BPD and the Fear of Intimacy

August 3, 2010

When a Borderline runs away from a relationship they will often complain about feeling suffocated, complain about a lack of trust, lack of boundaries, lack of control, lack of space, etc. But what they are really saying is “I need emotional distance to protect myself and avoid feelings of abandonment”. They will do anything to create this distance.- They will push and shove, they will devalue a partner and sabotage the relationship, they will numb their feelings for you, they will engage in acts of infidelity, they will even shut you out. Anything to create an emotional buffer zone. Anything to prevent emotional pain, a pain the BP feels much more intensely than the rest of the population.

Originally, I was just going to provide a link to the post below. But since I couldn’t have said it better myself, I thought it would be easier to just post it in its entirety:

Do those with borderline personality disorder fear intimacy?

This is a question that is often brought up by our members at BPDfamily.com, the support website for those with a borderline personality disorder spouse, parent, child or other loved one.

Our members often wonder: If someone with borderline personality disorder so fears intimacy, then why do they often cling so strongly and/or refuse to let their loved one out of their sight? And if they so fear abandonment, then why do they run away from their partners?

These behaviors are often two sides of the same coin, as we discuss on our forums.

Here are a few comments on fear of intimacy on the BPDfamily.com forum:

Staff member JoannaK writes:

Fear of intimacy alternates with fear of abandonment in many (most?) with bpd. “Frantic efforts to avoid abandonment” may mean “running away first“. You may hear of the “engulfment/abandonment swing.”

SuddenlySense, now serving as one of our Ambassadors, ponders:

I think the fear of abandonment is so intense in BP’s that they can’t bear to get too close because that would make the pain even more intense if they were abandoned. Does this make any sense?

Yes, SS, that makes a lot of sense!

Schwing, another Ambassador responds to a question on the same thread:

You are assuming that someone shouldn’t fear abandonment unless abandonment is somewhat imminent. That someone (like your BPD partner) shouldn’t fear abandonment from their partner when their partner has demonstrated a complete devotion to them (as I’m sure your BPD partner demanded of you). But that would assume that their fear is reasonable. Someone with BPD has an unreasonable fear of abandonment. They will fear real and IMAGINED abandonment. And the only way they can be abandoned is if they allow real intimacy to take place. This is why they make the connection of intimacy = abandonment. And this is why they trust you less the more they become intimate with you.

Staff member (and Site Director) Skip provides this insight:

I think many people fear intimacy… and for this same reason…. rejection sensitivity.

People with BPD are impulsive (emotionally immature) and have a high level of rejection sensitivity.

What often makes it complicated for us to understand is that someone with BPD wants the intimacy and fears it at the same time. They can prematurely (immaturely) get into intimate situations, but when they don’t perceive a commensurate response in the partner, they get spooked.

This is further complicated because the “post honeymoon” phase in most relationships is a time each person in the couple define their own space and boundaries… this can be traumatic in any relationship… far more to a person with BPD.

You can read all of this discussion at Do those with Borderline Personality Disorder fear intimacy?

You will find much more information, many posts and stories about this aspect of a relationship with someone with borderline personality disorder at BPDfamily.com, the website for those with a loved one with borderline personality disorder.

3 Responses to “BPD and the Fear of Intimacy”

  1. Observer said

    It’s strange, because I was willing to give everything to the borderline I was involved with; however, after he played games with me too much, I learned I could no longer trust him. What happened, in effect, is that he caused ME to become suffocated and confused, because he would push and pull me back and forth so much that whenever he’d be in his phase where he’d want me back, he would virtually demand every waking moment of my time to centre around him. Therefore, I started to become wary and had to back off to preserve my own sanity. After I learned everything was just about control to him, I really felt I had to get away for my own sake. Even though he technically caused the break-up, he’s still telling me he misses me. It’s all control. Not love, just control. It’s sad looking back when I realise all I wanted was to be close to him to the point that it was a deeply spiritual thing for me, but it was all just a game of control to him. We were alike in some ways, but in this emotional aspect, totally miles apart. I fear I’ll never feel anything like that for anybody again.

    • TB said

      Just read your post…that is exactly how I felt with my ex undiagonosed BPF/HPD gf. Sure I took steps back, and sure they feel and see it. And the fear that I will never feel like I felt the first approx. 2 months of the relationship…well I feel the same. She built me up, made me feel like no other woman made me feel and it was a set-up as she turned and the mask slowly came off, then the push and pull, the confusion, the nasty comments, the physical abuse, triangulation, lies, etc…basically all the bullshit and one could never sit down like normal people and explain and expect empathy, support and understanding, nope…it is all your fault. You are dellusional you are sick in the head, you are creating problems…and best of all, you have ruined the moment! Wow, what moment…oh having some initimacy…after you push me away, make me feel like a sex maniac, send social media flirts with other guys and treat me like shit…I get it, I destroyed that moment…Basically just another excuse, a lie and manipulation. So I do understand how you feel.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: