Loving relationships can promote character growth, that’s for sure. But when someone has significant character disturbance no amount of loving care alone can fix things.
You have to have some decency of character to make a relationship work. But there’s also nothing more powerfully character-building than a truly loving relationship.
When we live in love and act in love we have the power to change the world. That’s because we ourselves have been transformed.
Everyone has a distinctive way of seeing things and doing things. And we develop unique “styles” of relating to others. That’s what defines our personality. But sometimes a person’s style of relating is in itself problematic. Character disorders always present problems for relationships.
Manipulators are covert-aggressors. They’re out to win, dominate, and control but don’t want to be seen that way. If you knew what they were really up to, they’d run a higher risk of being resisted. And if you knew what they were really like, you’d be more wary of them. They’re the proverbial wolves in sheep’s clothing.
It’s not enough to simply think before acting. What you think and how you’re thinking matters, too. You have to think with social awareness. And your thinking has to be guided by sound principles. Disturbed characters operate on the pleasure principle and the self-serving principle. But healthy characters operate on the principle of the greater good.
People of mature character are mindful of both their decisions and their actions. They temper their urges with reason and foresight. They neither rush into action nor into judgment. Healthy characters think not only about what they’re about to do but also about the likely consequences of their choices.
Lying is the big destroyer of relationships. When someone breaks the bond of trust – especially when they do so repeatedly – the damage inflicted on a marriage, work partnership, or other intimate relationship is extremely hard, if not impossible to repair.
Teaching the important life lessons necessary to overcome our natural, inherent narcissism and making sure the environment supports and reinforces those lessons is a significant challenge, especially in a culture where people who glorify themselves get mounds of attention and are even held up as heroes.
Aggressive personalities are narcissists through and through. But they’re far more than simply egocentric, vain, grandiose, etc. It’s not so much that they simply don’t care about you. Rather, they fully intend to exploit or get the better of you, and that’s why they’ve always belonged in a different category.