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Push-Pull - A chronic pattern of sabotaging and re-establishing closeness in a relationship without appropriate cause or reason.

The Emotional Boomerang

Push-Pull describes the feeling many of us experience being in a relationship with someone who suffers from a Personality Disorder - sometimes they draw us close, other times they push us away either overtly or through behaviors which drive us away.

Because people with Personality Disorders have an inner world where strong and ever-changing feelings create the facts, they often treat people they come into contact with according to the way they are feeling, good or bad, regardless of what that person may truly deserve.

How It Feels

What often confounds the person on the receiving end of Push-Pull treatment is they can clearly see inconsistencies in the cyclical arguments and behaviors they are dealing with, yet the person with the Personality Disorder may be completely blind to the contradictions. This difference in perceiving reality can often lead to Circular Arguments between the PD Sufferer and the Non, which generally only pours more fuel on the dysfunctional fire.

It can be hard not to take a hit to your self-esteem as you try to guess from one day to the next what kind of mood your PD will be in when you wake up, or when you arrive late from work, or when you go to a social gathering. It’s entirely normal for humans to try to find patterns in a person’s behavior such as “Last time I said xyz it really pleased her,” or, “Every time I try <---> he always does <---->”.

However, when the behaviors are driven by the feelings of a PD the same actions do not always produce the same result.

How it Looks

  • A woman cycles between telling her husband she wants a divorce and begging him not to leave her.
  • A man hits his girlfriend and then tells her she means the world to him.
  • A mother tells her son he is the smartest kid in the world while telling his siblings he is stupid.
  • A father repeatedly spends the grocery money on entertainment and then begs his family for forgiveness.

What NOT to do

  • Don’t seek logic where it doesn’t exist - try not to look for a logical reason for every illogical thought, word or deed of a person with a Personality Disorder.
  • Try not to play the guessing game, where you try to change your own behavior in an attempt to control the reactions of another person.
  • Don’t assume anyone else’s bad behavior is based something YOU have said or done. Everyone is responsible for their own behavior.
  • Try not to react emotionally in anger or revenge when you don’t get what you want or deserve.

What TO do

  • Learn everything you can about the Personality Disorder your loved-one suffers from, and how that is likely to affect their behavior, their thoughts and their moods.
  • Develop an emergency plan for any scenario that may include violence or abuse being directed towards or your children.
  • Discover ways to get what you need/want, ways that are not solely dependent on your loved-one having a “good day”.

For More Information & Support...

If you suspect you may have a family member or loved-one who suffers from a personality disorder, we encourage you to learn all you can and surround yourself with support as you learn how to cope.

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