Toxic dating games
And this is particularly distressing when it’s not in their normal nature to be feel this way.Real paranoia is a lot more than understandable mistrust following shock and betrayal.
In each case, the person assumes a sort of pathologically “special” status, albeit of very different types.Shame, a sense of defeat, mounds of doubt, conflicting thoughts about where to assign blame, mistrust in self and others – all these emotions are par for the course for survivors of toxic relationships.And for the most part, despite how intense the emotional upheaval might be, it’s a perfectly understandable and response to the trauma.Even the mistrust (both of self and others) that sometimes creeps in is rational, given the sense of shock and betrayal that often accompanies facing the reality of what the person you once viewed as good potential relationship partner is really like.Survivors of relationships with covert-aggressors, narcissists, or psychopaths sometimes say they feel “paranoid.” But most of the time, what they really mean is that they’re experiencing a rational and understandable yet terrifying degree of unsureness and mistrust.And, of course, as the old saying goes, “if they really are out to get you, you’re not paranoid.” But on a more serious note, it’s important to distinguish between common tendency of trauma survivors to lose their basic sense of security and trust and genuine paranoia.
The former is a rational, albeit dysfunctional response to the trauma of betrayal, and the latter is a sign of a much more serious disease process.
It’s too bad that the “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” (PTSD) label is applied so frivolously (and, therefore, erroneously) so often these days.
Being in and coming out of a relationship with a significantly disturbed or manipulative character can be quite traumatic.
And I’ve posted some articles on the major hurdles toxic relationship survivors face when trying to pick up the pieces and move on (see, for example: and related subsequent articles).
But some folks say that they’ve ended up feeling more than understandably shaken by their experience.
They start questioning everything, mistrusting a lot, and even feeling somewhat “paranoid.” And because I’ve been asked to comment on this phenomenon, especially with regard to feelings of paranoia, this week’s article will begin a discussion of the kinds of emotional dysfunction that can arise from years of emotional and relational abuse.