BORDERLINE PERSONALITY FORUM
BY SHARI SCHREIBER, M.A.
Borderline personality traits can cause serious relationship difficulties, and my site currently houses 25 articles on this topic. These letters were originally posted (as is, including typo's) to my advice Forum, and I hope they'll be helpful to you. Avoid dangerous entrapment; learn about BPD females! Married with kids? Is she a needy Waif? Just been dumped? Read this! How to Leave a Borderline. Are you Hurting? Learn about Borderline Males.
Q. I am a certified mental health councillor, and specialist in the field of Borderline Personality Disorder. I read your article regarding women who blackmail men into fatherhood - and the heinous consequences this has on men; for god forbid loving a sufferer of BPD. I felt inclined to write to you purely out of pity, as your account is so grossly inaccurate of the disorder it is almost laughable. It absolutely disgusts me that people like yourself can write such fantastical scenarios while assuming they have any sort of medical authority on the matter. Evidently, you have none. It frightens me to think that someone might read your numerous rants and think it is perfectly reasonable to whitewash genuine actual mental health issues with your ridiculous ideations, or worse, think there is any fact behind them. You are the very reason why mental health problems are stigmatised - a barrier that I have spent the better part of my career trying to deconstruct. You are an uniformed, uneducated sexist idiot. Utterly shameless.
A. I do not claim to be any sort of "medical authority." I do however, routinely hear from a great number of people who are referred to my BPD site materials by their psychiatrist or psychologist. I'm sure you'll reject this bit of information, because I think it's far more gratifying for you to call me names and devalue me for striking a nerve in you with my writings. I see this, and grandiosity about your 'qualifications' as innate insecurity. Sounds like you're someone who could benefit from redirecting your efforts toward exploring some personal core trauma work. In short~ physician, heal thyself.
Q. Ten years ago, I was diagnosed with BPD. I spent about five years in DBT, and after that was accepted to seminary and moved to Kenya, Africa to be a hospital chaplain. I agree with you in the sense that people with BPD need more than DBT. I was blessed in the sense that my healing journey was complemented with much "heart healing" with amazing women willing to help. However, I also feel that your articles on BPD characterize all people with BPD as dangerous individuals. Even in the throngs of my symptoms, I could never kill anyone, nor did I ever have the desire to. I feel it would be better if you not classify all people with BPD in this light, as the stigma in and of itself for people with BPD is terrifically brutal. Along with the disorder itself, this stigma is also a contributing factor for the difficulty folks with BPD have in creating meaningful relationships. Thank you for your consideration.
A. Not ALL my articles (by a long-shot) characterize people with BPD as "dangerous," and in fact most of them speak to the pathology in individuals who attach to them, so there's a solid balance of insight provided about these relationship dynamics. Perhaps you should do more reading, dear... start here. As for creating meaningful bonds, Borderlines can't manage that until they do the core trauma work it takes to get Well.
Q. I'll keep this short. Your website and insights are spot on. I'm just recovering from a 27 month affair with a BPD woman. I feel so traumatized, but I'm beginning to heal, thanks in part to your website. I'm sorry that there is bad blood between BPD Family site and yourself. I put a link up a couple of times to your site saying how wonderful and insightful I thought you were. I got messages from administrators, and my posts were deleted. I got from them a link to a long thread about "outside and unconventional" sources of information. It's obvious to me that through your work experiences, you can not only talk the talk, you can walk the walk. The knowledge you display obviously did not come from academia. Keep doing what you're doing!
A. You're welcome. Now and then, the phrase "ignorance is bliss" seems fitting. I'm saddened that a blog site which is intended to help and supportpeople, takes such a dim view of web materials that obviously do just that.
Q. I see that you take a dim view of Borderlines on your site and add to the growing stigma that they're 'bad' people. Why do you take this stance? It seems you're doing more harm than good.
A. Honestly, my BPD materials were initially intended to help people trying to recover from these injurious relationships. I had never planned to write anything about this disorder beyond my first piece, as GettinBetter.com was never intended to be a 'BPD site.' I do not take a "dim view" of Borderlines, but I cannot sanction the havoc and destruction they wreak in other's lives. I have worked with many borderline disordered individuals, and those who are highly motivated to get well with my help, do. [More letters like this, can be found here.]
Q. What happens if you snap at a Borderline? Is it wrong to lose your cool?
A. The Borderline has poor impulse control, and many will 'push' you until they get a reaction. Responding to them with passivity and betraying your own feelings is not a workable solution, but physical volatility is never an acceptable option. Unresolved disappointment, hurt and rage from childhood neglect and abuse causes those difficult feelings to be transferred onto You. You're basically the more convenient target for his/her long-held anger and despair, but there's no good reason why you should tolerate it.
Q. Do Borderlines just walk away?
A. No . . . sometimes they run!
Q. Hello Shari, first off, it is a pleasure to write to you. I have read all of your articles and find you completely right-on about the BPD personality. I am BPD (female), was diagnosed 20-some years ago. I do not dispute anything you say about BPD, how we relate to others, or how we interact. In defense of BPD however, I MUST make this comment: When the BPD female (only speaking from the female perspective here) meets a man, we are enthralled by him and his strength. He's a pillar of strength to us! In a short time, he becomes so fragile, needy, apologetic and someone we DID NOT intend to have in our lives. We rely on his strength, and it appears to go away so soon. Perhaps "this" is the reason we lose all interest right away... they are not who we perceived them to be, either. It cannot be ALL of our fault for the failure of these relationships and WE strive to get the person back we *thought* we had met.
A. I see that yours is not a question at all... but, thanks for your feedback. I'm pretty sure I've (at least) alluded to the dynamic you've described in this article, but I doubt it's covered as distinctly as you've illustrated, and perhaps this issue is more about Your personal preferences, than being applicable for all Borderlines. In a heterosexual relationship, only one partner can wear the male genitals, and perhaps that's always prompted a power struggle for you. If you're with a (whole) man who has a degree of sensitivity and humanity, he's not "strong enough" for you~ whereas a gruff, abusive partner may be a more enthralling fit, and inhibit your ability to experience genuine closeness and/or intimacy. Your definition of 'strength' might be distorted. Maybe penis envy is the issue, and you'll get your own set of testicles in the next life, and all will be well and right in your world.
Q. What do you think of EFT (emotional freedom techniques) for borderlines or non-borderlines?
A. I like the concept and I'd like to promote it, but managing or getting rid of feelings is what most of my clients have done their entire life (in one way or another). How could EFT be an effective treatment modality, when poor self-worth, passive aggression, codependency, attachment fears, unresolved rage and cognitive distortion keep messing up one's ability to forge healthy attachments? Integrated Recovery helps people heal and grow emotionally, so that relational issues (with Self and others) are resolved.
Q. First of all, THANK YOU . . . A few months ago I started seeing a psychologist after a 4 1/2 year relationship with a lady who I now know is a borderline. After much talk with my therapist regarding my past relationship he suggested the possibility of BPD in regards to my ex. He also suggested some books for me to read about BPD, which I have read regarding this disorder. And then there was your material I stumbled across last night. I just wanted to say you are a GREAT writer and PLEASE write a book about all the information you have regarding BPD. You have completely articulated EVERYTHING I have lived through in my experience with my ex who has BPD. You have given me more clarity on this subject than any other book, article or even 3 months of therapy have given me. I just wanted to tell you that you have my utmost respect for what you do, and you have silently helped me understand this disorder more than any book or therapist! I sincerely wish you the best in your future AND PLEASE WRITE A BOOK ON BPD. God bless you and THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!
A. Hope to get the books underway this year, and you're welcome. [More letters like this can be found here.]
Q. Hello Ms. Schreiber, our third son was adopted at birth. His BPD became more and more evident around the age of 12, and by age 15 it was clear. My point to you is that he was brought up by parents that were successful in life, and raised two boys with no problems. There was absolutely no lack of Love, Care and a sincere desire to get him help. His birth mother had 4 girls and 1 boy with 3-4 fathers. Several years after the adoption she was put on 10 years probation. His birth father's in prison for the 3rd time to date. To be brief, I would ask that you reconsider your thoughts on the early years of abuse and neglect, as I believe it's clear that in my son's case it's entirely genealogical, aggravated by issues of being given up at birth. I think your information to women (in your article) is mostly spot on. But for the sake of understanding some of the causes of BPD better, you should look into more recent research on this topic.
A. Sounds like my materials have struck a nerve with you (or your wife), and created some discomfort. Please feel free to access any other information on the web that more closely resonates with your personal views--and that you find more palatable than mine. You appear to 'have it all figured out,' and I applaud your curiosity in context of learning about your son--but you must remain discerning about believing what you read. Most people who research or write about BPD have NEVER worked with those who suffer from it. This is nota genetically inherited issue (as can often be the case with neurological or mood disorders). Our earliest damage can be catalyzed by more subtle influences, rather than by acute abuse or neglect. Often, natal abandonment trauma for adoptees is only the first wounding (in a series) that occurs. This doesn't happen ONLY with babies who are adopted, incidentally. Many of the Borderlines I've treated (whether adoptees or not), were raised by parents with narcissistic traits who've wanted a child for the purpose of filling some sort of personal void. In short, having or adding another baby is often more about a female's desire to mitigate her own feelings of emptiness and/or lack of purpose, than her actual capacity to bond symbiotically with an infant and meet His/Her needs. Nadya Suleman, 'The Octomom' is a quintessential example of such a mother. You can read more about this type of parent and early trauma, which is the core of Borderline Personality Disorder within this article. Indeed, these issues can exacerbate BPD susceptibility. In addition, my bipolar piece speaks to how an infant's brain continues to develop long past birth, which can (also) account for mood disorders. Over these past two decades, I've worked with a significant number of clients who struggled with both Bipolar Disorder and BPD concurrently. Many can recover, once they get to the root cause of their emotional difficulties, and self-worth is restored.
Q. I broke away from a Borderline several weeks ago, and just got a text from her asking me how I'm doing. I still struggle with having let go of that woman, even though she used me and even cheated on me! I want to pretend I'm fine and not still hurting. I'd like to come off like none of what happened matters to me, but I'm not sure what to send back. Can you help?
A. Yes. Do absolutely nothing. No reply sends the loudest message that you have moved on, and she doesn't matter to you (even if she still does). A Borderline will try to 'hoover' you back in to use you again for self-validation, favors, etc., no matter how much time has elapsed. Stay strong, and be the exception among all her past lovers, who have kept that door open hoping to get back in her box. Stay with no contact! You'll stand out as the one guy in her whole world who's had enough self-respect to have said, 'No Thanks' to her!
Q. Dear Shari, I came across your website the other day and it has been very insightful. I say this as a sufferer of Borderline Personality Disorder as well. One reason I came upon your page was to see how my behavior has been affecting my boyfriend and the emotional damage I have caused him. Of course he has understandably reached a breaking point and wants to draw the line. I hope he comes across your website so he can get some help in healing from all this. I really do want him to be happy again. I would like to thank you for making me realize what I've been doing. I will be chasing up my counseling in the new year. I have spent so long blaming others and self-destructing, that it's time to sort it out. Again, thank you.
A. You're welcome, and best of luck with getting well. As for your boyfriend finding the help he needs, sounds like you'll just be leaving that to chance.
Q. Oh my God. You have finally put a name to the madness I've been facing in my relationship. Word for word, you've described what I've experienced, and it's uncanny how accurate your articles are! I cannot begin to guess how you could know this stuff about my dynamic with my soon to be ex, but I'm utterly amazed. I am now able to see that my childhood issues have 'perfectly' lined up with hers, and it helps me take some much needed steps to move on. THANKS!!!
A. Congratulations! And yes indeed, we are drawn to people who match ourlevel of emotional development.
Q. Hi! I just wanted to let you know that I am a borderline, and I found your articles to be exactly right. I even sent them to my parents and psychiatrist to let them have more insight on what I'm dealing with. Thank you for your wonderful explanations!
A. My pleasure. Good luck to you!
Q. Good grief woman, you might just be the most brilliant person I've ever met! Not only have you helped me tremendously with your BPD articles, in terms of understanding my ex-GF--but to balance it out, you've helped me see behind the curtain of my own psyche, as to how and why I was drawn into this brand of torment, and given me ways to heal. I cannot thank you enough!!!
A. You're welcome. Breaking off from a toxic/painful relationship is the easy part. Repairing archaic wounds to your sense of Self, so you're not tempted to repeat this painful process ever again, is harder.
Q. I have BPD and have been doing a lot of reading about it lately, and I came across your informative articles. I was diagnosed with BPD in 1996 but have not done any work around it, and now I am getting married and I am highly motivated to work on stuff. I have a question. You said something interesting; "sexual/seductive UNTIL marriage"...what does that mean? It's interesting because I was sexual/seductive to the men before my last two marriages, but during marriage, I wasn't interested--it was boring, had no sex drive. It's like I became asexual! I need to find out what this is! Sometimes during sex with both my ex and now current fiance, I cry during sex. I do have a strong sex drive and enjoy seducing now, hope that won't change... concerned. I am starting DBT in a few weeks!
A. This is standard. Borderlines are ONLY interested in The Chase... not the capture. Closeness is threatening, and attachment is avoided at any cost. Read my 21 BPD articles for more insight, then seriously consider informing your third husband to be, about your past. DBT can't resolve these issues.
Q. Shari, why would a man tell you he sabotages his relationships?
A. He very likely has Borderline Personality Disorder traits, and he's warning you about what's up-ahead in this relationship (so you can't blame him later on, for your broken heart). Don't walk... RUN away from this guy!
Q. My GF (a new mother) won't leave her baby alone. Is this normal?
A. It's very healthy and important for an infant to receive lots of touching, affection and nurturant attention/care from the mother--but it sounds as if you're feeling neglected (perhaps You missed-out on these vital supplies as a baby). Whether this is your child or not, there could be numerous reasons (including hormonal) why your GF is responding far more to the needs of her baby, than to yours.
Q. Help! My kid's cut me out of his life, and nothing I do or say changes it.
A. My experience, is that one doesn't 'divorce' a parent, unless they perceive that relationship to be emotionally undermining and highly toxic. Sounds like you'd benefit from looking deeply into yourself, to determine where you've treated him abusively and betrayed his trust. Your heartfelt apology is likely in order, but this cumulative damage may be too vast, for him to forgive it.
Q. Dear Shari, I just want to say thank you. I read your article this morning and finally, for the first time I now have all of the answers and a far deeper understanding of what I have been through over the last 12 months. I am seven weeks out of a relationship with a BPD. I'm simply astonished at the parallels between your article and my own experience. I hadn't even heard of BPD before my relationship ended! Only after weeks of reading and rigorous searching for answers, have I come to understand what happened to me. Saving your Life after Loving a Borderline is by far the most thorough, far reaching and explorative of pieces I have read. It's also beautifully written. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, and for edging me ever closer to much needed closure. With deep gratitude from the UK. P.S. 'No Contact' is the best possible action for recovery. I've used it for four weeks now. It's the only way!
A. My pleasure, and be sure to study this piece, to help you understand why and how you were drawn to this woman.
Q. Can a woman manipulate a BPD man to get what she wants in life?
A. Perhaps, but only a woman with borderline traits would ask that question.
Q. Shari, thank you so much for your profoundly insightful information. I'm a recovering alcoholic and fairly recently broke up with my BPD girlfriend for (what I intend to be) the last time. The information you have shared has helped me come to an understanding of what I need to do for myself so much more clearly, than I could have probably ever done otherwise. I have read your article on Outgrowing Addiction and it completely resonates with me, including the things I disagree with about the AA approach to recovery. Do you have any more information on learning to properly deal with my feelings or can you refer me to some information you would suggest that might be helpful? Again, thank you SO much for your insight.
Q. Shari, what is their problem over at www.BPDFamily.com?? Now, they're picking apart your article that they plagiarized, and I just can't understand the hostile attitude they have about you! You and your site materials have helped me recover more than anything else I've read, and all that BPD pain is well behind me. I cannot thank you enough.
A. Holy cow. Your letter's one of 47 I've received the last couple of days! I haven't had time to check into this issue due to work demands, and probably won't. All I can say is, there's a delicious irony here. Yes, BPDFamily/Facing the Facts did copy my wording and phrases, yet it appears Skip's still upset that I withheld permission to use/amend my article several years ago (long time to hold a grudge). In any event, maybe this poor guy has unresolved mommy issues--and I'm just the more convenient target for all that bottled up rage. To the rest of you who want to bring this to my attention, fear not; this minor nuisance has as much impact as a mosquito on a rhino's rump.
Q. How do Borderlines feel after the break-up?
A. Not like you do--that's for sure. They've developed a remarkable capacity to check-out or dissociate from painful feelings, so don't think for a moment, he or she is struggling with the same, constant anguish that you are.
Q. Please keep up the great work and taking a firm stand about BPD, Shari. Skip and BPDFamily just seem jealous that millions are finding your articles to be invaluable for helping them heal from these devastating relationships. You rock!
A. Thanks, dear. Actually, it's complimentary. Folks never take shots at you, unless/until you've achieved some notoriety--it just comes with the territory. Dr. Drew's even been a target for that lately. You know you've arrived, when others are so envious, they feel compelled to tear ya down. This also occurs (of course) with Borderlines, when your accomplishments or strengths trigger their insecurities.
Q. Can my BPD husband get well?
A. Yes, with specialized care he can--but only if he actually wants to, and is willing to do the hard work it takes to grow, and recover. Borderline Disorder is not a disease. It's a serious emotional development issue.
Q. Shari, I wanna make sure I never get involved with another BPD woman who'll wreck my life like the last one. Can you help me know what to watch out for?
A. My articles provide you lots of direction in terms of signs and symptoms, but this isn't a mental decision process. The Borderline's captivating charms can sneak up on you. They can seem "normal" during their seduction phase, and by the time their hurtful behaviors start whittling away at you, you're in too deep to extract yourself. Your best line of defense is to do some feeling work, so that your instincts and intuitions can function as an inner compass. When you can finally trust Yourself, you'll have no problem discerning who's trustworthy.
Q. Can you convince a Borderline that you love them?
A. No. Given that a borderline personality has always lived with core shame and self-loathing, their retention of this confirmation can't be sustained. In short, you can't help someone know they're lovable, when they're convinced that they aren't.
Q. I've been involved with a high-functioning borderline, over the past year. Can she get better, or do I have to give up on the relationship?
A. First, read the entry just below this one. Second, most people presume this term (high-functioning) references the level of conflict, strife and chaos they'll have to deal with in a close relationship with one--but it doesn't! It refers to how well they perform in professional and social arenas. There are lots of Borderlines who are psychotherapeutic and medical professionals, but behind closed doors (at home), their romantic partnerships suffer terribly.
Q. Shari, I'm confused. Your articles mostly suggest that there's little hope for Borderlines to get well or recover, yet in some places you state that they can. I need some clarification, please.
A. Borderlines absolutely can fully recover, with extensive core-trauma work and a tenacious commitment to growth--but change is scary for them. Core work is foundational work, which challenges long-standing defenses, faulty beliefs and superstitions; BPD sex or substance addicts have a tougher time surrendering these. Core issues (not just symptoms) must be addressed, to help Borderlines grow and become self-reliant and whole, instead of staying broken and disempowered/dependent. That's what you want for them, right?
Q. I've been drinking too much since the breakup with my Borderline. Now I think I have an alcohol problem, but I don't know how else to manage this pain I'm in every day. Help!
A. Alcohol is never a solution. It's a depressant--so you're actually making your pain worse by transferring your addiction from your BPD ex, to booze. I recommend that you take stock of how you felt about yourself before this female showed up. Did you feel comfortable hanging-out with You? Did you fight sensations of emptiness, deadness and self-loathing before she came along and turned your black and white world to technicolor? See a doctor for an antidepressant Rx, or try 2 - 6 capsules of St. John's Wort daily to relieve some of this depression (do not drink alcohol with either!). Get therapeutic help from someone who has a solid grasp on BPD concerns and core issues.
Q. Hi Shari, I wish I'd have found your site earlier in my journey, because I wouldn’t have invested so much of myself in BPD Family.com (Facing the Facts 'FtF'). I found that site when I was reeling in emotional pain and suffering, due to my inability to effectively cope with my mentally ill mom and stepdad. I was emotionally very vulnerable when I first joined their group. I bought into their norms, and actually believed their “staff” to be as advertised: "compassionate and caring people." As I worked through the process of healing and learned new coping skills, I began to feel better about myself and the choices I’d made concerning my two difficult parents. What I failed to realize, is my decisions/choices apparently weren’t “in-keeping” with the 'FtF approved solutions.' More precisely, it seems that certain 'influential members' there, have been deliberately selected because they either can’t--or won’t EVER contradict the site’s owner! Once I felt emotionally strong enough to do so, I began to challenge this, hoping to effect positive change. That was my 2nd mistake--the first being, joining that site. They then 'closed-ranks' and began to undermine my participation by citing "childish connection issues," deleting my message threads, and being covertly hostile towards me. Instead of FtF being a "safe healing place," my experience was not unlike my early experiences with a severely dysfunctional family system. Fortunately, I'd recovered enough to realize the sum of my errors, and their 'invalidation campaign' played out as I had expected, resulting in my being banned from further participation. Divergent opinions are evidently threatening to people in positions of power at FtF. My bad experience on BPDFamily is now history, and I’ve learned a valuable lesson about relying on Internet based support groups. Hopefully, sharing my experience might help others become as selective about joining online support groups as they are about choosing a therapist. There are good ones out there--and I’ve since found one. When I looked around this new group, I realized that most of its member base is comprised of people like myself, who’ve encountered SERIOUS difficulties on FtF. Again, thank you for doing what you do.
A. You're welcome, and I'm sorry to hear of your BPDFamily catastrophe. It's feedback like yours that motivated me to remove the link to their site from my BPresources page. Thanks for this important and generous contribution.
Q. How long does the 'honeymoon phase' with a Borderline last??
A. Not nearly long enough!
Q. Can two people with borderline traits make it together?
A. This excerpt says it all: You might come to surmise that you're both core-damaged, so why can't this make for a compatible, successful relationship? Have you ever observed two little children playing well together--but if there's an upset between them, they lack conflict resolution skills, and it takes an adult to intercede? Lack of adult development means conflicts escalate, and there's no such thing as problem-solving (which is why there's a need for couples therapists!). Perhaps you've experienced this with your borderline lover, and either gave-up/gave-in, or had to break away until all that tension eased--only to return to find it had blown over with no resolution, and this cycle just kept repeating.
Q. My dad left when I was about a year old, and I'm sure this is why I have abandonment issues, and problems in my relationships with women. I guess I need to know how to overcome this, so it doesn't keep undermining my romantic life and attempts at happiness?
A. We learn about how to love ourselves (and others) from the people who were around when we were growing up! Quit blaming your father for these issues, and begin looking at how your mother (or other primary caregiver) related to, and treated you. That's who has taught you all about emotional abandonment, and undermined your self-worth! Your dad isn't the least bit responsible for your difficulties with women, although I'm sure your mother would disagree.
Q. My girlfriend and I have been together almost 3 years, and she's gotten pregnant. I want to do the right thing by this child, but she doesn't want to see me, says she doesn't want me involved in any way, and that the baby's not mine. I'm really torn about this. What can I do?
A. First, believe her--as this may in fact, not be your child. Get yourself to a good lawyer who will draw up documents for her to sign, letting you off the hook for any/all future responsibility, financially and emotionally for this kid. You have no legal rights to this child, given you're not married to that girl. A Borderline can be very possessive about a baby. It temporarily fills a huge emptiness for her, and makes her feel whole/viable for the first time. She's not about to share those glorious/satisfying sensations with you--until a few years down the road, when she wants to haul your ass into court for child support(no matter what she's stating right now)! You have dodged a bullet. Whatever emotional/moral struggles you're having, work 'em out in therapy.
Q. Why do I feel a need for revenge against my BPD ex-boyfriend?
A. Why wouldn't you?? I suspect you've been sitting with strong feelings of pain, anger and shame given how he treated you, and they're all appropriate to this circumstance! The biggest obstacle to your moving past this trauma, is continuing to judge these emotions as "bad or negative," and making yourself wrong for feeling them--especially, when parts of you are struggling to detach from the love you've felt for him. You might be wrestling with rage and longing for awhile. This is natural--but we can hasten your recovery.
Q. I read your articles just about once a week. I have to read them over and over again to get them into my brain a little at a time. You have said make e mails short. Of all the things I've read about BPD and loving someone with this disorder, your articles have been the most help. Why? Because you tell us Non's the truth. No one else does that. Even the best of the best, write in a way that makes us feel bad, and feel sorry for the person with BPD. This is the last thing we non's need...at least at first. And believe me it can take YEARS to get to the sympathy part. What we non's need at first (and maybe for a long time) is to get mad, get pissed, get a dose of reality! What we non's need is someone to stand up for us! No one in my life ever did that for me, and I thank you for it.
A. You're welcome, and thanks for the feedback. You're correct; we've got to go through anger, before we can find sympathy/forgiveness--otherwise, what is there to forgive??
Q. Hi Shari, I love your website. It's been extremely helpful to me as someone who just encountered their first borderline. These two statements from your article 'If Looks Could Kill' seem contradictory. Could you explain how BPD's chase partners who aren't available--but yet you also say they pick partners who they sense will never leave them? (See quotes) "Chasing partners who are emotionally or physically unavailable--or married/attached, keeps this yearning vibrant, and inhibits them from embracing a partner who's actually able to provide love on a consistent basis." (and) "They usually pick partners they sense will never leave them, which assuages their abandonment concerns--but the 'testing phase' never actually ends."
A. These statements are contradictory. I've been wanting to add clarification to that piece, and it's totally understandable you're feeling confused. This exemplifies the Borderline's paradoxical nature. The Chase is intoxicating for them--but they also seek the security/safety of partners who won't abandon them. Once you're really theirs, the seduction challenge is over, and they don't want you anymore--until you're gone, then (on a whim) they suck you back in, and this vicious cycle repeats.
Q. Shari, should a woman with Borderline Disorder have a baby?
A. Nearly every client I've worked with was raised by people with narcissistic and/or borderline features. Does that answer your question?
Q. Thank you very much for waking me up. Your BPD articles have been so very helpful, and cleared a lot of my confusion--and today I found the link on your resources page, and I'm finally recognizing the extent of abuse I've lived with. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
A. You're very welcome.
Q. Shari, your article on borderline males is extraordinary. I'm a psychiatrist in private practice, and your materials on BPD are the most comprehensive, accurate and insightful I've ever seen, to explain this disorder. I have a few Borderlines in my practice, and I'd like more input regarding why they self-sabotage and break away from treatment, just as they're making tangible progress.
A. This (ironically) boils down to their sense of closeness to you within the therapeutic attachment, and it's partly due to their separation/individuation phase of development (I still need you, but I don't want to!) which coincides with their infancy experience around the age of one (or in this case, about a year into treatment). At this point, you may see some acting-out behaviors; triangulating/diffusing their bond with you by 'test driving' other therapists or alternate modalities of treatment, going back to their former (toxic) lover, skipping standing appointments/rescheduling them at the last minute, being belligerent/resistant to care, transferring long-held unresolved rage toward a parent onto you, etc. This is textbook Rapprochement with any practitioner who's doing solid/meaningful work with core-damaged people. In truth, the better you've done your job, the more likely they are to push away. With any luck, they'll resume when their attachment/abandonment anxiety eases up.
Q. Most of your articles suggest that Borderlines can't be helped. Is this true?
A. It isn't that Borderlines can't be helped--it's that they won't be. Very few have the will and courage to pursue meaningful intervention, and work hard toward recovery. I've worked successfully with this disorder--but the client's dedication to becoming well and whole, is what decides their fate.
Q. I'm finally feeling ready to break it off with my borderline girlfriend, but I'm afraid of hurting her. How should I go about this?
A. The best method is to keep it short and sweet. You'll have a tendency to blame her, or point out all the reasons you need to leave--but this will only relieve your guilt about ending it, and be harmful/shaming to the Borderline. In short, it's not an effective or compassionate departure strategy! Express that you've cared for and appreciated her, but this relationship is no longer a solid fit for you, and you need to move on. If she wants to maintain you as a friend, reference this article, and scroll down to the subsection; CAN'T WE STILL BE FRIENDS?? Friendship involves mutual trust and respect, which has never been at the foundation of this relationship. If it wasn't there when you were sleeping together, it isn't gonna be there when you're not.
Q. Shari, do Borderlines attach to emotionally healthy people?
A. Sure--but emotionally healthy people don't attach to Borderlines.
Q. Can divorce cause Borderline Personality Disorder?
A. No. Actually, it's just the other way around.
Q. I broke up with a borderline two weeks ago. Does she miss me?
A. Not like you need to think she does--or should. Scroll down to and read the 'myths' section of this article.
Q. Shari, are ALL Borderlines hyper-sexual and promiscuous--and will they all have affairs on their partner?
A. No--in fact, some Borderlines are asexual (or non-sexual) especially after marriage, and may actually fear sexual closeness. This can take the form of male impotency; chronic premature ejaculation, inability to orgasm during intercourse and failure to achieve/maintain erections--and Vaginismus, or chronic vaginal and/or bladder problems that occur in females with borderline traits, which can disrupt or prevent erotic interplay. These somatic issues typically stem from early, buried psychic/emotional trauma. Many Borderlines do stray from their primary relationships, but it's not true for all of them.
Q. Shari, I came across your article about borderline men last night, and WOW. I feel like you've been in my house, studying my relationship. You have no idea how helpful these BPD articles were. 11 years of blaming myself virtually disappeared, and I am filled with a sense of peace I never dreamed possible (I gave up on silly things like hopes, dreams and desires about 9 years ago). My problem is, I married the narcissist. I was 19, my dad ran off when I was two, and had recently died when I met this man. Blah blah, you see where I'm going with this--you've probably heard it a thousand times before. The divorce hearing is in a couple days, and I am really looking forward to never having to even say his name again, but the problem is, we have a child--he's always going to be around. I'm wondering if you have any tips for divorcing the borderline. More importantly, do you have or know of any resources for children of borderlines? Our daughter is 8, and while she is more emotionally mature than he'll ever be, I realize that his lies and manipulations will carry over into the courtroom, and he'll likely be granted extensive visitation, if not joint custody. Thanks.
A. First, there is nothing wrong with hopes, dreams and desires; they assist you in creating a more gratifying reality. With regard to your child, when the Mother-ship is sound, her passengers can reach their destination intact. Stop confusing your feelings, anxieties and needs with hers. This is projection, and it's undermining to her. Get into some solid (core) therapy to dismantle the self-worth issues and self-sabotaging behaviors you've carried around for a lifetime. As You grow stronger, more integrated and whole, your daughter will automatically benefit--as you'll have even more inner resources to share with her, and be better able to navigate the dissolution of this marriage.
Q. Wow. I was browsing your website after doing a Google search for BPD abuse, and landed on your 'Testimonials' page. The way those people raved about your articles made me curious enough to click on the links--and I must tell you, I've never come across anything like them. You are a genius! Thank you for making this information available for guys like me. You've not only helped me learn about the Borderline--you have helped me understand myself a lot better, and now I've got a roadmap. Thanks again.
A. My pleasure.
Q. Shari, thank you for your informative web site. Have you been listening to my conversations and watching my daily interactions with a BPD woman? I am a married man who was having difficulty in my marriage (lack of attention) and was attracted to this "damsel in distress" and began a flirtatious relationship with her. This has been the roughest 12 months of my life. In my desperation I began 'googling' personality disorders because I knew something was not right. Yes! I am a fixer, a police officer for 25 years and a hostage negotiator. I have negotiated with real "nut jobs" in the past and never became this emotionally spent and screwed up. To think, I almost bailed on my wife and kids for this woman who would eventually make me eat my gun! Since finding your site, I have started to distance myself from her after last 'splitting' episode. Today (Christmas) I've already received her text message saying "I guess you don't want to talk any-more...I'm forgettable, so its okay...I wouldn't expect any different," blah blah blah. How stupid I have felt over this--and thanks to you, no more. Yes, I will deal with my own issues now.
Q. My BPD girlfriend is married, and she's wanting to leave her husband and be with me. The problem is, they have a young son together, and she can't leave their state, due to joint custody laws. She tells me how much she misses and loves me--and my heart breaks when she describes how cruel and manipulating her husband is, and how hopeless she feels. She's talked about killing herself if she has to stay with him--and that she's only keeping herself going for the sake of their little boy. I've already sent her thousands of dollars to help with legal fees so she can get out of this marriage, and I don't know what else to do. I'm so in love with this woman, I'm thinking of closing down my business and moving across the country to be close to her. Any advice?
A. Yes. Don't do it! Borderlines can only love you from afar. All this drama is very romantic, but you can't trust what this woman tells you, as Borderlines are pathological liars. Here's an excerpt from one of my articles; If you're playing with a married woman, pay close attention to how she talks about her husband and their relationship. She might tell you he's abusive, cold or narcissistic, and that they haven't had sex in years. I doubt you'll believe me, but regardless of this connection you share, there's a very good chance she'll be saying the same things to another guy one day, about you! You may feel sad or angry she's had to endure such a "loveless/passionless" marriage, and you'll do anything to give her comfort, and support her efforts to get free; after all, you've been wanting her to be yours--but this is when your dynamic will change! Do you remember the film, Body Heat? Think of Kathleen Turner's character, Maddie as an example of a coupled Borderline.
Q. Is the Narcissist intimidated by the Borderline?
A. Yes, and no. Insecure people are often intimidated by those more brilliant or beautiful than they, and this can be true for the Narcissist--but the issue of 'intimidation' is more about their perceived level of need, which I speak to here; HAVEN'T WE MET BEFORE? The Borderline/Narcissist Couple. Needing is exceedingly uncomfortable for narcissistic individuals, because it implies a loss of control, and inability to maintain their (grandiose) one-up position.
Q. Ms. Schreiber, I've read (and reread) your articles on BPD, and wish to thank you for making this information available on the Web. My psychiatrist initially referred me to your site, and these materials have been enormously helpful, in getting me through the toughest time in my life (literally, 'saving my life, after loving a Borderline')! I cannot thank you enough. I've spent time on a few BPD message boards for extra support along the way, and I'm frankly shocked that one of them (BPDfamily.com) is maligning you, saying your license was canceled--and you're claiming to be someone you're not. I've found your materials to be more helpful than anything else I've come across (including several BPD books I've purchased), to help me better understand my ex, and why this relationship was so gut wrenching. I don't think I could have gotten through all this, without your help. Thank you, and God bless!!!
A. You're very welcome! I completed a 6-year Marriage and Family Therapist private practice internship in 2001, so perhaps this is showing on record. I took both Calif. state boards, passed the first one and was preparing again for the second, when I met with a serious accident in 2007 which could have killed me--but thankfully only left me with painful bruises, scrapes and a bad concussion. Around this time, I surrendered my application for MFT licensure, because I wasn't capable of focusing, or sitting for that upcoming exam. The BBS refunded my application fee, upon receiving ambulance documentation of the incident. Life offered a detour along my path, and I chose to take it. I have never misrepresented myself or my services--as I'm not in the 'therapy' business. Everyone who seeks my help is informed up front, that I do notwork as a state licensed clinician--and there isn't anything on my site, which suggests that I do. This hasn't seemed to be a deterrent so far--even with clients who are practicing psychologists or psychiatrists. I had a run-in with the director of the blog site you've mentioned, awhile back. Apparently, he found one of my articles valuable, and (despite my non-consent) used it in a PDF file! I'm guessing he might want to discredit or devalue me now, as revenge for my not granting him that permission. Ah well, sticks and stones.
Q. How condescending Skip at BPDfamily is towards you--and he sure does like to copy your work! This is blatant plagiarism, if you ask me. Almost point by point they copied you - barely changing the wording even! I noticed this before I read your statement regarding BPDfamily at the end of one of your articles. Hopefully everything will work out in your favor. Just wanted to let you know that I love your work, and please don't get discouraged by this snake--your articles literally saved my life. Thank you!
A. Thanks, dear--you're very kind. I am pleased that my materials have been helpful to you! Keep up the good work. I'm hearing from other members on BPDfamily who are as disturbed by Skip's derisive fabrications about me as you are. Isn't it odd that he keeps stealing from my articles, when he thinks so poorly of me? It would seem this epitomizes valuing/devaluing behaviors, but you be the judge.
Q. Shari, I know you claim to not 'hate' borderlines, but your articles seem unsympathetic to them, and come across as well, just plain angry. Why?
A. The best way for me to respond, is to ask: Is anger an emotion you ever allow yourself to feel? When you do experience anger, do you feel guilty or bad about it afterward? Have you held judgment toward yourself about this feeling, and others as well? An emotionally sound person will not tolerate the feelings an abusive relationship invokes, and they'll get the hell out.My work (and articles) give you permission to feel all your emotions, without recriminations, censure or self-ridicule--so you can grow healthier and more whole. Whether you're a Borderline or not, that's the goal of healing work.
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