Fake It Till You Make It?

January 5, 2011

See this laugh? This how people laugh when they are hiding great sadness. This laugh is for show. Unfortunately, faking it does not always make it. The more sad they feel, the more fake they become. Conversely, the more fake they become, the more sad they become. Sad because they are overwhelmed by feelings of emptiness. My borderline ex has mastered the fake laugh. But this laugh and other contrivances suggest narcissistic tendencies in addition to her borderline personality disorder. More specifically, I suspect she has histrionic personality disorder. If you’re not familiar, think of it as a feminine version of narcissistic personality disorder.

It should not be surprising that a borderline should have histrionic tendencies. At the core of both disorders is the desperate need for attention. A need that is based on fears abandonment. An HP will create an aura of glamor to compensate for profound feelings of inferiority. They are tremendous flirts who fake emotions to assert control over people.

Falling in love with a histrionic borderline is a losing proposition. Think about how terribly frustrating it must be to have someone act like they love you one day and then the next day they are withdrawn and apathetic. This is the push/pull that plays with a person’s mind. It literally drives people crazy because the victim doesn’t know what to believe. Understand that a histrionic borderline’s idea of love is shallow. Imagine a small child playing make-believe. They emulate what they’ve seen on TV or the movies. Eventually a child gets bored, and moves onto the next game.

It’s not that they are not capable of deep and meaningful emotions. My ex was always fond of writing dark and brooding poetry. But at some point, they feel they must put up a facade to function in the outside world. So they create an alter ego, a fake persona. My ex grew up feeling unattractive. As an adult, she became obsessed with her appearance. She spent hours getting dressed and made up. She started a fashion blog, just so she could make herself feel pretty. Moving to LA has only made things worse. She has become so fake, it’s almost a bad LA cliche.

What is most alarming is that HPs will literally say or do anything to get attention. This includes false accusations and hard-to-believe stories. My ex once told me she was raped at a college party. At the time, I believed her. Who would make up such a terrible story? But later, I would find out how flirtatious she was when she got drunk. Often flirting with other men right in front of me. She was so drunk, she couldn’t even remember how she embarrassed us both. So how could she remember that she was raped? Could it be she was simply trying to cover the shame of acting out of control? There are no straight answers with an HP. Their history is shady at best, especially when they are telling it.

Then there were the stories of how crazy her family was. Oh and by the way, all her exes were crazy too. And when she broke down, she would admit that she felt like she was crazy. It was only a matter of time, when she would decide that I was crazy too. Is this a case of misery loves company? or just another case of projection? Or is this the f-ed up life of a drama queen? One thing is for sure- It is exhausting if not troubling.

HPs are very abusive. They are the ultimate femme fatale. But unlike the more overt male narcissist, an HP’s abuse is insidious. My ex used infidelity as a weapon when she didn’t get her way. She was very controlling. She loves to tell people how to dress, how to eat, how to spell, how to stand up straight, etc. Ironically, she accused me of being controlling, but this was yet another case of projection. If I told her she looked like she had lost weight, she would accuse me of suggesting she was fat before. I can’t even count how many harmless comments were interpreted as insults or controlling behavior. There is no winning with an HP/BP.

God forbid I said something that upset her. She would often snap at me, but if she was really upset she would let her rage stew in silence. Anger was her way of punishing people if they did not meet her expectations. But she would also punish people if she didn’t meet her own expectations. She would belittle a person, if she felt insecure or jealous. This was her way of bringing that person down to her level. Even her “best friends” and family were not safe from her badmouthing ways. These may seem like petty grievances, but when you add them up, they leave deep/lingering scars on an unsuspecting victim. Often partners of BPs/HPs are not aware of the abuse until the fog has cleared.

I didn’t realize how abusive my ex was until she callously shut me out of her life. No sentimental good-byes. No thanks for the memories. In an instant, I was insignificant to her. All the tenderness we had shared evaporated into thin air.  An HP pulls you in only to push you out. When they are done with you, they are done with you. I was nothing more than an accessory to her. Like a pair of shoes that had gone out of fashion, I was tossed aside and replaced with something new. A histrionic borderline’s love is shallow and (dare I say) fake.

13 Responses to “Fake It Till You Make It?”

  1. Anne Onymous said

    It’s like you had a hidden camera, or something. You make so much sense on this topic when everything else I read only obfuscates things further.

    Everything I read about histrionics seems to present them as hams. I kinda suspect my ex-weirdfriend had BPD, but he looks different from every angle of view. Is he an alcoholic? Is he a histrionic? Is he narcissistic? Is he vegetable? Is he in this room?

    Now I feel like I need therapy… he doesn’t. He’s “happy” and shallow and imitating his next crush’s values and mannerisms (I think he does this consciously… is he antisocial?) The worst part is that he was only one of a number of people he was enmeshed with that played an important role in my life. I thought he was the one person that was on my side. You can guess the rest.

    I’m terrified that he’s still thinking about me, or that he isn’t.

    • savorydish said

      Thanks Anne,
      I didn’t feel the need to complicate something that was already confusing.
      Your ex was probably a little bit of everything. BPD is usually a variety pack of disorders. Alcoholism is pretty common. Just when you think you’ve got them figured out, they present more surprises. Histrionics and narcissists are the worst of the bunch, because they are so good at hiding their abusive nature.
      Considering therapy is actually a sign that someone is healthy. Sadly it’s the ones who really need it that think they can do without it.

  2. jeremy said

    “I was nothing more than an accessory to her.”

    I’ve used these exact words before in describing my feelings regarding my girlfriend and our relationship. Scary.

    • savorydish said

      You would be surprised how many people have similar experiences. these patterns repeat themselves. not just in one individual. but amongst the entire set of disordered people.

  3. JD said

    “I didn’t realize how abusive my ex was until she callously shut me out of her life. No sentimental good-byes..”

    Yep. I was done over by and HPD/NPD/BPD. She was so good at hiding it that I didn’t see it until right near the end. Luckily, a friend that’s a shrink caught her in action with me for an hour socially, pulled me aside and warned me.

    I now have a small test I use (a shibboleth, if you will) to weed out these fakers. It’s simple: crack a joke. If there’s no response to the fact that a joke was made, no matter how bad or stupid the joke, chances are you have a PD on your hands. They’re incapable of the backchanneling required for simple interactions like a joke. It’s not foolproof, but it’s better than nothing.

    HPD/NPD/BPD is another way of saying vain, shallow, amoral fool.

    • savorydish said

      I need a friend like yours. lol.
      Interesting comment about not getting jokes. My ex had a good sense of humor. (that is she laughed at my stupid jokes) But I found she was easily offended if the joke were aimed at her. One time, she got upset when I made fun of her veggie sausage.That’s right, veggie sausage. She claimed I was making fun of her lifestyle. I attribute this reaction to low self-esteem and the hypersensitivity that comes with BPD/trauma. But there does seem to be an inability to socialize in a normal way. It’s a challenge for them. And I agree- Looking for this awkwardness is a good warning signal. They can only fake so much.

      Thanks for sharing your story.

      • JD said

        The socializing angle is a good one to look at.

        A Scrabble game was the beginning of the end of my dealings with the previously mentioned charming specimen of womanhood. In the time it took me to pick seven tiles, she asked me what the date was four times. We’d been snowed in for a couple of days and for one of the few times in our long interactions, my patience wore thin. “Back off!”, I barked, like many human beings would do in the same situation.

        I’d just lit off a Roman candle. A stream of invective followed by a stomping up the stairs, doors slamming and then more incoherent yelling. I knew the bedroom door would be locked but I stood outside it for about 15 minutes or so and tried to get her to act like a human being, to no avail. This was about a month before my shrink friend got a gander at her and about another month before I got her out of my life. An annoying thing about thing about these particular personality types is that they always cost you to get rid of them.

        Anyway, the point about socializing is a good one. I began to lose my WTFPD over a Scrabble game.

      • savorydish said

        People with PDs are like aliens that have landed on this planet. They have the intelligence to observe human behavior and imitate it, but their act falls apart after an extended period of time. They’re great at interacting with people in public, but can’t deal with intimacy. They don’t know how.

  4. savorydish said

    Hi Jack,
    Firstly, nobody forces you to walk on eggshells. Accept your role in this mess. Then make efforts to distance yourself from this woman. The strength comes from working on yourself. The more independent you become, the less likely you are to fall for her charms. Be your own source of strength. Good luck and be well.

  5. Jack said

    You are right. I just took out my anger and said what I have been too afraid to say before. I’m ashamed of what I wrote. I am very sad. I want to delete my comment.

  6. Jack said

    If you don’t mind please go ahead and do that. I do not want to spread bad thoughts I really feel bad about what I wrote. Thank you for doing that and for your nice replies and your advice. I need to look inward more not outward. We are responsible for ourselves not others. Thank you.

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