How to end a friendship/relationship with someone with BPD


English: friendship

English: friendship (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well first of all I will admit this is a difficult subject to tackle, but I was asked by a non-BP if I could advise them how to do this (being a BP myself). This person needs to terminate a toxic friendship to protect themselves; but while they cannot be friends with the BP any longer they still care about the BP and recognise the potential for triggering a crisis that ending the friendship could cause.

So, I said I would try to provide some suggestions that may help minimise the possible damage to both parties that still allow the non-BP to break away safe in the knowledge they did what they could not to harm the BP whilst ensuring they did what was best for themselves, this post is the result of my work trying to answer this question…

Introduction

Before I start with the suggestions this introductory section covers a few important details about the post and who it is aimed at… If you want to skip straight to the suggestions scroll down to the next section, but I suggest you do read this bit first!

Disclaimer: The suggestions given here are only my personal opinion based on my own experiences and understanding of living with BPD and I take no responsibility for any outcomes of using this information I am not an expert in either BPD or relationships, anything you do is your own responsibility, I am just sharing ideas which I hope will be helpful but they have no guarantees of being useful.

First I just want to give some definitions of terms used in this post:

BPD – Borderline Personality Disorder

BP – person with BPD

Non-BP – person without BPD

Bad BP – A person with BPD who either is not aware of their condition, in denial, refuses to get help for their condition or chooses to use it as an excuse to behave badly.

Good BP – A person with BPD who accepts their condition and wants to and is trying to get help to manage their condition.

If you have BPD and are reading this, please remember I have BPD too and that I am not writing this to offend or make those with BPD look bad in anyway, the kind of BP likely to be on the receiving end of someone cutting off a friendship is more likely to be the ‘bad BP’ and I think most (if not all) of my BPD readers would fall into the ‘Good BP’ category, so this is unlikely to be relevant to you and your friendships, however I encourage you to read anyway as you may have some additional helpful tips to share! J

I also want to apologise for the length of this post, it is probably the longest single post I have written but I don’t think it is suitable to split it into separate posts so you may want to just read it in sections and come back to the next section later!

There is a lot information out there, online, about ending relationships with BPDs but most of it is quite mean i.e. toss them aside, forget them, don’t deal with their BS anymore etc written by people who are bitter and hurting themselves as a result of the relationship they had with a BP. They do  not really understand or empathise with the condition, usually blaming the BP for being a ‘bad, evil person’ not recognising that in most cases (there are exceptions, as with everything in life, a minority of BPs will exploit and ‘use’ their condition as an excuse to behave badly – which gets the rest of us a bad reputation :/ ) the childlike inability to control emotional reactions that is a key element of BPD is the issue and that the BP needs help not treating like a discardable piece of trash (although I acknowledge that some BP’s can and do treat others this way)

See I told you this was going to be tough! already we are seeing that the ways ‘not’ to end a friendship/relationship with a BP may be exactly the way they treat others, either intentionally (the bad BP’s) or unintentionally (most other BP’s, like myself, the ‘good BP’s’).

Even though there is a strong chance you are more likely to be dealing with a bad BP if you need to break off a friendship I’m going to try not to keep distinguishing between good and bad BP’s as it will only make things more complicated to answer this, so for now I am lumping us all in a kind of ‘middle’ ground so I can explain the ‘possible’ actions and reactions the BP may have without keeping repeating that the ‘good’ ones are less likely to do these things while the ‘bad’ ones may do even worse things, just to try and simplify things a little…

Also before I go any further, the suggestions I make in this post are mainly aimed at friendships or relationships which do not have additional complications such as living arrangements or children because obviously there will be a need to seek protection for damage to these factors where they are part of your situation and that is just something I will not be covering in this post, I will only be considering you (the non-BP) and your borderline friend.

How to break off a friendship with a person with Borderline Personality Disorder

Breaking of a friendship is never easy, and even when BPD is not an issue there are times in our life when being friends with a certain person is no longer healthy for us and we have to draw a line under it and move on, heck I’ve been there myself and been on the receiving end. Sometimes this is just a natural part of growing up and moving in a different direction to your former friends, but when it reaches a point where being friends with a person is just always draining and harmful to you you may be left with no choice but to walk away. It can be hard enough to do this without the added complication of BPD after all humans are emotional creatures and it is going to be painful to at least one of you, more likely both, no matter how hard you try to ease the pain…

The thing is there is no easy way to do this, and while they are harsh and written by people who are angry and bitter the general idea behind what others writing about ending friendships/relationships with BP’s is actually pretty spot on. It has to be blunt and final, with a ‘no contact’ rule firmly imposed and stuck to – you want to end this, so any show of weakness now will only mean you end up backing out of it and remaining trapped in a relationship that is damaging you! Sorry if this is not want you want to hear, but you sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind and after thinking about it deeply I think that you just have to remember you are trying to save yourself, at the end of the day regardless of BPD the other persons reactions are not your responsibility and you have no control over them!

With that said, and the knowledge that you cannot prevent triggers or crisis’s that may arise as result of what you do here are some things that may help with the aspects you can control – the delivery, support and reactions to watch out for…

Communication

The first thing you need to consider is communication, how you communicate with the BP is going to be vital to making sure they understand what you are doing, why are doing it and the expectations and consequences of the friendship being terminated.

You can read some help on how to communicate with someone with BPD in my earlier post on the topic here - http://showard76.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/how-to-communicate-with-someone-with-bpd/ if you read that post please take the time to look at the comments following it too as there is more information there that may be helpful!

One of the key things to consider is that while you may be dealing with a very intelligent person you are at the same time likely to be dealing with a person who is childlike to the point of being like a toddler when it comes to their emotional ability – but of course, treating them like a child is not going to help your situation. Getting the balance right of addressing the toddlers emotional responses while dealing with the intelligent adult is going to be tough, hopefully some of the communication tips in my previous post will help you gauge how to deal with this element of ending the relationship.

Where and how to tell them

This may sound a bit harsh or unfair but I think most importantly you should avoid doing it in private, alone with just your BPD friend, especially if they have a history of violent and angry outbursts. This is about safety and being in a safe environment can help reduce the triggers and reactions as well as make you feel more comfortable.

Either tell the BP in a public place or another safe environment where other people are around, but avoid this being a group of other friends who may interfere in any way, either defensively or accusingly, you don’t want to make the BP feel ‘ganged up on’ or to create a situation where you or the BP bring others in to ‘back up’ your views – this is not the time place for such conflict.

If you think a face-to-face situation is likely to erupt then you should consider sending a text, email or writing a letter instead – again this may seem unfair, but safety is the priority. Of course this adds the risk that the BP may ‘pretend’ they have not received your communication as a way to try and force continuing the friendship, so make sure you have some way to confirm they got the message without this being a way of re-opening communication itself. If they do insist on continuing to contact you claiming not to have had your message, do not respond in any way other than to repeat your message. They cannot keep saying they didn’t get your message. Of course, if they are pretending not to have got your message they won’t actually mention it but instead just contact you as if nothing had happened – this is why you should not respond with a ‘didn’t you get my message’ but instead just resend the same message again, then not respond further.

Be assertive and specific

Having prepared to communicate with the BP and where/how you are going to do it you need to sort out what you are going to say, ensuring that it is clear, specific and assertive, don’t waffle! It may be helpful to write down what you are doing, why, and what you expect to happen even if this is just for your own clarification – sharing all the details with the BP is not likely to be helpful as it may just give them things to ‘argue’ against or ‘promise’ to change, but you are likely to have already given this person numerous chances to ‘change’ if you have reached this point so now is not the time to allow room for compromise and negotiation again – you are here to END this, that is what you have chosen, so stick to it!!

Do not allow room for the BP to blame, manipulate, persecute or rescue and try not to do these things yourself. In other words choose your words carefully avoid saying things like ‘I’m sorry…’  - this gives the BP room to rescue or persecute. Don’t use words like ‘always’, ‘maybe’ or ‘never’.

State the situation factually and focussed on yourself not the BP. It may look/sound quite harsh or blunt but something like this leaves out ‘emotion’ and focuses on you -

“I have decided I don’t want contact with you anymore, please do not contact me by text, email, phone or in person, do not come to my house. If you do I will not read, listen to or respond to any contact.”

Do not feel you have to explain yourself, only explain if you can do it without opening up conversation which may get out of hand, because explaining often leads to blaming type wording, arguments and trying to justify your actions, all of which make things complicated and extend the situation. If you must explain again keep it clear, simple and factual.

“I am doing this because I need to take care of myself”

Don’t let the BP to try talk you out of it, argue or reason with you – as soon as you have told them you are ending the relationship they won’t be able to be logical or reasonable no matter what they may proclaim – the emotional BPD reaction will be in control and any discussions will be futile and full of triggers, risks, conflict and heightened emotions.

Be prepared for the reactions

I’m not going to list all the possible reactions as I’m sure we are all well aware of the emotional outbursts BP’s can have, from tears to tantrums, threats of self-harm or violence towards you. This news is likely to be triggering for the BP now matter how carefully and considerately you have delivered it.

One thing it may be worth doing is ensuring (if possible) that both you and the BP will have someone they can talk to after you have ended the friendship.  It may not be helpful to have this person there when you break the news as it could inflame the situation, but knowing you have someone to go to after and that someone will be at hand for the BP to provide them support may help you deal with the guilt, sadness and fears you are likely to have both for yourself and (because you do care about the BP) the BP. You may be worried about them self-harming or attempting suicide after you have gone, but that is not your responsibility and you cannot allow them to use such things to manipulate you or make this harder than it already is.

The BP is likely to either react with desperate attempts to cling on and prevent you leaving them or become enraged. It is important that as hard as it may be to see them cry or being angry you must remain calm, stick to your guns and not back down. You may want to have a line ready to say such as ‘I can see this is upsetting for you but I am going now’ and walk away – again this may seem harsh but  staying will just extend the pain for both of you.

The BP is not the only one likely to be emotional; while overall you may feel relief to have finally pulled the plug you may also feel guilty, worried or scared so have an action plan of how you are going to deal with your own emotions after the event, someone to talk to, a pampering/relaxing activity to indulge in, even therapy or counselling or whatever you think will help you. And remember you have a right to have happy, healthy relationships and friendships. You may even feel bereaved at the loss, so give yourself time to handle these feelings

Finally – don’t go back later! Do not make contact with the BP to check they are okay; it is no longer your responsibility or concern (and never was!). Yes, you may want to know they are okay and if you can find this out discretely through someone else for your own piece of mind then do so, but don’t do it in anyway that the BP could find out you are ‘checking up’ on them as they will likely see this as a route to ‘winning’ you back or reaching you to express their anger and frustration. Make sure you don’t have to get back things you may have leant to your friend before!

If the BP does start shame/blame or lies, false accusation and distortion campaigns against you after you have ended the relationship these are again an emotional reaction and depending on the nature and severity of these (which could be extremely damaging or just mildly upsetting) you need to deal with them without having contact with the BP. Either ignore them if possible, respond to other people with facts and truth without slipping into overly defensive or retaliative behaviour towards the BP, but remain calm, in control and accept you cannot control what other people say or think about you if the possible consequences are only minor it may be easier to just let it go. If they are worrying, threatening or dangerous then you may want to report them to the police or get legal advice – but hopefully it won’t be this bad!

Conclusion

As you can see this is not going to be easy for either party. There are no sure-fire ways to make it go well, but there are things that are certain to make it go badly, being careful of your words, tone, volume and body language are important as is being prepared for the likely responses and having support in place. Beyond these things there is probably not a lot you can do to make it go smoothly. In the end you just have to ensure you take responsibility or your actions and reactions and leave those of the BP to them as you cannot control them or fix them.

To those with BPD who read this – I know that like myself most of my readers are what would be classed (by the terms in this post) as ‘Good BP’s and I’m sorry if you find any of what I have said offensive as like myself you are unlikely to react in the most aggressive terms if someone was to end a friendship with you, you are also less likely to be in this situation anyway as we are all working so hard to combat our BPD that hopefully we are not treating our friends poorly enough that they would feel the need to do this to us!!

Do you have BPD, if so do you have any further suggestions about how to reduce the impact of terminating a friendship with someone with your condition?

44 comments on “How to end a friendship/relationship with someone with BPD

  1. Easiest way to cut me out is to piss me off so I don’t care about you being in my life! No one has ever actually done that but the people who have left my life have done something mean then I told them to screw off.

  2. Outstanding post Sharon. I think the way you write a lot of your posts shows us – the readers, BP and NBP – how you at least cope with being BPD. I have read so much about people with BPD not being able to improve their condition, it’s nice to get another perspective on this. Thanks for taking my earlier question and writing such a full and informative reply. Best wishes.

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  6. TRIGGER ALERT! Some upsetting subject matter is included in my comment below.

    I just don’t consider myself good “friend material” so I avoid making friends so no need to dump me! It is very lonely, but it saves the emotional stuff I would do if I started getting close to anyone–withdraw! I have no social skills! I’m kind, compassionate, polite, too giving–not good boundaries according to my therapist, & afraid of people finding out about all my “secrets.”

    Luckily, I have been married to my “high school sweetheart” (met in boarding school) for 40 years & have 2 wonderful grown children who still love me & want to spend time w/me despite my struggles. I think because they saw me work so hard to be a good mother (didn’t have a good role model as my mother was dxed as schizo affective & was terribly ill; was delusional & thought we children had “Satan’s blood” in us & attempted to murder us children; when she found out she was going to be involuntarily committed to the mental hospital she succeeded in committing suicide in a gruesome way after many attempts–finally at peace; she was a tortured soul; father was basically an absent “functioning alcoholic”).

    I took parenting classes, read books, went to therapy, & had my husband teach me how to nourish & show love & affection to infants & children.

    Trying to have a friendship is such a scary proposition that I simply avoid any contact that slightly resembles that. Probably the closest relationship I have outside of my husband & children is my therapist & I pay her to spend time w/me! All my siblings are estranged. We are too damaged from our childhood & each carry around our own private hell inside (Mother had a different emotional torture for each of us & sexually abused one brother & me).

    • Thank you so much for sharing such a difficult story.

      I can understand the feeling of not being good friend material, I think many of us with BPD would think that.

      I think you have done amazingly well and hope you are very proud of having such a long lasting marriage and two wonderful children :)

      Best wishes xx

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  9. I recently ended a friendship and I think she is BDP. She went to a psychiatrist and psychologist and was on meds for depression. She was one of the most difficult of friends that Ive ever had and she was very manupaltive, after reading the article on the stages of BDP I realized it was her to a t. I feel really bad for ending the friendship Im in my mid thirtys and so was she, she did the whole step 1 Victimizing herself, step 2 clinging and step 3 which is Im sure hating me. I feel really bad still but I had to do it for my own good, she just moved to Germany because she hated her life in the states, and she threatened to hang herself if things went wrong there. I ended the friendship after a night of seeing her out and talking to her about something and it made me realize she has more than depression. She then tried to contact me for at least 2-3 months and I guess she felt bad for the last time the she hung out with me she didnt treat me well so she calls 3 months later with a gift she had gotten me from her trip to mexico. I never called her back to scared of her reaction. Soon enought I see that she deleted me and my boyfriend from facebook and most recently it became apparent that she blocked me from FB, which is so juvenile. My biggest problem is that we have mutual friends,there are a few who have seen all these sides of her, and there are those that havent. She is a musician who went to Duke very magnetic. I feel so bad seeing out mutual friends out and they come and aske me about her and I shamefully have to tell them that I had to end the friendship. Needless to say, apparently she moved to Germany but seems to be unhappy according to her posts. I think I will forever feel like a bad person for ending this, but I knew that last night that I talked to her that she has some real problems. God bless, it would be great to hear from you guys.
    Tapdancer

    • Hi Tapdancer,
      Thanks for sharing, sometimes all you can do for your own sake (and maybe even safety & sanity) is break away from someone who ha BPD especially if they will not acknowledge their condition or don’t want to get help/recover. In time you will recover and maybe one day if she recovers too you may be able to reconnect (I wouldn’t hold a hope on this though!). I hope you don’t punish yourself too much for needing to protect yourself from a volatile relationship. Best wishes
      Sharon x

  10. Another thing that is so hard is the hot then coldness of the person for no seemingly rational reason. One minute you are plied with “you are the greatest friend ever” Hallmark cards daily–then there is a seething voice mail left about some “crime” you have done against her that you had no knowledge of & still don’t quite understand what she is referring to. It got to be so confusing, so up & down & I have enough challenges handling my own stability of moods & recognizing cognitive distortions–that I had to “quit” the relationship. Too detrimental to my mental health. Too bad as when she was rational she seemed caring, interesting, etc. but this off-the-wall attacks out of the blue was too much.

    • Yeah, I’ve faced similar myself and strangely the person who was behaving like that towards me was definitely not suffering BPD which made it even worse to handle as at least if it had been BPD I could understand that something had in some way triggered her to lash out at me (even if I wasn’t the trigger) :/

      • Thank you for replying, I havent spoken to this friend for 10 months last I heard she was in Germany.Well get ready for a crazy story.

        Anyways THIS Xmas morning I get a voicemail at 3 am from a number I dont recognize, I listen to it and apparently it was someone being read their breathleyzer rights from a cop in my state that I live in, I could barely hear the girl speaking,so I call the number back not thinking for one sec and it was this same girl that I cut the friendship off with, the call went to her voicemail.

        It turns out she is back in town for the holidays was pulled over for a DUI and she freaked out and instead of dialing her parents she dialed me and left a 1.5 minute message of her and the cop talking. Regardless sounded like she was getting a DUI. Being human and all, I felt I should call someone to see if she is ok and so I contacted a mutual friend, and she texted her back saying she had a really bad night but everything is ok. THis women has deleted me from FB, and of all people she leaves a message by accident of her getting possibly arrested on my phone. So strange can it get weirder.

        According to my research, she posseses 6 out of 9 traits of a BP, she tells everyone that she is on meds and sees a psyd and pschiatrist for depression. Is it possible that the doctors havent detected the BPD??

        I know that she tells squewed stories, so that people feel sorry for her, and then she clings on to you, and then hates you, she has threatned me twice with suicide, she drinks alot, has permuscuis sex, she cant tolerate being alone like other can and she used to make me say she was beatiful, I quote ” tell me Im beautiful, tell me”.

        I pulled away because i could tell she didnt genuinly like me, so why was she holding unto a friend that she doesnt really like. My answer was she was so lonely she took anything, then I ran across the boo k” I hate you, dont leave me”.

        What do you guys think, we are all in our late thirties, getting married, having children and she is no, t my heart goes out to her. Despite anything the voicemail was simply crazy.

        Thanks everyone, Tapdancer

      • Hi,

        Wow, what a rough time for you (and her too I guess!)

        I suspect the message probably wasn’t an accident, but her way of reaching out to you either to make you feel bad and to blame for what she is going through or so you could help or ‘rescue’ her…

        As for the doctors missing BPD, yes, strong possibility we are good at hiding it in some ways, and if not missed then a lot of doctors avoid throwing this label around as it isn’t one that is good to get, I call it being thrown on the trash heap of life as many consider us dangerous and difficult to treat (unfair and wrong in both instances) so it may be that her doctors prefer to use labels that hint at easier access to help, support and treatment for recovery – the only problem then being that the help given may not actually be enough to deal with the complexities of BPD.

        I think she probably did genuinely like you, just had problems showing it, the BPD fear of abandonment could have been making her keep a distance out of fear you wouldn’t stick around.

        It is sad that everyone else is settling down while she still behaves like an out of control teenager, but I have been doing the same myself, it is our own way of coping, not wanting to get too attached to anything or anyone because we are so scared of getting hurt again. I am finally feeling ready to start calming down again now and hope that I will meet someone nice I can do that with, of course I now have the additional issue of having developed a ‘reputation’ that will be hard for people to see past and accept that I can be more than a ‘one-night stand’ or ‘easy lay’ but that it another challenge for me to overcome!

  11. TRIGGER ALERT TRIGGER ALERT TRIGGER ALERT TRIGGER ALERT

    This “friend” who was hot & cold was dxed as rapid cycling bipolar 1. I also have the dx of bipolar 1 (but not rapid cycling) & have been 296.62 (mixed episode of moderate intensity where I am depressed yet can get slightly manic, too) for about 5 YEARS now since last suicide attempt. I have done 2 YEARS of DBT & wish I could do more (therapist retired & NOT because of me!). I also did individual therapy w/her & learned so much to help myself from spiraling into my extreme emotionality (such as “coping” w/suicide attempts). I wish I could do more to keep the weekly reinforcement going. Tried other DBT groups (even driving 2 hours one-way), but since I have done 2 years I’m too “advanced” as most people in the groups were just starting out & therapist starting asking ME to explain principles or give examples–which isn’t too good when SHE is getting PAID by me!

    But this “friend” also told me in confidence–and I’d better check–is there any way this can be traced back to ME? I don’t want any identifying info. to come out to then identify HER. She is not a computer person so she would never read this, but maybe someone who knows her…

    I’d better not write it just in case. Just a behavior that is a serious “sign” of disturbance–more than bipolar or borderline, etc.

    I sought out DBT- after hearing about it in my support group from a man w/treatment resistant-depression**yeah, you probably recognize me from the “guest” column (more like rambling; sorry, I’m not ever concise)**& the therapist (DBT one) put down borderline as an “investigative” dx & I told her to just take it off. I have most of the symptoms (especially the extreme emotionally, rash behaviors, immaturity, extreme sensitivity to “criticism”–like my husband says, “I’m LOOKING to be hurt.”, childhood neglect & trauma, etc.), but I told the therapist I thought I had quite enough dxes already (bipolar 1, acute anxiety, ADHD, sleep disorder & those are just the psychological ones; I have numerous “medical” ones, too) & I said I thought they are only for insurance purposes as far as I am concerned & there is a HUGE stigma to having borderline. I’ve found that out while volunteering & teaching classes w/therapists & even pdocs who say derogatory things about “borderlines Trained through NAMI to teach these classes (National Alliance on Mental Illness). http://www.nami.org

    I even volunteered in the women’s jail w/a therapist (after training & continuing training; I’ve had some unique experiences being mental unstable!!) leading a support group for the women there & the jail personnel were very derogatory when speaking of someone who had the dx of “borderline.” You’d think they were lepers. They were definitely thought of as less than human & “untrainable”–except by the wonderful DBT-trained therapists.

    Also, I seem to ATTRACT unstable, needy people who flip out on me for undetermined reasons (or I can’t foresee the reasons or understand them). My daughter recognized this at the young age of 10. She said, “Mom, you don’t have friends. You collect misfits!!!”

    WOW–in talking to my therapist about this I wondered if I was always trying to “fix” people because I couldn’t “fix” my mother (no one could; she killed herself when I was 15 after many attempts; was dxed as schizo affective); I help people in extreme ways (giving them money & having to hide that from my husband); listening to their tales of woe (on call 24 hours a day); house abused wives who keep going back to the abusive spouses & then leave again & I “rescue” them again–finding low-cost or free counseling (& paying for it myself, if not free), etc., etc. until my husband puts a stop to it.

    OR maybe I keep trying to fix, repair, help people because I cannot fix MYSELF. I am unrepairable, a lost cause, hopeless, so I try to help someone for whom there is hope. I am 58-years-old. I am still trying to get “cured.”

    I am currently looking for schema-based therapy since I can’t find an appropriate DBT group. I take meds, but if I can reign in my thinking & cognitive distortions, then my emotions get back to more balanced & rational levels & thus, my behaviors become rational, too. It is damn hard work when my “normal” or “natural” tendency is to be a frightened, immature, crying child who wants to hide all the time…

    • Sorry, I tried to have the TRIGGER ALERT(s) at the TOP of my post & not after the first 2 paragraphs since I mention a sensitive subject. I tried, but it didn’t get placed where I thought it was going. Please fix, if possible.

    • I think we do have a tendency to try to ‘fix’ everyone else when we should really be focussing on what we can change – ourselves, because no-one can change anyone but themselves no matter how hard we try! I hope you manage to get the schema-based therapy and it helps. I managed t beat self-harm last year, this year my focus is reducing/beating my emotional vulnerability! :) x

  12. thanks showard76,

    I really dont know what to think regarding why she called me, of all people on her phone, she called the one person who ended the friendship. If she tried to make me feel guilty it worked but It also makes me believe she needs more help. I found out the she did get the DUI and I feel sad for her because wnen I was friends with her nothilng like that happended, I dont know what to say. She would have a bad experience in life and go to her therapist and tell us her friends what the Dr. said. And the Dr always said run away from this person, do not ever call this person again or talk to them. The Dr would make it seem that the other person was the problem.
    I was always baffled by what she would say her dr said.

    So what your saying is Dr’s dont tell the patient they are BPD they beat around the bush and deal with it indirectly? Due to the stigma that is associated with such diseases.

    • Yeah what her Dr said sounds pretty typical of the professional stigma around BPD :( and yeah the doctors either hand it out as a diagnosis without ensuring proper support is in place to help the individual cope with such a label (as happened to me) or they won’t diagnose BPD because they know that the person will then be subject to stigma even from other professionals :( It really is a label you don’t want to get landed with :/

  13. Hello all, I am in a horrible spot and very sad – because I think I know what I must do….and that is break the one promise I have made to my GF with BPD….I promised her – I was not going anywhere….but this time her leaving has left me…shell shocked again…but this is clearer and clearer now as much my illness as it is hers. Its toxic – I am typical co-dependent and I have taken on some of her behaviors at times. If she is mad at me and breaking up with me – I am mad right back….and I wait for her to return…and if she loves me – everything is forgotten and I ride the high with her. But I walk on eggshells….over time I haven’t had to worry as much about the eggshells because she is back and forth with me all on her own without having to be mad at me – circumstances lead that one. But details aside – the accusations this time ….first the argument was about one minor thing being blown up…and the reason for ending the relationship was an entirely different one. Now I have to say this caveat …I have SEEN some very vulnerable moments with her. She has allowed me to see some pretty deep stuff and let me in closer than she ever did anyone else…why I do not know but I have felt a protection over this woman – like a wounded little girl (though she’s 51). If I do not talk to her should she return (based on past splits she always returns – and I have no reason to believe she won’t and no reason to believe she will – its always a wonderment to me – will THIS be the final good bye?) – if I ignore her – she will panic…and try harder…becoming very child-like in her begging me to talk to her. I am afraid I will lose more and more of me…as I am more ill as a co dependent than ever. I don’t know what to do….

    • Hi Shawn, sorry to hear of your predicament. The co-dependency makes it all the more complicated, but given the continual on again off again, blowing hot and coldness of your situation I think for your own sake it may be time to call it a day and cut all contact with her once and for all – I know this will sound harsh and will be hard to do but sometimes there is nothing left to do but cut your losses and move on or neither of you will ever be happy or escape this torturing cycle :(

      • Thank you! Its been a week since she cut me out and I have not heard from her at all. I knew going into this week that what happened what not my fault and I knew what the cause was…things were just getting too close and committed ….but I digress. Today I have taken stock again of this pattern and how much I want and need things to not be so hard. I don’t want to hurt her but at the same time – this can’t continue like it is. Healthy relationships are my goal right now and I need to work on me. I am thankful for this site by the way – it has helped make sense of the things that just had not made sense for so long!

  14. I’ve had to end a friendship with a BPD friend. I didn’t know that was her issue at the time and I still don’t think she knows it. I felt so guilty. It broke my heart. I wrote out a few words, saying that I loved her, but her problems were affecting me greatly and I couldn’t do it anymore. I gave her my short note so that she couldn’t distort my words at all. I didn’t blame her. I blamed myself for allowing the friendship to continue far beyond what was good for me. But I felt incredibly guilty. You state that a BPD might rage or stalk. She didn’t, beyond that first interaction. She always had many excuses for treating me badly, pulling me close, then pushing me away, for 8 years. But she never apologized. A good amount of time went by when she asked to talk. We did talk and it went well, until something made her think I had betrayed her. She went crazy trying to malign me by calling people I know to find out if I’d ever shared anything private about her. She called me screaming and blamed me for her crazed state. It scared me intensely. I have chosen to maintain an indifferent attitude as we cross paths frequently. Sometimes I get a smile, other times I get a scowl. I’ve remained indifferent. I guess I wonder why it is so difficult for her to apologize? Why the generous loving expression, followed by angry vengeful looks? Can such a person feel remorse? She knew she’s been cruel and mean but was taking sick pleasure in it. Now, it appears she’s mad because I’m indifferent and not responding to her friendly looks. I’m not mad. I just see her as a stranger. Someone I never really knew. I no longer feel bad for her. I don’t worry about her. I do feel like a fool for giving her my time, my attention, my love for so long with out ever asking for common kindness on a consistent basis. I read about BPD, and I’m convinced its her issue. I’m just confused and hoping that at some level she knows that I never deserved her rage. And, I don’t know why she thinks a smile would fix it all.

    • Thanks for sharing. Indeed not all BPD’s will rage or stalk, those that do are in the minority, I believe. I am surprised at her lack of apologies, I spend so much time apologising even when it is others who have done me wrong and I don’t feel they deserve an apology but I value them enough to try to make amends… The switch from smiling to scowling you describe sounds like splitting, one minute you are white, good and precious, the next black, evil and worthy of nothing but contempt, a common problem BPD’s suffer with :( Yes, we can and do feel remorse, but as with other people some of us don’t and won’t :( I think you are doing the best thing remaining indifferent and just being civil as if things were so toxic allowing that to happen again would not be good for either of you. Best Wishes x

  15. Thank you for the post I found it very helpful and clarifying as I was in a relationship/friendship with a recently diagnosed BP. We have been through a roller coaster of on again and off again relationship/friend being as I myself suffer from Masochist -in which I enjoy being controlled and hurt upon my terms or others. I truly believed that we are better off now, reading this gives me more courage to do right by both of us in cutting all ties.

  16. I’m a bartender. I ended a friendship civilly, but she found reasons to take offense & began showing up at my workplace incessantly, having made friends with my boss. She then took over “my” parking spot of 8 years, as if to punish me as well as demonstrate her power over me. I high roaded everything & within weeks she wanted to reconcile. I was unable to accede, but I thought we’d agreed to be civil. Not so. She has begun the parking trick again, & when I asked if she was angry at me again because of it, took great offense at my question & complained to one of the partners who owns the bar. I’ve been really nice. I’ve taken a lot of crap. What do I do now?

    • Yikes, tough one, it would be wrong to suggest you find another job but in some cases when the BPD is that invasive and unwell it feels like the best course of action someone could take is to get away, as far away as possible from them! You shouldn’t have to put up with this behaviour, but it is clear she is pushing the limits and clearly trying to get other people ‘on her side’ and if they are listening she must be very convincing (I guess this is where the notion of BPD’s being manipulative comes from! but we’re not all like that and it’s not just BPD’s that behave like this). If leaving is not an option for you it might be worth trying to talk to the other people involved, but that itself could be difficult if she has been painting you black, as they may side with her thinking you are the one with a problem. So difficult! You need to remain firm though that much is certain, don’t back down for the quiet life because she won’t back down even if you do… :( Good luck!

      • Thank you! My therapist (I have clinical anxiety/OCD) said that she is antagonizing me because it’s her only way of engaging me if I won’t agree to be friends again, & that another request to reconcile is inevitable. I’m thinking that maybe when that happens I should just say “ok.” Those around us are, thankfully, not getting sucked in. I’ve also had the highest sales in the house by a large margin for years, & the boss is very happy with me. I’m just having difficulty managing the anxiety. I spend the entire day praying, in the back of my head, she won’t be there when I get to work & I’m usually a bit of a wreck by the time I’m clocking in because I can’t work on Xanax. If I accept her friendship offer, it won’t be genuine, but at least it’ll be manageable. Does that sound like a really bad idea? She wasn’t a horrible friend; in fact, she was actually very nice as long as I never found any fault in her. This time around, I can guarantee I’ll never bother to find ANYTHING. lol

      • That sounds like a good plan actually! You don’t have to let yourself get pulled in too deep but by being her ‘friend’ hopefully it would remove her need to keep doing things to get at you. Good luck! :)

  17. I agree – this is one of the most enlightening and reassuring articles I’ve read. I am a Non who has just ended a relationship with a BP and after finally having discovered what the underlying issue was along, am attempting to learn as much about the disorder as possible. During my research I’ve read countless articles, etc written from the perspective of NonBPs or professionals specializing in the disorder and found almost all of them informative and/or helpful to some degree however, I have not had the same experience with anything written from the OTHER perspective. In order to get a well rounded grasp on any subject I take an interest in, I’m always very careful to give both sides equal consideration but I can honestly say that across the board, every single item I’ve read written by a BP, on behalf of BPs or from the BP perspective has been nothing but a frustrating re-immersion into the same exact toxic rhetoric pool I was drowning in while still with my ex. Until now. Thank you so much, Sharon for the time, effort and courage(?) I’m sure it took to put this article into print here. I don’t know if you are aware of this but you have not only given super useful advice, you have also shown that it IS possible to get through to someone with BPD and most importantly for me (and countless others, I’m sure) you have helped alleviate a huge amount of the frustration and irritation I/we’ve constantly felt at never seeming to be able to get the BP to actually see the dynamic from OUR position. Thanks again and keep up the good work!

    • Hi Lycia,
      Thank you, yes getting both sides of the story is vital for a good understanding. Even now I am still learning (I guess I always will be?). I have recently fallen for a guy who seems to have a good understanding of some things, he has firm boundaries and felt I was being too intense so he just told me straight “its too much its like you’re pushing me away, I don’t want to be pushed away, I’m your friend a good friend don’t push, I wanna be there for you but its too intense too much” it made me cry but it was exactly what I needed, someone being firm but fair, not many people seem to be able to do that! This was further proof to me that with the right words and good boundaries it is possible to get someone with BPD to pay attention to their actions :D

  18. My daughter’s best friend’s mother appears to be a BPD. The girls fought. The friendship ended. I got a confrontational angry text from the BPD which I ignored. Three weeks later I received a call from Child Protective Services that an anonymous accusation had been made that my child was self-harming and I was neglecting her by not getting her any help. The accusation was completely untrue and was very quickly found to be malicious by CPS and they discredited the accusation. I have no doubt the accusation came from the BPD because I have no other dysfunction or conflict in my life. Do I continue to ignore? Will she now try hurt my daughter and/or me in some other way? My instincts told me early on to run the other way, but I didn’t want my daughter to have to end her friendship.

    • Ignoring is probably the safest option and hopefully she will just stop when she is not getting any reaction from you. But, if she continues you should talk to someone who may be able to help with your situation, I’m not sure who this would be, I guess it depends on the severity of her behaviour if you would need to go to the police or if someone else could help. But, whatever, keep a record of any incidents and evidence of it in case you need it in future. I hope she stops. x

  19. Hi!

    Really informative post, it’s good to hear this advice from a BP themselves since even within mental health professions (such as mine) there is so much stigma that it’s hard to consider it balanced advice to hear a non-BP say No Contact is best at this point.

    I’ve just last month had to break off from a dear BP friend who had become co-dependent on me. She is (to my knowledge) about to begin DBT. So hopefully this is the first step for her being able to experience positive close interpersonal relationships in the future.

    The only complications on my end are that we are both part of a very insular (and very mental health positive) group of friends. So I’m unsure how to handle mutual group interactions given my ‘no contact’ stance. I don’t want to encourage her continued focus on me, but also don’t want to bring an awkward/drama atmosphere to social events.

    Do you have any advice for such a situation? Can provide additional details on request.

    • I guess it is something to play by ear. You could try the ‘just being civil’ approach initially, so that it isn’t too difficult in the social situation, but if that proves too much it may be necessary to take a temporary leave of absence from attending (unfair on you but you may be left with no other option if she is making things too difficult). Is it possible to speak to other members of your group to explain that the two of you are no longer friends but you don’t wish it it spoil the group dynamic and see if they can help without taking sides?

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