Loving Relationships Can’t Always Heal

Loving Relationships and Character

Committed, loving relationships can foster character growth. (See also: Committed Relationships Can Fuel Growth.) But it takes a certain degree of character to give any relationship a real chance. Some people enter relationships aware of the red flags of their partner’s character disturbance. And they sometimes think that with enough loving care they can heal them. They believe what traditional psychology paradigms taught us: only wounded, damaged individuals end up dysfunctional. Understand and nurse the wounds, therefore, and the person will recover and start treating you well. Unfortunately, all too many folks have trapped themselves in toxic relationships by that very way of thinking.

When Love Is Not Enough

Character disturbance exists along a spectrum of severity. (For more on this, you’ll want to read Character Disturbance.) And when someone has significant character deficiency, no amount of loving care alone can fix things. Loving relationships can promote character growth, that’s for sure. But truly disturbed characters need something else. Life and consequences need to teach them what loving relationships alone can’t: that their very ways of seeing and doing things need to change.

A Sad But Not Uncommon Story

(As always, the following vignette contains deliberately distorted potentially identifying information to preserve anonymity.)

“Josh” was a self-made man. In fact, that’s partly what drew “Susan” to him. He seemed so self-assured and capable. And despite the signs he could be biting at times, he seemed to really treasure her.  At least he did at first. But over time how he seemed to view her and how he treated her changed dramatically. Where once in his eyes she seemed to have hung the moon, she suddenly could never do enough to please. And whenever she spoke up, he was quick to make her feel ungrateful. After all, he’d provided a great lifestyle.

Josh’s treatment of Susan got progressively more offensive and brutal. The harshness of his words could cut deeply. There must be a really wounded child underneath, she surmised. A therapist they saw a couple of times before they got married told her that. So, despite how badly he made her feel, she did her best to understand. And she did her best to show loving care, hoping it would soften his heart.

Learning the Truth

The day Josh announced he’d found someone else and was leaving Susan could hardly believe it. And when she learned he’d been fooling around for years it hurt her even more. She’d given everything. But he had simply used her. And he had deceived and manipulated her from the beginning.  Josh would go on to use and throw away several more partners before fate handed him his own day of reckoning. And Susan had to learn a very hard lesson. Loving relationships can indeed heal. They can be an incredible vehicle for personal growth. But they can’t work miracles. When someone has a significant character disturbance, you can’t simply love them to health. And, unfortunately, you can’t always tell on the front end when someone lacks conscience and empathy and is likely, therefore, to use and abuse you.

Character Matters

Character Matters will NOT air live this Sunday, June 18, 2017 at 7 pm EDT (6 pm CDT). So, I can’t take your calls. You’ll be treated to a pre-recorded program. But we’ll be live again the following week. So, please tune in then and join the conversation if you’re of a mind to do so.

Again, my thanks to all of you who recommend my books and the hundreds of articles on this blog to others.

22 thoughts on “Loving Relationships Can’t Always Heal

  1. Do you believe that a person is self aware of these choices? I’m believing that many are and wondering if some are unable to be aware of the unconscious pain that they are seeking to resolve.

    1. I believe they are self aware of what they are doing, of inflicting harm to others and simply do not care about others, just themselves. They may not understand why they are angry and hateful. But they do understand what they do to others.

    2. M Scott Peck MD

      While they seem to lack any motivation to be good, they intensely desire to appear good. Their “goodness” is all on a level of pretense. It is, in effect, a lie. That is why they are the “people of the lie”. The wickedness of the evil is not committed directly, but indirectly as a part of this cover-up process.

      They would SEE YOU DESTITUTE or DISABLED BUT would in their minds maintain their image of being faultless.
      This is what makes them potentially dangerous

      1. Joey
        Those words perfectly fit the scenario I’m dealing with. All the lies for the sake of appearance, and when the appearance is shattered, so is he. It’s so strange, to not want rondo good or be good but very important to appear good.

        1. Do’nt forget they are People of contradiction as well. This can make us loose it. So Lucy keep your cool in court and He will again loose. They are so completly contradictory in everthing they say and do. But to themselves they are Faultless

    3. We as Humans cannot read another persons mind ever. Whether the abuse we suffer is due conscious or unconscious pain, to me is neither here nor there. Why should we have to suffer because of their inability to except the truth. To in essence THINK magically about your own behaviour and never ever do anything about it.
      Why spend years of your life trying to understand a disordered persons behaviour. When in truth you should try and understand why you are staying

      abandon them. If you can

    4. They are not trying to resolve anything, they are projecting all their crap onto others in their frantic efforts to avoid feeling their own emotional pain and they don’t care who they hurt in the process. As long as they don’t have to deal with it and can get “off the hook” by sliming others, they’re ok with it. If they make it our fault and our problem, that they feel they way they do, then they don’t have to deal with it do they?

      They are moral cowards.

        1. Joey

          It has an exceptionally good ending! Thanks for posting that. From my understanding in other areas of study I was aware the tipping point was 11% now 5-6% is WAY BETTER!

        2. Joey, Eudox,

          From your link it gave several more links on psychopaths and the way they think. I believe it is important for people to understand the inner workings of their thought processes. I watched several of the You tubes and am attaching just one of these. There are different degrees on the continuum of how these evil beings think, how they predate mentally and physically on their victims.

          Beware they are lurking everywhere and you never know and would be shocked to find out who they are. When we become aware and let our primal instincts work for us, it empowers to feel and see these reprobate creatures of death and destruction.

          Joey, thank you for riposting, lest we forget.


          1. Great BTOV An Interview with a Serial Killer – just what I needed first thing this morning! LOL

            I needed a break from writing – this is perfect! These guys are truly creepy people. The most horrifying thing about them is we’ve all probably met hundreds of them. We’ve probably actually hung out with them at some stage and not known it. I’ve been watching it and noticed the eyes of the prostitute Cissero – rolls Jaws music ta da ta da……………….

            Hard to say what is truth and what is fiction with this guy. I think psychopath adequately sums it up. But I will say this much. What happened in Watertown – why won’t he speak about it? I think he was killing himself out of shame of what happened to him – what if the mother started to abuse him at about that age, the age of both children he killed?? They reminded him of how he felt back then, he could not stand it so he killed them.

            They project their own evil so in his eyes those kids were evil making him feel the way he did, he didn’t want to be reminded of those times it made him feel bad so he put a stop to it. However, it didn’t stop those feelings. That’s the only reason he feels bad about those killings and won’t talk about them. That their killing didn’t stop his feelings. That’s my general feeling about it. Whether it’s right or not is hard to say. Who knows what sort of twisted shit goes on in their brain.

          2. Eudox,

            There are oodles of these killers and the interviews are very interesting watching the docs dissect these worms. Study them closely, they all think they are so smart. However, there is always a tell, and your gut will signal an uncanny sickness in your stomach. These killers think they are smart but ones inner intuition if developed properly can sniff these blade runners out immediately.

            They are truly evil and they walk among us everyday. Being forewarned is being forearmed. I love it, when Clint Eastwood says “Make my Day Punk.” Never fear them, always be aware of your surroundings and be prepared. They thrive on creating fear, intimidation and ultimate control of your life. They also depend on one being naive and sensitive to others. A punk narcissist that will kill.

  2. It is difficult when you are faced with the “loving” facade to keep a clear and focused mind. It makes you question all that you think is wrong. But I have to remind myself to the constant underlying betrayal. My husband knows he is wrong as he lies by omission and under direct questioning….if he didnt think it was wrong he would be more forthcoming. It helps in these times of mindf÷÷÷king to come to this website and educate myself more. Its just such a sad situation.

  3. Not only can a loving relationship NOT be enough to save the disordered character; attempting to carry out this daunting & often unwinnable task can change you in many ways. It can steal your joy, take your attention away from what’s truly important, keeping you preoccupied with an exercise in futility. Then after you’ve wasted many years & realize how pointless it all was – you could become despondent. How tragic for a decent person to be defeated & waste the best years of their life in this way. Don’t let it be you!

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