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Old 12-05-2011, 05:42 PM
Minxxa Minxxa is offline
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Kamala, I see where you're coming from, but I see a distinct difference for having compassion and understanding for people who are struggling (and not making them out to be BAD people), and inviting them into a personal emotional, mental or physical relationship, whether that be friends or lovers.

I'm studying to be a counselor (MFT and LPCC) myself, so I completely have understanding and compassion for those who have emotional and mental issues that they are dealing with, living with or struggling with. I don't see them as bad people at all, but people who have problems and issues that make their lives difficult.

However I also come from a family dynamic where about half of my mom's side of the family were suffering from very severe personality disorders (specifically Borderline Personality Disorder) and also had other issues (most likely bipolar or cyclothymic disorder), and I can tell you that as a child growing up in that atmosphere and seeing the pain and anguish my mother suffered growing up with that in her family-- the pain and trauma of trying to be in a relationship with them has caused long-term damage both emotionally and mentally.

My mother still suffers from PTSD flashbacks from the trauma and abuse she's suffered at the hands of her family. I don't have anything nearly that severe, as my mother was a great mother, but I have a lot of self-esteem and trust issues that stem from the fact that my family liked to crap on people's self esteem and were completely self-centered, untrustworthy and emotionally manipulative.

So while I'm definitely of the opinion that people that are deep in suffering need to be given compassion, and definitely need help and support IF THEY SO CHOOSE, I also am very wary of opening my life and psyche back up to people who have severe emotional issues and choose not to do anything about it. Because I've learned the absolute hardest way that if they are not willing to do any work, they will never get better, and they will never be capable of being in a healthy relationship. And I've had enough of that type of drama in my life.

I also agree with what you're saying in that people have to take responsibility for the choices they make in who they bring into their lives. From my point of view that's what the article was saying. That you need to choose carefully and with actual forethought who you get into a relationship with, and if there are red flags flying, then maybe you should CHOOSE not to go forward any further.

Too many people see red flags and problems and barrel forward because "they have no choice, they are in LOVE". And that is not only unwise but it is taking no responsibility for your choices. Just because you feel the warm fuzzies for somebody doesn't mean you no longer have any choices about whether or not to be with them. You have the choice to say "hey, I really have feelings for this person, but they are not in a position to be in a healthy relationship and I choose not to move any further for now."

This doesn't mean you can't have compassion and concern for them, care about them, or offer them friendship and support. It just means you don't expect a healthy relationship with an unhealthy person and if you want healthy relationships you need to be more choosy about who you choose. That's what the article expressed to me anyway.
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Old 12-05-2011, 06:05 PM
kamala kamala is offline
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Minxxa, we are essentially in agreement. My irritation, like I said, is mainly with the way the article explains itself.

There's a big difference between:

"hey, I really have feelings for this person, but they are not in a position to be in a healthy relationship and I choose not to move any further for now."


"You are a problem person. Your unhealthiness is a threat to me. You are insecure/manipulative/sad/broken/other pejorative and I won't tolerate it"

The real challenge is balancing compassion and respect for a person's personal journey with protecting yourself.

I just see so many people reading this and being like "uh huh my ex was totally a sociopath... totally agree... those people are crazy! I'm so glad that I'm smart and sane enough to avoid ever being like that!"

I'm a strong proponent of looking at connections and relationships rather than individuals, who never act in a vacuum. I guess one of the reasons I had such a strong reaction to this is because it reminds me of a really unhappy, really unhealthy (ex) friend of mine who was probably Borderline and used to bitch non-stop about the many ways in which everyone was out to get her, how they had hurt her, done her wrong etc etc. She, too, had a comprehensive list of "bad people" and all the ways that they are wrong. I think it's easy: you don't need a thousand different synonyms to explain bad behaviour in people. Saying "oh watch out for THESE types of people" etc is a bit naive and not really seeing the bigger picture. I think it's a more telling question, and more difficult, to ask yourself how you function in the world, and how you could do it better. Other people's supposed dysfunction is not your concern.
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Old 12-05-2011, 10:12 PM
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Kamala, I think you hit the nail on the head as to why this article made my eyes glaze over. It's so focused on pointing the finger at "all the drama-prone crazy fuckers out there," rather than starting with how to cultivate a strong sense of self.
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Old 12-05-2011, 10:23 PM
opalescent opalescent is offline
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I think the article does a decent job of pointing out possibly problematic behaviors - that may or may not be connected to a particular diagnosis - and how they can be problematic.

I find the most useful thing about the article is that it gives lots of examples of potential red flags in an organized way. It tries, and maybe does not always succeed, to point out behaviours (sometimes generated by diagnosable mental health issues, sometimes not) that can have, cumulatively, bad consequences. So it doesn't say to avoid sociopaths but rather, look out, analyse and, if necessary, avoid such and such behavior, especially if the behavior happens over and over in a pattern - which may or may not be result of someone being a sociopath.

I do think that if one already has good filters, has an handle on 'good' flags, and trusts one's intuition, then this article may not be that helpful. (See NYCindie's post above for example.)

However, lots of people, for whatever reason, don't trust their own intuition, don't have a sense of what is good, positive behavior, and have no idea what might be a red flag in a given situation. Sometimes, one's family doesn't model good behavior (Minxxa noted her own upbringing as being this way) or people are not encouraged to develop and rely on their intuition.
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Old 12-06-2011, 05:05 AM
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While the first part of the article didn't particularly resonate with me, once it got into the specific behaviors and examples, I found it very helpful. It seemed to me that the writer didn't place blame for the most part and tried to separate compassion for an indvidiual versus allowing that person to run a number on you.
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Old 12-06-2011, 03:32 PM
Minxxa Minxxa is offline
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Opal-- that's kind of what I was trying to say and couldn't find the right words yesterday.

I think that if you're a person with really good self esteem, really good boundaries and a good judge of character who also has a strong sense of self (i.e. you know your boundaries and have no problems sticking to them), then this article is a bit of a "duh, no kidding."

If you're somebody who is a good judge of character and knows what they think their boundaries should be but has had trouble sticking to them, or has been raised in an atmosphere where setting boundaries (i.e. not letting the other manipulative people do what they want) was frowned upon and emotionally beaten or guilt tripped out of you, then this article can be a reassurance that you are not a bad person for setting boundaries and keeping people who are not healthy out of your life. I say "bad person" because people WILL try to make you feel bad for not playing along.

And if you have no good boundaries and have a habit of picking people that are bad for you-- then this article can be a good starting point to learn what inappropriate and unhealthy behaviors are and start to see how to choose better, and what to look for in other people's behavior (both good and not so good).

Not all of us are at the same level, and so I can see why this article is alternately interesing and boring depending on where you're coming from.
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Old 12-18-2011, 02:21 PM
hyperskeptic hyperskeptic is offline
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I agree with some of the points made about this article. It isn't very well written, it tends to be too blunt and too negative . . . and yet . . . and yet . . .

I recognize the type.

Suffice it to say I have had to deal with an emotional leech who may, in fact, be a full-blown sociopath.

This is in a musical rather than a romantic context. My band-mates and I saw the warning signs early on, but we are compassionate types, willing to give a guy the benefit of the doubt. So, we put up with increasingly bizarre bouts of psychodrama until we couldn't take it any more.

Three of us in the band decided to go on as a trio, without him, in part because of emotional exhaustion from dealing with him, in part because, to be frank, he just isn't that good a musician.

For fifteen months now, he has sought opportunities to take jabs at us, waiting for us to right the terrible wrong we did him, apologize for our manipulation, our betrayal, our scapegoating. He stands on an inflated, almost delusional sense of his own excellence and importance, and does what he can, when he can, to stir up an emotional storm from which, apparently, he can take some satisfaction.

In his case, compassion is a trap, except for a kind of sickened pity . . . from a safe distance.

Needless to say, I've learned something about boundaries, honesty, and heeding warning signs from the whole history of my association with this individual.

A bit of brutal honesty, early on, would have gone a very long way. I might never have allowed him in the band, had I been honest with myself and the others, had I possessed the courage to stand on my own judgment. We could have avoided all this.

People like him are not very common, I think, but, really, life is too short to waste any time trying to help him sort himself out. He needs help of a very different order, and I'm neither inclined nor qualified to give it. So, I walk away and (generally) avoid any communication with or about him, except to commiserate with my current band-mates.

(If I seem like I'm venting, I am. He's recently come back for another round of snarling . . . fifteen months after we parted ways with him.)
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Last edited by hyperskeptic; 12-18-2011 at 02:24 PM.
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Old 12-19-2011, 04:45 PM
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BigGuy BigGuy is offline
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While I don't necessarily disagree with the premise of the article, I am somewhat troubled by the tone.

If we were to take out "emotional leach" and replace it with "Blind", or "Paraplegic", or "Multiple-sclerosis", or "HIV Positive", would people still say this is great article? People with these disabilities are "leaches" in their own way. Each of these disabilities require more work on the part of the partner. Does that mean people should avoid getting into relationships with them? Just because you can't see an emotional or psychological disability, doesn't mean its any less of a disability.

That being said, I do agree that one should be cognizant of the symptoms of emotional/psychological disabilities, aware of the additional work/stress it places on the relationship, and make an informed choice if the reward of the relationship is worth the extra effort it takes to maintain and cultivate it.

Such relationships require the ability to put into place firm, loving boundaries. I am in a very close relationship with someone diagnosed with a Personality Disorder. My relationship boundary is that they receive therapy for their disability. If this person stops trying to help themself, I can't do it for them, and I will end the relationship.
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Old 12-24-2011, 03:29 AM
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Arrowbound Arrowbound is offline
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Honestly the more time I have spent physically and emotionally distanced from the leeches in my universe the more freedom I have had with which to spread my wings and come to terms with certain qualities of my own self.

It's pretty much led to greater compassion, yet lesser patience. I will cut people out without a second thought now. I don't have the time. There is so much life to be lived. I lost my mother and then was left with some of the most manipulative, encroaching human beings I've ever known.

And that is why they've been re-positioned, or tossed out.
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Old 12-24-2011, 07:46 PM
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redpepper redpepper is offline
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Originally Posted by Arrowbound View Post
greater compassion, yet lesser patience.
That is so interesting! Its kind of a dichotomy, yet not. Is it not chosen compassion? Choosing to be patient with certain people in order to have and keep compassion?
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