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Am I being emotionally manipulated, is it their bpd or mine?



New member
May 7, 2019
This topic might be hard for people. But I seriously need to find advice on this.
[tw: self harm mention]

I have bpd. I am currently in a relationship with a girl who’s studying psychology, knows a fair bit about bpd and is very understanding. She’s polyamorous. I’m perfectly happy with her being poly. I don’t know if I’m poly myself but I’m exploring that. That might not seems] important, but trust me it is. We’re also long distance, she’s seeing 2 other people right now, but it’s a fairly open relationship, we both date and sleep with other people, mostly friends with benefits. Me a lot less often than her, but that’s my personal preference.
I’ve tried seeking advice for this on relationship forums, poly forums, but the bpd being a factor has confused people and no one really gets the nuisance of bpd there, so here I am.

My gf and I met and both slept with someone at a club at my uni, this person became a fwb of both of our’s but I was a bit sceptical. This person has bpd too. I will refer to them as X for anonymity. They are a fair bit younger than me and my gf, which might go into it. I was drunk during the night but from recollections with other friends who were there I know X didn’t flirt with me during that night before we all hooked up, but was flirting with my gf. This would usually be fine, poly after all, but since that night and while trying to cultivate a new friendship with X they would constantly say things like “no, I was into you too! I’m into both of you, I just didn’t flirt with you because you were too drunk and I didn’t want to take advantage!” Makes sense, except we were all drunk and I wasn’t that drunk at the start of the night when X started flirting with my gf, so part of me doubts this was the case, but something they say to make me feel more comfortable with them being primarily interested in gf. For me, if they were honest and just told me that, I would be more comfortable because bpd brain makes those situations make me feel like I’m being used and that they’re trying to get to my gf through me and see me as a stepping stone to get to her. (Again, I don’t know if this is the case or my bpd but I can’t shake the feeling and there are too many conflicting evidences to what they say that make that belief seem true.)
I recently told X that I no longer want to be fwb with them, it took me a long time to build up the courage (and realise) to tell them I just wasn’t attracted to them and I did not want to continue seeing them this way, but wanted to remain as normal friends because I was not attracted and the situation was making me very unhappy. However, when I told them about this, over fbm because that’s how everyone in my life communicates and they were out of town), they kind of debated me on the issue for a few days. Which I am rather uncomfortable with, it should ave just been an open and shut case, if you’re not attracted to someone you have to respect that and you can’t argue the minute details on it, it’s a matter of consent, right?
The debate was more to do with other issues, but it still was a debate about wanting these changes. They told me that I needed to get therapy and brought up my bpd a lot. I was, at the time, on a waiting list for therapy which I had told them about, yet it felt like they deflected my decision onto my mental health. (I can no longer get therapy, the place I self referred to rejected me because they only treat mild depression and anxiety...) I’m not saying, and never have presented myself like I’m not blameless in having my bod effect things, but to me that’s not the point, it feels wrong that they found a reason to debate me on other issues when I told them I wanted to quit having sex for my own good, they said I was putting blame on them entirely, which I’m sure it seems like I’m doing by making this thread, but I’m trying to be objective about my situation and find advice. I know there are things I have to do but that’s it’s own thing, and I am doing those, it just takes time.

This is all mostly backstory up until now.
What really bothers me is that I can’t tell if I’m being a black and white thinking bpd person, judging someone for their mental illness, or this person is (regrettably the stereotype) emotionally manipulative and bpd isn’t an excuse.

X’s bpd is perhaps more severe than mine. Or unmanaged. I’ve told friends about this situation, and sometimes my gf (hesitant because those two are close and if I’m wrong and being bpd about it, I don’t want to be the kind of person who turns people against each other), and most of my friends think what X has done in various situations, but specifically what I bring up, is not ok. I’ve shown dms so it wasn’t me paraphrasing and making someone look worse than they are. I can’t do that here because of anonymity, and I think that would be rude. But X has also talked to friends about the situation, not sure if they shared dms either, with their friends and they believe I’m in the wrong too. Hence I really need advice.

X self harms. And has brought up wanting to do so to me and my gf number ours times when they’re distressed, and on a few occasions, that distress has been because of me bringing up something to them that I need to discuss. For instance sexting my gf when I was visiting her made me upset so I brought up asking x not to do that in future (after calming down), later that day they brought up wanting to hurt themselves, clearly because I had confronted them and asked for them to not do this. I know for most people, feeling responsible for self harm or suicidal thoughts is incredibly traumatic, for me it’s worse, I have a bit of childhood trauma from a family member gas lighting me into believing that I had caused a grandparents suicide. They did not know this at the time, but, I think regardless of them knowing, it’s a fairly poor choice on their part? When I’ve brought up many issues I’ve had later on they’ll become emotional and discuss premeditated desires to self harm. It hurts, I don’t want someone to hurt themselves whether it’s my fault or not! Whenever I’ve brought up that this behaviour hurts and is unhealthy, they blame bpd and say that at the time they can’t stop themselves from telling us or even acting on it. Which is s why it’s been so hard to bring up any issue I’ve had with them because I know they’re fragile like this.
This is also why it took me so long to tell them I’m not interested in being fwb with x anymore, because of fears of how they’d hurt themselves. The same fear comes with the thought of leaving the situation because we’ve been fairly close for a while. They still say that it’s bpd, not their fault, and deflect blame on me or my gf for discussions we have. I know they have traumas and bpd but at this point it feels like they’re refusing to get better in order to keep using these excuses.
Whenever I’ve had a bpd breakdown, I barely have any breathing room to recovery as soon as I’m slightly better, but still fragile, they will have their own breakdown. I assum this is just bpd feeding into each other but it makes me feel invalidated, and makes the attention I need at that time split and detracted towards them, which is something they have done to other people, not just me, even when my breakdown is to do with something very personal to me and non-relatable to them (like when I had one after visiting the grave of the grandparent I was gas lit into believing I killed). I don’t want to feed into the bpd being an attention seeking thing, but it does feel that way in a lot of these cases.
Finally, x will also require, and almost demand (sometimes by bringing up need to self harm), affection and reaffirmation. Which we all need with bpd, but in this case it’s daily and also includes this feeling of manipulation as it’s often forced. Rather than ‘do you still like me?’ It’s ‘I feel like hurting myself, tell me that you miss me as much as I miss you even though I’ve known you for only a week’. Bpd is intense but they’re also not... dealing with managing it greatly, in my opinion. I’ve felt pressured into saying things I don’t mean, like saying that I love them when I’ve known them for only a month because of the threat of self harm. They say it’s not a threat, that they’re just saying how they’re feeling, but I’ve felt like I couldn’t talk about my own issues and have that same respect because my issues become their issue later in the same day.
There have also been times when I showed affection to my gf in person or in group chat, and it was immediately followed with “what about me”. This has both been for words and for pda. They’ve also made me feel guilty for loving my gf by saying things like “I fear you care about her more than me.” I’ve felt pressured to kiss, hug, and give emotional connections to them when I didn’t want to because of this. I really should have said no, because it was dishonest, but I was afraid of hurting them.

If bpd wasn’t involved however, I would consider this behaviour to be emotionally manipulative or even abusive. It’s caused me immense distress in dealing with the issue, and feeling like I cannot leave because my gf is also involved and they’re good friends with each other! I don’t want to control my gf’s friendships and stop her from having relationships, but at the same time, I can’t do what I’d usually do when I’m made to feel this way and ghost and disappear from the person, cutting them out.
I don’t think x shows this same side to my gf either, and I don’t want to rock the boat, I don’t want my gf to think I’m being bpd manipulative by telling her these negative things, because she is aware of how bpd works, and she has a kind heart, she doesn’t want to hurt anyone.
I feel manipulated, and I’m afraid of it, but I’m also afraid this is my bpd or that I’m being insensitive to bpd.
Poopy Doll

Poopy Doll

Well-known member
Jun 13, 2015
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA
I understand you feel that open relationships where you can sleep with other people is somehow progressive. I don't see it that way and for someone with BPD I would think it would be difficult.


Active member
May 8, 2019
It all sounds way too complicated. I don’t really know what to suggest other than perhaps to take a break from all these people just to let your mind settle down a bit.


Well-known member
Aug 24, 2011
Maybe monogamy might be less messy? I personally would walk away. Having a diagnosis does not justify treating people badly and messing with their heads unless they're acutely unwell? Sounds like this is long term headbanging and I don't think you will find much happiness in these relationships?

Girl interupted

Well-known member
Nov 17, 2018
Three things.

1. Even in a polyamourous relationship there are boundaries. You need to discuss this with your gf, and mutually agree to your own set of rules. This is more to avoid confusion and miscommunication than contol.

2. You need to own up to your own gaslighting. By caving to the threats of self harm you are doing them no favour, but rather reinforcing the behaviour which they will do with others, not just you. Chances are this behaviour has worked for a long time, so it’s a tool they leverage to prevent the overwhelming fears of abandonment unique to bpd. Be a friend, get them in therapy. If they are in therapy, maybe ask to go to a session with them so you can help their therapist help them.

3. Evaluate your own needs and responses to this. Maybe poly isn’t for you after all. It most certainly is complicated and a challenge for people without mh issues. Discuss this in your own therapy sessions.