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Rethinking Dissociative Living 4: For Partners of Those with DID

Of all my Dissociative Living posts, only one was written for partners of people with dissociative identity disorder (DID). Maybe that’s why the emails I still receive now and again from readers are almost always from partners. And the emails are always the same: something like, “I love my partner, but someone in their system broke up with me/told me to go away. Other parts love me and want me around. What should I do?” It’s uncanny, really, how nearly identical each of these emails are. And here, once and for all, is my response to everyone who finds themselves desperate to know what they can do about their partner with dissociative identity disorder.

You Can’t Do Anything about Your Partner’s Dissociative Identity Disorder

If you're a partner of someone with dissociative identity disorder, what do you do when one DID alter tells you to "go away?" Read this advice.You are powerless over DID. You cannot make it better. Your love will not heal the injured and untrusting alters who want you gone. It’s not even about you. If members of the system begin to trust someone and develop an intimate personal relationship with him or her, other members of the system will attempt to get that someone to go away. (There are exceptions, but if this is already the pattern with your partner, your partner is not one of the exceptions.) I’m not saying there’s no hope or that it will always be this way no matter what. I’m saying you can’t change it.

But You Can Make Dissociative Identity Disorder Worse

Trying to convince the reluctant members of your partner’s DID system that you can be trusted will only make things worse. If they say, “Leave me alone,” then leave them alone. If another alter comes to you later and wants to know why you’re ignoring them, tell them. Tell them plainly, without accusation or resentment. After all, when you step back, it’s a simple enough thing: “So-and-so set a boundary with me. I was respecting it. But if you’d like to spend time with me, I’m game.” Or whatever. You get the idea (I hope). Don’t push your way in – it will feel deeply threatening to them, and why wouldn’t it? Their experience with people ignoring boundaries is extensive and some of it broke your partner into pieces.

Focus on Your Own Needs

If you're a partner of someone with dissociative identity disorder, what do you do when one DID alter tells you to "go away?" Read this advice.A partnership with someone who has DID can feel like being thrown out into the cold sometimes, without warning, and all the while knowing that if you could just talk to someone else, you’d be let back in the warmth. The solution isn’t to get all of your partner’s alters to trust you; it’s to take responsibility for your own warmth. I don’t say this to be mean. My aim is to save you pain, not cause it. Ultimately, my answer to the question I keep getting in my inbox is this: assume that the way things are now is the way they will always be. Now, ask yourself – can I live with it? No? Then move on. Yes? Then accept it. And be kind to yourself. Your partner won’t always be.

5 thoughts on “Rethinking Dissociative Living 4: For Partners of Those with DID”

  1. Thank you for this post and actually this whole website is a great help.
    My husband and I just got married but have been together for 6 years. We decided to take our honeymoon in his hometown. (we just got back two days ago) and I kept feeling like I lost him. The whole trip my husband as I have always known him was not completely there. In the last 6 years we have joked about the fact that I could tell his mood by his eye color. Good day they are blue, so clear blue. Bad day they are green. The change is amazing and I just thought it was light reflecting or really how to read his mood. But now I think I have been living with an alter and this past week I met another alter. His adopted mother brought it to our attention because she said when he was young, she would talk to him and he would just change. He would forget what they talked about or would have a different attitude toward the situation. I clearly saw this in the last week. He was him, but not. For instance, he loves turtles. We go to the park to watch them swim every summer. When we where on vacation we went to a shop and I saw a turtle that I knew he would love. I could tell he was in a different mood that day so I thought this would in a way “bring him back to me”. Or uplift his mood. I showed him the turtle and he looked at it like I was insane, and said “I don’t like turtles.” and walked off. I know he does, and even now he says he loves turtles and does not remember saying or doing that at all.
    I am so confused on how bad this can get. Because like I said I have yet to meet a part of him that doesn’t want me and only me.
    We had a long talk last night and both realized that DID explains alot, including handwriting and Grammer. He is a great writer but there are times where he really is not.
    But I believe the alters I have met has been an adolescent child, maybe 10 or 11 that he has written about named T. J… As weird as it sounds, he can’t remember them but he writes about them. And they are so real to him and that is why we believe he has DID. This alter likes Peter pan and he never wants to grow up. His other alter likes batman, but he has no name. He is the blue eyes as I call him. The blue eyed alter is probably more of my husband than any other alter. He is sweet and passionate.
    He is making an appointment with a psychological therapist to be evaluated so we can know for sure… But this last alter, I don’t know who he was, but he was wild and not so caring for me. He cared but it was more as if he had to care. He was more selfish. I thought I was loosing my mind and over analyzing, but I think now my man has more of him that I need to learn.

    Again thank you for the information.

  2. I Have a partner for 9 years that has mpd and í Have met many of this personalities and i know who i am talking to on the way he is dressed and how he talks. He also has a part that is hipersexual and has feelings for another female that gets him and it made problems for us he wants to be with me and loves me really much but not all of him and I try to deal with it.
    He is my partner and Will always love me and be here for me but there are parts of him that want to be single and he is a father too. I will always love him and be there for him even if he has double feelings he does not even know what kind of feelings he has for the other woman or anybody he only knows how he feels about me and our family and he feels like all he does is Hurt people and it makes him really sad and he is stuggling becuz he ís a really good heart man and peaceful. Its really complicated to live with a man that is like that and know one day he grabbes me and kisses me with alot og passion and the next i dont even get a hug.
    All i want is to help him but there is nothing at all that i can do exept be there for him but seeing me down and Hurt isint helping him at all it just makes everything harder and more painful . His alter self loves me and likes our family and the one that has feelings for the other woman i think he is just a teenager but im not sure becuz he is new and is kind of a bitch haha 🙂 but I havet met him already but maybe later i can see him.
    This is really Hurtful even if this does not effect our life on that kind of way our love and care is solid and all he knows for sure is that he loves me and loves us really much but there are things that he cant get from me and that female can give it to him and he says his feelings for me will never change im too deep in his heart .
    But do i belive that ?
    Sometimes i Just want to let him go i feel like it would be best for him. but im not sure.

  3. Thank you. I’m so glad I have found this site. I have had a man in my life (last 3 years) who I fell in love with. He has never wanted a relationship but we have been intimate on many occasions. I fell in love with him, and he has given me a really emotionally hard time for 2 years. I have suspected DID in him for a long time, and have alluded this to him in a couple of occasions.

    I recently went on my first holiday in 3 years, and since I have been back for the past two weeks, he has been terribly jealous and abusive to the point that I am now scared. He has unleashed some kind of monster on me and is emailing me pictures and comments made to me make friends off my Facebook from months ago! He is bombarding me, and I don’t know how to make friends with this alter. I keep telling him that he is not Sam and that I would never hurt Sam, I love him. Sam keeps trying to get close but this guy is coming through daily at the moment. Please help. He hates me.

  4. what a good post!!!!!! I am not & do not know anyone with DID (that I am aware of) but I like to understand as much as I can. I do suffer from depression & have a bi polar sister. I like to understand how other people experience the world. Thank you very much for sharing your experience, & hard won knowledge.

  5. Dear Holly, I have been reading your blog regularly for the past while. It has been so very helpful and instructive. I so wish that I had come across it earlier.

    I have a dear friend who I have fallen for. I am a bit terrified that I have overwhelmed and alienated him or some of him. Until now, I really had very little understanding of DID. What I knew was a friendship growing in intensity and intimacy so, even though I was in a relationship I told him that I was having really strong feelings for him and wondered if he was open to more intimacy. To complicate matters, I’m in a relationship so I was suggesting polyamory.

    His response was curt and clear – that he is in therapy and in need of friends at the moment. He has been quite distant and done nothing to help me to feel less exposed. I was taken aback. He was so extravagant in his feelings for me, I thought it was some sort of cruel joke. It was in searching for why this could be that I came across your blog. He mentioned to me that he thought he was dissociative.

    I told him that I was sorry for side-swiping him and really tried to give him lots of room and understanding. That I had a crush but was fine that he didn’t feel the same. He responded well but seems to have pulled away since.

    Something very strong in my gut tells me that there is more, that the feelings he expressed earlier are real, at least for part of him. And he is overwhelmed.

    I am trying to find the right balance between showing him that I’m here for him. He is so sensitive to abandonment. But I’m also conscious of not overwhelming him. I can’t seem to find that balance. It’s made worse by the fact that we haven’t really seen one another on our own since that exchange.

    Do I just give a wide wide berth? We talked about talking but now I worry that even that may be giving him incredible anxiety so he will avoid me. Do I let him lead?

  6. Stumbled upon your website and found some articles on partners of people living with DID. Glad to know that there are people out there who”get” it. The worry of what might happen when I’m not home and what I will find when I get home. The periods of time when she is not there and then saying to me that I’m not there for her. So many lost and hurt feelings. I’m glad you’re there for those of us who feel like we have no where to go.

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