Should Fucked Up People Be in a Relationship?

June 2, 2011

This controversial question asked on Tumblr:

Should you be in a relationship if you’re massively fucked up? If you’re broken?


The idea that people cannot find (do not deserve) love, particularly true or perfect love, if they are ‘broken’ or ‘damaged’ is in fact quite common in this society. Many people happily parrot this idea along with self-helpy jargon like needing to love yourself before you seek love. Which is a reminder to broken people, to people who may hate themselves for whatever reason, that they don’t deserve love (we don’t deserve so many things…to live, to speak, to have opinions…).

It is also particularly common to claim that people with mental illness, some diagnoses in particular, are inherently bad and dangerous and harmful and shouldn’t be in relationships/don’t deserve love because they will just hurt people. People have told me to my face at feminist conferences that people with my diagnoses are damaging and dangerous and shouldn’t be allowed to have relationships. Human connections.

The idea of denying love to any human being repulses me. The idea of proudly crowing that you feel some human beings don’t deserve love, or friendship, can never find these things, because they are ‘sick’…it’s not particularly new or revolutionary.

Hi C  wrote:

I completely disagree.

Not about the idea that people who have mental illnesses don’t deserve to find love, or that they are inherently bad.

But about the idea that you shouldn’t work on yourself before entering a relationship. I don’t think that’s an ableist idea. I think those who call that an ableist idea are making a mockery of sick people who are actually making an effort to “work on themselves”, and who are at the same time are working themselves to the bone, trying to take care of the people who love them and who they love.

Its not about you anymore when you join with someone else. That’s what’s at the heart of it when people say “you have to work on yourself before you enter a relationship”. You become semi-responsible for that other person’s health and wellness. You can’t burden them like that, because its just not fair to that other person.

Relationships aren’t about completing each other, or finding that special person who you can dump all your shit onto and have it be okay. That’s not fair, and that’s co-dependency to the hilt. That’s also breeding grounds for an abusive relationship. Relationships are two individuals coming together and loving each other and leaning on each other to an extent. If you can’t respect another person’s boundaries, maybe you shouldn’t be in a relationship.

Doesn’t matter what you have, what you are; doesn’t give anyone the right to throw all of their shit onto another person and expect them to hold themselves and you up completely — because that’s just the way you are, and you can’t help it. No. Absolutely not.

One does not lose all semblance of personal responsibility just because you have emotional illnesses.

Love, especially romantic love, isn’t something anyone deserves. That kind of connection with another human being is something you earn.

There’s a difference between accepting your diagnosis and understanding that you might never become “like others”, and not harming other people. And yeah, I define being in a relationship before you’re ready to be in a relationship that way.

I’m sorry if reading this hurts anyone. I just… I don’t know what else to say. That post hit me so hard with its wrongness. My feelings on this are entirely bound up in my (very negative) relationships with mentally ill people and my own experience being a mentally ill person in a relationship in which I put far too much of my own shit onto said boyfriend. If I could take back all of it, I would. The guilt keeps me up at night. The only way I’ve gotten this far into recovery is the thought that I’m going to make amends and never again be so disrespectful of the people I love.

allyourlovearebelongtome wrote:

I agree completely. I’m a depressive and have struggled with severe depression in the past. I’ve also been in relationships (all kinds) with mentally ill people. And guess what? It fucking hurts to hold yourself and another person up. You have to recognize when you’re a danger to others’ wellbeing. Love is not a commodity; everyone deserves a specific kind of love. But not everyone deserves a partner. Relationships with some types of mentally ill people can very easily become mentally/emotionally abusive. You don’t have to stick around for that out of guilt.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know my views on this topic. But I’m gonna chew on this for a bit before I post my comments down below. In the meantime- What do you think?

36 Responses to “Should Fucked Up People Be in a Relationship?”

  1. savorydish said

    My first reaction to this exchange is thank god for women like Hi C. Her refreshing maturity restores my faith in humanity.

    And the fact that she is both a feminist and a person who suffers from mental illness is a bonus. Because rabid militants like Miss Lex and Shady Doyle can’t shout, “misogynist!” or “ableist!”

    Hi C’s opinion is so lucid I have a hard time believing she suffers from a mental illness. Do we attribute this to age? treatment? perhaps a little of both?

    And then when I read the OP’s rant, I am reminded how self-centered a disordered person can be. That is partly why I posted this particular exchange. I wanted to show the contrast in attitudes. I wanted to show the difference between a recovered person and a person still in the active throes of a personality disorder. As you can see, the contrast is striking.

    The OP is so flushed with self-pity she can’t even think about another person’s well-being. Hi C, on the other hand, has the compassion and awareness to manage a healthy relationship.

    The OP is a mess. And I fear for anyone who would be suckered into a relationship with her. Like my borderline ex, she has fooled herself into believing that “true love” will save her soul. Hi C has confirmed that you need to save your soul FIRST before you can find true love.

    No doubt, the OP has left broken relationships and broken lovers in her wake. Moving from one victim to another with utter disregard for the damage she has inflicted.

    Like Hi C, I am frustrated by the “wrongness” of the OP’s statement. But frankly, not surprised.

    • Rae Alaine McQuiston said

      this is kinda weird..stumbled on this trying to find my OWN blog on my yahoo. My name was Rae Powell ( Rae McQuiston now..)when i started my yahoo account…and i have BPD. So it was kinda weird. but thought it interesting….
      i’m 32 now, and honestly when i was younger it said how ‘we” started “evening-out” as we got older. its true for the most part. i’ve just kind of accepted some things about me are jacked. i’m ok with them..its just everone else giving me shit about it my whole life messed me up. i LIKE cutting myself. when i started seeing a new therapist to get my xanax, i went thru EVERYTHING (in 40 seconds..) and said “and i like cutting, im not bummed, not trying to die, i just like it and im not willing to work on it.”
      at the end of our session she just kinda looked at me and said, “Wow. You are the most OK …fucked up person ive ever met. ” lol. i took that completely as a complement. we just get too hung up about what we’re told is fucked up or wrong about us…thats all. relax. or just become what they say u are. it doesnt really matter in the end. jsut how OK you are or not…

      • savorydish said

        No offense, Rae- I appreciate you being candid but I am alarmed by what I’m reading. You seem to be very accepting of your condition, which is better than being in denial. Although I would disagree with your therapist- There’s nothing OK about cutting yourself. I would question the practice of feeding people Xanax and telling people they are OK when they clearly are not. That being said, I wish you all the best.

      • Rae McQuiston said

        nothing to be alarmed about. i AM ok. and i’m not “FED” xanax.. i dont eat them like pez. i need them. My panic attacks trigger my seizures. All i was trying to say was people like you that devote all this bullshit to your diagnosis is just sad. People need to get over themselves. As far as my cutting i didnt say it was “healthy”. People hurt themselves in all sorts of ways…smoking..bad eating habits..lack of exercise…not to mention MORAL wounding. All i’m saying is i enjoy cutting. Like some enjoy smoking. i dont need alarm or concern. i’m actually ok. and i have two wonderful children who are brilliant, well-adjusted, talented amazing people. and most kids are horrible these days. so despite my cutting, i appear to have done an amazing job turning out two perfect human beings with beautiful souls. i dont need concern. but all you people who take your label/diagnosis and run with it as an excuse for behavior problems you could modify on your own…THATS alarming. but thanks.

      • savorydish said

        I’m sorry you were offended. But you can’t expect people not to be alarmed about people cutting their wrists. You may be ok with it, but most of us are not. Perhaps you feel we have judged you unfairly, but these are fair reactions. I am happy that your children are perfect, but the truth is they are going to have some issues down the road because they were raised by a BP parent. That being said, I do admire your efforts and your willingness to get better. But if this blog makes you angry, then maybe you should not read it.

  2. savorydish said

    My problem is not with mentally disordered people. My problem is with selfish people who pull people into a relationship with them, when they know that they are fucked up. It’s not only selfish. It’s unconscionable.

    And then to abandon and demonize someone who once put up with all your bullshit is just inhumane. But that’s how fucked up these people are.

  3. savorydish said

    The OP writes under the nom de guerre of meloukhia and SE Smith. A month ago, I had covered her Tigerbeatdown post about the mentally ill and their right to own guns. (Yikes.)

    This feeling of entitlement is something that I see a lot of in people with PDs. It is often coupled with a major victim-complex. IOW this is an individual who believes they are entitled to all the things that are available to emotionally healthy people.

    Sorry, life isn’t fair. I know we like to make every one feel included. But certain rights should not extend to people who have abusive tendencies and people who are emotionally unstable. That includes owning a gun and being in a relationship. That’s because in both cases, undue harm can be inflicted upon another innocent human being. Only a person who is severely screwed up would have a hard time understanding that.

  4. savorydish said

    I remember lying in bed with my borderline ex. I was telling her how I needed to take things slow because my last relationship really screwed me up. And she actually accused me of being “too responsible”. In hindsight, this should have been a warning sign that she had little concern for the well-being of others.

    I think that responsibility was too much for her to handle. She doesn’t know how to take things slow. It was always about her needs. This is a woman who rushed into marriage months after our break up, even though she knows she is majorly screwed up. A woman who told me I should walk away because she would only hurt me again and again. And now she has dragged another family into her insanity. She just doesn’t care who she hurts.

  5. savorydish said

    Of course, my ex and her enablers/proxies would respond by saying that I’m the crazy one who can’t respect boundaries.

    She’s the one with the panic attacks. The one who cut her wrists and struggled with an eating disorder. She’s the one who flipped out on me but I’m the crazy one. She cheated on me twice and I’m the one who can’t respect boundaries?

    Because how dare I speak about her mental illness and abusive tendencies. But she doesn’t see herself as abusive. Being passive-aggressive, cheating, cutting someone out of your life isn’t abuse according to her. Not high enough on the hierarchy of abuse.

    But hey, she moved to another city and changed her hair color so everything is cool. Who needs therapy when you can just run away from your problems? Why deal with reality when you can just block people out after you hurt them?

  6. savorydish said

    What fucked up people don’t get is that messing with people’s minds and hearts is ABUSE.

    Even if you don’t do it intentionally, it’s still abuse. If you have a history of unstable relationships there’s a pretty good chance that you are responsible for that instability. If you can’t help but feel suffocated by intimacy, if it causes you to run far far away. That’s a sign that something is up with you.

    Abandoning lovers is abusive. If you find yourself going from idealization to devaluation in relationships that is a form of emotional abuse. That push and pull game will mess someone up.

    You are traumatizing someone who doesn’t deserve to be. Betrayal, turning on someone, being inexplicably hostile towards someone you once loved is a total mind fuck. And you can not continue to do this with good conscience.

  7. savorydish said

    Yes, we all deserve to be loved. But some of us need to fix what’s broken before you invite people into your house. Othwerwise, if a wood beam falls on your invited guest… YOU are responsible. If you know something is broken and you’re still inviting people into your house that makes you an asshole. So don’t go crying when people say bad things about you.

    If they are functional enough to act normal, then they are functional enough to get help. If they don’t, they don’t deserve to be loved.

  8. savorydish said

    So if they know they’re screwed up, why would they continue to get into relationships? Because their fear of abandonment is proceeded by a fear of being alone. But this is not love. This is a damaged person filling the void with anyone who is willing. They are predators looking for a co-dependent mate who will accept the abuse they dole out.

  9. savorydish said

    So how does one know if they’re too fucked up to be in a relationship? Well, being diagnosed with a serious PD (BPD, NPD, HPD, severe depression, bi-polar, alcoholism) is part of it. But even that is not necessarily a no-go. If you have control over your disease, then you should be able to handle a relationship. But that means years and years of therapy/treatment.

    Hi C has shown that having a disorder does not necessarily dictate your attitudes. A healthy attitude of respect and consideration is key. Maturity is everything. Many people think being in a relationship, getting married, having kids makes you mature. This is actually the most immature thought you can have.

    If you are emotionally unstable than that can mean serious emotional abuse, without you being aware of it.

    If this blog fills you with uncontrollable rage, that’s a pretty good sign you do not have your emotions under control.

    If you have a history of pushing away partners, sabotaging relationships, and running away from relationships, then you are not ready.

    Sadly, the people who are most fucked up are the least likely to assess themselves with any degree of honesty. These are disordered people in denial. And they are the worst in the bunch. If you have co-dependency traits, these are the people you want to stay away from. Let this blog be your guide.

  10. savorydish said

    A disordered person who is unable to be honest with themselves will not be honest with you. Don’t expect any verbal warnings. These are people who have spent their whole lives putting on an act.

    If you knew what they were capable of, you would probably run from the get-go. But they will test you to see how much bullshit you will put up with. They will try to build up your tolerance to their abusive behavior.

    But when they see you are fed up or they can no longer put on the act, they will emotionally and physically shut you out. They won’t give you the chance to reject them. Don’t expect to stay friends, because emotional distance is the only way they can find relief.

  11. savorydish said

    As a society we have failed to properly acknowledge and address mental illness and the damaging effects of trauma. And then we wonder why Jared Lee Loughner is so fucked up. We wonder why there are so many homeless people on the streets. Thinking if we just put a dollar in their cup all will be well. Are we that stupid? Or is this collective denial?

    We just don’t like to think about things like child abuse or rape, until it effects us in a traumatic way. And then it’s too late. We blame the media. We blame the lack of family values. But if we were to trace all of society’s problems back to its origins, I am willing to bet a lot of it began with mental illness and childhood trauma.

    So called activists have dedicated their whole lives to playing the victim but are unwilling to also admit their victimization may have affected them in a negative way. They want the benefits of playing the victim without the scrutiny. And then we wonder why the cycle is never-ending.

    So what’s the solution? Well, we can’t count on the mentally ill to fix the problem. Not everyone is as self-aware as Hi C. We can’t even count on their families, because they are too busy covering up their tracks.

    For co-dependent types like myself, it means breaking old patterns. It means going out of my way to stay away from people who are fucked up. I have had to accept that not taking in wounded animals does not make you a bad person. It means you respect yourself enough to keep your life free of drama.

    The reason why many of these fucked up people remain untreated is because we enable them to go untreated. As co-dependents we are sending them the message that we will love you despite the fact that you are fucked up.

    You think you are being gracious and generous, but you are actually keeping this person from getting better. And causing harm to yourself. Why should they get better? When their disease brings them so much attention and sympathy?

    Sympathy and compassion is NOT looking the other way or NOT talking about mental illness. Sympathy and compassion is calling people out on their dysfunction and demanding they get help.

    Telling people they’re ok when they have a pattern of dysfunctional behavior is NOT helping them. When you tell a fucked up person that they are just fine, you are basically condemning that person (and those around them) to a life of misery.

  12. savorydish said

    A fucked up person surrounds themselves with other fucked up people. That’s one way of identifying them. Staying in denial is an elaborate act that requires a dedicated team of co-dependents,irresponsible family members and enablers.

    If you refuse to play their game, you will be shut out of their life. But, in time, you will realize they did you a favor. Had they kept you in their inner circle, you would be as fucked up as they are. Crazy people have a way of making you crazy.

    Rid yourself of these people and your life will be so much easier. But this is easier said than done. If you’ve invited such a person into your life, chances are you have a history of doing so. This requires introspection on your part.

    Do yourself a favor and avoid relationships until you have corrected your own tendencies. Otherwise you will end up in the same dysfunctional relationship. Good luck and good health.

  13. savorydish said

    When someone is in this much pain, they inevitably pass that pain onto you.

    They will make you suffer for all the suffering they’ve endured over a lifetime.

    Until they receive treatment, don’t expect them to be able to control their behavior. Don’t expect them to change.

    The worst thing about the OP is she’s spreading her disease on the internet. The values and opinions warped by mental illness passed onto young and impressionable minds.

  14. […] Should fucked up people be in a relationship? […]

  15. […] Every time you get involved with someone, you are harming yet another human being. You are perpetuating the cycle of abuse. You know you are not healthy enough for a relationship and yet you allow it to get serious. That’s what makes you irresponsible. Don’t get involved until you get better. No warning is necessary if you don’t get involved.  The truth is you want them to ignore your warnings. […]

  16. Kira said

    I feel like you all speak from a pedestal.
    As if you have been endowed the right to pass judgement upon those who dare drag their sorry, disease ridden carcasses beneath you, condemning them for the living needs and scorning them should they chose death.
    I am sixteen years old. I have been diagnosed with mental illness and am struggling–both with disease and simply being a human. I read this and cry. I hear you deem groups and groups of people unfit to be in a relationship, myself among them through default of the twists in my DNA.
    I tend to believe the worst of myself, but even to me this seems inhuman. That a child born with illness should be arbitrarily labeled UNFIT for deep intimacy with another, a basic human right, is a tragedy.
    I wonder if this another group to be stigmatized, another people to be crushed beneath unfit blame.
    First they came for the Jews, the catholic, the African American, the gays.
    Now they come for me.
    I hope when they come for you, friend, you have somewhere to run your lonely way.

  17. […] The following comment was left under a posting titled Should Fucked Up People Be in a Relationship: […]

  18. vildman said

    I absolutely have a right to judge who I will and will not interact with on a relationship or friendship level. No one will ever convince me otherwise.

    I think one of the things that gets people into trouble is this ‘value neutral’ idea of moral relativism that has become popular over the past few decades. I think some people in the world use this as an excuse to do whatever they want. It really is that simple. If you let people do whatever they want – THEY WILL.

    The mental health community – which has a lot of hippie rejects in it – promotes this ‘value neutral’ way of thinking via the whole ‘non-judgmental environment’ thing. While that might be fine for a therapeutic environment, it has had consequences for us as a society. People have been led to believe that it is ok to be abused because no one is allowed to pass any kinds of judgments.

    No one wants anyone to make judgments, but then no one wants anyone to do anything wrong. It’s very much a ‘have your cake and eat it to’ philosohy that just doesn’t work in he real world.In the REAL world, judgment called are required every day.If it’s a good idea for me NOT to step in front of a speeding bus, it’s probably a good idea for me NOT to get into a relationship with a woman who displays borderline tendencies. That’s just LOGIC; and I’m not going to eschew logic just because it offends someone. In fact, logic usually DOES offend someone!

    And you know . . . it’s perfectly OK for women to get together and bash men at every turn, but when MEN get together and share their experiences honestly (it IS mostly men commening here), women get offended. WTF IS THAT? Nice double standard. The discussions here are very even-handed, and even include people with BPD who have recovered or are recovering!!

  19. vildman said

    And BTW – Nazi comments are a sure sign that someone is hanging by a thread. When a person starts to make Nazi comments, I ignore them.

  20. vildman said

    Horrible interpersonal behavior has become so commonplace and accepted in our society that one can barely speak against it without elliciting shrieks and catcalls. When a young girl with BPD tendencies watches the emotional sickness of Jersey Shore, she’s being TAUGHT that it’s ok – even desirable – to be a basket-case! Then, when someone calls that girl out on her behavior, she wails that she’s being ‘judged!’

    We’re all responsible as a culture for this, I think. At least to a certain extent. When a community or culture refuses to set objective standards of behavior (either directly or indirectly), the lowest value dominates. And believe me, I am no staunch Victorian when it comes to morals and behavior.

    If I promote a certain standard of behavior within myself and toward myself, the idea is IMPLICIT that I promote this standard as an objective value across human relations – either consciously or unconcsiously. I CANNOT promote a ‘Whatever floats your boat’ value system because what floats soime people’s ‘boats’ is ruinous and destructive to others. Therefore: I can try to remain ‘value-neutral,’ but in the end, it’s an un-workable philosophy.

    There are bigger issues at stake here, IMO. BPD needs the right kind of ‘environment’ to flourish in. And we’re PROVIDING this environment!! Again; I don’t call for a return to Puritan or 50’s values, but we’ve gone over a cliff in our culture and it’s CREATING sick people.

    • savorydish said


      The trauma that gives birth to BPD behavior can not be ignored. But a culture that promotes such behavior is only preventing such people from seeking help or curbing their destructive power.

      Why change when you are being rewarded for bad behavior?

  21. Mar said

    I’m sorry for commenting on an old post, but I just found it and I completely agree with you.

    I am mentally ill, severely depressed, in fact. And it’s really hard to accept that I can’t be in a relationship, at least for the time being. It pains me, but I know that it’s not something I’m ready to deal with, and I know I’d end up trying to use the other person as a crutch.

    I wish people who are also ill stopped shouting “ableist” every time things like relationships are discussed, because it’s not ableism. We have to think about our own well-being as well as other people’s, and a lot of the time that involves not being able to do what we want. Seriously, that’s maturity 101.

    Anyway, I’m glad I found this post, because people should stop repeating “everyone deserves love” just because they think it’s a good thing to say.

  22. […] A commenter named Mar responded to a post about about borderlines and relationships: […]

  23. KC said

    Until last year I didn’t have any experience with bpd. Then I met a great guy who I really liked and it turned out that his former relationship was with a bpd woman. He was scarred by the experience and we seemed to take a step or two backwards for every couple we took forward. In a situation like this what’s the best way to love and support someone that is clearly not fully recovered from their prior experience?

  24. KC said

    Love, support and understanding were always easy to offer but apparently harder to accept. How do you rebuild trust with someone that lacks confidence in their own judgment?

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