Can you have borderline traits selectively in romantic relationships?

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whywearelaughing

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#1
My ex-bf has so many characteristics of BPD that it's hard to ignore.
He started out adoring me to a max and I couldn't believe how amazing I thought we fit well together. We had similar thought patterns, he could anticipate my every want/need, we saw the world in a similar way. He showered me with loads of attention, affection, compliments, kindness and I thought I did a good job reciprocating. He called me his "favorite person" all the time. We talked about marriage, kids, etc.
Then, out of nowhere, he got really mad at me. He wanted to be intimate one night and I told him I really needed sleep but would "make it way up to him in the morning" but that I loved him. This was the first time I saw him get very upset. The next morning, he was still angry and then picked another fight about something really small. The fight got so out of proportion that he disappeared for hours, ignored me and then drank for several hours. Eventually when we reconnected, he told me we were over. Then, the rest of the day alternated between him telling me he wanted to marry me when I would try to leave and him telling me we were done (and his friends/family knew I was terrible) when I was nice to him. During one of the angry episodes, he said "I know you're going to leave me like everyone else." I assured him I wouldn't. Then, he told me he got a text from another girl and he wants to be with her and that we were done. When I did leave, he said why isn't your response that "I should be with you instead of her." Then he called me 184 times and sent me 100's of texts. A couple days later, he started therapy of his own volition but never fully apologized for this crazy incident.
I tried to salvage the relationship for months. Things would intermittentlly be really good but then he would blame me for things that weren't my fault, get upset if I didn't do something he wanted and guilt trip me, yell at me (told me I was toxic) and then give me the silent treatment for days at a time (until I called him) and then act like nothing happened. Other days, he was loving and kind and supportive. Eventually, during one of the silent treatments, I broke up with him. He didn't seem as invested in the relationship and I questioned what I was fighting for. He called me, drunk, crying a few days later. And then the next day, told me he was going on a date (why did he need to tell me this?) but that he loved me and she would never give him what I gave him. Talk about confusing!!

He has a good, steady job and is a professional. He is close to his family. He has many longlasting friendships from high school to college to grad school to work. He forms attachments to people pretty quickly and is very empathetic when he isn't triggered. He's responsible. Doesn't do drugs but DOES use alcohol to cope with emotions (I was starting to see this pattern). I don't think he has ever tried to hurt himself and he seems to be a confident man though with anxiety. I know he doesn't qualify for BPD but can you have borderline traits just in the way you emotionalize in romantic relationships? Could that be what happened here?

Any help would be much appreciated.
 
megirl

megirl

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#2
Hi and welcome
Yes I have BPD with professional help and therapy,are coping with life well.
Yes, people can have traits of a certain personality disorder without actually
having the disorder. It depends how many of these traits a person has to be diagnosed with BPD. initially my diagnosis of cluster B personality traits then I guess once they knew more about me then they were able to make the diagnosis of BPD
People with BPD have an extreme fear of abandonment.
And seeing the world black or white, love and hate, good or bad
Also with BPD these traits can have negative effects on relationships,clearly
It sounds like you have been through a hell of a lot hes been really lucky to have you,
But we can only try so much to help people, in the end you also need to take care of your mental health
 
BPDevil

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#3
most of the bpd traits are to do with friendships and relationships, i feel most 'normal' when im not attached to anyone
 
megirl

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#4
BPDevil that's interesting
I have recognised I find it hard to deal if I have to many people around me. Or too many people in my life.
As in most ways I have learnt that the less complicated my life is the better off I am
Though I have had a few people I may of pushed away ..
Course I have. But as it hurt at the time. I was the one putting loads of energy into the relationship and we I really needed support they pissed off. Though life is easier without them.
 
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whywearelaughing

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#5
Thank you megirl!
I know only a professional can actually make diagnoses but do you think he could have borderline traits from the description above? I've been so confused at processing all of this! He went from being my amazing love to something so inconsistent and confusing that I just keep wondering what happened and how did it all change so fast?!

Thanks in advance
 
megirl

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#6
It can be confusing,
Relationship wise,he says he loves you,which he probably does but with BPD that can quickly change to fear or being abandoned. Irrational as it may seem for the other person he may believe you are going to leave anyway so he pushes you away first then its easier than being rejected (this is real they believe that maybe due to child abuse,neglect,harm etc)
I have read that people with BPD lack empathy? I personally dont think that's correct As he has some empathy he realises he has hurt you and is truly sorry though that fear of abandonment is so strong it kind of overrides other emotions.


I hope that's not too confusing I'm just trying to compare his behaviour with my experience as best as I can
You have done your best,but as I've said previously you have to take care of you first
 
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whywearelaughing

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#7
Thanks for your response. I really did feel like he was trying to push me away. It just sucks because I know it might not have been conscious on his part but I really did/do love him. I would have done anything to help him and be with him (short of compromise myself). I had no intention of leaving. I was forced. But I know he cares and loved me. It's just so strange. And so frustrating and sad.
 
Soul_Deeps

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#8
I just want to say the level of empathy does not correlate with having BPD or not. From my experience people with BPD tend to have more empathy though.

I can understand it's confusing to you, but I can tell you as a BPD person it's just as confusing and difficult to understand oneself. Often the fear of abandonment or regressing love is so overwhelming, traps are created to force the other person to show great commitment. And often being very close is too difficult to bear with, even though that closeness is exactly what is wished for. It's confusing and often paradox.

You can't really help with that, only a good therapy can. But you can support. The question is if you really want to. The explanation for a behaviour is not always the same as an excuse. You don't have to accept everything.
 
megirl

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#9
Hes been so fortunate to have you in his life. The thing is there is always hope with BPD. Unlike narcissistic PD people with BPD do empathise with others and they do tend to feel bad for hurting someone else, they are more likely to apologise for their actions. And with all these emotions that at times are overwhelming the emotional pain can be almost too much.
A big thing that a support worker said to me one day when it felt like the whole world was against I was getting frustrated with her as well (she was listening to what I was saying...etc)
Then all of a sudden here that part of me felt like she was out to hurt me as well.
Then she was like 'we aren't the enemy'
Its like I am fighting these people off when all they want to do is help
I hope some of that helps sorry if it doesn't make sense
 
megirl

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#10
It is sad but people can only do so much. And as I say at the end of the day one does have to look after themselves.
Take care
 
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whywearelaughing

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#11
I just want to say the level of empathy does not correlate with having BPD or not. From my experience people with BPD tend to have more empathy though.

I can understand it's confusing to you, but I can tell you as a BPD person it's just as confusing and difficult to understand oneself. Often the fear of abandonment or regressing love is so overwhelming, traps are created to force the other person to show great commitment. And often being very close is too difficult to bear with, even though that closeness is exactly what is wished for. It's confusing and often paradox.

You can't really help with that, only a good therapy can. But you can support. The question is if you really want to. The explanation for a behaviour is not always the same as an excuse. You don't have to accept everything.
Thanks for your input!
What do you mean by explanation vs excuse? And that one doesn't have to accept everything?

What's so tough about people's words with BPD is I don't understand when to fight to show them I care and when to leave them alone?
 
megirl

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#12
Depends how much of this the hurtful behavior you can tolerate and you certainly dont have to
When I have been angry/frustrated/overwhelmed i know I am being hurtful,i just didnt quite know why I am doing this,it all feels so real this hurt.
My ex-husband who was a well grounded person,would sometimes just sit and try calm me down by just saying a few words then not walking away-because with someone with BPD that's their belief they are just going to 'fuck off like everone else' (my exact words)
When I would calm down he would give me a big hug and hold me.
I think for me I always had good insight knowing 'I am so pissed off with people etc' but thinking to myself that person has done absolutely nothing to hurt me.
Often I would have all those feelings and emotions somehow kept them boiling under the surface.
The anger and hurt and frustration I used to call those feelings 'unjusterfied'
Its not healthy though I needed therapy to work out triggers and understand what has caused me to feel like this.
Because I was keeping all this hidden I was starting to drink again and my overdosing was becoming worse and a few times I had almost died
 
Soul_Deeps

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#13
Thanks for your input!
What do you mean by explanation vs excuse? And that one doesn't have to accept everything?
What I mean is: BPD problems or emotional chaos can explain some behaviour in some way, but whether or not that explanation is a valid excuse for hurting you, requires your own judgment. Having disorders doesn't mean it's ok to hurt you. And you can decide how much you are willing to endure.
 
Soul_Deeps

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#14
Depends how much of this the hurtful behavior you can tolerate and you certainly dont have to
When I have been angry/frustrated/overwhelmed i know I am being hurtful,i just didnt quite know why I am doing this,it all feels so real this hurt.
My ex-husband who was a well grounded person,would sometimes just sit and try calm me down by just saying a few words then not walking away-because with someone with BPD that's their belief they are just going to 'fuck off like everone else' (my exact words)
When I would calm down he would give me a big hug and hold me.
I think for me I always had good insight knowing 'I am so pissed off with people etc' but thinking to myself that person has done absolutely nothing to hurt me.
Often I would have all those feelings and emotions somehow kept them boiling under the surface.
The anger and hurt and frustration I used to call those feelings 'unjusterfied'
Its not healthy though I needed therapy to work out triggers and understand what has caused me to feel like this.
Because I was keeping all this hidden I was starting to drink again and my overdosing was becoming worse and a few times I had almost died
I'm sorry you are suffering so much from it, feel hugged :hug: