Intergenerational Disorders

This topic contains 5 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Sunnygal 7 months ago.

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  • #44109


    Hi there,
    I am exiting a 4 year involvement with a sociopath. Prior to that had been married to a full blown NPD person, (and managed to have a child with him) for 5 years. A live in partner before that was a Somatic Narcissist (7 years). So that’s 16 years with disordered men. They just got more disordered as I got older.
    With a help of my counselor I realized that all 3 were very similar to my narcissistic father. My mum is a classic co-dependent enabler. So no wonder I’ve been picking same guys.
    I cannot fix my parents (and they live overseas, I see them once a year, so I can manage them). But what do I look out for when meeting people to avoid attracting another disordered man?

  • #44246

    Donna Andersen

    Thirdtimelucky -What you are describing is actually quite common. I have spoken to many people who discover that they’ve been involved with disordered partners who then realize that one or both of their parents were disordered.

    The reason has to do with the wounds you endured with the first disordered relationships — your parents or others — which have not been addressed and healed. The solution is to work on your internal healing.

    I will write more about this in next week’s blog post.

  • #44248


    Hi thirdtimelucky,

    I’m sorry I don’t have much advice to offer on how to avoid getting partnered with yet another disordered man. Except of course for reading and following all the wisdom to be found on this site about RED FLAGS warning you that a potential suitor may not be what he seems! Mind you, I’ve no doubt Donna will have more help to offer in her upcoming article.

    What I did want to draw attention to was the very timely article that O. N. Ward just posted here about her own father, whom she also characterized as “narcissistic.” It didn’t have the word “narcissist” in the title, but it’s this one:

    Are you “too sensitive,” or is your partner a sociopath?

    I do think some people can be “too sensitive,” but that’s a whole ‘nother issue! You’ve highlighted the important fact that childhood conditioning can make people far more vulnerable to abusers in adulthood. That’s also worth looking at the other way round. I think anyone who has fallen victim to a chronic pathological abuser deserves to examine their family of origin and the way they were treated in childhood to see how it might have preconditioned them for victimhood. That goes double for anyone with a history of multiple relationships with abusive partners!

    O. N. Ward’s article does address one key reason why this childhood conditioning can lead people to become victim-prone later in life. What I thought was valuable about it was that it pointed out a specific mechanism of cause and effect–one that I’ve always felt was true, even though I was lucky and my own family was nothing like this–by which this “conditioning” happens. I think explanations of this kind that people can comprehend could use more exposure on this site. Specifically, “Mrs. Ward” pointed out how her feelings were invalidated in childhood, leading her to discount her own inner warning system. That’s one important mechanism of causation, though there are others besides.

    But there’s something else. I couldn’t help noticing how you worded the problem that naturally concerns you. You asked what to look for to avoid “attracting” another disordered man. If you can get better at identifying them, that’s part of the task, and I dare say learning how to draw firmer boundaries against them is another part of the task, to avoid attracting them to you!

    Donna has often discussed in the past how “sociopaths” (and chronic abusers of every kind) can spot a vulnerable target and home in on him or her. If you can learn how not to look like a “soft touch” to these predators, parasites, and pests, they’re less likely to see you as an “attractive” target and hopefully will move on somewhere else.

    However, that alone–learning not to attract abusers–is only half the problem. The other half in my opinion does not get the attention it deserves. That is learning how not to be attracted TO them! And that’s the half you quite rightly identified in your previous sentence where you talked about how you’ve been “picking” the same (wrong) kinds of guys. It’s not about why they have been “attracted” to you, but why you have apparently been attracted to them!

    After all, you’re a human being! Although psychopaths do treat people as “objects,” we as human beings are decidedly not “objects” on a shelf that any old Tom, Dick or Harry can just come along and “pick up” because they take a fancy to us, the way we’d pick up a tasty item from a grocery store shelf. Deciding to “accept” these abusers did call for a choice on your part as well, when you did have the option of rejecting them.

    What’s more, this half of the problem can itself be divided into two quarters. Why did you end up with two narcissists and a guy you’ve identified as a “sociopath”? I know different people use the word “sociopath” to mean different things, but clearly anyone we’d label a “sociopath” is also a narcissist. So that’s three narcissists in a row!

    Now one of those two remaining quarters of the problem is simply a failure to reject the wrong kind of partner. When the abuser comes along and sees you as a “soft target,” someone with the better luck to be “less vulnerable” or who’s learned to be “more savvy” says “Sorry Buster, go chase your own tail.” Then the person who’s just escaped being targeted waits until Mister (or Miss) “Right” turns up, when it’s time to say Yes instead of No.

    For all I can tell, maybe that’s the only thing you did wrong: to say Yes too soon to the wrong guys when a luckier or better informed woman would have said No, pending the arrival of Mr. Right.

    But what about the remaining quarter of the problem? Unfortunately I’ve run across considerable evidence that many victims of abusers–not all, but quite a number–are attracted to abusers IN PREFERENCE to normal, functional partners!!! That’s to say, some people who have been conditioned this way actively reject or anyway “pass over” normal, functional suitors in favor of abusive, predatory or otherwise dangerous partners who make their lives hell!

    To make my point perfectly clear, part of the problem is saying Yes where one should have said No. But another part can be saying No where one should have said Yes!–which only leaves the option of saying Yes to abusers that people should say No to!

    To a person of common sense, this doesn’t “make sense” at all! And yet it happens! I’m sure there are comprehensible reasons for it, and there are some I could discuss, but I don’t have the time right now, though I do think it needs to be discussed at more length. What’s more, I’ll say bluntly I think too many people avoid examining this vital topic, for misguided reasons rooted in the same fundamental thinking errors and irrational guilt that have derailed their lives.

    All I’d like to add for now is two things. First, in eighteen years of posting on sites like this one, I’ve learned a fair bit about abusive relationships, and I’ve come across a number of people who, with great honesty and wisdom, have confessed (in their own words): “My picker’s broke!” I don’t know exactly how that can be fixed, but I’ve no doubt the first step toward a solution is identifying the problem! Until people do that, nothing is going to change. By your own wording, consciously or otherwise, you have taken that first step: identifying the problem.

    Secondly, as I said before, though there are different kinds of abusers, you’ve identified all the disordered men you’ve partnered with specifically as “narcissists” of one kind or another–just like your father! So in spite of this man’s obvious vices, could it be that you have an emotional attraction to men who, despite their shortcomings, share your father’s traits? And furthermore, could it be that you’ve been unwittingly selecting men with these traits in preference to other, more normal and functional men who are different?

    Among the reasons postulated for doing so is simply that the behavior of men with these traits, however hurtful at times, is at least familiar to you from childhood, and can even seem “comforting” for that reason, paradoxically despite the pain such behavior often inflicts–pain that you may have learned to suppress from an early age.

    I only toss that out as an idea to explore. Anyway I’m glad you’re working things out with an obviously competent and perceptive therapist. I hope you can work through this and may eventually (like Donna) find real love.

  • #44302


    thirdtime At least you are aware and that is a start.

  • #44303



    Me too. So many times. I have a narcissistic mother, and have had multiple partners and friends who were/are disordered. Finally, after years of abuse and confusion, I figured out that I was indeed attracted to these types.

    My therapist, over many years, helped me to see how I was not only using these situations to keep my neurotransmitters pumping (addiction!), but also how I was using these situations to try and heal.

    She explained that we sometimes seek someone very much like our primary caregiver/s to try and create a different outcome (that they WILL love us this time!). Our unconscious mind figures if we can get a different disordered person to love and respect us, to CHANGE, then our hearts can rest easy.

    It gets even more complex, though, when we take into consideration that those of us abused as children internalized ALL the responsibility for our mistreatment. If you think about this what we really internalized, because we were developmentally unable to do otherwise, was a kind of belief that if we were responsible for the problem, then it was up to us to fix it. Then we carry this into adulthood.

    For me this responsibility to fix the problem took on different forms. I would put them before me. I would ‘work on them’ to change. I would give WAY more than I would get. I would ‘believe’ all the crap they told me, when I knew it was a lie. I would try and give them exactly what they wanted, even when that changed from day to day. In a nutshell I would try to be exactly who they wanted me to be, while at the same time I tried to change them.

    Needless to say this never worked out. They couldn’t change. I couldn’t seem to change either, or be who they wanted me to be. It was always a disaster. I was devastated, and they weren’t.

    The devastation seemed to build on itself with each relationship, and the older I got. The final relationship almost did me in: emotionally, financially, physically.

    But once I ‘got’ who and what they, and my mother, were I was set free. Understanding them gave me a much better opportunity to understand myself, FREE of them. I no longer had to choose them. I could choose differently. Of course this was not easy at first. I needed lots of time to reset my thinking about how I would choose a partner. I spent some years alone. I hooked up, for a very brief time, with another disordered person, but figured it out and got away unscathed.

  • #44613


    slimone good post.

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