Home Featured The Good, The Bad, The Ugly of a Man’s Ability to Compartmentalize

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly of a Man’s Ability to Compartmentalize

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Where Do You Fit In His Compartmentalized Life?

Webster’s defines “compartmentalize” as the ability to separate into isolated compartments or categories. It’s one of those words that gets tossed around when discussing the male psyche, but rarely do we take the time to look in totality, at the impact of some men’s ability to put the varying machinations of their minds and hearts into boxes forever separate.

One of the biggest myths around compartmentalization is that it is gender-based. This is false for a number of reasons, first, I’ve met more than my share of women who are capable of compartmentalizing their lives. In my experience, I’ve found the characteristic to be much more rare in women than men, but the fact that it’s rare doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Additionally, not all men compartmentalize. Some men wear their hearts on their sleeves and what you see is exactly what you get. Finally, even amongst men who do compartmentalize, not everyone does to the same degree. Some men unconsciously compartmentalize everything; while others pick and choose when to keep things separate. I would not describe the ability to compartmentalize as a positive or negative characteristic in any individual, but instead simply as a personality trait that makes some people different than others.

That said, this is singleblackmale.org, I’m a man and I compartmentalize, so today the bulk of our discussion will be around how we men do this and the positive and negative ways it impacts our lives.

Are you a man (or woman) who compartmentalizes? Do you view this as a positive or negative character trait you’ve developed? Are men who are unable to compartmentalize lesser men than those who can? How has your compartmentalization, or the compartmentalization abilities of a man you’ve known affected your life?

The Good about Compartmentalize: Career, Work/Life/Love Balance.

Career:

There’s a great deal of good that comes from a man’s ability to separate those things capable of affecting his life. One of the most obvious places the ability to compartmentalize comes in handy is in a man’s career. In even the most technical and mathematical of careers interpersonal relationships are important and influential to one’s success. In my career, the ability to keep what is business, and what is personal, personal, has been invaluable. It enables your ability to build solid relationships and contacts without the burden of the souring of those relationships affecting business. Stress, pain, and fatigue, like other emotions or impulses, can be placed in boxes separate from the boxes you need to access to be successful at whatever you’re putting your mind to. There’s nothing worse than dealing with a man who lets his emotions get the best of him in situations where emotions should be checked at the door. These sorts of people are almost impossible to do business with.

See Also:  6 Dos and Don’ts for Dating During The Holiday Season

Work/Life/Love Balance

Also, when it comes to balancing one’s career and life outside of work, the ability to effectively compartmentalize again proves its value. A rough day at the office doesn’t have to mean a rough night with the woman you love. Your boss yelling at you doesn’t mean you will, in turn, yell at your wife, lover or significant other when you get home. And any unfortunate career missteps or miscalculations do not have the blamed on a budding relationship. Too often, men who bring home the stress of their careers allow that stress to seep into the pores and fibers of an otherwise wonderful relationship- ruining it. They blame their wives, girlfriends or even children for their inability to be the people they want to be when really, the blame belongs on their inability to separate their work from their love.

If you’re a compartmentalizer, what are some ways it’s positively affected your life? If you’re not how has allowing your influences to be whatever they are been good for you? Do you ever find yourself wishing you could or couldn’t compartmentalize?

The Bad: Procrastination and Different Faces in Different Places

Procrastination:

The ability to compartmentalize also shows itself to be a not so positive character trait in many ways. I’ve always found that people who compartmentalize are usually great at procrastinating. I’ve known a great many people completely incapable of recreational activity when there’s work undone. Take MrsMost for example – usually, there’s no nooky going down if we’ve gone to bed and left dishes. Her mind just can’t separate the two. Me on the other hand, I can watch football all day long, knowing the whole time that I have a blog post I need to get done before the night is over.

It gets even worse when you start procrastinating about doing the things you need to do to keep a romantic endeavor growing healthily. You can go weeks without calling someone you know you’re supposed to call just by making yourself not think about them. Procrastinating is easy when you can put what you’re supposed to be doing in a box you don’t have to look at.

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Different Faces, Different Places:

Another step-down dante’s inferno of compartmentalization is the compartmentalizers ability to be a different person in different environments. To some people, you’re the gentle, kindhearted guy who could never hurt a soul. While to others, you are the villainous knave who seems to have made it your personal mission to ruin their lives.

To some women you’re the door opening, chair pulling gentleman and to others your treatment of women borders somewhere between “can’t think of anything better to call women than bitch’ misogynist and straight up ‘we don’t love these hoes’ pimp. When a man starts using his ability to compartmentalize to separate the personalities he shows the people he finds himself around in ways that aren’t true to the person he expects himself to be, he’s heading toward deep, dark waters.

Do you struggle with procrastination or has someone you’ve known struggled with it? What about empathy? Do you ever find it difficult to appreciate the struggles of others? And how about having a slight case of multiple personality disorder?

The Ugly: Emotional Unavailability, Infidelity, Sociopathy

Emotional Unavailability

Show me a highly functioning but emotionally unavailable man and I’ll show you a man who compartmentalizes his life. This entire concept is based on a man’s ability to, for a time, close the box on his feelings while keeping all the other areas of his life completely active. The problem is, when we do this, we often have no regard for the impact it has on the women who come to know us during these spats of emotional unavailability. The ability to compartmentalize can be cancer to a relationship. Sometimes we get so accustomed to compartmentalizing that we end up pushing people away, not letting anyone in, or not allowing ourselves to fall for people we should fall for. There’s a certain perpetual loneliness in the heart of a man who has unconsciously pushed away everyone who’s ever cared for him.  I wrote an entire post about this phenomenon you can check it out here: “So Don’t You Fall In Love: A Thesis For Emotional Unavailability.”

Infidelity

One of the more destructive things to come from a man’s ability to compartmentalize is that man’s potential propensity for infidelity in committed relationships. Even more troubling (for folks who don’t compartmentalize) is that a person who can deny himself access to the emotional ramifications of his infidelity is probably also capable of keeping that infidelity a secret – indefinitely.

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With these guys, there are no teary-eyed confessions spurred on by the pains of guilt, there are no apologies or promises of repentance when these guys cheat, they take it to their graves. Should no one ever find out, it’s arguable whether or not this is a bad thing for the women involved; but should the truth find its way to the light, as it so often does, the associated pain and heartbreak is compounded by the revelation that the person you love is completely different than who you’ve known him to be.

Sociopathy

The most dangerous place any man who compartmentalizes can get to is the place where he no longer cares. When you’ve made a life of separating impulses, putting things into boxes and closing off emotions, you begin to forget what it means to feel. And when a man allows himself to completely disassociate from his feelings he’s capable of anything. You can rationalize away any misdeed or unforgivable act. Infidelity is just the tip of the iceberg. Lying, stealing, murdering – all of these egregiously immoral actions can be set aside if one is well practiced at compartmentalizing the resulting emotions.

This is a pretty long post and I appreciate you all reading through it, but compartmentalization is real. We do it to varying degrees and sometimes, as I’ve tried to show in this post – the behavior can be habitual and increasing in nature. In my life, I’ve found that my ability to compartmentalize must always be tempered by a strict adherence to the personal code. A set of rules and ethics that keep me from spiraling out of control into a place I never want to be. But that’s just me. What experience do you have with compartmentalization – be it your own, or that of someone you’ve known? Has someone ever put you in a box? What does it feel like to compartmentalize or be compartmentalized?

****Admin Note**** For those of you in the NYC area, on Friday, December 23rdSBM Presents: Happy Hour will return to the Empire Room in the Empire State building. You’ll have the opportunity to meet your favorite SBM writers and other bloggers, drink and celebrate the holiday season. It will be epic, and I can’t way to see you all. Till then … stay low and keep firing.

Comment(124)

  1. I want to say I've experienced someone who compartmentalizes BUT I'm not too sure even after your thorough explanation. Nice read though. I sat with my chin in my hands for a little bit thinking about this one

  2. I wasn't sure if I'd ever compartmentalized at the beginning of this article, but this right here:

    Do you struggle with procrastination or has someone you’ve known struggled with it? What about empathy? Do you ever find it difficult to appreciate the struggles of others? And how about having a slight case of multiple personality disorder?

    Yes, yes, YES, and yes! I am the absolute worst procrastinator and have a near impossible time appreciating the struggles of others. I just don't care. I try, but I just can't. The only way I feel empathy for another is if I can somehow relate their situation to my life. I used to think there was something wrong with me; that I was heartless – but now I see that I just compartmentalize! Thanks, Most. =) And yes, I'm many different people depending on who I'm around. I think the best me is brought out around my family.

    I can easily compartmentalize my work life and life outside of work. I don't allow things that happen during my workday affect how I feel once I'm out that door. I won't revisit my work mindset until the next day. I don't get paid to think about work when I'm at home, so…

    I can't say I compartmentalize in relationships. Maybe I should, though. I think I tend to be too open in relationships and I get hooked way too early. Maybe compartmentalizing would help me to slow things down in my mind and stay at the same pace as my SO, as far as how we view the relationship.

    Interesting read. Made me think a lot about myself.
    My recent post A Brief Hiatus…

    1. "I can easily compartmentalize my work life and life outside of work. I don't allow things that happen during my workday affect how I feel once I'm out that door. I won't revisit my work mindset until the next day. I don't get paid to think about work when I'm at home, so… "

      I've had two very different jobs… one that allowed this… and another that did not… the one that allowed me to do this is great for JUST that reason… but at the end of the day, the other is so much a part of my identity that despite what will be lost (the ability to leave work at work) I'm headed back to it. I'm worried about what this means for my personal life in terms of dating etc, but….. welp!

      So I think the ability to compartmentalize work is based on what, exactly, you do.
      My recent post Pondering Intensity

    2. Relationship-wise i think im the opposite. My first instinct is to emphasize what i think she likes. Some girls wanna see my artwork, sometimes i'll use my nephew to sweeten the deal, others wanna see my stab wounds :/. Its not so much manipulative because its all me i'm a mixed bag.

    3. LOL! Same here. The procrastinating definitely hit home.

      I'm with you and I totally enjoy the benefit of being able to separate my work life from my personal life. No reason to take personal things to work and no reason to bring work related business home. May they dwell in their separate abodes peacefully.

      I'm curious, do you think not compartmentalizing in your relationships has led to less than favorable results?
      My recent post What the Hell You Mean My Sex is Wack?!

  3. I compartmentalize more than I'd like to…

    I have several very separate "lives" happening simultaneously… I have friends who I've known for twenty years who hear about each other all the time but have never met each other because they each inhabit a separate part of my life. For example… my extremely liberal people who have never ever met my extremely religious people. I have yet to find a way to reconcile this (and some of the other more extremes of my life) because in the end I think it will just be futile, not to mention disrespectful to have them both over at the same time. *shrug*

    I also compartmentalize work/intellectual stim type stuff away from family. It's just easier because most of the time they don't get it anyway… and sometimes I need that/them so I can turn my brain down for a while.

    I also compartmentalize dating, which is ironic and highly ineffective because at the end of the day, the kind of man I'd like to be with is one who "gets" all my different compartments and can keep up with most of them if not all of them.

    In fact, I compartmentalize in most of the ways you've listed here, Most, save that last grouping.

    My recent post Pondering Intensity

    1. You know, I actually don't think two people who tend to compartmentalize wouldn't work out so well together in a relationship (not that you said they would, your comment just made me think about this). I need someone in my life who can keep me grounded and won't allow me to be this ever shifting, non-emoting individual.

      Plus, I feel like someone like me would make me nervous.
      My recent post The Millennial Manifesto: How 80′s Babies Can Save the World

      1. "I need someone in my life who can keep me grounded and won't allow me to be this ever shifting, non-emoting individual."

        Hmmm maybe grounding and shifting are not diametrical?

        I think I might need someone who understands and embraces the shifts… cause I don't think I can turn that off…

        In terms of feeling grounded I definitely know what you mean… I felt that's what my exhusband did for me- he was the "place" I could come to with all my different sides and have them coexist because he understood and embraced all parts of me no matter how opposite they seemed…

        My recent post Pondering Intensity

  4. I am one of those rare women you describe who compartmentalizes. My now husband and I have known each other for 15 years. During this time I had to tear down some of my compartments with him. I can admit, I was emotionally unavailable. Part of this was from a bad heartbreak early in life…but the other part of this was from my military career, one thing my company commander told me during bootcamp in the Navy stuck with me ” What are you crying for…if I wanted you to have emotions I would have issued them to you in your seabag!” During my time in the military, my first 8 years of adulthood, I separated work from personal. I am still compartmentalized at work. When my mom passed a couple of months ago, I came to work the following week. At home is where you grieve, you don’t let personal effect work. Some folks didn’t understand and expected me to fall apart. Not saying I didn’t/don’t hurt, I just don’t let that effect my $$$$.

      1. I can. Working in a hospital compartmentalizing is what stops you falling apart at the end of the day. I wouldn't say you'd need to be totally without empathy. Even as a med student I don't think I'd last for very long if I continually let thoughts of the patient before spill into work with the next patient, or into your life when you're outside the clinic/dissection room. There's only so much a person can take and I think compartments are a natural defence mechanism.

        There are recorded psychiatric instances of compartmentalising happening naturally – split personality disorders that form when very young children are exposed to traumatic events early on in life. Each separate personality forms to carry a little bit of the child's pain so that the one child doesn't have to deal with it all. Deep stuff.

  5. I compartmentalize all the time, mostly good, sometimes bad and an ugly (infidelity no sociopath over here). If you ask a coworker, someone from my hood, my neighbor, my sister, my ex, my girlfriend, a professor, a twitter follower to describe me they will all say something that the other person will not. I adapt to my surroundings, karma karma chamaeleon.

    1. I think having the ability to adapt to your environment is a good thing, but I think people who have the ability to compartmentalize can take it too far sometimes. It's one thing to do what you need to do in different settings to find whatever success is in that setting – while maintaining the same undercurrent of character, but when you can switch up who you are – at your core – based on where you are, you begin to lose sight of yourself. And that's a scary place to be.

  6. First and foremost just want to say that I didn't write this, but I think this is what I would say about this post today:

    "I believe in secrets. I believe that our lives are most influenced by those words left unsaid. Those are the words that dominate our thoughts and course our steps. Each of our little worlds is shaped not merely by that which we utter, but also by those things that we feel and know in our deepest places and choose, through great effort, to keep to ourselves.

    I abide in secrets. My relationship with secrets began when I was a small child, a source of protection against the things that troubled me, but we’ll get to that later. It was as a boy that I discovered the beauty in secrets. I discovered that a kept secret is one of the few things in life we are able to exert total control over."
    My recent post My First Blog (The Final post on The Book of Jackson)

    1. Dr. J I" won't tell your secrets…..your secrets are safe with me…..I will keep your secrets…just think of me as the pages in your diary"…."in my Alicia Keyes singin voice…..lol

  7. I love that pic….hilarious. I always thought of it as “fractioning out” my life and keeping things like work and personal separate which I do very well and it is essential to my well-being. However, it can get ugly because I go through extreme spats of introvertedness and isolation. This article is very good.

  8. I know I compartmentalize almost everything but I’m not a procrastinator, I just like to get things over with so that I don’t have to think about them later. I have to fake empathy and even sympathy, never cried at a funeral and even though I would like to get married, weddings are no big deal to me either. I fake it because I don’t want to seem inhumane to people who just won’t understand.

    I do have the ability to show emotions in relationship but still won’t open up entirely. Always thinking that I need to have the upper hand just in case!

    My mother thinks I’m very cold towards people at times, but what she doesn’t know is in fact these feelings or lack there of hurts me.

    1. Can totally relate to everything you've said here. Does it concern you at all that you have such an ingrained detachment from so many different emotions?

      1. Yes, it does concern me and I do try my hardest to change the emotions. I am self aware and knows exactly how I feel but do I want to feel that way…NO. I actually view emotions as a sign of weakness most times and another time I want the feeling…I see a therapist in my future lol
        Are you a scorpio Most, if you don’t mind me asking? Great post by the way

  9. I’m a definite compartmentalizer. I keep my life, emotions and personality on a short leash. I not only keep work and home life separate, but certain friends, associates and family members would probably have a completely different idea of who I am than people in my inner circle (immediate family and close friends). If I believed in astrology, I’d chalk that up to being a Gemini.

    I never considered a link between compartmentalizing and procrastination, but I am a habitual procrastinator.

    Great post, Mr. Spradley.

    1. You know Hugh, you never struck me as a procrastinator, but I can totally see it. I'm the same way. I just tend to put stuff off telling myself "I work better under pressure." When really, I'm just procrastinating. It gets ugly though when you start procrastinating emotionally though.

      1. Well, I do spend a lot of time during the work day on this website when I have work to do! I have a ton of reports to complete right now and some plans to review, but it's Monday, it's overcast, it's snowing and the boss isn't here. Procrastination wins again.

  10. that procrastination life is no joke.

    i'm very very very good at compartmentalizing. i had an ex once tell me that i needed to speak to a therapist about my ability to be completely happy when everything around me was falling apart. i just call it disassociation. when something bad happens to me, my brain automatically disassociates it with my feelings, and so it's really hard for me to be sad or mad for more than 24 hours. it's quite disturbing to people.
    My recent post Dear Blackberry… because I can’t call you.

    1. Muze I also can most times stay cool, calm and collected when things are falling apart.
      In myself I attribute that to seeing and dealing with so much death and sickness when I was young and knowing how to go on with my life no matter what happened and how bad it was.
      I think thats a pretty good quality…my family and friends call it emotionally strong.

    2. That's interesting. You mentioned how other people feel about that aspect of you, but I'm wondering how you feel about it. Do you embrace the fact that you are able to compartmentalize and disassociate yourself or is it something you aren't necessarily fond of?
      My recent post What the Hell You Mean My Sex is Wack?!

      1. hm good question. i tend to embrace it because if i felt deeply every wrong thing that has happened in life, i'd be one morose, sullen individual. lol. i am more affected by something bad or good that happens to a loved one than i am myself, most of the time. it's strange, but it works. i appreciate my ability to be level headed. even when i get really really angry, it is usually only sustained for a day at the most. my brain just has a swift filing system that's out of this world. lol
        My recent post Dear Blackberry… because I can’t call you.

        1. LOL! Must be nice…but is it a filing system or a shredder? It doesn't seem like you're filing what's happened away for a later date. It sounds like you're expelling or purging it completely.
          My recent post Question of the Week

  11. I definitely compartmentalize. I liken it to being able to make it through tragedy and still have the ability to function. Or just being able to put things aside so the things that need to happen can get done. I also procrastinate – but I've heard procrastinators are really perfectionists, so they wait because they never think they'll get it up too their standards. On another note, I've recently re-introduced the tactic of dealing with and handling all of the things I least want to do or handle – first. The rest comes after.

    I'm would put myself into the "good" category. Being able to compartmentalize has helped me. Being as sensitive as I am, it allows me to woman up and get things done and be productive.

    Fab post!

    My recent post Leaving things under the rocks….Some things are better left alone

      1. Ha ha! Thank you. I think it's been a good thing. I didn't used to do it and I'd always be stretched out in the floor when something happened. Now it looks more like a movie scene. I wig out for those three to five minutes. Shove it away, fix my make up and get on with the business. You know – like the British do. Now of course, I get to be upset in private but this helps me hold it together in some situations. In real emergencies I just totally shut emotion down to get things done and then process it later. I just think it's my coping mechanism. Otherwise, I'd not be any good. Sometimes, it's not the best thing to shove things down into the abyss but sometimes it's necessary.
        My recent post Leaving things under the rocks….Some things are better left alone

        1. Thanks for answering my question. I really appreciate it. I know what you mean too. If you ask me, you hit it on the head when you said "Sometimes, it's not the best thing to shove things down into the abyss but sometimes it's necessary." I couldn't agree more. Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do.
          My recent post Question of the Week

        2. Oh yeah! That's all the majority of us are trying to do. Survive, remain sane and be happy. Nothing wrong with that at all.

          Thank you! I truly appreciate you swinging by my blog and I'm glad you enjoyed the content. Trust me I'll be sliding by your spot too.
          My recent post Question of the Week

  12. Great post! I use to be able to compartmentalize in dating when I was younger, now, not so much. Now… what you see is what you get because all that being different in ever situation is hard work. I would much rather expend that energy doing something else.

    There is a delicate balance in being able to be yourself all day everyday. I work in a small office, so my co-workers and I are like family. We all share tidbits of things and ask each other for advice all the time. That's not saying I tell everything to everyone either.

    I hate procrastination. I try to value other people's time. I feel as if when someone is habitually late, they are being rude. Time is the highest commodity available to man, it should not be wasted.

    1. "Time is the highest commodity available to man, it should not be wasted." So very true Beef Bacon…I'm gonna have to borrow that.

  13. I def show different sides of myself in different environments without being fake…it's really all me. But, I pull out the characteristics that are most beneficial at the moment. I actually happen to be very good at a lot of things…so I can float in several circles that really don't mix at all. Like Hugh, I don't live my life according to astrology, but unlike Hugh, I actually acknowledge some truths in it. The gemini struggle (dual personalities) is real, lol. I'm able to effectively do all the things you mentioned…including, disassociating and really not caring about certain things . *shrugs* My bff says that I have control issues…and essentially, that's what compartmentalizing is all about…controlling your environment and how it effects you.

    Procrastination is the story of my life, lol. But, I actually do work better under pressure. Knowing that I have a short time frame to get something done keeps my mind focused on what needs to be done so I won't over-analyze the task.

    1. I can relate to that. I can be viewed as a 'different' person in a variety of situations, but I always remain myself. That can be hard for some people to realize or understand, but it's definitely possible. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who's capable of doing that without losing a sense of who I am.
      My recent post What the Hell You Mean My Sex is Wack?!

      1. Naw, you aren't alone.

        Its interesting cause there are certain characteristics that everyone sees. But, honestly, its the characteristics that make me the most vulnerable that I shield the most.

  14. I actively avoid compartmentalizers and I’m in a constant battle to join all parts of my life. I need to be a single, whole person to everyone. Especially to myself. No lies, no fear. Why? I’m scared of insanity. Compartments are made of small lies to yourself. Eventually you could lose track of the truth, then reality, then yourself, and finally your mind. At the least, you will be false in some aspect of your life and cheat yourself out of happiness.

    Men who compartmentalize, I’ve found, are the ones who want to have the good girl and the bad girl at the same time. But in separate bodies. They can’t handle having a good girl with bad girl tendencies or a bad girl who is a decent human being. They cheat and feel fine about it. They have difficulty seeing women as fully human. These types of men are dirty to me. Because they hide the things they don’t like about themselves between the cracks of the compartments. It rots in there because it nevsees the light of day. They are rotting away and they feel fine.

    1. This is interesting. One thing I didn't have a chance to get into because the post was long already was how one becomes a compartmentalizer. I don't think we are born this way, and for me it was a natural sort of defense mechanism developed in response to trauma. Now, of course we grow and mature and choose the people we want to be and how we want to live our lives. You put the drama of your childhood behind you and move on. But sometimes, you like the person your trauma has made you. That's where I am. I like the fact that I don't have to be beholden to my feelings, or impulses, or desires. I don't have to be beholden to anything but my word. I like the fact that different parts of myself are reserved for different people. I don't think everyone deserves to know me fully and truly. Not because I'm better or worse than anyone else, but because the only things we have in this life, the only things that are ours and only ours from the day we're born to the day we die are those things we choose to keep to ourselves. And to me that's beautiful.

      As I indicated toward the end of the post, I think those of us who really take this compartmentalization life seriously can only do so effectively and productively if our compartmentalization is tempered by a strict personal code. So though I compartmentalize and though I am very secretive, and though different people see different sides of me, I do my best to avoid lying. It seems like a simple concept, but you'd be surprised at how difficult it is, and the amount of discipline it takes to value secrets as much as I do while also equally valuing the truth. I've also found it helpful to let one single person in to an extent no one else has been let in. For me it's the Mrs. She knows me and understands me better than anyone else on Earth and that in turn keeps me grounded and prevents me from rotting away in the places no one sees as you described. Now… were I to lose her… I might just be Dexter.

      Great comment.

    2. "I'm in a constant battle to join all parts of my life. I need to be a single, whole person to everyone."

      I sooooo want this to be true, and at times I have tried it… but my reality is that it just.doesnt.work:

      How do you sit and discuss standpoint epistemology or postcolonial theory with people who don't read? How do you reconcile that you have friends and family that do illegal shyt and those who work in law enforcement? How do you reconcile the heathens with the devout christians? You can't.

      I'd love, love, love to join everything under one roof of my soul and be able to give that unified self to each person, but I find it impossible.
      My recent post Pondering Intensity

      1. Not to speak for WC but what I took from her comment is that the goal isn't so much to join them, but instead to present to them the same "you" every single time. It's one thing to change the contents and nature of the conversations you have based on the environments you're in, it's another thing entirely for your character to change with your environment. I think those of us who compartmentalize are probably capable of both, or either. The struggle is to change the surface without change the foundational parts of you that make you who you are.

        1. That sounds like a whole lot of work. But being 100% at all times is a lot of work, too, so I guess its six of one, half dozen, whatever, living is hard. If you’re strong enough to keep the balls in the air, more power to you. I know my mind and the wild imagination trips it can go on. If I don’t tie it down and keep throwing reality in its face, it will go flying off to never never land.

        2. Oh, Dang, I was tryna respond to your first comment. But on your second comment, you’re right, Most. I was talking about who you are. And its not easy, especially if who you truly are is an anathema to most people. Still working on that.

        3. Yeah, I got that you were responding up thread.

          And I hear you. My thing is this, when you allow people to know you, when you show people exactly who you are all the time, you subject yourself to their judgment. Their judgment may not bother you and you may be able to deal with it just fine, but none the less, you're opening yourself up to be judged.

          I don't value anyone's opinion enough to show them enough of me to subject myself to their judgment because I don't wanna waste time pondering the accuracy or inaccuracy of that judgment.
          My recent post The Millennial Manifesto: How 80′s Babies Can Save the World

        4. "My thing is this, when you allow people to know you, when you show people exactly who you are all the time, you subject yourself to their judgment. "

          I get this, however, people will judge you regardless. Personally I would rather you attempt to judge me accurately based on what I show you rather than what you assume. Not too mention, those of us who are good at reading people. You can compartmentalize all you want, some can see all that is hidden.

        5. See, I'm the opposite. I'd rather know your judgment is based on what I've shown you, and therefore inherently short sighted, than wonder if your judgment is accurate because I've show you all of me. I don't value your opinion enough to wanna know what you think about the real me.

          But i feel you though.

        6. I was going to say this is confusing to me- but then I read your previous, initial comment to WC and now it makes sense… we essentially agree; upthread I said: "In terms of feeling grounded I definitely know what you mean… I felt that's what my exhusband did for me- he was the "place" I could come to with all my different sides and have them coexist because he understood and embraced all parts of me no matter how opposite they seemed." So, yeah, the goal (for me) is and probably always will be to maintain core character/integrity in the face of a purposely splintered projection of self.
          My recent post Pondering Intensity

        7. But, see heres the thing on judgement. If I’m giving you a face that i think is acceptable and you judge it, I might decide I need to change that face. I question it. But since its just a face, I gotta wonder when I would stand my ground and on what basis. I’m shaky. What’s the foundation of what I’m showing. If I’m judged based on who I really am, it might not feel good, but it ultimately doesn’t matter, cause I’m not changing the core. I can’t. And if i stand on it, i have something solid to back me up when I’m challenged. Otherwise, I feel like im floating around without a core.

        8. Also, when you say you don’t value anyone’s opinion enough to show them all of you, it kinda sounds like their opinion has a lot of weight, if you don’t want their judgement based on who you really are

    3. Wild Cougar: "I need to be a single, whole person to everyone. Especially to myself. No lies, no fear."

      But being 100% at all times is a lot of work, too, so I guess its six of one, half dozen, whatever, living is hard.

      Cosign. It depends on what kind of person you are. Personally, I'm not willing to give everyone all of me, which is why I compartmentalize. I feel if I did, it diminishes what I share with the people that have a special place in my life. As trust is gained with someone, I may reveal a new compartment to that person. Some compartments are open to all, some are open to select few, some are open to only one other person, and some I never share. However, I don't feel like I'm not keeping it 100 (or as Most said, valuing secrets while valuing truth), because I keep it 100 with the compartments I do share.

      1. For me, its not about other people. I don’t operate on a scarcity theory of value. Something having more value because it is scarce. I think that’s false value. When you say you save your whole self for people who matter, its as if you believe your whole self has more value the scarcer it is. I believe in intrinsic value of self. It is not diminished or threatened by being shared with others. The more I am my true self in the face of people who dislike me, the more true i become. Honed, if you will, tried by fire. That has value to me.

        1. This is getting kinda deep a little but eff it I'ma go with it cuz I'm enjoying it…

          The concept of 'value' – when talking about human beings – is, by its very nature, subjectively arbitrary. If we could somehow step outside of ourselves and view humanity objectively and in totality, we'd find that there really isn't anyone here on earth more valuable than anyone else. We all just are. So then, objectively speaking, if we're all of equal value, what then separates us? And what separates the varying interpersonal relationships we have? I believe that the only things that are true and real and personal enough to be beyond someone else's subjectivity and intrinsically unique enough to attach our own personal value to are those things that we choose not to share. The simple act of us not sharing gives whatever it is we're not sharing a certain value, to us.

          There is no such thing as intrinsic value. There's no gold standard when it comes to humanity because no one is worth more than anyone else. So, if there's no standard, it's all arbitrary. The only thing that's not arbitrary is whatever is inside of you that makes you different from everyone else. You (WC) choose to share your uniqueness with everybody. I don't believe it makes you any less – actually it's probably part of your uniqueness. And I don't believe it means you value your uniqueness any less. It just means you're different than I am and you assign value differently than I do.

          There is no spoon.

        2. "For me, its not about other people. I don't operate on a scarcity theory of value. Something having more value because it is scarce*…I believe in intrinsic value of self. It is not diminished or threatened by being shared with others. The more I am my true self in the face of people who dislike me, the more true i become. Honed, if you will, tried by fire. That has value to me."

          I can certainly respect that. I'm not projecting a false sense of self to other people, just not a total projection. I am always my true self, even to total strangers, but there are some things about me that people just don't need to know, don't care to know, don't know what to do with that information if I told them, or would use that knowledge in a detrimental way.

          I'm not casting the pearls of my self and my deepest, most personal thoughts to the swine of the average person. I won't give anyone 100%, but whatever percentage I give will be real and authentic.

          *I'll leave the law of supply and demand out of this, that would just be arguing semantics.

        3. I assign value based on the integrity of the structure. like a house. Is the foundation solid, can it stand under harsh conditions or will it crack? If its solid material and you dont need to have good looking facade hiding shoddy materials thrown together, then that house/ person is worth intrinsically more. You can make shoddy construction look good, then tell people that only a select few can have it. They will feel privileged and pay more. They are fools. A person can create false value by limiting access. Just like you can put a velvet rope in front of any club and make people stand in line. The club is suddenly exclusive, therefore hot. That has no effect on the true value. Fools will fall for it, tho

        4. Again, I can respect this. I have a different spin on the analogy though.

          I assign value on the access people have to my house. Some people walk or drive by and say, "that's a beautiful home with nice landscaping", but that's all they see. If they try to walk in uninvited, they will be carried out. The next-door neighbor can see the backyard. I may invite some people over, but they can only go in a few rooms. Some people come by so often, if they want a drink, I tell them, "you know where the fridge is", versus me getting the drink for someone that doesn't visit as often. My children can feel comfortable going in most places in the house, and even have a private room for themselves. But my wife would be able to go anywhere, knows all the issues with the house, what repairs need to be made, and knows how many payments are left on the mortgage.

          In other words, what everyone experiences about the house is real, just as I'm real with everyone. But everyone that comes in my house can't go walking into my master bedroom, and everyone that knows me doesn't know all of me.

        5. Sticking with the analogy… let's not forget the man cave that no one… not the wife, not the kids, not anyone – has access to.

      2. "Personally, I'm not willing to give everyone all of me, which is why I compartmentalize. I feel if I did, it diminishes what I share with the people that have a special place in my life. As trust is gained with someone, I may reveal a new compartment to that person. Some compartments are open to all, some are open to select few, some are open to only one other person, and some I never share. However, I don't feel like I'm not keeping it 100 (or as Most said, valuing secrets while valuing truth), because I keep it 100 with the compartments I do share."

        Absolutely! I approach it the same way.

    4. this is the BEST post on observing the human male I have E V E R read!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      Thank you; I don't feel quite as alone right now.Please consider writing because you have a great handle on this and I will buy your books!!!!!!!!!!!!
      thanx again.

  15. I think I can fall into each of these boxes because I do compartmentalize. I've found that my good or bad attributes are amplified or mitigated by the woman I'm with. There are women I've been with where we get into some dark adventures on the Bonnie and Clyde tip. Then there are women I'm with where we build each other up and our potential as a couple is limitless on some Obama and Michelle tip.

    Truth be told, the Bonnie and Clyde dynamic is more fun but far more destructive for myself and her. Two sociopaths does not a sane couple make. Still, I’m not sure which I'll end up with yet…

  16. I am serial compartmentalizer – it started off as my attempt to organize my work life and prioritize what I deemed import for my set time lines. After years of consciously doing it – the subconscious crept into my personal life. The result being I appeared insensitive and "dude like" and I was the emotional unavailable chick.
    Reading this shows me how much I've really grown as a person because now I only do it for the things that need it and not everything.

    Great read!

  17. Spradleeeeeey…..lovin the pic….perfectly goes with the post. With some things I do compartmentalize and sometimes I can….sometimes I don't (what can I say, I'm a "soft & pink" woman) …..*smile*
    I'm pretty good at compartmentalizing at work. I think working in Corporate America for so many years and knowing "the game" so well has helped with this.
    I don't know if I necessarily compartmentalize with friends and family so much. I think I just have a personality that is bold, upfront, honest and "keep it real." So if someone is wrong, no matter my relationship with them and how much I love and care about them I will tell them they are wrong, or that I don't like something they did or said or whatever. I do know how to tell folks about themselves and do it with "love" when it comes to folks I love and/or just being tactful and making an effort to not hurt someones feelings. As far as men go, if I am with a man I want him to feel comfortable with men and that he can be vulnerable with me and so that compartmentalizing doesn't sit too well with me in relationships. If your not showing me any emotion at all, be it anger, frustration, love, or whatever then we gon have problems.
    In the beginning I hold my feelings in check and have up the emotional "Great Wall of China" like many folks to in order to protect my heart and feelings. But once that wall comes down it's a wrap and I'm all "soft and pink" and vulnerable and emotionally "naked."
    I think if there is a good balance compartmentalization is fine. The problem I see with people is they don't know how to balance their emotions in a way that makes their lives run smoothly.
    Imo good balance is the key to a good compartmentalization. You have to know when and how to be professional and businesslike in the workplace and shut that off at home and be a husband/wife, mother/father. This is much easier said than done for most folks.

  18. After reading this, I feel like I'm a half-azzed accidental compartmentalizer. So I guess a compartmentalizer nonetheless. I don't want to be and that's why it's such a pickle. There are these separate parts of my life that I'd like to come together but they just haven't and probably won't. For instance my extended family is back home but my immediate family is here and though I care for and love my extended family, they don't normally creep into my mind except when I have to buy them a gift. Out of sight out of mind I suppose. But when I'm home I'm super cousin or sister or aunty. (1/2)

    1. (2/2) I've compartmentalized other things, like work and friends but mostly, it's what's right in front of me that is so so very important while the rest is compartmentalized away and only gets opened when it's called upon by somebody else. Other than that, I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve and I'm a goofball with everybody. I do procrastinate though. That's my middle name actually. I'm an Aries but I don't know if that has anything to do with it. I find myself always trying to relate to people so it comes across as just talking about myself in their time of need. I find myself being really sympathetic towards people I don't know, crying while watching the news and so forth but when it comes to people I know I'm thinking (and sometimes saying) "grow a pair will ya?"

      1. Oh I almost forgot the whole double personality thing. That's real but it's only reserved for my husband and the closest of my close friends.

  19. Good post. I absolutely cannot compartmentalize. Imma what you see is what you get type of person. I am mostly the same way around everyone. Work I am very quiet because the culture here is very different from what I am naturally used to. No one can take a joke. Long story I wont get into here. LOL So I shut my mouth and I smile and nod all day. Other than that I'd like to say if someone from 3 different areas of my life met each other they would all say the same thing about me.
    I would love to compartmentalize more when dating. But I am an emotional person. I have just accepted. I act like a girlfriend even when I'm not. *Shrug* Working on it. I wear my emotions on my sleeve more than I ever like to admit to. All bark no bite. *insert puppy dog eyes*
    There are things I envy about people who are able to separate themselves so well but I have accepted that its just not me. WYSIWYG signing off!

    1. Oh and I meant to touch on the procrstinating. I saw a lot of ppl saying they procrastinate. For me its weird cause I am very efficient when I have a million things on my plate. But don't let me only have one thing to do by the end of the week cause best believe I will drag and drag. I am a multitasking queen I think I get a bit of a rush from seeing how much I can get done in a day so I tend to keep many projects and to do lists. Plus I have this neurotic fear of waking up old and having gotten nothing done with my life. So add busy body to my list.

  20. I definitely compartmentalize, and I don't see a problem with it. I don't see it as leading different lives, but more like a time and place. I have the man I am at work, when I was in school, social media, with my friends, acquaintences, etc. At the core, I am who I am and that will always shine. I try to keep my lives seperate, but even when they converge, I'm still able to be me.

    I think it's important to keep things to yourself, while still maintaning your integrity. Yes, compartmentalizing does arise from certain environmental factors and experiences, however that's what makes me, me. I'm conflicted at times and more complex than your average person. If I had a dollar for every woman who told me I was too complex or hard to read, I'd be rich. I don't do it on purpose, that's who I am and who I become. If everyoen knwos everything about you, you no longer become interesting, my opinion.

    Just speaking a bunch of incoherent thoughts, lol. Hope it makes sese.

    Good post
    My recent post 5 Machines to steer clear from at the gym! vol. 1

  21. My experiences with compartmentalization are due to my depression. I’m seldom down but I find that compartmentalizing certain issues like work help me get through the day. I often joke with my co-workers that I dabble in Sociopathy but I maintain the abilty to empathize with others about things that most people deem important. Lots of topics that people care about get the “meh’ treatment from me.

    Like Most said upthread, I have a very strict use of compartmentalization which makes me come off as cold at times but I do it so that I don’t go all sixes and sevens. I used to be extremely emotional unavailable but Moneypenny helped me work on this for the sake of our relationship. You’re correct when you say that this is a cancer in a relationship. Compartmentalizing almost dead my relationship several times.

    Overall you just have to know when and what to compartmentalize.

  22. I am a compartmentalizer in very sense you described. My ex used to say he didn’t know who he would wake up to. I thought it was an overstatement but I have found that many people have experienced different parts of my personality depending on your relationship and level. I have always have a hard time with empathy and sympathy which has served me well, for the most part. There have been times when my emotional unavailability has negatively impacted my romantic relationships. And although I am ashamed to admit this, my ability to compartmentalize has allowed me to effectively cheat and not feel real remorse or guilt about it. Actaully the only guilt came from me not feeling any because I recognized most people would. And on the secrets thing, I am the designated secret keeper amongst all my friends and family. They know I will keep it to the grave. Man, writing this out makes me feel a little on the way to full-blown sociopath :- / yikes! I am trying to be better in this aspect but it’s taking time.

  23. "Procrastination is the story of my life, lol. But, I actually do work better under pressure. Knowing that I have a short time frame to get something done keeps my mind focused on what needs to be done so I won't over-analyze the task." Cosign on all that cynical….thats me. I've learned to not procrastinate so much because it seems to hold me back from bigger things.

  24. I definitely compartmentalize. Everything has it's place in the house inside my head and I typically only keep 1 door open at a time. Should I have a couple doors open, it's always because they're right next to each other. But honestly, I like to limit the amount of noise in the hallway and I don't like people chilling in one room trying to see what's in the others. If I wanna show them around, I'll show them around. It's how I keep my house in order.

    This is also how I get lost in hours of writing or web admin work, or hours in Excel on a project. I go in one room, close the door, turn on my music, and fade away until it's time to go into the next room. It's tricky when dating someone, because they always wanna know what's in every room and curiosity quickly turns to concern when you repeatedly don't let them see what's inside. Still working on striking that balance.
    My recent post You Might Like This: The “New” Direction of TRSJ

      1. Far from a thug, my brotha. when you have a lot of hats to wear, people depending on you or latching on to you, it is important to be able to to do it or…ruin.

  25. This is a well written article, but the only problem I have is that compartmentalizing in a sense is more of a negative thing! Some people can keep it under check but excessive compartmentalizing are symptoms for several mental disorders. Bi-polar, OCD, Dissociate Identity Disorder, multiple personality disorder etc…It usually comes about as a defense mechanism towards trauma.

    Interesting true fact:In the 60's the CIA conducted a mind control experiment called Mk-Ultra. The main candidates for this program were people that could dissociate on command . Sometimes children from native cultures were chosen, where tribe ritual would involve an extremely painful experience and the children would learn to dissociate. This is passed down through generations. These children would have an exceptionally high physical and mental pain tolerance due to the fact they could dissociate, and were perfect for mind control experiments.

    I could go on and on, but i'm going to be late for work lol..but I feel as compartmentalizing may not be such a positive thing especially for the black community….we have been through a lot and seem to hide our pain and have turned to compartmentalizing and dissociating as an adaptation..but this in turn effects our friendships and relationships as a whole..

    1. I disagree that compartmentalizing by itself is negative. I feel like it's merely a trait- it's up to an individual how they use to implore that trait. Prime example- some people are innately charismatic. Charisma in itself is neutral. It's how a person chooses to utilize that influence that determines whether it's good or bad.

      I'm a compartmentalizer and I don't view it as a bad thing because I know how to balance the trait. When it comes time to focus my mind on a task, I have the ability to cut off any surrounding distractions. Conversely, when it comes to my emotions, I know how to direct my feelings and frustration to the source that caused it rather than letting it spill into other facets of my life.

      Where people may see the problem with compartmentalizers is when he brought up the discussions of sociopaths, which sounds awkwardly close to the world psychopaths. I don't think being a compartmentalizer automatically qualifies you as a sociopath, or a "disassociate"-er.

      You can still be a well adjusted, emotionally stable person. You just need to figure out a healthy emotional outlet that allows for self expression and introspection. That doesn't always mean you have to verbally explain yourself to someone else. It could involve keeping a diary, or seeing a counselor. Maybe it's athletics or dance or drama. Everyone is different. One isn't necessarily better than the other.

  26. I think there is a difference between compartmentalizing and showing different parts of yourself at different times based on the circumstances. For example, certain places can’t handle everything you have. Work life makes me act like a fraction of me. Cause its necessary. But when you shut down major elements of yourself, thats different than being the lite version, lol.

  27. I can't compartmentalize to save a life! Everything swims in the pond all at once, but someone actually has to reach in and grab the fish they want. Since everything about me is on the surface, I usually keep quiet unless I feel a direct question is asked.
    Being this open is actually a learned process. Until I got to college, most specifically when I joined a sorority, my whole life was a closed book. Since I was unable, as Most said, to "reserve difference parts for different people" I blocked a lot of sisterly bonds. Now I'm pretty much the same person no matter which direction you look.
    Not saying that being so "available" works for everyone, but it definitely works for me. I'm a much better sister, daughter, friend, and writer. I'm also able to handle my emotions better, because they aren't confined. When I feel something, I experience it fully and it goes away quickly, meaning that it no longer has the ability to affect my life negatively.
    The downside? I'm hyper-sensitive. I take even the most obscure comment personally until I can examine/dissect the individual parts and move forward. And I'm strictly conscious of being offensive, disrespectful, or hurtful to other people. With all that being said I still stand firmly on the belief that in order for people to be vulnerable with you, you must first present your vulnerabilities.
    Overall, I admire people who are able to separate their emotions from their actions. I think they are more productive overall because they can see the larger picture, without swarming in the details.
    Good post Most
    My recent post My Boo

  28. Hi. (Hi.) My name is Jordyn (Hi, Jordyn.) I'm a woman, and I compartmentalize.

    I was diagnosed with Chronic Compartmentalization Syndrome (referred to as CCS from here forward) around the age of 5 following my parents’ divorce. At such a young age, I wasn't sure how to feel, so I determined to feel nothing. And I didn’t. Over my entire lifetime, I've lived in 12 different states, and growing up I went to 6 different schools prior to attending college. I know what you're thinking- wow, that sounds tragic, but believe me it wasn't. I'm certainly not thankful for divorce but I admire, love, and adore my parents for choosing to dissolve their marriage amicably and maturely because it was the best thing for our family. As a result of the dissolution, I was given everything in this world, afforded every opportunity any child (minority or otherwise) could ask for, and for that I consider myself very blessed and fortunate.

    With my parents living in two different states and being constantly involved from one adventure to the next, I learned early on to compartmentalize in order to function. I always had a lot going on so my CCS was a blessing. Music lesson here. Dance class there. Report due this time. Assignments due that time. I wasn't irate or petty or aggressive or catty like some of my peers at my age. I always kept my emotions perfectly and eerily checked. No dramatic outbursts. No emotional teenage tirades. I kept my head in my books, and my business to myself. Adults praised me all the time how I was 'so mature for my age.' I had focus, drive, and determination that allowed me to never take things personal. When I was in high school, my guy friends would always tease me 'You're one of the guys' and to be honest, back then I considered it a compliment.

    Until I grew older and realized that CCS comes along with some very hefty fine print that must be read! CSS' small print first reared its ugly head in my high school relationship. I was very emotionally disconnected whenever we were engaged in conflict. If my boyfriend at the time brought up an issue or concern to me, I would always brush him aside like "what is wrong with you. It is what it is" refusing to confront his emotions and conflict head on. I was like a world-renowned juggler; all my peers would marvel how I kept so many objects in perfect balance with precise rhythm and timing, not knowing a significant ball had been dropped and expertly kicked under the table out of sight. I was unknowing emotionally vacant. No I wasn’t crazy or weird or a loner- for the record I had plenty of friends. I got along with everyone because I always knew what was appropriate. And no, it wasn’t fake or forced. I was always my genuine self.

    It wasn't until adulthood that I realized that I was allowing CCS to become more of a curse than a blessing. So I had to check it. Through failed relationships and forfeited friendships, I learned that my ability to not express my feelings not only impacted me as a person but also those I cared about. The ability to turn off your emotions is great in business- it’s a main credit to my success. However, when it comes to procrastination, and emotional availability, I’ve had to make a conscious effort to not let CCS get the best of me. It’s taken me a few years, but I’ve been very fortunate to have the right man, and support system in place that have guided me through my growing pains. I still proudly have CCS, but I’ve made it my strength, rather than a constant opportunity for self-improvement.

    1. LOL @ you telling your high school boyfriend "stop bitchin." That's foul son.

      But I totally feel you. My CCS (as you've described it) stems from stuff that happened when I was a kid too. This is why I think people have to be a little more empathetic to people who tend to compartmentalize (as ironic as that sounds considering our difficulty empathizing). The thing folks who think we're terrible people need to consider is, imagine the people we'd be were we not able to put aside the things that really trouble us.

      It's good you've realized how to balance it all. I'm still working on it.

  29. From a psychological standpoint Everyone compartmentalizes at some point (whether we realize it or not).
    It's simply having different aspects to our personalities. The core of who we are may not change much if at all after a certain point. However, as we grow, learn, and mature we change, and this is a naturually human process.
    Most folks at work are different at home when interacting with loved ones. We don't act the same around strangers as we do family and friends. Sometimes people are different when they're in an unfamiliar place as opposed to home. Some of us are very conservative with some things and very liberal in other areas of our lives. Some people are cool, nonchalant, and detached with certain things, but when it comes to their kids folks get very emotional and can quickly and easily lose it.
    We typically govern ourselves accordingly based on the situation, the people, where we are and who we're with.

  30. I’m gonna go ahead and say that I’m loving everybody’s comments today. This is the type of post that leads to self discovery for some of us. For a moment I thought I’d had this figured out but I’m finding that I didn’t. The thread under Dub C’s comment is especially great.

    Great post Mot.

  31. I don't know if I compartmentalize per se, but I'm an expert procrastinator.

    I am also able to be a different person in different environments. Some people get the impression that I'm serious and mature 24/7, while others think I'm always happy-go-lucky and are shocked that I actually get annoyed with people fairly easily. For the most part, though, I show people the lighter, mix-and-matched side of me.

    I'm nowhere near a sociopath, but I've left countries and provinces without thinking to say bye to people. Whoever I'm closest to right now, we could stop speaking tonight and it wouldn't adversely affect me as long as it has nothing to do with a tragic event. I've always been well in my own company and can go for days or even weeks without seeing anyone. Some things get to me, and a lot of others don't. I empathize with people, but only temporarily. I can be shedding tears about a sad story one second and laughing at something the next.

    All that said, I'm an open book. There's not much to me at all, for better or worse. It may disappoint some people, but it's not something for which I owe anyone an apology.

  32. I can compartmentalize certain things, but not people. I could never date someone who compartmentalized their life and I have realized that I shouldn't have these people as friends either. I find it hard to bond with someone who feels that their lives have to be separate for whatever reason. I don't want to have to break down walls and deal with the situations where I can't be involved because of whatever compartments may exist. As someone who would love to be able to have all the people I care about together in one place, this is a mindset I struggle understanding.

    People who compartmentalize always make me wonder what they are hiding. It makes me question why they can't just be who they are wherever they are. I don't have the energy to break down walls, and I don't want to deal with the rejection that comes when someone has walls can't invite you in. I'm not judging anyone because of it, but I've realized I can't deal with the emotional toll it takes to be with someone who has these walls and barriers because I am someone who is open and honest and tries to be 100% all the time. I'll never do it again. I'll never work at building a relationship, friendship or otherwise, because in my experiences I've found that these compartments often are done with sneaky undertones and possibly unintentional manipulation of everyone else involved.

  33. I am a woman who compartmentalises! I believe in putting things in different little boxes of my heart and mind- only pulling them out when i need them or when they pop up. Procrastination constantly has her way with me, living from deadline to dealine in terms of my career and relationally i am emotionally unavailable because, long story, it just works better that way. In any case i dont think being a sociopath is an entirely bad thing because most highly successful people, eg CEO's, Presidents need the ability to ignore their emotional, fearful naggings to make purely business/economic/strategic decisions that ultimately affect millions of people. You have to be able to compatmentalise to this, but if you are going to end up killing people etc, then thats another story.

  34. “See, I’m the opposite. I’d rather know your judgment is based on what I’ve shown you, and therefore inherently short sighted, than wonder if your judgment is accurate because I’ve show you all of me. I don’t value your opinion enough to wanna know what you think about the real me.”
    I AGREE!!!!

  35. This article was well written.I never understood my fiancee.He would go to work and never think about me.If we had a fight he had the ability to go to a party without me smiling and having the time of his life.He expressed that he had the ability to compartmentalize,I did not quite understand the deep meaning of this. He worked for people who went to events and functions,I was not invited,and it did not seem to effect him.I was left confused and disturbed.As your article reveiled he was capable of putting me in a box until he returned home to a women tearful and confused.I realize that humans are complex. When my Dad was alive he had the ability to analize different types of people.He interperted these views to me all of my life.After reading your article I now understand the person I have been sharing my life with for three years.Which tells me in life,you must dig deep into the mind of others to understand each complicated human. I am the opposite of the individual that I have been spending my life with.Therefore the two of us have failed to understand each other.

  36. I am in recovery from a 4 year relationship with a man who compartmenalized me…it felt like silent control…i really believed he loved me but he never told me he had a number of exes (and unable to state the number when asked) he was fixing things for them and i went into shock when i found out becuase i trusted him therefore i never asked him where he was who he was with or what he was doing…i tried to be friends with an ex of his as they were 'close' but no they both met up secretly and it crucified me as i am such an open honest person…he would give lifts to women and i never knew but then he got found out…he would also secretly make arrangements to give my female lodgers lifts and got found out out…dont get me wrong i have no issues with him having friends and doing things but the fact that he kept doing things behind my back i could not cope with it…he joined face book and shouted at me it was private…it was then i realised enough is enough because there is a big difference between privacy and secrecy and i feel like throwing a coffee over him now because i heard him say so many times..'it was JUST a coffee' when he met up with exes etc…i realise he compartmentalized me…he admitted things and said sorry but i cant cope with deceitt and loving someone who enjoys luring in women to be emotionally dependent thinking he is nice when he feeds on them…massaging his ego because he knows he is a commitment phobic who keeps on hurting ppl over n over again…please ppl if you are honest and open then it is far better than risking hurting ppl

  37. I never believed in love spells or magic until I met this spell caster once when i went to see my friend in Indian this year on a business summit. I meant a man who's name is Dr ATILA he is really powerful and could help cast spells to bring back one's gone, lost, misbehaving lover and magic money spell or spell for a good job or luck spell .I'm now happy & a living testimony cos the man i had wanted to marry left me 5 weeks before our wedding and my life was upside down cos our relationship has been on for 3years. I really loved him, but his mother was against us and he had no good paying job. So when i met this spell caster, i told him what happened and explained the situation of things to him. At first i was undecided,skeptical and doubtful, but i just gave it a try. And in 7 days when i returned to Canada, my boyfriend (now husband) called me by himself and came to me apologizing that everything had been settled with his mom and family and he got a new job interview so we should get married. I didn't believe it cos the spell caster only asked for my name and my boyfriends name and all i wanted him to do. Well we are happily married now and we are expecting our little kid, and my husband also got the new job and our lives became much better. His email is [email protected]

  38. My husband told me he compartmentalizes when we were having a discussion about our marriage. He is behaving as if it's a game. Trying to separate different aspects of his life – home, 'man about town' as he puts it! He apparently wants me to sort myself out and return to a normal life. He basically can't cope with the idea that I have a view into what may be going on in his other 'boxes'.

  39. Wow. Just wow. This is a great article.

    I'm a woman in a new marriage. The dating was only 6 months due to the fact I cannot (allow myself) to return to my native country. My husband is wonderful and his child of 9 yrs is a pretty good kid, and smart. But in this country there is a huge cultural difference. The children are so spoiled they are all (pretty much both boys and girls) treated as princes and princesses. And if the child is caught in a divorce, the emotional injuries can turn the entire family into a house of servants to the child. And the child understands this and can, many times, use this against the adults by using and abusing them (not obeying, ignoring orders/requests, telling the parent off as if he/she is an adult)…..

    So. I come from America and I'm in Turkey now. Things are way different to say the least, and there is even a language barrier between me and my husband. We have to use Google translate a lot. I have blamed most of our differences on culture shock, which is true, but I feel I have used it as a crutch for my own inabilities of assimilating.

    I often think of leaving, which is what I am best at doing (my entire life), but I made a promise early on that I would never leave or forsake my husband. So this is where I have to find a way to cope.

    But last night I lay in bed wanting to die after a big fight we had. Since I have read a lot of about compartmentalizing (which is something that they use as a deliberate tool in SRA), and I started thinking about my own behavior and how comfortable it is for me when I start to mentally step back and am able to see the situation from a distance. Then I started thinking that what I was doing was actually "compartmentalizing." I'm like wow! I can do this to survive my culture shock and any other stresses that are in my home. Then I can go on with my life! This is great!

    But after reading your article, I understand that it can also be used too much, or too deeply and be just as harmful as it is helpful. Balance in everything, as they say.

    Thanks for these words. I needed to hear them before stepping into "the other room." 🙂

  40. Why does compartmentalizing always seem to pertain to men? My girlfriend compartmentalizes better than anybody I’ve ever met, it’s absolutely terrible.

  41. To the Initial Blogger. You are the closest Ive seen yet to understanding Compartments as I do.
    Ponder this though. What if there was No Boxes?
    Ive been Honing My Skill for a Hot Min. My ex used to say to the saying ‘think outside the box’ hat She”Takes the box Apart and Makes a New One”. I chuckled and said, “baby, there is No Box”.
    With the Right Life Situations to Prime Someone, I find it possible to, while leaving All those Compartmentalized Thoughts and Emotions in Their present Locales, not using boxes to contain.
    I call it Full Access.
    Actually our Thoughts and Emotions are Interconnected Similarlly as are Our Neurons, by Connecting with others by their comparedness to the others, relating to others so as to remember that thought or to permanently Add to a Memory.
    There are Multitudes of other Reasons.
    Most people use Short and Long Term Memories. Those with Enough Compartmentalizing Experience May Learn to Access any Thought Needed that had been Compartmentalized and instead of its Limited Interconnections instead Now with Full Access be able to Still Allow some Areas to Remain Active while You Do Other Tasks in Life, be able to Retrieve, but also be able to Use anything to Relate to Old or New Thoughts or Emotions.
    The more Things Relate to More the More a New Relation will be Connected to More.
    I have more info if you get interested.
    Oh Yea, Not just Anyone can Compartmentalize, and not All that Can would be able to Get What Im Saying. And Im sure Theres plenty of sceptics. To them I say, enjoy mediocre.

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