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Author Topic: Idealizing past relationships?  (Read 1874 times)
anotherone

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« on: August 07, 2008, 10:00:38 AM »

During many of our nutty times, my gf will tell me that I am the only person with whom she has had these problems.  They are so profound that I can't imagine them shaping up in such a short time, but I guess I'm open to the idea.

The other day she challenged me to call her ex husband of a handful of years (4-7 or so).  She considered their relationship nearly perfect until some things that happened after he joined the military following 9/11.  They were divorced shortly after, and we got together two or three years later.  She said to call, so I did.

He validated much of what I am experiencing, and told me it was a good deal of time before he was able to function normally (emotionally) following, and considered much of what she did to be quite controlling and financially abusive, etc.  We were both relieved to hear that she was the common denominator.  He talked about Re-engaging, and asked me to promise that she wouldn't start coming around again.  I told him that I would do what I could.

When she brought him up again, I mentioned that we had talked at her suggestion, and what I told her broke her down like I have never seen her.  She was in a ball crying for hours; I drove over to make sure that she didn't kill herself.  She kept telling me that they were perfect, and that he was the perfect husband, and that she was the perfect wife.  She was inconsolable.

Is this common.  Does she not remember the chaos?   Did she just adjust her memory of the relationship over time?  How could she not remember these very extreme events?  Did she just use that relationship to beat me up, or does she really think it was perfect?
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WalrusGumboot
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« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2008, 10:58:26 AM »

heyanotherone, I married my BPD wife when she was pretty young, so she never idealized any prior relationships, because she never really had any. However, I see it in other areas, such as her view of herself as a mother. Our youngest is 18 now and about to go off to college, and hearing her talk about her mothering to others is sickening. How she gave up everything for them and did everything for them, how she was the one who trained them to do good; yada yada yada,  barfy  Any bad behaviors were the result of my bad parenting, according to her.

Her mother is BPD big time, and you will never hear the horror stories of her mothering from her. My wife describes her as a horrible mother and a horrible person as a whole. My MIL thought she was a good mother. I'm not sure if this is idealizing, or lies, or what.
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"If your're going through hell, keep going..." Winston Churchill
schwing
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« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2008, 11:39:38 AM »

Hi anotherone,

From my observation it is quite common for people with BPD to re-imagine their old relationships;  consider their splitting behavior: (in their memory) everything was either all good or all bad.   How they feel about something makes it true in their mind and memory.

In that incident you describe, after telling your gf how her ex-husband really felt about their relationship, she breaks down.  Either she accepts this discrepancy in her memory and it becomes one other reason why she should be motivated to recover.  Or she will (subconsciously) block that out (again) and perhaps believe that you were lying to her instead.

So long as she idealizes her past relationship, she truly doesn't remember the chaos (unless she can cope with the feelings of acknowledging that past) and she will continue to adjust her memory in order to cope with what she can handle.  That doesn't mean someday she won't split that relationship (or yours) black (again?) and then remember some of the reasons why the split up.

"How could she not remember these very extreme events?"  People with BPD have conditioned themselves most of their lives to avoid such traumatic experiences.  Some who have recovered from BPD (AJ comes to mind) have written that it all originates from some "core abandonment trauma" and all the (avoidance/coping) behaviors stem from their psyche coping with that trauma and all subsequent traumas.  Denial, dissociation, projection, these are but some of their coping mechanisms.

Don't forget this is a form of mental illness.

Best wishes, Schwing
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Steph
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« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2008, 11:56:45 AM »

 Hi!

  Yes, this can be a common occurance. Another factor is that when a BPD is emotionally dysregulated, they often dont connect with reality at that point..they are so overflooded in emotions, that reality is lost..and when they come out of it, its likely that they dont remember what happened at all like you do. Also, in her reality, the relationship was perfect.

 I am sure it was very, very hard for her to hear about how she was a mess in her past marriage. She already feels defective and broken and to hear about her behaviors and failures validated, in her mind, how messed up she really is. It sounds like it was terribly painful for her and likely, an extremely terrifying time.

  Steph
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black2thefuture
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« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2008, 12:18:17 PM »

my dBPDgf often idealizes my past relationships instead of hers. i'm friends with or at least on speaking terms with most of my exes, as i'm not the kind of person to hold grudges (probably a big reason i'm with a BPD), so this is brought up quite frequently. it seems that whatever the issue of the moment is, it can be connected to how it "must have never happened in your perfect relationship with x,"' how "you wouldn't have done/said/thought that with x because your relationship with her was perfect" how "i'm an awful, flawed person and never will be as perfect as x," and how "i'll never have this trait/physical characteristic of x, who was obviously perfect."

the only way that i've found to respond is to say "i'm sorry you feel our relationship is inferior in comparison to any other i've had, but i know that they were all far from perfect. if they were truly perfect, i'd still be in one of them. i can't change my past, and i won't be apologetic for who i am, so you'll have to either accept it or move on."

i don't know if there's a way to turn that around on your wife's perspective on her past relationships, but i think it's important to show a BPD that most of life takes place in the gray areas of good v. bad/perfect v. flawed, not in the extremes. the cognitive dissonance is often painful to observe or be subject to when they see that reality is not lining up with their perception of such, but i think it's a necessary step in their recovery. 
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furball
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« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2008, 04:50:49 PM »

During many of our nutty times, my gf will tell me that I am the only person with whom she has had these problems.  They are so profound that I can't imagine them shaping up in such a short time, but I guess I'm open to the idea.

The other day she challenged me to call her ex husband of a handful of years (4-7 or so).  She considered their relationship nearly perfect until some things that happened after he joined the military following 9/11.  They were divorced shortly after, and we got together two or three years later.  She said to call, so I did.

He validated much of what I am experiencing, and told me it was a good deal of time before he was able to function normally (emotionally) following, and considered much of what she did to be quite controlling and financially abusive, etc.  We were both relieved to hear that she was the common denominator.  He talked about Re-engaging, and asked me to promise that she wouldn't start coming around again.  I told him that I would do what I could.

When she brought him up again, I mentioned that we had talked at her suggestion, and what I told her broke her down like I have never seen her.  She was in a ball crying for hours; I drove over to make sure that she didn't kill herself.  She kept telling me that they were perfect, and that he was the perfect husband, and that she was the perfect wife.  She was inconsolable.

Is this common.  Does she not remember the chaos?   Did she just adjust her memory of the relationship over time?  How could she not remember these very extreme events?  Did she just use that relationship to beat me up, or does she really think it was perfect?

I had same experience. My BPD gf claimed to have had had one orgasm with one guy who left her in one fight and ran off and got married.  He 'threw her away'  so she would cry to me.  Uh huh. Right.  Well I bought it in the beginning.  But she - and from what i read of other BPD girls - twists the truth to be whatever works in a given day.  Point is this story probably existed in her mind.  In all fairness, from what I read, they do not lie, they just have a big fog bank (my non-clinical term) that exists between the truth and what suites their argument.  In one fit of crying when I accused her of lying to me, my gf stated 'I always lie to you.  I'm sorry.  I'm just so messed up'.  At this point I was in tears.  Here was this beautiful, charming girl that I love telling me how absolutely desparate her situation is.  And will be, probably forever for her. 

Regarding remembering the chaos, she will remember it one day.  Forget it the next.  Every day with a BPD is a new day.  It's really a sad situation.  They live a life that is often very very dark.  So don't hate them.  its not their fault.
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worriedmom
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« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2008, 08:37:20 PM »

My son's dBPDgf doesn't idealize past relationships, she remembers each one in exquisitely fine painful detail and recalls and discusses the details frequently. Every one of these relationships was a crash and burn much like many of the relationships discussed on this site. She even has a "memory box" for each of the relationships where she has saved cards, dried flowers, notes, letters, gifts etc and will sit for hours going through them.

What she does idealize is her job history and and where she lived before. We have now survived 6 job positions in the past 3 years and her memory of these jobs is totally divorced from reality. She is low functoning and probably can not ever hold a job. My son is slowly coming to this realization and the impact on his future. Like so many others he loves the person she can be during those short periods of time when the calm light shines into the chaos.

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TonyC
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« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2008, 10:00:31 AM »

idealized no...

i met her 1srt and second ex husbands...yea i know   shut up...
she had a daughter and a son from two fathers...
i met her last bf/ before me..

she blamed all of them for the marriages and the relationship failures...

i remember saying to her...toward the end... when she pushed my buttons..

i am a not different . than anyone in your past...i am any man in your life..just the faces change...

and you know what she got out of that... your the same as all of them...

yup 3 or 4 years of therapy... what strides she had made...
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Mystified and Tired
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« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2008, 01:11:20 PM »

Mine idealizes the intensity of his past relationships, but I believe nearly every one ended horribly.  When we met he was absolutely obsessed with his ex's.  Talked about them non-stop.  Wherever we went or whatever we were doing, he'd tell me how he'd been there and done that with them.  I absolutely hated it.  A couple times he even said phillisophically, "You know, when I was younger, being in love was so much more intense, and I think it's because my desire to have sex with those people was so much stronger."  I still wince from that one.  I believe he was clumsily referring to the intense teenage male sex drive, but the resulting statement was that 1.  he was much more in love with women from his past than he is with me, and 2.  his sexual desire for the women of his past was so much stronger than his desire for me.  Lovely thing to tell your wife.   

When I told him his ex talk bothered me, or , he'd rage at me for my "insecurities".  I ended up in therapy, asking my shrink to help me get over what he convinced me was my problem.  After many sessions, she told me she didn't feel right trying to help me overcome my aversion to those stories; that my feelings were a normal reaction to completely insensitive behavior on his part and what I really need was to stand up for myself and tell him that he must stop or I will leave him.  Now he no longer talks about them, but I have no idea what's going on in his head.  I imagine he's still idealizing the passion of their relationships.

So I guess my point is that his abandonment issues drove him to obsessively thinking about them, and trying to keep their memory alive or keeping them relevant to his present life by talking about them.  And back when he talked about them incessantly, he always said the relationships ended because "she was crazy".  A whole sea of uniformly crazy people.  I just don't buy it, but it shows that in his memory he had no part in each relationship's dysfunction or demise.
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HeartOfaBuddha
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« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2008, 01:35:30 PM »

Quote
When I told him his ex talk bothered me, or , he'd rage at me for my "insecurities".  I ended up in therapy, asking my shrink to help me get over what he convinced me was my problem.  After many sessions, she told me she didn't feel right trying to help me overcome my aversion to those stories; that my feelings were a normal reaction to completely insensitive behavior on his part and what I really need was to stand up for myself and tell him that he must stop or I will leave him.  Now he no longer talks about them, but I have no idea what's going on in his head.  I imagine he's still idealizing the passion of their relationships.

Yep same here.  I'm just insecure.  She's never had these problems with anyone else she was with yadda yadda yadda.  Have they all taken classes for this behavior or what ?
Worse is that our daughter actually knows the names of her ex's.  I think that's pretty sick.
Peace
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