Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Relationships and BPD: “Knowing” it won’t last

I’ve heard from many loved ones of people with BPD over the past few years. A recurring theme I hear a lot of is:
"My Borderline boyfriend/girlfriend/loved one said they “know” the relationship won’t last and they will end up alone."
Does that mean she doesn’t want to be with me? Does that mean he’s thinking about breaking up with me?  Does that mean they don’t care about me?

Often this can come at times when you think things had been going well, and seem out of the blue. I’m going to make a wild statement and say that 95% of this has to do with our own fear and our own inability to see our self-worth. I don’t know a lot of normal relationships that don’t have at least a little doubt or a few
I often think I have too many problems, too much baggage for someone else to deal with. Even though I actively work on my own issues myself, I feel like I’ve had so much shit in my life, it’s hard enough for me to wrap my head around it sometimes. How can I possibly expect someone else to?
Sometimes I just don’t know how or why someone would want to stay with me. Despite everything I do, or how much I care or love, I simply cannot internalize the idea that someone else applies a worth to me that runs that deeply.  I’ve struggled with this my entire life and it’s something I still struggle with and am actively working on in therapy, but that doesn’t mean it’s something controllable.  Not to mention, I can be mood swingy (despite my medication and trying to hide it) and irritable, short-tempered, and just not feel like a very fun person to be around. When the person I care about sees me like this, it feels like I’m actively handing them a piece of kindling to add to the fire that will eventually consume our relationship. The more of this they see, it feels like a countdown clock starting in my mind, losing more and more time with each transgression.
Sometimes, for me, the depression and/or anxiety is consuming. I don’t want to be around myself, let alone anyone else. I know this sounds counterintuitive to the Borderline need to not be alone thing, but it’s never that simple is it? Depression and anxiety compound those fears and feelings. Depression is serious business (be it situational or chronic) and the sense of alone that you feel is consuming. When you’re depressed and feel like you’re going to lose someone. You feel alone coupled with the idea that you’ll be left/lose the person you love so it’s a doubly whammy of depression and loneliness… and you may not have gone anywhere yet! Just the thought can make the feeling real.
Sometimes, like I’ve been doing recently, we start thinking about all of the reasons we’re no good for that person. Or nit-picking at things, looking for reasons, why the other person isn’t good for us. It’s not really a conscious thing though. For me it’s a gut punch of anxiety when I feel like something is incongruous with my personality or my experience. Like they’ll never be able to relate, or we’ll never be compatible enough, etc. That sense of not being enough… whether we’re looking at them or ourselves, mostly boils down to us (except obviously in the cases of abuse and the simple fact of the matter that some people just aren’t really compatible, and some people are just jerks). I mean in those relationship situations where you feel genuine care for each other, it’s often a projection of our own fears onto the situation. Not necessarily the obvious fears, but the buildup of the lifetime of them.  Have I mentioned how important therapy can be to helping us sort ourselves out, which in turn contributes to helping us cultivate healthy relationships?
Now imagine this happening inside our head.
Sometimes I just want better for the other person. I know in my head that this isn’t my decision to make for them, but I feel guilty that I can’t be someone that isn’t so messed up, for someone that I care about.
I think Projection of our fears onto the other person, and onto the relationship, is a big issue though. Often, without intending to, we look for issues or magnify things that have happened so that they’re out of proportion. Having Borderline Personality Disorder goes hand in hand with a sensitivity to rejection and a hypersensitivity to any negative stimuli. Hell, the hypersensitivity to the perception of negative stimuli. When we’re so afraid of losing someone, or being abandoned as just a general feeling of existence, there develops an expectation of it. You can fight viciously to hold on, or push it away by preparing for the inevitable to happen.  I think this particular “knowing” is often that preparing for the inevitable.
The reasons behind it can be different, but often the feeling is the same. A vague sense that something isn’t right. Mounting anxiety when we see our loved one. Especially when they do something nice for us, there can be feelings of guilt. Irritability. Turning to dread. Mental ruminations that were once controllable thoughts able to be pushed aside start to fester and repeat closer to the forefront of your mind. These can inspire paths of thought from smothering suffocation to lashing out in anger.  The trick is to put  a stop to them before they get out of control. Which is a real trick, indeed. We have to be able to catch ourselves in the act of these Negative thoughts and actively fight to change this mentality. This takes work.
I also don’t want to downplay the fact that there could actually be real problems. Maybe one partner doesn’t think they’re big problems, but to us they can feel huge. And for some reason all these mental question marks boil back down to, is this going to be okay forever? Probably not. Run! Instead of taking a more productive approach of communication and fixing the problem.   
There is also the very real possibility that you just aren’t meant to be for whatever reason and that special spark isn’t there. That doesn’t necessarily make it any easier. I’ve broken up with a lot of people that I actually liked and didn’t want to hurt because after a month or two, we just aren’t compatible in the ways that count. Just because we’re Borderline doesn’t mean this doesn’t happen. It’s usually these people that really don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes so much either because they haven’t been around enough to really get to know the nitty-gritty of who we really are. They’re still getting the pretty façade that we try to show the world for the most part.
I can’t speak to everyone’s situation, because we all have different issues. The best thing to do is to ask why they “know”; ask why they feel that way. Remain open to their answers. Don’t cut them off. Don’t judge their response. Let them know what is reasonable, and what might be their fears running away with them. Reassurance and a strong sense of involvement are very important at times like these. So often we think, we know, we’re too bad/too broken/too damaged for someone… when maybe (and maybe this is just my hope) what someone else sees isn’t such the terribly distorted reflection that we are accustomed to. Reassurance of your feelings and your relationship is important. Probably for both partners, not just the Borderline half.  
How about you? Have you ever felt this way? Do you know why?


  1. "Anyone that could love me enough to put up with all of this and still want to be with me deserves way better than me."

    I always feel this way. I actually go so far as to ask people what they are getting out of helping me or being there for me or just.... going to the movies with me or something like that.

    It is a usual feeling. I think it is different for all people. But everyone is insecure about something. My insecurities just tend to latch on to different things than the insecurities of other people.

    I also go through the idolization/demonization which is absolutely my way of trying to test the waters...trying to balance myself out. Trying to see how they'll react. I think it starts out as me wanting to test to see if I can push THIS far, and if I can push THIS far, I know they can handle me. But they I feel guilty for pushing and then actually PUSH to make them leave so I don't have to feel like I'm bringing them down.

    Sorry if I took up too much space... I guess this is the first recount I've read that I've just..totally understood. And felt completely awkward that it was someone else's writing style but exact thoughts.

  2. Thanks a lot for this article. It nearly made me cry because I can relate to this very well, but couldn't express this problem in such a precisely way so far.

  3. My problem is really in my head and a consequence of low self-esteem and anxiousness. Most of the time, I think my friend suits me very well and I really love him and this relationship. But sometimes I don't feel deficiently. (I hope my messages are understandable...English isn't my mother tongue^^)

  4. A very clear and detailed description of BPD relationships . Great article


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

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