Seeing someone with paranoid sz - problematic behavior

A couple of months ago I started seeing a guy (he’s 27) who had recently been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, which he was very open about. 90% everything is good. He seems pretty high functioning. He works from home and makes enough to support himself.

The problem is that every week or two he’ll get into this mood for a couple of hours where he is clearly upset with me but refuses to admit it and says sort of mean and provoking things while denying that he cares. For example, tonight he asked “Do you actually want to hear my opinions ever? It’s ok if you don’t I just want to know.” I told him that of course I did. That I didn’t like to force him to come out with them because in the past he had been very hurt when I disagreed with him. He said “Ok, well I’ll just keep them to myself. You don’t really care. I’ll talk to people who do.” I told him that if he wanted to work on a way for us to communicate better I would do that. “It’s ok. I don’t actually care. Your answers just make it clear that I should never bring up my opinions.” At that point I told him I was tired and wanted to go to bed because I knew that he was in one of those moods and nothing I could say, no matter how kind and open and generous, would make him not be angry with me (while denying being angry with me!)

We actually got in a big fight about this a while ago and only reconciled on the understanding that he would be less defensive/ dismissive when I pointed out problematic behavior in him. But I don’t know if there’s much point to calling this out because he can always say “I never said I was upset. I’m not. I’m just asking questions” when it’s obvious to anyone that he’s angry and saying spiteful things. (In the course of this conversation he even said “I’m not going to bring up what you’ve said to me in the past because it’s probably problematic or emotional blackmail or whatever you call it.” UGH)

I don’t know how to approach this behavior. We’re not serious yet (and I don’t know that we’ll ever be), but I’d like to keep him around at least for the immediate future because 90% of the time I really enjoy his company. My new feeling is that if he gets into one of these moods I’ll just say I’m too busy to talk or going to bed early and leave him alone until later or the next day. Does that sound like a reasonable approach? Does it sound like this behavior is related to his schizophrenia?


It sounds like a reasonable approach and I think that the voices are either telling him something or he’s having delusions about you. Maybe he needs new medications. He sounds like my fiancé in the middle of our relationship, until last month he still thought I worked for the government.

What you’ve described is behavior I see in my 33 year old daughter. In the last year she’s progressed to being much more aggressive, angry and erratic. I’m not sure if she’s not taking her meds or maybe the meds are no longer working. None of us can control another person or know the outcome of any relationship. My daughter lives with me along with her two small children. It’s gotten to a point where I feel I can no longer have her live in my home. Her children can stay but not her. I’m researching group homes because she is unable to care for herself.

Yes, I do believe your boyfriend’s behavior is related to schizophrenia. My own personal opinion is that with my daughter is that she cannot take any kind of pressure and having children is pushing her over the edge. She needs a life without too much responsibility and expectations and I can’t provide that for her. The children are wonderful and I love being with them but throw in a person full of rage and unpredictability is something I no longer want to handle or deal with.

You definitely seem to be taking a reasonable approach and moodiness is often a part of sz. There is another diagnosis that some people even people with sz can also possess and that is Borderline Personality Disorder, and from all I have read people with this condition are even more moody and often argumentative and will often exhibit these behaviors as either an unconscious or subconscious way of throwing a wrench into whatever relationship they are in at the time. Often times they don’t even realize that is what they are doing or why. In severe cases the person can become suicidal or self harming but in milder cases they just often create a lot of chaos in relationships and often can destroy them or make them difficult to maintain. My son has a mild form of this, pretty much everyone in my family has some kind of it. That is why I mention it as a possibility. I believe various cognitive therapies can help with this but the person needs to be fully aware that it is an issue and sometimes that is a challenge itself.
Here is a link from NAMI that explains it.

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I’d second Catherine’s advice - sounds like some mild borderline to me too.

Maybe he just wants to be heard? If it’s that, you don’t even have to give your opinion. Ask him a relevant question now & then so he knows you’re interested.

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Thank you, but I’m not sure how. I do think that because he’s extremely sensitive, the first few times we disagreed on an issue, I really hurt him. Not that I did anything special - I treated him exactly the way I would any of my friends if we disagreed - ie I tried to explain why I thought my view was correct and why I didn’t think the criticisms he was making were valid.

Now, that may or may not be the nicest thing to do, but it’s part of my personality, and it’s the way I treat everyone and I don’t have any shortage of friends.

However, even though I never think I actually say anything objectively hurtful (usually it’s just “I don’t think that’s right because what about X” - I never call anyone names or use angry language) I realized that he could not handle that kind of thing. But the problem now is that he doesn’t trust me. As I said, during that conversation I said “I would be happy to work on a way we could communicate better together if that’s something you want” and he just told me that he didn’t actually care, never mind, that he would just talk to other people instead and it didn’t bother him and at all etc etc.

So I don’t know if there’s a constructive way to respond to that. I will try asking him about his opinion if it comes up in the future, but he gets so passive aggressive about certain things that I don’t know if that’s really going to fix anything

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My son is sometimes like a raw nerve - sounds like he might be like that too.

Tonight he’s still being a pill. I sent him a picture of a boy and girl cuddling while the girl reads a book. He texted “I’m the one who’s the obsessive reader” I said “Haha, I read too! :)” Then he went into this whole thing where he dramatically apologized for offending me and that he takes full responsibility for saying something that upset me. This is passive aggressive and out of touch with reality, right!?!? I think of myself as a pretty savvy person but he’s so good at manipulating the situation to make me look like the bad guy, while pretending that he’s the one who messed up and is sorry.

Honestly, I’ve decided that if I find someone else I want to date more I will break up with him. Luckily at this point he doesn’t upset me too much because I’m perfectly fine walking away when he’s acting like this but . . . The 15% of the time he is like this I feel so confused and hurt and angry.

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They all do that, it’s not just you.

Your relationship sounds exactly like the one I had with my ex with sz. Nothing I ever said made him feel better and I could never get him to stop arguing with me and he would ALWAYS bring up the past. Now all of sudden he doesn’t care about anything. He cuts me off and I’m just always hurt and confused and angry.