You met this wonderful guy, and he swept you off your feet. He told you that even though he doesn’t know you, he knows he will marry you. And you do marry. Within a short period of time you feel that you are living with a stranger. Gone is that guy who flattered you, made you feel that his world rose and set with you. Instead you have become the depository for all things that go wrong. What happened, you want to know.

Today’s guest, Dr. Rhoberta Shaler is supremely geared to help you unravel the conundrum. Rhoberta has written 16 books, has two highly successful podcasts, Emotional Savvy – The Relationship Help Show. and Save Your Sanity – Help for Toxic Relationships, and more than 350 videos to enlighten you as to what has happened, what is happening and what is likely to happen.

She has developed a term, hijackal, to describe the type of personality described above. It is a personality disorder that shows up often in people who themselves were hurt by other hijackals. Having been raised by two hijackal parents, she knows first hand the slippery slope their victims tred.

“They put on a public picture of perfection while at home they creat a private place of pain.”

Previously trained as a psychologist, Rhoberta wanted to help people who needed a consultant. As a consultant versus a therapist, Rhoberta is able to offer ideas, propose tactics and strategies, give options and suggestions to my clients.

“I specialize with working with the partners, the exes, adult people, and with the traits and patterns of personality disorders. “There is a spectrum and not everyone is in the same place on the spectrum. Her advice to a person who is living with someone with a personality disorder is to get educated and know the inner workings of their mind. Also to get a support system to help you. There is no one hard and fast rule as to whether to stay with someone or leave. It depends on many different factors.

“I help people see the pieces of the puzzle, to clarify it, to point out the patterns, to codify it. People with personality disorders almost never go for help, because part of their disorder does not allow them to accept blame for anything. Sometimes people with borderline personality disorder will go for help when they have periods of cognition and true empathy. They realize they are harming their children or partners. Those suffering from narcissistic, sociopathic, psychopathic, antisocial behavior don’t have the empathy and rarely have the awareness. A borderline can go into depression after an episode, but not those with anti-social behavior.

“There is no medication for it. The healthy partner will always be to blame. The relationship can’t sustain and shouldn’t sustain that. It is very unhealthy modeling for children.

“The reason a hijackal jumps right into a relationship is because they don’t have a lot of time to sustain this persona that isn’t really who they are. This is the ”gotcha phase” or “love bombing”. Once they have moved in with you, got married or got you pregnant than the mask falls. The person you fell in love with doesn’t exist. The partner might think if they are very empathic, ‘If only I loved them more, or gave them more, if only I was always there for them’ then that person I once knew will come back. But that is a false hope. They will never come back because they never really existed.

“Before a partner makes a decision about leaving, they must do their own work as long as there is no physical or sexual abuse. Find out where your boundaries are, how you are living your values and your beliefs. If they are misguided applied to this situation. Try strategies and see if there are some changes you can make within yourself. Try to understand, why did this happen? What in your life allowed you to live with this. Figure out before you leave, as long as there is no physical or sexual abuse, so that if you do leave, you leave in an empowered fashion. You are not just running away. You learn to set boundaries, be assertive, get strong, clear and empowered. You’ll need that strength to leave and to go to court.

“If you have been raised to be accepting and empathic or you had a hijackal parent, then you are ripe for the picking of a hijackal. hijackals don’t have love to give. They have uses for their prey and they may say, ‘If you really loved me you would allow me to use you. It’s convoluted.

“A normal healthy relationship can withstand differences of opinion. Having a respectful disagreement is fine, But analyze the reason for it.If there is constant bickering about minor issues, maybe there is a larger underlying issue that one of the partners is not ready to face or is unaware it even exists. Then one can say to their partner, ‘I think we need to find a time to discuss why we are bickering so often. What’s really going on?’ or, ‘Are we having a moment about whose truth is more true?’  Some couples can’t speak freely between themselves and may need help.

A person whose partner suddenly is dealing with mental health issues, is faced with a new reality. The person they knew is no longer there.

The sufferer is unable to be there for their partner as a support because their challenge with mental health is all encompassing. The partner should find themselves a new support system to help them. I know that I was completely unaware of what my husband was dealing with when I was in my depression and anxiety.

One of the red flags of a hijackal is always needing to be right and to win, no matter what the issue. Also all or nothing and black and white thinking is another flag. If in a relationship you are the most perfect and wonderful thing in the universe and then one thing goes wrong and the partner says, ‘That’s it. I can’t live with you if you did something wrong.’ Then there is no grey area. There is no room for discussion. A person may have hijackal tendencies in some areas, but does not mean that they are a hijackal. Escaping the Hijackal Trap is the best book to learn about hijackals, but Rhoberta has also written a short, concise overview for those who want tips for spotting a hijackal, How To Spot a HIjackal.


Rhoberta Shaler can be reached at :relationshiphelpnetwork.com or transformingrelationships.come or beaclient.com for those who wish to have a one and one session with Dr. Shaler.

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