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Author Topic: 7.03 | The Difference Between A "Honeymoon Phase" and "Idealization"?  (Read 12447 times)
joeramabeme
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« Reply #30 on: June 20, 2016, 08:29:23 PM »

Was the failure or breakdown more about the inability, as a couple, to establish trust between with:

  • a person with special needs who inherently distrustful, and who copes by splitting, and


  • a partner who does not have the skills needed skills to be attuned to them.


I'm not suggesting that all of us were universally at fault (or not at fault), but that there was a mismatch at the trust building aspect of the relationship that was partially contributed to by both parties (different contributions and dynamics for each couple). Some of our partners were very high on the scale, and some less so.  Some of us were high on the scale, and some not so.

I think its important to understand how relationships form (first) and then what "BPD traits" are (second) and understand own traits (third) and how the all feed into the relationship conflict .

Does this model fit with your experience in any way?

She was big on saying; the most important thing to me is TRUST.  I understood that to mean "I got your back".  Then, at the slightest (and sometimes not so slight) level of personal error, she would hammer me on my lack of trustworthiness.  The response was extremely out of proportion to the events.  Like so many other things, I reacted to her accusations and not her feelings.  So, is the issue she can't trust and so splits? OR That I am/was unable to attune to her needs?  I have spent hours lamenting that question and my actions. 

Had I been more comfortable in my own skin, I would have been a more objective listener.  I believe the point to your question, is that we are bringing in our own limitations, for whatever reasons they may exist - perhaps "ideals" that we are seeking in another, and this contributes to the issues of mistrust. 

Despite still loving my ex, I am not sure that I have the ability to be that patient.  I would not name the quality that describes that level of listening as "love", but perhaps empathy and compassion.  Which then begs the question, is this really a relationship I should be in at all if love is not going to be able to rise above.

JRB
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« Reply #31 on: June 20, 2016, 10:07:30 PM »

The response was extremely out of proportion to the events.  Like so many other things, I reacted to her accusations and not her feelings.  So, is the issue she can't trust and so splits? OR That I am/was unable to attune to her needs?  I have spent hours lamenting that question and my actions. 

When I read this, I had the thought, "I bet my ex could say these same things about me." I know that I did not trust my ex. I had good reason to not trust him. In his mind, he was trying as hard as he could to make me happy. The problem is that his efforts were such that it felt like he had no clue who I am. I am talking about an 18 year relationship so his claims of "I didn't know that about you" were kind of bogus. One example was my reaction to him getting me white pajamas. If he told somebody that he got me pajamas as a gift and then told them my reaction, it would sound like my response was over the top and completely out of proportion.

I use this as an example because it kind of exemplifies a lot of what was wrong with our relationship. He didn't pay much attention to me as a person. First off, I don't wear white because I have 4 kids and it is impossible to keep anything white for very long. Second, my mom used to get my sisters and I matching pajamas as teens and adults. I don't like getting pajamas. My sisters and I used to sit around and complain how much we hated getting pajamas because our mother's taste was horrible. I have a picture of my sister and I when I was in my teens and she was early twenties/late teens. We were wearing those annoying matching pajamas. I don't know how many times I have shared that picture and told the pajama story. So, to have him get me WHITE friggin' pajamas sent the message that he hadn't listened to me and had no clue who I am or what I like. When I said something to him, he told me "all they had was white and I didn't feel like going to another store". And then, he claimed to have never heard the pajama story.

In hindsight, a lot of my reactions were probably misguided. The reason is that I wasn't responding to the event in question but was responding to the sum total of all of the crap that had transpired between us. It was all of the times that he turned away from me. It was all of the tiny little messages that he sent that said that I wasn't that important to him. It was all of the times that he refused to see ME as the completely flawed person that I am. He would get upset because I stopped sharing with him. Why share with him when he didn't hear me and would only listen to respond? So many times, we would have these great conversations and then nothing would come of them.

It wasn't just about my needs. It was about me wanting to be seen and heard by HIM. It wasn't about what he did or didn't do. It was more about him being unwilling and unable to really see me. My kids, my friends, and my family see me as pretty predictable. He made me out to be some kind of impossible mystery that was impossible to please and impossible to figure out.
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« Reply #32 on: June 21, 2016, 08:48:20 AM »

Initially I think it was probably positive for her. It helped give her confidence and self belief,

I want to offer the perspective of how it feels to be idealized like that. For me, it wasn't about giving me confidence or self belief. It was about the fact that I felt special to him... .

When I first met my ex she was struggling with a range of issues. She also catastrophized a lot and lacked self belief. I think my encouragement, positive reinforcement of her abilities and strengths helped her move forward. I also believed that she was special - I assume that helped too.

Inevitably over time as we got to know each better I grew more aware of her weaknesses. I know she struggled with her past and I knew that she was vulnerable to bouts of depression. That didn't make me stop loving her. In ways it helped me to love her more because I admired the courage and strength that she had found to overcome these. I think a good relationship can inspire us to see the best in ourselves and our partner

Excerpt


But over time I think she felt burdened by the expectations that it created. It's exhausting trying to live up to someone else's idealised image of what they think you should especially when deep down your own self image is damaged and fragile. Sooner or later it breeds resentment because the person being idealised realises it's controlling. It's not about real acceptance or intimacy.

Excerpt
This raises a question for me. Where does idealization begin and end? I know that I feel very burdened by the expectations that ex has for me. The burden doesn't come from having a damaged or fragile self image. ….

On the flip side, I know that he has said that my expectations of him were too high. One day, he told me that I needed a guy that was perfect like my dad that could protect me and do anything for me. I thought that was complete hogwash. I wasn't asking him to do anything herculean. ….

I was trying to explore my idealisation of my ex but I also felt that my exes idealisation and expectation were a huge burden. Very early in the relationship she confided in me, and shared her trauma. On one hand I felt very honoured that she trusted me, but I was also conscious that this sharing of her trauma loaded our relationship with burden. I could listen and validate her pain. I could support her and encourage her seek healing and that was all I could do. Over time I experienced repeated bouts of dysregulation / devaluation and the empathy and connection I felt for her was gradually overwhelmed by feelings of powerlessness and ultimately resentment. If she truly cared about me and our relationship why didn't she seek help to heal? I think she felt betrayed and judged. I don't any romantic relationship can heal the burden of real trauma.
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« Reply #33 on: June 21, 2016, 10:01:07 AM »

In hindsight, a lot of my reactions were probably misguided. The reason is that I wasn't responding to the event in question but was responding to the sum total of all of the crap that had transpired between us.

I would like to think that this is true for me as well, but... .

As I have been reading all of the responses in this thread, I have been wondering how many of us were like this from the beginning, or if we became like this over time?

I am sitting here struggling with this question. I know that my responses to my x changed over time. I stopped trying to understand what she was trying to tell me and I started to listen for what I could defend against.

But, I also know that in the beginning of the r/s, I was also hypersensitive to her criticism. Things like, "A good bf would have... ." when I didn't do what she expected without her letting me know that she expected something of me. Those comments played on my own fears of rejection.

So, now I am wondering which came first?
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« Reply #34 on: June 21, 2016, 10:34:23 AM »

I know we often talk about idealization as a the fatal flaw in the relationship, but I might question whether this was the issue for our partner.  Maybe we think so as it was the issue for us.  Is the reason we that over-focus on the idealization because we suffer to resolve the cognitive dissonance? How could she (he) that say those incredible things about me and then act like __________? This is an interesting workshop: US: From idealization to devaluation - why we struggle

In many cases the pwBPD would probably say the issue was "trust". Trust would be a function of the pwBPD general inherent distrust and our skills with respect to (1) awareness of one’s partners pain, (2) tolerance that there were always two valid viewpoints in any negative emotions, (3) turning toward one partner’s need, (4) non-defensive listening, and (5) empathy. It's a more complex thought for sure.

Was anyone here a really defensive listener (example)?

Was the failure or breakdown more about the inability, as a couple, to establish trust between with:

  • a person with special needs who inherently distrustful, and who copes by splitting, and


  • a partner who does not have the skills needed skills to be attuned to them.


I'm not suggesting that all of us were universally at fault (or not at fault), but that there was a mismatch at the trust building aspect of the relationship that was partially contributed to by both parties (different contributions and dynamics for each couple). Some of our partners were very high on the scale, and some less so.  Some of us were high on the scale, and some not so.

I think its important to understand how relationships form (first) and then what "BPD traits" are (second) and understand own traits (third) and how the all feed into the relationship conflict .

Does this model fit with your experience in any way?

I think Gottman's principles make a lot of sense and offer a great foundation for healthy relationships.

But and I think it's a big BUT, I also think we need realistically acknowledge the enormous challenges of being in a romantic relationship with someone whose is on the personality disordered spectrum. Typically their "special needs" require a unique skill set which very few people have. It's really important to learn to understand our own behaviour but let's not understate the complexity of the interaction or the dynamics at play.

Idealisation seems to be a hallmark of these relationships, especially early on but I don't think it's the only one. I do think it leaves a deep mark on us that can keep us stuck.

Trust is another big one. I trusted my ex, but each episode of splitting and devaluation chipped away my trust until it was gradually eroded. Despite my best intentions she didn't trust me. I tried to explore this with her in the most non confrontational way that I could, but she struggled to articulate why

Did I lack critical skills and make mistakes. Undoubtedly and the skills I did have atrophied over time as I grew more hopeless and frustrated. I became more defensive, critical, and less attuned to her needs. Some of my behaviour was cruel and destructive and I deeply regret it. But I also realise that the circumstances were extreme and I think I learned lot from the experience

Do I think Gottman's skills could have saved my relationship? To be honest no. I recognise that there's a broad spectrum of behaviour and experience but I think romantic relationships present huge challenges even there is no disorders involved.

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« Reply #35 on: June 21, 2016, 10:41:21 AM »

As I have been reading all of the responses in this thread, I have been wondering how many of us were like this from the beginning, or if we became like this over time?

this is very important to explore. many of us were at our most extreme in these relationships and perhaps behaved in ways we hadnt before. many of us adapted, trading one strategy for an unhealthy one, and then another unhealthy one. understandable, but not healthy coping. it helps to identify more long standing patterns from the extremes. much further on, when fault lines no longer mattered, i tried not to distinguish. my extremes alarm me, and im alarmed i allowed myself to be extreme; im alarmed at the ways in which i let myself go. while we are processing, theres a big difference between owning that, and excessively blaming or labeling ourselves.

the goal, really, is to see the relationship and ourselves in a balanced way.
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« Reply #36 on: June 21, 2016, 12:36:50 PM »

Building Trust The big questions of Phase 2 of love are, “Will you be there for me? Can I trust you? Can I count on you to have my back?” The answer to this question is the basis of secure or insecure attachment in the relationship. Building Trust is punctuated by frustration, exasperation, disappointment, sadness, and fury. The most fighting in a relationship happens here. The success or failure of Phase 2 is based on how couples argue. If the ratio of positivity to negativity exceeds 50% during conflict discussions, a couple is likely to stay together.

The building of trust is about having your partner’s best interests in mind and heart. It’s about listening to your partner’s pain and communicating that when they hurt, the world stops, and you listen. Dr. Gottman calls this being attuned to one another: (1) A for Awareness of one’s partners pain, (2) T for Tolerance that there were always two valid viewpoints in any negative emotions, (3) T for Turning Toward one partner’s need, (4) N for Non-defensive listening, and (5) E for Empathy.

This thread started out with questions about whether "idealization" is something to be feared/avoided in future relationships and whether the failure to live up to "fantasy" was the primary reason our partner painted us black (or are we over-focused on it because it hurt us).

Gottman was, first and foremost, a researcher studying what causes relationships to fail. He studied healthy and failed relationships (of all types). In our context, I believe his work challenges the often held belief that failure to live up to the idealization was the toxin in the relationship. Maybe it was a basic failure to establish "trust" - something that is significantly affected when one person has trust issues. Nonetheless, trust is a function of how the couple related - that's were the failure took place.

Attribution Theory When another person has erred, we will often use internal attribution, saying it is due to internal personality factors. When we have erred, we will more likely use external attribution, attributing causes to situational factors rather than blaming ourselves. And vice versa. We will attribute our successes internally and the successes of our rivals to external ‘luck’. When a football team wins, supporters say ‘we won’. But when the team loses, the supporters say ‘they lost’.

Another challenge in this thread is about our own attribution bias. How much of that is at play with our postmortem. We tend to see our partners behavior as something inherently wrong with them - and we see our own behavior and the function of external forces. What is a balance view (for our particular case).

Hard questions. Hopefully worth pondering.

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« Reply #37 on: June 21, 2016, 01:02:15 PM »

Attribution Theory When another person has erred, we will often use internal attribution, saying it is due to internal personality factors. When we have erred, we will more likely use external attribution, attributing causes to situational factors rather than blaming ourselves. And vice versa. We will attribute our successes internally and the successes of our rivals to external ‘luck’. When a football team wins, supporters say ‘we won’. But when the team loses, the supporters say ‘they lost’.

Another challenge in this thread is about our own attribution bias. How much of that is at play with our postmortem. We tend to see our partners behavior as something inherently wrong with them - and we see our own behavior and the function of external forces. What is a balance view (for our particular case).

Hard questions. Hopefully worth pondering.

For some of us, the opposite of this is true. We accept all the responsibility for failures and perceive successes as merely luck.

I tend to not look at my x as not being flawed, but rather a simply a different personality type from me who has her own issues as we all do. I look inwardly for the flaws.

Balance still needs to be found for sure.
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« Reply #38 on: June 22, 2016, 03:18:55 AM »

Attribution Theory When another person has erred, we will often use internal attribution, saying it is due to internal personality factors. When we have erred, we will more likely use external attribution, attributing causes to situational factors rather than blaming ourselves. And vice versa. We will attribute our successes internally and the successes of our rivals to external ‘luck’. When a football team wins, supporters say ‘we won’. But when the team loses, the supporters say ‘they lost’.

Another challenge in this thread is about our own attribution bias. How much of that is at play with our postmortem. We tend to see our partners behavior as something inherently wrong with them - and we see our own behavior and the function of external forces. What is a balance view (for our particular case).

Hard questions. Hopefully worth pondering.

For some of us, the opposite of this is true. We accept all the responsibility for failures and perceive successes as merely luck.

I tend to not look at my x as not being flawed, but rather a simply a different personality type from me who has her own issues as we all do. I look inwardly for the flaws.

Balance still needs to be found for sure.

Speaking to my own experience my overriding objective during and after my relationship was to try and understand what happened - to try and make sense of an experience that felt profoundly confusing and traumatic.

I wanted to try and reframe it and give it meaning. I've gone through periods where I primarily blamed my ex and also periods where I blamed myself. Over time I've come to realise that blame and fault finding are largely unhelpful. They are cul de sacs. I recognise and accept that I and my ex both had weaknesses and made mistakes and I've tried to learn from mine and detach from hers.

I believe there's typically a broad spectrum of dysfunctional behaviour on both sides of these relationships, but I do not underestimate the profound impact a personality disorder has on this dynamic. This isn't about blame or seeking to shift responsibility elsewhere. It's about recognising the very real impact of disordered behaviour and the unique challenges it's creates in a relationship

Returning to the subject of trust and idealisation. My relationship began with mutual trust but that gradually disappeared. Trust that is built on idealisation is fragile and insecure for obvious reasons.

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« Reply #39 on: June 22, 2016, 09:50:36 AM »

This thread started out with questions about whether "idealization" is something to be feared/avoided in future relationships and whether the failure to live up to "fantasy" was the primary reason our partner painted us black (or are we over-focused on it because it hurt us).

I don't think idealization is a bad thing as long as it doesn't involve unrealistic expectations. I think there is a difference between seeing somebody as being an amazing person while seeing and accepting their flaws and limitation. Would being googly eyed over your partner even though they are flawed be considered idealization or would it be part of being in a romantic relationship? I am still wondering how to distinguish between realistic expectations and idealization and fantasy. I feel like ex did not live up to his basic responsibilities as a father and husband. I have gone in circles with myself trying to figure out if I was wanting too much. I don't think I was.

I feel like what he was wanting was pure fantasy. He expected me to take care of everyone and everything and not have bad days. He still hasn't painted me black. He seems to think that I am doing great with everything and that I have moved on. If I could have lived up to his fantasy without having problems with it, we might still be together. I can't give him what he needs and he can't give me what I need. There is a complete mismatch.

I am thinking about my own experience. Things got considerably worse when I stopped being able to look past exes flaws. Would being able to see a persons flaws and see them as amazing anyway be considered idealization? I don't think I have ever dated a guy that I didn't see as amazing or wonderful. How can you be involved with somebody without seeing something in them that is a bit idealized? Could it be that our inability to idealize and look past their flaws was a contributing factor to the demise of the relationship? When I decided that I was exhausted and needed help from HIM and was met with a blank stare, I stopped seeing him as so wonderful. He didn't even try to help me.

Excerpt
In our context, I believe his work challenges the often held belief that failure to live up to the idealization was the toxin in the relationship. Maybe it was a basic failure to establish "trust" - something that is significantly affected when one person has trust issues. Nonetheless, trust is a function of how the couple related - that's were the failure took place.

I would definitely say that how we related was more of a problem than idealization. I feel like I could have continued to be with him if he would have heard me and actually done something to show me that he was listening to me and taking me into consideration. Talking to him was like talking to a brick wall at times.

Excerpt
Another challenge in this thread is about our own attribution bias. How much of that is at play with our postmortem. We tend to see our partners behavior as something inherently wrong with them - and we see our own behavior and the function of external forces. What is a balance view (for our particular case).

For my particular case, I think the attribution bias was in reverse. Ex appeared to be this great and wonderful guy that was so healthy. He had what appeared to be the perfect family, blah, blah, blah. I was the one from a family of dysfunction. I knew that I had issues. I saw the problems in our relationship as a result of me having unrealistic expectations. When his porn problem became apparent early on, I figured my upset was a result of me not being able to accept that boys will be boys. In hindsight, his level of porn use had gone way beyond boys will be boys. It WAS destructive to our relationship because he was choosing it over me. I didn't attribute his choosing porn/his mom/etc. to something inside of him. I attributed it to a lack on my part so I tried harder to fix myself, change my thinking, and meet him where he was.

In my case, the balanced view is that both of us have problems. I have spent most of my adult life doing work on myself and trying to become healthier. As I got healthier and allowed myself to have needs and see things from a more balanced perspective, the relationship began to fall apart. I could no longer have a one sided relationship where I did the work and he got the benefits.
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« Reply #40 on: June 22, 2016, 10:33:39 AM »

I don't think idealization is a bad thing as long as it doesn't involve unrealistic expectations. I think there is a difference between seeing somebody as being an amazing person while seeing and accepting their flaws and limitation. Would being googly eyed over your partner even though they are flawed be considered idealization or would it be part of being in a romantic relationship?

... .

Would being able to see a persons flaws and see them as amazing anyway be considered idealization? I don't think I have ever dated a guy that I didn't see as amazing or wonderful. How can you be involved with somebody without seeing something in them that is a bit idealized? Could it be that our inability to idealize and look past their flaws was a contributing factor to the demise of the relationship?

I don't find that holding someone in high regard and still seeing their flaws is idealization. I think that when reality switches to fantasy is when idealization happens. It's when we ignore the flaws and believe that the other person is perfect and our savior that problems arise. Simply knowing that the person is a person, and thus imperfect, but still finding the person as someone that we want to be with... .that's where things should be. It is healthy to look at our chosen partners with deep love and adoration IMHO.

Excerpt
In our context, I believe his work challenges the often held belief that failure to live up to the idealization was the toxin in the relationship. Maybe it was a basic failure to establish "trust" - something that is significantly affected when one person has trust issues. Nonetheless, trust is a function of how the couple related - that's were the failure took place.

I don't think that failure to live up to the idealization is the death nail to a r/s. I think that is part of the healthy transition from the initial honeymoon period to the day-to-day functioning. I would also argue that trust can be a huge issue, but not the issue so much as how the couple deal with the trust issues.

My most recent x and I had major trust issues; that is without question. But, I was in a r/s in the past that lasted for over seven years and I'm still friends with her. My trust issues existed during that r/s also. The difference is how those two women dealt with me and my trust issues. One was patient and caring, the other employed histrionics. One worked with me to settle me, the other got angry. One worked to pull me closer, the other pushed me away. ne will probably be a part of my life forever, the other I will probably never hear from again. Can you guess which was which?
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