Occasionally in my interweb exploration I run across checklists created by people who have lived with someone with Borderline Personality Disorder. I recognize that these people are trying to “help” and provide insight from the point of view of those effected, but it’s often a very narrow perspective that perpetuates stereotypes and only focuses on the negatives. My biggest problem is that often these things are created after having only been involved with one, maybe two, people suffering BPD. It’s just not a disorder that is so clean cut and one or two experiences cannot give you an accurate depictions of how this presents. That said. I found this list on characteristics of the Borderline Waif that I’d like to take a look at.
- The Waif often does not rage externally. They do not lash out and put you down like other Borderlines. Instead, their rage is held or directed inside. Quite true.
- The Borderline Waif is often very feminine, and demure. This has about the same chance of being true that pointing to any female has. I identify most strongly with what is considered a Borderline Waif – and while I often look quite feminine, demure and submissive are not traits I embody.
- They often display an immature nature or speak in a youthful voice. This made me laugh. I put on a youthful voice when I’m really stressed and exhausted and just want to be snuggly. It’s cute. Otherwise no. Haha, my voice is typically too low to be the youthful childlike voice I think he means.
- The Borderline Waif is often a high-functioning Borderline. They have professional careers and perform well there. I can see this.
- They have an incredible ability to put on a happy, fun front socially, keeping their true self hidden from social and professional acquaintances. I agree. Personal life should be checked at the professional door. I think this should apply to pretty much anyone. Being self-aware and pretty bright, also modest ;), it’s a pretty simple deduction to realize that if you’re always depressed, mopey, in crisis, and unhappy with the things going through your head you’re going to alienate yourself from people and be even more lonely. Being alone is generally the last thing we want to do so yes, we keep our personal problems to ourselves and only disclose them to people that we are most intimate with.
- They play the victim role well. They appear in need of your help and often are readily accepting the help and assistance from others, but still seeing themselves as independent.
- They are very sexual and often move very quickly into sexual situations. I am very sexual. My sexuality is a great tool and just a part of my personality. However I don’t move quickly into sexual situations with men. Not ever. With women it’s a different story, but I have had too much trauma with men to not be wary of their motives and I don’t let this happen quickly.
- They do not accept responsibility and rarely if ever are they the source of their life’s troubles. Heh, we’re usually the main source of our daily life’s troubles. The problem here is that often it’s not obvious that something was our responsibility because we perceive situations so differently. No one takes responsibility for things they don’t believe is their fault. If you genuinely believe you’ve been wronged, even if it’s technically a product of our hypersensitivity, for instance, it’s not going to be apparent to us that we’ve even done anything wrong. That said, when I do realize that I’ve fucked up, I’m very quick to apologize, accept responsibility, and try to make things better. I don’t want to lose people I need in my life. Hurting them and allowing them to remain hurt is a pretty poor way to keep someone around. Often Borderlines will quickly flip into overcompensation for something they feel they did wrong in a desperate attempt to not lose someone.
- They are usually highly-intelligent. Sure? I would group this with High-Functioning more than just Waif. Then again, being highly-intelligent (or varying degrees of intelligent) may be a big part of the why people experience Borderline Personality Disorder differently. The more intelligent, the greater than chance for enhanced self-awareness which is going to not only make us hypersensitive to the world around us, but also to how we affect our world and provide a more focused (though still distorted) picture of how we interact with it.
- They are a thing of beauty and rely on their beauty as a tool to get what they want. I’d totally be lying if I said I didn’t take advantage of my physical attributes to make some areas of my life easier. If I've got it, I might as well use it to my advantage. It’s a mixed blessing and often a hindrance so it’s not something I do all the time. For instance, at work, I try to downplay my physical attractiveness as much as possible, dress more like the guys, and take on more responsibility and ask for less help than I should to enhance my credibility. I’m already alternative, it’s not easy to be taken seriously in a male dominated, conservative professional environment, when you’re a small, attractive, alternative, female.
- In the beginning of the relationship, they will make you feel like the best person in the world in their eyes. Until you’ve been devalued in my mind, I will always treat you and make you feel as if you’re the best person in the world. Generally. That doesn’t mean I won’t freak out or become afraid and push away at times when I am concerned about whatever it is that has me on edge, and true, I’m sure people don’t feel very great if I’m reacting poorly to something at them, but I wouldn’t try to pull them back if they weren’t still idealized and the person I needed most in the world.
- The Borderline Waif will often become VERY clingy and display jealousy. I definitely have a jealous streak but I refuse to be clingy. As much as I might like to be more affectionate at times, I overcompensate by being even more independent and forgiving of absences or physical separateness.
- The Waif will often abandon you when they fear you will leave them. Like most Borderlines, they are terrified of abandonment. Yeah, this is Borderlines in general, not just a Waif characteristic.
- The Waif will often be a sad, empty individual who pops in and out of depression. Sad, empty, hollow, depressed… these are characteristics of Borderlines in general, or you know, just someone that deals with depression.
- You will feel a constant push / pull dynamic in the relationship. Again, this occurs with most Borderlines.
- You may know very little about them, as they guard themselves and their intimate feelings. When you look at the relationship, you may realize it is very surface-level. There’s a reason for this. I haven’t met many people that guard themselves purely for the sake of being distant. There’s usually some actual trauma there that inspired this need. For me, I don’t hold surface-level or superficial relationships. If I’m involved with someone I certainly hide a lot of things. I don’t discuss a lot of my trauma, I keep my worse feelings to myself (this is usually due to fear of rejection and a mentality that if we’re too high-maintenance or sensitive or not that persons ideal (what we perceive as that persons ideal) we’ll be left) …. However, I’m very open with pretty much everything else. And eventually I even open about that other stuff, but it is little by little. It’s not all at once, and it’s never right away. No logical person is going to disclose the most intimate and hurtful or vulnerable issues they’ve dealt with to someone they don’t trust and are not close to.
- The Waif Borderline may have a history of being in therapy for depression or bipolar disorder. Bipolar? Yes, it’s often misdiagnosed but what? (I’ll eventually be doing a series on BPD vs. Bipolar). This sounds like a judgment on being in therapy which I don’t approve of. Shouldn’t it be considered a good thing if you’re having trouble that you’ve decided to seek help and make your life better? I’ve dealt with depression my whole life. I never decided to seek therapy until I lived with my Evil-Ex and needed help dealing with the abusive environment I was living in.
I throw in my 2 cents about most things, but it’s good to keep in mind that obviously not everyone presents how I do. This is my personal experience. Some people may fit this list perfectly and that’s ok too. My goal is to provide a little more insight into the diversity of how people suffering with BPD actually experience things and to show that there is certainly the possibility for a different experience.
Also, important to remember is that these may be Waif characteristics, but ONLY if the person is actually Borderline. Which, means you meet at least 5 of the 9 diagnostic criteria for BPD. Simply reading this list, it could be describing anyone that is hypersensitive, codependent, depressed, histrionic, or just someone that’s immature with low self-esteem.
So what might be some more positive characteristics of the Borderline Waif? Well…
· They’ll probably go out of their way to make sure you have everything they can think of to make your life easier.
· They’ll spend a lot of time endearing themselves to you by doing your favorite things for you unprompted (making favorite dishes, making sure the house is in order, buying outfits they think you’ll appreciate, etc).
· They’ll be quick to respond to your needs.
· They’ll be very aware of your moods and often moderate their own behavior accordingly.
· Hearing “no” to sex/general sexy fun time, probably won’t happen too frequently, if ever (… unless you happen to be someone with BPD that has an aversion to sex, often due to abuse or trauma. I want to talk about this more in the future as well. People with BPD are often typed as being hypersexual, which I am, but there’s also the very real experience of being almost sexually avoidant).
· To reiterate, there probably won’t be the kind of outward anger, aggression, and exploding fights that can occur with BPD.
· There’s a lot of self-sufficiency. At the same time there’s a desire for less self-sufficiency but we’ll hope you do it because you want to and often won’t come out and ask. This is also just a dumb female expectation in general.
I’m sure there are other perks. If you do find yourself involved with a Borderline there are worse attributes that you could become entangled with. That’s not to diminish or dismiss the severity of these problems, they are generally just as traumatic and disruptive, but they are held inside instead of taken out on those around them. Like any relationship there’s compromise and taking the Cons with the Pros. I admit that with BPD there’s more Cons to take into consideration that normal, but doesn’t mean we’re bad people or all bad all the time.