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Thread: How to Help e1w2 sx/so with relationship problems?

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    Default How to Help e1w2 sx/so with relationship problems?

    It's heartbreaking. She tries so hard to change herself to appease her partner, always concerned with doing the right things so her partner won't break things off with her. But the partner doesn't communicate. She constantly asks me what more can she do, so that she doesn't push her partner away. (This partner is her best friend, and only friend, and has known from the beginning that she had certain difficulties. They've been best friends for 9 years.) She's learned and had success at controlling her high reactivity by going into another room to calm down, going for walks, deep breathing, etc. But she can't change her genetics. The partner doesn't want her to do the self-calming activities, and yet the partner also won't communicate, won't provide answers to resolve uncertainties, won't work on problems, preferring instead to ignore things in hopes it'll all just go away.

    The e1 girl has taken on more and more stressors to appease this girl, and is now facing having to take on more than double, and is scared that she won't be able to handle it and everything will crumble apart.

    I don't know what kind of advice to give her, because while i understand the problem with anxieties and needing resolutions, I don't quite understand that strong need to appease. Normally I would give self-protective advice. That it would be better to live alone than have to deal with all that. I would suggest dumping a partner even before things have reached such a climax. The best i can offer right now is to help her find a therapist who might be able to also offer some couples counseling help.

    So, for you enneagrammers, what ideas do you have for helping an e1w2 sx/so who's faced with the impossible task of becoming the perfect partner, without even having the criteria of what's expected of her, and who's heartbreakingly scared of losing her partner?
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    Update...the partner has rejected the idea of couples therapy. The e1 girl is "just worrying too much", and "why can't you just let things flow".
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    when you see the booty Galen's Avatar
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    If we want to stick strictly to the enneagram without delving into the psychology of a living, dynamic person:

    The E1 striving for 'perfection' is a bit inflated. What I see more is 1s is this compulsion to control their own desires by pushing them way far down in order to uphold some external standard of behavior. What can end up happening is that 1s becomes so absorbed in suppressing their anger that they compulsively try to wash it away through some predetermined orthodoxy. In other words, like all gut types, they utterly lose track of their own wants.

    The answer, then, is to remind the 1 that they don't need external criteria to latch themselves onto. Yes, desires are often thwarted, but that's not a good enough reason to repress desire altogether. She is human, and when you come in conflict between what you truly want to do and what you 'ought' to do, you can only repress the self so long until it cracks through. Anger manifests in every pore of your being, oozing out like sweat without you realizing and with no way to contain it. Every deferred dream pushed aside for another 'should,' appealing to standards that can never be upheld by an imperfect being.

    It sounds to me like your friend has to address what she really wants for herself, not for her partner. If she's fixating so hard on such an unrelenting object of affection, she's gonna keep running into that brick wall until she bleeds. Perhaps she's lost touch of her desires in favor of what she believes the other party wants, in which case her own wants have been tainted by neurosis. She might just need a break from it all to sit back and reflect on what *she* needs in a relationship, not what she thinks the other person needs in a relationship.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Galen View Post
    If we want to stick strictly to the enneagram without delving into the psychology of a living, dynamic person:

    The E1 striving for 'perfection' is a bit inflated. What I see more is 1s is this compulsion to control their own desires by pushing them way far down in order to uphold some external standard of behavior. What can end up happening is that 1s becomes so absorbed in suppressing their anger that they compulsively try to wash it away through some predetermined orthodoxy. In other words, like all gut types, they utterly lose track of their own wants.

    The answer, then, is to remind the 1 that they don't need external criteria to latch themselves onto. Yes, desires are often thwarted, but that's not a good enough reason to repress desire altogether. She is human, and when you come in conflict between what you truly want to do and what you 'ought' to do, you can only repress the self so long until it cracks through. Anger manifests in every pore of your being, oozing out like sweat without you realizing and with no way to contain it. Every deferred dream pushed aside for another 'should,' appealing to standards that can never be upheld by an imperfect being.

    It sounds to me like your friend has to address what she really wants for herself, not for her partner. If she's fixating so hard on such an unrelenting object of affection, she's gonna keep running into that brick wall until she bleeds. Perhaps she's lost touch of her desires in favor of what she believes the other party wants, in which case her own wants have been tainted by neurosis. She might just need a break from it all to sit back and reflect on what *she* needs in a relationship, not what she thinks the other person needs in a relationship.
    On the more personal note:
    The recent double down has been that the partner wants to move into a house with 2 other couples. The e1 girl has problems dealing with people and all the changes and upheavals that come when you add more people to the mix.

    The houses the partner keeps looking at are out of the county, nowhere near bus lines. The e1 girl doesn't have her license nor a car and relies on buses to get around town. She's concerned that she won't be able to get to her new job, her other appointments, etc, having to rely on two cars/drivers in the whole household. The partner says not to worry about it.

    The costs of rent and utilities will increase significantly, as in the e1 girl's share will eat up over half of her 28hr/week paycheck. The partner says not to worry about the costs increase.

    The partner complains about not having any privacy in their two bedroom three people apt. But thinks that there will be pleeeenty of privacy for eeeeveryone of 6 people in a small 3 bedroom home. The e1 is already having problems with lack of a safe place to recoup from stresses...and the partner recently blew up at her for not giving the partner some privacy time in their shared bedroom.

    The apt they live in now is an utter pigsty. Noone wants to do their chores. (I prefer to use a public toilet than theirs, as at least the public toilet gets cleaned. And i don't dare eat anything from there for fear of food poisoning.) The apt the other half of the group lives in is even worse. Yet the partner strongly believes that all that will change once they all move in together into a house. The e1 is a little upset that none of her other possible friends want to visit her at her home. (I don't blame them.)

    The e1 is somewhat concerned about all this, mostly because a number of people she trusts say that it's a bad idea. The e1 has offered the idea of each couple getting an apt each in the same complex, so they can all hang out together, but without all the problems the house would bring. But the partner refuses to consider alternatives, and refuses to address the potential problems. The e1 is torn between a) what other people have warned about it, b) her own concerns, and c) her desperate internal need to change herself to suit the partner's wants. Yes, the internal conflict is definitely bleeding out, and causing problems in the relationship. Also, there's a ticking clock as their current lease ends in february, and they have to give notice by the 9th.

    @Galen, your last paragraph is good advice. i've tried to get her to do that, which has helped her realize that she doesn't want to do the house thing. (Frankly, I think she would do much better just getting her own place and leaving that whole situation.) But even though she admits she's desperately unhappy in the relationship, she can't leave the partner. (Remember, this is her best and pretty much only intimate friend. She's bonded to her like ...soul-mates-gone-wrong. And she's really scared to be on her own.) When i've asked her what she wants in her ideal relationship, she just responds with the partner's name, and better communication.

    If she's fixating so hard on such an unrelenting object of affection, she's gonna keep running into that brick wall until she bleeds.
    I see her doing this constantly. It's part of why this is so heartbreaking to witness.
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    Do you know what type(s) the other party is?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Galen View Post
    Do you know what type(s) the other party is?
    I don't know the partner's enneatype. NOT head! Possibly e9 (or e2).
    Definitely Te polr. (The e1 is Te HA.)

    Normally the partner (P) just follows what everyone else wants, and wants everyone to ignore problems and just get along. When P does put her foot down it's over some odd things. I think the house issue is because a) P grew up in a house in the country-ish; b) P really wants a dog again; and c) the other roommate wants to live with the boyfriend who's sharing an apt with the other couple. P keeps interpreting the house conflicts as the e1 trying to force P to choose between e1 and the roommie. (The roommie is also definitely more vocal than the e1 about what she wants. I have no clue what type roommie is.)
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    The way it looks to me is that she's clearly not respected. You say she responds to the question of what she wants in a relationship as her current partner with better communication - well, she's not going to get that. From every angle it looks like her partner has no desire to even try to make an effort. That's how it looks from your description. I would tell her to find herself a new place that works well for her. If her partner wants to stay with her and work things out, she'll find a way to do so, and the communication will improve. If the partner doesn't make any effort, your friend needs to be okay with that too, and that'll be the hardest part of it all.

    Your friend doesn't need to have any drama or any big ultimatum or anything like that. She just needs to state her intentions of finding an apartment she can afford where she'll have transportation to her job and that works for her, and then she needs to go find the apartment. Let everyone else do what they're going to do. Maybe even enlist the aid of some friends outside of the whole drama situation who can help her look for a place, and help her move in. She needs to develop a support system that isn't dependent on her partner. She needs the support of her own friends. It's not really about the apartment, it's about finding what she wants like Galen said. Let her know that those who love her want her to be her and they want her to be happy too, they don't want or need her to morph to their every whim.

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    Quote Originally Posted by anndelise View Post
    On the more personal note:
    The recent double down has been that the partner wants to move into a house with 2 other couples. The e1 girl has problems dealing with people and all the changes and upheavals that come when you add more people to the mix.

    The houses the partner keeps looking at are out of the county, nowhere near bus lines. The e1 girl doesn't have her license nor a car and relies on buses to get around town. She's concerned that she won't be able to get to her new job, her other appointments, etc, having to rely on two cars/drivers in the whole household. The partner says not to worry about it.

    The costs of rent and utilities will increase significantly, as in the e1 girl's share will eat up over half of her 28hr/week paycheck. The partner says not to worry about the costs increase.

    The partner complains about not having any privacy in their two bedroom three people apt. But thinks that there will be pleeeenty of privacy for eeeeveryone of 6 people in a small 3 bedroom home. The e1 is already having problems with lack of a safe place to recoup from stresses...and the partner recently blew up at her for not giving the partner some privacy time in their shared bedroom.

    The apt they live in now is an utter pigsty. Noone wants to do their chores. (I prefer to use a public toilet than theirs, as at least the public toilet gets cleaned. And i don't dare eat anything from there for fear of food poisoning.) The apt the other half of the group lives in is even worse. Yet the partner strongly believes that all that will change once they all move in together into a house. The e1 is a little upset that none of her other possible friends want to visit her at her home. (I don't blame them.)

    The e1 is somewhat concerned about all this, mostly because a number of people she trusts say that it's a bad idea. The e1 has offered the idea of each couple getting an apt each in the same complex, so they can all hang out together, but without all the problems the house would bring. But the partner refuses to consider alternatives, and refuses to address the potential problems. The e1 is torn between a) what other people have warned about it, b) her own concerns, and c) her desperate internal need to change herself to suit the partner's wants. Yes, the internal conflict is definitely bleeding out, and causing problems in the relationship. Also, there's a ticking clock as their current lease ends in february, and they have to give notice by the 9th.

    @Galen, your last paragraph is good advice. i've tried to get her to do that, which has helped her realize that she doesn't want to do the house thing. (Frankly, I think she would do much better just getting her own place and leaving that whole situation.) But even though she admits she's desperately unhappy in the relationship, she can't leave the partner. (Remember, this is her best and pretty much only intimate friend. She's bonded to her like ...soul-mates-gone-wrong. And she's really scared to be on her own.) When i've asked her what she wants in her ideal relationship, she just responds with the partner's name, and better communication.


    I see her doing this constantly. It's part of why this is so heartbreaking to witness.
    If he's saying "don't worry about the money" don't you think he's got that covered? I think he does but doesn't want to let on about how much he can actually support them. She seems to want exact figures. I don't see this working because of lack of trust. She doesn't trust him at all.

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    Update: (tldr portion bolded)
    Note, I will use M to represent the e1 from now on. P for Partner. D for Roommie.

    So, yesterday morning I drove over to M's place, took her out for breakfast, we chatted about what all is going on, what she wanted, and what was the most important criteria she needed for whatever new place they move into. ("Pick your battles" kind of thing.) What she wanted most was to stay with P, whereever. And the most important thing she needed from whereever they moved to was access to transportation to/from work/etc that didn't rely on someone else driving her everywhere. (She's just started employment working in the deli dept of a major grocery chain, hired with the understanding that a- she was working with dvr and so needed some special accommodations, and b- that her ultimate goal was to eventually work in the bakery dept. It's really an excellent opportunity for her!)

    When I took her back to her apt, P and D were there. I started the call to help M clear up the health insurance problems she's been having (she has difficulty processing auditory information in real time, so phone calls are like her nemesis), and asked M to check the bus schedule for the recent house the girls were considering. After my calls, M and I discussed the bus schedule. The house was too far at the edge of town to have an early morning and late evening schedule. Which meant she wouldn't be able to get home after work. P&D were listening in, and whispering to each other about the conversation.

    Finally, M announced that this house wouldn't work for her, due to lack of reliable transportation. P&D said that they wouldn't get this house then, but would continue to look. I nodded and then added in my thoughts regarding the importance of transportation, and things to consider when looking for a place for 3 couples to live in.

    * I described what life would be like for the drivers in a household of mostly nondrivers. Constantly being asked for rides, expected to play chauffeur, losing out on their own personal time, and the resentment that often follows such demands and pressures...and dependencies.
    * I mentioned the wear and tear that would happen to the car, and the safety issues of bad weather. And how everyone in the household would be screwed if the car broke down. (I talked about this because P has been the driver for the three girls and already stressing over it, and has a car that is ready to break down at any time.)
    * I described how jobs weren't appreciative of workers who were constantly late and/or missing work due to transportation problems. And that job loss of others in the household would place an even higher demand on the driver, not just in terms of being the primary money earner for paying rent and utilities, but also in terms of further demands placed on the driver as those who lost their jobs now needed to constantly look for work.

    I then covered some considerations regarding their young ages (19-20) and size (6 people).
    * I explained that we live in a college town, and how homeowners and apt complexes are constantly burned by college aged kids. How the young adults trash and inadvertently destroy the places they are living in (spreading my hands to demonstrate the piles of garbage and food and lack of walking areas in their own apartment), and how it's the homeowners and cosigning parents who wind up paying the costs.
    * I explained how a homeowner who cared for and maintained the home they were renting would likely not rent to a bunch of college aged kids, because of the above. And that a homeowner who had no hesitation renting to college aged kids likely didn't take care of the home very well, which meant they couldn't rely on proper maintenance like they can in an apt, and/or might not be trustworthy.

    At this point they started talking amongst themselves about 4 bedroom apts. So I explained that in this town, from my and friends' experiences, the vast majority of 3-4 bedroom places are reserved specifically for families, unless it is a complex dedicated to students, in which case the rooms are small and the safety/security not so great. It is possible, though, to maybe find one, and an apt would likely have better bus access than a house outside the city limit.

    I then turned to M and suggested that her best bet, while they were looking for a place, was to also get her driver's permit so she could learn to drive and eventually get her license. I offered to help her with the learning and practice part. (i'm so scared for my little Appy car now!! ) I also reminded her that that would mean an increase in monthly costs due to needing car insurance if she went that route.

    I then asked how much time did they have, and what they were doing about their current lease. They explained that they had discussed this with the apt manager and were going on a month to month basis.

    So I warned that with the month to month thing, managers sometimes get nervous and start checking on the apt. And if their manager saw their apartment as it is now, with the piles of garbage along the walls, dirty dishes and food bits everywhere, (seriously, the place is gross!! I had to stay by the door the entire time there, and refused to touch anything) that they would be held in violation of the lease, and possibly fined for creating a health hazard.

    They started talking about cleaning it up and starting the packing process so they would be ready when they finally found a place.

    We joked a bit, they told me some of their plans, etc. and then I left.

    I was careful to keep a calm, neutral, informative voice and demeanor so that they wouldn't feel attacked nor pressured. I feel yesterday's discussion was a success as they are now addressing M's most important concern about the plan, and I think they now see it as a real and important issue, and not just M being a worrywart. (Of course, they also might have just been placating the old lady at the door, lol.)

    I then went home, utterly exhausted.
    I do still have concerns for M and her relationship, and how well she will do in the environment they are planning on creating, and the consequences they aren't considering about it all. But ultimately it's M's life, and she'll learn like everyone else does, through experience.
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    Quote Originally Posted by squark
    The way it looks to me is that she's clearly not respected. You say she responds to the question of what she wants in a relationship as her current partner with better communication - well, she's not going to get that. From every angle it looks like her partner has no desire to even try to make an effort. That's how it looks from your description.
    That's exactly how it feels, every time I listen to M crying about the situation. And if it were myself, I'd have done what you suggested to do. See to my own needs and then see if there are any changes the come from that. But M isn't like that. She seems to have such an intense need to totally merge into one with whoever her primary relationship is.

    And don't get me wrong, she has her faults as well. She's working on her own communication problems, as well, and allowing others to voice their own thoughts, and consider the differences of thoughts, needs, etc. But to learn all this she would do far better with a partner who's willing to make the effort to communicate, and willing to work on resolving problems/concerns that crop up.


    She needs to develop a support system that isn't dependent on her partner. She needs the support of her own friends. It's not really about the apartment, it's about finding what she wants like Galen said. Let her know that those who love her want her to be her and they want her to be happy too, they don't want or need her to morph to their every whim.
    I've helped her establish an employment related support system with a place that can help her extend that support base as needed. And I connected her with a youth services group that caters to homeless teens and young adults, and helping them learn life skills like filling out tax forms, reading and understanding lease agreements, etc.

    But I cannot help her with her extending her more emotional/relationship oriented network. The two girls she lives with are pretty much the extent of her offline relationships. It's not that she doesn't try extending it, but that she hasn't yet managed to totally succeed. I'm hoping that she'll develop some work related friendships, at least. Most of her other relationships are online only.

    And the latter part, about her having friends that don't want/need her to morph to their every whim, is one of the reasons why I'm trying to be so careful not to push the sp over so stacking. I'm trying to help her within her own wants/needs as opposed to pushing what *I* would do in such a situation. (Though I do think some sp definitely needs to be considered and addressed, I just have to be careful of which ones I present to her for consideration.)


    My opinion - use at own risk.
    Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maritsa
    If he's saying "don't worry about the money" don't you think he's got that covered? I think he does but doesn't want to let on about how much he can actually support them. She seems to want exact figures. I don't see this working because of lack of trust. She doesn't trust him at all.
    (P=partner, M=the e1)

    P's saying don't worry about anything.
    Not because P has things covered, but because P doesn't like thinking about problems.

    P turns 20 this month, M turned 19 a week ago. M has far more real world experience than P does. And M has a far better understanding of potential problems than P does.


    There's no secret about who earns what.
    * P works 28-32 hours a week as a maid at an old folks home, $9/hr.
    * M used to work 32 hrs a week in the laundry room of the same place, but got reluctantly laid off a few months ago due to ownership changes.
    * M recently got hired in a ground floor position (of a region-wide established grocery chain store opening up in this town) with a lot of potential for helping her get into the field she wants to be in. She's just started, and will be working 24 hrs/week at less than $9/hr, but has the potential of gradually increasing her hours as she proves herself capable. It's not inconceivable that she possibly become a manager after just a few years, or be transferred to the section she truly wants to be in. This is an awesome opportunity, and M knows that. This isn't something to risk losing without serious considerations.
    * M is trying to encourage P to pursue the art degree P wants, even knowing that that might mean a higher financial burden on M.
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    Quote Originally Posted by anndelise View Post
    But ultimately it's M's life, and she'll learn like everyone else does, through experience.

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