We have all encountered individuals in our lives that keep acting in a way that brings them so much misery.  I see it every day as a matrimonial attorney, but I also see it a lot in the dating world.  Here are 5 classic types that keep behaving in a way that works contrary to their best interest:

1. Narcissists– These people are so focused on themselves, and their own needs and desires, that they cannot possibly take into account anyone else’s needs.  They want what they want, end of story, and taken to an extreme, they completely lack the ability to empathize with others to the point where they wind up alienating everyone around them.

2. The Overly Anxious– As opposed to someone suffering from situational anxiety, these people are constantly anxious, and uncertainty drives them crazy, so they tend to want to control everything and everyone around them.  Of course, that’s not how life works, and when these types cross paths with free spirits, that is just not going to end well.  Even if you are not a free spirit, you will be able to pick up on the nervous energy that an anxious person gives off, and that is a huge turnoff.

3. Commitment Phobes– For whatever reason these people are incapable of making a long-term commitment to someone, and what is sad is that those that are worthy of being with a loving partner that will commit are not likely to wait around, so instead they will move on to someone else.  This abandonment of course just further feeds into the fears of a commitment phobe, and so the vicious cycle will continue.

4. The Cheapskates– These are the ones that are penny wise and pound foolish.  They are so focused on saving a buck that they don’t see how stingy they may appear to others.  This lack of generosity is so offensive that s/he may well put Mr. Scrooge to shame.  Here is where karma will do its job of ensuring that these types will reap what they sow, unfortunately they won’t see that is because of their own miserly ways that they are missing out on the generosity of others.

5. Passive-Aggressive–   Often I believe this is not even conscious, but perhaps these individuals are so afraid of saying “no” and disappointing anyone, that they just agree with someone to their face and then do the opposite later.  Of course the huge problem with this is that no one likes being lied to, and when they get busted (which they inevitably will) they try to paint the other person as being the one at fault.  They’ll constantly engage in the blame game, and will definitely test the patience of ones that are not at all passive and have a straight-forward, no nonsense approach.

It’s been my observation that people can exhibit multiple issues at once, and these can appear in varying degrees.   If you think about it along the lines of a continuum, at times we can all exhibit  some traits of being a narcissist or penny-pincher, or behave a little bit anxious, noncommittal, or passive-aggressive, but hopefully not on a regular basis, and never at the extremes.   If these behaviors show you an unhealthy pattern that is working contrary to your desired goals, then it’s probably time to ask for some help to stop repeating those actions that may well cause you to self-destruct.

The first step to breaking a pattern is realizing that the common denominator is you.  Facing that fact is not easy, but wow once you gain that insight, you are on the right path to getting help.  The next step is finding the right guide that will help you morph by shining a bright light on those underlying assumptions that cause you to act a certain way versus trying a different approach.  Cognitive Behavioral Therapists are trained mental health professionals that help individuals do just that.

Over the last several years in the legal field, I’ve seen a tremendous change in the way my colleagues and I interact with one another, and our clients, thanks to the influence our esteemed colleagues in the mental health profession.  Together, as part of the Integrative Law movement, we have collaborated on many trainings designed to integrate our various skills in the practice of family law so that we can best serve those going through a divorce, but part of my goal– and the reason for this blog– is to hopefully prevent divorce by sharing ideas that might lead people to make better life choices before it is too late.

If someone you know might benefit from this post, please share it, and for more information on Cognitive Behavioral Therapists in your area, you may want to check out: www.psychologytoday.com

By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.