistant to treatment. You search around for another personality disorder to diagnose yourself with. Now you are kind of depressed but extremely well researched about this. Meanwhile, he has a new girlfriend. You stop researching what your issues might be and go back on the offensive.
His new girlfriend has no idea what’s in her future. Maybe you should warn her via a Facebook message. You will generously explain her current boyfriend is a pathological narcissist, which is hard to spot. It’s all about early detection and she is going to be so grateful. You just want her to be safe. To have a happy life. You notice there are baby photos on her Facebook page. In the time you have polished your diagnostic skills, they have had a child together. The child is so unaware.
When people ask you if you have a boyfriend, you say you are not ready. You are recovering from an abusive ex. That gets their attention. He was comorbid with borderline/narcissistic personality disorder on the autism spectrum. It’s rare, but luckily you caught it in time.
You don’t get out much. People speak to you and you hear clusters. These are subset patterns of behavior which lurk under criteria. You wonder if you should see a therapist. You do. You ask the therapist if they think you have a personality disorder and they tell you no. It’s a relief. You get an ice-cream on the way home and eat it in the car. It’s been years since you ate ice-cream in the car, watching people stroll by. It’s nice. It’s a nice feeling. Your therapist said underneath the disorder, under the criteria, under the clusters there is something else. She said that’s where you are. That’s where you can live.
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