How Does Neuroticism Influence Relationships?

How does neuroticism influence relationships?

The word neuroticism may sound familiar to you, but you don’t really know what it is. Generally, there is a bad conception of people who are neurotic, because they are considered exaggerated and eccentric. This perception of these people can influence their personal relationships.

In this article I describe what neuroticism is and how it influences social relationships In addition, I leave you a series of tips so that, if you are a person with a high degree of neuroticism, you can improve your relationships.

What is neuroticism?

Neuroticism is a personality trait, that is, a relatively stable characteristic over time. It is part of the 5 great personality traits, of the model Big Five by Lewis Goldberg. It is also called emotional instability or lability.

This psychological trait implies feel emotions with high intensity and long duration having high sensitivity, mood swings and the tendency to feel, above all, unpleasant emotions (anxiety, sadness, anger…).

Due to these characteristics, it is difficult to manage emotions in a healthy way if you have high neuroticism. It is not that they exaggerate their suffering or what is happening, it is that they live it that way.

The emotional regulation of people with neuroticism

All of this often leads to impulsivity and repetitive negative thoughts (worries and rumination), since these are attempts at emotional regulation, but instead of helping, they tend to be rather problematic.

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Impulsivity appears as a way of trying to quickly cut off the unpleasant emotion. For example, hitting someone so they don’t make us feel worse, drinking excessively to reduce our sadness, breaking up a relationship abruptly because we have had an argument, etc.

On the other hand, repetitive negative thoughts are a way of looking for solutions to the situation that causes us discomfort, even if they only occur in our mind. However, when these thoughts are constant, they tend to cause discomfort instead of helping, because we keep thinking about the situation and reliving it over and over again.

Like all personality traits, it is dimensional, that is, there is a wide spectrum in which one can be more or less neurotic. When neuroticism is very high, it is common to have psychological problems, such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders or, at the extreme end of the dimension, borderline personality disorder.

How does neuroticism influence relationships?

Generally, neuroticism also causes problems in social relationships. If it is difficult to manage your own emotions, imagine what it is like to have the ability to manage your personal well-being and that of another person at the same time.

Very different problems can arise, even contradictory, and neuroticism, being a dimension, encompasses a great variety of people and different characteristics. Several of these problems may even occur in the same person. Neuroticism is only one part of the personality, but it is not the only trait that defines the person.

1. Anxiety

People with high neuroticism and anxiety may have a serious fear of abandonment. This can lead them to be too complacent and passive, in order not to have to face complicated situations in the relationship, or on the contrary, to be manipulative. In this way, the relationships of some people with high neuroticism can be emotionally dependent and toxic.

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2. Anger

Being highly sensitive people with a lot of anxiety, they are easy to irritate or offend, which makes them intransigent and makes it difficult to interact with these people. They can be aggressive, cold or vengeful. Furthermore, having such an easy time is part of the cause of the sudden change in emotions. This can tire people around you, because they may see it as unpredictable and exaggerated.

3. Depression

High neuroticism and deep feelings of sadness can lead the person to avoid any social interaction, which can end in isolation. It may also happen that there are people who do not try to relate to neurotic people, because from the beginning they transmit bad vibes to them or notice that they create a bad atmosphere.

Besides, Your state of continued apathy can cause despair to those around you, after spending a long time trying to get them out of that state. It is exhausting to try to help someone but not see the results, even though it may seem unfair to both parties.

What to do if neuroticism is harming my relationships?

Due to emotional lability, possible relationship toxicity, and emotional dependency, it is difficult to manage all of this on your own. If you find yourself in these cases, I recommend asking for professional help, since psychological therapy can make your path much easier and more bearable. Likewise, below I leave you a series of steps that you can take to try to improve your social relationships.

1. Learn what healthy relationships look like

The first step you can take is to educate yourself about what a healthy relationship looks like. In this article, I have given you some clues about how they can end up being toxic (if there is a strong fear of abandonment, manipulation, aggressiveness, passivity, excessive complacency…). A relationship cannot be based on fear, sadness or manipulation. However, it is also important to know what you do need for a healthy relationship:

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2. Practice assertiveness

One of the most fundamental aspects in any relationship is communication. There are four types: aggressive, passive, passive-aggressive and assertive. Only the last one is ideal, at the same time it is the one that occurs least in the relationships of people with high neuroticism.

That’s why It is important that you learn to communicate your needs, opinions and desires assertively, to leave behind passivity-complacency and aggressiveness-manipulation. To do this, you can try guidelines such as:

3. Try to regulate your emotions in another way

Leave behind your impulsivity and your repetitive negative thoughts. You can replace the impulses by being attentive to what signals you perceive according to each emotion you feel (heat, tremors, pressure in the chest, emptiness…), and do the opposite action of what the body asks of you. Just as emotions influence actions, what you do also allows you to change your emotion.

For negative thoughts, try to focus on the present and get out of your head. You can try doing more activities that you find enjoyable, which will improve your mood, as well as help you pay attention to something other than your thoughts.