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Approach for dealing with a BPD partner
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Approach for dealing with a BPD partner

I've been in a relationship with a woman who, through some traumatic experiences over the past year and a half, made her way through progressively worse diagnoses and eventually wound up with BPD.
We were seperated about a year ago, and a short while back started again.
Not knowing the full extend of BPD symptoms before I was affected by it, leading to the prior seperation, but after grasping the effect it has on her it's clear to me what's fake and what isn't, I do know her that well.

As such, I've decided to not engage her in any negative mood swings and provide the same love and support with good faith about getting her back on her feet and us working out, and I was wondering about other experiences and advice in dealing with this.

She has turned on me out of the blue. Apparently she still had feelings for me, but did seem to impulsively set up elaborate dramatic scenarios to repulse me once she let me in too close.
I've found a lot of peace in not engaging her in these shenanigans, not responding to irrational feelings at all.

By this I mean that if she turns on me again out of the blue, instead of raising my own voice or trying to rationalize her, I'll just give her a kiss on the cheek and proceed with my daily routine, letting her know that she's having a mood swing (she has acknowledged her BPD and is working on it), that I still love her just as much and I'm simply not getting into an argument, and that if she wants to talk about it when she feels better my door's open for her.

What are your thoughts? I'd particularly like responses from BPD partners themselves, as it seems like a good solution thusfar but I want to know if it could have further ramifications, and I'd love to get a point of view in this similar to hers.
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Avatar_f_tn
I need to answer this post here but then I am happy to send and receive private posts.

The premature termination of therapy could have been why she was regressing.

Looking suggests a lack of trust.  I am naturally curious so I too would possibly be looking.  I think it would have been best to address your concerns with her though.  Snooping seems a little deceptive.

The reaction is motivated by many different emotions.  Denial, regret, guilt.  Most of us beat ourselves up more than what others do.  I think most of all we become angry with ourselves that we have been so weak and become frustrated by our lack of control.  Shame becomes a huge issue for us to overcome.  People reinforcing the stigma only makes it worse.

I don't think that there has to be passion or desire there.  I think that what you may be overlooking is the power of this emotional drive.  With impulsiveness you feel like you have to do something.  Not doing it can leave you feeling extremely stressed and anxious.  A bit like a volcano about to explode.  Early on in recovering we don't have the skills to manage these intense emotions.  That doesn't sound like impulsiveness but over time if we pause long enough we can see that it is due to other reasons, namely negative emotions.

I think that your hurt is also getting in your way and you're attributing stuff that just isn't there.  I don't think you'd be judging her if she had asthma, diabetes or some other medical condition.  Why because she has a mental illness?
The illness is hard to understand.  If someone I cared for was sleeping around then I think that I would feel hurt, angry, betrayed, bitter, resentful, etc.
Having bpd I can see both perspectives but I can't integrate them very well, if at all.

You were using her behaviour to support your arguement.  Seems a little unfair.  What was going on in the relationship before the affairs?
Everyone has the right to their own thoughts and feelings.  Both of your anger was justified.  
So you're angry because you feel she wasn't hurt as much as you?  People don't try to kill themselves if they're not hurting.

I expect it would feel incredibly difficult and would leave you feeling violated on many different levels.

I think maybe what went wrong is that she didn't feel as though you were giving her what she needed and that is why she is angry with you and possibly even blames you.
You should have set up boundaries when other people threw it in your face.  This should have been between you and her.  She's splitting.

I wouldn't compromise on whatever you prefer to call it.  I am very traditional and couldn't see myself tolerating that sort of behaviour.  Sometimes you do need to listen to the story behind the behaviour though.  Life isn't always black and white and people do make mistakes.

I think that your past is something that could be worked through in therapy.  Your strength of emotion suggests it may be something you need.  I don't think that dropping it or accepting will be helpful in the long-term.  It will likely always be there between you.
You need to have your own perspective validated as she needs hers.
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Avatar_f_tn
My response is from a bpd perspective but from what I have found helpful.  The closest relationship I have is the one I have with my doctor and I will use that as a reference.

I think my GP educating himself about my disorder helped.  I think that he separating me and my behaviour was helpful.  For example, there have been times when I have seen him when I have been angry and he has accepted that comments made are due to the illness and not me per se.  The comments have reflected an important aspect of how I've been feeling but he hasn't taken them as a personal attack on him.
I think that people can attack others based on feelings of anger, frustration, hurt, loss, guilt, shame, denial, etc.
While working on better ways to manage my emotions he remained consistent.  He didn't push me away and often encouraged me and endeavoured to instil hope in me.

I think that consistency is important.  I think that people with bpd can fluctuate a lot.  I think that it is helpful to have stability from others.  I think that stability, consistency and acceptance are containing which in turn helps us to better manage our emotions.

I think being present and providing a safe space is also helpful.  A safe place allows us to talk when we are able to do so.  I think pressuring us to change, etc can be unhelpful and can set us back.

You mention real and fake.  I don't think that people with bpd try to fake or manipulate situations.  I think that what you percieve as fake also has it origins in underlying psychological issues.  These issues are often very deep and need working through.  The behvaiour is often only a way to get needs met.  These needs can be both conscious and subconscious.  Some people with bpd struggle to put words to thoughts, feelings, experiences, etc and sometimes this ends up being communicated through behaviour, etc.
I think that all her behaviour should be treated respectfully and should not be judged.

It may be wise not to react to her moods but I think that it would also be wise to let her know you hear.  That you care and that you understand or are trying to understand.  Not engaging can sometimes feel like a rejection.

It seems that allowing you close made her feel vulnerable.  Because that felt threatening to her she set about ?testing you and pushing you away.  Part of it may have been a test of how deep your feelings were for her.  The other was just for her to feel safe.  Getting close, like I said, can leave you feeling threatened and vulnerable.  Many people with bpd sabotage themselves when they get close to achieving what they want (in relationships and in life).  Sometimes when people get close it feels overwhelming.  Distance can also feel unsafe though.  bpd contradicts itself in many ways.

Letting her know you're there for her is good.  Not engaging in a power struggle is also probably a good thing.  Asking her when she is well what she needs from you during these times could be helpful.  How does she experience you during these times?
Identifying the source of her anger and frustration and validating that can be helpful.  Or even just validating her feelings.  My doctor has sometimes said that he can see that I am angry.  The validation and empathy is helpful (in my experience).

I think that you should discuss with the individual what is and isn't helpful.  Asking others can sometimes invalidate her experiences.  She herself will know what is most helpful for her.  That shouldn't enable her or reinforce negative behaviours though.  It should help to facilitate change.

be open and honest with her about how you feel and what is going on with you.  It can be good to allow her to see other perspectives.  This can help her grow.  I think that what you're doing now is OK.  I don't see that offering her your support would have too many negative ramifications.  She may vent at you but she needs you to be strong to show that you can tolerate her ?moods.  Do what feels right for you both.  If she gets angrier or withdraws, or whatever she tends to do when she becomes unwell, you may like to revisit how what you're doing is helping.

You sound like you care and I think that counts for a lot.  People with bpd are extremely sensitive and I think that she has turned to you because on some level she senses that she is safe with you.  For some people with bpd this can be monumental.

Continue to support her in her efforts to get well.  Encourage her where you can.  Don't forget to get support for yourself if you feel you need it.
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Avatar_m_tn
Thank you for your answer. I agree, discussing all this in depth with her is important to let her know I (try to) understand and want to weather the storm together, and more importantly that I come in peace.
I feel the need to highlight the latter because I do see the trust issues. Emotional miscommunications before had led to a rift, but grasping the facts at this point I can empathize, and I feel no need to pressure her.

Her love for me is abundant, even when she is angry, and though before the latter would've confused me and made me feel unloved, she is opening up to me about it and I let her set the pace in that regard.

For example, sometimes she doesn't want to talk to me about certain subjects or feels distrustful, or she doesn't want to talk to me at all. I ask her if it's because she's in a bad mood, and let her know I understand and I won't press the issue. Instead I'll just switch to a more light-hearted subject, e.g. my day.
I find that eventually, she'll start talking to me about it on her own accord once she's ready.

Discussing these feelings, delving into the causes and talking about moving past them is partly for the purpose of showing her my perspective as well, yes.
I find that she has a lot of interest in delving into articles on BPD together, and I try to discuss all facets of it and her personal experiences.

We ultimately value ourselves through the eyes of those around us and I intend to, once she feels balanced enough to look outward or for the time being steals glances through these conversations, show her that she's only beautiful and beloved to me, unconditionally.

I also try to stimulate growth by emphasizing her strongpoints. She is an intelligent woman, with a personality that intrigues me to no end, and I emphasize this to her as well as the fact that I love her and see her as my equal. I certainly will not patronize or underestimate her.

I do not judge her, but I do evaluate her behaviorism to illuminate the rational perspective on it. When I said fake and real I was meaning what she has wanted me to see when she tried to push me away, and what she really is.

This behavior is something she considers manipulative and at this stage in her development considers it in at least an ambivalent way - while the motives are unclear to me, it could be a sense of empowerment.

I try to make her understand that the moves are self-destructive and do not serve her, though I highlight that I will not condemn her and while she has felt guilty, I immediately put it behind us and instead just gave her understanding and acceptance, much to her surprise.

That leads me to your question about how she views me during the valuation phases. She considers me perfect, of course, though I remind her that I have my own flaws. When she gets angry there is wavering distrust, though at any point she does tell me she loves me, and certainly never denies it.

Support for myself is in no short supply. While I did not actively seek it, I do know a lot of people in the psychological field either through my profession or my education, and I discuss these matters with them. I did get depressed before when I could not grasp the situation, but at this point I feel a determined peace.

There is no conflict to stress me out, because even if she is angry and I simply acknowledge her feelings, talk to her about what she's feeling within her set boundaries and I remain positive, any aggression toward me does not even seem to surface.
There are no clandestine moves to distrust, I have all my cards on the table and have shown that I trust her unconditionally myself, and there are no aggressive responses from me to perceive as attacks.
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Avatar_f_tn
Sometimes, when extremely stressed, people with bpd can experience transient psychotic-like symptoms.  I think this includes paranoia and suspicion or mistrust.

I think that it is important that we see ourselves through our own eyes and not those of others.  Ultimately I think that it is about how we view ourselves.

In one dbt text, written by Marsha Linehan, she talks about the grain of truth.  By highlighting the rational aspects I expect that this is what you are achieving.  I guess that there is also some grounding in what is real.

Pushing people away is a defense.  I guess we don't like others to see how vulnerable or hurt we sometimes feel.  These defenses often make us feel worse though.

Maybe she's wanting to hurt you as much as she feels hurt herself.

Sometimes when I think of my own losses it is hard to describe them to someone else.  I think sometimes the best way is to imagine losing all your family, your friends, your job, the esteem in which people hold you in, your health, ..., everything.  That is what our loss and grief can sometimes feel like.  Something which I think is hard for others to grasp.

Your acceptance, in time, may help her to accept and love herself and to view her thoughts and feelings as being as valuable as yours.
The love /hate, good/ bad, all-or-nothing, black and white is based on the primitive defense of splitting.  While you're good she is bad, etc.

Will talking about her with others, where there aren't strict boundaries, affect her?  ??

Just wondering about why you posted.  If you have a strong relationship with this woman then you should be able to work through anything.  My doctor and I have had difficulties in our relationship but because of the rapport (consistency, empathy, acceptance, etc) we have been able to work through any issues as they have arisien.
In anything the therapeutic relationship is everything.  If you have a good foundation you will be able to work through anything, providing you are both motivated to do so.

Hope that helps.

I'm not sure if you're aware but there are support groups for both those with and without bpd.  If you're interested you could check out the yahoo health groups.  There are a number of bpd (and non-bpd) groups there.
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks for your answer.

That sounds about right. The events that happened before are outrageous, from my standpoint anyway, and were quite stressing as well as detrimental to our relationship.

She is manipulative in the sense that she tries to control people and set up dramatic scenes, which I think you nailed when you said "Maybe she's wanting to hurt you as much as she feels hurt herself."

Having experienced a horrific abandonment herself before I came along and losing virtually everything over the past year and a half did have its effect, though I can identify because I've had similar experiences myself and so a clarifying diagnosis takes the edge off things.

The reason I posted is to compare experiences, to confirm ideas. As you can probably imagine, when you've had a stable relationship going with someone for a while and suddenly they're self-destructing their way our of there, it made me question her commitment.

I'll give you one example of such a scenario..

The last time she tried to get rid of me, she set up a dramatic suicide scenario while I had her on the phone. I wasn't sure if it sounded credible to me, but not wanting to take chances on this one, I got some paramedics over to where she was.
Later on she went off at me for getting the authorities involved, and I pointed out that it was ridiculous not to expect that, that she wound up with the situation as she set it up.

I also asked her if she did have feelings for me, which she surprisingly answered "yes" to. Apparently it was a game to her, but she insists (which at that point obviously sounds dubious) that our relationship was not a game.
I asked her why she would ruin it like this, having told her before that if she'd attempt suicide again I was calling it off, if she actually wanted us to work out - if not, I wanted her to come out and just say it. She would just tell me she's crazy, or evil, or whichever.

She did finally, without my asking, "stubbornly" agree to pull through with everything (i.e. our plans), to which I said that no, we would not. I left it at that  that time.
When that diagnosis made on her by her therapist and the symptoms fell into place I dropped the hostility (which I wasn't going to invest any time in anyway) and let her know that I did love her and the door was open, she eventually came back with regret.

Knowing what to expect and how to deal with it I am willing to give it a shot, if she maintains a desire to heal, though I've got to admit to you - sometimes I do doubt the veracity of her feelings for me or her willingness to change, but I think I feel that once she balances out, she'll come around. I knew an entirely different personality before all this.
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Avatar_f_tn
My theory on the manipulation and 'dramatic scenes', in general, is that we find it difficult to communicate our needs and perhaps stuff we do do is attention seeking but I think more than anything we just want to be heard and not hurt so much.  I think that often we don't see, or if we do, we don't care enough in that moment and everything again spirals out of control by how we are 'treated' (reacted or responded too).
Maybe the scale to which we go is representative of how little we feel heard and understood.  I don't think that we always comprehend the consequences of our actions.
Dramatic incidents rarely get us what we want or need.

I have come to hate the term dramatic due to the prejudice in which many people use it around people with bpd.

I think regardless of diagnosis that everybody behaves based on previous experiences, etc.  A lot of our history shapes who we are today.

I only asked because it sounded as though you had your own ideas and it sounded like you kind of had it together.  I wonder if you would change though if what you were doing was harmful to your ?girlfriend.  Maybe I'm just wondering if your boundaries are rigid, set beliefs?  I think I sense that you like to feel in control.

You question her commitment before you question her health?

I'm trying to understand this from her perspective.  She most likely felt that you didn't understand (an issue that was important to her), she tried to push you away.  She may have been using safety as a way to get your attention.  Calling the authorities, although a sensible thing to do from any other perspective, felt like a further rejection of you not hearing what she was trying to say.

I did the same thing with my doctor.  I had been trying to get support from my treatment team and they didn't understand and we weren't connecting.  This further increased my feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.  If health professionals don't get it then who will?  I felt that nobody could help me and that there must be something seriously wrong with me.  I don't think my being depressed helped the situation much either.
On this day I spoke to my therapist twice, had spoken with my GP and had left another message for him to call me.  Somewhere in all there I didn't care and took heaps of medication.  When my GP called I passed out while talking to him.
He called the ambulance and the police.  I don't talk about comments these people made but going from needing help to this and then vehemently wishing I were dead was hard.  I don't think anybody wanted any of that (having resources utilised in this way) and for me it just left me even more traumatised.
It's crazy how because we can't communicate effectively and also because people don't listen to us or are experienced enough to deal with the situation it becomes a big drama.

I don't think that she tried to get rid of you.  I think that she perhaps tried to bring you closer.  Maybe she was looking for nurturing in your concern.  Concern sometimes tells us that people care on some level.

bpd is not a game and the struggle and contradictory nature of it, is at best confusing.
I have often felt that people have toyed with me, like it is a game.  The harsh reality is that often life for us is about survival.  When you are trying so desperately hard to survive it is not about games.
I think that games happen when people are too afraid to accept help in the form it is being offered.  Sometimes people with bpd try to force other peoples hand in an attempt to access support.  I think that you need to be a little bit well and in control for this to happen.

She blamed herself for her actions which she had limited control over.  Suicidal thoughts and urges can be hard to overcome.  Constant safety issues wear you down (through lack of sleep, negative self-talk, etc).  Sometimes it gets to the point where there is so much negative tension that something has to give.
She knew that something was wrong.  Suicide was a punishment for her, not you.  Maybe she felt that she didn't deserve you?  And she was trying to save you from her.  She was protecting you.  Probably because she cares for you so much.

I don't believe that you should have threatened her with a relationship break-up if she had safety issues.  These boundaries, while understandable, seem rejecting and maybe even a little arbitrary.  I expect she was happy to return but was somewhat wary.

What triggered her to change?  What happened to 'break her'?  For me it was hospital.  I was commited for severe depression.  Before hospital I was anxious and depressed but never broken.

Personality by its nature is enduring and can take years to change.  Change for someone with bpd is extremely difficult, even if it is something they aspire too.

It would be nice if programs picked up bpd in people while they are still young and not let it affect and wreak so many lives.
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Avatar_m_tn
What triggered her to change is a series of traumatic events. While I think we can start at any point since her 15th, before she met me she was really hit by a sociopath who left her indebted and pregnant, and I watched things get exacerbated as she sank into a clinical depression while that in itself cost her everything she had left which added fuel to the fire, I won't go into the details.

I myself do like to be in control, yes. I'm a driven personality with a need to figure everything out, and after watching her derail, I feel I need to give that order and stability to her - or at least offer it.

I also am a man of set beliefs, though if one is proven wrong I have no choice but to correct it. And I do place her above everything else. Her well-being is imperative to me, I think the fact that I'm digging into BPD and trying to find ways to approach the situation attests to that. I love her and want to understand her.

The reason I brought up commitment is because scenes and lies do make me re-evaluate everything a person has said to me, and while I legitimately love her, we, our future, and these endeavors stand and fall with her having or not having feelings for me.

If her love is there, I'll move Heaven and Earth for her, if it wouldn't be, I should know about it and I just hope she'll get better. I'm sure you can appreciate that, never having seen anything like this, I'm used to simply getting love and affection in return, and most importantly in this - *honesty*

This is why it is good to know her what is symptomatic, and what is genuine. Don't get me wrong, when she pushes I am certain there's an emotional motive, but the one that it appears to be to me is rejection.
If I know that it isn't, I'll just let her punch air, and actually to both of our benefits remain emotionally constant.
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Avatar_m_tn
I should add that I can identify, if you strip some of the symptoms. I know where she is in her personal development because, as I've stated before, I have a background of my own.

I understand her philosophical inquiries, the introspection she is going through right now.
Our minds used to be in tune, if not in synch, but I guess in our personal growth we split when she started worsening. And it lets me know where she's headed.
For instance she at one point told me about being manipulative and thought that she had sociopathic tendencies. Her behavior doesn't fit that in the slightest, but this reasoning would typical for someone suffering from PTSD.

I guess what I'm saying is that in this process of finding herself, I'm trying to support her and steer her on track to creating herself.
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Avatar_f_tn
Just wondering if she has been screened for ptsd or complex-ptsd (which is kind of similar to bpd).  I expect she must have had bpd traits prior to all the traumatic events.

Open-minded enough to accept other possibilities.

Never lose sight of the fact that it is for her and that at times there will be things that she needs to do her way in order to recover.  Recovery is a process and is very individualistic.  What works for one may not work for another.
I had health professionals believe that I was untreatable because they kept forcing a form of treatment on me that made me worse.  A treatment that was suppose to work for those with bpd.  I had another form of therapy with another T and flourished under her skill.
She herself will know what is helpful and what is not.  Trust her to know that.

I may be wrong but it sounds as though you have issues surrounding this relationship.  More than anything it sounds like you doubt her, don't trust her, and need to be reassured.  You may  drive her away if you keep demanding her commitment to you, which it seems that she has already given.
I think that commitment is your issue and has nothing to do with her.  It's understandable why you would feel slightly insecure but that is something you need to own and look into.
I agree that it must be difficult for you, and others in a relationship with someone with bpd, but surely you'd pick up her sincerity, even when she is unwell.
Are you putting conditions on the unconditional love??

I was once told that it takes two to manipulate.  One to manipulate and one to be manipulated by.  
I think that we are so use to others judging our behaviour that we start to internalise it.
bpd goes from every extreme.  I think a number of thoughts and behaviours can have us believe that we are antisocial.  I've had thoughts and urges to kill people, when I've been severely unwell, and I'm extremely sensitive and don't like killing anything, even small pesky things like flies and spiders, etc.  The whole disorder is so contradictory.

I was asking about ptsd before I finished reading your post.  If you're interested in looking up the diagnostic criteria for whichever psych disorder you could check out the dsm-iv.  I found a good run down of complex-ptsd at Wikipedia.  Maybe you know this and have checked this out already.

Or at least prevent her from derailing and self-destruct.

Have you worked through your own history?
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Avatar_m_tn
I understand, I have been pretty frazzled. The dust was still settling over the past week, and between the contradictory messages and emotional miscommunication, I'd developed a sense of insecurity.

I feel confident about her feelings now, however, and while I want to say I have worked through it I should say that the past year and a half has been an ordeal, especially since I was still finishing up cleaning house myself so to speak when I met her.

I did pick up on her sincerity, but given the circumstances it didn't take for  100% straightaway. Knowing for a fact that she feels for me removed that doubt.

I am keeping the DSM-IV close on hand yes, and we discuss the symptoms, how she feels and experiences them, and how best to approach them. I said plans earlier.. She wants to move in with me soon, at least for a while.
I imagine a different environment, without any painful reminders or bad habits, will do her good, especially if I try to make her feel like the beautiful angel she is to me.
I can only imagine that for someone with BPD, this is a legitimate leap of faith. As with everything else I am offering her to do so when she feels ready, and I wish to justify her trust once placed.

As far as those traumatic events go - if she did have BPD symptoms then, they were very subtle. I found her to be emotionally constant, and we quickly fell in love so much she wanted to move in together after a few months already. She maintained this for about..  six months? Until the events had just happened and really got to her.
While she regressed, I was unable to be around. I imagine she felt abandonment and loneliness, I did. I felt, still feel, so incredibly guilty.
It seems like such a short step to the self-destruction from that point.. Her first suicide attempt came sooner than expected.

It is clear to me that we love eachother and she is hurt, and I guess that is all I really need to know.
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Avatar_f_tn
We are unable to change the past so continuing to harbour guilt is a waste of energy.

Safety issues sound as though they have come from a place of depression or depressive transference.

Is your friend in dbt and/ or group therapy?  If so, does she feel that they are benefiting her?

Are you sure about this relationship?  You've invested a lot of resources into it.  You haven't gone from one bad relationship into another have you?  Did you have time to heal from the first break up?  All none of my business but just be careful.  I think that people need to heal before they commit to relationships.
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Avatar_m_tn
I agree, but I bear it. Our love was, and is very real, and seeing a loved one go off the deep end is never easy. It makes you reconsider your steps for the future.

I also agree on the transference. Such feelings don't disappear overnight, they're "phased out" as time passes. The conflict and retouching on old feelings threw me off, but it'll be fine.

The DBT doesn't ring a bell but I do know there is some therapy, her feelings about it are hopeful but ambiguous. I am setting us up with a friend of mine for counseling sessions and to see what might need to be added on.

I am absolutely sure about this relaiionship. I was exhausted after that first breakup yes, and did enter a rebound. While the woman in that relationship was a legitimate sweetheart, after sometime I grew increasingly discontent. My feelings for her, the BPD partner, never went away and I decided to call the rebound to a halt to prevent it developing further when clearly, my feelings were not there.

There are two answers to your question:

Do I believe I've fully recovered? No, while stress is waning I can't say I'm as rested as I should be.

Do I believe I should give us a shot? Undisputedly, because the bond we shared and are rekindling, the feelings we have for eachother, are undeniable and to further deny them I feel would just be more harmful, and I in fact feel it would bring us both peace of mind.
Besides, if we don't I predict us eventually just getting frustrated and winding up together again.
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Avatar_f_tn
To me it kind of sounds unethical to be receiving counselling from a friend.  I think it blurs boundaries too much.

Depending where her issues lie, how far back, etc, psychoanalytical psychotherapy can be quite helpful.  dbt can be unhelpful for many people.

And dealing with someone with bpd can be emotionally draining.
It sounds like you're entering into this relationship for the right reasons.  Cheating yourselves on some ideal would be wrong.  It is good that it has foundations in love, care and concern.
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Avatar_m_tn
He has been my go-to guy, having helped me before. But I can see how it would create an unbalanced situation if both of us were to see him yes, now that you mention it.
The psychotherapy is something I want to try yes.

Either way I suppose it's going to be one step at a time. I'm not used to being patient, particularly if loved ones are in need, but I guess patience is what she needs most right now..
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Avatar_f_tn
Having been diagnosed with bpd myself, I want things to have happened yesterday.  I often feel that it is important to feel as though you are moving forward.
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Avatar_m_tn
I get what you mean. When I want something I don't feel satisfaction until I have it, and right now I just want a future together.
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Avatar_f_tn
One skill for bpd is mindfullness.  Have you tried just to focus on the present?
These dbt skills can be found on the net.  Not sure of an exact location but they come under the dbt skills for borderline personality disorder by Marsha Linehan.

Wanting things to happen quicker is said to be an issue with delayed gratification.

Don't overlook what you already have.  Value that and use that as a base.  Things will happen in there own time.
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks for all your input Jaquta. I think you're right, and I'm gathering info to deal with the situation as is, and intend to try and get her more actively involved in dealing with this.
Right now she is regressing again, ignoring me altogether for the past four days.
Given her self-destructive patterns (drug abuse) and past events (lies and a veritable battery of adulterous affairs that led to the first breakup), and the fact that my trust and feelings have been very severely damaged by it, unsettles me..
I guess I'll have to be a saint and remain constant.
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Avatar_m_tn
By the way, I'm thinking it will be good if we're going to work at it, that I lay down clear structure and boundaries.
My question is, what do impose, and how do I do it?
Normally I'd make clear appointments about talking things through with a therapist, make agreements together and emphasize boundaries (faithfulness, no neglect) and say that if she breaks those rules, thereby demonstrating a disinterest in working things out, that I'm throwing in the towel.
I feel the sheer threat would have a counterproductive effect though, how should I approach this?
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Avatar_f_tn
You're welcome.  Talking to you helps me to learn and to see things from a different perspective.

Maybe her regressing is due to you posting here.  Just a thought.

Not a saint but human.  Being human means that you make mistakes too.  These should be able to be worked through.

Structure and boundaries are good (providing they aren't arbitrary and are flexible).

I guess you could just come out and say that you'd like to impose limits on the relationship.  It could be hard for her to accept though given that these haven't been there previously.  I think that if you are going to invite her to live with you though that that could provide you with a good opportunity to lay some ground rules.

I think that you are attributing motives that possibly aren't there to her behaviour.  Breaking the rules means that she can't keep them.  Possibly not because she's not interested but because of other over-riding issues/ emotions.  I think that it's unfair to expect her to change her behaviour, or accept the consequences, when her behaviour is long-standing.  It is a personality disorder because the symptoms are either severe or have been there for a long time, or both.

I'm not sure how you would go about setting limits and boundaries.  Since you have discussed a lot with your friends, they may be good people to ask??  Although in my experience some T's just have no idea.

What worked for me and my T was her setting the structure.  Therapy sessions x many times a week.  I'm not sure how that would relate back to a personal relationship.  Limits were things such as: length of appoinments, no e-mails, no seeing my doctor for emotional support, number of goodbye sessions if I were to decide to leave, length of notice to be given before going on leave, etc.
I guess limits could be about both your behaviour.  What you will do and what she will do.  Aside from the limits everything else was free game and was worked through as it arose.  Emotions, issues, etc were addressed and support was given to work through the issues.

I would think that a boundary I would insist on if I were you is regular therapy sessions.  My rationale for that is if she is working on her own issues then that should help not only her but your relationship as well.  It should move more towards an equal partnership with equal giving and taking.  Or I guess her not being needy of you.

You could try a limit around your personal space, if that is something you need.  Time where you get to de-stress and do stuff that is important to you.  It would help if it were regular r at a regular time.

I would set a limit around drug abuse.  If she's clean now then that shouldn't pose too much of a problem.  If she's not then she should be receiving support for that and based on the professionals advice limits placed around what is and isn't OK and have a plan towards complete abstainence eventually.  It needs to be flexible though.
I would not allow her to bring drugs into your home.  Therapeutic stuff should be administered in a clinic.  Meds could be controlled, if practical, to limit abuse in the home.

I think that you set limits around things that you don't like or that are harmful.  My T didn't set limits around safety, perhaps because her therapy contained me, but I guess you could perhaps have a crisis management plan or not necessarily consequences but actions.  If she threatens suicide then you will a, b, c.  Talk to her T, call the police, ask to have her assessed.  A cirsis plan could help intervene at a lower level.

I think that you have to go in being quite assertive about your limits but I also think that you need to be flexible.  Discuss things that she objects too and work through them.  Let her contribute to your list of boundaries.

I'm rambling.  It's a difficult one.  I can only comment based on my experiences within the mhs.  I have no counselling qualification, etc.  Common sense will direct you.

What's going on with your girlfriend at the moment?  Why aren't things going so well for her?
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Avatar_m_tn
I'll start with the end - what's going on is her destructive habits, and a bad relationship before me, have led her from a regular family life to a solitary life between clinics and living with her parents.
After several months once the drug use and bad habits really took hold as they substituted emotional emptiness (custody issue) she really drifted, and she didn't pay any attention to our relationship.

Feeling neglected and suspicious (I'd caught.. "flirting," let's leave it at that, before - which she felt sorry for) I eventually started digging around.
After I dug up a host of guys she was screwing around with she didn't feel apologetic, but rather attacked me for digging around. I was the one in the wrong. In fact she disparaged me for some reason.

I pulled the plug there and that's when the suicide attempts started.

After my own rebound ended we got to talking again and she wanted us again, and admittedly so did I. I offered to let her move in to try things out and get started getting things back on track, but it's a process that involves flying her in now and clearing things with her therapist/family, which since she very often distrusts me and constantly stonewalls/goes on binges is very difficult.

I've also noticed that now we've gotten to this point, she's neglecting me again, re: refusing to talk to me for four days.

"Equal partnership with equal giving and taking" - this is what I want. What makes this situation tremendously difficult is that she either does not understand the consequences of her actions or flat out does not care. I gather this can be pinned on the disorder, but
1.) This is how it makes me feel, which until I abandon her and she comes back to me, she just rubs in my face priding herself on "manipulation", though sometimes she'll start talking to me about "what's wrong with her"
2.) There's only so much a man can take, despite the circumstances. I have my own pride and feelings to think about.

She does not know I'm posting here, so while these disappearances may be attributable to her state, they arouse feelings of neglect and with our history, suspicion.

The thing about consequences, though - if there are no consequences to her actions, how is she supposed to take anything seriously and ever change? I've treated her with a velvet glove beyond the boundaries of any man I've ever known, but every time until I seriously lash out to her, she just disrespects me and plays with it.
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Just thought I should add that she's just now opening up to me again.. I take it the frustration is palatable in my posts. From my standpoint, this is all very erratic and confusing.
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Avatar_f_tn
She sounds like she's hurting a lot.  It sounds like she just pushed everything away.

You shouldn't have been looking.  I expect that was extremely hurtful for her.  You both needed to be honest with each other and communicate more.
Excessive sex can be a symptom of bpd.  Just indicates how out of control she was feeling.

Probably because you were her only stability and you took that from her.  Some people, without realising it, act as a liferaft for us.  We cling and that is what keeps us afloat and alive.

If she has to fly from her current location, and family and T, that sounds like a huge barrier.

Somethings going on with her.  I expect she would only be able to keep her distance if she were angry or getting support from somewhere else.  I think that if she were contained and well that she would be talking to you.

I think that sometimes we don't understand consequences unless we experience them for ourselves or others explain them to us.  Not caring is part of depression.

I never tested boundaries when I was with a good T.  I don't know how to enforce your rules or limits.  If she breaks limits then this needs to be discussed.  I would be firm.  Maybe that is the problem.  Don't treat her as being fragile but as a person, but at the same time being sensitive and respectful to her difficulties.
You probably need to watch super nanny and she how she imposes limits.

Is confusing and difficult for all of us.  Is good that you're both talking again.  I expect for now.

If therapy is working for her then you probably shouldn't be having all these problems.  I found thrice weekly sessions containing for me.  One session per week just left me feeling constantly suicidal.  You may need to look at therapy.
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Avatar_f_tn
Our  computer is way slow.
I meant that you may need to look at therapy as being a problem for her.  She needs it but she also needs good therapy.  She probably should be having a minimum of two sessions per week.
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Avatar_m_tn
Things seem to be headed in a good direction.. I realize that her flying in is a barrier, which is why I think that - since she is willing to make that leap of faith - it would be good for her.
It will undoubtedly create some anxiety, but it will also teach her that sometimes you need to take a leap if you want to get ahead, I will certainly do my best to make her feel that her trust is well placed and that she is loved and understood.
She is confiding in me again, and I've made it clear that I just want to look forward and leave the past for what it is.

We've arranged counseling for when she is here. She did in fact quit her therapy sessions prematurely. We will be doing the counseling together in part to help us sort out and keep our dynamic stable and clear, and in part so she feels more safe and has an extra threshold to quitting it.

She wants and pursues structure in her life, and I want to help her set it up and maintain it.
Along these lines I am actively involving her in long-term planning. Some deviation always occurs of course, but it will give her a guiding line and a result to look forward to.
While we were both thrown off balance, she is at least as resilient and willful as me. She wants recovery, and together we're delving into the BPD issue to try and resolve it.

When I first met her I was exiting a dark tunnel myself and she was my guiding light, and I guess that I was the same for her since she hit rock bottom once I left. We will start again with a clean slate, I've made my intentions on this crystal as well as how much she means to me, and I'll be there to support her.
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And on the explanations of outside experiences - that is one topic we broach together in all this. I've made it a point to not only discuss how she feels, but how I perceive her and how I feel, and how our experiences differ.
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There is one more thing I should add though, and I think this is one key point where our (your and mine) perspectives differ..

I do feel my looking around was justified.
If I am contacted by some of them, I feel the incentive to keep an eye out is certainly there.
We are putting the past behind us and moving forward, but just to add commentary on those past events..

Getting caught red-handed and distracting the anger to being caught rather than committing the crime is, to me, outright ludicrous and just a preemptive strike motivated by guilt.
Impulsivity can explain it, but it is not a cop-out. It only turns it into a crime of passion rather than a premeditated act.

I tried the honest and understanding approach at first when I already knew, but was simply lied to until the evidence was insurmountable and physically present. In my eyes, not only did she not have a right to be angry rather than apologetic in that situation, but the infraction it should have had on her feelings was absolutely miniscule compared to the one on mine.
For her to then have the audacity to talk about trust when my trust was obviously and consistently abused for months just added insult to injury. - Can you imagine your partner cheating left and right, with half the accomplices mockingly rubbing it in your face, then getting spat at and abandoned when you bring up the subject? Like you're the one in the wrong?

You can see how this led to a breakup, especially since this is a principle that from where I stand should be a given and that I simply refuse to make compromises on.

Let me emphasize that we are leaving the past for what it is and starting anew with a clean slate, I just felt I needed to tag this on since I refuse to be guilted into accepting being cuckolded.
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By the way, while I really value your input, I would prefer to carry on this discussion in private messages. This is getting way more personal than I thought it would initially (as I just demonstrated..), and I really dislike that these details are being indexed in association with my username.
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Avatar_f_tn
I need to answer this post here but then I am happy to send and receive private posts.

The premature termination of therapy could have been why she was regressing.

Looking suggests a lack of trust.  I am naturally curious so I too would possibly be looking.  I think it would have been best to address your concerns with her though.  Snooping seems a little deceptive.

The reaction is motivated by many different emotions.  Denial, regret, guilt.  Most of us beat ourselves up more than what others do.  I think most of all we become angry with ourselves that we have been so weak and become frustrated by our lack of control.  Shame becomes a huge issue for us to overcome.  People reinforcing the stigma only makes it worse.

I don't think that there has to be passion or desire there.  I think that what you may be overlooking is the power of this emotional drive.  With impulsiveness you feel like you have to do something.  Not doing it can leave you feeling extremely stressed and anxious.  A bit like a volcano about to explode.  Early on in recovering we don't have the skills to manage these intense emotions.  That doesn't sound like impulsiveness but over time if we pause long enough we can see that it is due to other reasons, namely negative emotions.

I think that your hurt is also getting in your way and you're attributing stuff that just isn't there.  I don't think you'd be judging her if she had asthma, diabetes or some other medical condition.  Why because she has a mental illness?
The illness is hard to understand.  If someone I cared for was sleeping around then I think that I would feel hurt, angry, betrayed, bitter, resentful, etc.
Having bpd I can see both perspectives but I can't integrate them very well, if at all.

You were using her behaviour to support your arguement.  Seems a little unfair.  What was going on in the relationship before the affairs?
Everyone has the right to their own thoughts and feelings.  Both of your anger was justified.  
So you're angry because you feel she wasn't hurt as much as you?  People don't try to kill themselves if they're not hurting.

I expect it would feel incredibly difficult and would leave you feeling violated on many different levels.

I think maybe what went wrong is that she didn't feel as though you were giving her what she needed and that is why she is angry with you and possibly even blames you.
You should have set up boundaries when other people threw it in your face.  This should have been between you and her.  She's splitting.

I wouldn't compromise on whatever you prefer to call it.  I am very traditional and couldn't see myself tolerating that sort of behaviour.  Sometimes you do need to listen to the story behind the behaviour though.  Life isn't always black and white and people do make mistakes.

I think that your past is something that could be worked through in therapy.  Your strength of emotion suggests it may be something you need.  I don't think that dropping it or accepting will be helpful in the long-term.  It will likely always be there between you.
You need to have your own perspective validated as she needs hers.
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Avatar_m_tn
I think you once again hit the nail on the head. On every point actually.
Fortunately we do have therapy set up, so these issues will be addressed at the proper time and place..
I'm going to stop posting here now before I get emotional again or tip the veil on more background details. I greatly appreciate your help, and when I think of a good continuance (I'm blank right now - but hey I just woke up) I'll send you a nudge :)
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