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  1. #1
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Default People who say they will change

    People with serious psychological issues, harmful patterns of behaviour, etc, which affect themselves and those around them... It's so easy to say that you will change. Doing it is another thing.

    In your experience, with the people who say "I'll change...I know I can do this...you'll see, I can change. If you just stick around a bit longer you'll see I will change." Do they usually end up changing? How long do you stick around? How much do you let yourself be damaged by their behaviour before you call it a day? What does it take for them to change? Does it tend to help if you - their friend, SO, or whatever the relationship may be - leave them behind after explaining that their behaviour is too harmful? Is that a positive motivation?
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    I think it depends on what behavior we're talking about, as well as the type of relationship. In general leaving them behind would hardly qualify as positive motivation.

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    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mia_infp View Post
    I think it depends on what behavior we're talking about, as well as the type of relationship. In general leaving them behind would hardly qualify as positive motivation.
    Well, in my case this thread was partially (largely) inspired by a "friendship". Someone considerably younger than me - I've been more of a mentor to her though she wants to view it as an equal friendship. (I had friendships when I was her age - ie. 20 - with people 15 years or more older, so it can be done.) She has Borderline Personality Disorder traits. Extremely clingy, tries to introduce herself into all aspects of my life, very invasive, doesn't respect boundaries, etc etc. I've had talks with her about her behaviour to the point of becoming physically ill over it, have set firm boundaries, etc. And it's just, I don't think she's able to respect my boundaries. She may want to - she claims to want to - but the behaviour consistently indicates otherwise. And I'm tired of the conflict. It's no lie when they say INFJs can become ill from constant conflict. not to speak of the fact that it's not much fun having your boundaries constantly disrespected and violated.

    So I'm thinking to tell her that the "friendship" is off, effectively, and we need to move it to the level of acquaintanceship. (I can't cut her out completely as I see her semi-regularly). This, of course, is exactly what she fears and will confirm her worst fears - ie. the worst fears that make her so clingy and unbearable to be around. But I've been negotiating with her like this, and having constant conflicts (to the point of screaming "leave me alone" at her because she'd followed me and wouldn't go even when I calmly asked her to leave), for a year and a half.

    It's a completely different ball game, but I suppose I also had in mind the abusive spouse who constantly says he/she will change. There can be threats to life and limb there and so I don't think giving people indefinite chances is a good idea.
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    Mmm. Tough situation. I have a friend who's a therapist. Maybe I'll pick his brain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mia_infp View Post
    Mmm. Tough situation. I have a friend who's a therapist. Maybe I'll pick his brain.
    She is, at least, starting therapy again. She was in therapy for a bit and gave it up (after lying to the therapist about how she was doing) because she "didn't want to be reliant on a therapist." Of course, what she failed to see in this was that she was essentially being reliant on someone like me and using me for free therapy/emotional vampirism. But she only started up again because I told her I couldn't stand all the emotional vomit and that she'd better do something about the state she was in. It all sounds rather harsh, but being kindly and babying this girl has got me nowhere. She just views that as an opportunity to glom on harder.

    If your therapist friend has any comments I'd be very interested. And about the wider question, I guess. I know it's much too wide for there to be anything like a single answer. I'm sort of interested in people's experiences. I am a bit worried that if I tell this girl the friendship is off she'll...try to commit suicide or something. I think it's unlikely but I wouldn't rule it out. Her parents (she still lives at home) aren't much use for support, which is part of the problem, but she does have a somewhat wider support network (if she didn't look at it largely with disdain) and they are aware of what's going on with her.
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    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    I suppose another even wider issue for me is simply the fact that talk is very, very cheap. I've become increasingly aware of that in recent years. Much of what comes out of a majority of people's mouths is pure crap and has nothing to do with reality or their actual intentions.

    I think this is especially worth bearing in mind when people have manipulative or even abusive patterns of behaviour laid down, and keep claiming they'll change. It seems all too likely that it's just part of the manipulation.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    People with serious psychological issues, harmful patterns of behaviour, etc, which affect themselves and those around them... It's so easy to say that you will change. Doing it is another thing.

    In your experience, with the people who say "I'll change...I know I can do this...you'll see, I can change. If you just stick around a bit longer you'll see I will change." Do they usually end up changing? How long do you stick around? How much do you let yourself be damaged by their behaviour before you call it a day? What does it take for them to change? Does it tend to help if you - their friend, SO, or whatever the relationship may be - leave them behind after explaining that their behaviour is too harmful? Is that a positive motivation?
    If I stick around toooo..what? Be more emotionally manipulated ("If you just stick around a bit longer you'll see I will change.")? Abused? Put my own mental and physical health at risk? No. Hell no. Have a nice life, buh-bye. Motivation would be the last thing I'd care about because it doesn't matter.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ceecee View Post
    If I stick around toooo..what? Be more emotionally manipulated ("If you just stick around a bit longer you'll see I will change.")? Abused? Put my own mental and physical health at risk? No. Hell no. Have a nice life, buh-bye. Motivation would be the last thing I'd care about because it doesn't matter.

    Yeah, I must say that in the general area of bad/unacceptable behaviour, I've become less and less tolerant of "motives" as an excuse. Because that's what it tends to be, an excuse. "Oh, I had a traumatic childhood". "Oh, it's because I'm so afraid of losing you." "I meant well but instead did something totally mean-spirited and emotionally abusive." That's effectively what a lot of people say.

    I realize that there are reasons for the way people behave. But the fact is that it's usually special pleading/an excuse, and it's still affecting me badly, regardless of what you meant by it. I mean, I don't expect people to accept it if I treat them like crap and then say "well, it's because I have x,y and z issues." If I treat them like crap I should expect to suffer the consequences and I should expect them to be uninterested in my reasons or excuses.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    How long do you stick around? How much do you let yourself be damaged by their behaviour before you call it a day? What does it take for them to change?
    I think change comes from within. The person of their own volition has to 'see the light', so to speak, and really want the change to happen - really see an actual need for it to happen; otherwise if they themselves don't really believe, in their core, that something must occur, they'll spend a great amount of time rationalizing, spinning their wheels, trying a myriad of coping mechanisms, and also snatching onto anyone and everyone who will be sympathetic to their cause and who on some level validate that their continued path is 'ok'. It will depend on the person though as to what components/methods/etc might nudge them in that direction of seeing the need. To initiate the change on their own and get to that place, they also have to value themselves and their own well-being high enough to be able to have the courage to take that road, because it is hard, and to grit their teeth through the process.

    I don't let myself be damaged by them. I extricate myself and call it a day. At the moment, I don't have any relationships that are toxic/unbalanced, and I think it's because I don't allow myself to get into them in the first place, AND I don't come across as a person who is a 'Supporter/helper-no-matter-what' sort of person, so I don't think those sorts of people are drawn to me either. I'm not willing to sacrifice myself if over the course of time a consistent pattern of unevenness is present. And, if it was such a distressful/anxiety-provoking dynamic, I couldn't NOT leave it - I'd be hard-pressed to understand why I would allow myself to be destroyed in the process.

    And.. life is short. I simply want to maximize my relationships and who I spend time with. I'm basically to the point where I am seeking out and building upon relationships that are mutually beneficial and balanced. Yes, absolutely, each person is going to go through low or stress points from time to time throughout life, which is one thing, so there will be ebbs and flows in who in the relationship is needing to give more at a given point, and that's fine - that's life. But the *overall*/baseline relationship must be even.
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    Diving into Ni-space Crescent Fresh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    So I'm thinking to tell her that the "friendship" is off, effectively, and we need to move it to the level of acquaintanceship. (I can't cut her out completely as I see her semi-regularly). This, of course, is exactly what she fears and will confirm her worst fears - ie. the worst fears that make her so clingy and unbearable to be around. But I've been negotiating with her like this, and having constant conflicts (to the point of screaming "leave me alone" at her because she'd followed me and wouldn't go even when I calmly asked her to leave), for a year and a half.

    It's a completely different ball game, but I suppose I also had in mind the abusive spouse who constantly says he/she will change. There can be threats to life and limb there and so I don't think giving people indefinite chances is a good idea.
    This again reminds me of my ENTJ friend who I had a conflict with. The only difference is she wanted to re-patching things up without apologizing but just walked back on her memory lane about the trips we'd spent last year (I see it as her signature move on saying "I'm sorry" by hinting) I waited for a few days before telling her not to dwell too much on the past via text messaging.

    Then just few days ago, she texted me and said "I've been told that I'm diagnosed with Anxiety Attack." It was a truly wtf moment for me. I suppose your younger friend is somewhat similar to my friend.

    If I were you, I would offer her bluntly in writing to explain how I felt toward her and that I need to be away from her at least for a couple of months before having any contact back with her. I would urge her to use these window period to re-examine and fix her behavior as last opportunity. I think it's like a final warning before cutting her off entirely. Perhaps once she is used to not having you around in her life, she'll become assimilated a life without clinging on you and eventually forget about you. If she does this again to you again after that window period (I recommend no less than three months), then you have the right to kick her out of your life as she has been warned.

    The reason is I'm feeling from your post that there are certain aspects about her that you treasure (apart from all the negative traits you've listed), or else you wouldn't have created this thread seeking for advice, I assume?

    When it comes to my friend, I know I would eventually take her back as I weigh both the good and bad and still consider she's a good person with a difficult personality. I will give obvious signals to her that I'm not happy with her through distancing (by texting her back a few days later), yet I will still try to be diplomatic to her.

    About your thread topic, I think when people really want to change, they do it silently without the need of reassuring other parties that they will or that they are in the process of changing.

    Anyhow, this must've been a tough situation for you! I hope you can resolve this with minimal conflict with her.

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