The “Dupe Pattern" in Relationships - Teal Swan Articles - Teal Swan Jump to content

The “Dupe Pattern" in Relationships


There are a few common dysfunctional relationship patterns that people slip into that if not resolved, will cause inevitable end to a relationship.  One of those patterns is one that I call the “Dupe Pattern”.  This pattern is particularly hard to consciously recognize, beyond the overall feeling it causes that you are somehow and suddenly in a relationship that you didn’t sign up for; perhaps the exact opposite of the relationship that you signed up for.  It is this ‘Dupe Pattern’ that I’m going to expose to you today.

The reality is that for so many of us, our needs were not well enough met as children.  Most people can trace (or condense) these un-met needs to a core un-met need.  When there is no way for this need to be met in your childhood, it is experienced as a trauma.  You are essentially pinched into a situation where you must split your own consciousness in order to cope with the situation.  If you want to understand about how the consciousness splits and why, you can watch my video titled: Fragmentation, The Worldwide Disease.

As it applies to un-met needs in childhood, you create a split between the part of you that has the need and the part that can function without getting that need met.  But this doesn’t only happen one time.  This un-met need will go un-met over and over again.  So, it will show up as traumatizing situations in a person’s life over and over again.  And when it does, several splits will form that are all slight variations of the same theme, essentially creating a complex internal system that is all built around the theme of this one un-met need.

I will give you two examples:  A little girl was in a family where she was always put in a position to have to fend for herself.  She was the scapegoat in a family that did not take ownership of her.  She also lived in a very dangerous environment. Her core un-met need is to be fended for.  But because there was no opportunity to meet this need, she had to simply deny, suppress and disown the need to be fended for.  At the same time as draw from within herself the ability to fend for herself completely.  Because she was put in situations where she needed to fend for herself over and over again, and many of those times had to find a new way or strategy to fend for herself, she developed several parts of herself who are hyper capable, hyper responsible, independent etc.  Because those were the ones that kept her safe, those are the ones she wears on the surface of her personality.  Everyone sees her this way.  To the opposite side of each of these parts is a part that is desperate to be fended for by someone else. And the more this occurs, the more this need becomes desperation. Her internal system is now a complex system built around the theme of fending for herself and the need to be fended for.

A little boy was in a family that put all the pressure on him.  He had to do everything for his lazy single mother who kept irresponsibly getting pregnant and making him take care of all of his younger siblings and her.  His core un-met need is to be taken care of.  But because there was no way for this need to be met, he had to simply deny, suppress and disown the need to be taken care of.  At the same time as draw from within himself the ability to take all the pressure and responsibility and do everything for everyone else.  Because he was put in this situation where he needed to ‘carry’ everything and everyone else over and over again, and many of these times, had to find new ways to do it, he developed several parts of himself that were hyper responsible, that take everything on, that say yes instead of no, that are codependent etc. Because those were the ones that kept him safe, those are the ones he wears on the surface of his personality.  Everyone sees him this way. To the opposite side of each of these parts is a part that is desperate to be taken care of by someone else. And the more this occurs, the more this need becomes desperation. His internal system is now a complex system built around the theme of all the pressure being on him to do and be everything for everyone and the need to be taken care of.

Ready for the next layer?  This unmet need is what a person will be desperately searching for, especially in primary relationships.  The girl in our example will be desperately searching for a man to fend for her.  The boy will be desperately searching for a woman to take care of him.  But she and he keep ending up in situations that are just a repeat of the original theme.  She will end up in a relationship in which she has to fend for herself and he will end up in a relationship where all the pressure is on him to do and be everything for everyone.  Why do you ask?

  1. The parts on the surface (not in the background) are what is obvious to others and on the surface to see.  The ‘protector parts’ of self.  This is what attracts someone to them.  The kind of man who will be attracted to a woman who is hyper capable, hyper responsible and independent, is not a man who is looking to fend for a woman.  It is a man who is looking for a woman who can fend for herself and even take care of him.  And the kind of woman who will be attracted to a man who takes all the pressure and responsibility and does everything for everyone else, is not a woman who is looking to take care of a man.  It is a woman who is looking for a man that can fend for her.
     
  2. When a need is not met to this degree in childhood, chances are that the child was also shamed for having this need.  For example, the girl in our example would have been shamed any time she looked to be fended for by her parents.  The boy would have been shamed any time he looked to be taken care of by his mom.  As a result, the child learns that it is not possible to get this need met directly.  Instead, their only hope is to manipulatively get this need met.  If you want to learn more about how un-met needs lead to manipulation, watch my video titled: Meet Your Needs!  For example, when she is a woman, this girl in our example may learn to try to get her need met by putting herself in situations that require rescue.  When he is a man, this boy in our example may learn to try to get this need met by chronically coming up with excuses as to why he can’t do something, so that someone else will eventually get so sick of it not getting done, that they do it themselves.
     
  3. In alignment with this last point, many people get into relationships by sensing the other person’s need and providing it for the other person. It is true that some people go so far as to intentionally portray themselves to be whatever the other person needs and wants, regardless of the fact that the truth of them is the exact opposite, in order to get whatever they want.  It’s a bait and switch. This is a pattern that both codependents and sociopaths are in fact famous for.  But a bait and switch is also something that can be subconsciously done, even by the most well-meaning people.
    When this happens, it is usually because of this:  They see the other person as being whatever the person displays on the surface.  But that same person may be displaying a part of their deep, unmet need.  The parts of them that have compensated for their own unmet need are fully capable of meeting that need which the other person is currently displaying.  In fact, being that way is what guaranteed them any closeness with their family growing up.  So, being that way in this new relationship situation is what they believe will secure the connection.

Using our example, the man sees the woman in our example as totally hyper capable, hyper responsible and independent, even when he sees her in a temporary situation needing to be fended for. Because he had to fend for his mother, he has the skill and confidence to do so.  He has already experienced that this is what secures his connection to other people.  So, he will sense the opportunity and jump in as the rescuer and fend for her.  He knows she will want to commit to him if he does that.  Really, he is attracted to her because being so hyper capable, hyper responsible and independent, he imagines that if he rescues her and fends for her, she will be even more capable, responsible, confident and independent.  Essentially, he might, in a back-door way, end up being with the woman he always dreamed of.  The woman who is the opposite of his mom.  A woman who takes the pressure herself and takes care of him.  But she simply sees a man who finally will fend for her.  She commits to him thinking he is the man who will do so.  Eventually, when the man sees that she really just wants to be fended for forever (and so the scenario will not evolve into him getting his need of being taken care of met), he stops fending for her.  He feels he is back in his childhood situation again.  The parts of him that went for the relationship to get the need of ‘being taken care of’ met now take over and he constantly creates scenarios where he chronically comes up with excuses as to why he can’t do something.  She eventually realizes that instead of being fended for, she is having to do everything for herself and on her own and even for him.  So, she too find herself feeling like she is back in her childhood situation again.

This is why I call this the “Dupe Pattern”. Both people in this scenario feel duped.  The man thought he was getting into a relationship with a woman who was hyper capable, hyper responsible and independent.  But ended up with a woman who needs to be fended for.  The woman thought he was getting into a relationship with a man who was hyper responsible, would take everything on and really fend for her.  But ended up with a man who leaves her to fend for herself and even for him too.

It may be of interest to know that I have seen scenarios where a person enters into this pattern saying that they are looking to be the exact opposite of what they are actually looking to be in a relationship, due to their own un-met needs. Such as a man I worked with once who said he wanted to be a provider and even sold himself to a woman as one, when what he really wanted was to be financially supported himself.  Of course, instead of being attracted to a woman who was struggling financially, he was attracted to a woman who was financially independent because of how hard she worked and because of the fact that she had never been provided for by anyone else.  Sensing that she was desperate to not have to do that anymore, he came in and said “I’ll be the man to financially provide for you for a change, you’ll never have to worry about money again!” only to later come up with excuses as to why he quit his job and she had to provide for them both.  He even found a legal way that the money she earned in her own business could be funneled into a business that they owned together, so that he could legally claim 50% of it and transfer it to his own private accounts. Obviously, this takes the “Dupe pattern” to an even higher level.

But I have also seen this pattern play out even if a person is directly saying exactly what they are actually looking for, because the other person does not register what the person says, only how they act.  Such as a man I worked with who said he wanted a partner who could make supporting him in his career, her priority so that he could run a successful political campaign.  Even though he told every woman he dated that what he was looking for in a wife was for her to really make supporting his life and career her focus, he acted the opposite.  He acted like his life would be about their life instead.  He would adjust his schedule to their schedule.  He would focus on helping them with their goals.  This obviously attracted women who wanted a man to make his focus supporting her life, not women looking to be financially supported and included in a man’s life completely in exchange for dedicating her energy and support and focus to his life and career success.

When two people find themselves in this “Dupe Pattern”, the un-met need in both partners was attracted to the ‘coping mechanism’ being displayed by the other.  But this means that any time the un-met need is being met in one person, the un-met need is not being met in the other.  This becomes a re-traumatization.  Using our example, the parts of the woman who need to be fended for are attracted to the parts of the man who coped by being hyper responsible and taking care of everything.  But the real truth underneath that coping behavior is that he wants to be taken care of.  The parts of the man who want to be taken care of are attracted to the parts of the woman who coped by being hyper capable, hyper responsible and independent. But the real truth underneath that coping behavior is that she wants to be fended for.

Now, any time the woman is fending for herself and taking care of him, she is being re-traumatized and her need to be fended for is again, doomed to stay a desperately un-met need.  Any time the man is fending for her and taking care of things, he is being re-traumatized and his need to be taken care of is again, doomed to stay a desperately un-met need.  Both are in serious pain and when that pain reaches a certain threshold, the relationship ends.  But tends to repeat itself with the next person they end up with.

Becoming aware of this pattern (and especially of your un-met need) actually causes a positive shift in this pattern in and of itself.  Because the un-met need represents a trauma of yours and/or is linked to many traumas, it is connected to your fight or flight mechanism, which is super primal stuff.  Your likelihood of being conscious and reasonable about it is slim.  Instead, it will exist like a huge trigger within you, ready to go off at any moment and in response to the slightest of things.  Just like someone who has severe abandonment trauma is likely to react like they are getting abandoned, even when someone is just going on a trip for a matter of hours. You may just be subconsciously reacting to situations like your need will not be met.  For example, the girl in our scenario may not actually be in a situation where she actually has to fend for herself.  But that is exactly what she has in her head and therefore, she will be reacting like she does.  Or the boy in our scenario may not actually be in a situation like his past, where he is taking care of everything.  But he is telling himself that story and is reacting according to that reality that he, alone perceives.  Becoming aware of this pattern will cause you to see yourself in this pattern and be able to discern reality from projected trauma.  And this, in and of itself can actually cause healing and also calm the desperation and reactivity of both the part of you that has the un-met need and the part of you that learned to cope and function without that need getting met.

 To solve this pattern, the split between the part of you that has the un-met need and the part that has learned to cope or function without that need getting met must be mended.  An integration must occur between them.  All you need to know to begin this work is what the un-met need is.  From there, one of the best methods to create this integration is parts work.  To learn how to do parts work, you can watch my video titled: Parts Work (What Is Parts Work and How To Do It).  Alternatively, you can find a therapist who is adept at parts work to help you with the process.  Or you can go to www.completionprocess.com and select a completion process practitioner who is specifically adept at parts work as well.

During this process of integration, the parts are likely to reach an agreement or harmonize and this is likely to alter your thoughts, words, actions and choices. The intense polarization dissipates.  As a result, you will come more into alignment with getting that un-met need met.  You will be able to go after that need in a different and more conscious way.  And because the polarization dissipates, you will no longer be a vibrational match to partners who are likewise polarized.

When people are severely polarized, it means that they have had to ‘split’ in order to cope.  This means, that exaggerated extreme that you are attracted to, may not be authentic.  There may also be something else, even potentially the exact opposite thing, hiding behind it.  That part of their personality you are attracted to, may just be a coping mechanism!  Coping mechanisms, because they aren’t an authentic presentation of who someone is, are prone to go away when someone begins to heal or integrate or develop self-awareness.

Until someone becomes completely authentic, and they cannot be completely authentic until they completely know themselves, and they cannot completely know themselves until they completely integrate, they are going to dupe others.  They aren’t going to dupe others because they intend to or because they are bad.  They are going to dupe others because they are duping themselves without knowing it.

Being alive implies being in the process of self-discovery. This means whenever you decide to commit to being in a relationship with someone, be aware that what you are committing to (whether you know it or not) is the process of self-discovery, but together.  All you have is a range of probabilities as to whether someone actually is who they think they are, much less say they are.  There is no way to have an absolute guarantee as to whether someone that you meet, befriend, date or marry is who they think or say they are.






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