Friday, May 13, 2011

Pulling Punches - Baiting and Picking Fights

--  Baiting and Picking Fights – “Baiting is the practice of generating a provocative action or statement for the purpose of obtaining an angry, aggressive or emotional response from another person.”
This is what I associate with Pushing away and Pulling back. That back and forth feeling of being suffocated, needing to escape being hurt, fearing the loss, and desperately trying to get that person back, often by apologizing profusely and doing everything we can to be perfect for them again. Repeat.
That’s the resulting cycle anyways.
It starts with something small. Gradually growing into something else.  Baiting and Picking Fights is HOW this cycle is fed.
I know I have a very caustic tongue. I’m not physically violent towards anyone, but I know how to wound your pride, your ego, and your heart. It’s not necessarily a big explosion, though eventually it may get there. It’s small steps, little barbs. Small hurts, followed by tearful apologies about how we’re such bad people... For me the fear that’s generated turns my stomach and flips my heart. The person hurt is really wonderful, we don’t deserve them, we’re so sorry that we would even think to say such things, act that way. The thing you need to keep in mind is, we absolutely feel this way, at least I do. I don’t set out with this in mind. I don’t wake up in the morning and think, ‘Gee, today seem s like a good day to fight with so-and-so to see if he/she’ll leave me.’ It just happens. It happens gradually as we get closer to someone. And it’s always with someone we’re close to. The fear of being hurt by staying, coupled with the fear of being abandoned by leaving. I’ve never figured out how to find a way past this. I don’t mean to be this way, and I can see myself doing these things, which is why I know I’m such a terrible person when I do it. I try to make up for it, but I can’t seem to stop myself from doing it again when something sets me off. It’s generally not out of the blue though it may seem that way to the other person. I know for me, I’ll be triggered by something, read more into something than was there, feel like I’m losing myself to them and need to get myself back.  I’ll bite back quick and hard and there’s really no thinking about what comes out next. Over the years I have learned to temper a lot of these reactions. I’ve learned to hold back, not be so quick to lash out. However this has the effect of allowing me to internalize the hurt I feel, bottle it up, ruminate on the things I want to say from it… it gives me time to tailor a harsher response when something bigger does set me off. I’m trying to fix this too. I’m trying to write down the responses I want to scream out. Release my anger onto paper. Come back to it. Find a better response, a calmer response, and then come back to it for discussion when I feel like I’m more in control.
There’s something else though. An element of, if the other person will allow me to push, stay with me through the hurtful things I do, it ‘proves’ that they won’t abandon me.  The more we can push away, the more baits and barbs we can throw, the more fights we can pick, the longer they show that they’ll tolerate it or try to work it out with us, the more we can believe that they mean what they say and aren’t trying to deceive us … If we can make someone we care for SO ANGRY, they’ll either prove us right, or prove us wrong. Either way we’ll know something for sure, and it stops (momentarily) the constant second guessing going on in our heads. Believing someone, trusting someone… I know I’ve been hurt so badly that I can never fully do this. That doesn’t mean I don’t want it. I just have to test the fences to be sure.


  1. If we can make someone we care for SO ANGRY, they’ll either prove us right, or prove us wrong.

    That is it in an absolute nutshell. You said everything about why we do what we do in that one sentence. We don't even trust ourselves. We question our own judgements and perceptions and all we can do is test the other person. There is no other alternative. At least not one that will satisfy the fear that lives within.

  2. What advice can you give the person whom you are baiting about how to respond in a way that will not end in a fight?

    Also, if the BPD in my situation is the former wife, who asked for the divorce and left over husband's objection, why is she still testing to see if husband will stay? Yes, he has to co-parent a minor child with ex-wife, but why should he put up with the name calling and lies? Or is that just baiting (and if so, to what end)?

    Apologies if these questions sound naive or weird. We are at our wits' end trying to figure out the most effective (for parenting purposes) and least offensive (for keeping the peace purposes) way to respond to her.

  3. She doesn't think it is baiting. She's wounded and trapped. How'd you like to revisit your failed life every time you had to drop off your child?

    You can't make her feel better. But you can tell her that she is wounding you, too.

  4. I guess the best advice I can give is to reassure them that you are not out to get them. Let them know that this is not about sides, it’s about find a mutually beneficial path. Reassurance is important, but you’ll have to do this often, probably every time. Let her know that you are not enemies, that you want to do everything you can to be as a good of a parent as you can with her and you are both necessary for this to happen.

    He should not put up with the name calling and lies. There needs to be boundaries. He should make it clear that this behavior is not acceptable, but it needs to be done in a way that she will know that they can and will continue to work together to parent their child. You are adults and you should treat each other like adults with mutual respect for the child’s sake if nothing else. Name calling and lies are definitely baiting. I can’t with all certainty say to what end. Even though you are no longer together there may still be abandonment fears, fears that you will take the child away, no longer assist in co-parenting, leave her alone with all the responsibilities… testing to see if this will happen will prove her fears right. The thing to do is to reassure her that even though you are no longer together, that you will continue to be there for your child, no matter what. But she needs to work with you to be the best parents you can be.


    These questions are not weird or naïve. I’m glad you asked.

    Hope things work out.

  5. I agree with Anon 12:15... she won't recognize it as Baiting. We don't usually see it that way. Maybe try to get her to talk about what she's worried about that makes her so hurtful. It is important that you let her know that she is hurting you though and that you wnat to have an amicable relationship (even if just for the childs sake), so you need to work through the hostility.

  6. Thank you both for the thoughtful responses. I will share with my husband and we will think about it.

    I have to admit I am a little confused about the reassurance that he will co-parent. He has done more than half the parenting during and since the divorce (50/50 custody, doctors appointments etc), and she obviously knows it because they coordinate it. The only thing that changed seems to be that since the divorce, he doesn't let her yell at him live (she still does it by email). So I'm wondering whether reassuring her about his co-parenting won't seem to her like pointing out the facts, which usually enrages her. But if it works, I am sure we are willing to try it.

    Thanks again.

  7. I realize this is 2 months ago, but I am just coming to the realization that my husband of 40 years exhibits this pattern of behavior. I have been in reassurance mode all these years and it still hurts. The constant pattern is driving me crazy....we can't move forward. Is there no help for this borderline behavior?

  8. "And it’s always with someone we’re close to. The fear of being hurt by staying, coupled with the fear of being abandoned by leaving."

    Hey Haven, this is the second post I have read in this blog of yours. Thanks for posting, it brought me to tears to know that BPD have a fear of abandonment. Does it stem from past experiences?

    My boyfriend, although he has not been diagnosed with BPD, and me being in the healthcare field was curious if he has, because he was showing some symptoms already. Though we had lectures about mental health during my college days, I have never experienced something unusual of an attitude like my boyfriend. At first I thought, it was unique. But sometimes, I would think he has problems with his personality.

    As a child, he was left by his mom and his grandma took care of him, and has issues being mistreated by his mother,too. He sees his grandma as his real mother,though. His grandma taught him a lot of good things: to not talk bad to people, not to gossip, not to say bad words, and always pray and read the bible and he shares them to me that I should also do the same way.

    But as time goes by, I was so concerned about this push and pull kind of thing. Him telling me about how I am already a professional and he is still struggling with school and parttime work. He tells me that he doesnt deserve an awesome girl like me, and he said that he would regret if he would let me go. He praises me a lot too. But sometimes he can get a little smothered. I admit, I am the stubborn type. He would tell me that I NEEDED the SPACE and not him.

    Sometimes if I try to defend myself, he would say SHUT UP, IM NOT LISTENING TO YOU. Sometimes he would ask for my advice about certain health issues, but then he wont even do what I tell him to, because he wanted to do his own thing! He said he knows what he is doing. So I just stayed silent. If I stay silent, he would comment why I am being silent.

    I dont know how to handle him because in some days he is very good , but sometimes he would get so rude for no reasons and he would just say IM PHYSICALLY TIRED! Sometimes he would message me around 3am and say that he could not sleep, in the morning when I wake up, I find messages saying, OK FINE YOU WONT REPLY? GOOD NIGHT! How complicated is long can I put up. I want to help him, I want to understand him...sometimes I just cry because it is just so emotionally draining...

    Yesterday we talked on the phone, and I wanted to end the relationship, and then he got upset and he said "So you're gonna leave me?" I didnt say anything because I am afraid to hurt him.
    I love him, but I never expected that he would say something like he wanted me to stay around, just be FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS. He has never said something like that before!

    He had been on a car accident before, I dont know how it happened.
    I feel so tired with the relationship, but part of me also wanted to help him as well! Grrr!

    In his depressive days, he would want to talk to me and pour out everything. He would say that he feels empty and not care about other people's thoughts, that he is like "NOT FROM THIS WORLD" (I thought, is he an alien?)

    I'm a fighter, and he would tell me that he thinks I have a strong personality, but so outspoken that sometimes, HE DONT UNDERSTAND WHAT IM SAYING even if it is obvious that I AM HURT by what he is being apathetic, and cold towards me. Some days he would say, I MISS ME. IM CHANGING. Why is that? Do people with BPD feel like that?

    I really need advice on this one. It is important for me to know more about this personality disorder. I am sorry for writing such a long post. I hope someone could shed light on my concern.


    1. I am a non who was directed here from another site. I have been with someone who does not have an official diagnoses of BPD, but it fits them to a T. The relationship has been a roller coaster, and they admitted they push me away to prove to themselves that I love them if I come back...which I did...more times then I can remember. It has worn me down, especially the baiting and picking fights which I can't seem to stop myself from getting entangled in. I blew up at my SO and broke it off when he started baiting me. I feel guilty, but after years of this behavior...I just could not take it anymore. My SO turns vicious and tries to do things to hurt me when we break up....I just want peace, but don't know what to do. My SO has already done something to try and hurt me since we cut contact...any advice from those with BPD on how to handle this? How can I make peace? Or am I wrong to think I can?

  9. Wish had known about your type earlier including my mother. Wd have dumped them day one and saved myself hurt and expense. While preparing myself for a healthy person.
    Why would a sane person buy a cranky junk at the price of a new car?
    Wish i was older when i was younger.

  10. I've met my diagnosed bpd significant other when I was 22 and he was 21. When we met I was instantly drawn to his unique personality and attractive confidence. We hit it off and immediately started dating and I was so happy in the beginning. With in the first few months I became closer to him than I had before with anyone else I'd ever been with...and so quickly. When we met I was going through very difficult time and the knowledge of that he used to his advantage. (later on) Once he became comfortable (not sure if that's how you would categorize it) his unstable side rapidly began to appear. Never had I seen such anger or lack of responsibility in anyone I'd ever met. Then he started pushing me away....I was so confused because everything previously up to that point had been like something out of movie the way we fell in love so quickly. Once things changed I was hurt...I thought he didn't care for me anymore but the cycle began of fights and endless questions about past and current events in my life. If I even did so much as add an additional detail that had come to mind during on one of his questioning interrogations attacks...that automatically meant I was lying. I put up with his erratic behavior and accusations because I knew about his past. But it only got worse. Eventually it ended a year later...and it was ended horribly. I was so worried of what he was going to do to me in response to our break up. But I had to end it...I was exhausted....isolated...and felt crazy. But when we were good it was the happiest time of my life....After over a year of not talking we ran into one another and he had informed me he had been diagnosed as having bpd and had been getting help for sometime. We hung out a few times and I really could see he had made positive changes. We got back together...I let him have complete access to everything bc A. I had nothing to hide and B. I was trying to show him that I could be trusted...Ughhhhh the non stop questioning was not near as severe as it had been before but it still to this day occurs. Basically, I have come to realize that I deserve to have MY OWN PRIVACY like emails and such however, if he asked I would be happy to show him. The all access fired back on me because he pretended to be me and contacted exes, friends, and so on to see if I was telling the truth about what had happened while we were apart. Ok sorry for the long explaining...but here I am once again in the cycle of this irrational fighting and dealing with bitter words that hit me like daggers just to hurt. He has improved and I love him....I've never felt the way i do for him about any man. But I want to be happy and I wont be if I am always giving in and being the strong one. I need to have my bad days and be told its ok. 26 now we're engaged and I know he will be a great father but I dont want to raise my children around this behavior (even though it has improved drastically). Also, I do not deserve to be treated that way either. How do I make him see that his actions hurt me? We will talk about it however...its like I am still in the wrong some how and the subject will be changed. If the roles were reversed and I had done something that bothered would be a 2 hour conversation. HELP!

    1. Why why do you think this man would be a great father? It doesn't sound like it. I would not have children with this man until he is 100% in control of himself. You don't even want to have to deal with the pain and guilt you will have when he hurts the kids like how he hurts you. My husband is BPD and it's emotionally exhausting. There is no way for us to raise emotionally healthy children with his baiting and my trying to reassure him all the time. I don't want my kids to see that. If children came into the picture I know I'd leave him to protect them but then who wants to deal in a custody battle with a BPD?

  11. Baiting an innocent loved on till he/she cracks, either completely surrendering before the borderline prick or tear apart the relationship! Brilliant! With a BP for a loved one, who needs enemies??!

  12. Sometimes I think it's just better to not have a significant relationship, that way we can't hurt people. I don't usually express my thoughts when I've been triggered, but wow, can I think of some awful stuff in my head (and you're right , it just builds up). But you know what, most of us are so dedicated to healing and finding a better way to live - and so worried about hurting people - that we can't be bad people. Plus, I really believe that BPD is treatable!

  13. People who are controlling, manipulative,displaying Borderline Personality sypmtoms NEVER EVER NEVER EVER REPEAT NEVER NEVER NEVER change!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Please do not make generalizations against people you do not know. There are plenty of us that can and do change. I'm sorry if your experiences have proved otherwise.

  14. If that type person is a family member (such as sibling, parent, etc), best to distance yourself from them as much as possible.
    If you are dating someone like borderline personality disorder, Break up and never ever see or talk with that person again. If you happen to run into that person, be polite and say hello, but quickly quickly QUICKLY run away from that person.
    I am 60 years old and have 60 years experience of dealing with a person with Borderline Personality Disorder. Even with help/counseling, the person will never change, because there IS NO CURE! The person can go for counseling, but any time something does not go their way, they will blow up and start fights over imagined wrongs.

    1. I'm sorry that you have had a hurtful experience.

      Fortunately there has been a lot of progress made in the therapeutic process and healing for Borderline Personality Disorder. Me and many like me have made fabulous progress in healing from our Borderline Personality Disorders. There are also many different ways that people display BPD and don't always act out and display it the same way against people. It's not constructive to paint all people with the same brush strokes.

      There is hope though and people absolutely DO heal.

  15. I don't mean to hurt the feelings of a person with Borderline Personality Disorder. But from my personal experience, emotionally I cannot deal with all of the drama. I have Lupus SLE and arthritis, allergic to all antibiotics and most anti-inflammatory medications. Trying to keep up a close relationship with someone who is Borderline Personality Disordered, makes me feel like jumping off a balcony or bridge, etc., just to end the pain of trying to deal with that person.

    1. That's understandable. It sounds like you've had a hard time and dealing with Lupus on top of that must be incredibly difficult. Relationships are a two way street. If the person in your life with BPD is not meeting you halfway then you need to do what is right for you to maintain a healthy life for you.

  16. I am too married to someone with BPD and they are really good fathers, they do not project on them as they do their significant other. The biggest thing you need to realize and understand is that you will have a lifetime of explaining right from wrong to your child so they do not pick up their behaviors, but it is possible. In the end I believe our kids see "What not to do" more than anything from his behavior, and somewhere along the way I stopped letting him "affect" me. The downside it means we fight more frequently, but I do not take offense or take it personally anymore and he usually will walk away, come to his senses and forget our encounters the next day and act as though nothing happened. I firmly believe it is insecurity more than anything. Build him up, but do not sacrifice yourself for his baggage. The most important thing is to determine do you want to live this way forever as it is a condition and while you will have good days, you will also have bad ones. Some that make you want nothing more than to leave. I made my choice and I understand what I have signed on for, but it is not for the weak and is a lot of work.

    Good Luck!


    1. I also forgot to state it takes a very secure and strong person to deal with someone with BPD, but even then I have had my breaking point. Even to the point of leaving 2 years ago, but he flew out to beg my forgiveness and tell me he'll work on changing. That he'll do what ever it takes. What I didn't tell him as I knew it would break him was I did move on in the several months we were apart and had started seeing someone else. I was so torn when he came out as I saw normalcy with this new guy, what it was really supposed to be like, but I was conflicted about giving up my marriage what I had built, our kids. I made the choice to open up to him and tell him about seeing someone else. Just as I thought he was relentless...... I gave him a few months to get it out of his system and then said "ENOUGH", if you had not treated me so poorly, we would have not gone through this, but a person can only handle so much. We are much better now. Or at least as "better" as it can be for someone with BPD, but we had to get through some rough patches.

      One thing I can tell all of you on here with BPD, your fear, your possession, your bad thoughts of it "falling apart" will come true if you do not stop inflicting pain on your significant other. People can only take so much. Not everyone is as strong as I am, and even then I floundered once. And I was REALLY, REALLY ready to move on. I was so happy in the break I had. But it did not mean anything without sharing life with my spouse. So I made a choice that worked for us. and we still work at it today. That in my mind is marriage... even with BPD, it's not perfect, but if we both keep working at it it's enough.


Leave me a comment! It makes me feel good and less paranoid about talking to myself =)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...