7 Signs You're In A Relationship With A Guy Who's Trying To Manipulate You

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couple arguing

The popularity of using the names of personality disorders as buzzwords for "bad dudes" (or bad "dudettes") has been climbing steadily for a good while now, and not without reason.

The six personality disorders currently recognized by the psychiatric community — Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (not to be confused with the more commonly known Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, i.e., OCD), Avoidant Personality Disorder, and Schizotypal Personality Disorder — are truly harrowing mental health conditions.

And that is exactly the problem.

These aren't casual labels, but rather serious diagnoses of psychiatric disorders, and they shouldn't be assigned liberally and without merit by people who aren't trained and licensed to do so.

And yet...

Are You Dating a Narcissist?!?!

Does Your Ex Have BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder)?!?!

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Do these screaming headlines sound familiar?

Contrary to the myths developing in far too many relationship advice columns, people with personality disorders are not evil. They have a mental illness.

They aren't willfully behaving badly. They are behaving the way their brain tells them to.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5):

“Personality disorders are a class of mental disorders characterized by enduring maladaptive patterns of behavior, cognition, and inner experience exhibited across many contexts and deviating markedly from those accepted by the individual’s culture. These patterns develop early, are inflexible, and are associated with significant distress or disability.”

If you're in an emotionally abusive relationship of any kind, whether someone is hurting you physically, manipulating you emotionally, or attacking you, you must stop allowing them to do so. It doesn’t matter if the reason for their behavior is that they have a disorder, their mom was mean to them or you look like the kid who bullied them in middle school.

If you've ever been involved in an abusive relationship, try to reflect back on the behaviors they displayed when you first met and fell for them. They probably didn't seem to be major problems back then. 

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7 signs you're in a relationship with a guy who's trying to manipulate you:

1. Puts you through a hard-press, intense, sometimes urgent, courting period.

2. Pressures you to commit to an exclusive relationship before you knew each other well or felt totally comfortable doing so.

3. Explains away his unreasonable level of jealousy by giving overflowing compliments about how desirable you are or statements about how “you just don’t get how guys/girls really are.”

4. Subtly puts you down, often disguising his comments as friendly advice or constructive criticism.

5. Dismissive your feelings and your accomplishments.

6. Offers qualified apologies for his bad behavior, i.e., "I only did it because..."

7. Makes your gut feel funny and like something is off whenever he's around.

If you could check off "yes" for any one or more of the above, that still doesn't mean he's a narcissist. These disorders are difficult to define, describe and properly identify.

In fact, according to a paper published in Psychiatry by Dr. Joel Paris, research shows that "practitioners are not consistently making this diagnosis."

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Dr. Paris offers the following three potential reasons this may be the case:

1. It takes A LOT of experience

"Making an accurate [diagnosis of any personality disorder] requires experience. Personality disorders often seem to lack precise symptomatic criteria, since many of their features describe problems in interpersonal functioning that require clinical judgment for accurate assessment."

2. There's not much currently available by way of treatment methods that have been proven to be effective anyway

"Resistance to diagnosing patients with a personality disorder may be based on the idea that these conditions are untreatable, or at least not treatable using [medications] that have come to dominate the treatment of so many other disorders."

3. As compassionate (and ethically mandated) professionals, they are under an obligation to "do no harm"

"Clinicians may wish to avoid making diagnoses associated with stigma."

And I would also suggest a fourth possible reason be added to this list...

4. People with personality disorders are highly litigious

This is to say that people with these disorders are more likely than the rest of the population to file lawsuits. 

According to the informational website and forum Out Of The Fog:

"Some people with Personality Disorders are drawn towards conflict and will use litigation as a tool to sustain conflict or support a need to feel powerful. Sometimes, just the threat of a lawsuit is enough to control a person and make them 'fall into line. Many people and organizations will surrender significant resources or positions to a litigious bully just to avoid the legal fees, inconvenience, and risk of a legal proceeding."

Would you want to risk your license, the potential cost of protecting yourself from a malpractice suit, and the subsequent rise in the cost of your malpractice insurance (whether or not you prevail) by diagnosing someone with a disorder there is currently no proven treatment?

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Me neither, probably.

So, how can you know if the person you're dealing with has a personality disorder, or if they are just a major jerk?

The answer is... it really doesn’t matter!

People can be dangerous even if they're not “evil.” They can be dangerous even if they're not mentally ill.

And they can be unhealthy for you to be involved with even if they're not technically dangerous.

Remember that just because you thought you liked someone, accepted a date with them, paid for a few of their meals or let them pay for a few of yours, had sex with them, told them you love them or anything else, you are never under any obligation to continue to see someone who makes you feel bad or uncomfortable in any way.

Researchers are hard at work to reach a more concrete understanding of these disorders, more accurate measures of diagnosis, and more effective methods of treatment.

According to an article on Futurism, there is a "new branch of study known as computational psychiatry." With this research area, "Virtual realities and digital environments have already demonstrated their ability to help researchers study and even treat mental disorders. VR can be used to help ex-soldiers overcome symptoms of PTSD, and it has also been shown to help people overcome depression by increasing their self-compassion."

For the time being, however, we only know what we know.

And no one knows better than you do what is and what isn't right in your particular circumstances.

No matter how much empathy you feel for someone's personal struggles, you do not deserve to be mistreated or abused. If someone tries to tell you that your own perceptions of what you think and feel are wrong, run, don’t walk, to the nearest exit.


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Deputy Editor Arianna Jeret, MA/MSW, has been featured in Cosmopolitan, The Huffington Post, Yahoo Style, MSN, Fox News, Bustle, Parents, and more. 

This article was originally published at The Good Men Project. Reprinted with permission from the author.