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.