Crucial Strategies for Living with a BPD Partner


This literature is written for males who (for whatever purposes) are making a conscious, deliberate choice to maintain their relationship with a borderline disordered individual . . . and are hoping to survive it.


If you're a female who has been diagnosed with BPD, or believe you're living with borderline personality features, please exit this page immediately, as it is not intended for your consumption. In truth, the BPD materials on this site have been written solely for people trying to recover from tormenting, toxic relationships, and are not meant to be a support resource for Borderlines.

For you Non's who are remaining, there is one inalienable truth you'll have to accept before proceeding: It is You who must be willing and able to change (not your Borderline) to alleviate some of the chaos and drama in your relationship. This task falls to you, because it's simpler for you to learn tools and strategies to navigate this course, than for your BPD partner to acquire enough emotional development to alter this painful, tormenting dynamic you share.

I am not suggesting by any stretch of the imagination, that this will be easy for you--it's just the more practical and sound choice, if you're going to stick with a Borderline for any protracted or undetermined period.

This isn't some magical fix, so the two of you can sail happily off into the sunset together (that's impossible to accomplish with a personality disordered individual). It's a way to reduce some of the turmoil, drama and stress you've experienced in this crazy-making dance with your BPD lover.

It's important to understand that your emotions have been tampered with and manipulated from the very start of this relationship, and if you are the child of a mother with BPD traits, this has been an especially challenging bond. You've grown up with someone impossible to please or cheer, and it has set the tone of every relationship experience you've encountered in your adult life, for this is what's felt "normal" due to your earliest relational dynamic with Mom.

As the Borderline tells you about her past lovers and how they've disappointed her in the midst of a new romantic endeavor, she's (indirectly) warning you about how not to behave in order to keep her! Her stories are cloaked as 'intimacy,' so they inspire your compassion for her and disdain for those other men, and make you feel determined not to be anything like them! Most BPD individuals are pathological liars, but you'll feel no need (as a naive new suitor) to doubt or question the validity of these sympathy-invoking tales.

You might think that winning this girl over will be easy, for you're nothing like those "abusive, selfish" guys that came before you. You're likely a People Pleaser~ one of the 'good guys' who cherishes women, and wants to make them happy. Your wife or girlfriend's desires and needs always come first with you, and you're 'Johnny on the spot,' when it comes to taking charge to handle any problem or difficulty she encounters.

You're even-tempered, and almost never angry. When you do express any angry feelings, you feel guilty afterward. You're much more comfortable giving than receiving, and you're quick to put your own needs aside to respond to someone else's. When you get upset, you're unlikely to speak about it, and you've swept a lot of feelings under the rug your whole life, for fear of losing another's approval or affection. In essence, you quietly navigate your existence trying not to upset others (desperately hoping they'll like you), and measure your worth by whether someone responds positively or negatively to you. Sadly, all this is a faulty carryover from your childhood, and it has to be repaired.

First and foremost, you must understand that passivity is The Kiss of Death in any relationship with a Borderline. This principle holds true for therapists who treat individuals with BPD, as well. Quite simply, they need firm limits and boundaries set for them throughout your time together. In short, you must gain control over your BPD relationship! To continue believing that you don't, just invites and promotes more chaos.

There's a 99% likelihood you grew up with a passive, accommodating dad and domineering/controlling mom, and that was the original 'blueprint' from which you designed and built your own adult relationship. Your romantic selections were subconsciously determined, as you witnessed no alternate frame of reference for a more healthy, loving interaction between two adults. Your father could have been a gentle, sweet guy~ but he may have given you no sense whatsoever, for what it meant to be a strong, self-respecting Man.

If Mother was ferocious or volatile, and you saw a hardworking father who tried to satisfy her every whim and desire, you accepted and integrated that males are to be manipulated/controlled by a partner who always gets her way. In short, you're programmed to keep giving, when precious little is returned.

You may have had a rageful, frightening dad and passive/BPD Waif (victim-type) mom. You didn't want to be monstrously scary like Father when you grew up, so you identified more with Mother's passivity, and emulated her instead (as she seemed the lesser of two evils). Problem is, you've thrown the baby out with the bathwater and amputated all darker feelings completely out of your emotional repertoire. This has left you with a partial personality, rather than a healthy, whole one.

Nearly every male who's seeking help to navigate these relational dynamics, thinks that passivity is the antidote for their BPD partner's volatility. The kinder or nicer they are, the more their Borderline accuses them of neglect or selfishness, and rejects them. This is agonizingly confounding for any person who views himself as basically loving, generous and good, and brings up archaic pain from childhood.

These guys keep trying to please despite the frustration, shame and pain they experience in this type of relationship, and fear traps them in a never-ending cycle of torment. Many grew up in a 'war zone' with parents fighting a lot, and they learned to hide-out in a foxhole and be invisible, to escape a parent's rage and abuse. Separating from danger is much harder to do, when you're sleeping with it.

Some of these men are assertive/aggressive in their work world, but passive and meek at home. Abandonment concerns prevent them from honoring their feelings or needs, and taking a stand for themselves. Due to distressing childhood events, maintaining a sense of safety has become paramount, and they don't want to rock the boat.

This strategy helps boys survive during childhood, but it's counterproductive to any relationship with a BPD individual, whether it be a partner, friend or boss. Sadly, this boyhood conditioning remains entrenched, until solid help is engaged to help him grow self-worth (which is not dependent on another's approval).

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You cannot control day to day or week to week whether a Borderline loves you or hates you (that's about their life-long inner pain and turmoil, which has nothing whatsoever to do with You!), but you absolutely must command their respect--it's the only way to teach them suitable behavior. None of this has to do with physical violence or volatility of any kind, mind you. Being assertive does not mean being abusive.

I'm troubled that too many female and male therapists try to feminize men, and don't honor/respect the quintessential differences between females and males. They seem to totally disregard the masculine archetype, while urging men toward greater 'sensitivity.' This clinical subjectivity is a dangerous misuse of power by clinicians who fear the primal aspects in men, and it's castrating. No heterosexual gal wants a passive guy, whether she's BPD or not!

This issue is rampant among clients who come to me after psychotherapeutic intervention, and it substantially inhibits and delays their ability to make progress. Bottom line: Males are helped to grow into Men here--not women.

It's essential we tackle your passivity. This is part of your Non's nature that keeps you walking on eggshells with a BPD partner, not making waves and hoping things can settle down and get better. Wake-up and smell the coffee! If your Borderline isn't engaging core-focused healing and growth work, it ain't gonna happen.

When one partner in a couple is passive/avoidant, it forces the other to be active and aggressive. In short, when you reject your own darker emotions, your partner is saddled with the task of holding and expressing the feelings for both of you--and that isn't fair or healthy for any relationship. Nobody can remain intrigued with a one-dimensional, predictable, cardboard cut-out of someone~ could You??

You might have some trouble accessing any assertive traits within yourself. Your child's mind automatically presumed the example your parents set was how adult relationships worked, and you never questioned their miserable marital dynamic--you simply imitated it. Every child emulates his/her parents, so if you have kids at home, you are literally teaching them to replicate your own distressing dynamics when they grow up!

Borderlines are bullies, whose bark is substantially bigger than their bite. If you yield when she pushes rather than pushing back harder, you've already lost the battle, and things always get worse. Remember, your Borderline is like a three year old who tests your limits just to see how much she can get away with, and you can't keep letting a toddler run (and ruin) your life.

When you finally assert yourself with this woman-child, she's likely to rebel or sulk. She might even get teary or weepy, and accuse you of being insensitive, narcissistic or controlling. Suddenly, that ball-busting, bitchy female you've been living with can shape-shift into a pitiful little victim of your "abuse," and you may find yourself feeling guilty, and apologizing for crimes you didn't commit. Dont.

You're actually providing a 'container' for your Borderline, just as you would with a child. Your firmness helps your BPD partner or spouse feel more stable and safe. She will start trying to be a 'good little girl' to please you, but you will need guidance to learn how to do this correctly and effectively.

If you hadn't become a perfectionistic adult due to a parent's mistreatment of you during boyhood, you wouldn't have hooked up with a BPD lover in the first place! Do not hang around for any dialogues or arguments. Stand your ground directly and loudly, and immediately take your exit.

It's wise to pre-pack and stow a 'just in-case' valise in the trunk of your auto, in the event you have to stay out all night to avoid her toxic rantings. She'll likely phone and text you dozens of times while you're away, but allow these to go to voicemail, and do not reply (even if she says the house is burning down)! The only thing that gets through to a Borderline and causes them to amend their behaviors, is withdrawal of attention and contact. You cannot continue rewarding her bad behavior, hoping things will change! A BPD Waif might threaten suicide to get you back home. Emotional blackmail of this type is standard operating procedure for borderline disordered people. If you believe there's a real danger of self-harm, send the local cops or fire department over there to check it out.

We have to help you begin retrieving your testicles, because you surely had to surrender them during boyhood to a domineering/castrating mom or dad, and these early wounds to your sense of Self have impacted how you've behaved with your lover, to the point you're always living with trepidation, fear and dread. In short, some level of anxiety is always present, and it's just not healthy for you!

Borderlines are emotionally underdeveloped, and you must literally think of them like little kids in adult bodies. Just as you'd discipline a young child by teaching them acceptable versus unacceptable behaviors and setting firm boundaries and limits, you have to be willing to do this with your Borderline; it's your only hope of gaining any harmony or peace in this relationship! In essence, if this girl can't respect you, she can't desire you. Alas, learning to assert yourself is crucial, which means you may need help to launch your own journey toward emotional well-being and growth.

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