Do some people with DPD subject their friends to parentification?

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Bill

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I have a friend who seems to exhibit traits of Dependent Personality Disorder. At this point in time, I feel less like a friend and more like a parent or a guardian and I think I'm about to throw in the towel. 

We've been friends for about 3 1/2 years, but were also co workers for a short time many years ago. The longer we're together, the more I get the feeling she wants to abdicate responsibility for her actions and put them all on me.  Lately, she's been referring to me as her 'mentor', even though I keep telling her I'm not comfortable with that and I wish she'd stop. There's other really bizarre behavior too. Any and all medical issues never seem to have a proper resolution. The procedures never seem to work. Hearing aids, no difference. Glasses, no difference. Hip replacement, no difference.  It's all selective though. She can walk for 1 1/2 to 2 miles straight at 3+ miles per hour on a track every morning, but when we go in and out of a store or anywhere else besides the track for that matter... she walks at a snails pace like she's nearly disabled. Also, if we are not walking on a completely flat surface, she claims she can't walk at all unless she is holding on to me tightly for support.

I've been using subtitles for everything we watch since she claims to have damaged her hearing at a gun range that I took her to one day. In the middle of target practice, she started talking and removing her ear protection. Amazing lack of common sense for someone who trained with hand guns every year for twenty five years straight and has a brother in law who owns a gun shop and has for over thirty years.  Well, we went to the audiologist and everything seemed to have gone great. Except, she still can't hear anything.

Eyesight problems. Routine cataract surgery successful, but no change, Glasses, the same. By the way, my television screen is 85" diagonally.  The last time I mentioned to her that she should be able to see what's on the screen, she said it was probably her ADHD and not her eyesight.

She's acts as though she's physically weak, but her strength seems to fluctuate and is really inconsistent.

Does this sound like a form of parentification, or does that only occur with parents and their children?

Thanks   

   

 

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DistanceNotDefense

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Re: Do some people with DPD subject their friends to parentification?
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2021, 09:50:31 PM »
Sounds kind of like a type of hypochondria to be honest. An attention-seeking type maybe?

I remember back when I had a relationship with my older sibling (uNPD, possibly uASPD) she would use ailments to gain sympathy, which also kind of gave her a manipulative upper hand through guilt in a way.

As I got older more of her issues seemed exaggerated or sometimes even imagined. She was going to the doctor constantly. Some of them had some legitimacy though, but I started kind of wising up to it and not really responding with pity (which she did not like).

Definitely frail/waifish, which can be an unhealthy way to establish a friendship or relationship. Relationships shouldn't be established through pity! Or they're just not healthy.

Through personal experience I know ADHD folk can feel better focused/safer with another person nearby, and can be very extroverted in that way.

But yeah this seems a bit much for that. I don't know if a friend can "parentify" you (I've only ever heard of it parent to child but I could be wrong), but this does seem like she is relying on you to be her personal rescuer or savior, maybe she did not have that growing up or it was the only way her parents paid attention, was if she acted extremely helpless. Definitely see shades of my sister, who I'm confident (my therapist, too) is uPD.

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notrightinthehead

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Re: Do some people with DPD subject their friends to parentification?
« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2021, 03:15:14 AM »
Seems like your friend enjoys your help and attention.
Do you enjoy being helpful and needed?
You seem to think that your friend is faking some of the helplessness and maybe that irritates or tires you.  You might feel fooled or used. Consider this a hint to look at yourself. Are you enabling this behaviour? Encouraging it even? What can you change about your behaviour to encourage more independence?
I can't hate my way into loving myself.

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Bill

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Re: Do some people with DPD subject their friends to parentification?
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2021, 09:16:09 AM »
DistanceNotDefense - Thank you very much for your reply. It doesn't seem like she's making ailments up, it's more like she's using whatever deficiency she already has and is playing on that. It makes me feel so guilty just to put this down on paper, but something is just not right and I do feel used.

She has told me that her father was not home very much (Navy) and from her description, her mother had some serious emotional issues. I have met her sisters and they both seem to have strong PD traits as well.

notrightinthehead - Thank you very much for replying. She does enjoy my help and I'm have been very glad to be able to offer my assistance, but something just feels very wrong. I press her to be more independent and  she fights it.  It seems that the longer I'm with her, the less responsible she has become. It's gotten to the point where at times she acts as though she is completely unaware of what is going on around her and I have to be there to make sure she doesn't do anything foolish.

We went to Ireland two years ago and I was constantly pulling her out of the way of cars and buses because she often does not look when crossing the street. For some reason she stares at the ground when she walks and I have to tell her to look up or she's going to walk into someone or some thing. When we are alone in my apartment and I get up for something from the fridge and she is already standing up, she will walk to the corner of the room and stand there because she claims she does not want to walk into me. So I tell her to just open her eyes and look at me first so she can stop walking in to me. It is so frustrating. I must add that my friend is well educated and is quite intelligent. When we did work together, she was one of my superior officers. She also drives a car, so she's mobile. 

What brought this situation to a head was an incident that happened a few weeks ago when I took her camping. I had a real problem at one point where the food nearly ended up in the fire and I was almost burned. When I called for help she did not move or make any motion to help and she had been watching me the whole time, sitting less than ten feet away.

When she had her hip surgery, she said the doctor told her if she did not do the physical therapy afterward, she may be worse off than before the surgery. Three or four months later she made the announcement that she had not done the exercises and the doctor was probably right, her hip was really hurting again.

It almost feels like someone that I knew and loved has died. I really feel awful.

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notrightinthehead

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Re: Do some people with DPD subject their friends to parentification?
« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2021, 02:57:29 PM »
Sounds like you are/have taken on responsibility for another adult.  On the other side you are telling us that she is intelligent and quite capeable or at least once was.  Do you suspect the onset of dementia?
What you describe about your cooking accident does not sound right.  Not even a child would act like that. Only a person who does not understand what is going on.
Maybe you could ask yourself why you feel so responsible for another adult.
I can't hate my way into loving myself.

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Bill

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Re: Do some people with DPD subject their friends to parentification?
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2021, 03:11:42 PM »
Dimentia, no.  It's as if when she's with me she can shirk her responsibilities. It's like she's an infant, so why would an infant respond if 'daddy' is making noise about a fire.  Right after it happened I was kind of shook up and she said she was sorry. When I didn't respond right away and say everything was alright, she literally stomped her foot.

Also, I did what I did for her because I thought  she was my friend and she needed help. It's becoming obvious much of this bizarre behavior on her part is intentional and I won't stand for it. 

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square

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Re: Do some people with DPD subject their friends to parentification?
« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2021, 03:54:56 PM »
This reminds me of several aspects covered in The Body Keeps Score.

Learned helplessness - when the organism is consistently thwarted when seeking safety/agency, it eventually learns nothing it can do matters, and shuts down. Such an organism will not move from danger, or bother to watch for it, or move to assist the call of another, because it has learned long ago that it has no agency.

The book also mentions how trauma affects someone’s ability to perceive their own body, and certainly to put any perceptions that are noticed into words. Such people might feel like “something” is wrong but either no idea at all what, or vague ideas that their tummy hurts or this or that.

You might get a ton of insight on your friend in that book.

But.

That’s totally irrelevant to your relationship with her. You’re not her mom, dad, boss, savior, or creator. Unfortunately, you can’t snap her out of the hole she is in. She will continue her behavior. It’s a matter of deciding if you want to continue a relationship with strong boundaries on your part, or discontinue.

I don’t think she’s just making all this BS up in her head just to mess with you. But it doesn’t mean you need that BS.

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Bill

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Re: Do some people with DPD subject their friends to parentification?
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2021, 04:21:36 PM »
Thank you very much for your kind words. Book ordered.

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Pepin

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Re: Do some people with DPD subject their friends to parentification?
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2021, 06:52:43 PM »
I have a friend who seems to exhibit traits of Dependent Personality Disorder. At this point in time, I feel less like a friend and more like a parent or a guardian and I think I'm about to throw in the towel. 

We've been friends for about 3 1/2 years, but were also co workers for a short time many years ago. The longer we're together, the more I get the feeling she wants to abdicate responsibility for her actions and put them all on me.  Lately, she's been referring to me as her 'mentor', even though I keep telling her I'm not comfortable with that and I wish she'd stop. There's other really bizarre behavior too. Any and all medical issues never seem to have a proper resolution. The procedures never seem to work. Hearing aids, no difference. Glasses, no difference. Hip replacement, no difference.  It's all selective though. She can walk for 1 1/2 to 2 miles straight at 3+ miles per hour on a track every morning, but when we go in and out of a store or anywhere else besides the track for that matter... she walks at a snails pace like she's nearly disabled. Also, if we are not walking on a completely flat surface, she claims she can't walk at all unless she is holding on to me tightly for support.

I've been using subtitles for everything we watch since she claims to have damaged her hearing at a gun range that I took her to one day. In the middle of target practice, she started talking and removing her ear protection. Amazing lack of common sense for someone who trained with hand guns every year for twenty five years straight and has a brother in law who owns a gun shop and has for over thirty years.  Well, we went to the audiologist and everything seemed to have gone great. Except, she still can't hear anything.

Eyesight problems. Routine cataract surgery successful, but no change, Glasses, the same. By the way, my television screen is 85" diagonally.  The last time I mentioned to her that she should be able to see what's on the screen, she said it was probably her ADHD and not her eyesight.

She's acts as though she's physically weak, but her strength seems to fluctuate and is really inconsistent.

Does this sound like a form of parentification, or does that only occur with parents and their children?

Thanks   

   

I have been struggling with this as well -- but it is my husband's mother that behaves this way.  I am stunned that all the examples you have provided with exception of the gun range -- are exactly what we have been through with his mother.  Still can't read after glaucoma surgery???!!!  Uh.  Ok.  I think actually that DPD MIL is a closet illiterate.  She cannot read.  This would explain why for over 20 years she has DH read her mail, pay bills, read paperwork, menus, etc.  All health issues have been a merry go round of excuses.  All sorts of treatments "that don't work" -- but they don't work because she doesn't stick with them.  Why is PT so hard?  Taking meds only work if you take them as they are prescribed for -- not just when you think you should. 

DPD MIL has also had her moments of acting weak and has been playing this game for as long as I have known her.  We have tried EVERYTHING for her.  And sometimes I think it comes down to nutrition and staying hydrated.  "Oh, but I do't want to drink water during the day because then I have to go to the bathroom!"  Gee, what do you think other people do?  Yeah, we run to the bathroom a bunch of times during the day, too!  OMG.

And when DH doesn't see DPD MIL for a period of time, how does she manage?  She just does.  Because she can.  While she doesn't call my DH anything she does exude praise for how smart he is -- and that only he understands her.  He is only acting like an adult and nothing more just like every else.

For context, my DH is the GC but has been heavily parentified and even spousified.  She relies on him for so much.  It even seems that his siblings rely on him to care for DPD MIL because they don't want to deal with her.  He does it because he says there is no one else.  There a replant of other people it is just that he has trouble setting boundaries with her because he "feels guilty". 

What if I behaved like DPD MIL with my fiends, siblings or husband?  It wouldn't be tolerated.  DH and I don't even tolerate that behavior with our own kids. 

Do I think you are being parentified?  Based on what you wrote and how it aligns with DPD MIL, yes, I do think you are being parentified.  My advice is to start setting boundaries.  Start with one area and see if there is change or resistance.  Only you will know how much you can endure. 

I also wanted to add that no doubt DPD MIL's parents had issues and yes her siblings have some light PD traits.  One of her siblings doesn't reach out to DPD MIL at all and only has contact with the other sibling.  The spouse of DPD MIL's sibling that doesn't reach out and I have had many conversations about this helplessness. 

And....vacations.....UGH.  Took a couple with her and it was like having a toddler in tow.  I set a boundary with DH that we would NEVER do that again. 
NPD F (overt/covert) NC
DPD MIL (covert) VLC
FALLEN GC SIB
GC#2 SIB (covert) LC

No PD is going to tell me what to do.

People who don't bring joy, let them go.

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Bill

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Re: Do some people with DPD subject their friends to parentification?
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2021, 10:35:51 AM »
pepin- Thank you for responding. I don't wish this type of situation on anyone, but it is comforting to know that I'm not alone in having to deal people who have this same destructive condition.

It has been radio silence for ten days now, but when and if we do reengage, I will certainly do my best to set some boundaries. It's a relationship that we both may not want in the end though. She won't have me constantly doting on her, and I no longer have trust in her, so really, maybe there's no point.

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Sapling

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Re: Do some people with DPD subject their friends to parentification?
« Reply #10 on: May 31, 2021, 11:11:38 PM »
Hi Bill,

Your friend sounds a lot like my uDPD sister. When I say 'a lot' I meant right down to the "probably her ADHD" comment too. In my experience my sis definitely tried to put me into the role of the parent. She also put her partner in that role, older friends, empathetic colleagues and employers, and anyone who was willing to indulge her and do things for her. I should mention that she is also an incredibly intelligent and capable person when she wants to be but she displays different levels of capability to different people. In my case, I had to work on my own codependency in order to put down strong boundaries with her. My older siblings had to literally tell me to stop being her mom for me to get it. (I wasn't aware that I was codependent with her as I thought codependency was something that happened in romantic relationships).

In short, I do think people with these traits try to parentify the people around them. I also think boundaries can be set with them if you want to have a relationship with them but you have to fully see what they're up to and accept them for who they are and decide for yourself what you will and won't do for them. It's worth asking whether you have any work to do on codependency on caretaking in your own life. Do you get something out of feeling needed? etc. In my case I needed to talk to a T about my relationship with my sister to help me set boundaries. I still have my sis in my life but I realised that I value accountability, honesty and maturity in my relationships and that meant I had to go out and make new friends. It meant accepting that people with DPD traits are not really going to give me what I'm looking for in a close relationship and I'm not going to try and squeeze that out of them because it just becomes painful on both sides. I hope this helps!



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Bill

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Re: Do some people with DPD subject their friends to parentification?
« Reply #11 on: June 01, 2021, 04:13:45 PM »
Thank you, Sapling.

I made some phone calls and set up a separate psychological evaluation for both myself and my friend with a follow-up counseling session two weeks later.  She does agree that she has dependency issues and said she feels better now that she has an appointment to speak with someone about it. I hope that it's just a bad case of fleas and not a personality disorder. I guess time will tell.

Glad too that I have an appointment for myself. My CPTSD has been pretty bad as of late and you make a good point about me maybe trying to be a savior.

I do hope your relationship with your sister improves.

Thanks again.

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DistanceNotDefense

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Re: Do some people with DPD subject their friends to parentification?
« Reply #12 on: June 02, 2021, 10:19:58 AM »
Glad you're finding some professional clarity on this, Bill!

My CPTSD has been acting up too. Remember to be gentle with yourself  :bighug:

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1footouttadefog

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Re: Do some people with DPD subject their friends to parentification?
« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2021, 12:57:51 PM »
What it comes down to is you don't have to really know Ll the facts. You need no diagnosis, you need no backstories etc etc.

If the relation feels creepy or uncomfortable you have a right to adjust your availability to  it until it's healthy. This might mean ending it altogether.