According to the DSM-IV and National Library of Medicine, people with dependent personality disorder may be very upset by separation and loss. They may go to great lengths, even suffering abuse, to stay in a relationship.
Symptoms of dependent personality disorder may include:
- Avoiding being alone
- Avoiding personal responsibility
- Becoming easily hurt by criticism or disapproval
- Becoming overly focused on fears of being abandoned
- Becoming very passive in relationships
- Feeling very upset or helpless when relationships end
- Having difficulty making decisions without support from others
I can’t tell you how many people I know, mostly women, who fit neatly into this category. They say “yes” when they really want to say “no”. After all, we’ve had the nice girl image forced down our throats for most of our lives and if a woman stands up for herself or her gender, she’s referred to as moody; unreasonable, or the “b” word.
I’m very familiar with the game of “tip-toe”. I’ve rationalized other people’s bad behavior while repressing my own feelings of resentment and anger so people won’t view me negatively. I’m still struggling to be assertive and decisive.
That’s another reason I decided to start writing this blog. I’m documenting my road to recovery.
My moment of inspiration came after watching my sister’s common-law husband walk out on her after 16 years so he could go back to his first high school girlfriend – thankfully, there are no children involved. Our family’s been doing damage control for the past year, but my sister refuses to move on. She constantly stalks her ex’s Facebook and Twitter accounts and posts public comments for no other reason than to start drama.
I started wondering to myself “Do I behave this way, too? Is this what I look like from the outside?”
DRAMA IS AN ADDICTION
Following my divorce, we moved to a quiet town surrounded by gorgeous pine trees and snow-capped mountains. After 30 years of nothing but anxiety and fear, I felt strangely uncomfortable when I didn’t have that adrenaline coursing through my veins anymore. Peace and tranquility takes some getting used to. Drama is like any other drug that gets your heart pumping. It puts your body into a constant feeling of “fight or flight”.
I TURNED OFF MY DAMNED T.V.
Once the television stayed off in our household, both mine and my daughter’s self-esteems skyrocketed. It was borderline miraculous. It’s remarkable how much brainwashing we’ve undergone in our culture.
Adolf Hitler once said, ““If you tell a lie… and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”
Enter Hollywood and its ideas of how men and women should behave and how romantic relationships and families should be. I have lots of movies/shows that I enjoy and I’m not saying I never watch them, but now I watch them objectively. I recognize the stereotypes and call them out for what they are. Remember at one time, women weren’t allowed to work; therefore, one would assume that news and entertainment companies were founded mostly by men. No wonder the women portrayed on T.V. 50 years ago were obedient and pleasant all the time!
According to Hollywood, intimate relationships are what life’s all about. It’s difficult to find a movie that doesn’t have some shadowy romance woven into the storyline. Hollywood also tells us if we pursue a guy long enough and put up with his disrespect, someday he’ll have an epiphany and change of heart. It always ends with happily ever after. That’s probably the reason we still chase the bad boys who only make us feel… well… bad.
I BEGAN OBSERVING THE REG FLAGS…
I took the time to research, recognize, and understand certain behavioral patterns (including my own). It was like kicking an addiction but I’m very satisfied with having been relationship-free this past year. Especially if you look at the 5 guys I casually dated within the year following my divorce:
We only officially dated for two days, but we knew each other for nearly two decades. Although he’s part homeowner, the house he purchased was done with his father.
His father’s advice to him about women was that he should never get married and never let his feet touch the ground.
His parents are divorced and he often complained about being still being upset over it. He said, “Did they ask me if I wanted them divorced? No. It was all about them.” He spoke very bitterly about his mother, and he was angry at his sister & brother for moving to a different state and starting families of their own. He also said women are evil and only want money from men, yet I paid for everything and had to do all the driving. And during our only real date (that I paid for), he made a very offensive racial slur… so I told him to take his poor language & absurd conspiracy theories someplace else.
He was very into himself. Constantly showing off and talking about his many conquests. I knew another girl who dated him so I already had the dirty-dirt. He was funny, good-looking, charismatic… and if I’d been the same person I was ten years ago, I would have fallen for his act. When he started sending me texts several times a day asking for nude pictures of myself, I decided it was time to cut this fish loose.
I thought this might be my future long-term whatever, and there are very good odds that had I stayed with him, we would have been married right away. You know those apps where you answer stupid questions like “What movie would you see if the world ended tomorrow?”
Well, that’s how he found me so be leery of what information you’re putting online.
Anyway, I thought I hit the jackpot with #3. He was divorced with joint custody; he had a very high paying job, master’s degree, and he was Asian. My dream guy! But then came the red flags:
He insisted I meet his young daughter right away, which I wasn’t okay with. He was showing up at my school unannounced. He was buying me expensive gifts, even after I voiced that it made me uncomfortable. When we went out with a group of my friends, he brought a flask and acted like some 18-year old smuggling whiskey into a ball game (I thought it was weird). When I stopped returning his texts right away, he told me he was going to buy me a phone and I needed to change my behavior or else he’d have to start stalking me.
I told him not only would he not be buying me a new phone, but he needed to lose my current number.
I’d suspected he had a pretty extensive criminal history but he’d always deny it and say I was being accusatory and paranoid.
Oh where to begin? First, he’s an ex-boyfriend from my high school days. NEVER GO BACK, keep going forward. He was always asking to borrow money and had a sad story to tell about why he needed it. He said he didn’t speak with his adoptive parents because they were religious and didn’t accept him for who he was. He would say incriminating things and then insist he never said them. He would make jokes at my expense and then tell me I took it the wrong way or I was being too sensitive… and he would bring up things that I did in the past almost non-stop. I told him since he was so stuck on the past, he could stay there.
The grand finale and why I knew I needed to stop dating for a while.
I grew up with #5. We were very close as teenagers. His parents were very unstable and his father was a drug addict. When we got back in touch, I was ecstatic… I thought it was fate, but then he started talking about his current situation: He had taken his children and moved across country because, according to him, his ex-girlfriend had returned to her husband and her husband was abusive… and I bought the story hook, line, and sinker. Then things stopped adding up. He told his ex-girlfriend that the only way she could talk to their kids is if she flew out to see them (which I thought was bizarre). When she declined, he started calling her names, like the dreaded ‘c’ word. He was proud that he had the ability to make her cry. He also referred to his own mother as the “bitch who birthed him” which I found to be very disrespectful, but I still hoped I was wrong. Finally, on the phone one evening, he said men only want women who are weak and helpless. —>the statement that made my rose-colored glasses shatter.
We made plans to go watch fireworks with our families, but I had to cancel. I asked him if he and the kids went anyway. He said he didn’t want to spend the money on gas so he bought a TV instead. Since I was already familiar with the act of “super dad” and using kids as bait to rope in a girl, I saw through his facade. I told him I though it was wrong to not even allow the kids to speak with their mother on the phone and he retaliated with “I control the situation!”
Dropped him like a hot potato.
I wasn’t “better” so I continued to attract the cookie-cutter abusive or controlling types. They all had a few things in common, but the big red flag was that they each had a sad story to tell about how they had been wronged and they each held a negative or idealized view about women.
Since I knew the red flags, I didn’t stick around long enough to play the “Is He Mr. Right?” lottery. I already knew where these relationships would be headed... which is why I’m still happily single. Until I start attracting the right guys, I know I shouldn’t be dating.
I DITCHED ALL THE JERKS – FRIENDS OR OTHERWISE
I reevaluated my friendships and was amazed at how many of my male friends (and boyfriends) were actually misogynistic jackasses. I’d surrounded myself with some real bottom-feeders over the years because that’s what was familiar to me. It’s actually been a relief to have them out of my life… I don’t feel like I’m constantly on emotional-defense alert: Level Orange.
Ahhh… Dysfunctional family nostalgia.
NO MORE NICE GIRL
That doesn’t mean I’m the female reincarnation of Rambo. It just means I’m learning how to say “no” in a nice, guilt-free way. My brain’s finally starting to understand that it’s okay to not agree with everyone… or do everything a friend wants me to do… or turn down a guy for a date… or donate $1 to every charity I’m solicited by. The more I say “no”, the easier it is to say. The only doormat left here is the one that says
… and don’t let the door hit ya on the way out.