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Poll
Question: What's your conflict style? (see definitions in first post)
Problem Solver - 138 (51.5%)
Tough Battler - 17 (6.3%)
Placator - 93 (34.7%)
Detached - 20 (7.5%)
Total Voters: 268

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Author Topic: TEST: What's your conflict style?  (Read 4751 times)
blackandwhite
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« on: April 10, 2010, 12:43:52 AM »

What is your conflict style? Take the poll above and add a comment on your answer!

Do you use the same conflict style in all your relationships, or is it different in your relationship with a pwBPD (or other relationships)?

Peter Neidig, a psychologist who studied spousal abuse and developed a system for treating couples in abusive relationships jointly, identified four conflict styles. The styles fall on two scales: relationship goals and personal goals.

1. Problem Solver (win-win)

*High on Relationship Goals

*High on Personal Goals

Problem Solvers are highly invested in both personal goals and in the relationship. They assume a problem solving attitude toward conflict, seeing it as an opportunity to seek mutual (win-win) compromise solutions. Their approach is trusting, optimistic, and issue oriented. They use appropriate assertion and communication skills.

2. Tough Battler (win-lose)

*Low on Relationship Goals

*High on Personal Goals

Tough Battlers are high on personal gain but low on investment in the relationship. Conflict is conducted in a belligerent, independent style with no compromise asked for or given. The tough battlers use an aggressive win-lose approach, as to lose is to risk the loss of face. They are willing to risk the relationship in order to win.

3. Placator (yield-lose)

*High on Relationship Goals

*Low on Personal Goals

Placators are low on their investment in personal gains but high on the relationship. Their major concern is to preserve the relationship and they are willing to give up personal goals in order to do this. They tend to be nonassertive, dependent, and trusting.

4. Detached (lose-leave)

*Low on Relationship Goals

*Low on Personal Goals

Detacheds have little commitment to either personal or relationship goals. They have little trust and a low tolerance for conflict. They would rather leave than engage in meaningful conflict resolution.


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« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2010, 06:44:16 PM »

Interesting how much placator style has come up so far in the poll numbers. That means very low on personal goals and preserving the relationship at a lot of cost to the self.

A  Idea for me: When I read about these conflict styles I realized that in almost all my relationships, I use a problem solving style. With my husband, daughter, friends, co-workers, etc., that's my default and it works well. With my PD relatives, however, I go naturally into placator in relation to the other party's tough battler or detached. Quite often, my uBPD mother would use the detached style and cut people off. Occasionally the placator comes out in other relationships. I think the placator style comes at too high of a personal cost, and I don't want to use it anymore.

If you have used a placator style (or any style other than #1), what have been the costs to you? To the relationship?

B&W
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« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2010, 11:59:24 AM »

I definitely was a Placator in this relationship but that changed. Now I will just turn my back and walk away. Bad for the relationship, good for me but I am not going to even attempt to fight. I would not characterize myself as having changed to detached though. I think turning away is the only way to deal with a BPD partner and walking away IS in support of my personal goals. I attempted to be a problem solver but it did not work with him. In most cases, business and personal, I attempt to be a problem solver but it requires all involved to be involved in the problem solving. 

I would beg to differ that being detached is always "low on personal goals". I can understand if the detached person is hurting from the detachment and using it in a controlling manner but detaching is often the only solution. I have walked away from an abusive family, a hopeless job ( a dishonest and manipulative boss, stuck around for long enough to confirm my suspicions and feel assured that there were others to fill the gap) a couple of alcoholics, and now my stbxudBPD. IMO detaching may simply be facing reality, and not just NC with a BPD.  If your head hurts from banging it against the wall - stop banging it against the wall!

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« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2010, 12:19:30 PM »

For me it depends on who I'm in conflict with and what's at stake. I can think of situations where I have fit into each of the categories.

Interestingly, in my BPD relationships (other than with mother when I was a child and there was an inherent power imbalance), I NEVER had any arguments, and only voiced anger once. (My BF shushed me when I laughed out loud at the movies. It was a COMEDY, for crying out loud--"It's Complicated"--and I laughed at the Flomax joke. I think he was mortified that I would laugh at anything related to the precious male member. I told him in no uncertain terms once we got to the car never to shush me again. That was right around the time all his weird behavior started to surface, after 6 months of no real red flags. Who knows, maybe me standing up for myself started the devaluation period for him. Oh well, too bad, it felt good to speak up for myself, when in previous relationships I would have just eaten his criticism, and now that we're broken up, I feel like I dodged a big bullet.)

I suppose I was probably placating before any real argument could take place, so I guess I'd fall in that category as far as romantic relationships go.

In other types of relationships, such as work, I tend to be pretty detached and let things roll off my back without worrying about them too much, unless the same conflict keeps coming up over and over. If I work to find a solution but get backed into a corner, I definitely turn into the tough battler.

I studied martial arts and fencing, and that was my style in those sports too. It used to drive the refs at the tae kwon do tournaments crazy! They wanted fights with the competitors throwing lots of punches, lots of action. I felt it was a better strategy to let my opponent make a move, then take action. Why waste my energy on something that could be totally unnecessary? I feel the same way about interpersonal conflict, but like the refs, there are people who will get pissed off if you're not engaged all the time.
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« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2010, 08:36:15 AM »

Most definitely a problem solver. I remember as a kid my mom bought me one of those "build your own radio" kits at Radio Shack for Christmas one year. I was about 9 or 10 I think. I followed the instructions, connected the wires t the little springs and by 7pm I was ready to try it out. When I pushed the switch "on" nothing happened, so I went back through the instructions again and again for the next three hours and still nothing (luckily it wasn't a school night, so mom let me stay up!) I remember my mom said to me, "Rcoaster, why don't you got o bed and you can work on it some more tomorrow?" But I insisted that I could figure it out, and so mom allowed me to stay up "a little longer". After she went to bed I sat in the kitchen until 3AM, eyes squinty and exhausted, and finally, "Wallah!", I found a capacitor that had been installed in the wrong slot. The radio worked, I went to bed (later than I had probably ever been up at that age), and slept until noon the next day. My mom loves to tell that story.

Now, I see this as a reflection of my determination and will to follow through with my commitments. It has at times worked against me, such as in my marriage to BPDxw, but most often I find this trait about myself to be a blessing. My problem is that I rarely find mates who share this determination to work through issues and commit to working through things-even minor issues, which causes resentment to build up in me. That is perhaps the hardest trait (and most important in my book) to find in a partner, and yes, my goal is always to find a win/win resolution-its just that I will stay on it until an answer is found, but I often find myself alone in my endurance to follow through and wind up feeling like my partners just don't care as much as I do. In a way, I think this is a valid viewpoint-because if two people truly care about their partner's needs as much as their own, then this process should be relatively easy most of the time.

I believe most people these days are too wrapped up in their own sh&t and own selves to commit their energies to solving problems with their partners. In fact, almost ALL of the women I have dated, including my current former GF who I just split up with, seem to repeat the mantra, "Oh, its too much work", or "If its not easy then its not right"... .which I think is total BS.
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« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2010, 10:44:11 AM »

I'm with blackandwhite. Tend to be a strong problem-solver in "normal" relationships, but definitely a placator in my relationship with my dBPD stbxh. Interestingly, I often take a placator role in my relationship with my sister, who is more of a tough battler (and will sometimes do a short-term desertion like hanging up the phone or saying, 'I can't talk about this anymore'. In other words, when the ___ hits the fan, she dishes out the hurt, and I will take the hurt myself rather than risk the relationship. But I wouldn't say she has a PD - just tends to lash out when angry once in a while.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that problem-solving is not an effective tool with many pwBPD because of their tendency towards splitting, projection, etc. which prevents them from seeing the world in the same way others do. So then many people will resort to tough battling or desertion, which will likely end relationships with pwBPD. The ones who resort to placating are the ones the pwBPD want, so they latch on even harder, we placate even more, and the cycle of codependence begins.
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« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2010, 02:35:54 PM »

Quote from SoundMind

Excerpt
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that problem-solving is not an effective tool with many pwBPD because of their tendency towards splitting, projection, etc. which prevents them from seeing the world in the same way others do. So then many people will resort to tough battling or desertion, which will likely end relationships with pwBPD.

I have to say that for me, as with C12P21, I didn't have to go to tough battling or detached for the delicate balance of our relationship to go awry; when I stopped placating and started employing my usual problem-solving style, the relationship ended. My mother determined she did not want to continue to interact with me. Her response was tough battler sometimes and then, in the end, detached. She walked away, as she had with every other significant relationship in her life.

At the time, I didn't have the knowledge or skills I do now. I do wonder if I did--if I'd been conversant with boundaries, time outs, validation (which is often a technique that adult children of BPD parents do NOT want to use, for good reasons), etc.--if I could have employed them as part of my problem solving with her. Certainly there was a good chance. But "normal" problem solving, without the tools, was perceived by her as aggressive and invalidating. (Though it's perceived by others as positive, win-win, and healthy.)

Detached as a conflict style within an intimate relationship does strike me as generally low on personal goals--it's giving up. My mother wants love and to be loved; that's a big goal for her. But she lets that go, because she cannot tolerate the usual give and take of a normal relationship. But I can also see detaching as a positive, along the lines of what hiddenlizard was saying, realizing that this relationship cannot be saved in any healthy form, so letting go and moving forward with other relationships and pursuits. (Not withdrawing from the world.)

It's all food for thought... .

B&W
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« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2010, 02:49:49 PM »

I am a problem solver but became a placator in our relationship.

Same for my DH in his marriage to The Dark Princess.  With our marriage, we are both Problem Solvers, but I found myself having to help him get there again, else he went to quickly to what he thought would please me at perhaps too much cost to him, and I couldn't let him do that.

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« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2010, 03:55:08 PM »

I am partner of man with BPDxw... .I checked Problem Solver, but am probably really somewhere between problem solver, Battler, and Placator... .seems impossible, but true.  Which makes sense... .my partner is patient enough for the battler part of me, as he put up with BPD for years... .I am enough of a placator to put up with BPD BM of my SDs, and to work around ways my mate caters to her needs, but ultimately both my mate and I are problem solvers, 99% of the time, especially when it comes to our ow issues rather than issues around his BPD ex... .

Interesting how different styles inspire a style in others... .I am more of a placator with BPDex, as she rages and I want her to know that she is loved, want also to reduce threat to me... .Just as my mate placated during their marriage.  I do set boundaries, but I do not defend myself.  She has accused me of being horribly insulting---the worst I have said to her is, "Sounds like you are in a lot of pain.  You could use some help." 

On the other hand, when my partner has fought with his BPD ex, he tends to withdraw, so if I have a problem with what has happened around BPD, he tends to withdraw from my overtures and to placate... .which often results in my BATTLING more than Problem Solving... .trying to talk him out of behavior, ranting and raving, while he passively listens and agrees to do whatever I ask.  Feels crappy... .I like our problem solving selves the best.  Which come out when not under attack by BPD ex.  Thus our recent decision not to communicate verbally with BPD about challenging topics.  About 4 weeks, almost no verbal attacks on us, and we are almost totally in the "problem solver" range. 
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« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2010, 09:54:38 PM »

It depends on the person.  With someone that I trust, I am a problem solver.  With uBPDmom (when a child and couln't leave) and uBPDsis (until I stopped her abuse of my Dad), I was a Tough Battler.  After stopping uBPDsis's abuse of Dad, detached from her.  While leaving some other relationships that were abusive, I wouldn't call it leaving in a detached manner - but rarely have I been a placater.

What was interesting to me was that when uBPDsis started raging at us nearly two years ago when we started to take care of my Dad together [we didn't know she was like that] - I was so surprised that she treated each of us like my mother treated us.  Me with anger, another sister's heartstrings were pulled, another detached.  Then I finally realiized that is how each of us react to someone with this behavior.

If anyone reads my post, I am sure that you see I have little sympathy for the BPD when they do not take responsibility for the damage they do to others.  It is hard for me to let go of my Tough Battler or Detached state.  As a mother I suspect that I would be a problem solver for minor children with BDP and also when they were adults; however if as adult children they became self-destructive even after all of my energy, I suspect I would practice detachment to save me.

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« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2010, 10:14:39 PM »

Excerpt
If you have used a placator style (or any style other than #1), what have been the costs to you? To the relationship?

  As a Tough Battler - I experienced much rage and anger - which I am sure was not healthy for me.  The person on the other end hated me while I was the Tough Battler.   When Detaching - with uBPDmom, the relationship was never the intimate relationship that I wanted, with uBPDsis, currently the relationship is pretty much non-existent.  So while losing the relationship, this is probably more healthy for me that Tough Battler. 

I have not maintained a close relationship with a BPD.
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« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2010, 07:42:28 AM »

Nons also have boundary styles, which are kind of related. They can be thick--things have to go their way--or thin, being more flexible. BPs are usually thick.
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« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2010, 09:36:06 AM »

I was a Tough Battler, which only fueled the fire [ kind of hard to put the relationship at the top of the heap when it was my H that was trying to run me into the ground]... .tried Problem solving and that only back fires with my husband... .so I have become  the Detached Tough Battler... .and he can do whatever he wants far the heck away from me.
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« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2010, 11:22:10 AM »

":)etached", which is about 8%. That's 90% of the time, but with my closest relationships, BPDdd and DH, I'm a problem-solver. I think its a reflection of my Aspie/INTJ personality rather than a comment on what my relationships actually are like- I can be a problem-solver or a Battler depending on the situation, its just that I usually don't care about the issue or the person enough to bother!

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« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2010, 02:32:23 PM »

 conflict styles well i have to say that depends on who i am having a conflict with. lately it has been a conflict with my daughter and her husband and i want to solve the problem try to make things better or as best as i can for them.

  but if it is with my BPD husband, i stay detached from the situation not to have to many conflicts causing one rage after another. but again what i am dealing with is a conflict and i am out trying to solve the conflict with the kids, but then with my husband who is on the other side, i am trying to be the tough batteler to be on the kids side... so i guess i am in a no win situation i can't please everyone... .
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« Reply #15 on: April 15, 2010, 10:54:09 PM »

I had kind of an aha moment last night when posting, noting I had never had a real intimate relationship with a BPD, but is it possible?  I am seriously asking.   How?  without givinng up a part of your self.
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« Reply #16 on: April 17, 2010, 02:05:39 PM »

I had kind of an aha moment last night when posting, noting I had never had a real intimate relationship with a BPD, but is it possible?  I am seriously asking.   How?  without givinng up a part of your self.

I think you have hit on the absolute key to the problem, doingbetter. Some may disagree with me, but it is the giving up part of yourself that is necessary for the pwBPD. If you don't give up part of yourself, they either make the relationship intolerable or leave. Some people are willing to do that (I called it 'compromising' and believed that marriage was based on compromise for a dozen years) but the problem is the pwBPD always needs more, more, more. Soon you are at risk of giving up everything.
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« Reply #17 on: April 17, 2010, 09:51:40 PM »

Excerpt
t it is the giving up part of yourself that is necessary for the pwBPD. If you don't give up part of yourself, they either make the relationship intolerable or leave.

Sounds right to me... .and if you don't give it up... .they'll try to beat it out of you if you let them.

Sad.
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« Reply #18 on: April 19, 2010, 09:58:45 AM »

If you placate too much, you can lose respect.

Like a child throwing a tantrum, the BPD often reacts better when there is a boundary, and the tantrum is asking for that boundary. An out of control child needs to see their parent as in control.

Likewise the BPD.  If you placate, then it throws the BPD off because you don't appear in control, and you lose respect and make things worse.
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« Reply #19 on: April 19, 2010, 08:18:40 PM »

I just can't stand any kind of conflict or drama.  Probably a personality fault of my own.  I tend to placate to bring about piece.  But with my BPD dil I just detach.  I have been unsuccessful at any attempts at communication.  I really don't detach because a relationship with her isn't important to me.  I do it to protect myself.  I am sure that she knows that I will not fight with her so she pretty much has control over me in that respect.  I am just learning about boundries but conflict style is a very uncomfortable thing for me to even think about.  Deer
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« Reply #20 on: April 23, 2010, 02:50:45 PM »

Like a child throwing a tantrum, the BPD often reacts better when there is a boundary, and the tantrum is asking for that boundary. An out of control child needs to see their parent as in control.

Likewise the BPD.  If you placate, then it throws the BPD off because you don't appear in control, and you lose respect and make things worse.

You're quite right, Peaceful. My dBPDh has even thanked me for yelling at him sometimes (when I get pushed too far I go into tough battler mode). But in the end, I have two ACTUAL children, and my H isn't one of them. I need a grownup, not another child. It's emotionally exhausting to me to set and maintain boundaries, while validating and knowing when to walk away. That's what I mean by giving up part of myself. The part that wants and deserves a mature, equal partner.

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« Reply #21 on: April 26, 2010, 12:07:28 PM »

I am a problem solver with most people.  However, when I'm dealing with people like alphabet momster or question mark brother (tough battlers), I have to resort to being more detached.  With them, I will not engage (i.e. "I'm not going to start this argument because it's not going to get me anywhere." and will leave.  This often leaves the tough battlers in a state of frustration, but at least I emerge relatively unscathed. 

enDad is definitely a placator.  He will give up whatever it takes to appease momster, even if it is the needs of his own children. 
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« Reply #22 on: April 26, 2010, 12:21:18 PM »

I am such a placator and I really wish I wasn't. In my heart, I'm a problem solver and can do that with my husband and children. I just have trouble not being a placator with anyone else. I avoid even the most benign conflict/non-conflict... .I can't even tell the cleaning lady to clean the microwave if she forgets. Or tell the woman at the kids haircut place that the haircut she gave my daughter is laughable bad. And I even gave her a bigger than expected tip (yes... .insane).  I feel like the biggest wimp and then I can get pissy or avoidant after a conflict situation.  Obviously, these are not the most productive ways to act but I freeze in the moment.  Argh.  Help!  Building up the confidence to call Ikea about a broken item... .:-)

I was so conditioned to placate my BPDm or even smooth things over with people that I can't stand up for myself in the most simple of situations. My mom took real advantage of throughout the time I was in contact with her. Hope to learn good conflict skills in the near future.
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« Reply #23 on: April 29, 2010, 05:07:19 PM »

I've always been a problem-solver and tried very hard to be that way with both my last two relationships (possible NPD, then BPD) but it rarely (if ever) worked.  Tough Battler, or possibly something even worse, had better results - but I just didn't feel comfortable doing that.

As others have said, placator works for awhile - until they run all over you.

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« Reply #24 on: May 01, 2010, 09:13:03 AM »

The BPD in my life is my daughter. The situation has become murky because of her children/my grandchildren. Whereas I was able BGC (before grandchildren) to problem solve or detach, now I am afraid to detach. First, I attempt to problem solve. This works occaisionally. Otherwise, I try to placate to calm my daughter down and create a better environment for the children. I was able to set limits... .now I constantly step over my boundaries to rescue the grandchildren.  I know this is not working for me, but I do not know what to do.
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« Reply #25 on: May 03, 2010, 09:44:45 AM »

Well I put myself in as a problem solver.  Sometimes I go out of my way to find a problem to solve. 

But I can also be a placator in my relationship with my husband.  I've never been one in my adult life to avoid conflict - rather see it as a challenge to improve myself and learn something from it.  However, I have come to a point in my relationship with my husband that seems I am setting aside my own sense of me to placate his actions.

Here's the difference though - he is the non, and I am the non-non.  So when the pendulum swung for him from his past relationship to ours, I think he went crazy with doing things for himself and making sure he had a life that he didn't get to have when married to the BPD. Now that he is with someone (moi) who is comfortable in their own skin, enjoys time alone and can actually go and do things by themselves and doesn't need to be reassured at every turn, I think he has become very selfish to regain what he missed out on during his marriage.

And this has somehow fallen on my shoulders and it tugs at my sense of loyalty and responsibility to the children. He can take off, despite my verbalization that I need him to stay home this time so I can go and do something for me, and it falls on deaf ears now and away he goes. Knowing that I will stay to look after the kids since they are too young to be left alone!

With his ex - I am definitely a Tough Battler. This bodes well for my relationship with my husband.  I have no problem saying what needs to be said as I have no real investment in a relationship with her.

I have found myself having to detach somewhat with the kids though recently.  It could be a bi-product of being a tough battler with their mother. I have had to detach with certain instances to preserve my own sense of self.

I still love them dearly, want the world for them, but sometimes I have to detach.  For the most part I am a problem solver with them. But when the problem solving attempts do not work and go awry, then I find myself detaching.

Interesting how we have to change our relationship styles with different people.
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« Reply #26 on: May 03, 2010, 06:19:21 PM »

Oh, I'm definately a problem solver.  Failing that I'm a tough battler.

Neither one works well with a BPD.   Smiling (click to insert in post)
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Want2know
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« Reply #27 on: May 05, 2010, 09:14:00 AM »

For me it depends on who I'm in conflict with and what's at stake. I can think of situations where I have fit into each of the categories.

I agree.  I answered based upon my relationship with the pwBPD.  I tried to be a problem solver initially, but his idea of solving a problem was doing things that would meet his goal, and not necessarily mine or both of ours, so I became more of the placator to try and keep the peace - those darn eggshells.  I'm done with them.  No more eggs for me!
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« Reply #28 on: May 05, 2010, 09:16:01 AM »

Placator to the core
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« Reply #29 on: May 05, 2010, 02:55:41 PM »

I think I'd like to be a problem solver but am more honestly a placator.

I think all our pwBPDSOs are detached.
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