Thursday, March 22, 2012

I’m BPD, You’re BPD: Lovers - Coexisting on the Borderline/Borderline Relationship

Who doesn’t dream of having a partner that they can be utterly consumed with in the passion and heat of romantic affection? I want you. I need you. I love you. I want to crawl inside your mind and control every thought you have so that they’re about me. Always.
Maybe a slight exaggeration. I didn’t post yesterday, because I’ve been trying to think of how this relationships could work. I don’t like to be negative because I’m very much about hope. Like all relationships there are those that can defy the odds and lead to a truly loving and fulfilling union. That being said, I just don’t know if it’s possible for two people with Borderline Personality Disorder to be in a healthy and functional romantic relationship. I’m not talking friends with benefits here, or even just fuck buddies (which can work but not very well in my honest opinion)… I mean in a long term committed relationship, devoted to putting their partner first. (Their BPD partner first – I use this phrase specifically because I know a lot of people that function in open and poly relationships and I don’t want to discriminate against those life style choices.) That being said, I also don’t think these types of relationships would be cohesive to a Borderline/Borderline match up. Why is that? Aren’t Borderlines prone to cheating and being promiscuous? Wouldn’t this be perfect to satisfy that and still be with your partner? Here’s why:
When you’re dating a Borderline he/she often harbors a lot of jealousy. I’m usually very good at concealing this because I know it’s not rational, but let’s face it, we want our partners attention. We want to know that we’re the first person in their lives. It’s a reassurance that we need in order to feel as emotionally safe with our lover and the only way we can know for sure if they aren’t doing something to potentially hurt us, is if we’re there with them. It’s not that I don’t want my significant other to have friends, but on some level it registers as a rejection when they want to hang out with them instead of me. It’s stupid. I KNOW this. At least for someone like me who has major, major trust issues when it comes to men due to a history of past cheating and abuse it’s difficult to not bring some of that fear into the future. I think this is true for anyone who has been on the wrong end of a relationship gone sour, but when you couple that with the volatile moods of a Borderline you’re looking at a bottle of anxiety, tension, and internal conflict.
I want my partner to be happy. I know it’s not practical for them to spend all their time with me. Hell, I’d get irritated and feel smothered if they were constantly in my face. But I don’t know what’s happening when I’m not around. What did I do differently that made them want ot make plans with other people for Friday night when he/she usually asks to spend the evening with me? Why can’t we both do something together in a comfortable place? Why does she need a girls night? Why do boys night out always have to be at the most popular bar in town? Why? Why? Why? Questions, questions, questions?
I do this. A lot of Borderlines do this in a Non/Borderline relationship. Now imagine both partners doing this. Well, if they both do it, doesn’t that mean that they’ll probably get exactly what they want and always do everything together? Quite possibly. Win, right? Until it begins to feel so stifling, and controlled that one or the other (or both!) begins to suffocate.  Imagine being trapped in an elevator with the same person all day every day. Eventually you just need so of your own air to breathe. 

I do think there are some Pro’s to this relationship. Like a Borderline/Borderline friendship there’s a level of understanding that can be there.
This is conditional though. For it to be healthy, both Borderlines need a level of self-awareness where they can recognize in themselves the behaviors and thougths they have, so that they can also understand their partners. Unfortunately for many Borderlines this level of self-awareness is not the norm.
If one or both Borderlines are seeking therapy or trying to heal, their partner will understand implicitly the battles they struggle with and can be more supportive in that knowledge. If they’re not threatened by the thought of their partner “getting better” and “suddenly realizing that their partner is no longer good enough because they’re still disordered”.  
Working on communication is crucial for normal relationships, especially relationships with a Borderline, which makes it triply important for a Borderline-Borderline combo. Like the friendship though, their may not be that fear of being misunderstood. It may actually be easier to talk about your fears and concerns because the risk of being judged isn’t as great.

With friends these things can work because the level of emotional attachment isn’t so profound. There’s still an emotional buffer. When  you’re romantically involved with someone our emotions are often rubbed raw, from that person. The fear of abandonment and potential rejection increases exponentially for every emotional step closer we get. That’s why romantic relationships tend to be more volatile than simply friendships. Push-pull exists in almost all close relationships a Borderline has, but it’s usually most intense in intimate ones. When both partners are prone to the push-pull of romantic entanglement you’re putting a powder keg in a match factory and ignoring the sign that says “are you stupid?”
On the other hand, both partners may know implicitly the anguish of abandonment and because of that they are uniquely adapted to understanding the fear their partner would have. When you know how terrible something feels, and you love someone, you want to do whatever you can to make sure they don’t feel that thing.
It’s a huge mix up of: Push-pull that often leads to temporary abandonments but and ultimate understanding that abandonment for either partner would be excruciatingly painful and therefore is less likely providing an odd stability. Until you start overthinking the problem like I always do and have malicious little bastard thoughts like, “well if they know this hurts and they do it anyways, then they must be trying to hurt me on purpose (like Friend did).” Even though you know at the time they probably weren’t thinking about you when they Acted Out it still feels like they’re acting against you because even if they didn’t mean it that way, they are. Even if you know on some level that the partner won’t leave for good, there’s still the potential for an increase in emotional highs and lows like smashing face first onto a rocky abyss of euphoria and despair.
What a mess. Mess, mess, mess.
If both Borderlines are in treatment, healing, able to communicate with the understanding of what the other is going through, and aware of their triggers and behavior coupled with the empathic knowledge of what their partner is going through and a desire to have them be as happy as they can be because of the love that is there between you…. It’s like a fairy tale match up, except the evil queen is living inside our own head.
The potential for understanding is much higher here because your partner has or is experiencing the same things. If both partners are the kind to put the other person ahead of themselves it would appear that each person would do everything they could to ensure the others happiness. We should know by know though that this leads to bottling up of needs and it’s only a matter of time before that internal pressure begins to build. The potential for twice the volatility and therefore twice, three times, four times the potential for hurt is there as well. Unintentional or not, this is a combination that I can see causing a lot of pain.
The only semi-romantic relationship with a Borderline I’ve had is with BPD friend #2 that I talked about yesterday. We spent all our time together, I loved her (though by this point I wasn’t in love with her), but I would still do anything in my power to make her happy. She would get extraordinarily jealous when I didn’t include her in something, or had another girl in my life… she’d invite herself into plans, she’d rearrange her work schedule so I couldn’t potentially run into someone she didn’t want me to see. She would blow up, break down, I’d be blind sided, usually over something I didn’t realize would upset her, we’d both be hurt; until finally we sat down and talked it out face to face, usually over a bottle of wine, would we be able to pin point the problem. I cared about her happiness more than my own at the time so I would do whatever I could to ease her fears but it wasn’t always enough, especially as I wasn’t going to completely subvert my own needs and I wasn’t going to encourage her irrational thinking, in as gentle a way as I possibly could. While I loved the time we spent together, I never wanted to date her seriously because I saw how much pain she was always in from other people she dated and I was terrified that I would be the cause of that kind of pain for her. I couldln’t live with that so I couldn’t cultivate that kind of closeness. Even with that fear in mind this didn’t last long; only a couple months before she broke me and I dissociated from the world around me.
Ouch, ouch, ouch. I don’t want to discourage any couple. You can’t help who you love. But this can be a very unhealthy relationship for a pair of Borderlines if even one of them lacks a healthy amount of self-awareness or wants something a little different. Be careful. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to each other.
The thing Therapist encourages me to do most is to incorporate stability and steady, healthy, drama-free people into my life. Borderlines, whether we know it or not, crave stability and security because these are things we are necessarily born with.


  1. My friendship was similar to yours but I was the needy one and she was the strong one. I do think she taught me how to be a bit tougher and I finally allowed her a safe space to be needy so that worked out. I feel we both ended up influencing each other for the better ultimately.

    That said, when I first decided I had fallen for her, I didnt do anything about it. Everyone else in our group had done the same thing and I didnt want to be cast off like I had seen her do to others. As soon as anyone decided they 'loved' her, so would toy with them a bit and move on. I didnt want to be that. So I kept it to myself for a long time, until one drunken night, after she had been involved with another lame boy, I told her how I felt. She kissed away my tears as I went into a hysterical panic and the next day we basically acted like it never happened. I am thankful she didnt want to go there. She did later on and I told her maybe one day when we're in our fifties and tired of boys we can grow old together. We're both in therapy and making strides so who knows?

    1. ::smiles:: It's hard to love someone and know that it's better for you both if you don't act on it. In almost every close friendship I've had there's a point, a moment, where I recognize I can fall for this person. Oddly it happens more often when I have no intention of dating that person and only expect to be friends. Maybe because my guard is down.

      I wish I could have remained friends with her sometimes but the way we ended was not good. There'd already been too much hurt built up. Coupled with the extreme abuse I've dealt with and the fact that she never had, she had no clue just how badly her wrongful accusations affected me. Sometimes things happen like that.

      She didn't know she had a problem though. She was utterly unaware. Maybe if she knew things could have been different. Maybe.

      Both being in therapy is the best scenario I think you can have. BPD is supposed to get better over time, the effects lessen as we age as well. So who knows, maybe by then it'd be perfect for you =) It's a comforting thought if it were to ever happen.

  2. I love it when you love me, and I love it when you hate me. It's the in between that I don't have any interest in.

    1. "you" not being a reference to any particular person.

    2. You enjoy the rollercoaster more than the merrygoround?

    3. Haha sometimes that's quite true MHM.

  3. I am so glad to have found your blog, I suffer with BPD and am drawn towards partners who are similarly afflicted but who tend to not be interested in facing up and dealing with things. I ended the last relationship just over a year ago and I am still suffering from the emotional abuse yet I still feel I will never love or be loved like that ever again. Two wrongs don't make a right though and through cutting that person out of my life completely I feel far more stable and in control than I ever did when we were together. I feel as though people with BPD are drawn together (like birds of a feather) as I have several friends with the diagnosis and more who I can see traits in. The things is with two BPDs in a romantic relationship is they will connect on a deeper level than other couplings with the shared understanding of abandonment and that crippling emptiness - initially this seems like the perfect match and you might believe you can actually 'save' each other however once the honeymoon phase is over, all of those shared understandings go out of the window and those awful feelings poison everything. I do not believe in love anymore - well not of the romantic nature but then my idea of love is the all consuming kind and that isn't made to last. 99% of me feels like this anyway and the remaining 1% lives in fairyland and hopes for the endless passion and happy ever after we see in films.

    1. The thing about films is: we don't actually see an endless passion int he happily ever after. All we see is the glorious beginning of the honeymoon. You don't see the diaper changing, the fights over bills, the pms crankiness, or any of the day to day stresses. You see those first few glorious moments... and that's it. That's it. You never see reality setting in.

      We're lead to believe a lie. Never shown a complete picture, because a complete picture doesn't exist fairy tales and cartoons. It's sad, but it's true.

      Eventually passion fades. The intensity of new love becomes comfortable desire. Sometimes I think we crave that intensity so much that we forget to live in the real world. We don't realize that comfortable day-to-day living, doesn't mean our partners don't care, it just means that their love has evolved to a new place. Our emotions are always so intense that we feel like that passion should always be there because we run on such an emotional high that we don't realize that other people don't have the same chemical experience. It's not that they love us less. In fact, they may often love us more. Love us more maturely in a way that has moved beyond that initial physical lust that always makes us need to rip each others clothes off and get inside one another immediately. In a healthy, fully romantic relationship I thikn the steady comfort of wanting that person by your side for now and forever replaces some of that tear your clothes off now lust. But it's not as easily readable to the BPD mind. When someone is constantly pawing you to be in their bed it's an obvious validation of their need for us. When they reach a point where their feelings have matured to long lasting appreciation and not just physical desire, the physical intensity often subsides a bit. To our minds this translates as they don't desire us as much. They're not paying attention to us as much. Maybe their needs are being met elsewhere. Maybe we don't mean as much anymore. Maybe they don't need us as much now.... because we can't SEE how they feel. We can't live in your brain so we'll never have 100% proof.

      That display of constant physical desire at the beginning of relationships is as near to "proof" that we're important, as we can see. When a normal relationship starts to "cool down" and advance, we're sort of still stuck in that need for intensity phase. It's often said that people with BPD are stuck at the emotional maturity level of a 3 year old. It's kind of like that with romantic desire as well. We know what we can see and experience. We can't create a tangible, documentable display for "comfortable security". There's no "proof" that someone "just enjoys being with us." There is however proof that someone lusts and desires for us incredibly. We can feel the physical passion and desire someone has when they see us and immediately want to rip our clothes off and fuck til our eyes cross. That we can take stock of. How do you take stock of "enjoying someone's presence" when you're not that person? See? It's a matter of being able to understand.

  4. Hi Haven,

    I'm in a relationship with another borderline. I think you have it in that we do have a lot of insight through therapy and that gives us a pretty deep understanding of what is happening between us and when things go wrong. Our arguments get very ridiculous and "borderline" but we know that time will heal and we are more careful about button pushing. I'm quite avoidant really and keep my emotions close but she is a different sort of borderline and works hard to bring love and emotional strength to our relationship. I feel loved and it doesn't scare the crap out of me. She has to work hard I suspect to get those feelings from me but I bring her the stability that she desperately needed. I guess we are very co-dependant but it seems to work well.

  5. hello,
    Im not really sure where I stand on this matter and neither me nor my ex-hopefully-not-ex-again have been diagnosed with BPD but my father has and im pretty sure his father has. We dated for a year on and off and are still on and off. we were both very verbally abusive to each other but connected a deeper level than anyone i have ever connected with. when we are good we are perfect soulmates but when we are bad we absolutely hate each other and we dont hide that. its a tough situation we have put ourselves in and sometimes i just want a way out but others i feel like i owe it to him and myself to try hard because we both deserve the effort and are perfect when we are on good terms. i dont know how to get help or if our relationship can just be labeled as dysfunctional or if i should get out for both of our sakes or what. neither of us have the money to get a psychiatrist or whatever it takes to figure out emotional problems and i dont know how to make it work but really would love to see it to in the end. any words of advice?

  6. Wanting to rip someones clothes off and get busy may or may NOT have anything to do with love. Intensity is NOT intimacy. INTENSITY is driven by new attraction combined with emotional drama and by it' s very nature is temporary, unpredictable, grasping. The newness will always wear off. True intimacy does not wear off.... it grows deeper over time so that even a person's flaws regarding their physical imperfectons (for everyone with body dysmorphia)... these things that you fixate on .....are just areas of deep endearment .....inspiring more love.... deeper love....mature and committed love.
    For people with BPD the issue is that true intimacy (the currency of all long term committed relationships) seems beyond your emotional capacity to sustain over time and therefore I don't understand how you can remain in a relationship for very long without just going through the motions on your end. LOVE ISN'T something you figure out how to GET or KNOW if someone feels for you...... it's both a feeling and a decision , a promise to be an EMOTIONALLY responsible life partner capable of sustaining an ever evolving and deepening love. YOU will still want to make love, perhaps not as often or with the same intensity as the honeymoon ,but it comes from a DEEPER place in the heart, one of safety and comfort built on mutual memories and emotional equity that is accumulated over TIME. Please be upfront and honest with those you consider emotional and/or physical involvement that you have BPD and consequently have a difficult time with commitment.

    1. I'm guessing you do not have body dysmorphia. While these may be points of endearment for the partner, they are still a source of intense anxiety for the person suffering from them. Even if they don't have BPD.

      I'm not sure what your question is. I've never tried to figure out love. It's not a system to game. It's more something to hold onto. Something we're afraid to lose.

      Intensity doesn't always disappear with BPD because intensity is tied to our abandonment and our anxiety.

      It's never been about going through the motions. Going through the motions in a relationship is something I imagine someone would do when they're bored or just trying to get by. That's not how it is with BPD. With BPD it's all about trying to keep your partner close, but not too close. Depending that "type" of Borderline you are... making them happy, doing whatever you can to ensure those fears of abandonment won't be realized... however this can often turn into resentment if these efforts aren't reciprocated or noticed.

      For someone with BPD it's not so simple as making a promise to be emotionally responsible. Believe me it's not that we don't want to be, but we're often coming from places of abuse or trauma with deeply ingrained maladaptive coping mechanisms that don't allow us to trust and maintain ulterior ways of protecting ourselves first and foremost.

      Most people with BPD don't understand what safety and comfort is so it's often difficult for us to just give that. We have to learn those things.

      Finally, being upfront and honest with someone, essentially a stranger, that we have a mental illness at the beginning of a relationship... is a touchy subject. One that I doubt many people would be willing to open up about until some amount of trust has been developed.

  7. Please reply to this last blog, as I'm interested in the BPD perspective. Thanks


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