Borderlines are sex fiends. All day, every day it’s all we think about, right? Hah. Wrong.
Reckless sex and promiscuity are often a problem for those of us with BPD. It’s something we actually get a lot of attention for. But that’s only one side of it. The more sensational side. I think it’s because of that sensationalism that we get such a bad rap, because there’s a whole different side that doesn't get much attention at all.
You need to remember; Borderline Personality Disorder is a complex combination of nature and nurture. Unfortunately where that nurture is lacking, it’s often replaced my abuse. Sexual abuse can be exceptionally detrimental and will of course, affect how we approach sex in our adult lives. Not only that, but we are also often deeply, deeply self-conscious, stricken with a variety of eating disorders, dysmorphic body image issues and spend an inordinate amount of time perfecting our outward appearance… all to gain some semblance of control where control was taken away from us.
According to Dr. Zanari in the paper, Sexual Attitudes and Activities in Women with Borderline Personality Disorder Involved in Romantic Relationships written by Sebastien Bouchard, Natacha Godbout, “ rates of childhood sexual abuse in the [Borderline Personality Disorder] population can range from 60%-80%”. Can you even imagine the effect that early childhood sexual abuse would have have on a child? Let alone how it would bleed through and contribute to BPD in adulthood.
Insecure attachment is closely associated with sexual motives and feelings. It’s not a surprise that those of us with BPD have an insecure attachment style laced with fear, abandonment, and distrust. It’s almost impossible to imagine that these issues wouldn’t be influenced by this kind of anxious attachment style.
Conclusions in general suggest that people with BPD tend to have signiﬁcant problems with regard to intimate and sexual relationships. These problems seem to be related to heightened sexual impulsivity, reduced sexual satisfaction, in-creased sexual boredom, greater preoccupation with sex, avoidance of sex, and a wide range of sexual complaints (Dulit, Fyer, Miller, Sacks, & Frances,1993; Hull et al., 1993; Hurlbert, Apt, & White, 1992; Stone, 1985; Zanarini et al., 2003; Zubenko, George, Soloff, & Schultz, 1987)
So while, yes, we can often display more permissiveness, it’s also not uncommon for there to be a complete aversion to sexual intimacy as well. For example, in a 2003 study, Dr. Mary Zanarini and colleagues found that people with BPD reported avoidance of sex for fear of experiencing an exacerbation of their BPD symptoms. Not to mention re-living or having flashbacks of the original abuse.
When you’re eating disordered, have a dysmorphic body image, and low self-esteem you tend to be very vulnerable when it comes to your physical appearance. If you’re like me you don’t show this, everyone thinks you love how you look, but inside you “know” what a mess your appearance is. Being uncomfortable in your own skin, by yourself, is one thing. Being uncomfortable in your own skin, with someone else, who you feel is potentially judging you? That you don’t feel like you’re “perfect” with. I can’t tell you the number of times I HAD to avoid going out in public because I was too anxious to function due to how I felt about my appearance. Just go out in public. Not get naked and exposed in front of another person.
“Though it hasn't been studied, there is a sense among doctors that many patients tend to be attractive, which can trigger a vicious cycle,” says Peter Freed, assistant professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, who specializes in BPD. “Being beautiful induces the world to treat you like an object, which naturally gives rise to questions about whether you are loveable, which in turn makes you long for confirmation."
This in turn complicates their intense sexual allure, which is ultimately a kind of survival mechanism. "The intensity of erotic passion can sweep you away, but the motive is double-edged," writes California-based therapist Roger Melton. "One side of it comes from the instinctually built-in, turbulent emotionality of the disorder…But the other side of is driven by an equally instinctually and concentrated need to [be in] control."
I know you can’t see me, but I’m pretty easy on the eyes. I’m not a super model or anything, but I’m pretty. There’s a song by Emilie Autumn entitled Thank God I’m Pretty, it’s an entirely sardonic reply to how pretty women are often objectified in society and expected to take that objectification as a compliment. Otherwise we must just be a bitch. For me? It really just makes me second guess what someone really wants from me, and considering my history, my guess is not going to lean towards optimistic best intentions.
Here’s the thing. Like every individual on the planet, our personal experiences are going to affect how we perceive certain situations. With something as emotionally involved as sex can be, and keep in mind that we are a group of people that deal with an extreme form of emotional dysregulation, the experiences, and traumas of our past our going to color our judgment a great deal. How we cope is also going to be unique to the kind of people we are.
I was in love with The One. My best friend since I was 13 years old. He lead me on, used me, cheated on me, lied to me, made false promises to leave his failing marriage for me, and then when I was finally done with all of it, he raped me. It was all about easy sex for him, with zero regard for how it would affect me. He wasn’t the first and he wasn’t the last either. It’s sad but I’m almost used to guys trying to take advantage of me in this way. Of course I’m not blind and pretty smart so I see it coming from a mile away. I also don’t have a very passive personality. I tend to overcompensate, so I find power and detachment in sex. Having sex with little to no emotional attachment, using sex as a way to avoid true emotional intimacy is more my style. At the same time I don’t feel alone, but also not so close as to put my heart in danger. It’s also no surprise that I have deep issues when it comes to intimacy with men. We talk about sexual promiscuity and recklessness, but I do this women. With men, there has to be something else, b/c I have a lot of issues and point blank I don’t feel safe, or that men will ever have my best intentions at heart. Sorry guys. I have issues. I’m working on them.
Which is often another problem. When our relationships are turbulent, when there is a great deal of conflict and misunderstanding in our relationships, it’s hard to maintain a positive attitude about sex. And the sex we have will be less fulfilling. Many women in general, but especially those of us with a hypersensitivity to our partners “needs” can feel pressured into sex because we know they want it, and fear losing them if we don’t comply. The problem is, when we’re doing it mostly for the other person, and less for both of us equally, there’s going to be a general sense of obligation. Obligatory sex doesn’t exactly sound sexy now does it? I’m certainly guilty of this. But my partner was happy, and blissfully unaware. That doesn’t lead to the greatest opinions and satisfaction with sexual experiences though.
Sex is easy for some, less so for others. I have a hard time with guys (no pun intended), not so much with women. Some people with BPD are very promiscuous and reckless (I can be), others are very withdrawn and have a hard time letting people touch them at all (I’ve had phases of this as well).
So there you have it. A look at the other side of the reckless promiscuity we’re all so supposedly wrapped up in. Nothing is ever so clean cut.
And for those of you interested: Emilie Autumn - Thank God I'm Pretty
**Sorry to my brother and sister if this is TMI, but you were warned.