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.
When you've begun dating your Borderline, you're so excited and enraptured, you don't want to hear anyone's warnings, or read anything that might make you think this Honeymoon phase won't last forever. It's natural/normal to feel this way, but it keeps you from benefiting from the prophylactic value of my writings, which can save you from indescribable pain up ahead.
Virtually anyone can write a 'how-to' manual about leaving a Borderline, but this is not a behavioral issue--if it were, you'd have gotten out long before now. This literature attempts to help you understand the intricate conflicts you face about leaving this person, and assists you in making a sound decision to exit this toxic relationship, and avoid subjecting yourself to more trauma.
You could have been wrestling for awhile with leaving your Borderline, due to the substantial levels of stress and drama you've had to endure since it got started. You're conflicted, because when you think about moving on, you feel guilty~ but when you consider sticking around, you're pretty sure this pit in your stomach will remain, too. And then of course, there's the unbelievable "chemistry" that keeps you wanting more.
If you've been with a Borderline Waif, the prospect of deserting this fragile, needful lover is even more daunting, because you're trapped between sensing this ship is about to sink and saving yourself, or remaining, and going down with it. Attraction keeps you hooked into him/her, despite the chaos, uncertainty and craziness that comes with it. Still, it shouldn't be so hard to walk out on this deal, right? Don't kid yourself. Walking away is the easy part. The toxic turmoil that goes on inside you afterward, is precisely why this piece was written.
There is no denying, that leaving your borderline lover will be tough~ but at some point, you'll have to reach a determination about your own well-being. You'll vacillate between guilt if you leave, but repetitious bouts of shame if you stay. Paul Simon's song, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover is upbeat and fun, but it addresses your very difficult decision. Listen to the YouTube video. You'll feel a bit lighter.
GIVING YOURSELF PERMISSION TO BREAK IT OFF
Allowing yourself to leave somebody is the roughest part of all this, because you'd never deliberately hurt another~ and you'd much rather harm yourself, than risk being thought of as an "insensitive or abandoning person." *This is an emotional leftover from your childhood, which is discussed a bit further down in this literature.
It takes a lot of courage/fortitude to actually leave a Borderline, and scores of people never do. Your motivation might finally come from recognizing that this prize isn't worth the price you're paying to remain. Some folks develop a secret plan for their abrupt escape in response to many years of having to fear a partner's emotional and/or physical volatility. This probably isn't the best or most admirable way to exit this relationship, but the sad reality is, it might be your safest and most sound option. If you're frowning more than you're smiling, make concrete plans to get out!
If you've already exited this affair, it catalyzes such intense self-doubt and turmoil, you can barely give your focus to anything else. Some of my other materials reveal sixteen myths about Borderlines, that will effectively help you navigate your way back to stability and sanity. And yes dear, rest assured that this insanity you're presently experiencing, is only temporary! It's in direct proportion to hanging-out with someone who's unstable, dysfunctional and living on the border of psychosis~ that's why the clinical term, Borderline was coined.
Some people have so much self-judgment and guilt over the idea of leaving, they develop life-threatening diseases that ultimately force their departure by death. In short, now there's something 'outside' their control, that has allowed them to exit this toxic and tormenting dynamic. Throughout my practice, I've seen all too often how the monumental stress of a relationship with a borderline disordered individual, can literally kill you!
LEARNING THE LANGUAGE OF LEAVING - BE KIND, BE SWIFT, BE GONE!
Try to remember, you're not separating from "a disorder," you're separating from a human being. It's far easier to think about running away from an affliction, than an individual who wrestles with one, and this difficulty is certainly addressed here.
A solid rule of thumb for your future is, never get involved with someone who has more problems than You.
The best exit method is to keep it short and sweet. You might have a tendency to blame her, or point out all the reasons you need to leave in order to justify your departure, but this will only relieve your guilt about ending it, and be harmful and shaming to the Borderline. This is 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 subsection; CAN'T WE STILL BE FRIENDS?? Friendship involves mutual trust, caring 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!
Anticipate that you'll be missing this individual for awhile and feeling a void. Allow yourself to cry. Mourn and grieve this loss. You can also expect to feel some mixed and conflicting emotions for awhile, once you walk away from this relationship. This is normal, which is why you've put off leaving for this long!
We're programmed from an early age to think that 'right' choices or decisions result in good feelings, but that's seldom true. Sound/healthy decisions require a lot of courage, because they're the hardest ones to make. Emotional fallout usually follows, which tests our integrity and the strength of our convictions.
Whenever hard emotions follow correct choices, we second-guess ourselves, and presume we made the wrong choice! This could leave you doubting your perceptions of that relationship after the break-up, and thinking you should return. I know this part feels lousy, because you're having to experience your own inner pain or emptiness that you've tried to distract from while being with a high-maintenance lover~ but you've made the right decision for yourself, so stick to it.
WHY WON'T HE/SHE RETURN MY STUFF??
As long as a BPD ex holds onto your belongings, they're able to retain a part of YOU. Surrendering your 'stuff' can mean to him or her that it's really over. In short, it's closure~ which the Borderline has a very hard time tolerating.
If you're considering leaving, it's best to start taking your things out of their environment, for you might not be able to get them back (intact) after you've ended the relationship.
It doesn't matter how much your Borderline claims to hate you or never want to see you again. If you value your clothes, razor, watch, etc., you must take them before you leave, or be willing to kiss 'em goodbye. If not, you'll be having to keep this door open long past when it seems much healthier to walk away and end all contact.
IF A BORDERLINE FALLS IN THE FOREST, AND NOBODY'S AROUND TO HEAR IT--DOES SHE/HE STILL MAKE A SOUND?
If you've managed to get away, the Borderline may barrage you for months, with incessant text messages, emails and phone calls. It's highly advisable that you ignore all attempts at contact, as these will keep you hooked into depression, torment and deep despair. The craziness you've been feeling will intensify, whenever you listen to or read these efforts to manipulate you, so delete, delete, delete!!!
As long as you hit this ball back across the net, and let him/her engage you in any manner, you are keeping your pain very present and alive. Yes, your self-worth feels dependent on these outreaches, but try to take heart (for now) that their frantic attempts to get your attention, should only be thought of as a Bandaid for your long-held sense of unworthiness and shame, and leave it at that!
The come here, go away stuff doesn't end, just because you're not together. An ignored Borderline will alternate between diminishing/shaming comments or vile accusations, and loving expressions that cajole you into thinking they still care. When you stop taking or returning their calls, they can't stand this loss of control, so they flip-flop between "wanting" you and wanting to punish you.
The Borderline will try every tactic and trick in the book, to get you to respond~ the most painful one being, when they've threatened; "this is the very last time you'll ever hear from me," but then they've phoned or texted you, eighty-seven times more! With most Borderlines, there's almost no such thing as finality or closure. In short, it's not over 'til the Fat Lady sings~ and if it is, you're one lucky son of a gun!
The Borderline's self-worth is tied to remaining connected~ but so is yours! This can take the form of solicitous contacts, after numerous months or even years. He/she could be flirtatious or seductive with you--even after you've become seriously involved with another, which speaks to their lack of boundaries.
Disappointment with their current love or feeling too close to him/her, can trigger phone calls or unplanned, impromptu visits with you! If you've had a bunch of 'hang-ups' on your voicemail, these are due to the unrestrained, juvenile acting-out impulses of someone who's extremely underdeveloped and unstable.
At some point, you'll have to set firm parameters and limits for the Borderline concerning acceptable behaviors (as you would with a young child), as this person is incapable of discerning or setting them for him or herself. This is hard--but you'll pay a much higher price, if you don't. The healthiest thing for you, is totally blocking their access to you, but I doubt you can do this before undertaking some therapeutic growth and healing work.
Boundary issues typically draw intense media exposure, due to their bizarre or sensationalistic nature. Headline stories about women or men engaging in self-sabotaging, risky behaviors that put their professional and personal lives in peril, are most often generated by borderline disordered individuals.
Whether we're hearing about teachers sexually engaging their students, or a wife who's severed her husband's genitals, we're observing a lack of impulse control that's typical of borderline pathology. Are you feeling incredulous or shocked by incidents reported in the news? You're hearing about the repercussions of someone living with acute levels of this disorder.
GET SMART. DISCOVER WHAT KEEPS YOU BONDED TO AN IMPAIRED, DYSFUNCTIONAL PERSONALITY!
Borderlines can be extremely tormenting and confusing, due to their paradoxical natures. You may have felt totally perplexed by their unpredictable, contrary responses to your gestures of care and affection. Indeed, this is actually the most confounding issue one faces with a borderline disordered individual, for as you love them more, they love you less!
Your confusion compels you to remain, because your rational mind wants to make sense of these odd experiences, and this response is natural. The problem is, it leads to obsession.
Clarity is crystalized, when you begin to accept that feelings of harmony and peace can mean death to a Borderline. They've grown up with such strife and chaos, it takes tremendous stimuli (acute psychic, emotional or physical pain) to break through their numbed out emotions, and produce sensations of aliveness.
Borderlines can feel empty and invisible during serene times, while you may be relishing a brief vacation from all that drama and struggle! This peculiarity is central to why they pick fights with you after the calm or especially good times. It helps them feel something, other than nothingness or deadness. It's also why they're often attracted to abusers, which let's be honest~ might be true for you, too.
Some men have reported a willingness to die for their Borderline, and a deeply disordered individual might ask this of you, to prove your devotion! You feel such an intense need to have your affection returned, you could be "dying to love her," but this essentially mirrors your own deep, painful craving for loving attention.
Watch the film, Casino starring Sharon Stone and Robert De Niro. He struggles to trust this woman he loves, but Stone's character makes it impossible, while giving us a spectacular portrayal of a high-functioning, emotionally impaired female with BPD.
Borderlines are bullies. Reasoning with them is an utterly useless exercise that only digs you deeper into chaos and drama. Would you attempt adult reasoning with an infant?
It takes one person to change a relationship (not save it--that requires a commitment by both), and two to keep it the same or stagnant. The only way to handle a Borderline's acting-out, is to set very firm limits and boundaries for them, as you would for a three year old. When they begin acting up, tell him/her you need them to leave. If you're in their home or an environment you mutually share, you leave. If you're on the phone with them, terminate that call immediately. You are subliminally re-programming your Borderline to start learning which behaviors are acceptable/appropriate and keep you around, and which are not.
Very simply, 'bad' behavior must consistently be associated with loss of contact and attention. Otherwise, whether you're still in this dynamic or not, you're playing by their rules, not yours, and this ball has to remain in your court. You must be the adult in this relationship, and take charge~ it's your only hope for any peace and sanity, unless/until you extract yourself from their insidiously toxic grasp.
BACKSTAGE, BEHIND THE CURTAIN OF THIS PLAY.
I hate to say it, but the Borderline is an emotional vampire. He/she has steadily worn you down with constant brainwashing, and drained your vitality and health. When you have finally left this treacherous dance, you could feel like a shadow of your former self. Their skewed perceptions make it seem like you're viewing yourself in a warped Fun House mirror, and you start believing that this distorted reflection of you is accurate! You've been mortally wounded, and it's taken a huge toll on your spirit, psyche and body.
The continuous stress of emotional/psychological warfare negatively impacts the human condition more than physical abuse, and some men develop serious ailments during their time in these relationships. Prostate problems, heart conditions, blood disorders, herpes breakouts, migraine headaches, glaucoma and cancer are just a few of the souvenirs guys have retained from these couplings, regardless of how physically powerful they were before they met their BPD tormentor. One of my ex's abruptly left me and married a Borderline--and twelve years later, he was diagnosed with a Parkinson's-type neurological disease. They're divorced now, but it's too little, too late. The damage to his body and psyche has been irreversible. He can no longer drive, or even walk. He's wheelchair bound.
Resuming this relationship--no matter how empty, adrift or tortured you feel when he/she's gone, could absolutely bring about what I call, Death by Borderline.
Again, if breaking away from your Borderline were simply a behavioral issue, you'd have certainly done it long before now, but there are some powerful emotional underpinnings to this attraction, which have kept you going back for more.
To one extent or another, all of my BPD materials reveal and explain these issues in fairly concise terms, and if you think that no part of this has to do with your unresolved issues, you will painfully continue longing for somebody who's just beyond your reach. Because of the Borderline's profound attachment fears, they interpret this painful craving to mean it's "true love," too.
Interestingly enough, several married men have admitted that sex with their wife far surpassed any sensual/sexual relations with their Borderline! This is not the norm, but it does happen. There's something about their connection with this particular female that touches on a primitive place inside from infancy and early boyhood, and makes this union seem magical, despite her deficits and disturbances.
The very fact that you're struggling with the decision of leaving, means you have a degree of emotional health and grounding. That's the good news! The bad news, is this conflict you're experiencing, involves some nasty leftovers from childhood that are making it horribly difficult to exercise sound, self-preserving life choices, and extricate yourself from this mess.
WE LEARN HOW TO LOVE, AND WHO TO LOVE FROM OUR PARENTS.
The Borderline reawakens feelings you had to suppress/put away as a child, to survive in your environment. A child's emotional pain often goes unnoticed or unattended to by his parents, and so he learns to disregard it himself--or make it not matter, just to get by.
If you have frequently exclaimed "whatever" during your life when intense frustration or disappointment overtook you, you're probably an adult child, who's stored your pain deep inside.
It's hard to comprehend why we've decided to love a broken person who makes us feel so much stress. We want to resist believing that something's wrong with him/her, as it brings up questions about ourselves, and our own sanity! It forces us to examine what's wrong with us, that we're attracted to this kind of individual who keeps us illogically ensnared. We shudder to think that we could be damaged too~ but perhaps that's why this has seemed like a 'match made in heaven' (at least, at first). Like attracts like, and birds of a feather flock together. You must find a competent professional to help you mend your childhood wounds, so you're no longer attracted to people who are incapable of loving you.
You need her to be the Identified Patient (IP), which is a clinical term that's used in Family Therapy, when parents enlist therapeutic help for a child who acts-out the subtle, underlying tensions in his or her home environment. But the truth is, you have both survived abandonment wounds during childhood, and you're attracted to chaos, pain and struggle because of those.
*It's likely that you've become a People Pleaser, with perfectionistic traits. This means, you learned how to act and respond perfectly in childhood, to get the kind of attention you needed, in order to feel okay or good about yourself--and this became the foundation of your self-worth.
This issue is salient in reference to your irresistible draw toward the Borderline, as he/she represents the disowned personality facets you had to discard early in life, to gain acceptance or approval. Carl Jung (noted psychiatrist) referred to these natural and darker aspects in all humans, as The Shadow Self. These are instinctual/animalistic traits that are neither good nor bad--but get triggered in response to various stressors. (My book, DO YOU LOVE TO BE NEEDED, OR NEED TO BE LOVED? Reveals how your core injuries have left you with poor self-worth, and why you fall for people who echo precisely the same view you have of yourself.)
Quite simply, this Shadow part of us houses our darker facets and feelings, like envy, rage, hatred, jealousy, sadness, etc., that we've been unable or unwilling to claim and operate from ourselves, because we were taught by our parents to judge them as unacceptable or "wrong" emotions during childhood.
Unfortunately, you've unwittingly selected a perfect counterpart in this Borderline, to hold and express these feelings for you. This is why he/she might have made you feel more complete or whole.
In truth, if you cannot allow yourself any vulnerability, you may be drawn to a BPD Waif. If you had to be the "perfect child," you could be attracted to someone with larcenous traits, like the BPD Witch. If you've been taught to be humble and self-effacing, the BPD Queen's imperious nature would fascinate you. Your open, gregarious personality could be constrained or tempered by the Hermit Borderline. In short, you're looking for a sense of balance that's been missing within yourself.
WHEN OPPOSITES ATTRACT, CHALLENGES TURN INTO COMPULSIONS.
I once had a client who was the epitome of responsibility. She'd gotten good grades in school, had entered a solid profession, and always did everything she thought she was 'supposed' to. This woman consistently chose abusers and losers who were broke, cheated on her, and left her in serious debt. At the end of every destructive affair, she swore she'd "never go there again," but as soon as she'd begin to recover financially and emotionally from the last involvement, the next guy chosen was literally a carbon copy of the one before! Her lovers' traits were the antithesis of her perfect, "good girl" image, and she was addicted to pain.
The Borderline may act-out in ways we'd never consider behaving ourselves! He/she might have infidelities, be violent, castrating, abandoning or actually steal from you, and exhibit the most vile/repugnant behaviors imaginable--but you'll somehow keep overlooking and excusing them, hoping they will change.
Healthy/whole people don't do this! The 'good' parts of the Borderline are the ones you can identify with and relate to--the 'bad' parts, are the ones you keep trying to abolish from their personality, as persistently as you have amputated them from your own. This effort is futile, and you're wasting your time and energy.
Your challenge to change someone is invigorating, because it feeds your narcissism; you actually believe that you can fix someone else like you've fixed you, in order to be accepted or feel a sense of belonging. Your obsession to repair this lover, is directly associated with cravings during childhood for affection and positive mirroring from your parents. The trouble is, you've subconsciously selected the same type of person who raised you, to try and meet these needs~ and there's never gonna be cheese at the end of this tunnel.
Consider this: If you're willing to embrace the darker aspects in another, and love them in spite of those~ why won't you do the same for yourself? Once you learn how to do this, you'll have a much healthier relationship with You, and stop needing others to hold and express the emotions and personality facets you don't want! You'll also begin letting go of your passive aggression.
A RETROSPECTIVE ON TORMENT, AND THE PHENOMENON OF NEEDING A SENSE OF "CLOSURE."
If you felt as though you and your needs didn't matter past the seduction phase in this relationship, you were very close to the truth! In reality, a Borderline is primarily interested in obtaining narcissistic supply. This means, virtually anyone can become his or her next object of interest, to satisfy their ego needs.
They might flirt with others or initiate romantic exchanges over the Internet, while they're involved with you! If God forbid, you aren't instantly available when he/she wants you, they could forage for attention and mirroring elsewhere. In a sense, their partners are interchangeable--no matter what you've been told.
Never ask your Borderline questions to elicit their sympathy or understanding! You're attempting to engage a three year old, remember? He/she cannot relate to your pain, nor comprehend the motivation behind your questioning. You must only offer statements that start out with, "I feel, I want, I need you to..." etc. A small child has zero capacity for empathy. Stop expecting this developmentally arrested guy/gal to 'get' what you're trying to say. It ain't gonna happen.
BEWARE OF ANYONE WHO SAYS, "I'M NEVER WRONG."
The Borderline will never take ownership of their flaws or failings--but they may accuse You of the most heinous acts or betrayals. Some even file false police reports of violence, and take out restraining orders against you--but they're simply projecting their own shame onto you. You'll probably struggle with this, as your natural impulse is to point out these behaviors in them, in a somewhat frantic attempt to vindicate yourself. Don't waste your time. Regardless of what you say to this individual, their cognitive distortions won't go away--and you'll only be helping them make you feel crazier, with each contact!
Are you outraged that your Borderline could put this stuff on you--when it's really theirs? Of course you are! But the only satisfaction/revenge you'll ever get with a Borderline, is to shut them out/ignore them completely. The very minute that you re-engage, you're giving them the attention they're craving, which instantly makes them think they still deserve your love and care~ even when you're desperately trying to recover from their most recent abuses.
Looking for closure? Don't hold your breath. The Borderline's defenses will derail any/all friendly, open dialogues that might afford you some peace of mind, unless you're extremely lucky enough to catch him/her in a lucid or sane moment (which guarantees nothing, by the way). The problem is, if you catch him/her in a moment of sanity, it revives your hope that this individual can be a rational, healthy adult~ which is why you've stayed far too long in the first place! The upshot? You're right back in that painful yearning for the kind of love you couldn't quite grab onto and retain, while you were still with this guy or gal. You're playing with fire. Leave it alone.
In truth, the only kind of real closure you can get, involves You coming to terms with the fact that you've tried to have a functional relationship with a dysfunctional individual. Learn and grow from this experience and work hard to get well, so you can eventually be attracted to someone much healthier.
IN THE FINAL ANALYSIS
I've come to think of the Borderline personality as a person with no epidermis. They're raw and bleeding. Metaphorically, they lack a container and have no skin holding them in. Perhaps this is why they're so easily injured emotionally, and hypersensitive to--well, just about everything.
It's impossible to make a simple comment to someone with BPD, without them personalizing it and hyper-reacting. After awhile, this gets pretty tedious, even in friendships! These folks were raised by toxic, passive-aggressive parents whose guidance and corrections were never constructive, but were always delivered in a wounding, sarcastic, sideways manner that fully intended to diminish, harm and undermine the child's self-worth. Borderlines are always on-guard, to discern indirect slights. They are severely damaged from childhood, but somehow You are expected to absorb and endure their never ending rage and hurt feelings for all that unresolved pain.
A former gal-pal is a psychologist. She's brilliant and beautiful, but every single time we got together, she would apologize for the way she looked! I'd gently point this out during our lengthy friendship, but the issue never changed. I finally stopped trying to compliment or correct her grossly distorted view of herself. I'd just smile, and facetiously agree; "Yah--I'm utterly shocked you have the nerve to meet with me tonight!" Sadly, this woman's mother was an alcoholic BPD Witch, who left her with horrible wounds and defenses that have demolished all her interpersonal relationships. Ironically, she's a self-proclaimed, expert couples therapist!
People have accused me of vilifying or hating Borderlines, but this isn't at all true. A few clients I've been very fond of had personality disorders, and a great number of colleagues/friends have had borderline traits, as well. Do I care for them any less? No, but I've had to accept serious interpersonal limitations in those relationships and maintain a safer distance, or terminate those associations for my own sake.
The Borderline is much like a tornado that rips through your world, leaving only destruction and chaos in its wake. You can easily lose your home and family, your job or business, your health, your reputation, your friends, etc. Is he/she really worth it? You be the judge.
If you have an iPhone, iPad or iPod this app will let you hear this material;http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/web-reader-text-to-speech/id320808874?mt=8
Both women and men can have BPD. Learn about toxic borderline males.
Literally hundreds of hours per month were given to writing and editing these articles. All of the words and phrases in these pieces are original--meaning, not borrowed from any forums, books, or other materials on the Internet. I have intended this site as a free wellness resource to help you to learn, heal and grow. You may link to my articles and share them with friends or family, but reproducing, amending or adapting these works or any portion thereof, constitutes copyright infringement and/or plagiarism, which is punishable in Federal Court. I've asked the owner, "Skippy" of www.BPDFamily.org/.com to respect this, in reference to material he's stolen from my pages for self-serving purposes after I refused him permission to use or adapt this article in Sept., 2008. This is a blatant disregard for another's intellectual property, which is a serious offense that feels akin to someone kidnapping your child. I'm pursuing this infraction, and am hoping that you (my readers) will not be harmed by it. Those who emulate you, either admire or envy you. Those who admire give you credit. Those who envy, steal what's yours and call it theirs.