There can be no doubt that the problems a person who lives with DID are (pardon the pun) multiple. You have one person whom you love who has dozens or even hundreds of differing opinions about love, sex, and companionship.
I’ve recently had several questions from people on social media about having a relationship with someone living with the diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder. They ask how they can help the ones they love, and I respect that inquiry. So, I decided to write a blog post speaking on this subject.
Answering Your Questions
I’m going to attempt to answer some of the questions that I receive most often. These answers are from my personal experience and do reflect a mental health professional’s point of view.
Do I have different relationships depending on what personality is “out”?
There aren’t different personalities expressed in a DID system; the alters are different expressions of the person you love. It is not harmful to love and nurture each part when they appear as separate individuals, so long as you remember they are not independent beings.
One of the parts in my loved one’s system doesn’t like me, but I love all the others. What can I do to stay in this relationship?
Any relationship has times when you will see an aspect of the one you love that you do not like. Perhaps your ordinarily quiet and reserved girlfriend acts like she is a raging beast because she has become enraged during an argument. The same is true of a person living with the diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder. When you have a relationship with us, you will meet aspects of us that you do not like. If you love me when I’m happy, you should also love me when I’m angry. All my alters ARE me, they are not strangers.
How can you stay in the relationship? Resign yourself to loving all aspects of your loved one. Don’t favor one alter or another. Listen, care, and love. If you decide the requirements of this relationship are too steep, then leave. Do not trap yourself in a relationship that makes you unhappy. You have a right to happiness also, and the happiness of this person you care about is NOT your responsibility.
I love my partner, but he/she sometimes becomes violent either verbally or physically. What do I do?
Sound advice to anyone who finds themselves in an abusive relationship is as follows:
The person whom you love is completely and utterly responsible for any harm they do to themselves or others. I don’t care which alter you are dealing with, they are ALL one person, and he/she is entirely responsible for what they do. If you are experiencing abuse, leave at once.
My partner was diagnosed with DID last year refuses to see a therapist and work on his/her problems. Won’t they get well if I keep telling them I love them?
The answer to this question is a resounding no. Dissociative identity disorder is a complicated disorder to treat for professionals, let alone someone with no training or experience. While it is admirable to want to play the therapist and love someone to health, this can’t happen. Yes, the love you feel will aid significantly in your loved one’s recovery by making them feel secure and attached, it is not the answer. Since your partner chooses not to seek treatment, if you find yourself in a relationship that makes you sincerely unhappy, then you need to take care of you.
The person I love lives with DID and is always trying to destroy themselves. What can I do to make them want to live?
I wish I had some magic words to help you out, but the bottom line is there is nothing you or anyone can do to prevent someone who wants to destroy themselves from doing so. In fact, sometimes stepping in and taking responsibility for choosing life from someone can reinforce their behavior. If your loved one states they are going to kill themselves, then call the authorities and allow them to take appropriate action. Do not hide their medications or do any other caretaking behaviors that treat your loved one like they do not have a choice, that you are going to take care of the situation.
This Has Been Some Hard Truth
I know these words are harsh, and many will be offended. However, they are correct. Until I took full responsibility for my life, I couldn’t let go of my self-destructiveness which included suicide attempts and making my loved ones afraid for my life.
I could write many more of the questions that concerned loved ones have written me over the past several years. I applaud these people for continuing to love and support someone who is in the grips of learning to live with the diagnosis and symptoms of DID.
My Personal Experience with a Relationship
As I have written before, I have had one relationship. I was married to a man who was clueless about what he was getting into. He thought he could live with my disorder and I carefully avoided discussing it with him. My avoidance and his ignorance were almost deadly more than once, and we had an unusual and doomed marriage.
I should have been more honest with him, and I now wish I he had someone to answer his questions about my baffling and frustrating behavior.
Maybe someone needs to read these words. Perhaps you are in a relationship with a multiple, and they often leave you scratching your head in puzzlement. The best advice I can give you is to take good care of you. If you become mentally or physically ill trying to cope with the chaos that can accompany living with a multiple, then get counseling yourself with someone who can help you.
Live long and prosper my friend. You thoroughly deserve to do both.
“No more martyring myself.”– Sharon E. Rainey