This is part of a series of posts exploring the similarities and differences among three personality disorders with some shared characteristics (Narcissism, Borderline Personality Disorder, and Sociopathy). Teasing out which you are dealing with will help inform the decisions you make about how to take care of yourself.
This is the final post in our 7 Part series and I wanted to leave you with some thoughts on leaving one of these relationships and again, underscore that you have options.
If you want to distance from or leave a difficult relationship, thinking about what to expect and what you want will serve you well. Expect that you will have mixed feelings and you’ll slip into old patterns; learning new ways of interacting would serve you. Be aware that people around you may not see the problem in the same way that you do, or that they may be impatient that you’ve put up with it as long as you have.
Expect that people will offer advice, and much of it will not be suited to you and your situation – filter everything for yourself. Seek support from trusted individuals, without gossip or blame. This is a very brief exploration of things you can consider regarding a relationship with a narcissist, sociopath or borderline.
If you are dealing with a narcissist, you may find relief through quietly shifting your focus to yourself and less on the narcissist. Keep the interactions you have positive. This combination of behaviors will keep things calm and likely cause the narcissist to seek other sources for attention and cause the relationship to dissipate.
This takes mastery and awareness to do and will be an ongoing development process for you. Rest assured, the skills can be developed! The narcissist may return to you if the other sources don’t supply quite enough of what he needs, but as you continue to avoid engaging in charged situations with the narcissist, he/she isn’t likely to remain.
If you are seeking relief from a person with borderline personality disorder, and you’re certain that treatment is not a solution in this situation, then exit with as much simplicity and grace as possible. If you are not the primary relationship in the borderline’s life, you may see the relationship dissipate by simply mildly disengaging and providing less feedback than is sought by the borderline individual. If you are in a primary relationship, and you want distance, prepare appropriately (i.e. take your things, disentangle your life as much as possible ahead of time), be kind in your words, be swift in your follow through, and be resolute to have no contact after the break up. Be prepared for a barrage of attempts to communicate and negotiate for reconciliation. Your best strategy is to not take the calls, open the emails, read the texts, or listen to the messages.
If you realize you are in relationship with a sociopath and feel at risk, tread with caution and prepare in advance of seeking separation or distance. Do your best to understand what the sociopath’s interest in you is about and lay groundwork to protect yourself. It’s likely that an everyday sociopath is interested in people he can sap or ruin financially, or can climb over professionally. If there is a way to make it seem as though the separation is the sociopath’s idea this is one option. Do your homework, identify how you are being undermined, and get appropriate people involved to help you. Once you understand more what you are dealing with then take action. Be prepared for rage and rampage – physically, financially and emotionally. Sociopaths do not let go of their interest easily unless they feel as if they won.
Again, I want to stress that you do have options. One of the most important keys to reclaiming your own emotional balance is to quietly shift your focus to yourself and to taking care of yourself once you are clear that you are in a relationship with a Narcissist, Sociopath or person with Borderline Personality Disorder.