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Author Topic: BPD and The Nice Guy Personality Type~Joanna Nicola  (Read 1198 times)
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« on: April 26, 2020, 10:02:33 AM »

Most people know that women with traits of BPD or borderline personality disorder share certain personality characteristics that create the behavior patterns we associate with the disorder. But what you might not know is that the men who enter relationships with women with traits of BPD often have a pattern of behavior of their own which can be similarly recognized.

Just like women with traits of BPD, these men seem to share similar character traits. And these traits can influence them not only to fall in love with a woman with traits of BPD, but also to remain emotionally attached to her long after he should have left the relationship and sometimes long after the relationship has ended.

The personality type that seems to most often become entangled in the web of a woman with traits of BPD is a man we often refer to as a nice-guy type. There appears to be an alchemy of sorts that takes place when a woman with traits of BPD and a man with nice-guy traits get together.

And it is this unique dynamic that can initially attract the nice guy and subsequently lock him into an unhealthy relationship often despite his better judgment. We often think of women with traits of BPD as having personality traits that cause them to have an unrealistic perspective on human nature. But as it turns out, the nice-guy type also has traits that cause him to see the world unrealistically.

The woman with traits of BPD may see the world through a lens of negativity, believing that people are less trustworthy than they really are. But the nice-guy type has the opposite bias when it comes to human nature.

His character traits lead him to believe that people are nicer or more trustworthy than they really are. And it is the nice-guy type’s mistaken assumption that deep down the woman with traits of BPD is really just like him that keeps him from recognizing her limitations as a relationship partner.

But there is a very good reason for him to believe that she shares his nice guy traits. Anyone who has been in a relationship with a woman with traits of BPD can tell you she does not start out by mistreating her partner.

Differences and Similarities Between
Traits of BPD and The Traits of a Nice Guy


In most romantic relationships, women with traits of BPD move through an initial phase of idealization. This phase is fueled by an intense drive to achieve emotional intimacy which because of her lack of trust she is then unable to sustain. During this first phase her behaviors perfectly mimic those of a nice-girl, which is exactly the personality type the nice guy will be looking for.

The nice-guy type, when he meets a woman who seems to share his trusting nature and appears as interested as he is in true intimacy, will naturally believe he has found his perfect match. He will not realize that the nice-girl behavior that women with traits of BPD initially display will be followed by behavior that is anything but nice.

But because the idealization phase of BPD relationships creates the illusion that he is with a kindred spirit, the nice guy will naturally assume she is as trustworthy as he is, causing him to throw caution to the wind. And by the time she transitions out of her idealization phase and into her devaluation phase, he is usually deeply in love with her.

If he were not in love he may have been able to realize he was wrong about her ability to treat him well. He may have been able to emotionally disentangle himself from her. But the combination of being deeply in love and his lack of awareness of how other personality types function may instead launch him into a state of disorientation and great confusion.

Everything the nice guy experiences once she has transitioned into her devaluation phase will clearly indicate she is not the nice-girl type he mistook her for. But because he is in love with her, he will not connect the dots. Desperately wanting to believe that the woman he loves is still his perfect match, he will repeatedly attempt to approach his relationship partner with reason and logic.

Convinced she is a nice girl at heart he will be blinded to the fact that although reason and logic work for nice-guy and nice girl-types, they are nowhere near powerful enough to get through the defenses of a person who lacks his trusting nature.

In order for the nice-guy type to free himself from the illusion that he could bring back the idealization phase of his relationship, he must find a way to accept that his initial assessment of this woman was wrong. He must learn that although the woman with traits of BPD may closely resemble a nice-girl type, the motivations behind her behavior are quite different.

But it may take more than education about traits of BPD to convince a nice-guy that the love of his life was not who he thought she was. In order to accomplish this the nice guy may also need to come to terms with his own identity.

He may have to learn to accept the fact that the ability to treat others well that comes so naturally to him is not a trait that most people share and that in order not to be taken advantage of he must learn how to carefully vet anyone who asks for his trust.

He may also need to understand his own motivations, driven by his nice guy character traits before he can truly accept that she is not like him after all.

We’ll begin out exploration of the nice guy-type by addressing what differentiates the nice-guy type from the rest of the population.

Defining The Nice Guy Type

The nice-guy type is a somewhat common cluster of personality traits that is present in both men and women. This cluster is very beneficial to those that possess it, particularly in regard to their romantic relationships. People with this cluster of traits seem to have a natural aptitude for interpersonal communication. They also have a natural aptitude for closeness and intimacy.

What makes them different from most people is that they lack the fear of betrayal that most of us must overcome in order to be intimate with others. The nice guy will tend to use logical reasoning to assess whether another person is safe to get close to as opposed to what we might call emotional reasoning.

When we look closer at this natural aptitude for intimacy we find that what seems to separate the nice-guy type from others is actually not a trait that he possess, but a trait that seems to be strangely missing from this personality type. The trait that the nice guy type seems to lack that almost all other people possess is the natural fear of being hurt or taken advantage of that most people have to work through in order to achieve intimacy.

Although his lack of fear may help him immensely in his relationships with others, there are several reasons that his lack of experience with this type of fear may cause problems for him. Because he lacks the trait of fear of closeness that almost all other personality types have, he is not familiar with what we might call the dark side of human nature when it comes to romantic relationships. This dark side could be defined as a series of defense mechanisms that people use to protect themselves from feeling vulnerable.

Not understanding the fear involved for many people to expose their vulnerability to others, he may not be able to comprehend the range of emotions an untrusting type can feel for a romantic partner. Interestingly enough, the very trait that the nice guy lacks seems to be the one that the woman with traits of BPD possesses the most of.

Here are a few of the negative behaviors often seen in women with traits of BPD that the nice guy may not be able to recognize or understand:

      Devaluation
Stalking
Domestic violence
Verbal abuse
Emotional abuse
Blame-shifting
Lying
Grandiosity
Selfishness
Accusations of infidelity
Cheating
Rage

Although the nice-guy type may believe there are abusive or unhealthy people in the world, he will often have a black and white perception of how good and bad manifests in human behavior. He may not completely grasp the concept that when it comes to romantic love, untrusting people can feel both intense love and intense hatred for the same person.

Without having any familiarity with the deeply troubling and almost paranoid state of mistrust that the woman with traits of BPD routinely experiences, he may mistakenly believe that her destructive behaviors driven by fear of closeness can be addressed through standard methods of communication.

Now that we have addressed some of the difficulties nice guy types have in understanding other types, let’s turn our attention to misunderstandings that other types have for the nice guy.

Are Nice Guys Too Nice

The most common misperception that people make about this personality type is that nice guys are all people-pleasers. Although people-pleasing can be a tendency among nice-guy/nice-girl types, people-pleasing is not part of the nice guy constellation of traits. The nice guy’s good treatment of others is not, as many people may assume, motivated by fear or by low self-esteem.

However, the value he places on connection with others can in certain circumstances create a vulnerability for the nice guy that other types may not be susceptible to. We will find that nice-guy types who are under extreme stress or who have not received enough positive reinforcement from early caretakers can be susceptible to people-pleasing or in more formal words, over-dependence on others.

The common assumption that being a nice guy means you are a pushover or a doormat is usually a projection from people who do not possess the natural ability to treat others well. These are often individuals who can’t quite grasp the pay-it-forward benefits that the nice-guy and nice-girl type grasp intuitively.

But if a nice guy does realize he has fallen into the habit of putting others’ needs ahead of his own, it may be important to recognize that this tendency can be easily remedied through therapy, behavior modification or personal development and self-help techniques.

Since it is fairly easy to determine whether you might be gravitating towards people-pleasing, and recognizing it can be the first step to becoming less dependent, let’s take a brief moment to more closely examine the full range of human dependency.
The Nice Guy and Over-Dependency

When we talk about dependency, we are really talking about how much reliance we will put upon others in order to get our emotional needs met. In order to get a clearer understanding of how dependency relates to the traits of a nice guy we are going to look at an imaginary scale or spectrum of dependency.



On the far left side of this scale we are going to put people who are overly dependent on others. On the far right side we are going to place people who are under-dependent. These are individuals who hardly depend on others at all. And in the middle we are going to place individuals who are what we will be calling inter-dependent, meaning they are capable of achieving a healthy balance that lets them retain their sense of independence while also allowing others to take care of some of their emotional needs.

In order to be healthy in the kinds of relationships in which we depend on others, we need to find the balance between over-dependency and under-dependency. The nice guy type will most often sit somewhere near the middle of this spectrum. But because he has a strong affinity for human connection, we will place him slightly towards the side of over-dependency, but still in the healthy zone.

Then we will place an individual who we might call an independent personality type also near the middle but slightly to the right side of this scale or the under-dependent side. This individual is also still in the healthy zone, but closer to under-dependence because of their less pronounced drive for human connection.

We will find that most of the population sits somewhere in the middle of this spectrum, occasionally having to make minor adjustments at stressful times to bring them back towards the healthy center. A nice guy may from time to time need to develop his independence and an independent type may need to remind themselves to focus on their connections with others.

But there are also those individuals who chronically end up on the unhealthy or extreme ends of this spectrum. Let’s now take a look at the qualities associated with first an over-dependent person, and then someone on the opposite end of the scale, an under-dependent individual.

Over-Dependency In Relationships

An overly dependent individual is someone who we might call too nice. This is a person who experiences other people’s needs as more important than their own. When we sacrifice our own needs to take care of others needs, we send a negative message to ourselves which can strongly affect our self esteem.

Low self esteem and insecurity can make a person feel like they are not worthy enough, and this can often drive them to be overly dependent on others. They may feel like they cannot survive without the help of their family, friends or romantic partners. They may also find themselves being taken advantage of by others.

There are many factors that lead to over-dependency, most often stemming from negative experiences in early life. When events happen that make a child or young adult doubt their own worth, they may end up placing less value on themselves and more on others. Or they may not trust in their own worth and may feel obligated to give more to others in order to receive anything back.

If you are curious as to whether you have a tendency to be over-dependent you might ask yourself if you tend to put others’ needs before your own. You might also reflect on whether there are regular circumstances in which you want to say no to taking care of others’ needs but find yourself unable to. And the third tell-tale sign that you might be losing your sense of self to others is if you find yourself trying to rescue others who should be helping themselves.

Let’s now take a look at the qualities of a person who is in the unhealthy zone of under-dependency when it comes to relationships with others.

Under-dependent Relationships

We will define under-dependency as the lack of desire to depend on others for personal needs. Under-dependent individuals are fully functional on their own, but because they are unwilling or unmotivated to give and take in their close relationships, we would consider them on the unhealthy side of the scale when it comes to their ability to participate in an emotionally reciprocal relationship.

Some of the reasons that people may become under-dependent are negative past experiences, usually linked to betrayal that cause them to feel too vulnerable to allow themselves to risk being hurt again. We may find people who have married and divorced who choose to stay permanently single because they do not want to repeat such a negative experience.

Some people are raised in an environment where they have been taught that leaving oneself emotionally vulnerable is something to feel ashamed about. They may want to enter an intimate relationship but not be able to risk the shame that could go with it.

And just as there are people who have naturally strong drives to bond with others, there are plenty of people who have almost no natural drive to bond. These people get their sustenance from other areas in their life. They may find their work so engrossing that it fulfills their needs. They may have a drive to connect romantically to fulfill physical needs but not have the drive to connect emotionally.

There are also people who, because of the anxiety that is caused by entering into intimate relationships choose to have many superficial or social relationships. These individuals may find that they can compartmentalize their needs, and find many different people to support them instead of having putting all their eggs in one basket and risking that the person is not up to the job.

The Self-Made Nice Guy

There is one other aspect of the nice guy personality that we need to address. Not every nice guy was born with prominent nice-guy traits. Although most people possess their nice-guy behaviors from birth, there are also some nice guys who develop these characteristics in childhood or over the course of their life.

As human beings we are capable of developing character attributes by strengthening areas we might be weak in. Many parents help their children develop nice-guy or nice-girl qualities. Some nice guys develop these parts of their personalities on their own in later life as they mature. Both men who were born with nice guy traits and those who developed them in later life share the same perspective and face the same challenges.

Now that you have a general idea of what the nice guy is and also what he isn’t, let’s take a look at the actual traits that define this personality type.

Profile of A Nice Guy

So exactly what are the recognizable character traits of the nice guy? We can best understand the characteristics of a nice guy type by breaking down his behavior into three character traits. When we use these traits to define the nice guy we can easily see what motivates him to treat others consistently well:

         Trait 1. A strong drive to do what’s right.

Trait 2. A strong drive to establish an authentic connection with others.

Trait 3. A strong drive to create interpersonal harmony.

Now let’s look at the behavior patterns that each of these traits produce, starting with the first trait, a strong sese of doing what’s right.

One of the qualities that stems from nice-guy personality traits that motivates nice guys to treat others well can be an unusually clear sense of right and wrong. This highly developed understanding of the fair treatment of others may have come naturally to him or he may have developed this part of his personality as he made his way towards adulthood.

But in order to understand the characteristic of wanting to do what’s right, we must first address why treating others the right way should be an unusual behavior pattern in the first place. In other words, why isn’t everybody a nice-guy or nice-girl type?

Many people make the assumption that everyone is basically nice, and when they aren’t being nice to others they are deviating from their natural behavior. They may assume if someone isn’t being nice it’s because they must have a psychological problem or issue keeping them from acting in a nice way.

The truth is that we don’t actually need to have a psychological problem in order to treat others badly. Being nice to others does not come naturally to human beings. In fact, it’s actually the complete opposite. We are by our nature somewhat selfish creatures. We all possess an instinctual drive to continually look towards our own interests.

Although this drive is certainly helpful when it comes to helping us stay alive, it doesn’t serve us very well in modern society. So in order for us to be nice to others as well as to ourselves, we actually have to be taught how to override our natural selfishness. If we look closely at our early upbringing, we may realize that our ability to do the right thing in terms of how we treat others was actually a skill we had to learn.

Treating others fairly and respectfully is part of a skill set we all learn in childhood as a normal part of our socialization process. Those with very good memories will recall that it was our parents and more commonly our early teachers who taught us how to treat others fairly.

Every time our teacher asked us to refrain from kicking or biting our fellow schoolmates or insisted that we wait on line for our lunch or made us share our toys with others, we were learning the skill set of how to treat others well.

It is these important skills of good treatment of others that allow us to move through later life with ease, how to be productive members of society, and how to conform to standards of good behavior that allow us to be accepted by the majority of the people we come into contact with.

Although many of us gave our early childhood teachers a good run for their money, most teachers will tell you that there are always one or two students in each class who didn’t seem to need as much supervision or restraint as the others. These students from a young age seemed to understand how to treat others well without much encouragement at all.

If you are a nice guy and you can remember that far back, you may realize that you were that child who seemed to understand the rules of good behavior without trying too hard. Behaving well towards others would have felt natural to you. Children who don’t need much training in how to treat others usually have a natural high aptitude for learning the skills of getting along with others.

Of course, not every nice guy was born that way. There are many men who become nice guys after growing up in communities or families that strongly reinforced doing the right thing when it comes to treatment of others. A nice guy may also have taken on these characteristics after growing up in a strongly spiritual family or community. Or his family and community may have put special emphasis on human rights which played out in their treatment of each other.

A nice guy may have been raised in a family or community that had strong feelings about honoring their cultural traditions which may have resulted in a deep understanding of the value in showing respect to others around him. Sometimes nice guy-types simply have strict parents whose rock solid boundaries may allow them to get significantly more practice controlling themselves than the average child.

These are also men who when they reach adulthood realize that they value their own personal integrity so much that they are willing to put in the personal development work necessary to learn the skills of control over their less healthy impulses. In later life they make a conscious effort to develop the nice guy side of their personality in order to be able to align their beliefs with their actions.

Let’s now move on to the behavior pattern driven by the second nice-guy trait, the drive to connect with others.

Some people are uncomfortable with the nice guy type’s obvious drive to connect with others. They question whether the connection the nice guy seeks is authentic and genuine.

If you identify as a nice guy type you will probably know that this wish to connect has nothing to do with the hidden motive to have the favor returned. The enjoyment of connection is its own worth. Many nice guys simply enjoy the feeling of closeness and connection that intimacy can bring more than the average person.

Let’s now take a look at why a strong drive to connect with others is not a trait that the average person possesses.

In order to make an authentic connection with another human being, each of us has to make some mutual promises that we will be loyal and won’t betray the other person or take advantage of their good will towards us. Because human beings have a bad habit of misjudging their ability to override their selfish desires, they often cannot fulfill these promises even when their intentions were good.

This poses a real challenge when trying to connect with others on more than a surface or social level. If individuals who are trying form a close friendship or romantic relationship do not possess strong skills to override their selfish desires, they may end up betraying each other’s trust, leaving both individuals wary to try to establish this kind of connection again.

The nice guy’s unusually high affinity for connection allows him to more easily override his fear of rejection or betrayal. His drive to connect allows him to take the chance of getting hurt without the kind of ambivalence that most people feel when entering into a relationship. His personality lends itself to connecting with others because he gets most of his life sustenance from authentic human connection.

Let’s now take a look at the behavior pattern driven by the third trait, the strong drive for interpersonal harmony in his relationships with others.

The third in our cluster of personality traits that we identify with nice guy types is what others might interpret as an avoidance of conflict. But the real motivation behind the nice guy’s wish for harmony in his relationships with others is not a fear of conflict but the promotion of good feelings.

If a nice-guy type is afraid of conflict, this fear usually stems from painful childhood experiences, but fear of conflict is not part of the profile of the nice guy personality. Most nice guys simply prefer a healthy and nourishing environment to one that is filled with drama. They are generally a peaceful sort who are not easily provoked.

They simply prefer to settle their issues with others in a non-confrontational way. Because of they possess the trait of striving for harmony, a nice guy type may choose security over excitement in their relationships, gravitating towards authenticity over hype.

Just like the strong drive for doing what’s right and the drive for connecting with others, the drive to achieve interpersonal harmony does not always come naturally. There are many individuals who discover through negative experience with conflict-filled relationships that they are more than ready to give up the excitement in favor of a harmony, security and comfort. The relationship they then seek may be characterized by some as boring, but for those who seek a safe haven from drama feels exactly right.

As we now stand back and look at the personality profile of the nice-guy/nice-girl and compare it to the profile of the woman with traits of BPD, we see that there are very real differences in these two personality types. The most pronounced difference between these two types is the ability to trust in an intimate relationship.

Although her ability to trust him in the initial phase of romantic idealization does match the trust level of the nice guy, she will not be able to sustain this level of trust on an ongoing basis. She does not operate from a strong drive to do what’s right. Instead the woman with traits of BPD will be operating from whatever she is feeling in the moment.

Although she has a strong drive to establish an authentic connection with others, she does not possess the skill set to sustain it. The nice guy will also find that as opposed to his drive to create interpersonal harmony, the woman with traits of BPD will have a destructive drive to create conflict due to a naturally high level of fear of betrayal.

Armed with the knowledge that the woman with traits of BPD was truly not the woman she professed to be and finally aware that the fleeting initial phase of his relationship can never be attained again, the nice-guy type can often break out of his state of confusion.

Once he declassifies her from the nice-girl type and re-classifies her as a woman who although alluring and passionate is not capable of sustaining a long-term relationship, he can often find the separation he needs to move on with his life.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2020, 10:09:30 AM by daze507 » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2020, 10:58:46 PM »

I'll disagree some here: I never believed that my ex was a "nice gal." I'm not sure if I'm a "nice guy" though she used to express frustration that I "had to do the right thing" in certain situations. She might as well have called me a boy scout. I think that she found this both attractive and frustrating. I profiled her the first time I saw her in youth mentoring: she sat conspicuously apart from our fellow mentors and I thought, "she doesn't trust people, and she might have anxiety." I soon found out both were true.

My mistake wasn't assuming that she was nice; indeed, upon a dinner with her younger brother and his beau (now wife), he commented that she was mean. I noted it at the time. I soon found out...

I was never under an illusion about her character. My illusion was that whatever I could do or offer would make a difference. Each of us is who we are. 
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« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2020, 04:08:42 AM »

I was Smiling (click to insert in post) In fact it's the reason why I totally opened myself to her. I was fooled in thinking she was my female equivalent.
Of course, every story is different and not everyone has "nice guy" traits.
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« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2020, 08:39:22 AM »

...

I was never under an illusion about her character. My illusion was that whatever I could do or offer would make a difference. Each of us is who we are.  

I think that would be why you are a "nice guy" in her framework.  Instead of immediately saying "thanks, but no thanks" when she started to reveal herself, you tried to help her.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2020, 08:47:00 AM by PeteWitsend » Logged
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« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2020, 08:46:46 AM »

I find that the part of the article interesting where it says that the "nice guy" may understand that there are abusive people in the world but struggle to realize people can come off as good and idealize him (or I suppose... her if you flip the genders), while at the same time resenting him and seeking to provoke conflict.

One of the things I read about pwBPD when I started looking for answers was how they paint everyone black or white.  I realize I used to do that as well, in a way, and it wasn't until my early 20's when I started to get a more mature appreciation for the fact that a lot of people were just going about their business, and could care less for my feelings, and if I wanted to be a part of the world, I needed to develop a thicker skin.  People might be rude or callous or whatever, but that didn't make them, "bad"... it just meant they weren't the kind of people I should seek to develop a close friendship with. 

This understanding helped me, although I STILL wasn't aware enough to see BPD for what it was, and I foolishly made excuses to myself for my XW's behavior at the time, instead of accepting it and making the decision whether I wanted to be in a relationship with someone who acted that way.

Looking back at my own motivation, it wasn't all altruistic; my XW would actively court male attention, and I viewed winning her over as sort of a challenge.  The times the voice in my head was telling me I was making a mistake, and should cut and run, I remember deciding not to because I wanted to be the one to "win" her; I didn't want some creep to feel like she chose him over me.  Obviously, I had some growing to do here... this sort of mentality & behavior was NOT the sort of thing you build a relationship over.  I paid the price for it. 

So stupid!
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« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2020, 08:54:39 AM »

We learn a lot about ourselves from these experiences, especially these ones.
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« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2020, 09:16:21 AM »

I found Joanna Nicola's website after my divorce.  I posted some links to it here, without much feedback from anyone. 

I'm hesitant to accept everything she says as the gospel truth, as she's not a trained psychologist or psychiatrist (she is open about this though), and I feel like the "nice guy" framework tends to be very flattering to her target audience.  Being "too nice" is generally seen as a mild insult at worst, and the very label almost by definition vilifies anyone the "nice guy" has problems with.  I mean, if I'm too nice, and someone took advantage of that, what does that make them? 

But it doesn't seem like she's selling anything; she has a book, but you can download it for free, and she's not providing services or consultations or anything like that.  So, I don't see that she has a financial incentive to pander... 

And all that being said Man, OH, Man, her explanation of dynamic in these relationships seems to be spot on, from my own experience. 

The section on "www.nicolamethodforhighconflict.com/female-anger-in-relationships/" seemed to nail the source of ongoing continuous conflict I experienced pretty clearly:

"Feelings of embarrassment, shame and humiliation seem to be an Achilles heel of the human condition. For some reason this particular emotional state is very difficult for most of us to tolerate. When women feel ashamed of their feelings of weakness over insecurity in their relationships, they often get caught up in defensive behavior.
...
The second way the subconscious mind may influence a women in relationship is to convince her that the person she loves is about to betray her or isn’t really committed after all. The goal of the subconscious in this situation is to get her to switch over to feeling angry at her partner for disloyalty instead of feeling afraid she is not worthy. Because anger is a very powerful emotion it can conveniently cover up her feelings of fear.

The suspicion alone compounded with her already excessive levels of concern will provide fuel for her anger even when her partner has done nothing wrong. Although this behavior pattern is very destructive for her loved ones, the relief she gets from engaging in chronic anger and blame may override her guilt over the pain she is causing."


BPDxw did admit to strong fears that I'd abandon her, like she claims her parents did when she was little.  Of course, these admissions were never followed up with any sort of constructive self-reflection, and she would later deny making them.  But I used to be bewildered by the way she would seem to create conflict out of whole cloth when there was none, or when we were otherwise happy (or I thought we were happy). 

She used the anger and resentment to displace her own feelings, or "project" her feelings on me, in order to cope with her own issues.  And when this behavior succeeds in creating conflict, she begins to use it more often; indeed, over time we were either fighting or not on speaking terms neither half the time in any given month.  After several years of this, I pretty much gave up, and when she'd start to rage at me, I'd just clam up, stop talking to her, and withdraw.  She would blame me, and say this made her feel even more anxious of abandonment, but I really didn't care; the things she would say and do when raging at me were simply too absurd and nasty for me to want to remain married to her.  After a couple years of this, I was more-or-less just biding my time and waiting for an exit.  I gave up; I just couldn't see the upside in staying with her; navigating the daily MINEFIELD of conflict was exhausting, and I wasn't willing to spend the rest of my life forgoing my own needs to be her caretaker.  I put off divorce for a while because we had young kids who couldn't fend for themselves (they were ages 2 1/2 and six months when I decided the marriage wasn't worth saving), and I didn't want to go through the unpleasantness of the high conflict divorce I was expecting. 

Looking back, I felt a lot of resentment for being "used" this way; being attacked - and also having my friends and family attacked, to suit her needs at the moment - just because she couldn't cope?  No thanks.  My two takeaways from this were that I needed to get over the resentment (it happened, it's over, move on...) and learn to recognize this behavior in a person, before I get close to them. 
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« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2020, 10:21:20 PM »

I think that would be why you are a "nice guy" in her framework.  Instead of immediately saying "thanks, but no thanks" when she started to reveal herself, you tried to help her.

Yes. I remember the night I threw logical away and agreed to meet her for a movie. That was a week after our only "real" date where after dinner she told me that she wasn't ready for a boyfriend or commitment. I was confused. It was a dinner date after kind of "friend" dating.

When she texted me I was angry and thought, "I don't like being jerked around," but then thought, "why not give love a chance?" That was idealistic and immature of me.  Ditto for when she broke up with me 1.4 years later. I was free! Nope. I responded in a similar immature manner when she texted me, "if you love someone you would fight for them!" I was tying off loose ends, but it gave me pause, "is she right? Despite breaking up with me, she still wants me (I think)."

I was clearing stuff from my fridge today and saw a Christmas card she sent me in 2018. She wished me the best, happiness and all that, yet opined, "I'm sorry I was too selfish to share it with you." I remember thinking at the time, "even with a simple Christmas card, she still has to ruin it by making it about herself."

I didn't respond, and have never sent her a card, nor will I ever for anything. I've definitely changed. 
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« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2020, 01:27:25 AM »

daze, do you (did you) consider yourself the sort of "nice guy" the article speaks of?
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« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2020, 03:21:22 AM »

Excerpt
daze, do you (did you) consider yourself the sort of "nice guy" the article speaks of?

Yeah, big time. I always see the good in people and don't hesitate to go the extra mile for them even if I barely know them.
Most of all, I am always honest and very straightforward, to the point of looking offensive. This honesty I basically what triggered my pwBPD, can't blame her, as the article says I thought she was my female equivalent... which couldn't be less true in the end.
I also pay the consequences of my "nice guy" traits in society, recently I have been negated a team leader job for an important company because I said I did not like the appraisals and to give marks to my guys (this is quite popular in UK). They did not take me because of that very sentence, had I shut my mouth like every normal people out there the job was mine.
Honesty never gets rewarded nowadays, not in your job, not in your relationship, not with your friends. It is what it is.
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« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2020, 09:32:32 AM »

...

When she texted me I was angry and thought, "I don't like being jerked around," but then thought, "why not give love a chance?" That was idealistic and immature of me.  ...

I went through some of these same experiences & thoughts: "I'm always so cautious in love... maybe that's why I'm often single?"

"Maybe this is why I haven't gotten married like some of my other friends?  why not take a chance?"

I still get angry with myself sometimes.  I could've kept casually dating other women, and enjoying being single while I was still in my "party years," but I remind myself 1) I did have two wonderful kids with her, not that it was easy, and friends who didn't take the time to do that are now over 40 and considering if they ever will, and 2) I'm out of that relationship, and can (mostly) move on, although concern over my kids' wellbeing will continue until they're in college and away from her. 
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« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2020, 10:26:00 AM »

I feel like the "nice guy" framework tends to be very flattering to her target audience.  Being "too nice" is generally seen as a mild insult at worst, and the very label almost by definition vilifies anyone the "nice guy" has problems with.  I mean, if I'm too nice, and someone took advantage of that, what does that make them?

I think this is a solid point.

We had to articles on this website that we ran in two different versions to see the response.

One was about the Lonely Child schema. Members posted furiously about being a Lonely Child.  We posted a similar article about the Narcissistic scheme cluster (which evolves around Lonely Child). No one ever responded.

Another was about codependency. When the article revolved around caring too much for others, members lined up to post. When we posted about Cermak's criteria for codependency (which evolves attaching ones self worth to their superiority of rescuing people with broken lives), it  was a ghost town.



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« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2020, 11:21:46 AM »

I think this is a solid point.

We had to articles on this website that we ran in two different versions to see the response.

One was about the Lonely Child schema. Members posted furiously about being a Lonely Child.  We posted a similar article about the Narcissistic scheme cluster (which evolves around Lonely Child). No one ever responded.

Another was about codependency. When the article revolved around caring too much for others, members lined up to post. When we posted about Cermak's criteria for codependency (which evolves attaching ones self worth to their superiority of rescuing people with broken lives), it  was a ghost town.


Interesting.  I'm kinda surprised by that; it always seemed to me that most posters here are fairly open-minded, & willing to consider their role in tolerating BPD behavior.

Where was Cermak's theory posted?  I can't find it online, without registering or paying for journals, so I'm curious to read it.  I can see how some of the issues during my early relationship with my XW revolved around that.  although, I was ready to leave pretty soon after marriage (but for the kids) and eventually did, and have not tried to re-kindle or pursue a reconciliation (and have no desire to) so I don't know if I fit the bill completely.

regardless, your post is interesting.  I am always a little skeptical of self help, therapy and advice when it's TOO validating toward the person seeking it.  I've seen lousy therapists in action, and their MO seems to be to keep the patient happy so they keep coming back, not to actually help them get over the issues that drove them to therapy (to the extent possible)

indeed, when my XW and I tried MC, she refused to continue with any T's that called her behavior out, even if they asked me to put something on the table to even it up.  
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« Reply #13 on: April 29, 2020, 05:35:48 PM »

I posted Cermak's summary here. He published a paper, wrote a book, and petitioned the APA to add this to the DSM. It was not added, but it is the most comprehensive codependency criteria published.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codependency#Codependency

I agree with you that this community is very inward focused and put a premium on self-awareness - my point is only that the sympathetic version of any of these issues is easier to read than the destructive version and many people who are selling services will opt for the former. It's really helpful to see both.

For example, we are all exposed to the destructive version of narcissism. However, when you read the sympathetic version it helps to humanize (and make it easier to navigate).
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« Reply #14 on: April 29, 2020, 06:14:38 PM »

it always seemed to me that most posters here are fairly open-minded, & willing to consider their role in tolerating BPD behavior.

Most of us are, but also take into consideration that we’re in different places when it comes to our healing. Many things play in here and I think it’s important to remember that to be able to provide compassion and empathy to the members that seek out help here.

It’s also important to consider the sources that you seek. A lot of what is available on the net tells you what you want to hear. It’s become a business, unfortunately. If you really sit back and think about some of the messages that are conveyed by these “non professionals”, there isn’t a whole lot being said about real empowerment and overcoming. I’ve seen some of them come up with their own terms and distorting mental health terminology.

What Skip conveyed about the criteria that was gathered is very interesting. Personally, I’d like to see it posted again. Perhaps with a new approach. I don’t know what that would be, but I’m very curious about the human condition, why people are here and why they respond to what they do.
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« Reply #15 on: April 29, 2020, 07:08:20 PM »

I voted it fair. Normally would rate poor. The general take home message. It is her perspective on things. It is rooted in theory. Whatever overlap to what I went through is subjective to interpretation and observer bias.

I stopped reading at "nice guy types", it is too vague, too subjective.

How to define it? Im not that nice, although it might be easy to infer from a relay of the relationship I was.

Just as every book ever written, a manifestation of the author's very unique perspective, their drive to write the book itself sounds a bell towards an element of narcissism.

The idealisation phase, for example. It is written as if it is a given.

hold up. what exactly is it, how do I know it happened, is reading it partially suggestive that it exists - I know that I never at any point entertained that thought.

at the threat of being called a reductionist. Whatever happened to just saying - this relationship suck3d.

dont need a book to tell me that.

theories are just that. there is as much certainty as picking a daisy chain of "she loves me she loves me not"

I dunno Daze, the words that are at play here are pretty patronising. I should have went for "poor". too late to change.

does "nice guy" have a defintion? if so, does the fact that my ex never needed to be scraped off the ceiling fit me into that category?

Nice guy and bad guy, it is too subjective, they are concepts based in relativity. Her ex broke her jaw. I did not. Ergo, I am automatically the nicer guy.

she threatened me, it didnt work, she upped the ante to threaten the family she knew I love. Its not about being a nice or bad guy, it was being the smart guy, I saw her bluff. But im not about to go and write a book and declare that "pwBPD are cowards" because she didnt follow through.

Having to put up with her was the equivalent of being a full time mental health nurse. with the real world acknowledgement that im anything but. Nice guy/bad guy. It is relative.

nice enough to love, be heartbroken, bad enough that if she would have crossed that line and fulfilled what just amounted to hot air. Sure, Cromwell the bad guy, peel her off the ceiling. Im detached for that reason.

im tired of these psychologists, "good guy" "bad guy". Get real, cross that line and everyone has it, the kid gloves are taken off. No more Mr Nice guy. As much as no such thing as Jekyll and Hyde.

Daze, Nicola, my ex pushed me to that limit point, it is not about being nice or bad. It is a "disconnect".

I can have an evil girlfriend, I dont mind that, but there is a limit point - she got too close to hers. End of. Nothing to do with inventing a nice guy bad guy conceptual framework.

Nice until the situation dictates otherwise and backed in a corner.

The things she said, the things she did "nice guy" it doesnt come close. I had more patience than a saint, someone needs to revise their definitions. 3 years with her, nearly 3 years trying to calm down from it.

no definitions, no sources, just a commentary based on subjective experience. Im Cromwell, I can be very nice and very bad. Depends on how far the line is pushed. What definition is there to encompass this "nice-bad guy?" "medium"?

just another book that portrays itself as a "secret unlocker".

I do not recommend.
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« Reply #16 on: April 29, 2020, 07:30:33 PM »

Cromwell, we were attracted to these partners for a reason. This is why I continue to invite you to the PSI board. You have got to cool your jets and keep it there. It is possible. You are very angry, and it’s been showing. In the midst of that anger, I don’t see you reaching out for help. I see you lashing out. It is time to open up a bit, my friend. Lay that burden on the community. That’s what this place is for. It’s ok to do that. Do you understand that? We are here for you. Start letting go of these toxic ties that bind you to that anger. Please talk to us and really allow us to see Cromwell.
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« Reply #17 on: April 29, 2020, 09:13:21 PM »

I voted it fair. Normally would rate poor. The general take home message. It is her perspective on things. It is rooted in theory. Whatever overlap to what I went through is subjective to interpretation and observer bias.

I stopped reading at "nice guy types", it is too vague, too subjective.

...

Just as every book ever written, a manifestation of the author's very unique perspective, their drive to write the book itself sounds a bell towards an element of narcissism.

...

Well, I don't entirely disagree.  Elsewhere on her site though she does provide some strategies and words she claims can defuse conflict by holding up a mirror (metaphorically speaking) to the BPDer and their behavior. 

I am curious if they work; like I said, I discovered her site after my divorce, so I never had the opportunity to try.  I'm skeptical.

I did find her explanation of the basis of the high-conflict behavior of BPDers helpful; I think I posted that in the other thread.  Essentially, their anxiety over abandonment and fear compels them to instead project and attack their partner over imagined slights.  This has the benefit of changing their mood from feelings of weakness and powerlessness to aggression and control, which becomes almost addictive for them over time.  Whether it's 100% true or not, it helped drive home the idea to me (and others who asked me why my XW behaved the way she did or what they could have done to help) that nothing can really resolve conflict when one party is hell-bent on creating it as a means to an end for themselves. 

I was surprised on occasion to find that my XW would actually calm down when she succeeded in pushing me over the edge, and provoking anger.  It was bizarre to me at the time.  When I responded in kind and cursed at her and said nasty things back, she actually didn't seem to mind.  She would, on the contrary, get more angry if I kept my cool. 

I knew I couldn't live like that though... staying angry took too much of a toll on my mental and physical wellbeing.  It's just not me.
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« Reply #18 on: April 29, 2020, 10:35:35 PM »

Excerpt
I was surprised on occasion to find that my XW would actually calm down when she succeeded in pushing me over the edge, and provoking anger.  It was bizarre to me at the time.  When I responded in kind and cursed at her and said nasty things back, she actually didn't seem to mind.  She would, on the contrary, get more angry if I kept my cool.

My ex transferred letters from a boyfriend before me to our PC, the one she was still pining over (there was one in between but she didn't love him). Keep in mind that she was in her early 20s at the time and he was yoinger, but he called her a drama queen, and she wrote back with BPD-like responses.

I never engaged such, though I got nasty notes and things broken. I saved myself the restraining orders the previous bf got and the subsequent husband, who was arrested and beaten down by cops. My lack of escalation (cool detachment) "proved" to her that I didn't care? I'd rather not have an RO or be beaten down by cops, thank you.  Sorry if I wasn't "passionate" enough. I'd rather be boring yet safe.
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« Reply #19 on: April 29, 2020, 10:46:21 PM »

Turkish, your ex tried to convince you that you didn’t care about her because you wouldn’t engage in her escalating? This sounds just like my 5 year old that says I don’t care about/love him when I separate myself from his tantrum and allow him to come to terms with himself and his feelings.

He typically returns in a much different mood if he hasn’t fallen into a nap. Sweet and loving. He’s starting to apologize for things which is good.

Arrested development. Getting mentally stuck somewhere along the way. Her expectations are child like. Somehow, with good wits, you avoided what others couldn’t.
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« Reply #20 on: April 29, 2020, 11:34:41 PM »

Turkish, your ex tried to convince you that you didn’t care about her because you wouldn’t engage in her escalating? This sounds just like my 5 year old that says I don’t care about/love him when I separate myself from his tantrum and allow him to come to terms with himself and his feelings.

He typically returns in a much different mood if he hasn’t fallen into a nap. Sweet and loving. He’s starting to apologize for things which is good.

Arrested development. Getting mentally stuck somewhere along the way. Her expectations are child like. Somehow, with good wits, you avoided what others couldn’t.

My understanding of it is along those lines: for whatever reason, childhood trauma, genes, or some combination of both, pwBPD never learned how to deal with the ambiguities and "gray areas" of everyday life, so they lash out and engage in black/white thinking, "you always ... " "you never..." etc.

Having young kids does put it in perspective.  On family trips sometimes, I often felt like the only adult in the car, with my two toddlers and BPDxw all complaining about something.

Once, before a family trip, I took our minivan to clean it.  BPDxw drove it normally and it was always a mess.  I also got our kids a couple toys for the trip.  before we left the driveway, I gave one to our oldest and said he won the award for having the cleanest seat (this was actually true).  

BPDxw got angry with me and insisted her seat was cleaner... and started trying to argue with me that it wasn't her fault there was a rotten banana peel under the seat, melted chocolate on the side of the console, food wrappers wedged everywhere...

ugh...
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« Reply #21 on: April 29, 2020, 11:45:37 PM »

Yeah, it’s pretty wild but helpful to look at from a safe distance. Genes are something that I’ve read about, but I haven’t really explored that yet. I’m also adopted, so it’s hard to map. I can validate you on this. If your ex was competing with one of your children over a clean seat in the van....?
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« Reply #22 on: April 30, 2020, 12:08:20 AM »

I've told the kids. Only bottled water will be allowed in whatever new car I get in a year or so.
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« Reply #23 on: April 30, 2020, 12:33:55 AM »

My dad was into his cars. Maybe that’s why he hated road trips. Those involved eating in the car. He hated that. He was ok with a boy peeing his pants, but God forbid any food in the backseat. You know, the night my mom died, my dad asked me what they drove her away in. I lied to him and told him that it was a long black Cadillac. Then I hugged the bastard. He always loved a Caddy. The fact is, she was hauled away in a minivan. I could see the look on his face. It was important to him, and for the bastard he was, I gave it to him. This post is way off of the original post. Pardon me for going out there and bringing it here.

Vehicles are vehicles. Let the kids eat, drink and be happy in them. Are these vehicles going with us when we die? Are they really that important? Eventually, we’re all going to be hauled away in a long black Cadillac. It’s the kids that really matter.
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« Reply #24 on: April 30, 2020, 04:23:19 PM »

Yeah, big time. I always see the good in people and don't hesitate to go the extra mile for them even if I barely know them.
Most of all, I am always honest and very straightforward, to the point of looking offensive. This honesty I basically what triggered my pwBPD, can't blame her, as the article says I thought she was my female equivalent... which couldn't be less true in the end.
I also pay the consequences of my "nice guy" traits in society, recently I have been negated a team leader job for an important company because I said I did not like the appraisals and to give marks to my guys (this is quite popular in UK). They did not take me because of that very sentence, had I shut my mouth like every normal people out there the job was mine.
Honesty never gets rewarded nowadays, not in your job, not in your relationship, not with your friends. It is what it is.

the sympathetic version of any of these issues is easier to read than the destructive version and many people who are selling services will opt for the former. It's really helpful to see both.

For example, we are all exposed to the destructive version of narcissism. However, when you read the sympathetic version it helps to humanize (and make it easier to navigate).

ill preface by saying i have mixed opinions about the article.

it is definitely what id call a "sympathetic version" of these issues.

buried in it though, are some important takeaways. if i were coming out of my relationship, and i wanted to learn more, i might use this article as a catalyst to try to dig deeper...see where some of these things (attitudes, beliefs, tendencies) can be destructive, dysfunctional, unrealistic, personally limiting, and/or blinding.

Excerpt
Most people know that women with traits of BPD or borderline personality disorder share certain personality characteristics that create the behavior patterns we associate with the disorder. But what you might not know is that the men who enter relationships with women with traits of BPD often have a pattern of behavior of their own which can be similarly recognized.
...
We often think of women with traits of BPD as having personality traits that cause them to have an unrealistic perspective on human nature. But as it turns out, the nice-guy type also has traits that cause him to see the world unrealistically.

codependency is a great example in this discussion (the "nice guy" profile in this article is a substitute for what is really the same thing). most members here are very quick to subscribe to it, and label themselves with it. try pointing out that the proposed list of "traits" for codependency (codependency is not in the DSM, not officially recognized as a "condition", and experts often differ on its validity, its spectrum from unhealthy to healthy, etc) strongly resembles the same traits for BPD (https://www.bpdfamily.com/content/codependency-codependent-relationships), or try to compare the two, and you will get some push back.

why? i think because a sympathetic personality analysis/profile is not only sympathetic to the character, but the reasons that we find ourselves in dysfunctional relationships. the takeaway tends to be "im a good person, im just naive and fell into a relationship with the wrong person because i trusted too much". it paints one party as the hero, if flawed, of the story, and thats a lot easier to swallow than "two people that are more similar than they may want to believe, got together, and their unrealistic world views and needs clashed and made for a dysfunctional relationship".

it lets us off the hook. it says "i could never have been able to make it work, but the blame for the failure of the relationship is on the other party". both are conveniently comforting notions.

whatever the label, we all came here with patterns of behavior, some "good", some maladaptive, with different degrees and types of baggage, with a worldview, and with a view of ourselves. the members that i have observed to recover and go on to healthier relationships and a healthier life, eventually embrace and swallow the harder stuff; they challenge and break through their own preconceived notions.

this article can be a good start at that, but its only a start, if you want to dig deeper.
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« Reply #25 on: April 30, 2020, 05:19:39 PM »

I agree that co-dependency and BPD look similar. I also think that C-PTSD looks very similar. PTSD, histrionics and so on. It’s the behavior. Digging a little deeper, it’s the “why?” The acceptance and becoming self aware. Most of this stuff comes down to trauma and neglect perpetuated by our FOO. How we are raised, is how we will be. It’s not a be all, end all, but there will eventually come a time when we become self aware, or we push it aside and place blame instead of repairing ourselves.

It’s a fine line between giving up and pushing forward. Do we learn to negotiate, or do we see things in black and white? Do we listen with empathy, or curl our emotions around self hatred? Can we truly see ourselves, or only what was done to us? It’s all a matter of choice that starts with self awareness.
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« Reply #26 on: April 30, 2020, 10:01:18 PM »

Co-dependency falls under ICD 10 code F60.7, along with DPD.

My T (PshyD) was quick to shut down me labeling myself co-dependent. He said that with someone like that, it would manifest itself in every relationship in their lives (not just romantic partners).
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« Reply #27 on: May 01, 2020, 03:30:35 AM »

That’s interesting and makes sense. Before I knew enough about myself, I labeled myself as a co-dependent. Not the case at all. This is a good example of why we need to be very careful about what we absorb and take on from the Internet. There are good resources, but at the same time there are misleading ones as well. There is a fairly “popular” psychologist on the web that claims that anyone that has suffered narcissistic abuse must be co-dependent. When searching for answers to what many of us have been through, we can be in a very fragile, vulnerable and desperate place within our psyches. This kind of misinformation can be damaging and take a person on an unnecessary scenic route through confusion. Regulating what folks are allowed to say on the Internet would infringe on Constitutional rights, but ethnics do play a big part within the psychiatric community. I guess that I’m wondering why some of these self help “gurus” aren’t supervised a bit more by their peers and experts.
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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
Relationship status: Divorced 2 yrs/ separated 4 / Married 18 yrs
Posts: 475



« Reply #28 on: May 01, 2020, 07:05:05 AM »


Excerpt
My mistake wasn't assuming that she was nice; indeed, upon a dinner with her younger brother and his beau (now wife), he commented that she was mean. I noted it at the time. I soon found out...

The brother of xbpdwife  told me the same the day I told him I was going to wanting to marry her.  ..  'you are my friend and was my friend before you met my sister, but do not marry my sister.  She is very angry and in unstable' 

I was living in a south American country at the time as a missionary.  I did not speak language well, she did not speak English.  I was extremely lonley as I read back through my journals of that time.  I missed a lot of the nuances within the culture and relationship.  My foo did not meet her until we married.  I relate to wanting to help her and family.  I wanted to feel that connectedness to the culture. 

After marriage especially in the hard times I told myself, i picked this relationship now it is my job to make it work.  I had no backbone to be honest in my true feelings to her about things I didnt like.  I just wanted harmony and gave myself away for that.   If I was honest with her at very beginning,  I may have not ever married. 
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Turkish
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Gender: Male
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Other
Relationship status: "Divorced"/abandoned in Feb 2013.
Posts: 10919


Dad to my wolf pack


« Reply #29 on: May 01, 2020, 02:53:22 PM »

Sluggo, her parents sat me down to list her faults. My ex said that was common in Mexican culture and prepared me for it. Her dad said, "it is good, you can... handle her."
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    “For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.” ― Rudyard Kipling
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