Using writing, and meditation, and ice cream, and reading, and dreams,

and a whole lot of other tools to rediscover who I am,

after six years living with a man with OCPD.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Too Perfect Tuesdays - Chap 4 - Who's Afraid of Romantic Commitments
& The Uncommitted Marriage

This post continues with Who's Afraid of Romantic Commitments & The Uncommitted Marriage from Chapter Four.

This series will look at a small snippet of The book on the Perfectionist Personality, aka The Obsessive Compulsive disordered Personality, aka OCPD, each week. Please follow along, leave your comments, engage more on the FaceBook website... whatever your heart calls you to do.

Too Perfect, When Being in Control Gets Out of Control by Allan E. Mallinger, M.D. and Jeanette DeWyze was published by Random House in 1992.  If you believe you are dealing with OCPD or someone who is "Too Perfect," whether that's you or a loved one, please buy a copy of the book and read it for additional insights that will not all be covered in these excerpts.

Although the majority of my patients who fear romantic commitments have been obsessive men like Marty, I have also known women to be the phobic party in these matches.  Sometimes both partners share the hidden terror of commitment.  <snip>
Mallinger goes on to write about a woman named Denise,  who'd pick the wrong men, but even when she found someone perfect, she would make excuses to not be with him - she didn't want to cut back on her jogging time, he might not like her cats, blah blah, woof woof.


Some individuals may actually go through the motions of making a commitment, moving in with their partner, even getting married.  But years later their behavior and their attitude may continue to reflect a desperate desire to keep their options open.

Bart, an architect, declared at our first meeting, "In a nutshell, my problem is women."  For five years he had been married to a woman named Bea, and had gradually lost interest in her, physically and emotionally, over the course of their marriage.  When I met him, he was plagued by sexual fantasies of other women, and had had three short-lived extramarital affairs.

Bart went so far as to tell Bea that he wanted to see other women and when she objected to this, he became angry.  However, when Bea began to voice her own doubts about the future of the relationship, Bart felt surprisingly anxious.  He told me, "It's one of the worst possible things that could happen.  I see divorce as one of the ultimate expressions of failure."  <snip>

He realized that whenever he was with Bea he typically focused on his conflict over their marriage, or dwelt on her flaws:

"In my usual state, I pretend to be happy, but really feel anxiety or anger that I don't express... Bea asks, 'Why don't you let yourself be happy?'  But that ties in with commitment.  When we're together and I'm felling happy, it's as if I'm conceding that I'm going to be married to Bea forever, and that really depresses me."  <snip>

I belong to several wonderful support boards, and one of the questions that comes up periodically is, "Do those with OCPD cheat?"  Some members proclaim ABSOLUTELY NOT.  I think the evidence indicates that while most do not, some do, for precisely "Bart's" reason.  Having extramarital flings is one way to avoid being truly committed to the relationship, of keeping one foot outside the door, as well as being able to pin the blame on one's partner as failing in yet another way.

Frankly, as I read this, I wanted to smack Bart upside the head.  Granted, this is just a small snippet, and apparently he did buckle down and work on the marriage - but it was all about him, his feelings, his fantasies, his freedom.  No hint that he felt guilty or sad for how he was behaving, or recognition that his actions were hurtful and unfair to Bea.  To me, the thought of being married to a "Bart" for the rest of my life would be completely depressing.

And while I think that, someday, finding another partner is key to being truly healed from my last relationship, I am in no hurry.

Have you ever drawn back or been pushed back from a relationship because of 
made up excuses, like cats, jogging, personal time?
Have you been hurt, or hurt others, by outside affairs?
Can you commit to Reactions button or a comment, below?  :-)