This series looks at a small snippet of The book on the Perfectionist Personality, aka The Obsessive Compulsive disordered Personality, aka OCPD, each week. Please follow along, leave your comments, engage more on the FaceBook website... whatever your heart calls you to do.
When Being in Control Gets Out of Control by Allan E. Mallinger, M.D. and Jeanette DeWyze was published by Random House in 1992. If you believe you are dealing with OCPD or someone who is "Too Perfect," whether that's you or a loved one, please buy a copy of the book and read it for additional insights that will not all be covered in these excerpts.
Living with the Obsessive
Living with an obsessive can be challenging. Although I've mostly been describing how their behavior causes them to suffer, it can be equally painful to be on the receiving end of such traits as the following:
Pickiness: You feel as if you can never do anything right. You may begin to wonder if the critical obsessive likes anything about you.
Demand-resistance: You often can't obtain the simple cooperation that oils the wheels of daily living.
Guardedness: You may never feel as if you really know the obsessive, or achieve a sense of intimacy with him. In the face of his or her aloofness, you may (mistakenly) feel unloved.
Rigidity: You can never count on obsessives to accept even minor changes. Instead, they're likely to be annoyed whenever you do something a little differently. And once they make up their mind about something, it's practically impossible to persuade them to change it.
Excessive orderliness: You may be made to feel guilty if you don't share the same level of orderliness. If they insist you meet their standard for neatness, this many put you under a lot of pressure, creating resentment on your part, or a sense of oppression.
Infallibility: You can never win an argument with an obsessive, or point out any errors. So you may chronically get the message that you're wrong.
Workaholism: You may resent how little time and energy the other person devotes to your relationship. His or her chronic absence or preoccupation may make you feel unimportant.
Indecisiveness or inability to commit: You may be unable to make plans because of his or her waffling; you may be unsure where your relationship stands.
If you have an obsessive spouse, friend, co-worker, or relative, you may have only one of these complaints or all of them, or you may have others I haven't listed. <snip>
I had all of these, in my relationship with my ex. Plus hoarding issues, which used to be included with OCPD, and will now have its very own category in the upcoming DSM-V.
At the beginning, most of these issues were hidden, or masked by the happy, "we're in love" hormones coursing through both of us. Yes, he was extremely neat and particular about his person, but I liked that, because so many men can be slobs in that area.
I don't believe he was deliberately trying to deceive me. And stars know I have plenty of my own faults. Problem was, he never let me forget any of them, but constantly pointed them out, until I did, indeed, wonder what he had ever liked about me in the first place.
He was super-guarded about his own inner feelings - those were not to be shared. I had always thought a relationship was about two people who trusted each other with their weaknesses, and helped each other. He tried never to let me see a weakness, and turned mine against me.
Now, as far as I could tell, my ex was at the very extreme end of being a Perfectionist Personality. There's a test called a Cammer, not widely used, but which is one way to rate how compulsive a person is. I tried to trick my ex into taking it - I got him to take the first 8-9 questions, to which he rated himself 4's on all of them, and felt those were the Right Answers, then he got pissy and stopped. I tried answering for him on repeated occasions, hoping perhaps I had been too judgmental, but the lowest I could ever rate him was a 93, and mostly I rated him as a 95/96 (out of 100).
I now don't believe a "non" can have even a relatively tolerable relationship, long-term, with a severely obsessive person, unless that person is:
- aware of the issue, and that it is his/her issue, not the partner's, and
- working very hard to combat his/her perfectionist behaviors, ideally with professional help
Not all people are as severe as my ex seemed to be. His behavior was not improved by excessive drinking, either. YMMV. (Your Mileage May Vary.)
But the first step, if you are involved with such a person, is understanding, despite being told it's your fault, over and over again, that it is not your fault. It's an actual, diagnosable mental illness, and while your partner may not be to blame, either, you cannot fix him/her. What you can do is learn about the condition, learn some coping techniques, and later, re-evaluate as to whether this is the way you are willing to live.
Do you recognize the above behaviors?
Which ones are hardest for you to live with?Your thoughts?