Relationship Hyper Vigilance

Maintaining an unhealthy level of interest in the behaviors, comments, thoughts and interests of others.

Putting Life under the Microscope

When someone’s internal world is chaotic and unbalanced, as it is for many Personality Disordered people, they may feel the need to scrutinize others, or analyze things to a point which is beyond what’s healthy or balanced. It can verge on invasive if you are the one being put under the magnifying glass.

Another form of relationship hyper vigilance stems from feelings of paranoia or persecution, where the person is overly concerned with potential ‘threats’ and is constantly on the lookout for them.

Note that the term "hyper vigilance" classically refers to a sensory response experienced by people who suffer from PTSD. The term is being used metaphorically in this article.

What it Looks Like

  • A man spends several hours analyzing a casual comment made by an acquaintance.
  • A man drives two miles out of his way to avoid driving past the home of a person who knows him.
  • A woman makes far reaching assumptions on the moods of her husband based on his body language.
  • A man reads about a disease in a magazine and immediately suspects that he suffers from it.

What It Feels Like

If you are in a relationship with a hyper vigilant person you are probably familiar with the frustration of watching vast quantities of personal energy and time being squandered over seemingly trivial events and the opinions of others.

You may find yourself biting your lip to keep the peace some of the time only to explode in frustration with an angry tirade. This rarely results in a change in your situation.

Or it may be your every expression, word, movement and outside relationship which is being watched and asked about. This can lead to feeling like you are not trusted, or have you ‘walking on eggshells’ to try and stay out of the way of the PD person’s laser-vision.

What NOT to do

  • Don’t spend your energy trying to fix or change a hyper-vigilant person.
  • Don’t thought-police or chastise them for their personal choices. Their thoughts are their own property - and yours are yours.
  • Don’t give in to any pressure to conform to a standard that is unrealistic or unattainable.
  • Don’t apologize for being yourself.
  • Don’t isolate yourself or succumb to the pressure to become isolated.

What TO do

  • Maintain healthy outside interests and recreation.
  • Spend some time every day away from the attentions and the observations of a hyper vigilant person.
  • Be yourself regardless of how much approval or disapproval you get from a Personality Disordered Individual.
  • Get support from others who understand personality disorders and understand what you are going through.