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Fear of rejection and inability to maintain relationships


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I'm new to this forum. ... Guess I'm tired of certain habits in my life, and I'm looking for some answers. I've suspected on and off in recent years that I have a personality disorder or a combination of several. I am an extreme perfectionist and hold myself and others to the highest standards. Because of that, I constantly am not good enough in my own eyes, and others are seldom good enough in my eyes. I've always been 99-percent sure I'm OCD, and I think that's what the aforementioned traits relate to. However, I've kind of accepted that's who I am and have figured out some ways to control it. After all, control is what OCD people specialize in, right?

But I also have major insecurity relating to my ability to maintain relationships. I seem to be unable to hold onto meaningful relationships for very long (usually three/four years tops). Although I can make friends easily enough, I have a hard time maintaining them. Often, my friendships will start out fast and furious. The person will adore me, and I feed off of and am made confident by their adoration. However, after a while, whether real or imagined, I believe the friendship is cooling off. I fear rejection more than anything, so I think maybe I do things to speed along the end of a relationship. Or, perhaps my worst fear is true ... the "real me" shows through, and the person no longer likes or desires my company. Also, I seem to get bored with maintaining anything, including relationships, so maybe I don't always hold up my end of the friendship deal?

The fear of rejection is so strong that I think I've turned off my emotions as much as possible, to protect myself from feeling hurt. In fact, I have a difficult time expressing empathy to others, not because I don't feel it, but because I'm paralyzed by this irrational fear, I'm unable to express emotion. I often appear cold, rigid and inhibited.

Anyway, this belief that once people know the "real me," they reject me, is crippling and often what I feel stands between me and true happiness. No matter how much success I attain in other aspects of my life, I feel like I'm fundamentally flawed in the only area that really matters in life ... the ability to have and maintain meaningful relationships ... so, therefore, I'm a failure.

My last boss (who was very narcissistic himself) said I was narcissistic. The comment shocked me at the time, but now I see how it could be true. Maybe this is my problem?

How do I bring this character flaw in check, learn to feel OK with myself and maintain meaningful relationships?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. :confused:

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi lost1,

Welcome to our community.

Being a perfectionist is bound to make you unhappy because perfection is impossible to achieve under any and all circumstances. Are you in psychotherapy? That is what is recommended for the personality disorders: long term psychotherapy.

Can you tell us more about your background and why do you believe you are Narcissistic?


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Hi Allan,

No, I've haven't sought psychotherapy yet, mainly because of financial restraints. But it's something I am considering.

The narcissistic PD might fit because I go back and forth between feelings of insecurity and self-loathing and extreme confidence in my abilities and that the sky is the limit as far as what I can achieve. I also usually either idealize people or focus excessively on flaws, to the point where I'm not interested in speaking to people I deem shallow and stupid. Also, in a sense, I guess I see my mindset as superior to those people.

I seek attention and adoration more than I like to admit. It makes me feel special and worthwhile. I expect people to agree with me, and when they don't, I am angered. And sometimes I am so engrossed in my own experience, I have a hard time listening to anyone else's.

As far as my background, I was raised by a loving but very strict Christian mother. My behavior was tightly controlled, down to what I wore. I resented the control to a certain degree. I focused my entire childhood on succeeding academically and artistically. I graduated high school with a 4.0 and college with a 3.97 gpa. Often I believe I'm capable of doing great things. My obsession with achievement also leads me to suspect I may be narcissistic.

I am an editor of a national niche magazine, now, and was just promoted to director of marketing, and so my latest achievement obsession has now become climbing the corporate ladder.

So that's my background in a nutshell and some of the reasons I suspect I may have the narcissistic PD.

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Wow, that's a lot of amazing self-awareness. Most people would not want to admit that stuff or even realize they were like that. Those are all defense mechanisms, right?

What about this part: "Anyway, this belief that once people know the "real me," they reject me, is crippling and often what I feel stands between me and true happiness. No matter how much success I attain in other aspects of my life, I feel like I'm fundamentally flawed in the only area that really matters in life ... the ability to have and maintain meaningful relationships ... so, therefore, I'm a failure."

So do you know the real you? What is the real you like? (apart from your defensive strategies)

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If you like the feel of the NPD diagnosis, then the only thing that will likely be of help to you in the manner of conventional treatment will be long term psychotherapy - of the psychodynamic or possibly humanistic variety IMHO. These sorts of psychotherapies focus on the nature of human relationships; how they are repesented inside a suffering person's head, and how they play out in real life. Narcissism is a psychopathology (a "mind" sickness) that emerges from a significantly distorted (from the ideal) self-concept which itself emerges from relationship expectations. It all comes down to relationships. There is no self apart from the relationships that the self is embedded in. So - if you want to repair a damaged or (more properly - developmentally delayed) self-concept, you need to do so in the context of a relationship, and that is what psychodynamic psychotherapy is all about.

In the manner of unconventional self-help, you might find mindfulness meditation valuable, as this sort of practice helps people to separate themselves from their ideas about themselves, which provides the perspective necessary for self-growth.

You also seem to identify with perfectionism and with the idea that you may have OCD or OCD traits. The other thing to consider is that there is a personality disorder called OCPD or obsessive compulsive personality disorder. OCD is characterized by obsessive thoughts, and compulsive behaviors, but OCPD is different slightly. In OCPD, people are consumed with heirarchy and their place within heirarchy. So OCPD people are dominering with subordinates, and self-effacing with superiors. OCPD folks are also typically concerned with following rules and getting things just so - so there is your perfectionism. They equate the worth of their selves with the perfection (according to the rules) of their work product. Though it is fine and good to take pride in a job well done, people who do this to excess can find that their self-concept becomes fragile to events that are out of their control. For instance, a person who was completely identified with work and who lost their job becuase of the crooks on wall street's incompetence and greed (I obviously don't have a strong opinion about this :)) would face an emotional meltdown, whereas a person who understands that even the best rule followers can fail sometimes for reasons outside their control won't necessarily follow suit.

Hope this is helpful to you.

Edited by Mark
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  • 5 months later...

Hi lost1, you seem like a people pleaser. Nobody's perfect so just let yourself be. You are just creating stress in your life by trying to be perfect all the time because you aren't. We aren't. Persons having that tendencies usually came from a family of perfectionist or you were severely criticized when you were just a child. To heal yourself from that attitude, you have to clear your mind from disturbing thoughts that is hunting you for years. Break free and just accept anything that is not beyond your control. Our actions came from our thoughts so to change your actions, you have to change your thought into something that is beneficial to you. Think positively. If you experienced negative situations, just think that there is something that you can learn from it is needed for your growth as a person. Actually, the good side of a bad thing is that, it makes you strong for it's like a vaccine that immune you to problems.

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