| Karen Scarth |
In the last post of this series, we reviewed the relationship rule: “Don’t expect anything from me and I won’t expect anything from you.” That relationship dynamic involved avoidance of expressing any personal need coupled with failure to recognize the emotional needs of others.
Now we turn to the next relationship rule:
You need to feel the same way I do. Otherwise you don’t care about me or understand me.
This is a common dynamic in a relationship in which one person has borderline personality disorder. There is a very intense need on the part of this individual to be emotionally validated in this way. Seeking emotional connection this person needs others to be with them both physically and emotionally. They require not just empathy but a full engagement by the other person in the same emotional state. Anything short of this is seen as emotional distance and even abandonment.
For the other person, this relationship is emotionally exhausting and confusing. There are often high levels of emotional intensity and lability. Sharing these intense emotions is the basis for intimacy and connection in these relationships. There is also a significant emotional punishment when the individual fails to feel the right way or enough. This often leads to conflict and emotional withdrawal.
Loss of identity and self becomes an issue for the person navigating this type of relationship. They may become depressed or anxious since there is no room in the relationship to experience their own emotions and be themselves. All their energy is required to monitor the emotional state of the other and be in a state of perpetual readiness to respond as required. They may learn that they can only get their needs attended to if they are in more emotional distress than their parent/partner.
This relationship can be especially destructive since in an effort to avoid punitive emotional “events” a person can find themselves engaging in behaviours that go against their core beliefs, values and morals.