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, December 11, 2012

Too Perfect Tuesdays - Chap 10 - Be Consistent and Trustworthy

Consistency (Photo credit: Matt Hampel)

This post continues with Living With the Obsessive: 3 - Be Consistent and Trustworthy from Chapter Ten.

This series looks 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.

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.

3. Be Consistent and Trustworthy
It's tempting to feign agreement with some obsessives just to get them to stop badgering you.  But this can backfire! Obsessives need to be able to feel they can trust you, either to say openly you're not going to comply (giving your reasons), or actually to follow through on your word. Even in the smallest things, most obsessives respond dramatically to any evidence they can't trust you.  They immediately wonder what other things you've been dishonest about. Can they believe you when you say you love them? Can they ever believe you or trust that you'll do what you agree to do?

<snip> One man stated, "I need consistency in my life - to the extent that that's possible. I feel it would be nice if I came home at night and found consistency there. If I'm told dinner will be at six-thirty and I get home to find it's not even started - "

"That only happened once!" his wife protested, <snip>
Here's where it gets tricky. I do agree with the author that we should never BS an obsessive partner or friend, "Yes, yes, of course I'll do it your way," when we have no intention of doing it his way.

But, as in the example above, no matter how hard we try, there will almost certainly be one night after 752 nights where he comes home and dinner isn't even started yet.  And that's what he  latched onto, not appreciating or recognizing the 751 nights where dinner was served at six-thirty on the dot.

Because of their own distorted thinking, OCPD'rs may say they want "consistency," but what they truly expect is inhuman perfection.  

And we can drive ourselves crazy trying to deliver it to them.

Being consistent and trustworthy is a great goal, but it is important not to beat up on ourselves when we turn out to be human and fallible from time to time.  (This is not to say that we use that as an excuse, either.)

I would also argue that "giving your reasons" why you're not going to deliver something s/he wants can too easily turn into JADEing (Justifying, Arguing, Defending, and Explaining).  Better to stand your ground, "Yes, I understand you have a preference as to how you like the towels folded, but when I fold them, I'm going to do them my way. Nope, I don't need you to show me 'how to do it right.' When you fold them, you can do them your way; when I fold them, I'll do them my way."

via Suat Eman at FreeDigitalPhotos

I wish I had a dollar for every time my ex patiently explained to me that he couldn't believe I really loved him because... and then listed some tiny fault or task I'd overlooked, often from some years back. I've come to believe that a "non" can never be "consistent and trustworthy" enough to earn the trust of someone who is focused on finding a reason NOT to trust.

Somehow, he or she must come to a position of realizing that even when we do our best in some area, we're going to fail sometimes. That we still love them, and can be trusted, even if we insist on folding the towels the wrong way, or prepare dinner late once in a while.

Somehow, they have to learn that occasionally putting the toilet paper on the roll in the wrong direction is not the same level of betrayal as having an affair.

Your thoughts?
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