The Chameleon Effect is a way we interact with other people. We begin to mimic those around us. I was talking to my counselor about this the other day. I don’t know how much I do it as I tend to make people uncomfortable1. I was discussing how much MyDude engages in mimicry and he doesn’t even realize it.
He adopted a lot of my language while we were together. Even his response to my apology was something I say: “That’s fine no worries”. He began to regularly say “fucktard”, which I found amusing, and called me by the pet names I gave to him. He seemed to enjoy my music, but had a country CD in his car. He was very fluid depending on the situation he was in. I found that fascinating about him. But it may well have been the way he snagged me and was so good at manipulating me.
I don’t believe the stories of his youth were mimicry, even though he comes from a similar background to mine. I had never discussed my childhood with him before he told me things about his past. When we first got together he was very open about that stuff. That made me trust him enough to tell him things I’d never even told TheMan. I told him some of the dark stuff. Things I won’t put here. He was very open about his past.
My counselor suggested that he became so adaptive for survival purposes. I didn’t tell him what MyDude told me, but he could guess things based on how MyDude treated me. He said MyDude would never be reliable or truly honest or a good partner for someone like me. MyDude hasn’t got the capacity to love someone like me. That was such an odd thing to hear from a counselor. But it makes sense. From what I know MyDude has always been left to his own devices, even as a little boy. He’s never had that deep connection that people get when they’re loved by family. The boy wasn’t shown the kind of love he’d need when he was a man. That’s so sad to me. I want to build a time machine and go back to hug that little boy. And that’s my problem. I want to fix something that he doesn’t even want to fix.
He acts the way people he’s with want him to act. He never feels safe enough to let his real self out. And when someone loves him enough to pull that out him he takes off. He never wants anyone to see that part of him. My ego was hurt because he showed me part of himself but pulled it back and ran away. Not even I could draw hom out safely. And, no, I’m not ignoring the fact that I made it unsafe for him ultimately. He could never be safe with me. But I’m still upset he never truly let himself go with me.
I saw part of him. Just a bit there at the end. I saw him crack himself open just enough. That last week was something else – just enough to give me hope. And then… well, we know how all of that went. I let myself just be when I wss with him. There was a small period of time when I felt safe enough to just let myself out – finally. Heh. What a mess that became.
So, I thought that was interesting. It’s too bad neither of us could be safe. It’s a damned shame that we were so broken because…
- My friend told me that I’m like coffee in that I’m an acquired taste. [↩]