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Author Topic: BEHAVIORS: Objectifying the romantic partner  (Read 6551 times)
oceanheart
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« on: January 02, 2009, 08:42:32 AM »

A big task in my continuing recovery from BPD has been to realise my tendency to objectify other people in my life. What does this mean? Well, partly it has to do with the famous dictum "never treat others as merely means to an end, but always as ends in themselves."

We all know neediness is at the core of BPD and I think it has much to do with how people with BPD look at the world and at people. Distrust of others' motives (especially if the person with BPD was sexually abused) lends a coloring to all personal interactions: fear is a self-centered emotion, a defense mechanism. So if someone with BPD is driven by a deep and intense need to be loved while at the same time fearing the object of that love will go away or will hurt him/her, then it's easy to see that s/he will tend to view another AS an object, if that makes any sense.

Neediness and fear are all about what is happening to the person, and they leave little room for empathy or even awareness of anyone else's needs. In the same way as a person with NPD uses others as ego-gratifying objects that feed their "narcissistic supply", a person with BPD uses others as an outside means to comfort themselves and to perhaps even give themselves worth, which they believe they lack.

Just some thoughts on the subject - didn't know if anyone had experienced objectifying behavior from their BPD partner. It might help to understand why this happens, and then how we all can move towards extinguishing this tendency, though of course the hard work has to be done by the person with BPD. But there are probably good ways the Non-partner can support this growth while still respecting their own needs and boundaries.
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« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2009, 11:19:36 PM »

So you are saying that we can be viewed more as objects who serve a need, than as people who should be cared for and respected? yeah, I can see that when my uBPbf is dysregulated and in total defense mode, but when he is calm then he is very considerate and kind - and it seems to be genuine.

I know that validation has made a huge difference in calming him down - I wonder how our beginning to take care of ourselves by taking time outs will impact their thinking. Will they learn to see us as deserving if we refuse to accept poor treatment?
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« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2009, 09:21:25 AM »

Thanks, united, for clarifying the situation: I often forget to acknowledge that people with BPD don't ALWAYS behave a certain way. You're right when you say a BPD partner has times where they are compassionate, empathetic, kind, etc. - and that it is genuine. Most of the people I know with BPD, from the BPD forum, have big hearts and care very deeply for others.

What I should have said is that in times of distress (dysregulation like you said), the tendency is to forget the needs of the other person (for respect, for understanding, for being listened to) and to come from a very self-centered, almost animalistic place of fear and neediness. THis has been both my experience and my observation of friends and my uBPDxbf. They (we) forget ourselves in our fear of rejection/abandonment and can emotionally regress to a very child-like approach to others, which is fundamentally self-absorbed in its own wants. Unfortunately this state can be pervasive, due to things like well-entrenched defenses and habit. Personality disorders are often so much a part of the person that they aren't even aware of them.

But the "steady-state" objectification probably applies more to people with NPD, tho I have limited experience with that besides one bf (G.) whom I thought had those tendencies. I have compared him to my BPD bf (R.) with this metaphor: R. is like a  wounded bear caught in a trap, striking out because he is hurting; G. is a crocodile, coldly predatory, striking out only to feed himself.

Validation is helpful and I'm glad to see you've had success with that method, though I do think it might be distrusted in a person's early recovery. Being acknowledged and heard is important to us all. I don't know what the reaction to the non-partner's self-care would be; my first thought is that of course it would trigger abandonment fears and perhaps lashing out in retaliation for "taking away" your love and support. I imagine it would be very difficult for an early-stage recovery person with BPD to understand the complexity of the relationship, since there really is a black & white dichotomy prevalent in our thinking: you're good when you treat us nice and we are getting what we want from you, but you're bad when you don't give us what we want.

Well, this is all just supposition on my part, and I could be way off base. I'm trying to extrapolate from my own experiences, and of course people with BPD aren't all the same, right? There are underlying similarities in behavior, although how each individual responds will of course vary depending on their distinct personalities and life history.

I just know how helpful it has been in my own growth to start valuing other people not for what I can get from them, but for who they are - flaws and all. It's been a joyful discovery and has enriched my life and that of the people I love. What better could I ask for?
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« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2009, 09:47:58 AM »

Oceanheart   xoxox

So glad you are posting... xoxox

Excerpt
R. is like a  wounded bear caught in a trap, striking out because he is hurting; G. is a crocodile, coldly predatory, striking out only to feed himself.

Since DB was likely a combo NPD/BPD I think I got a bit of both here...pretty ugly to be on the recieving end of that kind of objectification.  My needs simply did not exist, only his needs/wants/feelings...I only served a need, I really didn't exist in his world for any other purpose.

It is a dificult thing for the Non to completely get their head around and it's great that you can post so intelligently and help give us some understanding from the other side.

PS - You sound well...and I'm very glad to see you on here.
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« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2009, 01:30:29 PM »

Validation is helpful and I'm glad to see you've had success with that method, though I do think it might be distrusted in a person's early recovery. Being acknowledged and heard is important to us all.

My dBPD wife definitely didn't trust validation when I first started doing it. She started to like it pretty quickly, though.  Maybe the strong need for it overpowered the distrust of it; I don't know.
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oceanheart
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« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2009, 09:56:10 AM »

elph!  xoxox

So nice to be back. You know I can't keep away from you folks, you mean too much to me (even if I do wander off at times for long periods). Hope you are doing well, too!

yeah, the sad thing about non-partners is that they themselves are intelligent people and approach BPD behavior with a mentally-healthy viewpoint. But sadly that isn't effective since people with BPD aren't acting in a "normal" way: we have real and actual cognitive distortions - our thinking is not rational. Of course, this is worse in stressful times, but like I said above, it also permeates everyday life and interactions because it's part of our personality and way of being in the world (not that we can't change, tho).

So someone who does not have BPD trying to understand BPD behavior is a little like having German as a native language but trying to communicate with someone speaking Klingon  Smiling (click to insert in post) There's gonna be some things lost in translation...
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« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2009, 10:13:47 AM »

 What a great discussion!

In speaking with my H ( also recovered from BPD), he says what OH says..when he was "out there emotionally" he was in a base, primitive state of fear and emotional agony. He would see me as a person to be terrified of..what I would do to him...yet would reach out and demand in his way, for me to "make it right" by screaming, yelling, thrashing, fetal position...etc etc. He said it was impossible for him to see me, as a wife, friend, lover, support person..but yea, as an object, usually an evil one, or as someone who could take away the agony. When he was not dysregulated emotionally, he saw me as who I was in his life, as a person..

Interesting!

Steph
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« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2009, 10:56:08 AM »

I too, am very glad to see you back here Oceanheart  xoxox

Your words brought (bring  Smiling (click to insert in post)) a lot of insight into things that help me stay compassionate and loving, even in the face of the lion...

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« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2009, 08:31:54 AM »

Steph, I feel for your H. How sad that he was so emotionally crushed by his fear, but I'm really glad to hear he is recovered -both for him and for you.

Quote from: Steph
He said it was impossible for him to see me, as a wife, friend, lover, support person..but yea, as an object, usually an evil one, or as someone who could take away the agony.

That last part is crucial, especially in terms of a person with BPD's recovery efforts: looking outside for sources of comfort is unhealthy and as long as the person with BPD continues to do so, they cannot heal and move towards "normality". So much of our emotionality is externalized when we are dysregulated or feel threatened. The only way to not become so afraid/needy of others is to learn to become dependent on ourselves. Yes, comfort needs to come from those we love, too, but ultimately we are ALL alone and must have the inner strength to take care of our own emotional needs. I think that's a way to stop objectifying others: by getting what we need from within ourselves and then getting what we want - not in a childish "I WANT it!" way, Laugh out loud (click to insert in post) - from loved ones while still respecting their boundaries and wants/needs.

I can't say I've had the exact experience as Steph's H because to protect myself I had chronically isolated most of my adult life (for example I didn't date nor have sex for 5 years - sorry if TMI). I've never had a serious relationship past 6 months, tho of course all of my many 2-month "relationships" were so intense I felt like we'd been together all our lives 

Oh, but when they left...what I needed was taken away, wiped out. I remember the relationship break-up that precipitated my breakdown that led to my recovery left me literally sitting on the floor, with no energy left to even move, feeling as empty as a cleaned-out oyster shell. What gave meaning to my life was gone, and so my life had no meaning. A hurricane was approaching and I remember wishing it would hit my house and blow me away.

I am now full of myself  Smiling (click to insert in post) I should say I'm full IN myself. I get my emotional support primarily from inside, and then if I want a little extra comfort - as all humans need from time to time - I allow myself to be vulnerable around people I can trust, and I ask for help. But I never demand it anymore, or feel that primal rage at those who "deny" me it.

united, I am very glad to be back here and will stay a while this time. It makes me happy to know I can help, and like I've said before partly the reason I post is to pay kinda a debt I owe for the pain I have previously put into the world. But also because you all ROCK! I wish you personally continued strength in the face of that bad-breathed roaring...

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« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2009, 11:26:33 AM »

I remember many times when he was upset and it took me awhile to figure out why he couldn't let something go - it was because he was waiting for me to make it all better for him somehow. He would say "make things go back to normal", like I had a magic wand to wave that would take away all the anger and hurt he had created around him 


*hi-jack*

I shouldn't have said lion, since isn't donkey married to the dragon with little dragon/donkey babies now?

Dragon actually is a better description of his temperment anyway...

*hi-jack over*
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« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2009, 07:05:37 AM »

He would say "make things go back to normal", like I had a magic wand to wave that would take away all the anger and hurt he had created around him 

It's amazing how child-like this is. Kids think parents control the world, are super-people, and invest in them magical powers of power. Behavior like his highlights the regressive emotional nature of BPD, eh? Maybe recovery is just finally growing up...

Yeah, that dragon-btch sure did have some temper-tantrums in the one movie, didn't she? Not calling your bf a woman or anything (that'd be too much of a compliment, Smiling (click to insert in post) )
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« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2009, 09:43:40 AM »

Maybe recovery is just finally growing up...

I would like to think so...
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« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2010, 04:11:11 PM »

Thanks for the bump, Joanna.

A friend whose description of her spouse sounded very BPD-like needed to discover this place, so just today I'm sending her the link to BPDFamily.com: you all are such a wonderful community of caring, understanding people - who have BEEN THERE -  it would help her with the pain she's going through, even if he doesn't turn out to be BPD, just to feel heard. She will, no doubt, be welcome.

I hope everyone is doing well in this New Year/New Decade   and that everyone is also experiencing positive change (Spring must come, even after a hard, long, bitter winter!)

For myself, just recently my parents remarked how an incident with a friend of mine who didn't want to go to a social event with me hardly fazed me, when not to long ago I would have taken it personally and gotten mad at him and withdrawn because of feeling rejected. Instead, I said, "too bad, it would have been fun to go." I realized he had his own preferences and motivations and instead of trying to change them or getting mad because they didn't match mine, I just accepted it, with calm disappointment. It's nice to think I'm still making progress day by day, regardless of stopping formal therapy 2 years ago (my T and I agreed I was ready).

I really do feel like I've grown up and can only continue to get better as I take on more adult responsibility. May the joy and grace of personal growth be in your lives today!

oceanheart/Marni

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« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2010, 11:10:16 PM »

Hi oceanheart, Smiling (click to insert in post)

Interesting discussion. 

The 'childlike' behavior explains so much of BPD.

And I was thought about how the continual process of "growing up" can help all of us!  Thanks for the reminder.

Take care,

Foiles

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« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2010, 11:41:01 PM »

My BPDh is very childlike.

When he used to get really upset/disregulated he would say if he only could show me how bad I was I would suddenly see it his way and do good. Even though I hadn't done anything at all to him.

He would get triggered by a stranger and totally flip out and I would try to rein him in and then he would turn all the anger at me.

Now if this starts to happen instead of me becoming the enemy he sees me as on his side, the trust is built and secure now and nothing really escalates anymore.

The tools I learned here changed our relationship. I still see the BPD behaviors but now he seems to be in more control of them and is way more trusting of me and us than ever before. I will not be abused by anyone esp him.

He does seem to idolize me too much though. At night while sleeping he will wake me up to tell me all sorts of wonderful things which I LOVE but I wonder if that is part of the disorder too? He used to do this before we got better together but it was tainted by the constant insults and huge fights.
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« Reply #15 on: February 22, 2010, 09:37:32 AM »

...ultimately we are ALL alone and must have the inner strength to take care of our own emotional needs. I think that's a way to stop objectifying others: by getting what we need from within ourselves and then getting what we want - not in a childish "I WANT it!" way, Laugh out loud (click to insert in post) - from loved ones while still respecting their boundaries and wants/needs.

I can't say I've had the exact experience as Steph's H because to protect myself I had chronically isolated most of my adult life (for example I didn't date nor have sex for 5 years - sorry if TMI). I've never had a serious relationship past 6 months, tho of course all of my many 2-month "relationships" were so intense I felt like we'd been together all our lives 

Oh, but when they left...what I needed was taken away, wiped out. I remember the relationship break-up that precipitated my breakdown that led to my recovery left me literally sitting on the floor, with no energy left to even move, feeling as empty as a cleaned-out oyster shell. What gave meaning to my life was gone, and so my life had no meaning. A hurricane was approaching and I remember wishing it would hit my house and blow me away.

I am now full of myself  Smiling (click to insert in post) I should say I'm full IN myself. I get my emotional support primarily from inside, and then if I want a little extra comfort - as all humans need from time to time - I allow myself to be vulnerable around people I can trust, and I ask for help. But I never demand it anymore, or feel that primal rage at those who "deny" me it.[/b]

Oceanhart, I could've written those words myself. I also sometimes think i might as well die so I can stop going thru this.  I'm just now facing the feeling of emotional emptiness you described, and am realizing that in fact, I am and always have been, an emotionally dependent person, never being able to be without a partner for more than... a few months at most. Always filling the emptiness inside with someone or something (all unhealthy). These days, as I deal with yet another break-up... I finally get to see this very clearly.  My (codep) recovery work while incredibly helpful, is leaving some gaps, unanswered questions, things I feel need to be resolved before I can move on into a healthier way of life, one that is filled from within rather than from the outside. I realize that I don't know how to take care of my emotional needs, how to even begin to do that.  I suspect that therapy will be the way to find some of those answers. Thank you for your very insightful posts.
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« Reply #16 on: April 20, 2011, 11:59:01 AM »

I am so new at this. My significant other is so angry and hurt because I have tired to defend myself. We are dating although he has let me know that I will never be his partner. He means the world to me.  That being said, how do I help him? What do I do when I inadvertanly do something that sets off a rage and retreat. I do love him and when he is not triggered our time together is wonderful. He is a great man. But I am always doing something that distroys the peace. I took a personal day today from work today. I am hurt. I have been asked once again to return his personal items, which I will do later today. He has asked that I pick up the frew things that I have left over his place. As I learn about BPD I do understand what is going on to some extent and he also is in of therapy. We do not talk about BPD and I would be weary about bringing it up, but he has told me about his insecurities and what he needs from me. I think I am strong enough to see through the putdowns and blame, but how do I address his is attacking me? A simple "can I call you tomorrow because I am not sure what my plans are?" can cause such turnoil and anger from him. I will always be doing something wrong in his eyes and I never know when something I do or didn't do will hurt him. Help? al*welcome*
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« Reply #17 on: April 21, 2011, 10:14:10 PM »

My uBPDh will often comment on how nice or sexy I look or comment on parts of my anatomy or say he finds it hard to look at me because it makes him feel aroused. At other times he will just withdraw and shutdown and if I ask what is happening he will say it is because I am so hot ! I am not a supermodel so these comments make me feel objectified and I think that is because he rarely comments on my interests, character or other personal qualities and also criticises and makes indirect negative remarks about the tidiness or cleanliness of the house, which is not up to his standard.
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« Reply #18 on: May 04, 2011, 12:35:22 PM »

ZulaMama,

What you said totally hit home with me... my bf does the same thing...  He's always commenting on my body (in a good way:P) and totally into me in that way, and yet is constantly criticizing everything else about me, particularly my intelligence and maturity... and also nitpicks the cleanliness of our apartment and complains at me about it all the time (he's a stay at home dad and I work full-time, by the way...) 

It can be so confusing sometimes... And sometimes I totally feel "lucky" to have him, because I feel like no one else would be so accepting of my very unnattracive body (I am quite overweight)><  When he compliments my body, I feel uncomfortable...  Like this morning... one minute he's complaining about how he can't sleep and blaming me for him getting fired from his last job... then he goes and smokes a cigarette and when he comes back in he's telling my daughter (21 months old) how "hot" mama is and grabbing my ass>< lmao  I think HE's really confused Laugh out loud (click to insert in post)

But yeah, sometimes I definitely feel like an object... that either meets his needs or doesn't, and when I don't I better watch out:P
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« Reply #19 on: November 24, 2011, 10:31:18 PM »

A made the remark to a close friend a few months ago that, my uBPDh only sees me and our kids as the "things" he has to put up with in order to have financial stability.  While I don't know or can't understand how and if he does objectify us, there are times when I'm convinced he only sees in me what I can fulfill for him. 

And yes, sometimes its sexual, I guess it all depends on what he's feeling.  And I'm not saying I don't mind the compliments there...

Confusing...very!
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« Reply #20 on: January 08, 2012, 05:55:13 AM »

Objectification is an interesting topic and very hard as a non to get your head around.

My stbx uBPD/ uNPDw sees herself as the victim. Part of her rejection of me involve not just devaluation but dehumanisation of me. In her eyes so long as I was present she saw me a monster. Feeling became facts. I made her feel bad and therefore in her eyes I was bad. This allowed her to project all her negative feeling and shame about herself onto me. She certainly did not think about me as being hurt, she does not see it that way. My feelings did not come into it. If anything she felt that she had the right to treat me badly because of how I made her feel about herself. 

https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=147008.0

Once out of sight and no longer the object of her attachment I doubt she thinks of me at all.


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« Reply #21 on: June 16, 2012, 12:33:56 PM »

I think the following article explains this process better than anything I have ever read. It come from an unternationally renowned expert:


   

3 Levels of Emotions found in Borderline Personality-John G. Gunderson's

(tm)_ on: May 26, 2011, 02:43:20 PM (tm)
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« Reply #22 on: June 16, 2012, 05:54:09 PM »

WOW. That's exactly it.  Idea

If only I could give this to some other people so they could understand... but I know even then they would not.

Thank you for posting this article.
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« Reply #23 on: June 18, 2012, 01:12:49 AM »

I find this thread so insightful and helpful.  I don't know if anyone can answer this at all but I will put it out there in case there is someone who can answer it and in case it might also be helpful to others.  What is the primary behavioral difference between BPD and NPD?  It would seem while the motivation is quite different the behaviors are very similar.  If I am wrong my apologies.  I hope someone can illustrate how the behaviors differ or are distinguishable between these two diagnoses.
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« Reply #24 on: June 18, 2012, 01:20:53 AM »

Oceanheart   xoxox

So glad you are posting... xoxox

Excerpt
R. is like a  wounded bear caught in a trap, striking out because he is hurting; G. is a crocodile, coldly predatory, striking out only to feed himself.

Since DB was likely a combo NPD/BPD I think I got a bit of both here...pretty ugly to be on the recieving end of that kind of objectification.  My needs simply did not exist, only his needs/wants/feelings...I only served a need, I really didn't exist in his world for any other purpose.

It is a dificult thing for the Non to completely get their head around and it's great that you can post so intelligently and help give us some understanding from the other side.

PS - You sound well...and I'm very glad to see you on here.

Elphaba...your post opened my eyes so much.  I never even thought of the man in my life as having both NPD and BPD!  Thank you that would explain so much.  My needs do NOT exist to him at all!  I am beyond an afterthought.   His issues are so multiple and so complex it is extremely difficult to know how to navigate these waters.  Yesterday his insensitivity triggered a major meltdown for me and I am hating myself today!  I work so hard to be level headed and just find nearly impossible to forgive myself when I fall into the snares and react...especially when I OVER react!  It's a relief to have found this particular thread.
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