How to live with a paranoid partner

- Paranoia is a state of anxiety and mistrust. It’s common to feel a little paranoid when you’ve been in a relationship broken by an affair, cheating or dishonesty with finances. But real paranoia can also be a permanent mental illness affecting one specific area of your life or generalized too many areas of your life. Sometimes a suspicious partner may be called paranoid, but true paranoia is extreme with unmistakable symptoms such as delusions of being persecuted, feeling like you’re famous or you can fly, hallucinations or hearing voices, and feeling angry, argumentative or anxious. Paranoid individuals can become violent if they feel someone is after them.

Living, loving and being in a relationship with them is not easy and requires emotional support from health care professionals as well as counseling, support groups, and family support.

To help you and to support your paranoid partner, follow these recommendations:

  1. Encourage your partner to comply with treatment. Paranoid individuals mistrust everyone including their therapist and physician. Setting firm boundaries and going to appointments with them will make them more willing to comply.
  2. Stress makes paranoia worse, so minimizing stress by explaining things clearly and concisely helps your partner not get stressed out with details. Extra information given leads to increased paranoia.
  3. Encourage them to talk to you when they begin ruminating about plots of activities against them. Rather than defend your intentions, explain your reasoning in a matter-of-fact voice tone and remain as non-emotional as possible.
  4. Educate yourself as well as your family regarding the type and prognosis of your paranoid partner. Family members are more supportive when they understand what your partner has and what will be most helpful for you.
  5. Take care of yourself physically and emotionally, seeking balance in your life. Take necessary breaks and have a good network of friends you can be open with. Living with a partner who has mental illness places more demands on you and requires you to maintain stability.

Remember, your partner’s delusions or paranoid beliefs are frightening and very real to them.  Remaining honest and embracing the person without joining their delusion is the key to respecting their belief without enabling the sickness. Finding a support group for the two of you to attend as a couple helps you both feel as though you’re not alone, and together you can maintain sanity. 

Paranoid people can become violent quickly with the ones they love most as well as strangers. If you feel threatened or are concerned, do not hesitate to seek immediate help for your partner.

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