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Old 10-24-2009, 08:41 AM #1
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Confused Handling the schizoid personality

Before I get started, I just want to make it clear that I have no desire to change the person I am discussing. So, here it is...

I have been friends with a man who believes himself to have a schizoid personality disorder for a little over two years. We have had several periods in which we basically disconnected from one another but, all in all, have had a fairly decent relationship. We share a number of interests, have similar world views, and get along quite well. I don't mind the breaks as I have a great need for solitude myself and become intensely uncomfortable when my personal space is invaded.

Anyway, here's the deal. He's coming to visit from the other side of the world in less than two weeks and he will be here for approximately two weeks. He will be staying in my flat and we will be sharing a hotel room for several nights in Paris. My concern is tied to a potential shift in our dynamic. In the past, he's always been able to get up and go when he needed/wanted to, but with nearly 5000 miles between my flat and his home that's not going to be possible. I don't want to make him uncomfortable or risk violating his space. I do have a mild interest in pursuing a physical relationship with him, but I believe he's still a virgin (haven't asked recently) and I am not at all assertive when it comes to these things so I don't have a clue what to do with that part of relationship. I don't want to inadvertently push this person away by trying to get closer. He claims to be disinterested in sex, but almost every conversation we've ever had ends up going there and I recently discovered what I believe must be a description of either a dream or a fantasy that was quite explicitly sexual and very graphic, so I'm inclined to think that the supposed disinterest is probably fear. I hadn't really given a great deal of thought to this aspect of the relationship or the impending visit but this dream/fantasy seems to indicate that it's on his mind.

I should also mention he's coming here to check things out for possible relocation (here). The relocation would not, however, be done with the intention of being nearer to me as far as I know.

I guess what I'm looking for on this forum is some input from those of you who might have on the other side of a situation like this. I am an intovert but basically reasonably well-adjusted (my sanity score on here was 22) and I have no clue how to handle this rather fragile psyche. He's a dear man and I truly adore him. I don't want to do anything to jeopardize the relationship.
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Old 10-24-2009, 09:53 AM #2
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I have found often in relationships dynamics DO change, and often it is actually for the better...I have recovered from the worst of my illness and dynamics in all my relations across the board change, and if there was any value in them in the 1st place, dynamics can change positively...

It sounds like this could become sexual, have you ever been the aggressor when it pertains to sex? It can be quite fun! Is this something you want?

What do you want in the relationship? Better communication? Better sexual acting out of things you discuss/want? To know that your friend is not completely dependent on you?

This sounds exciting, please write more....
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Old 10-24-2009, 09:55 AM #3
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P.S. never underestimate someone with a mental illness......we are people that matter and are just as intelligent and capable, never judge for the worst about his schizoid....may make him more interesting than the next person!!
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Old 10-24-2009, 10:10 AM #4
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Default Re: Handling the schizoid personality

You know, I don't honestly know what I want anymore. I love his mind (what I know of it) and I've always thought him attractive, but I don't want to risk the loss of our friendship in an effort to satisfy my curiosity. I'm really torn. I would like to know what he wants. We're very similar in a number of ways, not the least of which is a marked inability to properly express emotions. I don't know if he's actually mentally ill, but I really don't have any issue with that if he is. I think even the sanest people probably have a few tendencies that would count as not entirely healthy. My biggest fear is that I will alienate him if I do try something, especially since the only time I've ever been the aggressor was 1) while I was involved in a long-term intimate relationship where I knew exactly where I stood or 2) when slightly tipsy and had a fairly clear idea of where I stood. The real problem with this one is I have no idea where I stand and if he is schizoid, I'm probably never going to. I don't even know what to look for in terms of green lights since red is the default for these guys according to what little I've found in the literature.
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Old 10-24-2009, 10:21 AM #5
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Default Re: Handling the schizoid personality

Since you have an attraction to a schizoid, the big advice I'd give you (as one myself) is: Don't come on too strong. Schizoids naturally recoil from direct advances; we just don't know how to process sudden-onset intimacy.

When it comes to relationships, schizoids are like horses; you have to sidle up to us indirectly and make no sudden moves. Move closer gradually. If we get skittish, stop. Let the schizoid move closer to you; wait, if necessary. Never, ever attempt to saddle and ride however.

Find an outside interest that you can focus on together; schizoids seldom like to be the object of direct attention until they have bonded. A shared interest offers a safe focus, until the schizoid is comfortable in a direct encounter.

No one, and I mean no one, does an authentic 'I-Thou' relationship better than a schizoid. He or she will calmly and deeply accept you when all of society rejects you. You will not have to play games or try to be someone else with a schizoid; in fact, we have little tolerance for phoniness. We have to have authenticity in our selves and relationships because "lies" are somehow intimidating to us.

When I am in a situation where a level of social pretence is required, I panic. Role playing is exhausting and confusing!

So: Don't come on too strong. Go slow and wait for his response if necessary. Focus on a shared interest. Be yourself (seriously). Establish trust. Be prepared to drop all social conventions and pretensions (schizoids just don't have the knack for this).

Good luck

Mike
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Old 10-24-2009, 01:51 PM #6
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Default Re: Handling the schizoid personality

Thank you both for taking the time to respond. I don't really know what an 'I-Thou' relationship is. Forgive me if it's something obvious that I should understand.

I would never come on strong. I don't have a clue how to 'come on', period. Normally, that wouldn't matter, it's always been something the other party takes care of. We have a number of shared interests (we met as a result of them) so that won't be a problem. The only problem I can see is getting so wrapped up in our mutual interests that I'll never know if he wants anything more. How do you say goodnight to a schizoid that you're sharing a room with? How do you know if he wants you to stay?
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Old 10-24-2009, 05:00 PM #7
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An "I-Thou" relationship is an "I-You" relationship (casual relationship) on deeper, more authentic level (think it comes from an existentialist by the name of Buber). You can also have an "I-It" relationship with a person if you simply relate to them in an impersonal or instrumental way.

Didn't mean to imply that you were the type to 'come on strong!'

How do you know if he wants you to stay? A meaningful look. An electric silence. An erotic vibe. You know, the usual; only perhaps more subtle.
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Old 10-25-2009, 03:40 AM #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cypher View Post
An "I-Thou" relationship is an "I-You" relationship (casual relationship) on deeper, more authentic level (think it comes from an existentialist by the name of Buber). You can also have an "I-It" relationship with a person if you simply relate to them in an impersonal or instrumental way.

Didn't mean to imply that you were the type to 'come on strong!'

How do you know if he wants you to stay? A meaningful look. An electric silence. An erotic vibe. You know, the usual; only perhaps more subtle.

Thank you again. I went and looked it up, based on your info, and I think that it's an accurate picture of the way things are. I've never felt "it"-like with this man, despite the emotional distance. We've shared hundreds of hours together and covered every imaginable topic, save an honest account of our feelings regarding one another.

I have told him that I "adore" him on several occasions and that he's one of my favorite people in the world, but that's as far as I can go. The closest we ever came to something resembling full disclosure was a conversation last year in which he began by saying something along the lines of "you're too nice" (those are not the exact words) and after a couple of hours ended with a question, "can two wicked people make it work?" in reference to us. At the time, I thought that was the end but it turned out I was wrong. We actually seemed to get closer(ish) after that until I lost patience with him one night after we went out. I told him that I thought he used his self-diagnosis as an excuse to drop out and not deal with the painful parts of life. He was more irritated with me than I ever remember seeing him and, again, I thought that was it, but again that wasn't the end. I apologized for losing my patience and tried to explain my feelings more clearly. Oddly, he just said "no, it's okay, now things are getting interesting" when I asked if he would prefer to let the relationship just go.

Now he's coming and I know we could spend the whole time evading and avoiding the elephant in the room, but I'm getting tired of playing that game. I just want us to move on so we can get to work. My interest in him has always been rooted, first and foremost, in the desire to work with him. We've always studied together and whenever I've gotten stuck on some major philosophical stumbling block he's been there to either listen while I worked things out or help me over it (though I don't know that he's aware of the latter).

He has a very soothing effect on me and I think I have the same on him. In the time I've known him he has become progressively more and more relaxed. When we met he had this odd, rigid way about him. His body always seemed tense, his gaze was unnaturally direct, and his manners were almost formal even when he was talking about something as crude as bestiality. He wouldn't even use my loo!

Over the year-and-half we spent together he seemed to become more human and by the time we disconnected last he would just walk into my apartment, grab whatever he wanted to eat, and sprawl out on the floor. He also seemed to be getting less and less interested in telling me what I wanted to hear (he was almost annoyingly agreeable when we first began to interact one-on-one). If it were anyone else I would have taken this as indication that things had gone south, but it seemed more like a test with him. As in, "will you continue to want me if I show you how I really am? what I really think?" I should mention that it was during this period that he also seemed to take the first actual steps in initiating some sort of display of warmth. He gave me what I still think is the best gift anyone has ever given me, a huge collection of philosophical literature on three CDs, and essentially asked if he could go with me to an opera (I was a member). The aforementioned attack by me was after the performance when we got back to my flat. He was so beautiful that night I just couldn't bear it and, again, I couldn't ...can't...'come on' to this man, or any man for that matter. I wish I could. At least things would end, one way or another.

Anyway, this is where I sit as I count the hours until his arrival. Thanks again for the input and for listening.
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Old 10-25-2009, 12:33 PM #9
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Oh do keep us posted!!!!! Let us know the latest!! It sounds so intruiging, I say go for it!!! That way you will know one way or the other, right? It sounds like there's something there
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Old 11-18-2009, 03:10 AM #10
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The visit was amazing. I have never felt more comfortable with another human being in such close proximity. We managed to survive, and enjoy, two weeks of almost continuous "togetherness" (we lost each other, unintentionally, in Edinburgh for about three hours). I don't recall ever having a travel companion/flat mate that I felt this relaxed with. There were a couple minor glitches, but they were nothing compared to what I've experienced even with other people I genuinely like. I don't know what the future holds for this relationship, but I no longer care. Whatever it is and whatever it's been great.
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