Codependents, Dating, Mating, Growing, and Assessing for Partner Abuse

heart-jg8nCodependents with a history of relationship abuse need to enter romantic relationships with awareness and respect for their neediness and unmet childhood dependency needs.   Codependents are some of the most loving people and find it difficult to leave abusive relationships.  They have a tough time accepting that abusive partners will not change over time no matter how much they want them to.  Learning to recognize personality disordered character traits is imperative in protecting your vulnerabilities as you complete your own emotional work.

Character traits are patterns of behaving, feeling, perceiving, and thinking, which are evident in our personal and social relationships.  Although our character can be changed, it typically remains the same and affects us all of our lives.  Personality traits turn into personality disorders when they become inflexible, do not adjust to relationship needs, and significantly damage social and job functioning or cause considerable misery.   Often, the people who live and work with the personality disordered are more distressed.  People with personality disorders often fail at work and love.

People who are acting neurotic see their behavior as uncharacteristic and different from their usual self.  In contrast, the pathological behavior in people with personality disorders is in character and routine for them.  Neuroses may develop at any time; personality disorders are life-long. Personality disorders first become evident during adolescence or earlier and are highly incurable.

Codependents need to spend more time building a new relationship and going slowly. Take the time to learn how conflicts were managed in a person’s family.  Find out how a new partner shows his or her love to others.   Be aware of what you want for yourself and what you want in a relationship.  Know how you need to be treated and listen closely for emotional issues.  We all have emotional challenges and need to assess if a person’s immaturity is likely to sabotage a healthy relationship.  Respect your vulnerabilities and don’t hook into a being a relationship martyr.  Remember your relationship history of choosing partners that end up resembling a caretaker.  You might have felt in the beginning of a past relationship that you knew your partner even though you had just met.  Chances are on an unconscious level they reminded you of a caretaker that this time was going to cherish you.  You felt your needs were going to be satisfied and you would no longer feel alone.  Denial is strongest at the beginning of romantic relationships.

Some questions to answer when assessing for problem behavior:

  1. Does he or she blame their mistakes or failures on others or the world at large?  Listen closely to their relationship, family and work history.
  2. Do they acknowledge their part in the ending of past relationships or problems with their partners, children, siblings, or parents?
  3. Have they had police contact/arrests for domestic violence, fighting, or criminal behavior?
  4. Do they look for reasons to be insulted?  Do they rant excessively? Are they easily insulted by people when you are out in public?
  5. Do they express negative or aggressive statements about friends, poor people, and the mentally challenged, needy or loving person?
  6. Are they verbally violent in their communication with put-downs, brutal honesty, threats, or hostility?
  7. Do they push for intimacy, start making future plans, and immediately place you in the role of the love of their life? Run….
  8. Does he or she call or text you constantly?
  9. Is the person overly dramatic, and always calling attention to themselves?
  10. Do they quickly become bored with normal routines?
  11. Do they use their physical appearance to draw attention to self?
  12. Are they arrogant or superior in behaviors and attitudes?

Evaluating character traits without illusion avoids the horrifying moment where you are shocked that your partner is not the person you thought they were.  You deceived yourself all along about his or her character.  The loneliness and sadness of childhood wounds ends up coming to the surface unhealed.  A codependent can become trapped, sticking it out beyond the anger stage and begin bargaining with despair.  Finding a way to resolve this problem and creating a satisfying relationship is not possible with the personality disordered person.  Owning your relationship history and denial will help you see emotional issues in others more clearly. You must invest in your self-acceptance, protection, and emotional growth.  Your investment in repairing the emotional damage of childhood is what allows you to become complete and attract a loving partner capable of nurturing you.

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Thank you for reading this post. I’ve dedicated my personal and professional life to the importance of non-violence and self-compassion by teaching from my experience.  As a result, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to create healthy relationships.  And, as I learn and grow, I teach self-compassion and give advice I use myself, in the hopes that it helps you to improve your own life.

 Roberta

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4 thoughts on “Codependents, Dating, Mating, Growing, and Assessing for Partner Abuse

  1. Why didn’t I have access to all this information over 10yrs ago? I sadly want to see the good in people. I know I need to divorce and am making plans to….it’s hard!

    • Goddess,
      I suspect a change of heart is being worked out in you leading to a greater love for self and openness to becoming changed. The price of acceptance and surrender for many of us is deep emotional pain. Surrender to your pain moves you forward. It’s possible that the ending of your relationship is allowing you to find yourself. Life is unpredictable and the lessons sometimes are tough. My heart goes out to you and I want to encourage you that no matter what happens you can take care of yourself. Thank you for writing to me.
      Roberta

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