Thursday, March 8, 2012

Love is a Battlefield - How do Borderlines fight?

In line with this unintentional relationship theme a Reader mentioned that it seems Borderlines have two patterns:

1) Leave suddenly, altogether, final, game the hell over.

2) Leave and come back constantly.

"With my borderline, it's #2 and I like to think its cause she is attached and can't/doesn't want to leave. The first time though, I thought and reacted like it was #1 because the experience was so emotional and in my world it meant game over. Not to her. Now I see her pattern as her way to regulate her feelings. Close, closer, love....BAM you are bad, bad, bad to reduce the feelings to a manageable place. Then repeat."

What do you see as underlying this difference?

I agree that these do seem to be the overarching patterns with BPD. I have certainly been encompassed by both at varying times.

I think some of it has to do with whether a person with BPD is more prone to Acting In or Acting Out. When I was younger I Acted Out much more often and had less control over my impulsive behaviors. As a result I would end relationships quickly, break things off, stop speaking to people, then freak out that they were gone and work to pull them back into my life. Even if the reason I broke it off was extremely justified, like an ex cheating on me. I could be furious, and I mean RAGING homicidally furious, but when the anger cooled, I’d miss them, they’d weasel their way back in and I was powerless to prevent my feelings from resurfacing. The result of this was often to hurt us both. Sometimes the hurt I inflicted on people was unintentional. I was just so wounded by whatever happened I lashed out. Other times when I felt justifiably angry, I Acted Out against them, and on purpose. They hurt me, they deserved to know it, and to feel it too.

As I got older I worked to gain more control over myself. I think I did too good of a job though. Now I have almost completely flipped to only Acting In (which is not necessarily any better and not actually healthy either), so instead of acting on my impulsive inclinations I hold them in and let them bottle up until they pop. As we know this doesn’t make things better. This just prevents the ability to release the hurt and work on the problem. The other person may only be hurt once in the end, but the pain inflicted on myself is orders of magnitude greater than it probably would have been if I’d  blown off some steam as it began to build up.

Actions present as extremes. All in or all out. All or nothing. It’s finding that middle ground, a balance, that grey area where we believe we can express ourselves in an honest way in a safe environment that is so hard.

Whether it's displayed as either the first or the second there's always that push-pull going on. In BOTH cases they’re attached and can’t/don’t want to leave. However, in the first case the push-pull is silent. You may not see it, because it’s suppressed to an internal struggle, but it’s probably still happening. It's what I've gone through with Friend and Tech Boy most recently. I get upset, push away, but it's an internal process and I withhold my impulsive inclination to act on it. Things will be going great, until something happens, then they'll be terrible, horrible, and bad, but I don't say anything. I’ll WANT desperately to leave and never see them again, but instead I just hold it all in, storing it up. Then if our next interaction is better, it kind of ‘corrects’ the negative feelings I had previously. Until the next “bad” incident.

It's almost better to have many episodes of expressed push-pull because you could actually deal with problems as they blow up and there's a chance to get back together or work things out. When you hold everything in until it's too late to deal with, until the resentment has festered into a gaping emotional wound, all that’s left is to amputate the cause, there's no going back and the relationship has to be severed.

A lot of it comes from fear. Fear of being vulnerable, fear of rejection, fear that you will not love them the way that that they love you. So when they become closer, realize they are creeping into a more vulnerable place, they rail against the vulnerability to keep themselves safe. It doesn't actually work though. It still hurts like hell, which is why someone with BPD will pull back and return to the person they care about.

Then there’s the problem of how close do we want to let someone. There’s this weighing in our mind about whether someone is likely to hurt us or not. Whether someone should be allowed the chance. Are they are worth the investment and potential pain? Even if the answer is ‘yes’ - sometimes especially if the answer is ‘yes’ - it’s more of a reason to push someone away. We see the danger from the start and have to decide if we want to put ourselves in that position. So often we try not to let ourselves get to close from the get go and cut things off completely before they have a chance to develop into something real, something intimate, something scary. This is often what happens when you first start getting to know someone with BPD. They’re around, they’re great, things seem cool, and then they drop off the face of the Earth.

Relationships, aren’t easy. The reasons for our behaviors that go on in our heads  may not make any sense to you. Hell, they may not make any sense to us. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about these things. In the moment though, all you feel is hurt, anger, pain, suffering, and that sensation is the driving force for the unconscious decision to act or not. These things aren’t generally a calculated maneuver. They’re an overwhelming feeling that we can’t control. When it feels like your world hinges on the last upsetting interaction you’ve had with someone, keeping yourself composed isn’t a consideration.

When the zombie apocalypse happens, you don’t take a step back and consider the implications of running for your life. You just do it.

So how about it? What questions do you have in terms of relationships and Borderline Personality Disorder? Is there a topic you’d like me to attempt exploring?


  1. I love the zombie apocalypse analogy, but then again, coming from us, I think that's pretty self explanatory.

    I'm fascinated by this, and I think this is worth exploring. What I would like to know is, do you think a BPD can ever find true happiness in a relationship? Perhaps a dickish sounding question, but I don't mean it in a cruel way. I only mean it in that, if they're prone to pushing others away and don't like being vulnerable, is the only way for them to find happiness to overcome these obstacles, or is there another way to happiness? If not, it sounds (at least to me) that the routine pushing away always leads to the other person getting frustrated and giving up.

    I'll admit, I dated a girl like this, and after years of being pushed away and her wanting 'out' only to come back, I finally said fuck it, I'm going to find someone that wants to fully commit to me who won't stress me out constantly, and moved on. And now I'm happily married to a woman who has no interest in running or pulling back, and I don't regret it at all.

    1. That's an excellent question and one I ponder often. I'll definitely put some more time and thought into this one and put out what I come up with.

  2. I was sitting here reading your blog (will finish it later) and on tv is Brandon Marshall a pro football player admitting to having bpd. Wow. Cbs this morning.

    1. Yep, I actually posted about that a while back.

    2. I listened to Love is a Battlefield on Pandora this am (before reading your blog) and was thinking it was a bpd anthem. Pandora sometimes has a good sense of humor, because it was followed by Mad World. That one feels like a bpd anthem, too.

      I will check out the link later. Work has been crazy today. At least it distracts me from the junk in my head!

      I also was somewhat disturbed by the commenter above re: finding a non bpd woman to settle down with. My friend has alluded to the fact that my "constant freakouts" are a main reason he wont make me his girlfriend. I have told him about the bpd (after we got back together after I "ruined his life") and he knows I am in therapy, but I feel more broken because I cant seem to control my push/pull with him and my needy overtexting when I ruminate and am desperate to connect (lack of object constancy is a bitch sometimes).

    3. My DBT workbook came from amazon today! Hope it helps!

  3. I'm crying as I read this because it is an endless cycle of hurt, isn't it? Everytime you think you have healed and everything is going to be alright, it happens again. rinse and repeat and we can't even blame people who have left us because we are the one who push them away.

    The question above is interesting. Will we ever find true happiness in relationship? My answer is no, but tell us about what do you think.

    My therapist prescribed seroquel for me but I don't take it because I feel that it is changing me and I'm afraid. My symptoms are my personalities. Take that away from me and I have nothing. I'm afraid that I won't be myself anymore.

  4. My former bpd does both. Game over, I hate you I never want to talk to you again. Until 2 years later haha.

    I wish I had the name for what was wrong during our relationship. After going through it and reading so many posts here, my heart breaks for you all who suffer with this.

    My world had been turned upside down again by someone with bpd, and while I hurt, knowing she will hurt her whole life breaks my heart deeply. I wish you all the best.

    1. Thank you for your kind words and I'm sorry that you have been hurt by this in the process.

  5. two weeks ago i went through a break up with a bpd girl. Days after the break up she still talked to me often and told me she missed me. i dont necessarily want her back but i do still want her in my life. It has now been one week since she has spoken to me. This is the longest we have gone without speaking despite my texts and phone calls. she is already seeing someone new of course. will she ever talk to me again or is she too absorbed in this new "love"?

  6. Until Now, I never knew that this was the name for what I have been experiencing my whole life! I guess I have managed pretty well. I am the "Take it and Take it until I blow" girl. I am with a man who has had serious issues for the past 2 1\2 yrs and I have been emotionally battered. I took what I could get from him in the beginning and then started the push/pull cycle. Whats ironic is that after several doctors and diagnosises his final diagnosis stood as BPD with PTSD. Man did I pick a beutiful mess! I love him dearly and we love and fight so passionately. Its a very volatile relationship. I spent a lot of time reading about fight or flight mode with the PTSD diagnosis and tried everything I could to stick out the pain in our relationship. What I didnt do until the middle of a push/pull breakup...was read about BPD. Then I stumbled on to your site and god bless you because you write every single thing that I feel everyday of my life. OMG! How I ever missed this is beyond me. But now I know why our very passionate relationship is so damn hard. Thank you! I really need to keep reading...this was like a long overdue answer to all of my questions of which I have thousands now. I have read so much already, but I feel so much better knowing that my life has been very misguided and I feel hopeful in trying to fix it. I really paid attention to the BPD/BPD combination blog because I really want this to work... I need more advice. I know its going to be rough, but knowing is half of the battle right?? Its like Im in a war and someone just gave me another sword to fight with. Tell me more. MORE! MORE! MORE!

  7. Hello haven,
    I have been reading your blogs for quite sometime now and am amazed at how accurately you describe the thoughts and mind of a person with bpd.
    I just have a question about which I would like to hear your thoughts on,as my boyfriend has bpd so it's just an effort to understand what he's thinking about our relationship as he is am 'acting on' kind of person and just refuse to talk to me about anything at all..

  8. Whenever I try to talk he would just create some kind of conflict that usually deviates us from the actual problem at hand..I just want to be there for him but he keeps pushing me away ..
    I feel as if he does not wants me to understand him and be there for times he snaps at me when I try to support him.
    Why is he so scared ?what should I do?i just don't want to loose him.

  9. Sorry for the spelling mistakes am just really
    Stressed out at the moment.
    *an "acting in"

  10. I do have a question for you.

    Wonderful blog btw, I admire you courage and honesty.
    What do we do with our promises when BPD just walks away.
    Why does your non, seem not to matter.

    My partner and I have spent two years together, 8 months in I found out about BPD , and Since then I have tried be the support she said she wanted . She told me of how every one left her, betrayed or abused her before. It was not a easy promise I made, but I chose to stay , to love , and to never leave, to provide the security n love always. I have read up , studied , saw my own therapist and done all to understand the part of her that is the hermit BPD . And it does hurt me to see her suffer so. And want to walk beside her on the rocky rd forward. I know I not there to fix it, but to be there if she stumbles, to love unconditionally.
    That was over year ago, and we gone thru a few up downs since then, and I still love n adoremy wonderful woman.
    A month ago, she started to withdraw, I saw the signs. Every time I asked she assured me was just work stress. We planned a holiday, choosing of rings, talked of future, but mostly just hung out, played games, massage, any to help relax . Keep on assur me she is just worried bout work.

    Three weeks ago , says of to sister for a night. Then stays, n goes into a rage n blame projection cycle. A week ago says its over.

    For three weeks I have no contact than intermittent text. Break up , and end of relationship MSG as well. We have had these before, and she always was worried that hurt me too much , that I won't forgive, or I get angry. But was happy that just held love n understanding.

    She says it over, struck out of blue, has not talked of it , internalized the whole thing. I trying to understand why she can't see that my promise binds me, to always be there, that I need to see here eyes to believe that she really wants to go, and it not the fears n anxiety of BPD .. And I need the release of my promises to move on.

    I adore n want my smart sexy woman. I,ll go if it what she wants, but I feel bound by my word n promise to always be there.

  11. Having BPD is a horrifically difficult existence. I consider myself intelligent and high functioning in most areas of my life, with the exception of my way of relating to men, then it's all bets are off. The splitting is terrible, I love you or hate you and when I hate you, I can be so verbally vicious. It's uncontrollable. Then an hour later, you think about it and you start questioning yourself, whether you were justified in your reaction? When someone does something that I perceive to be an abandonment towards me, it's maddening. I say "perceive" because I can't trust my judgement whether it's real or just my perception. And in my mind, I'm back and forth, trying to talk myself in or out of it. Then comes the rage, the verbal attack, the "I'm done with you" and the poor guy has no idea what has happened. Then you feel bad, try to apologize but even then feel unsure if you're right or wrong...and so goes the push/pull. Over and over and over again. There is never and peace in my mind, it is always racing, trying to stay 2 steps ahead, anticipating what can go wrong. Makes me feel like I'm asphixiating.

  12. "Whether it's displayed as either the first or the second there's always that push-pull going on. In BOTH cases they’re attached and can’t/don’t want to leave. However, in the first case the push-pull is silent."

    This is veeeeeeeeeery helpful. I was wondering if I had been split black, and there was no hope for reestablishing a connection. But it seems what you're saying is that she is still attached. Just silently. Thanks!


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

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