What did my BPD partner mean? A thread to help me understand.

For issues specific to caring for someone with mental ill health.
Custardcarer
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What did my BPD partner mean? A thread to help me understand.

Postby Custardcarer » Mon Jun 12, 2017 11:10 pm

Hi

I hope it is ok to use the forum in this way, but I want to understand the nature of conversations with my BPD partner. We don't communicate well at times...a lot of the time actually. Things get tense really quickly from nowhere. So I have been reading how BPD sufferers have trouble reading emotions and interpret neutral statements as aggressive or challenging. So I thought a thread here will help me look at them objectively and so process them properly. I don't know about anyone else, but most days are spoilt by what should have been a trivial conversation that ends up bouncing around my head for hours. Please feel free to add any thoughts.

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Re: What did my BPD partner mean? A thread to help me understand.

Postby Custardcarer » Mon Jun 12, 2017 11:56 pm

I have quite an important meeting tomorrow and have had trouble controlling my newly acquired beard. So I bought a little beard trimmer when I was out today and had a tidy-up that finished just before my partner was going to bed.

Me "What do you think of my beard? Does it look any better?"
Partner "Better than what?"
Me "Than it was."
Partner "Looks the same to me, are you growing it?"
This question confused me a little. I think she meant 'are you growing it any longer', but we had already had conversations about its eventual length so I said...
Me "Not sure what you mean, this is it, I've grown it. I just want it to end in a point."
Partner (obviously irritated) "Well then, you are growing aren't you!"

My last statement sought clarification of the question and was stated in a neutral tone, light hearted even, but I think my partner interpreted this as a challenge to her and responded aggressively. I was being a little dense I know, but we often have problems in conversation with the use of pronouns and I sometimes have problems negotiating the ambiguity of her statements or questions. A mild example, I know, but it ended the day on a sour note and I am trying to pick apart the detail so I can understand how it all goes wrong so often.

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Re: What did my BPD partner mean? A thread to help me understand.

Postby Oliver_1706 » Tue Jun 13, 2017 5:27 pm

Ran this by my bpd partner and she was instantly in the same boat as your partner. I think the thing to note is something you touched on earlier your partner isn't going to pick up on the subtle body language and nuance of your statement and those are the things that would normally negate any of the more negative aspects. And the way you checked for clarification removed from context comes across a little defensive and probably made her feel a little stupid by implying that she missed some important cue. I would suggest that you try and approach conversations as individual encounters, first answer her question even if its been answered before, and if you need clarification you should clarify first let her get and process the question rather than pointing out that she didn't understand it; the difference between "I don't know what you mean" to "Yeah I'm growing it to a point, but I just shaved and thought I'd get your opinion"

I know it's easy to break down and talk about what you should and shouldn't do after the fact, and putting this stuff in practice is difficult. The biggest thing is talk to her about this, say sometimes I feel like I upset you with things I don't mean to. the more you can talk to her about these encounters when they're not happening the more progress you'll make

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Re: What did my BPD partner mean? A thread to help me understand.

Postby Callum_1706 » Mon Jun 19, 2017 9:18 pm

Hi,

Reading through the example that you've given it reminded me of the way in which fairly trivial conversations that seemingly shouldn't lead to any kind of confrontation, can become a vehicle for expressing stress or anxiety that isn't necessarily related to the topic that you're discussing. I know the feeling when you think that you're having a normal conversation and then suddenly you get a response that seems to have come from no where. In these situations I try to take a step back and to consider how I am feeling and how I think my partner is feeling. Often I find that one of us is worn out or feeling unhappy and that the change in mood hasn't been brought about my the conversation, but rather the conversation became a chance to express how my partner or I was feeling. It's a bit like the thing about crying over spilt milk. Often people don't get an opportunity to express how they feel and it's only when something small goes wrong that is unrelated that they're able to channel their troubles through it. Hopefully that helps a little with understanding it.

In terms of finding ways of coping and dealing with these situations I think the best thing is to try and take a step back from the situation in order to try and get a different perspective on it and to work out how to respond and whether any response is useful. Sometime the best thing can be to acknowledge that's there's been a misunderstanding and to let it go by changing the topic.

I hope that's useful,


Callum

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Re: What did my BPD partner mean? A thread to help me understand.

Postby Custardcarer » Mon Jun 19, 2017 10:31 pm

Thanks Callum and Oliver. Really appreciate the input. The reason I am writing these down is that I want to be more thoughtful about what I say, so your thoughts are really helpful. I've been saving them up, but my memory is so bad these days, and when I sit down to write them they've gone!

The discussion about how we make each other feel is not possible yet. Although I hope to get there with a little help. I have tried but anything with any emotional link always moves very quickly to my partner "ending the relationship" and withdrawal for a week or so. Very emotive and distressing and not productive. My partner has childhood abuse issues and cannot cope with any discussion of feelings with someone she has an emotional connection with. Its tricky!

Thanks though.


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