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Avoiding personality theft ... morphing? Whatever you wanna call it.


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I am dating someone now, and am scared sh*tless that I may start to 'adopt' personality traits, likes, dislikes, change self subconciously.

(to please them? to be liked? to what I feel like Im supposed to be? bc they wont approve of what i AM? i dont even really know why. Just bc Im bpd? i dont even know if im bpd?! *groans*)

I wasnt worried at first. Thought I knew me well enough and was kind of excited about knowing me better finally. But now .. its been a couple months and im getting nervous.

I am so scared that i find myself unwilling to state an opinion on silly little stuff. I wont even be able to say if I like something... like pizza. Or poker. Because I am so scared that I will change my mind later, or look back and be confused bc I dont actually like that or... sigh...do ppl here know what I mean?

My question is this. How do you guarantee that when you respond to someone you are not just ... following subconcious bpd triggers? How do i assure myself that I am myself? That I am being myself? I dont want to pretend something (not on purpose!) and then end up hurting someone bc I suddenly disagree

*edit* Hope this is in the right place :(

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If your worry is that you might end up agreeing with and almost mirroring your SO because your own identity is under developed, then I can say that I've had that experience.

I overcame it by exposure therapy, which was to practice giving opinions and expressing likes and dislikes even though it felt uncomfortable for me. I told my SO that my BPD and low self esteem meant that I had trouble expressing my own preferences and that it was difficult to do. Then I just went ahead and practiced.

Bear in mind that peoples opinions and likes can change, people can change their mind, all people have some degree of identity flux as a normal healthy phenomenon. If you expressed yourself and it was inconsistent, what would be the worst that had happened? That you'd changed your mind? Surely you're allowed to do that like everyone else does?

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Although I haven't been diagnosed with a PD (unless it is schizoid which has been floated), I had the experience of losing myself to my spouse. This wasn't a problem when we were married. The problem was even once we divorced, I couldn't help but to see everything through their eyes. My opinion was theirs. My personality took on their characteristics. Everything. It was so bad and so obvious that I had two different psychologists call my attention to it. Without my spouse, I was lost. Hence, my divorce was far more painful than it had to be. It was like my soul was ripped from me.

I notice that I'm starting to do it again with someone else. I don't have any answers, but I just want you to know that I understand.

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This isn't just a "crazy" thing, its normal and totally natural. Of course the extent is often very different for some of us, and the fact that you're conscious of it shows that you've made a huge stride towards controlling it.

I would suggest bringing it up with your therapist if it concerns you.

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Thank you guys. I havent been formally dx'd either but yes I am worried about mirroring. Having your soul ripped out of you in the end is an accurate way to explain how it feels. Like the whole reason for your 'being' is gone :( The practice thing sounds like it may help. I dont actively go to therapy because my sessions 'ran out'. But may be able to start again soon.

I realize changing your mind is a normal thing but if you end up just doing what others want bc your own opinion doesnt stand up and shout "me! pick me!" Then you are just mirroring who you 'went along with', right? And when that happens a lot..or to really important things that affect both you & your partner (future goals,your dealbreakers etc) ...it can be fairly detrimental in a relationship.

Therapy time I know.

Just wondering if anyone has tips on keeping self, boundries, clear.

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You need to be in some therapy to address these issues. It's fine to discuss them here but I don't think this is within the realm that we can help with it. Personally it worries me that you're googling quite complex therapeutic concepts on wikipedia and causing yourself distress feeling like you have that going on when that is something that a) only a therapist could diagnose and b) they might not even tell you about because it's not therapeutic for you to know.

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  • 4 months later...

I have done this with my husband and his family for the last almost 6 years. It is exhausting. And now I want to be my true self...but I want they all to go away. I want to be alone. I have left twice, but he always comes and gets me...and I come back because I have no relationship with my horrible family and I am disabled and don't want to be without the money, I know I can't make it on my own. So I spend a lot of time alone in my bedroom and just pray he will go to sleep so I won't have to deal with him!

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I used to do this with people, but then when I met my current boyfriend I didn't have to because we had similar interests already, and I learnt to be myself around him. Since then, I've also managed to start learning that I don't have to morph into other people, either.

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Believe it or not, when my therapist got pregnant, I picked up a bunch of mannerisms of hers and people started asking if I was pregnant. Never happened before or since. I picked up some other things from her as well, but now that she's gone it's more of a comfort than any real threat of being subsumed.

Sometimes I write down all the things I know about myself so I can refer back to them when I forget.

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I used to do this with people, but then when I met my current boyfriend I didn't have to because we had similar interests already, and I learnt to be myself around him. Since then, I've also managed to start learning that I don't have to morph into other people, either.

The same thing happened when I met my husband; I didn't turn into him because we were already very alike. I realized how much I mirrored people in previous relationships and friendships (hell, even co-workers and movie characters). Once I was aware of it, it turned into kind of a knee-jerk response to do the opposite. If someone was very interested in "x", I was totally bored by it; if they were passionately in favour of "x" subject, I was automatically against it. Most of the time it was because that person's interest (or lack thereof) in the subject at hand made me feel insecure. I still feel the chameleon effect a lot, but it's getting better slowly. I found it helped to be the opposite of the "identity thief" because I actually examined why I felt the way I did "x" subject, and what my actual opinion about "x" was.

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