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Personality Disorder Message Board

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My name is Damon, I'll be 35 in August, and I've got a problem that has been with me as long as I can remember. As I know I have to be brief as possible I'll just write a list of 'symptoms'.

1) A fundamental inability to understand the relationship needs between people. I feel I have to 'fake' most of my interactions with people; if I'm not amused by, can't use or am not sexually attracted to someone I have little to no interest in them.

2) I don't feel like I've ever really missed anybody in my life, I fail to maintain connections and friendships because they don't mean that much to me and I'm just as (un)happy with or without them. Even after a long relationship ends, after a short period of explosive demonstrative sorrow, I'm not that bothered really and any bad feelings are about feeling sorry for myself and what I've lost (intimacy, sex, cheaper rent, someone to share house work with) and not about missing the other person.

3) I find it pretty easy to charm people (short term only I guess) and often get told how smart, interesting or funny I am; none of which means much to me, apart from the brief ego boost it gives. I find it very easy to make people think they're special by writing prose, poetry, storytelling or drawing pictures for them - but I know I could do it just as well for a total stranger most likely.

4) I really try to be the best for people I get involved with, but the emotional part of the relationship always feels like being colour blind and painting by numbers, I do and say the things that I think are appropriate by following the pattern but I don't actually have any 'feel' for it (like reading the context, to understand a word you don't know). This has led to me doing things I shouldn't have done, including getting engaged and buying a flat with someone, just because it seemed required, despite not meaning anything to me. I can get it very wrong and hurt people, I've certainly manipulated or used people and lied to my advantage by, for example, having affairs. I find it difficult to display any interest in my partners friends, family or careers; having little interest in those things of my own, let alone theirs. I certainly don't get pleasure from having hurt others, but I also think it doesn't bother me as much as it should - usually I just don't want to hurt or upset other people because I know I'll feel bad about it after, but for my sake not theirs. I know I'll feel dysfunctional and frustrated, that I don't get what the other person wanted or needed and that I couldn't provide it, and that leads to depressive feelings.

5) I have no desire for a family of my own, no real life or career aspirations. I frequently re-evaluate past situations and create new stories about past behaviours that best justify what I want now. The only thing that really interests me in human relations is physical intimacy, which I absolutely crave. The desire to have physical contact, sexual or non-sexual, and play out my fantasies is all that interests me. I find it impossible to stay friends with ex-lovers, once the physical element is removed I loose interest in any other form of relationship. The rest of a relationship, for me, is simply trying to make the other person happy enough to not loose that physical contact.

I understand it must sound shallow or even misogynistic, but it doesn't feel like that to me. More like I crave acceptance and intimacy, I don't want to objectify anybody or just use them, but I don't feel much that doesn't feel manufactured (because it's what I think I should feel). It's like I can only feel anything that matters to me in the physical; in actual bodily contact. I'm tired of disappointing people and feeling so disconnected, and it's so hard to get what I want when I can't fill the natural emotional needs of other people that normally go hand in hand with the physical intimacy I want. It's only over that last few years that I've begun to realise that my inner life (which I previously guessed was pretty average) is actually very different from 'normal'. I've been trying to somehow gauge this difference, but that just leads to more problems as I end up upsetting people by asking questions that seem important to me but offend the people I ask. I want people to explain things to me which I don't get, but would never be a point requiring questioning for someone else; like asking my father why he wanted to get married and have kids (have me, I was the third child and the son they wanted), or asking my sister why she invited me to her wedding. I'm feeling very lost and confused by all this. Help me, please.

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