The following material was written for individuals trying to recover from a relationship that's had toxic consequences for them, and is not intended as a support resource for Borderlines or anyone with BPD traits. If you suspect that you have these traits, please leave this website and redirect your attention to alternative web content, which might feel more congruent with your personal views and needs.
The Borderline has a dire need to be seen as 'perfect' physically, cerebrally and spiritually which drives a lot of issues within this personality type. At the very heart of the borderline's acting-out behaviors is core shame, a leftover if you will, from a childhood fraught with confusing messages, neglect and abuse, which left them doubting their lovability and worth from infancy onward. Any self-acknowledged error makes a Borderline think they're a "bad person," which is why their denial defenses are so thick and they're unable to accept or own their shortcomings and failings.
Perfectionistic traits are most often observed in the Borderline Queen. If you even hint that she's made a mistake, she becomes highly offended and indignant. The BPD Queen has harshly judged and dissociated from all darker or "negative" emotions, because she believes them to be unacceptable and wrong, so she sure as hell won't make any room for yours! If a Queen feels reprimanded or criticized, her anger may get submerged, but it'll likely be replaced with an imperious, judgmental and shaming tone and comments that'll make you feel utterly decimated. The Queenly Borderline may not rage at you like the BPD Witch~ but you will not escape her piercing disdain for you.
Your Queen must always occupy the one-up position in all her relationships, which means she's looking down on you from high atop her throned pedestal. This is very common with borderline disordered psychotherapists. If you're ever unfortunate enough to get involved with one, you won't be permitted to have your own feelings and needs, unless they're simultaneously shared by and identical with your Borderline's. Due to innate narcissism in all Borderlines, there's only enough space in this relationship for one personality to exist~ never two.
Nearly every Borderline who phones me for help, states: "I've done a lot of work on myself!" I always smile to myself, because it's a dead giveaway that I'm hearing from someone who at the very least, has BPD traits and has searched lifelong for answers and explanations pertaining to their inner torment, and failed relationship attempts.
Many, many Borderlines are tireless seekers of insight and truth. There's often a tenacious will to heal themselves and grow, but no matter how much therapy they've tried or how many self-help books they read or support groups they joined, self-loathing remains entrenched and implacable. Being hard on themselves is a self-defeating, typical trait in all borderline personalities. As children they were routinely programmed to feel unlovable and undeserving of affection or care, so this is how they've learned to regard and treat themselves.
Not all Borderlines mutilate their skin, but most have become emotionalcutters~ in short, they heap criticism, shame and guilt on themselves until they're dug so deeply into a dark, cavernous hole of despair, it could take days or even weeks before they can emotionally reconstitute themselves, start to climb out of it and rebalance.
Simple, trivial shortcomings or deficits can make somebody with BPD believe they have no right to live, or take up space on the planet. So destructive is the Borderline's self-reproach for even minor mistakes, their shaming inner narratives or mental sense they make of their dreadful feelings, can make them want to die. This fact is key to why suicidal ideation or attempts often coexist with borderline pathology.
Being involved with a Borderline lover means you're trapped in confusion, chaos and titillation. At the onset, he/she is perfectly delightful, charming and adoring, but you soon come to find that you can't relate to some of his/her odd or bizarre behaviors.
You keep efforting to understand what makes them tick, but you cannot. In reality, their psychosis isn't something you should be able to relate to, yet you keep trying. This natural reflex to 'get it right' was implanted in you as a very small child, when you experienced difficult and confusing relational dynamics with your parent(s). You might also have observed troubling interactions between your folks, who struggled together a lot like you have with your BPD lover~ so you've assumed this chaos is a natural part of an ongoing relationship.
You may have grown up promising yourself that your own love relationship or marriage wouldn't be anything like the dynamic you observed between your parents, but as this was the only blueprint you had to draw from, you accepted it as "normal."
If you had seen playful, loving interplay between two adults who admired and respected each other, you would surely be seeking that relationship dynamic for yourself, never settle for less, and you wouldn't be reading this right now.
Kids emulate their parents. They want to dress like them, act like them, and mimic everything they do. Think of little girls who get into Mommy's makeup and jewelry, and you have a stellar example of emulation. Kids are like little sponges. Nothing gets past 'em--and even when you think they're not paying attention, they absorb and integrate all of your words and behaviors~ it's a big part of why Borderlines spawn children with BPD traits.
If a small child perceives frightening traits in his/her parent, like ragefulness, harshness, cruelty, histrionics, emotional instability or anxiety/worry, he/she determines never to grow up to be like Mother or Father, for fear of becoming that terrifying monster or fragile/pathetic creature they saw and accepted as their example of adulthood.
The mere threat of this, has partners of Borderlines amputating important feeling states (like anger) out of their personality, yet allowing and accepting them in their lovers, just as they did with their parents while growing up. There is always a childhood template for attraction to a borderline disordered individual, and in twenty four years of practice, I've seen no exceptions.
It's crucial to understand that the partner or friend of a BPD individual is typically core-damaged in precisely the same ways a Borderline is. They share the same vibrational frequency since childhood, because they're core traumatized in the same ways by the person they spent nine months bonding with in-utero~ Mother. This is what initially magnitizes them to each other, and keeps them tenaciously trying to 'get it right' with one another, against all odds.
Black and white thinking, love you/hate you, come here/go away, and push-pull emotional gymnastics, are hallmarks of intensely unstable relationship dynamics with individuals who have and exhibit borderline pathology.
We're all acquainted with this splitting reflex in Borderlines, but we usually fail to recognize this tendency within ourselves. The Caregiver, fixer/rescuer type who frequently attaches to personality disordered lovers, has virtually split-off all darker feelings, thoughts and personality facets from their own emotional repertoire. They've discarded dimensions that even hint at what they had observed, growing up with a weak, impaired or punitive parent. So reviled or pitied was their mother or father for these facets, the developing child feels the need to totally rid him/herself of those "negative" traits--which doesn't leave much room for a balanced, multi-dimensional and healthy persona to unfold.
Our inclination to 'throw the baby out with the bathwater' in relation to our "bad" emotions and sensations in childhood, is what promotes pathological perfectionism, which can result in suicides, panic disorder, rageful outbursts, passive-aggression, obesity, cancer and a litany of other health concerns. In short, suppression of feelings can be deadly to our Self and others.
The Borderline splits-off from the less favorable features within him/herself, and won't tolerate them in you. The People Pleaser has similarly split-off from his/her own 'imperfect' or flawed aspects, but somehow accepts them in their Borderline, way beyond when it makes practical or logical sense to stick around.
So in essence, we're talking about two wounded individuals who can't accept themselves fully, or be emotionally whole and well. This deficit triggers a lot of self-protection and posturing to avoid abandonment; "if I'm not at ease with all my parts, how could You be?" and frantic efforts to avoid rejection are engaged in by both partners.
This is a term I have developed to describe a specific behavioral pattern which is typical in your dynamic with a Borderline. As is the case with film production (pre-digital editing), an editor's job was to splice out unnecessary scenes from a movie reel, then re-attach the ends of his celluloid to create seamless continuity.
The phenomenon of splicing allows a BPD partner to return after highly volatile or disturbing/disruptive ruptures in your dynamic, and act as if nothing troubling has previously occurred! In short, they pick up where they left-off prior to this recent catastrophe, and you wrestle with whether to confront their bad behavior, or avoid rocking the boat 'cause everything's nice and sunny again (until the next monsoon hits)!
To explain this further, the Borderline averts abandonment with his/her perfectly orchestrated re-seductions in the hope they can make you forget how horribly they treated you during their last distancing episode. You on the other hand, are hyper-fixated on pleasing, loving and forgiving, to avoid being dropped on your head quite as often. It never works by the way, but you'll keep wanting it to, despite consistently poor outcomes--which is like continuing to believe in the Tooth Fairy, when no money ever materializes under your pillow for that incisor you lost as a kid.
The problem with this mutually agreed on relational pattern is, the Borderline is never held accountable for their destructive, harmful behavior. Without very firm boundary and limit setting, a child's unsavory behavior continues to repeat indefinitely, and so does a Borderline's, because there can be no tangible change or growth~ and your passivity promotes more of this crap.
Both Borderlines and non-Borderlines are proficient at 'splicing,' to edit-out any negative episodes that have occurred with their lover, so connection can be retained. For the Borderline, this is automatic, given they're incapable of sustaining all emotions, for any reasonable duration. You do it, to remain close to someone you've sensed is destroying you, and Denial is the bus you throw yourself under, every time you betray your feelings! Forgiving is one thing~ forgetting is quite another.
If your partner cheats on you, you'll somehow accommodate and overlook it, no matter how wounding their behavior is to your self-esteem. You accept their betrayal as being your fault, based solely on the bullshit they've thrown at you, and pledge to "love them better" going forward. Fucking someone else is never "an accident or mistake." It's a deliberate action consciously engaged in to undermine your relationship bond with him or her.
People with even a modicum of self-worth will not tolerate such abuses, nor remain involved with anyone who treats them badly. Your desire to "forgive and forget" is this 'splicing' reflex you learned in childhood, when you tried to accept a harsh parent's criticism or callous disregard for your feelings and needs, so that you could stay attached to them until you were old enough to leave home.
Sticking one's head in the sand only works for ostriches. For us humans, it's called Denial, which can ultimately prove deadly.
The Borderline projects their disowned, unsavory features onto you. You are basically the mirror or movie screen, upon which they can view their own denied/discarded traits. They could even accuse you of being a Borderline, which can be as outrageous as it sounds.
Borderlines are too broken/fractured to claim any less than perfect characteristics, as the shame that's catalyzed within drives feelings of unlovability--and consequently, deep despair. These feelings are childhood remnants from parental neglect and/or abuse that are imprinted on their soul, and You can't repair this for them!
Projection is not exclusive to Borderline Personality Disorder. Nons have this trait too, when they feel a need to assign their own normal/positive facets to a domineering, cruel BPD partner whom they swear is a "good person" that really loves them!
Inability/unwillingness to acknowledge and accommodate one's own darkness, derails his/her capacity to recognize it in others! Like Pollyanna, these folks see their world through rose-colored glasses, and presume that all humans are trustworthy, integrous and as "basically good" as they~ but human beings are not all made with the same cookie-cutter. To presume they are, means one is ignorant~ or at best, dangerously naive.
I'd read a magazine interview (in Vanity Fair, September/2011) with Jennifer Lopez, who routinely demands that her hotel suites be draped with white sheets, and only allows white flowers and furniture to occupy all her environments. Aside from any implications of sterility and lack of color/passion (particularly for a Latin girl), I view these rigid requirements as fetishistic. This odd proclivity might also be indicative of someone who fears that she'll become invisible, if she's not the only blotch of pigment on an otherwise, blank canvas.
Her soon to be divorced husband, Marc Anthony is quoted to have said; "She beats the shit out of me all the time," in response to being queried about what J-Lo's brought to his life, but instantly tried to qualify that statement of course, with how she's "driven him" to succeed professionally. There's no excuse for abuse, no matter how well-intentioned--but that is not what we learned about "Love" during childhood, from our 'well-meaning' parental units, is it?
OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE PERSONALITY DISORDER
One of my former clients brought this issue to my awareness, as OCPD perfectly describes his experiences while married to a Borderline. Like many other diagnoses which in my view, rest under the BPD umbrella, this subtype is well worth mentioning.
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder is characterized by the following traits: indecisiveness, emotional rigidity, strict moral standards, depressed mood, need for extreme order, perfectionism, truth hoarding; "my own truth is the only truth," isolation, and highly conflictual relationships. If you wish to peruse a good article on this topic by Dr. Steven Phillipson, click here.
I have worked with Borderlines who've adopted a ridiculously pristine self-view, to compensate for inner loathing. The more religious or "spiritual" ones often regurgitate mantras that entail being "a child of God (who loves them)," yet they can never manage to accept and believe they're lovable! Given that the Borderline won't accommodate any darker or imperfect parts of their own nature, how can You catch a break, if you disappoint them just one little bit?
It matters not, how brilliant, talented or beautiful your BPD lover might be. No amount of reinforcement or affirmation from you or anyone else for that matter, will alter how they regard themselves. All their insecurities and self-loathing are projected onto their veneer when they look in a mirror, and a tiny blemish may become a catastrophic event! They might tenaciously attack that "imperfection" until they cause major damage to adjacent tissues and create a much more unsightly flaw--but at least they were in-control of that destructive outcome.
Similarly, the Borderline wants to pick fights with you, especially after an intensely loving, close and harmonious episode. When attachment fears flare up, abandonment terror is right around the corner--so they have to destroy any closeness with you, before you have a even a remote opportunity to do it to them! This has nothing whatsoever to do with You. They'll act-out their anxiety surrounding attachment, with all their suitors, partners and close friends.
For the Non-Borderline, projection becomes an especially sticky wicket, when he or she assigns their own discarded facets to the ex-BPD partner or lover. The People Pleaser, rescuer-type has detached/dissociated from vulnerable/fragile facets and feelings, which are routinely displaced onto the Borderline. I can't count how many men and women I've worked with, who can feel sorry for their Borderline ex no matter how mean, pernicious or crazy-making they've been, but flatly refuse to offer any sympathy or compassion to themselves!
When dark emotions are not allowed to exist within the Non's personality, they're foisted onto the BPD lover. If we won't allow ourselves to feel and express anger, we'll readily react to, but accommodate it in our lover.
If we refuse to feel sympathy for ourselves, we'll project our disowned sympathetic feelings onto others. Thus, debilitating guilt prevents us from responding to our own intrinsic needs, if we believe our Borderline might have strong emotional reactions to them~ and time and time again, we're walking on eggshells, and betraying ourselves for the sake of another.
Borderlines do not relate to pain in the same way non's do. If they did, they couldn't persistently treat their lovers with such careless, cruel abandon. The Borderline's lack of empathy (due to developmental arrest) is central to this issue.
The fact that Borderlines tend to remain far longer with abusive, emotionally unavailable or pre-attached or married lovers is a paradoxical mystery to many~ but why the heck are You still in this under-satisfying, tormenting, painful relationship??
Those old sayings, that water seeks its own level, and birds of a feather flock together are really true. We are in fact, magnetized to individuals who precisely match our own level of emotional development.
Someone who is truly emotionally available, doesn't remain involved with somebody who is not. Wishful thinking can't make another love you or treat you better. That 'perfect love' you experienced at the start of a relationship with a Borderline will never be restored, for once you've been seduced, the challenge of The Chase is over and they lose interest in you. As a Non, you must ask yourself if this has also been true in your own dating experiences. The person you choose to love is a mirror for you. He/she simply echoes how you feel about you, and what you've grown up believing you deserve.