Structural Dissociation and Internal relationships

Originally answered Quora question:

I’m an alter in a system with a crush on another alter. How do I initiate a relationship without it being weird since technically we’re the same person?

Internal relationships can be complicated.

It depends on many things, including the type of inner world you have (how realistic it is), how you see and interact with each other there, your trauma, their trauma, each of your healing journey and stages, attitudes and perspectives relating to sex and relationships.

Types of inner worlds

Example 1:

Some people have very detailed and solid inner worlds, with alters actually having bodies and who are awake even when not fronting. I guess for these people inner-world relationships are less “weird”as things are pretty “normal” inside too. I think this is more of a DID presentation.

Example 2:

At the other end of the spectrum, there is no inner-world and insiders are “asleep”most of the time. This is probably more like a PTSD/C-PTSD presentation, maybe BPD too, not sure about that one, it’s a special one with dissociative symptoms varying wildly,

For details of different DXs within the DSM/ICD context, AG, and especially Comet are certainly going to be able to answer in details, or point you to an existing answer if you ask a specific question …

Mixed bag:

Then you have the worlds in-between with all the other amazing brains that people like us have. Some even have multiple worlds that can be connected, or not.

For example, for us, we have many worlds and anyone can create a new world, but they do not cross except for members of the same system. But we wouldn’t have a relationship with someone from the same system because they are like siblings to us … so, having an internal relationship could be tricky, even though it is certainly a frequent topic of discussion on how to let different system connect, so this situation might change.

Sensory experiences:

Also, physical sensations change, and are different for everyone. Depending on the type of inner world and the specific alter.

In our world, when someone from the same system touches us we will feel it as if the they were there, but we are quite aware that they are not … The others from the other worlds can send us sensory stimuli, but these will be mainly related to internal sensation (interoception) and emotions.

So, depending on this, the relationship will take different routes and will offer different possibilities.

Sensory experiences …

Your trauma, their trauma, and each of your healing journeys and stages

Everyone is different and was created for different reasons, but we share one thing, we are all traumatised, even the ones who pretend they are not. Just being the ANP and pretending all day to be something one is not is certainly as disorder-inducing as any other types of psychological abuse.

That means that everyone is sensitised to different things, some to violence, some to manipulation, some to sex … anything really …

So, internal relationship have the expectation that who engages in them will be a full participant in the other person’s healing. Learning to identify and share triggers and coping mechanisms, lending a supportive ear for trauma dumping, and learning how to do our own disclosures safely.

It is pretty much the same requirements that one would have from an IRL life partner.

Attitudes and perspectives relating to sex and relationships

This is affected by past experiences, as much as by a range of personal responses to those experiences, and the reason why a specific self has been created.

I think Mickey’s answerto a similar question is quite revealing!

Attitudes change greatly, even when our inner selves have had similar experiences. For example in our system, we are all asexual, but I don’t want sex and am happy with cuddles, then someone else wants neither and for them quality time is combing their plentiful rabbits’ hair, and someone else will not get too close, but is willing to use sex as a bargaining tool. In others systems you get similarly wild differences.

For example with the teens, one will melt and do anything for you if you are smart enough to understand them, while someone will want you to cry at their poetry before they will even consider talking to you.

This is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg; and I don’t even know how messed up our adults are 🤣

Similarly, some will want to be used, other to use, other to be loved, others to be given space …

Internal relationships can be complicated.


I will conclude by saying that nothing is really weird if we are ok with it. Five AG says (we know now!):

Do ▶️

  • Don’t think about it: If it feels right, then that is you.

Assess: ▶️

  • Think about it: if hurts someone it’s wrong.

Decide/Respond: ▶️

  1. If it’s wrong: stop doing it!
  2. Else: stop thinking and continue being yourself.

Exit loop ▶️

Five AG

Well, it’s more complicated, but this is the basic logic.

Our Nerdies analyse everything, so overthinking is common, but even they have learnt that weird is in the eye of the beholder; so when we think that something harmless is weird, we are falling into trap of being conditioned by social normative behaviour.

So, how would you initiate a relationship IRL? Get to know them, spend time with them … it’s the same in the inner world, good luck 💘🤗


I hope this helps. Written by Teo.

I want to thank Alex, for helping me with logic and maturity,Police Grammar Guy for adapting to my own way of being me and yet helping me to sound worthy of a read, and Scribe for sharing relevant information from other systems who are all part of The Nerdies.

Also, thanks AI for the images!