Someone once described borderline personality disorder as being born without emotional skin. To date, this is the best description I have heard. It’s more than just being a little sensitive. It is constantly feeling like the world is out to get you, like people’s words are physically wounding you. When you are this sensitive, your knee-jerk reaction is to lash out without mercy or restraint.

And if you think these lash-outs are just reserved for enemies. Then you have never loved a borderline. Loving a borderline (as someone once put it) is like hugging a burn victim. Your hugs cause them to fight or take flight.

When you are this sensitive you become wary of the world-at-large. Which is why many of these uber-sensitive types seek refuge in small protective communities. Birds of a feather flock together.

I have found a lot of these communities on Tumblr and other corners of the internet. Here they can find other troubled souls. Here they can engage in “I’m OK. You’re OK” thinking.

These are secluded communities that provide shelter from the harsh realities of the real world. But every once and a while they post something that provides valuable insight into their dysfunctional behavior:

I am incredibly sensitive. So, so sensitive. That sensitivity allows me to detect subtle nuances in people’s behavior. So if I sense that someone doesn’t like me or is angry at me, I’m almost always right.

And the thing is, I spend a lot of time looking inward. I can’t help it. So if you point out a flaw, chances are I already know about it, and I’m already dealing with it. I am, quite literally, doing the best I can. It would be nice if I weren’t concerned about being wonderful and perfect and cool and nonthreatening and strong and brave and kind, but I am, and I continually fail at being all those things, because, try as I might, I’m just not very likable.

In the past, I walled myself off from everyone so I didn’t have to feel that way as often. But then I started allowing people (not on the internet) in, and it’s exactly what I expected. I always, always feel inadequate.

It was so much easier when I didn’t have to worry about feelings.

Reading this is a little heart-breaking. What she may not know… What members of her dysfunctional community have failed to pick up on is that she has actually diagnosed herself. She has just described the common symptoms of someone who is born with hyper-sensitivity, feelings of inadequacy and profound feelings of shame.

On top of that, she has feelings of being different and being unlikeable. It is the sum total of all of these symptoms (not each one) that suggest BPD or some early trauma. This is not your average teen angst. It is much more profound than that.

No matter how prickly they may be, you still have to feel sorry for someone who is born with this condition. It’s not their fault. But until they are professionally treated, they will most likely continue causing their own misery and the misery of those around them.

This one may very well be doing the best she can. But most of these people are ill-equipped for life. They can not help but act out, because it has been part of their conditioning since birth. These internet communities might ease the pain of loneliness, but they provide no real motivation to get better.

The story is an all too familiar one in the world of borderline personality disorder- Boy meets girl.  Girl falls madly in love with boy. Boy decides she is the one. Boy finds out girl has serious issues. Girl agrees to therapy. Girl stresses out and runs from boy. Girl cuts boy out of her life forever. One young man recounts his experiences falling in love with a borderline:

In any case, I’m in my Senior year in college and dated a girl for a year and a half, and she’s been thru it all. First off, she is smart, funny, and absolutely gorgeous. However, she was raped, sexually assaulted, saw a friend die, has a mom with biploar, really odd boyfriends, etc…when I met her I went thru most of which you guys wouldn’t be surprised to hear. I stopped her from cutting, hitting herself, had to calm her during flashbacks, panic attacks, suicidality, etc.

The bond that is established between a trauma survivor and a person that becomes the caregiver is much more intense than your average relationship. It is a codependent relationship for sure, but it is also highly addictive for both parties. When that trauma includes rape, the caregiver is biting off more than they can chew.

We also had numerous, heated arguments that led to us breaking up almost every week. Often she would try to make me jealous by flirting with other guys, or just start fights for no reason, often throwing things, screaming terrible insults at me, etc. I stood by her thru all of this because when she was actually healthy we were pretty amazing together. I always knew in the back of my mind that this girl was borderline, and biploar, and odds are it wouldn’t work out.

Nothing hurts more than going out of the way to care for someone with extraordinary emotional needs only to have them lash out at you in extraordinarily cruel ways. A BP is use to abusive/ dead-end relationships. When they finally meet someone who is kind and giving, they freak out. They feel unworthy of someone who is in it for the long haul. And so the self-sabotage begins. Unconsciously, they push their lover away. And then ruthlessly punish them, when they finally do drift away.

BPs are not evil people. They are terribly insecure and emotionally damaged. But a terribly insecure person can do horrible things to someone who loves them. Ironically, a BP is more likely to harm someone who loves them than someone who neglects them. To their credit, the partners of BPs are able to forgive BPs for what most people would consider unforgivable. This requires a tremendous amount of patience and tolerance. Most people would abandon a BP. But the few who do stick it out, hope for better days.

Then, I helped convince her to go to McLean Hospital, and seek DBT therapy. She definitely improved, and after that all of a sudden the relationship changed. She was an amazing girlfriend, did whatever she could to help me, was SO loyal to me, and basically everything I could have ever wanted. Last semester (Sept. 2009-Dec. 2009) things just skyrocketed. We practically lived together and hung out all the time

This sounds like a really inspiring story right?!?! I mean, for months my friends and my family told me that we could never have a normal relationship, they would sit me alone in my room everyday and tell me to get out before I got hurt. Even they started to admit they were wrong, and we were really on our way. I made the mistake of really letting my guard down, I completely ignored the fact that she was bipolar and could change her mind any second. I really believed that this was the right girl for me, and that we would be together forever. Before I was honestly afraid of breaking up with her because she was so attached to me, but that stopped even being a possibility. She would talk about our wedding, kids, family, future, everyday, and I really started to believe we would have all of that.

BPs are very good at pulling people into their drama. They are even better at giving false hope. When a BP can no longer deny their issues, they will promise to seek help. For a short period of time, the BP will display signs of improvement. But these are short-term gains, mostly superficial improvements. During this period, BPs are on their best behavior. They are putting up a facade of good mental health. But just one bump in the road is all it takes for the facade to fall off.

When February started, all of a sudden everything just changed. We had a hard conversation where she told me that she was really worried about being long-distance, and that her therapist at McLean might tell her she has to break up with me because distance is so hard on her.

It doesn’t take much for a BP to be discouraged. In their defense, dealing with BPD/Rape trauma is no easy task. But it is not unusual for a BP to throw in the towel after a few months of therapy. Whether or not the therapist actually told her to break up with her boyfriend is questionable. Sometimes a BP hears what he/she wants to hear. It is more likely that this BP finally succumbed to her fears of abandonment. A BP breaks off a relationship as a preemptive measure against his/her own heart break.They break your heart before you can break theirs. In some ways, it gives them control.

Also because she was too dependent on me this year, and next year it would be a hard transition to be without me– I was her whole life. I knew I was really in for a hard, hard time after that talk. The next day, petty fights just started up constantly for no reason. She soon went into a severe depressive state, to the point where she had seizure-like behaviors. Things turned really quickly, and became really bad. She stayed in my room for about 4 days straight and I had to carry her around everywhere. I had to get her every meal, call professors to tell them she was ill, carry her to the bathroom, etc. Her rape flashbacks also started up again, and the Zoloft completely took away her sex drive. As a result, her Body Image disorders just shot thru the roof, everything was going wrong. Then shortly before Valentine’s day she came and told me she didn’t know if she loved me anymore, obviously I was crushed! The next day she sent me a message, blocking me on facebook and saying she will no longer contact me because of advice from her parents and doctors.

When a BP becomes emotionally dependent on someone, the fear of losing that crutch is too much. It is this fear that brings out the darkside of a BP. Picking fights is a sign that the BP is looking for an out. They are devaluing you to make it easier to leave while pushing you away at the same time. Eventually, a BP devalues you to the point where they feel nothing for you. You are dead to them. A BP partner rarely sees this coming. They think the fights are just part of the ups and downs of a BP relationship, not realizing that this is the final dip.

In a matter of days, you have gone from the love of their life, to someone who is smothering them. Partners are usually shocked at how cold their ex-lover has become. Blocking you from facebook is the least of your worries. When a BP “splits you black”, they can resort to hostility to get rid of you. That hostility can translate into infidelity, a smear campaign and false accusations. When a BP is in the grips of fear, both rational thought and compassion are thrown out the window. The love you had is a distant memory as far as they are concerned. In some cases, the BP will convince themselves it was all an illusion. And in a way, he/she would be right. An untreated BP is incapable of actual intimacy. You have just witnessed what happens when a BP finds him/herself in a serious relationship.

Sadly, a BP in denial will never know how much pain they have caused their lovers. A partner who has been cut out of a lover’s life will go through unimaginable pain, self-doubt, and deep depression. These caretakers gave up their own well-being to love a BP, and in return were betrayed.

I feel like I wasted 1.5 years of my life. Logically, I know life must go on and I have such a solid friends/family support base that getting thru this really hasn’t been that bad. I’m still devastated though and think about her everyday. I dream about her every night. I hope to never hear from her again because I’m so angry, what kind of sick person gives you their life for 18 months, then just expunges you completely? At the same time– I secretly hope, everyday, that she contacts me and gives me a reason to take her back. I also know that I will never take her back again, or will I? I’m very confused. Does she come back to me? Do I contact her? Is there any hope? Is she going to make an honest effort to get better, then come back to me when she is ready? What in the world is going on?!?!?

But the fact is a BP is sick. Many lovers underestimate how sick a BP is at their own expense. Well-meaning friends will tell this person to move on, but it’s never that easy. A BPD love is an addiction. When you stop cold-turkey you go through withdrawal symptoms. This person has just been traumatized and victimized. It will take a great deal of time (and maybe counseling) to heal and trust someone again. Unless, a BP has been treated for years there is always the risk of being put through the wringer.

Talk to the Hand

April 11, 2013

As they say, the apple never falls far from the tree. Unfortunately, that is especially true when it comes to repeating the mistakes of our parents. The following is a borderline’s observation about her own struggle with intimacy:

Lack of Skill

Most people primarily learn behavior as a child by watching their parents interact.  Well, in my childhood home, my parents either ignored each other, or my mom was yelling about what she wanted or didn’t get from my father.  So guess what I learned to do?  I either ignore the problem until it builds up and I explode at anyone I see as contributing to the problem… even if they had no idea there even was a problem.  A lot of the adult (and even some peer) relationships I was exposed to were like that; and I learned the lesson too well, having the same pattern reinforced for 10 years during my first marriage.  I never really learned how to interact with someone I was in an intimate relationship with.

When it comes to most BPD relationships, it is all or nothing. Hot or cold. Full-blown rage or passive-aggressive silence. A BP either bashes you or shuts you out. You might have enjoyed some constructive and meaningful conversations in the beginning of the relationship. But once a borderline splits you black, it’s all over. Once they feel they are in danger of being emotionally hurt or abandoned, they will kick you to the curb. For a BP, this is a case of both nature and nurture. If a Borderline ever hopes to achieve real intimacy, he/she must learn to not push it away.

Karma Chameleon

August 13, 2011

One person notices that his BPD girlfriend is constantly changing her physical appearance and wonders if it has to do with splitting:

I briefly raised this point in another thread just now. I’ll cut a long story short, here. I met my bpdexgf on facebook in March of last year (LDR). On her fb profile pics I noticed that she looked like a very different person on every single shot, whereas the people who were on the pics with her never looked any different.

When I eventually met her in person she again looked completely different than she did on her pics — you could just about tell it was her. Still very pretty but markedly different.

When I met her family and friends they appeared to look exactly the same as they did on the pics, but she didn’t. Even when I brought her to my home town to meet my family my sister even remarked that she looked like a totally different girl in the flesh than she did on her pics.

Even her personality was totally different than how she came across over the phone! She came across as bubbly, warm, caring, sincere, cutesy and really down-to-earth. But in person she had a slightly snobby accent and she had a spoiled daddy’s little rich girl kind of attitude.

I came across an internet article on multiple personality disorder, whereby some psychotherapist was talking about a phenomenon in patients with multiple personality disorder (she had BPD), where they ‘switch’ or split. This guy said that he notices when his patients switch/split, their physical appearance changes also! I believe that this would explain why she looked like a totally different person on her pics, because the camera was capturing her image each time she would go through her splitting states. She even said to me that she feels like a totally different person in front of other people.

It was all incredibly strange, in retrospect, and it felt as though my girlfriend, who I was in love with over the phone, had been replaced by a clone created in some shady genetics lab.

Have any of you experienced anything like this?

I laughed when I read this. My borderline-ex was constantly changing her image as well. And yes, it would someone how correspond to what was going on inside her funny little head. When she felt threatened, she would become uptight and aloof. When she split me, she took on this ridiculous supermodel/diva persona (an air of superiority if you will). If I wasn’t so upset about her sudden animosity, I probably would have laughed at how absurd/fake her behavior was.

She was compensating for how she felt on the inside (which is to say she felt like shit) by gussying up on the outside. We all do this to some extent, but she took it to the extreme (as she does with everything). It’s misleading for those who have no idea how disordered she is. They see this fashion model exterior and think “wow, she looks great, she must be feeling great.” But the reality is the more airbrushing she would put on, the worst she felt on the inside. It is all part of the illusion she creates for the outside world.

It sounds like the guy above is dealing with a histrionic borderline- they can be cartoonish at times. They put on airs that seem silly (even scary) to an observer, but they hardly notice the change. They take on whatever personality they think will be able to handle the situation at hand. It’s a survival skill. At times, H/BPD looks remarkably like Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID or multiple personality disorder). I believe they are all on the same spectrum, with DID being more disordered.

I also believe the gal above was probably a survivor of sorts. Whenever you have a major personality shift it implies there has been some traumatic past. When she acts snobbish in person, that is a defense-mechanism. She is putting up a protective barrier.

People with histories of physical and sexual abuse often display both BPD and DID as a result of their trauma. Dissociation is just one of the many red flags. People dissociate from traumatic memories to cope. It is my belief that my borderline ex also had DID along with all the other bad things that go with BPD. BPD is like an emotional variety pack from hell.  It comes with all sorts of undesirable qualities… all sorts of contrivances.

Unstable Relationships

June 1, 2011

Avoiding Abandonment

May 29, 2011

Borderlines who have a history of ending their relationships abruptly, will most likely deny having a fear of intimacy/abandonment. Since they are the breaker-upper, they are more than happy to see their partners go. But this is the borderline fooling themselves into believing they are completely in control.

What they fail to realize is there is a reason why they devalue their partners. The cliche “it’s me, not you” really applies here. They fail to see that prior to the devaluation, everything was going fine. But when things go too well… when they become more vulnerable… that’s when the borderline starts throwing a wrench into the works.

Whether they are aware of it or not, the more attached they become to someone, the more they fear losing them. This causes the borderline to feel trapped and suffocated. They are drowning in fear and insecurity. It will end with the borderline becoming inexplicably hostile, ruthlessly cutting off the partner they once couldn’t get enough of.

If you want to know what a woman with BPD sounds like, read the following Tumblr post:

When I was 16 or so, I had a crush on a boy who was a complete douchebag. He was one of those guys who dresses up his intrinsic belief that women are inferior in a lovely Misogynist Coat of Many Colours: chivalry, slut-shaming, creepy over-protectiveness, wanting to treat girls like ‘princesses’. You know the type.

I knew he was an asshole even when I was into him, so I memorized this poem.

Does this woman sound like a princess to you? What kind of woman hates being treated like a princess? A woman who has been abused her whole life. Since borderlines often speak in code, let me translate for you.

It is possible that this guy was a douchebag. After all, BPD women have a thing for douchebags, bad boys, Judases, etc. But the douchebags I know don’t waste their time with chivalry/wanting to treat girls like princesses. The bad boys I know get girls drunk, have sex with them and then “accidentally” lose their number.

They don’t open doors for women or treat them with respect.  They sleep with your best friend. The bad boy doesn’t know how to treat a woman like a princess because he too came from an abusive family. Bad Boys treat women like they are objects, not princesses . But for someone with low-self esteem and a history of abuse, this is an aphrodisiac.

In other words, her story does not quite ring true. But then again BPs are also known for spinning stories. They are known for creating their own distorted reality. The truth is a relationship with a douchebag usually never progresses further than casual sex. And if it does progress, he’s too busy getting drunk and cheating on her to engage in acts of chivalry. There is no place for love poems or school girl crushes. No, this sounds like a guy who she actually had feelings for.

BP women are sexually attracted to bad boys because it mimics their past (most likely sexual abuse). These relationships are effortless and carefree because they are entirely superficial. A borderline woman wouldn’t care enough about douchebag to label him a douchebag. These relationships are devoid of deep emotions. She might chase after him as he sneaks out the back door. But this is a knee-jerk reaction that has nothing to do with love. Real douchebags leave before the BP has time to devalue him.

Ah but when they meet a Prince, that’s a different story. This kind of relationship is a much more dangerous proposition for someone who fears intimacy. All of a sudden, more is at stake. If this person were to leave, she might feel rejected, maybe even abandoned. When a person like this leaves, feelings are hurt. For an overly-sensitive borderline this means unimaginable pain. The kind that makes you lash out at a person who you once loved with all your might. You might even label this person a “misogynist” or a “douchebag” just to ease the pain. This is called devaluation.

But devaluation is always proceeded by idealization. If this boy was playing the knight in shining armor, then someone must have been playing the damsel in distress. It takes two to tango. If he was over-protective it was most likely because she was constantly putting herself in peril. This is the beginnings of a classic co-dependent relationship a la BPD. The typical asshole/douchebag does not have time for this nonsense/drama. He’s in and he’s out.

No, the person who is duped by this co-dependent act is usually Mr. Nice Guy.  The guy who’s in it for the long haul. The guy who foolishly believes true love can conquer dysfunctional behavior. But Mr. Nice Guy’s is also sensitive. He has to be to understand the borderline’s pain. Only he can see her beauty behind the stone walls she puts up.

Suddenly the princess falls in love. Suddenly she feels things she has never felt before. This causes a borderline to freak out. She will either push him away or try to pull him in. She might put herself in more peril to call her Prince into action, to make sure he doesn’t abandon her. But this doubles as self-sabotage. Because now the Prince is wondering why this Princess is always in trouble. She is quite literally a trouble maker.

Even for the most dedicated Prince this can be too much. Doubt creeps into his mind. A borderline princess can sense when a lover is distancing himself. Suddenly, the Princess’ worst nightmare has come true. She fears abandonment, so she reacts by putting up the stone walls again. She might even throw stones at him to scare him off. Yes, borderlines will break your heart before you have a chance to break theirs.

So what version of the story sounds more accurate? Which version sounds like fiction? And which one sounds like fact? You be the judge. It’s hard to tell who the real douchebag is when you’re dealing with a silent abuser who uses false accusations as a weapon. But all you have to do is look at a person’s track record. Who has a history of manipulating people and the truth? We’re talking about people who can’t deal with the way the world really is so they revise it to their liking. This is someone who has been severely traumatized. To them, fairy-tales are comforting and the truth is painful.

Is She Borderline?

May 26, 2011

From an article titled Warning Signs That The Woman You’re Dating May Have Borderline Personality Disorder:

1. Does she immediately open up to you about abuse in her past?
2. Does she trash her ex-boyfriend or ex-husband even before you hardly get to know her. Does she seem to go on and on about her ex and how he ruined her life?
3. Does she have an unstable relationship with her parents?
4. Does she say bad things about her parents to you?
5. Does she seem very quick to fall in love with you and almost view you as her knight in shining armor?
6. Was she quick to have sex with you?
7. Does she have a difficult time being friends with other women?
8. Does she currently only have one friend that seems to keep coming back in and out of her life or does she have no friends at all?
9. Does it seem like a lot of bad things keep happening to her? Thrown out by her boyfriend, trouble with finances, trouble keeping a job etc
10. Does she seem to have very compelling stories and reasoning that explains why the bad things have happened to her (example, her ex-boyfriend made her run up her credit card debts and that’s why her credit is bad)
11. Does she seem to want to move the relationship forward at a very quick pace?
12. She shown an interest in moving in with you?
13. Does she have screaming fits in front of you?
14. Does she start horrible yelling fights with you and when you try to leave she begs for you to stay?
15. Has she bought you extravagant gifts?
16. Is she willing to explore risky sexual behaviors?
17. Does she abuse drugs or alcohol?

I agree with the author. This is probably not someone you want to continue dating. Unless a borderline has had years of therapy it is best not to get involved. An untreated borderline can cause a lot of damage in a short period of time. If they aren’t even aware they have BPD, that is a definite no-win situation. You can not convince a borderline in denial that they have a problem. They must come to that conclusion themselves.

answers this very important question:

Question: I Have BPD. Does This Mean My Kids Will Get BPD Too?

I have been diagnosed with BPD, and now I am worried about my children. I have heard that BPD runs in families. If I have BPD, will my children get it too?


No. If you have BPD, your kids are at greater risk of having BPD themselves. But, there is also a good chance that they will not have BPD. And, there are things you can do to reduce their risk.

There is research showing that BPD runs in families. This is likely due to a number of factors. First, some part of BPD is due to genetics; if these are your biological kids and they have inherited a certain combination of genes from you, they may be more at risk to develop BPD.

Second, the types of environments that can put children at risk of developing BPD also run in families. For example, someone who is maltreated as a child is at greater risk to develop BPD. That person is also at greater risk of having difficulty parenting. It is hard to be an effective parent when you are struggling with BPD symptoms, and it does not help if you did not have good parenting models yourself.

However, none of this means that your children will have BPD. While there is nothing you can do about genetics, if your kids live with you, there is a great deal you can do about environmental factors. And, there is evidence that environment has a very strong influence on whether or not people with the genes for BPD actually develop the disorder.

The first thing that you can do is to get treatment for yourself. People who undergo an effective treatment for BPD under the guidance of a mental health professional can improve significantly. Some people no longer meet diagnostic criteria for BPD after they finish treatment. Having less symptoms means having more resources for effective parenting.

Once you are in treatment, you can also express your concerns about your children to your care provider, and ask them for help. Your provider can help you to evaluate your home environment and whether your symptoms could be affecting your parenting skills. They may even be able to refer you to programs that help people build skills to be more effective parents. People with BPD can be very effective and nurturing parents, but because the symptoms of BPD can be very intense, for many it does take some work.

The good doctor is playing it positive, but I still have my concerns. Children are fragile. Children of borderlines even more so. If adults can be harmed by a borderline’s abusive behavior, a child is certainly at risk. Any child of a borderline will tell you horror stories.

My initial concern is that untreated borderlines would use having a baby as a quick fix for life’s problems. Much like an insecure borderline would rush into marriage hoping to soothe fears of abandonment. To most of us that would seem outrageous. But to someone who is constantly looking to fill the void within, having a baby seems like an easy solution to a nagging problem. But the added pressure can only exacerbate BPD conditions. Even more alarming is another life will be affected by an untreated borderline’s erratic behavior and severe mood swings. And then the cycle continues.

Please Don’t Leave Me

April 17, 2011

Pink does a pretty good borderline impersonation. She even looks like someone I use to know.

Sing along if you know the words. She’s singing about the “push and pull” abuse that is so common in BPD relationships. A borderline treats you like shit to push you away. And then when you start walking out the door, they put on their best wounded animal face and beg you to stay.

They will tell you how much you mean to them. And you will be flattered. Don’t be. You are nothing to them but a “perfect punching bag”. A stop-gap solution to fill the void. A cog that can be replaced at will, without regret. When an untreated borderline cries, “Please Don’t Leave Me”, they are buying time. Buying time till they find your replacement. Someone who will put up with the abuse. Someone they can more easily control. Or if they’re really filled with self-loathing, they’ll find someone who treats them as badly as they treated you.

Like Pink says, borderlines can be so very mean and nasty when they want you to know how much they hurt inside. If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ve seen how mean and nasty they can be… how cold and heartless. Maybe they won’t come after you with an axe. But they will cut you with words. They torture you with mind games. And if they’re really cruel, they’ll stab you in the back with false accusations and acts of infidelity. And then when you fight back, they’ll accuse you of abusing them.

But the fun doesn’t end there. Weeks after calling you an abuser, they’ll come running back to you for comfort. Because no one else puts up with their bullshit like you do. You would be crazy to stay with someone this messed up. But untreated borderlines are master manipulators. They have spent their whole lives avoiding abandonment. They will use every trick in the book to get you back.

They will tell you sob stories of abuse. Stories of crazy exes and even crazier parents. Stories of being violated in terrible ways. Borderlines always have an excuse for their bad behavior. They tell you these stories so you will say, “there there poor little helpless waif, I will stay by your side.” Tears will roll down their face as they promise you things they will never deliver on. They’ll promise never ever to hurt you again. But of course, they will.