Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Why are Borderlines so attractive? Part 1: Flexible Sense of Self

Whoever I want me to be

With all the emotional insecurity, the volatile mood swings, and the fear of closeness AND abandonment, why is it that Borderlines never seem to have a problem attracting mates?

The thing to keep in mind. Attracting people is easy. It’s keeping them that is usually the problem.

Here’s the thing. I’m one crazy bird sometimes. When I’m out on the town though, that all manages to come across in the best, most attractive way possible.

This is all purely speculation on my part, but after hanging out with Zoe (my best Broderline friend) this weekend I was reminded of how we can appear to people and just how easy it is to draw people to us.

Two things really stand out for me:

1.      Flexible sense of self
2.     Mirroring

So let’s talk about numero uno.

Flexible Sense of Self

I am whoever I want to be in whatever moment I happen to be living in. Evil-Ex used to tell me I was like living with different people, to the point where he thought I might have multiple personalities.

When I’m out on the town, dancing, drinking, meeting new people, I can be me, but I don’t have to be. But that’s not quite right. I’m the me that I want to be. I can forget about all my problems and none of those things have to be real for me for an evening. Instead I am beautiful, funny, intelligent, outgoing, charming, and witty with just a hint of sexuality and seduction thrown in. All things that are certainly a part of me, but it’s just that… just a part. Not a whole. Who the hell throws out all their baggage and goes constantly emotional and emo in public all the time when you’re just having a fun night out? Not me, that’s for damn sure. So when I meet people when I’m out having a good time, all they see is the magic that is me.

And I remember that is the person they expect to see. Want to see. Were drawn to in the first place. Somewhere in the back of my mind (ok who am I kidding, it’s lurking like a big creeper constantly looming around the corner) is that fear that if this person realizes I have “issues”, have baggage, don’t have this projection of a perfect life I appear to have, they’ll be disappointed that I’m human, and leave. That thought sucks. So I often try to keep up the pretense as long as possible.
It’s fun to be the life of the party sometimes. I went out with Zoe, just us, to a lovely wine bar and instantly we had the bar owners and a few guys gravitating to us and engaged in conversation for hours. We even managed to easily convince these nice straight guys (both married, both aware that we were in monogamous relationships) to come out with us to a gay bar just to keep the night going. No trying, it just happened.

Talking to my Sister this weekend we realized that we both have this natural ability to sense what other people like, what other people need, and what other people are attracted to. Without thinking or realizing we do it, it is natural for us to give that to them. Even if it means that the person that we are shifts in subtle ways to accommodate what we think they want. Fortunately, or unfortunately, as the case may be, we’re often very successful. This is great for awhile because we appear to be the perfect mate. Always in tune with what our significant other wants and needs, and happy to give that to them.

Then of course, inevitably it happens that we eventually have a crisis of identity. The shifts are subtle at first, but after a while it can take over and the person we see in the mirror is no longer recognizable to who we once were. Part of who we are is the kind of person that wants to make the other person happy. But we go about it in a way that is unhealthy. The real kicker though, is that it’s not a conscious effort. It happens without us having to think about it, identify it, or making a decision to be a different way. At least that happens with me.

It’s sad though. When I’m single, and not in a constant state of depression, I actually like who I am. I may hate my body, but who I am as a person is pretty spiffy. I’m very artistic, intelligent, creative, athletic, blah blah blah, the point is, I believe I have a lot of redeeming qualities. Things I don’t actually want to lose. But I can get so caught up in making things perfect for someone else that I forget to worry about me. I forget, or become afraid, to just be the person that I am. Which yes, is a person that has been broken, has problems, but is working on them and is healing. I intuitively pick up on what other people want, that I forget to just be me.

In an instant I feel suffocated by that realization. It often causes me to pull back and need time to myself to reconnect with me, but it leaves the other person feeling blindsided because they have no idea what just happened. I always feel bad.

It’s like an identity crisis within an identity crisis. Part of me is the kind of person that likes to take care of the people I care about, that wants the people around me to be happy. That stuff is certainly real. But I’m not the kind of person that is ok with losing myself in the process. So I am this kind of person, but not in the way that my mind goes about doing it. Except clearly I am because it happens so often. But I don’t want to be. But, but, but… it’s not an easy conflict to reconcile.

Especially when I like to be this person that breaks out of my own mental shackles and lets loose, forgets the fear, releases the mental anguish, and appears totally care free and emotionally uninhibited. I wish I was that kind of person and I enjoy being that person even if it’s just for a night. With strangers I can be free to release all these crazy ideas and wild conversations that I have, I can smile, and charm the pants right off of the people around me. And I do. Easily. I love strangers. There’s no expectations there. No pressure. And usually they’re gone at the end of the night so theirs no obligation… except every now and again one finds their way back and I never want them to wonder what happened to this amazing woman they met the other night.
Rinse. Repeat.

People are often attracted to me, because I can be everything {I think} they want me to be. There's something for everyone in my personality because there's something of everyone in my personality.

Every man wants to date her, every woman wants to be her. It’s like my brains motto, but it forgot to let me in on the joke. 

Will you, won't you.... Join me for Part 2: Mirroring ?


  1. Wow I totally know what you mean! My ex husband used to say he wasnt ever gonna date another actress because he could never tell when I was being genuine. He never realized that I was being genuine... that Im just genuinely ingenuine most of the time lol. I dont think people realize that we are what we are and its not consciously manipulative it is just how we are. I really mean what i say when i say it.

    1. Genuinely ingenuine! Hah. Love it.

      Exactly. I am happy, and carefree, and wild, and charming... it's just not all the time, and usually in specific places.

      The whole Borderline manipulation stigma used to/still really bothers me sometimes. I understand what people mean when they say we are manipulative, but at the same time I feel this is inaccurate because it's not like we're sitting down and devising an evil plot to get people to do what we want. No. It's something that more often then not, we're not even aware that we're doing. Ugh.

    2. "I dont think people realize that we are what we are and its not consciously manipulative it is just how we are. I really mean what i say when i say it."

      "I understand what people mean when they say we are manipulative, but at the same time I feel this is inaccurate because it's not like we're sitting down and devising an evil plot to get people to do what we want. No. It's something that more often then not, we're not even aware that we're doing. "

      This is important for a non to hear. She always used to tell me that I must just accept that she changes. This sounds like total BS to a neuro-typical, so I for one believed she WAS devising evil plots. Thanks for confirming this.

      Here's a question. Do you think this transient perception of self diminishes with treatment?

  2. ya I am like that , like I know what people want, I'm a people pleaser so i do a lot of stuff for people and I guess I attract people because I'm nice.

  3. Interesting, this definitely gave me some insight into why I was attracted to a few of my ex's...

  4. One thing the author doesn't mention (or isn't aware of) is the ability to read people not to make them happy, but for our survival. We understand everything about people very quickly, and we alter ourselves to gain power over them. (If we can manipulate them, we can control them.)

    And, yes, we do suffer and die a little bit with every encounter. If our prey gives us something we need (namely love and time), what was a predatory drive on our part turns into submission, and we alter our personalities so that we won't be abandoned (our biggest fear). This is where the crisis begins; we are now powerless, and our true self is neglected. The constant facade leads to confusion over what is real; we never relax; we're constantly pulled in two directions (and it can complicate with more selves forming to fill in gaps, to protect the parts that are hurting - and that says nothing about the selves who were born in relation to other people). Often, there is little to no control over this splitting. We feel alone, afraid, and very angry - all of the time. We do not love; we can't. Love requires vulnerability and trust. We hunger for love. But we are self-destructing, creating fractured relationships, and leaving ourselves open to abuse...and the inevitable abandonment.

    And time goes by. The cycle repeats and repeats and repeats.

    "Like a soul without a mind in a body without a part, I'm missing every part." - Massive Attack

    1. Yes, I agree. Fundamentally, this is for our own reasons. We want to make other people happy, be who they want, because the underlying reason is that we want something for ourselves, their attention, their companionship, their love. And shifting the way we shift is one way that allows us to do this.

      Beautifully said. All of it.

  5. i am like you to the tee in this respect. i can't be more accessible and alluring, funny, etc. Thank god that shit's real and not in my mind.. It's very much a part of getting outside my doom and gloom although I hadn't realized this At ALL till I realized just how typically borderline I must be. This is indeed thanks to you and a few others (you know who you are). I'm looking forward to reading how you mirror. I've been doing that for years. I had no idea that was another reason I'm oh so very very attractive ( Lo freakin L ! If people only knew what I'm like on the inside... Ha. No wonder I've felt like a fraud my entire life.)

    I love you Haven.

  6. Not only that. In my head, I'd been thinking I must be a really narcissist to think people are so attracted to me. Nope.

    1. ::laughs:: I have almost no narcissistic traits (NPD wise... what I consider Borderline Narcissism is different), anyways, I've always known people were very attracted to me. It's just a fact. People are drawn to me and constantly try to date me or fuck me if I decide to be social. It's not narcissism if stuff like that actually happens.

      What I can't grasp is why? People tell me wonderful things about myself and I just don't see it. I think I'm pretty but people seem to think I'm beautiful. Stuff like that. I'm just so used to me and I don't see myself the way other people seem to. It always confuses me.

    2. Me too. It's been a goal of mine to accept I'm beautiful (on the inside and out). If others think so I should, too.

      Why? With me, I say "yes" to everything in my path that is remotely interesting. It's kind of ADD -ish. People feel heard. It isn't usually because I'm enamored with them, although that happens. But I think a lot of people take it like that. They're flattered. I need to reign in where my focus goes or else I get sucked into weirdness.

      I think I do have narcissism about some things. It's pretty inconsistent, and it isn't that I think I'm oh so great. -I have more on the ball than a lot of people. I am allowed to be narcissistic about that.

  7. I get such a high on those nights when I am irresistible to others, I feel amazing, like I can do anything. I immediately study and evaluate a new person, their mannerisms, body language, and I will quickly morph into what they want. It's so easy to become what someone else needs, I can just check out, and be someone else.
    When I meet new people and assess them and become the new person, I LOVE it. I'm very aware of what I am doing and I love that I can do it. It's sick, but it's one hell of a power trip.
    Coming down from it, however, hits me like a brick to the face! After a night out I just lay awake, overcome with my lack of stimulation, and I resent my life. Wanting to go back to that unstoppable attractive person, but now I'm left alone with all my self-loathing and confusion.
    My husband too, says it's like living with different people. We will get into a huge fight and I will be hateful and miserable, but then 5 minutes later I meet someone in a store, or a friend stops by, and I'm transformed. Then the second that person is gone, I'm glowering and unpredictable again.

    What Bella said about if only people knew what she was like on the inside, I get that sooo much! That's something I think almost daily. If people could see inside my crazy, compartmentalized, unfeeling little world they would have nightmares for life. LOL!

    This blog is awesome. As we know, we love to feel like someone understands us, so I'm manically thrilled to tear through every entry in this and feed off of everything you say! ;)

    1. You're definitely not alone here, that's for sure.

      I absolutely know what you mean about that high. I slip into an almost hypomanic state and my energy is radiant. Sometimes I'm calculating, more often then not though, for me that morph just happens naturally without me having to think about it.

      I can see what people need and I want to be the one they call when they need it.

      One of the things I love so much about this blog is the ability to put all of those crazy little thoughts, out there, out of my head, where I can see them. In real life, people would never guess these things go through my mind.

    2. Oh and I definitely feel that social drain afterwards.

    3. Hi there. I am a person who was just devastated by a person who acts the way you are all describing. I am acutely aware that the manipulation is not intentional, but the way things turn out in these relationships is very hurtful when the high comes down and the loathing occurs, and then anger towards the partner for not understanding the complicated feelings. I was blamed for not doing anything right. SO i tried over and over to please, then a high would occur and I would feel like I had a hit of drugs, but then I would somehow disappoint, then she could abandon me. She broke up with me 7 times in total. I know the saying fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. Fool me 7 times... I think I am trying to state how it feels to be on the recieving end. Please be aware of your affect on others. I committed for the whole relationship and was continuously abandoned. And I wasn't strong enough to walk away because I really loved the girl I was with and was committed. SO please finish what you start. If you want in be in. If you want out be out. Don't play with peoples hearts. It hurts more than I can ever describe.

    4. Hi Bruce,

      I'm sorry you went through what you did. If it's any consolation I'm sure she was just as devastated as you were. You have to understand that it's not as simple as you want it to be. We don't want to hurt anyone as as you said it's not intentional.

      You can't simply say to someone please finish what you start because when someone is mentally ill and unaware of it, they aren't receiving the help they need. Even when they are receiving the help they need that doesn't mean the person they are with is necessarily the right person for them. Relationships are complicated creatures as sometimes they simply don't work out.

  8. My husband too, says it's like living with different people. We will get into a huge fight and I will be hateful and miserable, but then 5 minutes later I meet someone in a store, or a friend stops by, and I'm transformed. Then the second that person is gone, I'm glowering and unpredictable again.

    That kind of think would infuriate a lot of people. Your husband doesn't mind?

    I can be a social butterfly and go to the bathroom mid party to rest my self, look in the mirror and feel like a beautiful ugly person. Does anyone relate?

    1. He hasn't vocalized it if he does mind. Or perhaps I haven't noticed. We're going through a rough patch right now and I'm very self-involved with my resentment towards him. Lots of Black and white thinking.
      I can relate to that. I whisper-scream at myself in the mirror occasionally when I think I'm being especially fake. I'm not being fake, per say, it's just that I know that I'm completely miserable inside and putting on a facade of a happy well-balanced person without problems. Instead of dealing with it I choose to 'check out' and be someone else.
      Like Haven says, she doesn't understand what people mean when they say what a great person she is. I feel that too, like everyone can see all these awesome things that make ME, but I don't see any of it. I see faults. I see what's really in my head and heart. Does anybody really know anybody? And also, us with BPD, will we ever truly know ourselves? I know few things about myself, and I learn more as I pay attention and relate to people like you and Haven.
      Sites like this help me know that I am not alone and that it's not my fault that I feel that way I do.
      I feel that the true me is inside my head, locked away in this big glass box. And every time I go looking for the key the lights turn off. I don't know how to find myself.

    2. I relate with seeing a beautiful ugly person in the mirror. That is if I recognize myself at all. I've taken to avoiding looking at my face in the mirror lately. If I'm doing my eye make up I'll only look at my eyes, not my whole face. The outside might be pretty but beauty comes from within and I don't always believe what is inside counts enough to not make me ugly.

      I don't think anyone will ever truly know another person because you can't actually be that other person. I also don't think anyone can ever completely know themselves because people are not static creatures. We are dynamic. We change. As we grow, we learn, we incorporate new things. All of these things make us who we are, but it's ever evolving.

    3. -This is going to sound a little disjointed; I wrote this out and then it disappeared, so I'm trying to remember all I wrote!-

      I think I really am just learning who I really am and what is important to me. Last year I met 3 people who really loved baseball, so suddenly I loved baseball! I went to every game with them, bought merchandise, learned the players, I was so into it. Sometimes after an away game they would call me and ask if I watched the game on tv. I'd say I had to work or something; as they weren't with me so it hadn't occurred to me to watch the game. A few times I would put the game on tv, but I always got bored and distracted. I would read my book instead of watching, I might catch a few plays and the end score so I had something to talk about with them. I truly thought that I loved baseball! But really I loved sharing their joy and experience at the game, I think I watched their faces more than the game.
      I know a few things about me that are true. I love animals, art amazes me, I like beautiful things, I'm fascinated by people with mental handicaps like down syndrome (weird I know), I really like Blooming Onions, I'm attracted to both sexes, I love smelling things, I can never get enough Thai food...these things don't change based on my influences. I'm trying to learn more and pay attention to my true feelings.
      I feel like Peeta sometimes- "Real? Not real?"

  9. For me it's better to think I'm fake and socialize than not. I have a rough time with this one because I really am caught between being myself and constantly asking myself what I want. I can't ever make up my mind but I can't stop living and I won't stop digging for my real self. Oh it's in there somewhere, all right.

    No. I don't think anyone really knows anyone. I may be projecting that onto the world because I feel mixed up and unpredictable. And if I say that outloud to normal people I think they think I'm weird and morose. But it's the truth. Most people are hypocrites and unpredictable. I have to be careful and kind to myself and I think I crave predictability in others. < < That's the kicker.

    1. "For me it's better to think I'm fake and socialize than not. I have a rough time with this one because I really am caught between being myself and constantly asking myself what I want. I can't ever make up my mind but I can't stop living and I won't stop digging for my real self. Oh it's in there somewhere, all right."

      I fight with this. Somedays I can't stand the thought of playing the games and I lock myself away. I need my solitude sometimes though I would prefer to have company even if it were in silence. With no pressure, no expectations to be more than I am, or something that I'm not. Other days I just want company.

      Fortunately I've worked hard to get rid of the people I feel the need to be fake for. I still have a little of this going on romantically, but the friends I have now are generally away of my issues and I don't always have to act. This is a major relief.

      Craving predictability is something that I think most Borderlines crave. Control. Certainty. Assurance. It's the uncertainty in life that leaves all the room for doubt and unexpected consequences to happen.

  10. I've just started a relationship where for the first time the person I'm with has noticed and drawn to my attention some of my behaviours that I've been 'getting away with' for a long time. He says when we are around other people he feels like sometimes he doesn't recognise me and that he feels confused and hurt sometimes because I'll suddenly reveal new information to strangers. I've always found it easy to draw out similarities between myself and other people and have been told that my body language Including eye contact engages others and puts them at ease. I want to badly to be loved and yet have consistently chosen partners who have cheated on me and lied to me and others who I have been able to control completely and have become bored with easily. My current partner is challenging me in a way I never have and making me feel very safe but I've now started old behaviours from the past such as constantly critisising my appearance and weight and starting to become jealous when we are out in public. Ive never been diagnosed but I find myself seeking out information on BPD and am actually shocked by how easy I relate to everything on this blog. Before I met my current boyfriend I was married and my husband tried to seduce my so called best friend and when we split up to deal with the pain I was sleeping around like a fiend and although I've told my boyfriend about some of the encounters I find myself feeling terrified find out and leave me. Even though he has told me that he feels like I have so many secrets and I only show him what I want him to see and I need to stop because he'll love me
    No matter what...i still find myself concealing parts of me to keep myself safe....I'm completely rambling but I'm so overwhelmed by how much I recognise myself in all of your posts....

    1. ::smiles:: Ramble away. I know I do. A lot of why I write is to relate my experiences in hopes that if others have gone through something similar, they can know they aren't alone in feeling that way.

      It sounds like you've had a very difficult time with relationships and trust, which as you'll have noticed from what I write, is common for me, and for most people with BPD. I have the same problem with feeling like I need to keep secrets and hide parts of who I am. I've learned that it's ok to not tell people everything at once. It's important to do things when you're ready, but real trust takes effort and it does take sharing those confidences. I'm finding out with my current Boy that the things I'm afraid he'll react negatively to, are only a figment of my imagination. I catastrophize and make things worse in my own mind, but the real world rarely ever works that way when you're with someone that is genuinely decent. So maybe give it a try. Small things first, one thing at a time, and see how it grows.

  11. I can fit in anywhere. Must be that we learn to be what others want so they want us and want to stay with us. When I discovered that it's better to be yourself (whatever that is) and have people accept you for you, warts and all, I found my relationships were less painful and actually longer lasting. All that chameleon changing stuff is hard to keep up.

    1. The chameleon is difficult to maintain and yes, I do think it's a defense against potential abandonment.

      It's funny. I always start out as being just myself. Determined not to change for anyone. It's not until I've let those rare people in that I find I've begun to do things differently. I need to watch out more for it.

      And besides. If you can find people that like you for who you are, you can make them happy without all the extra effort of being something you're not. win-win.

  12. "happy, and carefree, and wild, and charming" simply sounds like the manic state that BPD people are often in that is full of impulsiveness, hyperactivity and excess of energy.

    A girl I recently met who seems to have BPD flirts with everyone, if she goes out, she will stand out by wearing quite provocative clothes. Both the looks and the flirty attitude bring people towards her... Why? Because she seems "easy" (sorry to put it bluntly, but yes men-hunters know which woman can give it to them easily)...

    At the end of the day she will at times feel used, or that everyone approaches her for sex(she will never admit being flirty)... some other times she will try to cover up her frustration by just saying "but I have fun" or "this is who I am". Having admirers boosts her ego, it's a self destructing and wasteful approach though. The pool of admirers always needs supply...

  13. philosopherqueenoftheuniverseSeptember 2, 2013 at 12:57 PM

    I keep coming back to this entry.

    It terrifies me.

    This is what it is. If I can manage this, the thorough enmeshment mirroring fuckery, all of it LIES, conscious and not, I can live a good life. Because I, too, have learned to like myself when I'm alone.

    But my soul heightens to such cosmic place when I'm seducing someone. Like it is, right now. I need my wise mind to kick in before we fall

  14. haven i was wondering if you got my email, i only ask because my phone hasnt been sending things lately, and i wrote a pretty long letter lol

    Its Jeremy Smith


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