What Helped Me Recover From Dependent Personality Disorder

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HI Page,

Your article today about perspecticide was a total game changer. I had no idea what dependent personality disorder was and suddenly all of my struggles make sense. (I also was involved in a perspecticide relationship for 4 years in my early 20s). I’ve been in therapy for 2 years. Could you share what helped you recover from DPD? Thank you for sharing your story .

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I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. I wish I had an easy answer to that question, something I could point to that really caused everything to fall into place for me — but honestly, there wasn’t just one thing.

Instead, it was a long ongoing progress of reflection, introspection, trying scary new things and seeing what happened, learning to set boundaries, and building a better support system. In that light, assertiveness therapy was quite helpful to me, and I’m glad to hear you have a counselor to talk to.

Confessions of a Recovering People Pleaser

That said, I did learn a number of lessons along the way. And I’ve been sharing those in an occasional series I write here on this blog called Confessions of a Recovering People Pleaser. If you haven’t checked out that series yet, I’d recommend you read all of them. I’ve heard from other folks with similar issues that those posts have a way of unexpectedly shaking insights loose.

That’s another secret: Even if you and I do struggle with similar issues, we probably come at it in different ways. So what worked for me in my case might not be directly applicable to you or your life. That’s part of why when it comes to these kinds of problems, I instead describe my experience (and perhaps share relevant research that exists) and how I lived through and all the emotional work — and sometimes other people find it helpful. If not directly but indirectly, as a way of changing their perspective and/or shaking something loose.

Seeking a Better Support System and Setting Boundaries

In addition to that series I linked above, I would also recommend my essay “I’ve Made a Conscious Decision¬†Not to Prize the Squeaky Wheel Over the One With Quieter Problems.” Part of my success in recovery has been making sure that I surround myself with people who are supportive. When I was sick, my natural way of relating to people had a way of attracting selfish, manipulative people instead. So a big part of moving forward has been learning not to reward selfish and manipulative behavior. Otherwise, my life would be full of exploitative people again.

Incidentally, I wrote another two articles about setting boundaries that I think would be a worth a read for you as well:

  1. Getting to “No” You: Setting Boundaries Reveals People’s True Natures
  2. How to Set Boundaries Without Hurting People

Always Recovering, Never Recovered

And finally, I’d say the other big thing has been never thinking of myself as fully recovered. I’m always “recovering.” I feel like that’s important because if I ever did let my guard down and slip back into old ways, I feel like it’d be far too easy to end up in an unhealthy situation again.

Anyway, thank you for writing. I’m glad the article was illuminating.

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Have a question about a post? Maybe need some advice about a relationship or situation? Write me. I love getting messages from you.

Your letter and my answer might be featured in Advice Friend. I regularly change identifying details and/or completely rewrite letters to preserve anonymity.

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Books by Page Turner:

Psychic City, a Psychic State mystery

 

Non-Fiction:

Dealing with Difficult Metamours

A Geek’s Guide to Unicorn Ranching

Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory 

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