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Old 05-17-2010, 07:13 PM   #9
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Re: help with dating someone with borderline

Originally Posted by jbrosenfeld View Post
I know that ... you need to give them more attention and reassurance then you would someone who didn't suffer from the personality disorder, however I also know that if you shower them with too much attention, they might feel trapped and run. ... Can someone please help me with what the line is, or how I can make sure I am not crossing the line?
JBR, I spent 15 years with my exW (high functioning BPDer) trying to do exactly that -- to find the Goldilocks position between too close and too distant. I can confidently tell you that it does not exist. Or, if it does, it is a knife edge that is continually shifting.

The problem is that BPDers have a terrible fear of both abandonment and engulfment. As you draw close to your GF and become intimate, she will feel suffocated and engulfed by your strong personality. This occurs because she has a fragile unstable sense of who she is and has to work hard to try and maintain some semblance -- some thread -- of who she is. She therefore has only a weak sense of where her personal boundaries are.

This means that intimacy with you is extremely frightening because she feels she is evaporating into thin air or losing herself into your strong personality. She therefore pushes you away by creating an argument over nothing -- which is why you have no doubt found that she starts fights immediately following a wonderfully intimate evening or a great weekend.

Yet, as you back off to give her breathing space, you trigger her other great fear: abandonment. That frightens her so much that she will start reeling you back in with enticing behavior, all the while complaining that you are not being affectionate enough. But, of course, as you move back close to her, the cycle starts anew. This push-you-away and pull-you-back behavior is a hallmark of BPD.

The reason that there is no recognizable line or Goldilocks position between too close and too distant is that untreated BPDers are unable to regulate their emotions, making them unstable. Moreover, their perceptions of your motivations are seriously distorted, often making it difficult for them to know your true intentions -- much less know how intimate you are trying to be. Hence, they themselves do not know where the "line" is.

On top of that, they have -- deep inside -- an enormous amount of anger they have been carrying since early childhood -- anger that is easily triggered by some trivial comment or action you make.
Originally Posted by jbrosenfeld View Post
I am fully aware that people with borderline can love. If anything I feel they can probably love deeper then non-borderline people.
Yes, untreated BPDers can love but it is shallower, not deeper. Indeed, a common saying among their nonBPD partners is that BPD love "is a mile wide and an inch deep." It is a "mile wide" in the sense that, while a BPDer is splitting you white, the adoration and passion bestowed on you is very intense. It is "an inch deep" in the sense that the love can completely evaporate and blow away in 15 seconds, being immediately replaced by outright hatred.

Does that remind you of anything? Well, it should if you have any three- or four-year-old nieces or nephews running around. A child that age adores daddy while he is meeting her every need but shifts instantly to hating daddy if he withholds the smallest thing. Does this adoring behavior really constitute real love? Absolutely. If you doubt that, just ask any parent of a young child.

Does it constitute mature love? Absolutely not. Untreated BPDers are incapable of expressing mature love, i.e., meeting your needs in a consistent and devoted manner. The reason is that their emotional development is frozen at the level of a three- or four-year-old child. This is why many BPDers exhibit a childlike warmth of expression that oftentimes makes total strangers feel as if they have known that BPDer for a long time.

Certainly, my exW is that way. Strangers, business colleagues, and casual friends find her to be immediately very likeable and charming. Heaven help them, however, if they decide to become a close friend (thereby triggering her abandonment fear).

Please note that what I am saying does NOT apply to treated BPDers like Rlover, who reports that her therapy has been so successful that she now has only mild traits of the disorder. Her accomplishment is remarkable and is to be commended. Likewise for your GF if she is committed to staying in therapy.

Because BPD is ego syntonic, BPDers generally believe (at a conscious level) that their behavior is fine and everyone else's behavior is the source of their unhappiness. It therefore is unusual to find a BPDer who is sufficiently self aware to acknowledge having the disorder, much less seek therapy and remain there for the several years needed to learn how to manage it.

Here on the Internet, I have exchanged messages with perhaps three dozen BPDers with sufficient self awareness to pull that off. In my private life, however, I have met only one that I know of. Sadly, it was not my exW.