Community Built Knowledge Base => Library: Psychology questions and answers => Topic started by: Bitzee on November 27, 2007, 09:46:00 PM

Title: BEHAVIORS: Mirroring different from idealization?
Post by: Bitzee on November 27, 2007, 09:46:00 PM
I don't understand the concept that the BP is 'Mirroring' you and trying to be who you are in the beginning.  I didn't feel that way with my ex, but that doesn't mean it wasn't happening and I just never realized it.  We really did have major interests in common... .he didn't need to pretend about them.  But, some say here, they Mirror your good 'qualities' in order to appear to be like you... .that is different from interests, of course.

He did 'Idealize' me to an almost embarrassing degree.  But I see this as his 'Projection' of good mommy (or whatever) Onto me.  From what I understand, Mirroring is more a process of them 'Introjecting' your qualities Into them... .whereas Idealization is a process of them 'Projecting' their desired image Onto you.

Can anyone here help me understand mirroring better?  Give me examples of mirroring that I might recognize?  I definitely saw the Idealization, but had no awareness of the mirroring.

Title: Re: How is mirroring different from idealization?
Post by: amydenada on November 28, 2007, 12:06:30 AM
I think mirroring is a way of being just like you to almost fuse with you, so you both feel incredibly close. I think idealization is to put you on a pedestal.

Title: Re: How is mirroring different from idealization?
Post by: Bitzee on November 28, 2007, 12:28:39 AM
Well, the way he had of making us feel close, was that he was very 'motherly' to me... .nurturing and protective.  At first, that is... .haha. 

And, in bed, it was like melding into each other... .it was very different sexually from my other experiences.  Sort of a higher octave of expression... .emotional melding, I guess.  It was very much about being lost in the moment and not 'goal directed' at all.

These are the only examples of feeling any kind of fusion that I can think of.

Title: Re: How is mirroring different from idealization?
Post by: Feverish on November 29, 2007, 11:14:38 AM
Here are two examples from my understanding of mirroring and idealization:

Idealization: Putting me on pedestal and telling me that I "am everything he could possibly want in a woman and more", I am the "most beautiful woman he's ever seen", (along with alot of other BS that often goes out the window when I'm back to being "the devil who ruined his life"... .

Mirroring: If I am unhappy or in a bad mood (for whatever reason but not about him), he will join me in the bad mood and act the same way. Because he thinks that everything is about him, I MUST be in a bad mood/unhappy because of something HE did or said, right?

Similarly, if I am in a good mood/happy, that is also about him, which means he can take credit for "making me happy" so he's getting approval and is happy too. Happy Mirror is much more rare now, it seems that if I am happy, then he has to be wet blanket and ruin it more often than not. I see much more of the Unhappy Mirror from him these days.

Either way, its twisted.

Title: Re: How is mirroring different from idealization?
Post by: Bitzee on November 29, 2007, 11:54:41 AM
Hmmm, Thank you, Feverish... .but I still don't get it.  My ex pretty much did not know what happy was.  It only meant the axe was about to fall.  He really could not go there.

Maybe he did not do much mirroring.  If someone has a good splash of NPD, do they Not do the mirroring thing, I wonder?

Title: Re: How is mirroring different from idealization?
Post by: Feverish on November 29, 2007, 12:57:31 PM
Some BPDs don't know "who they are" and will mirror the mood of other people besides the SO. I don't often see my husband's happy side either... .he reserves that for being around people he hopes to impress (if he can get past his insecurities first).

Title: Re: How is mirroring different from idealization?
Post by: jmglmt on November 29, 2007, 01:16:51 PM
To me mirroring means that he takes on the image of what he thinks I or the other person wants.  I noticed this first when he got into a new relationship.  She needed a hero-he became one.    She needed pity from him so he was sympathic.   She was starved for attention so they talked on the phone constantly, anytime, anywhere.  She wanted a strong man to hold her hand so he had to appear mature.  On and on.

I just get all his rage and insecurities because he cannot show that side of himself yet to her. 

Title: Re: How is mirroring different from idealization?
Post by: Bitzee on November 29, 2007, 01:35:58 PM
Ok, that makes more sense to me.  He was 'motherly' and I had lost my mom.  It seems more like reading you than mirroring, though.  Becoming What you want, rather than Who you are.

Maybe he did not have the identity weakness so much... .he had a good dose of narcissism.  Maybe that gives them a more defined (false) self?  Does anyone know if having more narcissism would make one less inclined to do mirroring?

Title: Re: How is mirroring different from idealization?
Post by: jmglmt on November 29, 2007, 02:47:50 PM
I finally found a defintion in "Meaning from Madness"

"Mirroring is more of a behavior than a defense mechanism, but is similar in that it also functions at a level below rational thought and choice.  In mirroring, a person adapts their behavior and presentation to "mirror back" to us the qualities which they perceive that we desire to see. Most disordered abusers are extremely good at mirroring, and have an extraordinary ability to perceive what we desire.

Mirroring is an adaptive technique which helps narcissists to maintain an image of flawlessness.  By showing us all the qualities they believe we wish to see in them, narsissists can make themselves extremely acceptable to us.  More than just avoiding having any flaws, mirroring can make us believe that the narcissists is a truly wonderful person.  This is an extremely safe situation for narcissists."

Title: Re: How is mirroring different from idealization?
Post by: Garnet10 on January 19, 2012, 09:45:42 PM
I have a good example. When UhwBPD and I met while I was in college, I told him about some past drug use. He told me he had done acid while in high school. He was into punk rock and next to no parental supervision so it made sense. Fast forward 4 years and my husband is applying to police departments that have have strict rules about not hiring anyone who has has done anything other than marijuana. I was very concerned that this was going to be a big road block for him since they polygraph you on your answers. And he tells me not to worry, that he never did any of the things he told me about, but made it all up because he wanted to make me think we had more in common when we were dating.

Title: Re: How is mirroring different from idealization?
Post by: RKV on April 12, 2012, 04:06:28 PM
I think Garnet10's example is closer to what I've experienced. When first meeting you they tend to listen... alot. Every preference you state it's like they internalize it and can't help but parrot back to you what you "want" to hear.

After spending enough time around them you can't help but notice inconsistencies and most of the speech patterns they adopt are really exaggerated... .it's like they can only relate to other people through stereotypes. If they think you're a "geek" then all of a sudden they're the biggest Star Wars fan you've ever met. Stories are made up about past experiences and then when you reference it later they'll actually tell you they made it up. The weirdest thing is they think it's funny or just write it off like "haha I totally lied to your face, isn't that hilarious?".

Title: Re: How is mirroring different from idealization?
Post by: SeekingInnerPeace on April 13, 2012, 06:42:59 AM
My PDH STILL mirrors from time to time with me, and we have been together for 5-1/2 years now!  The difference now is that I can see through it when it is happening, whereas before, I could not.  Mirroring me was a common occurrence with him, once upon a time, though.  I really thought we were soul mates, only to come to find out we are too far apart in our morals, ethics, values, and character to be soul mates. 

Idealization was also a common occurrence, though it no longer is.  I have not been up on the pedestal for several years now.  Once upon a time, I felt like the only woman in the world who existed for him.  Now, I mostly feel as if I do not exist for him at all, even when he is not actively devaluing me.

It happened again just the other day.  Due to the level of lies, I pretty much let what he says these days go in one ear and out the other, so I cannot recall the exact conversation.  Whatever the subject, I had shared in the past about something that had happened to me in that vein.  PDH never mentioned one word about his similar experience.  Yet the other day, when it came up again, suddenly, PDH had an “experience” to share, that connected to mine.  My “liar alarm” immediately went off, b/c I knew he was making the story up on the spot, in an effort to manipulate me.  This “experience” he shared is so far of left field of who he is anyway, and I can’t imagine him doing it in reality.

He has been in the dog house for a while now, so I assume this was but one attempt at “recycling”.  I know that it was a desperate ploy to “connect” with me, b/c otherwise, I really give him no opportunity any longer (I am working on getting out of my marriage, and it is but a formality that we still live under the same roof).

I have seen him mirror others as well, esp. when she’s an alluring female he is flirting with.  There was an attractive woman who was talking to us at a party.  She lived in a neighborhood in which PDH used to live.  He had nothing but good things to say about this neighborhood.  I myself was not familiar with the area enough to form an opinion.  The flirting was hard to endure, but I let it go, b/c it was a party, I knew her from before and had always liked her, and I did not want to make a scene or appear to be a jealous, insecure person.

Fast forward a few months.  We were thinking of moving and upsizing.  I found a decent house at a good price in that very same neighborhood.  PDH refused to go see it.  I said to him, “I thought you liked this neighborhood?”.  “No, I don’t like that neighborhood at all – it’s a bad area.  I know this from living there myself.”  “Then why at the party did you tell S what a great area it was?”  “I never said that.”  “Yes you did.”  “I don’t remember saying that.  I wouldn’t say that, b/c it’s not true.”  I found myself wondering if he had multiple personalities.  Perhaps one did not recall what the other said.  I now know that he is simply a pathological liar.

That was one of my first red flags as far as his mirroring and his ability to say one thing, only to turn around and deny that later.  I discovered that he molded himself to the person and the situation, not only with me, but with pretty much everyone.  It was part of what made it so hard to figure him out at first.  It took repeated incidents for me to figure out his patterns, as well as research that indicated this is what these people do!  I have never known anyone like him before.  I have never known anyone who has the ability to lie so smoothly.

At its core, mirroring is simply another form of lying, when you think about it, b/c it is not a true representation of who they are.  Is there anything that is?

When I think about it, idealization is also another form of lying, b/c it is not a true representation of how they feel about us.  Their actions and behaviors that manifest later in the relationship clearly indicate this.  I have told my PDH to stop telling me he loves me, b/c when you really love someone, you do not treat them in the ill ways he has treated me.

I don’t need to be idealized for him to prove his love to me.  But by the same token, being devalued does nothing to make me feel loved.  Each extreme is just too opposite and conflicting, and in the end, neither one works when you are in a relationship or married.  Idealization is not realistic and only makes the fall from being devalued that much harder when you hit bottom.  Idealization might feel great in the moment, but in hindsight, it is one of the most cruel things they can do to us, after they’ve swung to the opposite end by devaluing us.  When they do, it feels as if the rug has been pulled out from under us.  At least, that’s how it felt for me.

Title: Re: How is mirroring different from idealization?
Post by: peterparker on November 09, 2013, 03:21:32 AM
I definitely noticed this in my ex.

When we first met she listened intently to everything i said, she said she wanted the same things in a relationship, a shared community of friends, to be creative together, to do all the things that I wanted to do. When we actually became attached and started our relationship, she refused to spend time with my friends, and never wanted to do anything I wanted to do.

Mirroring also has been described by the pwBPD becoming a chameleon. If they are tapping into a particular individual's desires, then they will do something different with another person. When we were together, I invited my ex to come and watch or play sports with me. She said it was stupid, that she's rather [insert horrible thing here] than watch team sports.

Guess what? She went to a football game with my replacement.

They tend to only do this for the honeymoon period while they're securing the attachment.

Title: Re: How is mirroring different from idealization?
Post by: Clearmind on November 12, 2013, 03:43:05 PM
Everyone mirrors - its not just those with BPD - especially in the early stages of a relationship where each are getting to know each other. We sometimes take on music our partners like, food they like. In any partnership we try on things we may not have been introduced to before - I had a partner who loved Playstation. I had no interest until I sat and played it - I actually really liked it.

Idealization is something you both experienced. It was not one sided. We all have our own unique reasons as to why we felt special whilst being placed on a pedestal by another - for some us we finally felt accepted by the opposite sex or by a person. Some of us experienced invalidating childhoods and it provided us with immense personal validation that we were special.

There is no such thing as a 'non' - we all can have degrees of traits. Have a think about what drew to this person and why you stayed in a  toxic relationship.

Title: Re: How is mirroring different from idealization?
Post by: Turkish on November 15, 2013, 05:30:42 PM
Mine idealized her paramour as some religious type being in touch with God or something. Aside from his side in the cheating, just the things described to me by her made me go, "huh?" I don't think so... .he's a snake and a player, it's so obvious... .

After a lucid and self-aware conversation we had over a month ago, when I thought we could work things out, she said her paramour was in foster care (so was I, but it was never anything really to talk about or go into, since I was as a toddler). Later that night, she came into my room and said, "I think I have some type of attachment disorder." I said, "ok, maybe... ." that was for her to work out with her T if she wanted to. I checked the browser history on the computer later and saw she was looking up "foster care personality disorders" with the results giving several types of attachment disorders. Weird! But I think she was actually looking to mirror him to bond with him more closely. She's in a better place now, and I think there is some 5% chance of things working out... .to a degree since she is high functioning, but then I remind myself of this and realize just how messed up and empty she is at the core. Having kids between us complicates everything... .

Title: Re: How is mirroring different from idealization?
Post by: Turkish on November 15, 2013, 05:44:03 PM
I won't repeat my story, since at least a few of you have come across it in the past few months... .my stbxuBPD has an older brother I am pretty sure has BPD. This only occurred to me in retrospect giving what I have been going through with mine in the past few months. He is lower functioning than mine. My lawyer threw out that my X's father likely has BPD, too. There is somewhat of a language barrier, but his current and past behaviors fit the profile to an extent.

If we leave aside the possible heritability of BPD, maybe it is likely that my X mirrored her father's behaviors to bond with him in a twisted way. She hates the fact that he is a cheater (still), and his past verbal, emotional and physical abuse of her mother... .  as well as his emotional detachment which she views as abandonment (which she projected onto me, justifying her cheating). My X basically became like her father at the end (the abandoner and cheater), She even admitted it in a moment of lucid conversation... .she became the manifestation of two of her worst fears.

In another example is my friend's little sister, now almost 40, but basically a 13 year old trapped in an adult's body. After educating him on BPD, and having observed her behaviors (rages, pattern of unstable relationships, impulsivity with alcohol and sex), we think she is a likely candidate, too. She literally abandoned her 14 year old daughter to go live in a different city 3.5 hours away to get on her feet financially. 14 year old, previously a very sweet and grounded person (unlike her mother), was left with grandma. Problems started. Dark anime... .moodiness, improper texting with a 17 year old... .fights with grandma and grandsteppa. So, after a big blow up, mwBPD (mom) comes and takes her daughter back to live with her, after a huge fight with the grandparents. We were thinking that the D14 possibly started mirroring her own mother to bond with her to her mother would come get her to be part of her messed up life? The mwBPD was never a sweet little girl like her daughter. D14 seemed to change overnight in the past year... .months after her mother abandoned her. It doesn't help, of course, that mwBPD posts all sorts of inappropriate things on FB that the daughter sees (I see it).

Title: Re: How is mirroring different from idealization?
Post by: candlelight on November 19, 2013, 06:31:39 AM
The ex mirrored me in the early stages by falsifying the reality of his interests in life.

In time, within 4 months or so from meeting him, it just became clear that he had almost no inner life. By which I mean almost no spiritual or intellectual life; he also had no social life beyond casual acquaintances he'd chat to if he saw them in the park or in the hallway of his building.

At first, he hid this reality. My apartment is full of books. So he had " once had" many bookcases similarly full, but his first wife had cleared their apartment and " stolen" them. I believed this until I saw that in the 14 years since their divorce he had acquired less than 10 books to replace his " library".

He mirrored my interest in cooking , trying different cuisines, at the very beginning. In reality he wanted to be fed bland food twice a day. The 180 degree turns were jaw dropping. He once emailed me some free ebooks of Chinese recipes. When the mask started slipping a couple of months later, he told me " I can't eat Chinese food it doesn't agree with me".

There were several promises and agreements made during the honeymoon / mirroring/ idealisation phase about trips , from weekend breaks to day trips to foreign holidays. He found reasons for not doing any of them. Although he presented himself as loving travel in the early weeks. Looking back I was amazed at the display of enthusiasm he showed for these never realised plans .

With regard to idealisation, I see this as highly controlling and as setting the scene for future abuse, justified bymy having " disappointed" or " misled" him. It's inevitable that you'll be disappointed by an autonomous human being with a mind and life of their own if what you seek is a childish fantasy of an all healing caregiver who exists entirely to nurture and indulge you.

Title: Re: How is mirroring different from idealization?
Post by: candlelight on November 19, 2013, 06:58:31 AM
... .I wanted to add this about the mirroring I experienced.

I am a person of faith from a Christian tradition although I do not church services ; I read spiritual works and pray and often visit churches. The ex presented himself as believing in God, from a Catholic tradition. I discovered over time that he had married twice; he was violent to his first wife ( it was " her fault" , he had to " restrain her" during a fight over a pile of cds, she had ended up " accidentally" on the floor, he had the " very unpleasant" experience of the police questioning him). His second wife was a " devout" Catholic and a virgin when they married. He cheated on her because " she broke her vows. She stopped loving me". He frequently called me " an angel" and told me he lit candles " for us and our love" .

He of course became violent to me  and I left. It occurred to me that his splitting of his ex wives , his tendency to see his partners as " angels" and then as " evil/ fallen" was informed by Catholic representations of the Madonna and the fallen " whore". His cold hatred for his ex wives during my final weekend with him frightened me. I knew that's where I was heading if I stayed.

We visited three churches during the relationship. Despite his mirroring of my interest in gothic architecture and old churches, he would walk about with a blank, disnegaged expression. He pointed out nothing that interested him. He just looked expressionless. Once he theatrically made the sign of the cross on me with holy water when we were visiting a catholic chapel ( my idea, it had famous paintings I wanted to see). There was no need for that, I am not Catholic. He appeared to enjoy the theatre of some catholic ritual. He emailed me after I left him when Pope Francis was appointed. He said he had " tears in his eyes" and wanted to " share this special moment" with me. His emotions were always so violent and shallow.