Borderline Personality Disorder,  DBT,  Mentalizing

Turning the Mind around Social Situations

My emotionally sensitive daughter has been having a problem with one of her long-time friends. This friend has decided to start hanging out with the “popular” girls in school.

Unfortunately, these “popular” girls are also the ones that are dating older boys and using substances (alcohol, pot). My daughter doesn’t like these other girls and doesn’t want to be their friend or be involved with them. The problem is that my daughter is taking this “break” personally. She believes that she did something that made this friend “leave her”.

OK, so what do you do?

I believe the only way to address this situation is to help my daughter “turn her mind” around the friend’s motivations for going into another social circle. The only way to truly do this is to use mentalization to ask, essentially, “what do you think HER motivation is for hanging out with these other friends?” and not assume that her motivation is the one that my daughter assumes it is.

One problem with DBT is that it seems to be all about the client’s feelings and doesn’t usually speculate on motivations of others. Yet, in the case, I feel it is important to actually understand the friend’s motivations. In this case, the friend’s own self-image is driving her into this other social circle.

In this case, the friend’s choices are not about my daughter at all. While it hurts to have a long-term friend move away from you (and that pain can be validated), the motivation is not to hurt you. In fact, my daughter’s feelings were not considered at all. Understanding that might hurt a bit too, yet it would seem that it will hurt less knowing that the friend’s choices are not about my daughter’s feelings.


One Comment

  • Rob

    Mine’s starting to get to that age too… It’s not easy.
    DBT in the Interpersonal Effectiveness module, says “Consider Options” – considering her friend’s motivations falls under that, so you’re being and teaching her to be, very skillful. Good on you!

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