FOG, waif/martyr tendencies or something else?

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qcdlvl

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FOG, waif/martyr tendencies or something else?
« on: February 07, 2019, 05:31:15 PM »
A friend of mine - we're not super-close but we've known each other for years - comes from a dysfunctional family - mother is likely PD, father is an alcoholic, she was the SG and heavily parentified. She now lives with her partner (who has never lived away from his parents), with his parents - now, this is not as uncommon here as it would be in the US, but it's not the norm and there are plenty of women who would say "Hell, NO!" to any suggestion of moving in with their ILs. In addition to the partner's parents, his GM also lives there - a lying, conflict-creating drama queen who sounds pretty PD. My friend's partner works in the family business, and while my friend initially got a job unrelated to the family business, she eventually quit or was fired and joined the family business  :doh: . My friend was clearly struggling with all the drama/enmeshmet/not having any boundaries, at one point broke down crying. I encouraged her to set boundaries, and so did her partner - in my presence, he has consistently encouraged her to set boundaries, with one exception (see later). I suggested baby steps - saying "yes, but..." (something short of immediate unconditional surrender) if she couldn't bring herself to say "no" to unreasonable requests, and she insisted she couldn't do that. At one point her partner told her if she wanted them to move out that was OK, he was up for it, and she didn't answer. Anyway, some months later we (me, my fiancée, my friend and her partner) meet again and two more of my friend's IL relatives have moved in, both toxic and possibly even dangerous/with dangerous associates. My friend and her partner have decided to move out - but she wants to move into one of her FIL's properties, because it's so nice.  :aaauuugh: Her partner didn't seem keen on the idea, but he did tell her that she had to accept that if they moved his F could drop in whenever he wanted to (which my fiancée and I both thought was pretty controlling and seemed out of character). Her FIL himself clearly does not want them to move out (my friend's partner has complained that he wouldn't help them move out their stuff if it came to that though to state the obvious, they could hire movers, ask friends for help or do as many car trips as necessary). That my friend had not set boundaries, not even baby steps, and remained enmeshed I used to think was due to her childhood conditioning as SG, as the SG, she'd been trained to not have boundaries - but this last bit got me thinking that it might be a deliberate waify, martyrdom-seeking thing - the enmeshment is hard on her, yet it would obviously be easier to set boundaries if they moved into a property that they rented from someone other than her FIL. When she's the one actively pushing for enmeshment when her partner wants to at least move out (I got the impression he was the driving force behind that decision), it made me wonder - is it a case of getting supply of some sort from playing martyr, kind of "I'm so good and noble that I can't say no to anyone"? My fiancée, who is better at reading people than I am, says she has a toxic streak of her own, and I agree. She's long had a penchant for drama. Thoughts?

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clara

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Re: FOG, waif/martyr tendencies or something else?
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2019, 12:36:45 PM »
I have a (now casual) friend who is similar to your friend.  She comes from a very dysfunctional family and was apparently the family SG, highly enmeshed with a sister who was the GC, who then met a man she got engaged to who tried to dis-enmesh her from her family and encouraged her to set boundaries.  Of course, this threatened to upset the familiar family dynamic so rather than do this, she broke up with the fiancé.  Rather than reject her role as SG, she seems to have embraced it and any more presents with a "poor me" persona that gets her a lot of attention and sympathy.  Interacting with her has become more difficult over time since she doesn't respond to much except a direct question, and only seems to talk with people who know "her story" and are aware of how awful her famiy is to her.  Otherwise, you feel like you'r walking on eggshells whenever you're around her because you never know what might upset her or bring her to tears.  It's so difficult to really know what's going on insider of her or whether or not these are a type of manipulation that I've given up trying to be friends with her and now only see her if she's with other people I know.  I definitely think there are aspects of martyrdom and waifdom in her behavior, but I also think she's past the point of possibly changing or being willing to examine her situation since, in a perverted way, being the way she is has benefits (i.e., she's able to control all interactions because no one wants to "upset" her, so things are done her way or not at all).

In people like that, I don't know if there's much you can do except minimize contact and not engage with their dysfunctional behavior.  If you agree to interactions only on their terms, you're also encouraging the behavior to continue.  If you don't make this silent agreement, you become the bad person by upsetting them.  They have to make the decision to change which can be so threatening to them they never take that step.   

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qcdlvl

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Re: FOG, waif/martyr tendencies or something else?
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2019, 04:02:44 PM »
Yeah, I can see the similarities - my friend isn't enmeshed with her FOO but the fact that her siblings and parents all live hours away from each other and from her, and that her parents divorced, make it logistically impossible. But it seems she has replaced enmeshment with her FOO with enmeshment with her partner's FOO. She didn't reply when he offered to move out of his parents' house and doesn't oppose moving out perhaps because it doesn't fit with her passive victim persona, but moving into her FIL's property would keep them as enmeshed as possible. Either that, or she values her gilded cage (her IL's house is very nice) more than independence.
I don't walk on eggshells around her and have told her setting boundaries is the only way anything is going to change, and I even called her a drama queen once. But yeah, this last episode kind of signals she doesn't want to change and wants to cling to enmeshment and her passive, "noble" victim persona.

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cookiecat

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Re: FOG, waif/martyr tendencies or something else?
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2019, 11:39:53 PM »
Clara,

I’m wondering how your now casual friend reacted to your backing off?  Did you discuss it or just slowly fade away?  I find I really struggle with this.  When I’ve tried to have a conversation, it usually doesn’t go over well, but I’ve also been confronted aggressively about the slow fade too.  Just wondering how it went for you?

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clara

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Re: FOG, waif/martyr tendencies or something else?
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2019, 12:04:43 PM »
cookiecat--Well, more and more she associates only with people who make her feel "safe," i.e. those who won't confront her or even much talk with her about her behavior but who accept it and cater to her needs.  Before going gray rock, I actually made efforts to try to engage her, without giving in to her manipulations, but I suspected those efforts were going to fail.  Still, I persisted for some time because I wanted her give her enough chances to make the decision whether or not she wanted to distance herself from me (because I wasn't willing to cater to her and I could tell she wasn't pleased over that and was starting to give me the "silent treatment").  When I finally went  gray rock, she couldn't act surprised or hurt or anything because I felt I'd done my part.  At that point, there was nothing she could say without looking like a hypocrite. That's where it stands and I'm fine with it.