Discover how to identify and deal with dysfunctional personality traits in a romantic partner in highlights of my radio conversation for A Lasting Love with Ross Rosenberg.
Ross is a veteran psychotherapist who wrote the new book, The Human Magnet Syndrome - Why We Love People Who Hurt Us.
Hadley: You wrote that soulmates can become cellmates when you find dysfunctional personality traits that cause conflict, chaos and misery. How do you define “dysfunctional”?
Ross: My definition of “dysfunctional” is having internal problems and not using internal or external resources to solve them. My definition of “healthy” is having internal problems, but using internal and external resources to solve them.
Hadley: I love those definitions. They empower us to solve problems or avoid them by using love tools like you get here.
Ross: We all have problems and challenges that don’t define our psychological health. All people are attracted to their emotional opposite. So a narcissist, who’s completely focused on their own needs, will be attracted to a codependent, who’s completely focused on the needs of others.
Hadley: What are some warning signs of these personality traits to look for in someone you’re dating or even married to?
Ross: Some tell-tale signs of narcissist or emotional manipulator: Does a person monopolize conversations? Do they take a topic and turn it back to them? Do they always talk more than you? Do they make their own conversations or feelings more important than yours? Do they demand special treatment?
Hadley: What are the red flags of a codependent personality?
Ross: A codependent will ask you to make all the decisions. They will not have strongly articulated opinions about what they like or what they want, because they are so strongly connected to others needs over their own. They tend to talk in derogatory terms about themselves. They apologize all the time. They can’t answer questions about where they want to go or what they want to do. Their insecurities shine through.
So the red flags for a codependent are someone who’s insecure, who’s not comfortable in their own skin. They’re more motivated to do or say what you want. These are signs of a codependent, who will not be an equal partner to you in a healthy relationship.
Hadley: What if you’re in a new relationship or in a new marriage and you realize you’re with someone who has some of these unhealthy personality traits. What love tools can we use to improve your interactions, like setting boundaries.
Ross: I recommend Setting boundaries. If you’re in a relationship with an emotional manipulator or narcissist or someone whose self orientation is geared to their own needs over yours, you must set boundaries by telling them what you need and not back down. Emotional manipulators will argue that their needs are more important than yours.
It’s good to draw the line in the sand. If someone is harmful toward you, and does not accept your boundaries, it’s good to walk away. IF you don’t walk away, a codependent feels powerless to walk away, powerless to set boundaries or explain what they need in a relationship with a narcissistic partner.
If you’re dating a codependent who’s unhealthy, the boundary would be to tell them you want to know what they think and feel. Let them know you feel uncomfortable when they put themselves down. Tell them you want them to be a true partner in making decisions. So these are boundaries you set with someone who’s codependent.
Hadley: How does limerance lead you to lust or lasting love? Get the answers in the next highlights of my conversation with Ross Rosenberg for A Lasting Love.
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. Reprinted with permission from the author.