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jbrosenfeld 03-26-2010 09:19 AM

help with dating someone with borderline
Hi Guys,

I recently (about a month ago) started dating someone with borderline. She has been in therapy for it for about 9 months now and is taking medication to treat some of the symptoms.

So far everything is going well and to be honest I am starting to fall for her. My question is, how much attention is just right and how much is to much and will get her running.

I know that while dating someone with borderline, 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 to 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?


AnotherDayDone 04-05-2010 04:52 PM

Re: help with dating someone with borderline
Well the problem is (at least with someone like me), the personalities change so frequently, no one could ever get it right. Some times I need to be told 100x I'm loved and cared for and need to be touched to feel loved. Other times I can't stand anyone within a 2 foot area of me. I feel closed in. There is no proper balance....Some run. Some think you hate them, some think everyone is talking about them or against them.

I give you praise for doing this, it's hard with a partner with bpd. You're in for some crazy days, just be patient and understanding. Don't treat her like she is a person with 1 personality b/c she isn't. Hold her accountable but be more accepting of her emotions. And reassure her as often as you can. Hearing it is more important than showing alot of times.

I wish you both the best!

rlover 04-28-2010 05:55 PM

Re: help with dating someone with borderline
I am BPD and am getting counseling for it. I would suggest to someone who dates a borderline that it helps to show tolerance towards the emotional ups and downs, which come and leave so quick.
My baseline is: I am in love with my BF. I will do anything for him. It is extreme in the sense that I think of how to please him too much. The problem is he is not sensitive to any emotional display, and is rather judging of me. That does not help! In fact, I just want to shut down if he shows no reaction to my attempts at intimacy.
The solution for me is humor: I don't care who with or who. Humor transports me out of my small minded view that I am stuck in, and helps me to see the horizon, the global view, and then, my little emotional tantrums are no longer relavent.
Please know that BPD are capable of love- we just need therapy to prove our worth so we don't drag the BF's down with us!

jbrosenfeld 04-29-2010 06:52 AM

Re: help with dating someone with borderline
Thanks Rlover,

I am fully aware that people with borderline can love. If anything I feel they can probably love deeper then non-borderline people. Being non-borderline, I am able to control my emotions and use my mind to sometimes limit the dept of them.

Right now, the only real "issue" that has come up, is that she does think about me all the time. She wants to spend every minute with me. And then when I say no you need to do your thing and I need to do my thing, she gets a little hurt. She doesn't say anything but I can tell she's hurt and feels rejected. Now, if I hang out with her (and she would like it to be everyday from the moment I get off work until I wake up), then she doesn't have time to get her stuff done, such as doing taxes or paying bills. Once those things start to pile up, she starts to get stressed about all the stuff she needs to do and then feels resentful towards me, becuase she feels that I have been holding her back from doing what she needs to do?

A couple of days ago, I started to kind of direct her on how to balance these things. She has put off her taxes but needs to do them and she's all panicky about might having to owe. So, I had her break down everything that needed to be done and split it over three days. Then told her what to do last night and had her call me when she completed each task. Do you think this might work, in this type of situation? This is something I would do with anyone I was with if they had difficulty getting things done, because sometimes tasks seem huge to me but it's easier for me to get it done if I break it down into little chunks.

Any other advise from any borderline's and little ways to kind of ward off some of the extreams and disregulations?

Toonces1 04-29-2010 07:14 PM

Re: help with dating someone with borderline
I hate to be the one to break it to you, but if you think you can change her by trying to "ward off" some of her extremes, you are going to be in for a long, exhausting, painful ride. All of the things you are describing are very typical for someone with BPD. One of the big issues for people with BPD is fear of rejection and abandonment. She is going to feel this way regardless of what you do. Even if you start spending every day with her, she is going to start reading into the littlest things you do and interpreting them to mean that you don't love her, or don't care about her, or are going to leave her. and she is going to become increasingly dependent on you to relieve this fear. She will start doing irrational things to alleviate this fear.

I can tell that you really want to give this girl a chance and you are very interested in her. I think you should carefully consider what you are getting yourself into. It is extremely difficult, if not totally impossible, to have a "normal" romantic relationship with someone with BPD. The very nature of this disorder is that BPD sufferers have a innately disordered way of viewing the world and interacting with people. Their interpersonal relationships are not stable and they manipulate people into meeting their needs to preserve their sense of self.

I don't want to offend anyone with BPD with this response, but I want the OP to understand that this isn't some minor phase this girl is going through. She will have BPD for the rest of her life and it will likely be a tumultuous life. I think most people with BPD would say that they wouldn't wish it on their worst enemy. I don't have it, but I have a friend who has borderline tendencies and her life is filled with huge ups and downs, and there are a LOT more downs than there are ups. She is constantly in terrible emotional pain and repeats the same cycles of misinterpreting people's behavior toward her over and over and over. I spend hours on the phone with her trying to reassure her about various aspects of life on a regular basis. I have been doing this for years and nothing has changed - it's the same thing over and over and I often tell her that I am struck by how hard it must be to be her. I don't think she will ever lead a happy life. Please, please, proceed with caution.

rlover 04-30-2010 07:38 AM

Re: help with dating someone with borderline
I agree with the previous reply. I suffer from rather mild BPD and as I get more therapy I come to understand more and more. A person cannot fool themselves forever! The tragedy is, the more good-intentioned support from a BF I recieve, the more I cling. I am trying to find out why. In the meantime, this is so tiring for him!
My previous relationship was with a nice guy for 7 years- he did every thing for me. He did my taxes, he paid the bills, he gave me advice, he soothed me. I in turn did all the cooking, cleaning, social organizing, and gave him affection. The problem was, I was also a leech! Yes, I recognize that. No matter how much direction he gave me it was never enough, and exactly, I resented him WHENEVER anything even unrelated to him went wrong. Like, he was my body-guard, protector, and somehow he should have stopped all wrong things from happening. I loved him the best I was able but somehow, since he got involved in things he should not have (accessive reassurance, guidance, protection, etc), all boundaries were down.
Advice to the guys who are involved with BPD: please keep all boundaries up, forever. We BPD's simply take, and once in that mindframe need more and more. It is hard to explain, b/c it is a feeling and that feeling is a black hole. Basically guys, take care of yourselves, don't get caught up with her needs when they are emotion-based. Refer the BPD to a therapist when she has tantrums or crises.

snork34 04-30-2010 11:37 PM

Re: help with dating someone with borderline
I was diagnosed post traumatic syndrome with BPD last month -- it was a struggle and a rude awakening for me. My honey for two years had to really threatened me before I would wake up from this haze cloudy mind of mine to really seek help. Once I got the help -- I began to feel so much better because I have the tools now to get better and help our relationship grow in a very healthy way -- communicate better, control my emotions better and be able to set up boundaries for myself. I understand that he, too, need to do his thing and need some time alone because being with someone like me could be at times tiring and very exhausting. I feel that I am lucky to have him by my side to help me through this haziness. I understand that he doesn't have to but the fact that he has the intention of wanting to go through this together -- that itself is enough. So please give her a chance and don't give up on her. Tell her truthfully and give her feedback on how you feel. Maybe ask her if you could go see her therapist -- ask her what is the best way to help your girlfriend.

rlover 05-17-2010 08:52 AM

Re: help with dating someone with borderline
I cannot over-emphasize the need for the non-BP to protect and define themselves first before making symbolic gestures to protect us BP's. I mean symbolic such as stating reassurance, love, hugging, etc. I love and get addicted to any display from anyone that I will be protected. My past includes sexual abuse where no one protected me, so now as an adult, I seem to love and need that.
I am working on trying to self-sooth so that my BF does not feel responsible for soothing me. In fact, it appears that I will go to anyone before I go to him for soothing, so that he does not accuse me of leeching off him, to which he has an aversion. He lacks empathy, and in a way, it is forcing me to be stronger b/c he is rather clueless about how to help. We are interesting b/c he is controlling and emotionally unavailable most of the time, and I am BP emotional free-for-all. It is NOT the worse combo.
The worst combination is matching an overly nice, giving, empathetic man and a BP women. The BP women will be a vampire to the man. I know it, because I have DONE that to men in the past.
Any comments?

*mister* 05-17-2010 07:13 PM

Re: help with dating someone with borderline
[QUOTE=jbrosenfeld;4212530]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?[/QUOTE]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: [I]abandonment[/I]. 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 [I]too close[/I] and [I]too distant[/I] 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.
[QUOTE=jbrosenfeld;4235768]I am fully aware that people with borderline can love. If anything I feel they can probably love deeper then non-borderline people.[/QUOTE]Yes, untreated BPDers can love but it is [I]shallower[/I], 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 [I]mature [/I]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.

rlover 05-18-2010 12:27 PM

Re: help with dating someone with borderline
Thanks for being so concise about the role of the co-dependent!! The solution to being addicted to sugar is not to add more sugar. Meaning just because the BPD says: "hug me all day", does not mean that hug will help at all.
The co-dependent, nice, selfless giving man who probably has low self-esteem would be able to develop out of co-dependence by having that unconditional love experience- maybe from a religious or family figure: one not reliant on external acts or events, and that may help the co-dependent get their self-love and self-confidence back.
I really appreciate how you describe that the co-dependent needs vacations too! I was wondering why my "x-victims" (past BF's) would tolerate my absolutely aweful behavior and then withdrawl mode: that was perhaps the co-dependent's chance to collect themselves emotionally- to take a breath and maybe even invision an escape.
All I can repetedly say to all the nice guys (and gals) dating the BP who are reading this is: don't be so nice, don't be so giving too much too soon or the BP will expect it always, don't solve the BP's problems by whisking away all the bad stuff in their life. DO have consequences when they show bad behavior. DO remind them you are a human with your own needs (and you need to find out what your needs are!(read book; Non-Violent Communication for needs list). DO force boundaries and space even if you don't need them (b/c the BPD does). DO hang in there and know it may take many years for real trust and real relationship to bloom.
Currently as stated above I am a high-functioning BP, someone who is a stranger to myself most of the time and ruled by the superego- doing good in society in every direction. But when my unclotted emotions start to run and run, I somehow become a monster and feel very ashamed. I cry, yell, and swear, and hurt myself. I have improved as I don't physicall hurt others anymore. The more comforted I get by my current BF, the more I feel scary emotions, until crying several hours, the exaustion hits and we are all safe again.

rosequartz 05-18-2010 03:14 PM

Re: help with dating someone with borderline
as someone who had a BPD BF for a year, the best advice I can give you is to get out now.....the sooner the better.
they have a bottomless black hole that you can never fill.....
they will take take take until they've taken everything you've got and then some.
it's just too exhausting.......why would you voluntarily sign up for something like this? I found out by accident after researching anger management....I put 2 and 2 together, started reading books about it and was able to realize that was the WASN'T me....
tried to fix it, realized there was no fix and I didn't want to spend my life being someone's scapegoat.....hopefully you will realize that before they've destroyed you

rlover 05-19-2010 11:51 AM

Re: help with dating someone with borderline
In reply to rosequartz...firstly, I am glad you are free of an abuser.

why would you voluntarily sign up for something like this?

Because BPD's have many positive traits. Your tone sounds extreme. I think that many BPD's are lovable, including me. The difference is I chose to not think of the label BPD as a threat, and I chose to investigate and get help. If a BPD person does not want to get help then yes, I would agree, either adapt to the behavior by putting up boundaries etc, or get out of the relationship.

Itried to fix it, realized there was no fix and I didn't want to spend my life being someone's scapegoat.....hopefully you will realize that before they've destroyed you.

See- that is the problem for the non-BPD: trying to fix someone else. The fix comes from within and with the aid of a counselor, and then the non-BPD person can be educated about where the BPD is at in their stage of "fixedness".
Ofcourse some BPD traits will not be "fixed", but do they need to be? Many people in society have maladaptive quirks we call "eccentric" and we don't lock them up. With good boundaries, we may even accept them. I think that BPD is something that both the BPD sufferer and the non-BPD have to first come to terms with and accept, then try to get help, then have some sense of resignation that this BPD may not ever be what society calls normal.

rosequartz 05-19-2010 11:54 AM

Re: help with dating someone with borderline
I am well aware of the positive traits of BPD. I begged my BPD boyfriend to PLEASE STOP drownding all your wonderful good points with your anger.....
he just wouldn't stop.....
the relationship was good for 3 months and bad for 9 months....
at that point, when the bad had outweighed the good, for 3 X as long, it was time for me to move on.....I wasn't willing to be destroyed. I had escaped an abusive marriage, I sure wasn't going to let a boyfriend put me back in a similar situation.....

Tubular 05-19-2010 11:04 PM

Re: help with dating someone with borderline
This has been a very informative thread.
Thank you!

rlover 05-20-2010 09:44 AM

Re: help with dating someone with borderline
Thanks for sharing, and you must be a very patient man. I am sorry that it was not your X who was doing this. Best of luck to you though.

I love that the BPD girl can joke with the elephant analogy!
That means she is acknowleging that she has something in her she has to take care of and maintain. Somehow, many BPD including myself don't want to acknowlege "weakness"- but it is not a weakness. The elephant is a symptom of a "disease" that we need to manage forever.

Endemic to this disorder seems to be denial of many things, ideas, concepts, the world etc, not just "self". That is why we don't see the problem!!!!

In my late-teens to early 20's I THRIVED off of of self-denial. It was the only thing that gave me a sick joy. I was anorexic until I was tired of "lying and denying", so stopped that but [B]not the denial[/B].
I transformed anorexia into religious activity- compulsive, proud, dutiful activity that took up all my time. I was not happy but thought happiness is besides the point. I desired self-less duty. Who needs happiness when you are serving all people in your community correctly? Well, guess who got the brunt of my unhappiness? Yep- my BF. So, there are ramifications for denying listening to yourself.
Anyway what I have noticed is that even now that I am talking to a therapist, my self-denial keeps shape-shifting. This is crucial to see. I no longer am a religious fanatic, and only do moderate amounts of activity but now the self-denial comes in the form of my current BF, who expects so much from me. He has me under his thumb (though I don't know if he thinks he does) and I work on "denying my feelings" to be happy with him. We are the weirdest pair- he hates any show of emotion, which is my specialty! When I am with him it is as if I am at work. Focused, not basking in emotion that much, trying to control myself b/c he hates emo. display. Otherwise he is a good match for me and has good boundaries.

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