Something I’ve been experiencing lately is an aversion to being touched. I don’t know if it’s just because I’m losing my attachment to Tech Boy or what, but I’ve certainly experienced this with romantic partners in the past when I’ve fallen out of touch with them before. I’ve actually gone long, long periods of time when I haven’t been able to stand people touching me.
Most people would assume that it’s because you’re just not attracted to them anymore. But as is typical with BPD there’s often a little more to it.
Aversive to Touch
Most sites I’ve seen will tell you that : “Borderlines eventually transfer negativity onto their mates; that is, they lose love, withdraw, and become aversive to touch and sex.” What exactly does that mean though? It doesn’t “just happen”. It’s not like there is No Reason. So what’s going on? Because to just say this and leave it at that, is a cop out.
I’m going to approach this today as something that comes and goes, or something that eventually manifests, but wasn’t originally there. I’m not talking about Borderline sexual preferences of sexual avoidance or reckless behavior. It more like when the need for attention suddenly becomes something it no longer is.
He/She’s Just Not That Into You
Sometimes, there is that unfortunate symptom of human relationships where they occasionally fail, people fall out of attraction, and we lose that physical draw to one another. It happens. It’s unfortunate but it happens.
Eating Disorders/Body Image/BDD
Sometimes with us, especially with eating disordered women and men, or those of us with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, if we’re having a “bad day”, being touched reminds of the “flaws” we see and feel. It reminds us of the fats and flubs that we desperately try to burn off, cover up, starve away, and hide. Being touched can be repulsive. Let’s be clear though. It’s not your touch that’s repulsive. It’s that you have to touch something so repulsive that is repulsive. Until we can regain that confidence or that grace or whatever we need to get ourselves back on track to feel okay sometimes we just need to be left to ourselves.
Abuse and Trauma
Other times it’s important to remember that there is often a history of abuse. You may not know about this history, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Just because you don’t know about it, doesn’t mean you can’t trigger it.
“Many disordered personalities show a splitting and projection. When a client becomes aversive to being touched by a spouse, we can assume that an old abuse is being reactivated, creating a withdrawal of libido from sexual activity with the once-valued partner. The mate may get seduced into helping fix her spouse's serious problems out of unrealistic altruistic reasons. This is common to many psychological disorders. When someone has a serious personality disturbance, expecting an unqualified, untrained spouse to try to fix or correct the person's long standing illness will have disastrous results. This is especially true because emotional involvement with a disturbed person should not include quasi roles of the pseudo-patient and healing-spouse partner. Relationships and marriages do not heal personality, mood, or anxiety disorders. The clinically disturbed person should seek out a professionally trained therapist and not project the need to be cured onto a partner. When transferences erupt into full bloom in these kinds of pseudo-relationships, the consequences are quite unpleasant.” 
When there is any amount of sexual or physical abuse in a person’s past this wound may have been triggered or reactivated in some way and is somehow being projected onto the partner. This can be the cause of sexual or physical withdrawal.
Even if you know that you’ve been triggered, even if you see it, even if you think you’re prepared, you can’t always predict how it’s going to affect you, and you can’t always stop the effects from hitting you. Meh. Take me for instance. I told Tech Boy about what happened with The One (rape) a couple weeks back. I sort of dropped it out of the blue. The segue was actually appropriate but I hadn’t prepared myself to have this conversation, pretty much ever, with him. He actually handled it pretty appropriately. It’s 3 weeks later and I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about. I haven’t been able to contemplate having sex or even being touched at all since. I hung out with Tech Boy last night, I enjoy his company but I didn’t want to be touched at all. I try, but it feels really uncomfortable. I want nothing to do with anyone. I’ve seriously been contemplating not having relationships at all anymore. I’m sure it’s just a phase of thought that will pass, but it’s definitely something I’ve been thinking about. I digress.
It’s hard. I’ve been in therapy for so long. I’ve talked it through my sexual and physical trauma. I’ve processed it. I’ve dealt with it. At least I always think I’ve dealt with it. But I’m never sure I’ll have ever completely dealt with it because it clearly still affects me. I can feel myself distancing. I hear my speech speeding up. My shoulders hunching up. My words saying that it’s in the past, but I see my hands coming up like I’m physically trying to push the memories away. It’s deceptive. It’s subtle. My front mind. The mind that wants the put on a brave face and be strong and show no vulnerability just wants to wave it all aside and say it’s in the past. The hind mind where everything resides in shadow and safety knows better though. The wound is still there. It’s healing, but it’s not all healed. I’m not the most careful of people, especially not with myself.
I tell myself that I’m okay, that I can deal with this, that I can talk about this, that I can be okay. But then when I’m alone, or when I’m in more intimate situations, my emotions and my emotional response recoil. Clearly I’m not responding the way I want to. This is the disconnected way that is how we often live. The way that we WANT to live, and the way that is the unintended RESULT to what we wish we had.
This is in no way the first time this has happened. This is a relationship I feel pretty safe in. Imagine if it’s a relationship where safety hasn’t been established yet. Or a relationship where you feel actively unsafe or are actively abused with past abused concurrently triggered and compounded. It can be so complicated.
Not only do I feel empty and alone. I want to be alone. I don’t want people to see me. I don’t want people to look at me. I definitely don’t want anyone to touch me. Nothing is comforting and when people trying it just makes me feel worse. Compounding the guilt.
Devaluation and Pushing Away
Then there’s ye olde Borderline stand by. Devaluations and Pushing Away. I mention this last because this is often a bit more obvious. If there’s a lot of conflict happening. If your loved one is cold and stand offish. If they’re picking fights; baiting you; and generally being confrontational then this is probably what’s going on.
Has anyone else experienced this? What are some of your reasons?