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THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PERSONALITY DISORDERS
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Author Topic: BPD BEHAVIORS: Objectifying the romantic partner  (Read 39734 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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united for now
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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

Quote
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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« 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  grin 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  grin) a lot of insight into things that help me stay compassionate and loving, even in the face of the lion...

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oceanheart
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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, lol - 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  rolleyes

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  grin 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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Act as if the future of the universe depended on what you did, while laughing at yourself for thinking that whatever you do makes any difference. ~a wise buddhist
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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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