How to Weaponize the DSM-5 When Your Ex Comes Up in Casual Conversation

The Gender Spectrum Collection

We’ve all been there before: You’re catching up with peers at a party and, out of nowhere, someone mentions your ex. If you find yourself on the receiving end of such an affront, what better weapon than the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders? Here are some ways you can weaponize tools intended for use by mental health professionals to dunk on your fucked-up ex in front of unsuspecting acquaintances making innocuous small talk.


Pathologize everything.

What’s that? They say your ex of only 13 months has already moved on to another relationship? Yikes! Can they, like, not be alone or something? Sounds a little needy—or, as DSM-5 criteria would suggest, indicative of “Dependent Personality Disorder.” Any questionable behavior can become a full-blown symptom once you deploy your secondhand understanding of a book you’ve never read.


Remind people you minored in psych.

Make it known you’re not just another lover scorned, but a former liberal arts student who’s read a lot of Psychology Today listicles and knows how to use them. Further your case with evidence-based findings. You skimmed the abstract of a peer-reviewed study that shows your former flame’s “unique cocktail of crazy” was responsible for the dissolution of your relationship? Be sure to cite that.


Try not to come on too strong.

Invite others to draw their own conclusions. Instead of scoffing “fucking narcissist!” every time your ex comes up, pose a question, e.g. “Anyone else here think my ex was a malignant narcissist?”


Abuse buzzwords.

Being “toxic” may not be a diagnosis recognized by the APA, but that doesn’t mean you can’t wield it as such. And how about that time your ex forgot your half birthday and then made you feel crazy for their fuckup? Textbook “gaslighting.”Remember, trending terminology and unfounded confidence are the two most powerful tools in your arsenal if you’re going to come out of any failed relationship on top.


Don’t be afraid to alienate everyone in order to make the point that your ex is bad, and you are good/normal.

Sure, it’s statistically likely that someone in the room lives with one of the many mental illnesses you just hurled around like a slur—but you’re not the bad guy here, your sick-fuck of an ex is.


Now go bask in your superiority and find another conversation to monopolize. You’re weirdly good at it!