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DrJackiePhD
DrJackiePhD, Doctor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 368
Experience:  I have been doing research in relational/interpersonal communication since 1998. My Ph.D. is in interpersonal communication.
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My partner and I have been together and a half

Customer Question

My partner and I have been together for three and a half years and over the past two years she has been diagnosed with depression and she also suspects BPD. Around a year ago we tried to move in together but I felt she was overly strict and unforgiving
towards my 9 year old daughter that caused lots of fights. I ended up lying and unfortunately did some online cheating via text - we have stayed together but I have found a viscous cycle where I feel criticised or that I will want to avoid conflict so I lie
and this damages the trust that we build up and causes a volcanic fight. She says it's the stress of me and my situation and even though we moved in properly - a recent stressful incident has caused her to be on continual high alert. How do we rebuild trust?
Even when I'm not lying or hiding things I'm accused of it
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  DrJackiePhD replied 2 years ago.
Hi, I'm Dr. Jackie, an interpersonal communication researcher/professor and relationship expert. And I am so sorry you are going through all of this. I do have a couple of questions for you that will help me better provide you with an answer. First, I am not sure I understand the next to last line, "...we moved in properly." What does that mean exactly? Earlier you said you had tried to move in together. So when you said "tried," it makes me think you are NOT living together. It does make a difference in terms of the context of the relationship. Second, as you already are well aware of, lying does not help any situation ever long-term because eventually the lie will unravel and cause hurt and pain later rather than sooner. So for starters, you have to break that part of the "cycle" for which YOU are responsible. And of course, third, you have to make sure you are committed. That means no "online cheating" even if you are hurt, feeling criticized, etc. So by even just YOU changing your behaviors, you will have broken the cycle. Now, as for your partner, I can only assume that if she has BPD, that is contributing to her erratic behavior, her criticizing, being too hard on your daughter, etc. She is blaming you and your situation, you wrote. I don't really understand that either. What do you mean? Just like she cannot be held responsible for your actions of cheating and lying (you have to take responsibility even if you think she caused it--she didn't cause it because you had a choice in terms of how you chose to react), you can't be held responsible for her emotional mood swings and erratic behaviors. Whatever you mean by you and you situation, she still has to take responsibility for her actions. Again, if a medical disorder such as depression or more likely BPD is a contributing factor, then she needs to get healthy and on the right medications from a good doctor and have that doctor mange her care. If she is not healthy, then she can't possibly be good in a relationship. In other words, she has to get healthy FIRST before she can be good for a relationship. Those are the best ways to rebuild trust. I would love to talk to her because it's hard to make recommendations to ONE person regarding a relationship that has issues from both sides. But since I cannot talk to her, I can only hope she chooses to get mentally and physically healthy so that she can work on the relationship. And you can rebuild her trust (it will not happen overnight, of course) by NOT seeking out extra online chats no matter how upset or angry you might get. Resist temptation and do not lie, do not make up things. And if after a certain time period that you establish, if she has refused to get the help she needs in order to get healthy, then you will have to make a choice if you can continue to live that way or not. I hope all of the above makes sense. This is a layered question/issue so I have tried to address it that way. If you would like to talk on the phone or via Skype, I will send you that information from JUST ANSWER so that you have it. Please let me know if you want to email back and/or talk on the phone or via Skype. Take good care,--Dr. Jackie
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi, I appreciate it is complicated - I accepted my online cheating and changed that behaviour, the hiding things and lies I have accepted and while I know I often do it to avoid conflict I know it's not right and I am trying to break that cycle. I often feel though that no matter what I do it isn't good enough.We moved in fully this year but tried it for a couple of months last year where it didn't work out. I am constantly told she 'resents' me or is 'angry' and my two kids are now decidedly unhappy because of the ill feeling. To add to the issues our parenting styles are vastly different
Expert:  DrJackiePhD replied 2 years ago.
Again, I am sorry you are going through this, especially when there are "innocents" (children) involved. That has to be your top concern, because you are responsible for their physical and mental and emotional growth and well-being. And if any or all of these are jeopardized, you really have to think long and hard before anything else goes farther. I was hoping you were not living together, because I think at this stage, that is not wise. Again, the children have to be your top consideration. If it were just a matter of the kids not liking her because she is not their biological mother, that is an entirely different issue. But if she is causing them pain and suffering because of her personality and behaviors, intentional or not, you really have to re-think your living situation. You also added that your parenting styles are vastly different. This is not good at all. The kids may not even see her AS A PARENTAL FIGURE let alone want to try to get used to a "different style of parenting." I would recommend not living together for awhile if that is possible because your kids' well being is the most important consideration. If that is not possible, then you definitely need to talk with her about parenting the kids. Kids do not need a divided set of parents--growing up is confusing enough. When house rules are not followed or consistent among the adults in charge, the kids do not have a sense of boundaries at all, or at least, know where the boundaries are. And research studies overwhelmingly show that children need boundaries in order to be healthy. Do you want to talk more about this? What do you think? --Dr. Jackie
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you and I appreciate this is all one sided. My girlfriend can be caring and loyal but her rules are so different from mine, my two children are struggling with them. We've tried to find compromise but it often leads to an impasse or conflict.
In addition my kids are very aware of the ill feeling and on more than one occasion we have been told to leave. I appreciate I have damaged trust by my actions and a lot of what you said I've been thinking. We were on holiday at the weekend ( me, my GF her two kids and my two kids) and I felt she was quite hard on my daughter because at the moment my daughter feels insecure so she is very clingy at the moment, and I feel I being criticised if I'm not 'dealing with it' as she sees fit - yet my daughter and I have always been close. In anger my gf said it was 'incestuous' - and a lot worse things have been said and done in her anger - I've been called all sorts of names, and often attacks my daughter and son verbally to hurt me. My instincts now tell me (and I feel responsible for all four children) that it cannot continue and we are both better off without each other.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
To add to this - when I respond I'm fanning the flames of her anger and when I ignore or don't respond then it's the same. This is an example:You ignoring me is a trigger.You know this.If you continue to do this, knowing that, it is stupid, very irresponsible and inflammatory. It's your call while you can still change this. You are responsible for what happens next. Given my state of mind, I will not tolerate you deliberately winding me upSent from my iPhone
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thoughts?
Expert:  DrJackiePhD replied 2 years ago.
Hi, I don't see that you have accepted my answer...I want to help but am not sure I am helping. Could you accept my answer so far? That way I know you would like to continue, and I will be happy to comment on what you added last night. We experts often do this to make sure you are getting what you paid for. In other words, if we start making recommendations but the customer does not feel one particular expert is really helping, then the customer can have another expert help without paying anything extra. I hope that makes sense. :) I hope to hear back and provide comments to you today. Best,--Dr. Jackie
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi, sorry I thought rating it finished it. My apologies
Expert:  DrJackiePhD replied 2 years ago.

Hi,

 

I thank you so much for your rating. For some reason when I tried to get on earlier today (two different times), the system must have had a "bug," because I could not reply. So this evening I will definitely take the time to read through your comments again and provide a thought-out response for you. :)

 

Thank you again!

--Dr. Jackie