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Old 05-11-2010, 10:33 PM   #1
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My boyfriend has borderline personality disorder

I have boyfriend with BPD and it's very difficult for me to leave him. We argue about the same things over and over again. He's really good at pushing my buttons and saying really hurtful things to get me to react to him, only to tell me that I'm the one being hysterical.

I used to be a really outgoing and bubbly person before I met him and now I'm just depressed and exhausted all the time. When we are good, we're REALLY good... until he does something hurtful again. He's just so good at convincing me that he'll change... and because I love him, I want to believe him every time. At first, I felt that with enough love, I could open his heart.. and change him.. make him a better man. We've been together for almost two years now.. and while I have seen some improvements, he has a long way to go.

I wish I had the courage to just leave... and I wish he had the courage to let me go.

I am a good person.. and I deserve better than this...

but I also love him.... I don't know what to do...

I find it hard to tell this to people that are close to me, especially the ones that know him, too. His public persona is just so charming that everyone either thinks I'm crazy for feeling the way I do or crazy for staying with such a "nutcase".

I just really need to talk to someone about this... it's not healthy to keep it inside all the time...

Last edited by Mod-S4; 05-15-2010 at 05:48 PM. Reason: Please do not post on old threads - post moved, references to other thread deleted.

 
Old 05-15-2010, 09:55 PM   #2
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Re: My boyfriend has borderline personality disorder

You need to find the strength to leave. He will slowly eat you alive. If you think you are depressed and exhausted now, it will only get worse.

I know this is going to sound cold and heartless but: save yourself first. You can't save him but you can save yourself. You're dealing with someone with a serious problem and unless he is actively seeking treatment, he won't get better.

I can't say I'm in your shoes, but it's close, and it's hell.

I'm in the interesting position of being involved in a very close but non-romantic relationship with someone with BPD. It's also a long-distance relationship, where he comes to town regularly to work on a project I'm deeply involved in. At first he was so wonderful to me - you'd think I walked on water. I HAD to be part of the project and soon enough he was telling me very very personal things about his relationship (failing) and how horrible his father and ex-wife were. I was immediately drawn into it, became his closest confidant and and his closest 'partner' on the team. He had my unquestioning sympathy and undying support. He was also overly generous and flattering - at first. All this is typical PBD stuff.

Eventually though, as happens with all BPDs, he spotted a ***** in my armour. He started pointed out all my faults, his emails became rude and hurtful, writing all kinds of things that in hindsight are just ridiculous. For months, he'd had me convinced that I was the bad guy, that I really was all the awful things he was accusing me of. I had honest to god never felt worse about myself in my life. And all this from someone I wasn't even in a romantic relationship with!

The hardest part has to be thinking you're the one with the problem (since that's what they keep telling you). It wasn't until after a particularly brutal visit where I was near tears almost the whole time, that I decided to try to figure out what was wrong. Thank god for the internet - I had never even heard of BPD before.

I also have some wonderful friends who I let read some of his emails so they completely believe me when I tell them what kind of crazy things he's doing and saying. Because really, I'd sound nuts if I didn't have some of that stuff in writing.

Anyway, figuring out he had BPD was like having a huge weight lifted. Understanding that it's not me, and that I can't fix him, has been a huge relief. I am unbelievably sad that the wonderful person I started all this with is actually only there conditionally (and I no longer meet the conditions) because it was incredible while it lasted.

Anyway, sorry to go on and on about my situation, but I wanted you to know that there are other people who are going through the same thing and it's AWFUL. You've known he's had BPD for a long time already. You need to find the strength to leave because it will not get better. It is a cycle they are going to repeat with every relationship.

Meanwhile, if it helps at all: when he is trying to push your buttons, try to think of him as an immature child and you are the parent. It's helped me tremendously. Not him, mind you, but at least I'm not reacting to him any more and his outbursts are much shorter. And he hasn't made me cry in ages.

This is just a stop-gap solution though, you don't want to live with an 'immature child' which is what you're doing. You are right, you deserve better. You deserve an equal partner who doesn't put you through hell.

 
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Old 05-16-2010, 04:36 PM   #3
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Re: My boyfriend has borderline personality disorder

Simply, please listen to Della. She is giving you very good advice.
Quote:
Originally Posted by simplyD View Post
I just really need to talk to someone about this... it's not healthy to keep it inside all the time...
I'm so sorry you are going through so much pain. I will be glad to join Della in talking with you about it. I was married to a BPDer and lived with her for 15 years so I am able to share my experiences with you.
Quote:
I used to be a really outgoing and bubbly person before I met him and now I'm just depressed and exhausted all the time.
You stopped being yourself about 18 months ago, about six months after you started dating him. For the those initial six months, he likely was so infatuated with you that his anger was not triggered by you (i.e., the infatuation temporarily suspended his fear of your abandoning him). Yet, when the honeymoon ended (i.e., his infatuation subsided), the anger he has carried from childhood started to be triggered by little things you said or did. That is when you started walking on eggshells -- not being your true self -- to avoid triggering his rages and abusive language. You will be surprised how quickly your old self returns after you leave this relationship.
Quote:
When we are good, we're REALLY good... until he does something hurtful again.
That is why they call it a toxic relationship. Keep in mind that this toxicity is not something HE is doing to you. Rather, it is something you two are doing to each other. It takes two willing people to sustain a toxic relationship -- and emotionally healthy people are not willing to do it for very long.

His contribution to the toxicity is obvious. Yours is much less obvious because, with him being an unstable person, you are the glue that holds the relationship together. You do that by enabling him to avoid confronting his disorder and seeking therapy to learn how to control his emotions and how to do self soothing -- something the rest of us started learning when we were four years old.

Sadly, his emotional development became frozen at that age. This is why Della correctly says that you've been living with a man who is the emotional equivalent of a yound child. You, then, are an adult who has become a soothing object for a man with the emotional development of a four year old. As such, you are impeding his progress by enabling him to avoid learning how to do self-soothing.

I say this not to be judgmental -- after all, I chose to be an enabler for 15 years, far longer than your 2-year adventure. Instead, I say this to empower you with the knowledge that you can end the relationship at any time and that doing so is in his best interests as well as yours.
Quote:
At first, I felt that with enough love, I could open his heart.. and change him....and while I have seen some improvements, he has a long way to go.
Instead of getting better, he likely will get worse. Each year that goes by, his resentment will build for your failure to make him happy. Although he can learn to better control his emotions in a therapy program targeted to BPDers, that would take years of hard work. It is highly unlikely he will be sufficiently self aware to commit himself to that task.

The reason is that nearly all BPDers are ego syntonic, i.e., at a conscious level, they believe their behavior is fine and other people are to blame for their unhappiness. In this regard, therapist Shari Schreiber says you have a better chance of flying to the moon strapped to a banana than getting a BPDer to stay in therapy long enough to make a difference.
Quote:
I wish I had the courage to just leave... and I wish he had the courage to let me go.
A lack of courage is not your problem.
Most likely, you are a caretaker like me, i.e., you likely have strong aspects of codependence in your personality. The term "codependent" is very misleading. In nearly all respects, the codependent people I've met are fiercely independent and courageous. They will be working full time, taking care of three kids and five dogs -- and still go out dating, hoping to find a mate to take care of too.

If you are a caretaker, you are burdened with strong feeling of guilt and obligation that are keeping you from leaving. Those feelings -- as intense as they are -- are false because, in leaving him, you have nothing to feel guilty about and have no obligations (because you cannot fix him and are only doing him harm by staying).
Quote:
His public persona is just so charming that everyone either thinks I'm crazy for feeling the way I do or crazy for staying with such a "nutcase,"
Yes, I understand. Once you've told your friends enough detail to convince them he has a serious problem, they switch immediately from thinking you are crazy for complaining about a perfect man to thinking you are crazy for tolerating such verbal abuse. They cannot understand that, for us caretakers, it is extremely important that we feel desperately needed by someone.

The problem is not that we want to help people. That is admirable. Rather, the problem is that we are willing to keep helping when it is to our great detriment (and, in our cases, we are willing to keep "helping" even when it is to your BF's detriment and my exW's detriment). We do that because -- from a young age -- we have mistaken being needed (for what we can do) for being loved (for the people we already are).

Until you understand your motivation for staying in a relationship that is toxic to both you and your BF, you are at considerable risk. The real danger is not that you will stay with him. You likely will leave him soon. Instead, the danger is that -- given your need to feel desperately needed -- you likely will run into the arms of another just like him. I say that because I am the same way. It is difficult for me to feel loved by someone if they do not have an emotional intensity that indicates to me that I am dearly needed.

The danger arises because such emotional intensity usually is quickly found only in emotionally unstable people like your BF and my exW. Because they do splitting (putting them in touch with only one set of feelings at a time), they experience a "purity" of emotions that allows them to adore us in a very childlike fashion. Even now, I miss that intense passion and romance. I especially miss the adoration. Never mind that it lasted only six months.

 
Old 05-16-2010, 04:51 PM   #4
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Re: My boyfriend has borderline personality disorder

Outstanding post. It's very educational.

Funny how only six months of bliss can keep someone tied to someone else for YEARS! Like, they believe somehow, some way, that magical six months will come back and become forever. Until they wake up one day and realize they've been waiting longer than the good times lasted for the good times to come back! For me, the bliss came and went, and it only took a few minutes of him hugging me or cuddling me in bed and I was back to being ridiculously happy! Until the bad stuff started again, which was often the very same day (or just minutes later!). Really pathetic that I was willing to put up with months of misery for that few minutes of bliss. <smacks self in the head>

Thanks again... this was enlightening.
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Old 05-16-2010, 07:14 PM   #5
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Re: My boyfriend has borderline personality disorder

Quote:
Really pathetic that I was willing to put up with months of misery for that few minutes of bliss.
Redneon, I'm glad to hear that you found the post helpful. Thanks for the kind words. I just want to add that there is no need to beat yourself up over staying too long in a toxic relationship. I don't think of that mistake as pathetic but, rather, as an understandable -- even predictable -- result of our upbringings.

In my case, I simply grew up too quickly, trying to meet my mother's needs because they were unmet by my alcoholic father. I therefore became the "little man of the family," the caretaker whose self esteem relied far too heavily on what he is able to do to meet other peoples' needs.

Hence, as it likely was with you, the thought of "abandoning" a loved one whom I knew was ill was anathema to me. It went against every value I had been taught, against my religious beliefs, against my marital vows, and against every fiber of my being.

On top of that, I mistakenly thought -- as nearly every codependent partner does -- that the "real" spouse was the person splitting me white, not the one splitting me black. It never occurred to me that both were equally valid -- or, more accurately, that both were equally invalid -- being largely distorted by her projections and, thus, not an accurate representation of her true self, which remained largely hidden.

Moreover, I found the moments of passion and idealization so intoxicating that I became somewhat addicted to the intensity of such wonderful feelings. It is difficult to let go of being treated like a savior, especially when you have a strong need to be a fixer and rescuer like you were all through childhood. Indeed, the intense passion is so intoxicating that many nonBPD partners wonder whether they will ever be able to forgo it in order to fall in love with a healthy stable person. Whew, what heady stuff!

 
Old 05-16-2010, 08:15 PM   #6
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Re: My boyfriend has borderline personality disorder

I just got out of a 20 year marriage in December from someone who is BPD and bipolar and it only got worse. This man made me feel like crap. He became physically abusive too and to this day I am still scared of him.

He left me feeling depressed and all alone all the time and whenever I tried to talk about my feelings or my needs I was told I was selfish. It was all about him. I eventually just held everything in, apologized for everything and just tried to worry about his needs. I slowly died.

I am so much happier now. I am getting my friends back because I chose to not have thigns to do with them cuz it was easier than having to deal with the crap from him. I am focusing on myself and I get and hear compliments a lot again. It is so hard though because I have a hard time taking it for what it is and come back with a remark like are you kidding me, who are you looking at.

Dont let this man wear you down anymore. You can give him everything you have and he will require more. And then there is nothing left of you. Please love yourself first.

 
Old 05-16-2010, 11:55 PM   #7
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Re: My boyfriend has borderline personality disorder

I can't believe how many of you have similar experiences...

A friend of mine actually recommended the book "Walking on Eggshells" and that's when I KNEW that my boyfriend had BPD. He fit every symptom perfectly (scary, I know). I mean... I've been in healthy relationships, so I knew SOMETHING was up, but man.. had I known it was this bad... I would have steered clear... or maybe not. I have this thing.. where I just want to help people... it's a freaking curse, I tell you.

Anyway... I'm so glad I found all of you. You have no idea (or maybe it just feels that way). This feeling.. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy...

Okay, so here's the thing... I was about to renew my lease with him next month. He made me all sorts of promises to get me to sign it.. but now I'm starting to see through it all..

Before we moved in together.. he had cheated on me.. He told me a year later... and I just felt.. conned.. tricked into living with him... being with him.

But then he starts crying and stating that he did it because he didn't want to lose me... and being the caretaker (or moron) that I am.. I just hold him in my arms and tell him "it's okay... we're in this together."

I feel sick. I feel sick to my stomach. Some days, I just lay in bed and cry. If my family knew what I was going through, they would be so heartbroken. I often find myself lying to them.. building him up..

Plus, I've been here through all of his relapses (he's had drug issues) and emotional breakdowns. Of course, nobody knows about these things except for the two of us... and being how he is, he actually makes me look like a burden in front of his family, blaming things on me when things don't go as planned.. and taking all the credit when things do.

His mother is a textbook sociopath by the way.. so I'm just always stressed out.. if not about him, then about his mother.. who blames anything and everything on me...

Please help me.. please give me that extra PUSH to move out and go on with my life.. I know I need to do it.. I KNOW that this relationship is toxic and I just.. miss my old self... I miss the girl that sings while she drives.. and dances when she's alone... I miss being... happy. I even miss being lonely. He's ALWAYS there to make me feel bad.. to bring me down. If I don't do EVERYTHING his way, he ALWAYS finds a way to project his unhappiness onto me..

and If I continue to live with him, I may never be able to leave.....

How would you all go about this? How would you all break up with an emotionally manipulative person that you're living with? I feel like I'm losing my mind... and I'm just.. exhausted.

I'm just so unhappy... but I feel stuck.

Also, thank you all so much for your previous posts... it has helped me a great deal. Now at least I know that I am not imagining these problems... and I know that I must break away from them.. and knowing that many of you have been able to do it, gives me hope, too...

I just need some help.. some encouragement.. some advice.

Thanks again....

 
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Old 05-17-2010, 06:40 AM   #8
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Re: My boyfriend has borderline personality disorder

Get out, I wish someone would of encouraged me. I knew it was all bad things that were happening and I did not deserve any of them even though everything was always my fault. It will not get any better. You are already losing yourself.

I walked "on eggshells" always trying to watch what I said, how I said it, dont be too hyper, dont be too sad. Dont be pushy but if I sat back and did not ask then I did something wrong too. NOT WORTH IT. Now I laugh again. I can be hyper, loud and the things I use to. When my ex sees me like this he sometimes tell me I am being fake now. That I dont know who I am. I tell him no, I had to be fake around him. He use to ask me why couldnt I love him. WTH! I did love him but he said he could not feel it. He complained of this issue even as a child so I tell him until he finds it himself so one else can.

You can make yourself happy again. But only you can. I did the build up thing too with my family and was always (as my therapist tells me) the peacekeeper. Trying to keep people from being mad at him and him being mad at everyone else. The end result was I was the one always unhappy.

Be strong, you can do it. And I understand about so many people being inthe same boat. I had found so many old friends on facebook and am surprised how many of them have just gotten out of similiar relationships and many of them abusive also. Makes me so sad to see how this affects everyone.

Last edited by Mod-S4; 05-17-2010 at 08:46 AM. Reason: Unnecessary quote removed. Please use "Post Reply" instead of "Quote Reply" unless there is a specific part you are quoting.

 
Old 05-17-2010, 07:00 AM   #9
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Re: My boyfriend has borderline personality disorder

Don't sign the lease. As Fernee says, you should get out. I will write more about this tonight when I return from work.

 
Old 05-17-2010, 09:16 AM   #10
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Re: My boyfriend has borderline personality disorder

"Walking on eggshells". That's EXACTLY what I was telling my friends I was doing around him way back last August. Every move was based on how I thought he might react. Would it annoy him? Will he like this? What would he want me to do? I get so annoyed with myself just thinking about how scared I was. And the best part? He told me he couldn't stand how timid I'd become. Said things like "where's the old --?" or "For god's sake get a backbone!". (Of course, when I do stand up to him, he goes ballistic.)

You're singing our song, simplyD. I don't think anyone can truly understand what it's like unless they've experienced it first hand, and we have. We completely understand. My girlfriends have read his emails and call him things like a nutcase and sociopath but they don't know what it feels like to be manipulated like that, to be alternately emotionally crushed and then dangled carrots...

You have to be strong. His love is conditional, and you will NEVER be good enough for him to stop this behaviour. Getting away from him will be the first step in getting your old self back.

I've already started. My fellow is at the point where he pretty much hates me non-stop now and it breaks my heart but it also gives me more strength. Knowing that he could turn on me like that, so completely. Very liberating. (Of course, I say all this now, lol. Let's see what I have to say when I have to see him again in 2 weeks!)

Anyway, be strong, don't sign the lease!

 
Old 05-17-2010, 09:21 PM   #11
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Re: My boyfriend has borderline personality disorder

Quote:
How would you all break up with an emotionally manipulative person that you're living with?
SimplyD, the thing I found most helpful was to strengthen my personal boundaries and stop walking on eggshells around my exW. If you still have any notion that your BF really loves you for yourself, just start acting yourself for a few days. He will react like you have thrown acid into his face. He likely does not value you for the person you are but, rather, the soothing object you have become.

Don't you have greater aspirations than spending your life being someone's soothing object? Of course you do. So tell him to get himself a vibrator. Or, better yet, leave one on the coffee table as a parting gift.

As to the need for strong personal boundaries, a therapist who claims to have treated numerous BPD couples wrote that such relationships typically last either 18 months or 15 years. This caught my attention because my relationship lasted almost exactly 15 years. And it should be of interest to you because you are barely past the 18-month figure.

The relationship lasts 18 months, he said, when the nonBPD partner has strong personal boundaries. Such a person, he explained, will enjoy the intensely passionate six-month honeymoon and then spend up to an additional 12 months trying in vain to restore the conditions of the honeymoon. At that point, this emotionally healthy partner gives up and bails.

The relationship lasts 15 years, he said, when the nonBPD partner has weak personal boundaries, causing him to become so enmeshed in the BPDer's problems and feelings that he never leaves his BPD partner. Instead, the BPDer leaves him. The reason is that -- over the 15-year period -- she grows increasingly resentful of his inability to fix her or make her happy (an impossible task).

I would be remiss if I did not mention a second very helpful thing: righteous anger. As soon as he has another temper tantrum -- and it will be soon -- hold on to your anger. Nurse it. And keep holding on to it for three months, six months, a year -- whatever it takes to keep you from returning.

As I explained earlier, such anger is not justified because -- after more than 18 months in the toxic relationship -- you are now contributing to problem as much as he. Nevertheless, hold on to the anger anyway. Use it like a crutch to walk safely away and then kick it aside when it has fully served its purpose.

Finally, I note that building stronger personal boundaries is essential not only for finding the will to leave but also for staying safe later. After all, it does not matter much whether you leave if you will go running into the arms of another man just like him.
Quote:
His mother is a textbook sociopath.
Nobody knows for certain what causes BPD. A number of studies strongly suggest, however, that it generally is caused both by heredity and childhood abuse. The most rigorous of those studies likely is the 2008 study of nearly 35,000 BPDers. It found that roughly 70% of them reported being abused or abandoned in early childhood (but not all abused people develop BPD, however). Because the remaining 30% reported no abuse, the prevailing theory is that BPD can be caused by heredity alone, by a combination of heredity and abuse, and by abuse alone.

I mention all this so you are aware that there is a strong probability that your BF inherited a predisposition for mental illness from his sociopathic mother. If so, there is a good chance he will pass that predisposition along to one or more of any children you have with him. And to some of your grandchildren.

Whether the predisposition will take the form of BPD or another PD is unclear. As I mentioned, 30% of BPDers seem to have developed the disorder absent any abuse. So it is possible that the predisposition would take the form of another PD like NPD or APD (i.e., new name for sociopathic). And, of course, the outcome would be even worse if he ends up verbally abusing the children like his mother did to him.

In the case of my exW, all five of her adult children (who were my step kids) have mood disorders. Specifically, two suffer from panic disorder, one has some strong BPD traits, and three have depression. Of eight grandchildren, only two are old enough to evaluate because they are young adults. One of them has bipolar disorder with some strong BPD traits and the other suffers from ADD.

 
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Old 05-18-2010, 10:28 AM   #12
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Re: My boyfriend has borderline personality disorder

Gosh, I find your posts so interesting and educational, thanks!

My ex is not BPD (at least, I don't believe he is...he's just a spoiled, selfish, mean person who thinks the world owes him everything he wants and becomes angry when he doesn't get it), but he has some of the behaviors. Funny how you said the 15 year thing...I met him exactly 15 years ago and while we were not in a relationship the whole time (we dated for a few months 11 years ago, had a 5 year split during which we both dated others, yet he spent the entire 5 years trying to get me back, then had a 4 year relationship). He dumped me a year ago and is now in a relationship with someone who ie EXACTLY like him...she is selfish and demanding, they fight constantly(physically...she's given him black eyes and he puts bruises on her regularly) then get back together within hours, they are insanely jealous of one another, they are both extremely controlling...and he loves her like he's never loved anyone else. She is his dream girl and he wants to marry her. I agree that she's perfect for him because their sickness feeds off of one another. Oh, and they both abuse drugs and alcohol, something I would never do. He vowed to me a few years ago that he was determined to find someone just like him, and he did.

It's so liberating being away from him...I actually feel like thanking him for dumping me (I won't actually do it) because I am now out of that miserable situation and can live again. I was hurt when he dumped me, but that was because I'd become so enmeshed in his world that I didn't know how to not be in it anymore. But again, thank God he dumped me because I'd still be there. I feel fantastic now (after stupidly being sad for the first few months!) and I am now seeing someone whom I don't feel the need to rescue, save, pacify, do things and get things for because he likes them (never mind what I like or want!), and I don't feel the need to become enmeshed in his world, because mine's just fine.

Thanks again for the info, it's terrific!
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Old 05-18-2010, 10:33 AM   #13
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Re: My boyfriend has borderline personality disorder

Yeah thanks truth be told, you're more interesting than my abnormal psych professor.

Last edited by Mod-S4; 05-18-2010 at 12:00 PM. Reason: Off topic portion removed. Please stick to simplyD's topic and start new threads for others. Thanks.

 
Old 05-18-2010, 12:41 PM   #14
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Re: My boyfriend has borderline personality disorder

With all due respect, no one other than a qualified mental health professional conducting a clinical assessment of simplyD's boyfriend could diagnose him as having BPD. Nor can anyone here predict exactly what the boyfriend will do, or where the relationship will go, based on an unsubstantiated, amateur guess that he is inflicted by a certain mental disorder.

That said, simplyD, it is clear that you and your boyfriend have some compatibility issues which probably negate the success of a long-term relationship. I think it would be helpful to focus on this issues without looking through the prism of BPD, which may skew your analysis of what's really going on.

 
Old 05-18-2010, 01:45 PM   #15
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Re: My boyfriend has borderline personality disorder

That's true that people do get caught up in labels and use labels to predict and explain behavior, especially in this culture where the majority of people have some three-lettered acronym syndrome. I was under the impression that this guy had been diagnosed as having BPD, though maybe I missed something

 
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