Tips for Significant Others of Multiples

It has been over a year since I posted this and I felt it needed 1 more tip added. So I have updated this post with Tip #10 – There will be Destruction.

~By: Jess Mei

Living with Dissociative Identity Disorder – or any dissociative disorder for that matter – can be HELL! I can only imagine what it must be like for those of you who live with us. Our actions are difficult to understand on the best of days and some times infuriating on other days (I know). For some of you, you’ve been living with a multiple for years and years and still haven’t recognized the signs of it – or been introduced to the multiple’s alters. I want to present you with some tips for living with your DID loved one in hopes that these tips might help you to navigate your way through the turbulent storm of DID.

1. Don’t take it personal.
I set this one as #1 for a reason – you really cannot take what a multiple may say or do personally. I know this is easier said than done, but please try. You have to understand that while the body may be a certain age, we have young children, babies, inanimate objects, seniors, bee-bop young adults, and teenagers inside of us, and these alters can and do come out and control the body at times. Not all of these alters are pleasant – in fact some are downright mean and destructive. So sometimes you, as the significant other, will get targeted by these alters. I have one who hates everything and everyone and deeply resents the fact that anyone would or could love me.

2. Alters can and do mimic each other.
I’m not sure why this is – but it happens. I’d imagine it is just a game for the alter…to see if she/he can ‘fool’ the SO (significant other) or those that are around. Get to know some tell-tell indicators for the alters, so that no matter how much they joke around, you’ll know with whom you’re dealing with.

3. Be vigilant of reckless behavior.
Some people with DID will engage in fast, reckless driving, over-indulgence in alcohol or recreational drugs, gambling, and other general risky behavior. It isn’t that we necessarily think we are invincible, it is generally because we simply don’t care. Or one (or more) alters in control of the body at the time don’t care. I must also say that more than 1 alter can not only behave this way, but also develop addictions because of it. Imagine trying to quit smoking when more than 1 of you is addicted to nicotine. I mean, how do you know if the others want to quit? My SO has alters who come out, smoke his cigarette, then leave. He still wants to have a cigarette himself, so he lights up again. Can you see the difficulty in this?

4. People with DID LOVE to play mind games.
We tend to be extremely secretive and are generally distrusting of others. This is a fact that has nothing at all to do with love or the foundation on which the SO relationship is built upon. We will ‘try’ the SO and will most often test your love and commitment to us. This is primarily where the mind games come in, but not always. We absolutely HATE to be manipulated and recognize it quickly and will sometimes turn the tables on the manipulator so that they become the manipulated.

5. Be patient when it comes to making love.
Sometimes we act ‘weird’ with sex and we don’t even know why. Sometimes we get triggered (it could be a smell, a touch, a position, a ‘look’ in the eyes of the SO – anything) and off we go to whatever memory of a past event that got triggered. We might be able to work through it then and there, but sometimes, it might take days, weeks, months (or more) for us to recover. 1 step forward, 20 steps back – but as long as you don’t give up on us, I think we’ll make it.

6. We need PLENTY of alone time.
So, don’t get upset when we take it. If you think about it, we could literally be on a deserted island in the middle of the Pacific and not truly be ‘alone’. There is an entire group of us there in the 1 system, talking, screaming, crying, and watching. Some people in every day life come home and turn on the TV because they need the background noise. I stay at home all day without one on because I don’t want to add anymore to the chaos already going on inside the system.

7. Sometimes, people with DID come off as indecisive.
Most times, we’re not really. We’re just trying to get a consensus from more than 1 person inside the system. This indecisiveness shows up for me most when deciding about where to eat and what to eat. As the host personality, I tend to mediate most times within the system, but this isn’t easy by any stretch of the imagine. YOU try getting more than 3 people to agree on any 1 thing! As the SO, please allow us to change our minds without reprimand and know that in general, we want to please those around us, especially our SO – and when you reprimand us, it hurts so deeply. And please don’t take our ability to choose away.



8. We Lie – A LOT.
I don’t know if this is rolled into our need for mind games, secrecy or what, but we lie, omit the truth, stretch the truth, hide the truth, make stuff up – whatever you want to call it – we do more than our share of it. I honestly can’t even remember all the lies I’ve told or why I told them. Was it to make myself more interesting? Was it to keep someone out of our business? I do remember lying a few times because I couldn’t remember doing what I was accused of having done. I have also lied and said I recognized someone who clearly knew ‘me’, when I didn’t. We hide; we lie. And as the SO – just know this going into a conversation that a DID person may (or may not) be completely forthcoming might be helpful to you. Sometimes, alters come out, drop the lie and leave whoever is out to deal with the fallout. This can be extremely frustrating for everyone concerned. I have personally stood by, watched the body’s mouth moving, heard the words coming out, knew what was said were lies and couldn’t stop it from happening. I got depressed knowing that eventually, I’d have to come out and try to untangle things.

9. Sometimes – we cheat.
And I don’t mean ‘lust in our hearts’ cheat, either. This is closely related to the reckless behavior point made earlier. We engage in on-line affairs and real life affairs. Sometimes it is more than one alter engaging in this sorted behavior as well. As the SO, I advise you to please be vigilant. If it looks like a duck, it probably is one…maybe even two or three. Even if the person you married would NEVER do something like cheat – bear in mind that she/he isn’t the only one in the system. There are oft times alters of both genders within the system who don’t have the same value system as your beloved. She/He may not even be consciously aware of what has occurred. Which brings me back to point #1 – please don’t take it personal. If you’re willing to work through these issues and stand by us, we will too.

10. There Will be Destruction.

After having continued to live with DID for over a year since I posted this, I simply had to add this final tip about destruction. You can well imagine the psychological destruction this disorder causes for those around their DID loved one. From personal experience, there is so much more destruction than that.

We have all sorts of triggers that may send us straight to lashing out, self-injury or worse, suicide/suicide attempts.  As the SO, you have probably already met a few angry, mean-spirited, hateful, just generally bent-on-destruction alters. Those alters are holding one or more parts of a terrible memory and maybe getting flooded. Flooding will cause us to act out either outwardly (hurt the SO or someone else around) or inwardly (cutting, anorexia/bulimia, or any other self-harm practice). Destruction will reign supreme if we are under a lot of stress.

Please keep in mind, SO – because of the past trauma, we are pretty much always in flight, fight or freeze mode which keeps us tense and watchful at all times. We feel we need to be ready to either run, fight or internalize all the time. Day after day, we generally already feel like we’re backed into a corner and someone is poking us with a stick. Enough agitation and we will strike out. When we strike out, we go for the kill – whether it be a verbal, physical or psychological confrontation.You as the SO must understand this. We will do anything, anything to protect ourselves from any type of harm. This even goes for when we self-harm; there is always at least one insider that tries to stop the self-injuring. That person may not win, though.

We always play for keeps.

Understand that there will be destruction when you are mated/partnered to someone with DID. If you’re not strong, fully self-confident and thick-skinned – you should back away from the DID person and move quickly away. Until the system has some long-standing consistency of order, the entire relationship will be baffling and frustrating. If you are already involved with a multiple or feel you wouldn’t mind if the person were DID, please re-read these tips and get ready for an extremely bumpy, though sometimes rewarding, chaotic ride.  Godspeed!

I hope these tips have given you, the Significant Other, some insight into our world. If you’d like to add another tip – please do so in the comments and I’ll incorporate it into the blog.


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