December 10, 2023

Partners with Personality Disorders: “Role Fixed”

Partners with Personality Disorders: “Role Fixed”

People with personality disorder tend to expect the world to be as it was before. This is called projection in psychodynamics. If you accuse my wife of infidelity long enough, she will eventually be so upset that she might actually do so. Then one speaks of a projective determination. The danger is that those affected will force their partners to wear a mask from their childhood until they comply. It is important that you do not get involved as a partner, but say: “No, I do not mean anything bad to you, I do not want to deceive you, I do not want to leave you. I want to talk to you as equals. “Those affected must learn to talk to each other without the conversation turning into a fight. There are, for example, courses on nonviolent communication or couples therapy.

What if the relationship is very strained?

If one partner behaves rigidly according to a certain interaction pattern to which the other must adapt, it often no longer functions without outside interference. Then the advice makes sense. You can see if you can still press the reset button. It makes sense not to wait too long. However, it usually takes five years for affected spouses to seek help. Then the patterns hung pretty much.

Most relationships are modest.

How successful is he in pressing the reset button after such a long time?

In general very good. Couples therapy doesn’t only work if both are happy afterwards. Couples often think, “Either we are in a good relationship or we have to break up.” This is nonsense of course. Most relationships are modest. In my practice, few couples break up permanently. Instead, they learn to better balance their needs for proximity and distance. You don’t have to do everything together, and you don’t always have to agree. But you shouldn’t fight each other.

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And if that doesn’t work?