Splitting – Unstable Relationships in Borderline Personality Disorder

In the latest in my series on the DSM IV criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder I am going to explain the second criterion and how it applies to me.

 2. a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.

source: BPD Today

The DSM IV criteria states that a pattern of unstable relationships is a feature of BPD.  This is the criteria that can be portrayed especially cruelly in films as it is the element whereby one can appear to veer from idolising stalker like to dangerous bunny boiler (Fatal Attraction anyone?). But, the reality of this criteria is that fears of abandonment (Criteria 1) have a huge role to play in the ‘switch’ from idolization to demonization.

It is also the case that this problem is not limited to intimate relationships, it can occur in all levels of friendship and relationships, from lovers to family members, friends and colleagues. As with all BPD criteria it can be pervasive throughout all areas of your life – such that ANY and all relationships can be fraught with difficulties and patterns of intense closeness to damaging distance.


I guess this is also where the difficulties with the ‘one-night stand who becomes obsessed with you’ situations can arise (ohh boy have I been there – sorry guys!). The thing is having BPD and all these issues related to it can mean that the attention given in that ‘one’ night may lead to the unsuspecting guy (or gal) becoming the unwitting receiver of the ‘idol’ crown. The person with BPD idolizes this individual and becomes intimately attached to some fantasy ideal. The recipient of these unwarranted feelings may then be subjected to constant pestering by text, email etcetera for a ‘repeat performance’ or a ‘relationship’ as the person with BPD is unable to stop themselves – mistaking lust and pleasant attention for something more, love?

Having been there, done that I can say it is horrible to feel so drawn to someone in this way. Moments of clarity and reality tell you clearly that this was a ‘one-off’ thing and while it may have been awesome that doesn’t mean anything more will occur, heck you may not even ‘want’ anything more yourself but you just can’t resist. You sit and dream, fantasize, idolize and an urge, compulsion to let your feelings and desire to see this person again take over, so you message them, return to places you know they will be in the hope of seeing them again and maybe, just maybe re-enacting that previous encounter. You realise and know that your behaviour is wrong, stalker like and may be scary and off putting for this other person, but still you can’t resist – it’s like an addiction. Worse, this can occur whilst you (the BP) are actually in another relationship yourself and your partner may have no idea anything is going on! Why? because you are most likely in a impulsive, manic phase; you may also be in a phase where you have devalued your current relationship – for real or perceived failings on the part of your ‘non-the-wiser’ partner. You may have switched – a frantic effort to avoid abandonment that may actually lead to forcing the end of a relationship, due to you cheating on your partner.


Just as quickly as you can fall for and idealize another person you can switch to devaluing and demonizing that same person. Feeling that they do not care enough, that they have ‘wronged’ you. They do not ‘give’ enough, are not ‘there’ enough. But most of all – fearing that they will inevitably abandon you (because EVERYONE eventually does – so you believe if you have BPD).

Sometimes these feelings of devaluation of the non-BP can be justified, some partners are not attentive they do not attach the same value to closeness and intimacy that a BP does, that a BP showers upon them the only expectation being that the get the same in return. Some partners will cheat themselves, some partners will be violent, abusive or any number of ‘justified’ reasons for the BP to end up feeling that this person is no longer deserving of the ‘worship’ they once held. More often though the devaluation will not be justified, but instead based on perceived and imagined failings on the part of the non-BP – you know; for example having their ‘own-life’ and friends who they want to spend time with, a job to go to, family to visit. But to the BP all these things that mean not spending time with ‘you’ are demonstrations that you are not loved enough, that you will be abandoned and so on – until all of a sudden the person you loved and valued so highly is the devil incarnate who can do no right; and you have no qualms in telling the whole world how dreadful this person is to you – you don’t lie, but you do portray your non-BP as being a very unkind, uncaring person who has (possibly) in some-way entrapped you in a situation you cannot escape from.


In psychological terms this switch is known as ‘splitting’. The BP looks to others to supply that which they cannot achieve for themselves – identity, value, purpose, a life worth living, self-esteem and approval. When a person is felt to be fulfilling these needs they are held in high regard, valued, idealized; but as described above, if or when it is felt by the BP that the other is no-longer meeting these needs the person is devalued and demonized.  The BP can drive away the very thing they want the most (intimacy and closeness) by the things the do to try and get it – ironic :/

Splitting is one of the elements of black and white thinking that lead to the persistent fears and panic that people with BPD have to live with 24 hours a day. For non-BP’s such feelings can be reduced or escaped from by every day actions such as going for a walk or reading a book, however,there are no distractions that work for the BP. Black and white thinking and splitting mean there are no grey areas in life for a person with BPD. Everything is all or nothing.

The typical example of this has been given to the  the title of a book ‘I hate you don’t leave me’

There is only ever one solution to any problem, and never any turning back. For me this can be seen in how when I have been wronged or have ended a relationship or friendship I close the door on it and never go back. Some people are able to be friends again with someone who upset them, a temporary glitch, friends fall out, not me – I don’t fall out with people, if it’s over it’s over, it is as though they never existed, were never part of my life; and they certainly never will be again…

A person is either all good or all bad – such is splitting. It is a child-like way of seeing the world.

Can you imagine how difficult it is for the BP, to be an adult and all that goes with that role yet to suffer this childish, immature way of viewing the world at the same time?

No wonder, we spend so much time berating ourselves!

Splitting is like not having a short-term memory. Your interactions with others are based on your last encounter with them – such that if this was negative, that person is bad, if it was positive this person is good – there is no in between and you cannot reconcile the inconsistencies and ambiguities of human nature is get a consistent coherent whole. People are either friends or enemies, lovers or platonic relations, acquaintances or strangers.

And when (as is often inevitable due to such overbearing behaviour) the BP succeeds in pushing a person away, they are then doomed to repeat the pattern all over again 😦


98 comments on “Splitting – Unstable Relationships in Borderline Personality Disorder

  1. I hate that the more I learn about bpd the more I see so many patterns in my own life. I can remember doing this with teachers, idolising them then hating them. at the start of my second year in sixth form I had a phone call from my biology teacher who I adored, most of the class was not continuing the course so I was being moved to another one. The big blow was that it was a different teacher. I had a total meltdown at the idea and then couldn’t bring myself to speak to the formerly idolised teacher. Which in hindsight was totally silly as she expressed how bad she felt and offered to see me at lunch times but it was too little too late! And so the trend went on…….

    • I know, tell me about it. The number of times I’ve made a fool of myself with crushes on people after one night or just being ‘friendly’ it wasn’t so bad as a teenager as it’s ‘normal’ then but to still get like that now is really embarrassing (for me and the other person!). Then because they don’t reciprocate I blank them and all that instead unable to settle for just being ‘friends’ :/

    • I did the same thing. Didnt want to put it directly on my boyfriends page as he has others see his page, but I put stuff about my illness on my page all the time, so I hope that he sees it.

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  5. Ok, so this may be a weird coping skill for splitting but I’m not the inventor of it: To keep myself from hating the one I love, I have ‘virtual lovers’ in Second Life. By going to my 2nd Life lovers for loving interactions, both verbal and sexual depending upon my need, I am able to sooth my need for affection, love, and reassurance when I’m having my ‘issues’. It keeps me emotionally stable and able to tolerate the falsely perceived ‘slights’ that I imagine with my real lover. It’s very important to be honest with my Second Life paramours about what I’m doing because their are real people behind every avatar. I’ve found though that there are so many lonely and needy people in Second Life that appreciate my attentions and, there is never, of course, an end to those wanting sexual encounters…..I do plan on blogging on this soon. Meanwhile, if needing soothing during a BPD episode with a partner, try visiting a nightclub in Second Life and flirting there. It is very soothing and repairs hurt feelings – for me and a few people I’ve met anyway….one lady I know in Second Life has both a real and a Second Life marriage and both partners are fully aware of the situation and enjoy it.

    • That does sound interesting, as I know that I do this too, with my boyfriend, I know that he does not always give me the attention that I always need because of his mental illness as well and maybe it is the same for him with me, I dont know, he has never said. He dont talk about the things in his head so much. Just other things. I would love it if you started a blog on this. It would be most interesting.

    • I, too use Second Life as a coping tool. but I use a child avatar and get my love and affection through having a Second Life Family. They know about my problems and are very understanding, yet distanced enough through the computer to be “safe” I guess I am too immature for a loving relationship, though I want one desperately, I never can bring one to fruition. and my psychiatrist has just told me of splitting and says I have it quite bad, even to the point of hearing ‘voices’ though what that has to do with black and white thinking, I don’t understnad yet…

      • I think it takes a long time for us to understand, even longer to learn how to change, but it’s trying that’s the main thing so one day we will get there 🙂

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  10. At one time I was a youth and family minister. A young woman was referred to me by one of our volunteers as having extremely difficult relationships at home and some concern for suicidal thoughts. I met with the parents and they shared enough with me to I knew there was, at the very least, an environment at home that would be really hard for a young person to thrive in. At one point I was a witness to family violence. I had made reports to the authorities about my concerns and the police became involved at one point with one of the parents being briefly jailed. At that time the young woman came to stay at our home with her family’s permission. We worked closely with the authorities throughout this time, finding counselors and social workers that did their best to work with the young woman and her family, but the neither the family nor the young woman were honestly cooperative with those professionals.

    Over the next years things became very stormy as her family of origin turned against us and the young woman became seemingly more and more connected with us, for example, more than once writing little girl like signs for our home as if she was one of our own kids. Because I’m a really good listener and have a really deep sense of wanting justice and goodness to prevail, and because I was the one who was witness to the dynamics in her family of origin, the attachment was more with me but it was there with others in the family too. Even when she was with us in our home I did my best to observe professional boundaries, keeping doors open, letting others, including my supervisors, know what was going on, etc., but because she connected with us as a family, living with us for a time, the young person became attached to us and we to her.

    Since then she unattached herself and we almost never see her anymore–she has attached herself to others. We’ve heard, though other families that we know well and that she has connected with since that time, that the young woman has developed all of the DSM VI criteria for BPD. I have now come to understand that the situation was way more complex than I thought it was at first. I thought it was a situation of abuse, and there was abuse at least emotionally and verbally, but mental illness was very much a part of the story.

    I’ve had training about how to deal with issues of abuse, reporting it, believing the person who is abused, encouraging them to protect themselves, etc., but I never had learned anything about BPD and very little about how mental illness affects children and families. I would like to help others be more aware than I was but don’t know how.

    I don’t let people go easily–I am very loyal–and it has been really hard for me emotionally to deal with this splitting. I have learned that it is not helpful to try to maintain a friendship with this young person that we tried to help because she generally ignores any notes we send her way and at one time made it clear that she didn’t want us to call.

    I want to thank you, Sharon, for your work on this blog. I think if I had known about this “BPD” criteria I wouldn’t have become so attached to this young person as if she were one of our own.

    My wife is less affected for some reason and doesn’t understand why I grieve this loss even now, though it’s been several years. For some reason it’s still hard. I had such hopes for this young person. She was always very smart, very charming, and often hard working. I admired her courage in the face of a family situation that was truly painful. Perhaps when I am old and she is middle aged I will be able to learn more about this from her perspective. I’m doing my best to let it go now but it’s still, as I have said, very hard.

    • Thank’s Bob, you may wish to read the post I am publishing tomorrow as it starts to look at the way a person with BPD un-attaches from people who get too close to them, as this is something I am currently going through myself. I plan to follow it up with a more indepth look at attachment and detachment in BPD.

      I think the best way to help other’s be more aware is by sharing your story as you have done here. The more those of us with experience of BPD, either as sufferers or people close to sufferers, share our stories the greater understanding will become of this terrible condition that causes so much damage in people’s lives.

      People with BPD want, need and crave closeness, love and attachment just as much as anyone else does, but unfortunately our self destructive tendencies and ingrained fear of abandonment can cause us to push away the very people who are willing to give us those things out of our own fear of them eventually leaving/abadoning us and/or a desire to not cause them any further harm due to our impulsive, reckless behaviour.

      BPD tears me into pieces, I love honestly and deeply, yet at the same time my worries and fears can cause me to hate the very same person that I love so very much. Constantly yoyo-ing between loving and hating a person is exhausting, draining and makes me feel unworthy of love, because I know I just end up hurting people and I don’t want to do that but cannot stop myself. One day hopefully I will gain control over this and be able to allow someone to get close to me again. For now though I have bought down the barriers – everyone will be kept at arms length from my heart and mind because I just do not want to hurt any more people who love me, ever again.

      • Sharon – does it help when the people you care about know and understand BPD? I hurt for you, Sharon, and the loneliness must be terrible. I really don’t know because I don’t suffer from the inside like you do, but when you say that you hope for a time of gaining “control over this” I really wonder if that’s the key, or, on the other hand, providing education to those you love and care about so they will know that the intensely personal “love-hate” really isn’t about them, but, instead, about the pain you feel on the inside. I wonder if people with BPD are able to have better relationships with those who “get it” (as much as anyone can “get it” who doesn’t live it 24/7. So I think you are right in that sharing the story and helping people learn about the affects that BPD pain brings is so important. The intensity scares people, however, so finding the right venue to share is not easy. That’s why I decided to risk telling the story on this blog since I can do it in a way that those who know me well won’t worry. Peace to you.

      • I don’t know to be honest Bob, my fiance thought he knew a fair bit and it didn’t make any difference. Now he is trying once again to understand even more and has started re-reading all my blog posts as well as the library of books I have about BPD, but I don’t know how much him knowing or understanding can help other than to ease his own pain due the knowledge that rather than being a contrite ‘it’s me not you’ statement that so many people fling around this really, truly, deeply is a truth beyond comparison – it is me, not him. I don’t know if control will be achievable, I know cure certainly isn’t, but I need to find some level of manageability/control to survive this. I guess maybe ‘getting it’ isn’t enough, just as much as love isn’t enough – it feels almost like there is a need for something so beyond what anyone is capable of giving, and beyond what we are capable of receiving, like we expect to be able to have ‘our cake and eat it’ which is never fair or right in anyway. While we are capable of giving great love and devotion, we are also capable of inflicting great pain when our emotions rampage leading us into behaviours that would damage even the strongest relationship (even though even then it is we, the BP, who actually gets hurt the most). the loneliness is terrible, many times I feel less alone in front of a computer screen talking to the world via twitter, facebook and this blog, than I do in a crowded room full of ‘friends’. If you would like to share a guest post anonymously about your experiences I would be most willing to share it for you here, where it is safe for you? you can email me crystalbear96@hotmail.com if you would like to do that 🙂

      • I will pray for you, Sharon, as I am praying for everyone I know who suffers from this affliction, praying that God would grant you the supernatural power you need, as you write, “there is a need for something so beyond what anyone is capable of giving and what we are capable of receiving.” There is deep pain in this, but also incredible honesty, honestly at a level that we cannot attain. I won’t make this too spiritually specific here, but there is something about the spiritual levels of life that an experience with BPD opens a person to… something that human beings can’t handle. It’s too much. It’s too deep. (I know this blog isn’t a spiritual support group so perhaps I’m going into territory that you’d just as soon keep off your blog. I don’t be offended if you choose to not go there… but, after all, as I said, I have worked as a minister.) 😉

      • Thank you Bob, I am not a religious person but I understand the value of spirituality and faith and have no objection to such things being discussed here 🙂

      • Yes, Sharon, I appreciate the chance also to perhaps do a guest post. I’ll consider it. Isn’t it a shame that there seems to be so much “closeting” of issues surrounding mental health in general and BPD in particular? Let the light shine in!

      • Yes, very true. I hope you will decide to share your story, I am sure it would be helpful to others! 🙂 (don’t worry about the double posting, I’ve fixed it 🙂 )

    • Hey Bob,

      You might never see this, but I thought, I give it a try:
      You might be a High Sensitive Person and I think you should google it, to see if you match the criterias. Some of your traits (good listener, loyal, not letting people go easily, wanting justice) sound very much like it. It’s not an disease, but knowing why some things affect you more than other people might be helpful to deal with situations like that. Plus it might be easier for you to stay the kind person you seem to be and value your strengths instead of suffer because of them.

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  16. Hi, Your article makes so much sense to me. I am not truly a person with typical BPD but I have always had a lot of the traits due to which I have excelled in almost all aspects of life except with intimate relationships. I am a practising clinical psychologist and that along with professional help, has helped me sort out lots of things. I am unable to stick to a person once I am clear of their good intentions. At the moment too, I have been in this cycle all over again and I now realise I confused lust for love all my life. The lust I suppose is somewhat related to the high impulsivity in me which has led to promiscuity in the past along with problems with smoking as I have mostly been unable to tolerate being alone as well this intense of boredom. Anyway, what I am trying to say is Thanks a Bunch. 🙂

    • Hi Michelle, I’m glad you found the post helpful. I have just had several more experiences related to this issue from splitting up with my fiancé, to ‘craving’ a guy who was just messing with my head and heart (who clearly has his own issues). It is hell to live with but so few understand and would rather consider us cheats, sluts and unworthy than take the time to understand or care 😦 I hope one day we can have healthy intimate relationships! 🙂

      • Yes, I have been called by many colorful terms since school days. And there are times, when I have believed them to be true for me. However, deep within I know I have goofed up and there are reasons for it! So I try being more accepting of myself now! 🙂

  17. I found this article very interesting. I have been diagnosed with BPD, but I’m not entirely sure if I have it, or at least maybe I do not have it as bad as other people seem to. I just ended my second serious relationship, mainly because yes, I didn’t feel like he was there enough, didn’t care about me enough, and because he just never seemed invested in the relationship. However, I do not feel that I made all of this up, I felt that my feelings were jusitified. For instance, I only was able to see him once a week because of his schedule with school, and work, and his friends. I thought I would be okay with it, but it’s really hard to maintain a decent relationship when you only see that person once a week, and then the other days they don’t really make an effort to talk to you. He would always get irritated with me when I tried to talk about how he was making me feel unimportant, and would always blame me for our fights, even when I was only trying to calmly tell him about my emotions. He had a way of making me feel like a last priority. For example, even if we had planned something a week or so in advance, he would cancel at the last minute because he wanted to hang out with his friends, or because he had homework to do that he decided to push off until the last minute. Are my feelings of unimportance, and feeling uncared for justified in this situation? I don’t know if the fights were my fault due to the BPD, or due to actual problems with the relationship.

    My first serious relationship was horribly chaotic. I was with an absolutely amazing guy, and he was always attentive, always took the time to calm me down when I had a panic attack or when I was depressed. I understand now that I drove him away because of my extreme instability with my emotions. I never felt that he did enough. No matter how much he tried, it just wasn’t good enough for me. We had arguments because I would get angry with him for no reason at all. (In my head at least, it seemed like a good reason). I understand now that my first serious relationship was ruined due to the BPD, and I only wish that I could apologize to my first boyfriend for putting him through that emotional turmoil (We were only 17 when we dated…the poor guy).

    I guess I’m just confused as to how I can go from clearly having borderline personality disorder, to having the symptoms lessen drastically, all within two years. I don’t know if this is normal (from the personal accounts I’ve read online, it doesn’t seem like it). I have noticed that my depression has greatly improved (I no longer need to be on anti-depressants) and I don’t have the urge to cut, and no longer have suicidal thoughts. So I’m wondering if perhaps my emotional state when I was 17 was due more to the fact that I was finally healing from all of the trauma I experienced during childhood (I was sexually, physically, and emotionally abused by my mother’s alcoholic boyfriend from six years of age to about fourteen years of age) of if it actually was due to BPD. I was hoping that you would be able to help me sort this out. I know all of the clinical symptoms, and I do have some of those, but you know what it’s like to live and be in a relationship when you have BPD, so I think you would be of better help to me. I would appreciate your feedback.

    Ps- sorry this was such a long post. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

    • HI Mariah,

      Thanks for your message (don’t worry about the length, it’s fine). Obviously I’m not a professional and living with BPD is different from diagnosing but from what you have described it sounds to me like you are in what I would consider a ‘remission’ phase. Despite claims of recovery and cure that I have read in many places from looking back over the course of my own life I have come to consider that I have had BPD since I was a teenager even though I wasn’t diagnosed until 2010, when I was 32. During those years (from teens to diagnosis) there had been periods where I would clearly not meet the criteria for a BPD diagnosis (I too did not have suicdal thoughts, depression or self-harm during these periods), at these times I was ‘coping’ relatively well with life, however there have been a number of times when I would have met the criteria during those years (all the traits were clearly there if only someone noticed), if only I had been seen by the right people.

      As a result I think I have had periods of remission from the BPD, but since 2009 I have been in the depths of it more seriously than at any earlier point, to the point that I actually got the diagnosis. Your history fits the type of upbringing that makes BPD more likely and your current situation just sounds like one of those periods where you are doing well, I hope it lasts a long, long time, but there is a chance that the BPD will rise up again in the future, especially if you experience some kind of trauma in your life – for me it was a combination of my husbands illness, being sterilised, realising I was ‘trapped’ in a dead marriage and a big life change (going back to work) all these things combined to set me into a major crisis, which has only waxed and waned over the past three years but not actually gone away at all (if anything in some ways it is still getting worse – the lack of help and treatment probably doesn’t help with that!)

      Regarding the relationship issues I think often genuine, justified feelings are just heightened and blown out of proportion by the BPD. So, you may have had all the truth and evidence that what you felt was right and fair (yes, your feelings were justified) but the BPD just made these things feel 100 times worse than they would for someone without BPD, it hurts more and causes more damage because we cannot regulate our emotions. Your boyfriends dismissal of your justifiable feelings reminds me so much of how my ex was about things, he just never saw how much they hurt and upset me (until it was too late and I had left him). Problems with the actual relationship are just accentuated by BPD.

      With the first relationship, again I can see all the trademarks of BPD, we end up pushing away something good because the fear of abandonment makes us strike first, leave before they can leave us, or push them away so we can say ‘see he abandoned me, I always knew he would’ even though what we want more than anything is for them to stay. Of course the young age of both of you doesn’t help with any of this because neither of you were emotionally mature enough to handle it anyway, but having BPD we always have that emotional immaturity even when we don’t see it our selves (and nor does anyone else until it’s too late).

      All in all I would say you are probably going through a ‘good’ period where your BPD is lessened, and to make the most of it while you can. The BPD may never flare up, to the intensity you have experienced before, again or it may come and bite you on the ass when you aren’t expecting it (I hope this doesn’t happen, it nearly killed me when it did!).

      Best Wishes and feel free to ask any questions any time, I’m happy to try and help if I can (but I’m not a professional, anything I say is only based on my own experience) xx

  18. hi everyone i have been having a bpd episode now for 5 weeks along with mdd also going thru splitting. i had this 6 years ago walked out on my husband kids family home job for a man i thought i loved . over the years ive took overdoeses been hospitalized had years of councelling, now i dont love this man anymore, want to go home to my ex husband he is in a relationship but i want to see him so much. its like a cancer its eating me up 24/7 im so ill at the moment cant see anyway out feel suicidal everyday coudnt cope if he didnt want to see me it would be the end abanderment is the worse feeling for me, are we just so self centered and shallow

    • I’m so sorry you feel this way Carol but I can tell you that you are not alone, I left my fiance recently, partly because I am in love with another man who does not feel the same. I don’t want to go back to my fiance (most of the time) but I do want someone to love me as much as I love them and feel crap all the time. I hope you feel better soon (and I do too!) have you spoke to your therapist about how you are feeling? I hope there is someone you can talk to who can help xx

  19. yeah i see someone once a week. you say you love him and want the love back but i dont know if i know what love is anymore. do you think if you got this other man you might decide it was better with your fiance ? this seems to be the pattern with bpd

  20. Thank you for this. It has been a big insight for me. I have recently broken contact with my now ex-fiancee. We were all geared up for our wedding, 4 months to go, until, on Christmas Day, he told me he had cheated on me. There then followed months of him begging me to marry him and go on as usual, interspersed with him still wooing the other woman and blaming me for all that had happened. It was so confusing and I felt totally confused by his ever changing moods. One minute he’d tell me I was all he needed and would weep to me, the next he would be telling me joyfully about the other woman. It was the most baffling experience with this man that I thought I knew totally and faithfully. Near the end of our relationship I tried, despite how much it hurt, to be friends with him, in some shape or form. But every time I felt that I was being forgiving and attempting to create peace between us, he would just push it away and blame me again, calling me obsessed. It really hurt. He is now with the other woman, and after a lot of considering of his behaviour (his past, things he has said and done, behaviour with money, colleagues, family members and his confused self-image), and some research, I have had many confirmations from others that he has BPD. He has never had any kind of diagnosis or treatment, and I can see his behaviour continuing.

    But now – of course – I am powerless to do anything. I can hardly imagine seeing him again and telling him what I think he may be suffering with. Or telling his family members who I still talk to. I don’t want to sound pompous, or purely a paranoid obsessive ex! It’s even tempting to message the ‘other woman’ with as much humility as I can and try to help her understand him, a warning to what the behaviour could escalate to.

    This article helped me to see the different stages of what he probably went through. And knowing these things doesn’t make it feel any better, but helps me to understand.

  21. reading this whole page is helpful, ive never met anyone else with BPD. a lot of the time i forget i have it and just think im insane. reading about it helps, its so strange to know how different you are to other people but then read about your personality in detail. im currently going through splitting, constant pushing and pulling. im 24 and have had 18 partners. i fall madly in love with my idea of who they are then get very dissapointed and get doubt which is terrifying. i then bugger around changing my mind about them daily for motnhs till i give up. but now im with someone who was my friend first, ive very slowly over months developed feelings for him, he became my best friend then we told each other how we both felt. we did fall in love, i was in love with my best friend, it was such a safe wonderful feeling that i swear was real. the moment we officially became partners and said we were together i freaked out. got anxious, and judged everything he did. i always worry about if were right for eachother because i feel this doubt that were not right, but really what doesnt feel right is being with any1. im alone in my head, ive never let any1 in and part of me doesnt want to .thats how im safe, but on the other hand, i so want that closeness. i just dont understand relationships, whats normal, what your meant to be to eachother, how close you get? im so lost, my boyfriend ( or was boyfriend as i splitt up with him ) is very caring and gentle and understanding, i just cant stand 2 fuck him about like everyone else. maybe i did pick bad choices in previous relationships, but this guy is my best friend, hes lovely. why cant i feel love for him anymore? all my emotions just go. 1 minute im in love im ok, next im anxious and really trapped. am i ever going to be able to be close with someone without it feeling like im acting?

    • It is your fear of abandonment causing you to freak out in your relationship, you are terrified he will leave you eventually and as a result you have problems managing your behaviour as you don’t understand how to deal with these feelings and could end up pushing him away. It’s a horrible existence as we can end up throwing away the very thing we want the most due to feeling scared, trapped and sure we are not good enough that the person will eventually leave us – so we leave before they can 😦 I hope knowing that this is what is going on in your head helps you to deal with it, maybe you could try talking to him about the abandonment fears and how it is causing you to seem to be pushing him away because you think he will leave you in the end, even though that is not what you want at all!

  22. I am in a relationship with a women suffering from BPD, She is great and I love her with all my heart. At times it is very easy to love her and at times i think she would love nothing more then to never see me again, I would never leave her and I make sure to let her know that. She is on medication and it has been helping tremendously but it isn’t a cure, I was wondering if you have tried partners counceling with BPD relationships and do you think that it would help out our relationship

    • I never got round to trying couples counselling with my last partner, however I suspect that unless the counsellor was very understanding of BPD they would not be very helpful and would think we should split up, if you can find a good counsellor that understands BPD who works with couples good luck, I hope it helps!

  23. OMG….was in a relationship with BPD. Just found out. It explains everything. A year ago thought I found my soulmate and now out of the blue it ended. All the signs are there it was text book. I feel so foolish. I really fell hard. Im in a lot of pain. Any advice???

    • Based on my own experiences as a BPD I would say the best thing for you is to never have any contact with her again as if you do you will both continue to suffer for a long time. There are a number of comments on my different posts from men who are also having trouble getting over a BPD relationship. I’m not sure what other advice to give, if you have any specific questions I will try to answer them as best I can. Sorry you have had to go through this 😦

  24. I’ve not long come out of a very intense relationship with a girl I now believe to have BPD. Sorry, this might be long. We met this time last year, through my cousin, and immediately she made it clear that she was in to me. She totally bowled me over, was incredibly sweet and kind and really made a play for me.. almost bombarding me til I caved. I had never been interested in another woman before, but this girl felt different to me, so I threw caution to the wind I guess. We got together and it was amazing, she was very generous and loving, and within the first 3 weeks told me she was completely in love with me. Not long afterwards she told me about her feelings of total despair and worthlessness. She despised herself, hated being gay, felt she was abnormal, had often thought about suicide and felt like she was never meant to be happy and always alone. I was devastated to hear her talk like this about herself, and tried my best to tell her how gorgeous and amazing and all the good things she was to me. I did suggest counselling but she dismissed it pretty quickly and said I was all she needed to be happy. Our relationship was being conducted in secret for the most part – I didn’t want my family or cousin finding out about us yet, but promised her I would tell them soon. Even though she was out to some friends, her family didn’t know about her being gay, and she felt apprehensive to tell them. She would always talk about me moving in, how it was rubbish when I wasn’t there, and ‘when’ she asked me to marry her. I loved her with all my heart, so decided to tell my family about us. There were a few tough weeks,where they didn’t understand how I’d got a girlfriend all of a sudden at 29, but they were supportive and came around. Then my gf was offered a job a lot closer to her home, where her parents still lived. She wanted me to move down with her, so did I, so I applied for posts down there too. Things were great between us and I tried showing her how much I loved her – I was moving to be with her- but she would always bring up ex-boyfriends, and if I was meeting with a male friend, get very jealous. At the same time she would always bring up her ex-girlfriends, as if she was trying to make me jealous (which it did!). I told her I wasn’t interested in anyone else, male or female, just her – I loved her more than I’ve ever loved anyone in my life. Anyway, one weekend about 3 months ago we argued when she was away. We were going through a month of conflicting work schedules so had barely seen one another – once a week tops. It was my fault and I apologised straight away. My girlfriend was upset and in the following week told me she was worried that I was only still with her because she had got upset. I tried to reassure her that I was with her because I loved her, and that I was stressed out with my interview the following week. I really wanted this position because it was where we were moving to, and with her job already secured, I needed to get mine now. Then a few days later she called me up and accused me of going through her old phone when I was in her flat on my own and calling her ex-girlfriend (something that I hadn’t done and absolutely denied). We argued again, she kept asking about it and I kept denying it. She got very upset, as did I, but by the end we had made up and she told me she loved me in every possible way. I told her the same, that I loved her, and we said it was hard not seeing each other. The next day, however, she drove to mine and ended it. I was devastated, cried my eyes out in front of her and begged her to stay. She was upset too, and said she still loved me and wanted to be with me so much, but had to end it before I moved down to be with her. I knew she was scared about telling her family she was gay but I had told mine about her, and she couldn’t do that for me. I reminded her off all the times she’d promised me, “I’ll never leave you”, but she was like a robot, devoid of emotion. It was like she had changed to this person I didn’t recognise. From the loving and kind girlfriend I’d had, to this cruel and heartless stranger.

    I was left so confused, it just didn’t make sense?! How can someone go from being madly in love, talking about marriage and planning a future together one minute, to never wanting to see me again – over two stupid arguments over the phone?! She was showing me places for us to live on the Internet on the Saturday and by the Tuesday it was over. It’s because of all this confusing behaviour that I found BPD. She isn’t diagnosed and I know I can’t make a diagnosis either… but it all fits so well. She meets all of the criteria.

    10 days after she dumped me I contacted her about getting my stuff back. I went down to hers and we spoke for a bit. She was upset, so was I. I told her that if she wasn’t ready to tell her family she could have said, I would have understood, and that we could have pretended to be friends. Her response was that she wouldn’t have done that to me, and that she knew I thought she was a wimp. I told her I wanted her back, I loved her, but she was adamant it was over. I was devastated to hear this. I told her my interview had gone ok, but not great considering how my head was all over the place at the time. She text me as I left, just saying, “I’m so sorry”.

    Since that night two and a half months ago, she’s gone from that to hating me. I had a few arsey text messages from her a week later, then since that nothing. One of her friends messaged me calling me a “f***ing idiot” (don’t know what I did to deserve that). When she found out that I got the job down in the new city she’s deleted me off Facebook, Skype, anything and everything, I’m gone as if I never existed. I’m the only ex she’s ever done this to, which really hurts. I don’t understand. From what she told me, they really hurt her, cheated on her, used her, treated her like rubbish, and yet I’m the one she hates and can’t even be friends with?

    The crazy thing is, I still love her. Even after she’s treated me so badly, I still want her back. I honestly think she loves me, but the stress of the situation got too much for her and she’s lashing out and pushing me away. She was stressed about moving down together and having to tell her family that she’s gay and is living with her girlfriend, added to that her thinking I was going to leave her..

    I dont know what to do. If I see her in the new city, do i try and talk to her? I don’t know if she has pushed me away and never wants to see me again, ever, or do I try and be friendly? Is is a test of how much I love her? I want her to know that I still love her though and that she didn’t need to push me away, I wasn’t going anywhere. I only ever wanted to be a support, not a stress to her. If she had just talked to me about how she was feeling. I would have found my own place if she didn’t want her family knowing. I am heartbroken. I got asked out by this really nice guy last night, and all I could think about was her, and that I just wanted her.

    • It sounds like her fears of abandonment, in addition to the issues of coming out, have caused splitting and made her lash out in a frantic effort to avoid being abandoned by ending it herself before you could leave her – which to her was inevitable, even if you never would have. I think if you see her in the new city, don’t avoid her, just be polite, friendly and civil if you bump into her but be prepared for her not behaving the same way (she may react as though she does not know you, which while horrible is just another BPD reaction that is best not taken personally, the problem is with her not you) I would suggest actively seeking contact might not be a good idea and be prepared for her to reach out to you in some kind of panic at some point only to throw it in your face when she splits again. I would take the guy up on the date, you don’t have to be ready for anything new or get over her quickly but some nice company may at least be a soothing distraction – and yes if she discovers about this she may well lash out again with a ‘see, you never loved me’ but you know that isn’t true and no amount of saying it will convince her different unless she wants to believe you love her. BPD is horrid, I hate that it makes us treat kind, loving people so badly when in fact we really do love back and can be such gentle, loving people ourselves but it is something we have little control over, our reactions and emotions are abnormal and it takes a huge amount of work to overcome them, even a little bit 😦 I wish you all the best and hope you find happiness xx

  25. Thank you so much for your response, and for reading my very long post.. this is something that I can talk about all day! It’s all I’ve thought about. It’s really hit me for six – I didn’t see this coming, at all. I naively believed her when she said she’d never leave me. We were meant to be living together at this point. She always made me feel like I was the most loved person on the planet, that we were soulmates who had finally found one another. I suppose I didn’t realise how hard I would find this, I’ve not slept or eaten properly for weeks, I’ve lost weight – I feel all over the place without her. It’s felt like a bereavement to me. One minute I have a best friend and the next she’s gone from my life without explanation.

    I guess the added stress of coming out to her family has made this situation so much harder to deal with, and since, understand. Coming out is stressful enough. But add in the fear of abandonment, a move, and a new job, it just got too much for her I guess. I always knew my ex-girlfriend had low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness, I just wish I’d known about this before it was too late. I wish I could have reassured her more, or talked to her about how she was feeling.

    I won’t actively look make contact with her – I know she won’t want to hear from me right now, she’s made that clear by deleting me off Facebook. It hurts that I’m the only girl who’s ever loved her and treated her with the kindness she deserves, yet I’m the only ex she’s ever deleted. That sting, but I guess that was her aim. So I wont go out of my way to make contact, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping to bump in to her. I still love her, and I miss her so much. I am apprehensive about seeing her, and I have thought about her blanking me many times. I know I’ll just smile and say hello and see what happens.

    My friends and family want me to move on and forget her, but I’m really struggling. It’s been almost 3 months, and everyone thinks I should be over her by now. It’s just hard when you’re still in love. I’ve had to try and fall out of love with her, and watch as she’s paraded a possible new girl in front of me (very young, not at all a long-term prospect). I read somewhere that the push/pull is a test of how much you love them. I don’t want her to think I don’t love her anymore, even though everyone’s saying to go out with this guy. I just wish she’d know that I do lover her. I might go out with this guy, nothing lost I suppose.

    • You’re welcome, from the number of comments I am getting on this from ex-partners of BP’s it seems a common experience to be left in a confusing, devastating and often unexpected manner. I believe at the time of saying it she truly meant she would never leave you, but the BPD paranoia and fears etc twisted her head so much she could not live up to her own promise. I’m not sure more reassurance would have had any impact on the outcome, as due to the BPD she would not have been able to believe what you were saying. I disagree with the idea that you should be over her after three months, love this deep and intense takes much longer to get over than that, heck there may always be a little bit of it forever more, it’s learning to keep that bit as a precious memory of the better times and not let it interfere with being able to move on that is the skill on time can teach… Yes, the push/pull can be a test but it is one that you don’t want to allow to happen or it will never stop with the tests growing ever harder and harsher – not deliberate manipulation but BPD inspired unintentional cruelty. Go for it with the guy, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain 🙂 xx

  26. Thanks for the advice. I’ve decided to go out with him, and just to see what happens. As you said, there’s nothing lost. I know this isn’t strictly a true representation but in my head I’ve been thinking: Well at least someone wants me, because she certainly doesn’t!

    Silly, but I’ve left a post on my tumblr wall (like my blog I sometimes use), in the unlikely event that she’ll even look there, just a line and a song that’ll mean something to her.. just to show that I’m still here and love her… if she finds out about this guy.

    I know that I’ve been painted black by her, so when you say to perhaps be prepared for her to reach out to me in some kind of panic, how can this be true? Will it be if/when she paints me white again? At the moment I can’t ever imagine that scenario, purely because of the hate she currently feels towards me – I’m a terrible person, a psycho ex and I’m to blame for all her problems, and I deserved to get dumped. I agree, this push/pull is something I don’t want to get drawn in to.. her breaking my heart was devastating enough the first time around, I don’t think I’d survive a second. But, in your opinion, do you anticipate a point that she will reach out to me again? I feel like I’ve been painted black forever. Is this a likely scenario?

    I was wondering if her friends (and family) have started wondering why she’s had a lot of turbulent relationships, and if there’ll come a point when they begin to wonder what’s going on? I know she thinks deep down that the issue is with her, but at the moment, the blame is entirely on me, I’ve done this and I deserved to get dumped.

    I find it really helpful talking to you, with your unique insight. Thank you 🙂

    • Good luck, I’m sure it will be worth it even as a pleasant distraction if nothing else 🙂

      If she reaches out in a panic, it will be that she no longer has you painted black (even if only temporarily) and she has a feeling that only someone who truly knows her could possibly understand/help her at that moment, that person would be the person most recently very close, yourself. It may never happen, she may have cut-off completely in which case you don’t exist in her world any more, not even black or white, just gone. The panic reach out is more likely if any contact has been maintained, which as it has not been makes the likelihood less.

      People tend to get wrapped up in their own existence and rarely notice these things, they may have a superficial recognition that a person seems to always have difficulties with relationships but likely think little about it as many people go through that without it meaning more, so unless they are very close and pick up on other things as well such as self-harm and other criteria there is unlikely to be a point where others notice how bad things really are for her – we do a good job of looking ‘fine’ to the outside world much of the time 😦

  27. ..my lasting and overwhelming feeling is one of utter sadness. I feel so sad that this beautiful and gorgeous girl is going through all this inner turmoil. Why did it have to happen to us? I would do anything to take it all away and for her to be happy. Whenever she was hard on herself I would always say that this is why I was in her life, to make her be kinder to herself and to remind her of all the good things. She used to say that no one in her life was as nice to her as I was. I guess it’s true that you lash out at the people closest to you, because now I’m the worst person that’s ever lived and I really don’t understand how I’m here.

    • My situation is almost exactly the same as yours, and he did end up contacting me again, saying he still loves me, etc. I had JUST started to feel a little better about losing the love of my life, and then he bursts back in. I’m so scared he’s going to end up demonizing me again, or even worse cut off entirely. I can’t handle this. I fell truly madly in love with someone who may not ever be able to maintain a healthy relationship? I’m very logical and it seems to me; based on what i’ve read, that the chances of us making it are very slim. I don’t want to set myself up for failure, but I literally cannot just accept letting him go. I’ve never loved someone so deeply. Nothing’s ever made me so depressed and confused. Please if you have this condition try to stay very aware of how tremendously you affect the people that love you too. I’ve been researching this PD all day and night trying to find an answer.

      • Thanks for sharing Taylor. I agree with what you say about how we affect the people that love us, the difficulty when you have BPD is that because you have these issues with abandonment etc you just can’t believe that the person loves you and don’t see how you are affecting them, it’s not something you have control over without a lot of help/therapy etc to learn how to gain that awareness 😦

  28. I reconnected with a man I had met 4 years ago. And we started hanging out more and he told me he’d been in love with me from the moment he met me four years ago. I had just broken off a two year relationship that had run its course (I just never broke it off before because as a BPD sufferer I didn’t want to be alone, but I didn’t love him anymore) and this man wined and dined me and treated me like a queen. I kept him at arms length for a while, even when he told me he loves me, I said I couldn’t say it till I was sure and I was scared of falling in love. Eventually the inevitable happened and I fell in love with this kind, generous, caring, deep man. We connected on a level that I have never felt before. I hate to sound cliche but it was a total soul mate connection. We both felt we’d found our match. We were both upfront about our pasts, mine full of depression/suicide attempts/anorexia/broken home/etc. his full of broken home/no dad/used to do drugs/alcohol abuser/violence/etc. We shared so much and then we decided to move in together and he said he wants to marry me. He made me the center of his world and then suddenly he started going out more, drinking more, saying he’d be back in an hour or two and staying out till 4am or whenever. Of course I started feeling insecure and started freaking out and getting angry. Why didn’t he want to spend time with me anymore? What was wrong with me? If he was lying about coming home what else was he doing? Didn’t he love me anymore? And so it started escalating from there, the more insecure and angry and depressed I got (I started cutting again too) the more he yelled and stormed out and went drinking till heaven knows what time. Then one night he tells me he did drugs again because why the hell not, everyone is saying he is anyway (I’d confronted him about the drugs because a mutual friend had let slip that he was on it again). I then went into a rage, trashed the flat, broke things, threw things, started putting all my stuff in boxes so I could leave, and then I cut myself. It was the turning point. We were okay for a few days and then it all started again. I felt torn because one minute we loved each other and then we were yelling and swearing and he storms out taking our car and I’m left inside feeling abandoned and angry and hurt and hating him for being so cruel (even though I can see now that he probably felt the same about me, that I was nasty and vicious and i didn’t care). It ended up with us discussing a time apart so we could sort out our own stuff and not end up hating each other. I felt I’d been kicked out of my own home, he kept the car, everything in the flat, I felt I had been not only rejected and abandoned but also had my whole life taken away. I couldn’t leave him alone and messaged him a lot. I was picturing him doing drugs and drinking and being with other girls. I ended up making things worse. We met up one night though and I stayed at the flat and he suggested we go for breakfast. I agreed and we had a really nice chat and it came out that we both still love each other but we have both stuffed up pretty badly, mostly my emotional BPD nonsense but that we have hopes to get back together. I left feeling okay about it all, sad but okay. Then I was out with friends that very night and he walks in with a friend. She stayed near where I was and he went off to meet other friends in the back…I got up to go to the bathroom and his friend (a woman who is a known drug addict in the area) verbally abused me and when i told her to f*** off because I didn’t know her and she sure as hell didn’t know me, she turned round and kicked me. I attacked her but luckily realized what I was doing and walked away to calm down. He was there and I confronted him about it and he starts calling me a liar and saying I’d verbally attacked this girl the previous night and all she’d said to me now was ‘how are you’. Now I know I’m not stabled, but I’m not a complete loony. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and the more I was upset and saying I’d never spoken to her in my life before, the more he’s yelling at me that I’m a liar and how dare I attack her and what’s my problem. I eventually slapped him to which he responded by spitting the word ‘whore’ in my face like i was nothing. I lost it and started slapping him and yelling at him, I must admit I this is a blank spot for me, i cannot remember what I said or much of how I got out of there and found myself walking to our flat. My mother met me and calmed me down and we packed all the rest of my stuff, locked up and left. all the while I’m getting messages from him saying the police are with him and I broke his nose and he’s laying assault charges and I’m in so much trouble and etc etc. Went to police station and turns out no vans were dispatched. Also his nose was not broken. Next day he slanders me all over the internet saying what a psychopath I am and I trashed the flat and stole all his stuff and broke his nose and then smashed his guitar. Anyway, this is a loooong story and to cut it short, I left it and he continued threatening me and due to him speaking to other people I started getting nasty messages online, and his sisters attacked me and I had people who are involved in my business (which I run online) calling me names and telling him to call the police and…it was horrible. we are now on speaking terms, met the other day for breakfast because I asked him too join me, I was feeling down and alone. Again, a wonderful chat and he still loves me too and he just needs to deal with stuff. That evening he totaled our car whilst driving drunk out of his skull, He told me he can’t even remember leaving the bar where he was with his friends. He is SO lucky to be alive, I don’t know how he got out with so few injuries. I was also one of the first people at the hospital after it happened and had to watch him get escorted away by the police. So now there is that drama whilst we wait for blood test results. Also know that he’s been with this other girl, he says they are friends but I have had mutual friends telling me they look like they are together and she’s staying at our flat. I don’t know what to believe anymore. I can’t take this yoyo-ing and his downwards spiral along with my downwards spiral…but I cannot not love him. I know I have BPD and all that goes with it but I’m beginning to think he may have it too. If anyone reads this loooooong post let me know what you think?? any advice? I am being admitted to a clinic next week for a month’s program, so I know how bad I am and I am getting help.

    • To be honest I think you are better off out of this relationship, like you say this guy has his own issues and problems which he has to deal with, you have enough to handle dealing with your own BPD stuff without being his rescuer as well, you can’t fix him and sometimes love is not enough. For your own recovery and health continuing in this cycle is just going to hold you back. Hold on to the love and the good memories but let go of the rest, I had to resort to a no contact rule for my ex in the end as keeping in touch with him was still affecting my recovery I now feel much better having cut it all off permanently. You need to be able to focus on yourself while you are in the clinic and once you leave there, he will just have to fend for himself xx

  29. Pingback: Core Mindfulness – Part Three (‘How’ Skill Taking a non-judgmental stance) | Living with BPD

  30. bo hoo all i hear is poor bpd there explainations for bpds and there behavior as if there not to be responsible for it and we should all feel sori for them. I have been unlucky enough to have loved a bpd and her child but when things got mental they got so mental it was easy to step back she has ruined things for me and her child abused my family out of jealousy destroyed property drunk drove blamed me for it cos i was standing there when she raged rammed my car well actuall she used her old car and rammed the new vw i had bought her then in court yip im to blame she got done and a good thing really cos hey even thou i can see the pain she goes through she is responsible for her actions and when people do the poor her thing its kinda like saying her actions are valid disgusting if you ask me. I really do care about her i wouldnt hesatate to help her i hope in my heart the she could turn a corner from this it would nice to see that happen and maybe she could help other sufferers in time but responsibility is hers there her actions and she hurts everyone around her.

    • Sorry to hear what you have been through. It is difficult to achieve a balanced view that is fair both to the person with BPD and the people who suffer as a result of BPD behaviour, the two extremes of ‘hate all BPD’s they are evil and should be killed’ and ‘they can’t help it’ are rife across the internet, but in reality it’s much more complicated. Yes, the BPD sufferer IS ultimately responsible for their behaviour *but* unfortunately BPD is a very real illness that causes them to lose control of the ability to take responsibility. What they need is HELP to learn the lost skills and support from those who care to enable them to reach a point of stability and control, as I have done. They don’t want or need sympathy, it’s no ‘boo hoo poor BPD’ but the also don’t need to be dismissed, but when you have been hurt by a BPD I can see why some people feel the need to lash out and ‘warn’ others about the dangers of getting involved with a BPD. If the BPD does not want/will not get help then yes they need to be avoided but if a BPD truly wants to be ‘better’ they deserve a chance to try and help to do it.

  31. I had BPD- fully recovered now, the journey was not easy, I went through extremely painful moments, but, now by the grace of God, I have become better. I have shared about this disease in my writings, to provide hope to women world wide, that they are not alone in their struggles!! My love and support is always with them!

    • Thank you for sharing, glad to hear of your recovery, I am also recovered now and it has been hard but worth it! I agree in hoping that sharing our struggles and triumphs over this horrid condition will help others realise they are not alone and can get better 🙂 x

  32. I came across this entry in a search for BPD and romantic relationships. Recently diagnosed, I am on a path to discovery so as to better myself. Looking back on my rather chaotic life, it is so obvious to me that I am plagued with this disorder (not surprisingly though… my Mom clearly has it too– but would never admit it).

    My question for you is this: in terms of the splitting, how do you know which is right? Where do you find the grey in the black and white binary that is the devaluation/idealization thought process? I recently became engaged to the father of my son. Some days, I think it was a wonderful decision and that he is fabulous. Other days, I question why I ever said yes (I initially had a gut feeling that we just weren’t right for eachother). I want to break off the engagement, but I wonder… is it the right call? What if the ‘idealization’ is the right ‘feeling’? Thank you so much.

    • Good question, I guess that really there is no sure way of knowing which is right at the time, and unfortunately by the time you figure out which is it may be too late! :/ Finding the grey is also difficult, getting help with your BPD to move towards recovery is the best way to reach a point of ‘normal’ feelings where the grey is more clear, but I suppose in simple terms you have to imagine it that the idealization is when things are at there best and the devaulation at the worst and the inbetween times are the grey and therefore if you can consider those as the ‘normal’ rather than giving the extremes air time, if you are still ‘happy’ without the extremes that may be the answer you are looking for? The urge to break off the engagement may well be your fear of abandonment kicking in to make you push him away before he can abandon you as having BPD we tend to expect that everyone will eventually abandon us and we will often try to get in before them to prevent us getting hurt… :/ Hope this helps? x

  33. WOW! Respect to all your comments people. I am just coming to the end of a 6 yr relationship with my BPD girlfriend. She displays some of the symptoms, flirting, idolising and then hatred, the coolness and then interest, but she also had a drug problem which I supported her overcome. (This came about when she lost her father to cancer 10 yrs ago which she is only now grieving for.) It has got to the stage now where she has finally accepted that she needs some medical help and I wanted to be there for her but I don’t know what to do? I am educating myself on this but I have started to think that its all a lost cause and cant cope with the emotional instability! But I just wanted to say thanks for all your comments and advice around this issue and I wish you all the best on your own journeys.

    • Glad you have found it helpful, I have lots of other posts on here about different BPD issues 🙂 To be there for her now the best thing is to help her find a good therapist to get the help she needs for recovery and support her without pressure or smothering as she goes through the recovery process, but be prepared for her to be very different after and maybe even move on leaving you behind during/after as she discovers who she really is and it may not be who either of you think it is (which could be good for your relationship or could bring it to an end) Good luck!

  34. I am psychiatrist and I have seen hundreds of patients. The only long term relationships that I have seen work are those that allow the person that is suffering from BPD to be in an open relationship. People that suffer from BPD will feel trapped and will always find a reason to breakup, cheat or run away. If you allow your partner to be sexually active with other people when their episodes occur, they are able to escape, and come back to their loving partner healthy and happy again. The supporting partner cannot have BPD too, and cannot be promiscuous with other people or it will fail. People with BPD are jealous and protective and they will be in pain if both parties are allowed to be in an open relationship. Its stinks… but it is true. If you have BPD and are sick of breaking up you need to find someone that is able to give you your freedom, and still love you. I hope this helps

    • Hi Brad,

      Thank you, indeed I think that for the majority of people with BPD what you suggest about an open relationship is very true. Holding down a single relationship without that is achievable too though, I was with my husband for 16 years and despite many BPD episodes during that time there was only one time that I strayed before my major breakdown near the end of our relationship where I went completely off the rails. I do believe that one day, with the right person, I will be able to hold down another monogamous relationship, but for now I know that I need to avoid the pressure and commitment and emotion that such a relationship entails and therefore provokes the BPD insecurities, so I am staying single because then I don’t have to risk hurting someone else with my promiscuous behaviour 🙂

  35. Hi I came across this site just recently and have found it wonderful as I have BPD and can really relate to what is said in the posts. I particularly struggle with splitting and being able to find the grey instead of always black and white. I had bad experiences as a child which my wise mind knows were bad but I struggle because to me they were meeting an unmet emotional need which at times felt good even though inappropriate. It has helped me a little in recent times to acknowledge things can be a little good and bad and don’t have to be extremely black or white.

    • I know what you mean about inappropriate things sometimes appearing good even though you know that really they are bad due to the way they fulfil some need that would otherwise be neglected, it is very confusing and has a knock on affect on how we perceive other things :/ Recognising the grey even if you can’t always feel and accept it in the moment is good progress towards overcoming the overwhelming turmoil of splitting. I’m glad my posts are something you can relate to 🙂 Best Wishes Sharon x

  36. I recently lost a friendship with someone who has BP. At the time I didn’t know she had the condition and when I was upset at her I sent her an angry but tame text to let her know how I wa feeling. That was four months ago and she won’t even talk to me or try to work it out. Is there any chance we can repair our relationship do you think? How do you get someone with BP to forgive you?

    • I have been having a similar conversation in the comments on my post ‘My Ex can’t let go’. Repairing a friendship with someone with BPD is tough because splitting can get in the way, if you have been painted black by the BPD they may not be responsive at all to your attempts to make amends. Forgiveness is hard to achieve. I tend to find that often when I consider a friendship/relationship ‘over’ then I cut all contact permanently and the other person soon ceases to exist, especially/mainly if they really hurt me in some way… 😦

  37. Thank you for this post Sharon, I happened upon it as I was searching for ‘splitting and the BPD’. I am a diagnosed BPD (20 some years ago) and I notice that when I start getting in relationships with people, especially online, the minute they take too long to respond, or not email me back for a day or so, or I sense they may be chatting with someone else while chatting with me….I cut them off, completely, never to return. I feel like I’m getting even that way. This is no good though, in reality, it’s me who loses and gets hurt everytime. I realize that I’m just protecting myself emotionally (for fear of the fact that they may be abandoning me) by cutting them out. I feel they deserve it, while they’re sitting there saying ‘say wha?’ It’s weird, troubling, and weird, Yet, I feel compelled to do it.

    • I understand completely, we react irrationally in panic, fear and uncontrollable urges to protect ourselves from something that has not, yet, and may not happen but we just can’t stop ourselves – better to push them away than risk being hurt and abandoned. This is one thing I want to stop doing (among many!). I’m getting better, but those who know me well say I still keep an emotional barrier up :/

  38. You know in the first part the one night stand is what i feel just after time,so she gets tired saying she is tired of my roller coaster after time and I after time love her where she is after the first night we were together?no wonder she always said I did go all in with you you just did not see it,well no girl it’s been 3 days,wow i hope i can just see if i can make some sort amends with her,see I did not know she had this until like 1.5 years after together and she did ‘nt either but she never would really tell me about it’s nature soo i respected her wishes and did not pry like I am now I think that was in error.see she was so wanting when we met and I knew the jackass she was with I understood why she was wanting,I told her after stopping him from hurting her,after a kiss on the forehead,I said”It’s going to be ok cub” she just reminded me of little growwlll growwlll cub and Ive called her that ever sinse any way i then said I wish i could prove to you some men really do give a damn,and from where things are sitting now I hope i can at least show her that even though she might not want me any more,I really do care and thats not going to change

    • Sometimes the fear of abandonment which curse us causes us to withdraw from those who we feel are making ‘unrealistic’ promises (not saying your words are unrealistic promises just that to one with BPD they may ‘feel’ like they are) If someone seems too caring and kind we run a mile, because we don’t want to get hurt when they realise what we are really like and then decide they don’t like us so much after all, and of course we also believe that everyone will abandon us eventually, which makes us think we are better off alone 😦

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  40. I have a question. My ex gf who displays a large number of BPD traits started to triangulate, distanced, then broke up with me 2 days before a massive event that she had helped me plan. We had an argument and she said “bye!” in text and then “I’m not coming to your event.” A week later she came and picked up her things and left. Then that week she madly texted me trying to make contact. I was busy and angry so didn’t reply. She didn’t come to any of my events and blew it all off. I was terribly hurt. We didn’t speak for 6 weeks. She would come out every week to our weekly social and it was like she was stalking me: she would stare hoping I’d invite her to dance. Finally she called me a number of times. I returned her call. She insisted I had called her first and she had nothing to say to me. More push-pull. Finally I caught her in a big lie. She had made plans to meet up after New Year’s, canceled suddenly claiming she was in “trouble”—with her complicated house move. Then I later discovered the next day she went out with the guy she claimed was a “friend” who had caused me to become suspicious in the first place.

    Now, 9 months later I’m planning another event. I had told her never to contact me again. We had a brief dance 4 weeks ago which she eagerly accepted, then split me to black again and has ignored me since.

    The guy…the “friend” bought a bunch of tickets for his “friends” to my event…including one for my ex gf.

    My question…why didn’t she just buy the ticket herself?

    The guy seemed clueless about our relationship or its problems even inviting me to a group dinner that included her. So maybe he was a “friend” afterall…that she through her weirdness lead me to believe was more.

    So…why then did she have him buy me her ticket?

    I was hurt. Then angry. Then confused. But I never did reach out to her about this. The event is next week. I am not attending this “friend’s” group dinner.

    All so confusing and weird. Is this a provocation? is this to piss me off? Is this to get me to blow up at her again so she can claim again “nothing…he’s just a friend”.?

    • I can’t say what is going on in her head but it does seem like she may be playing ‘games’ with you. As difficult as it may be I guess the best thing is to try and ignore what she is doing and stick to no contact, for your own sake especially as you move in the same circles and are likely not to be able to stay away from her entirely. You need to keep your boundaries firm and strong. Good luck!

  41. “For me this can be seen in how when I have been wronged . . . ”

    No, most of the time, it’s when you PERCEIVE that you’ve been wronged, but haven’t ACTUALLY been wronged. It’s a problem of PERCEPTION, and it’s common to almost all untreated borderlines. If you haven’t ACTUALLY been wronged, and you KNOW you haven’t been wronged, the wreckage that follows a splitting episode will not happen. It will have been avoided altogether, because the borderline will have changed their internal BELIEF SYSTEM, and hence their emotional reaction to the event.

    A borderline asks, ‘How do I deal with it when someone wrongs me or lets me down?’ A properly trained BPD therapist (and there are few) knows that this isn’t the REAL question. The real question is whether or not the borderline HAS been wronged or ‘let down’ in the first place, according to NON-BORDERLINE criteria. And if the borderline HAS been wronged or let down, to what EXTENT? Was the action grievous? Was it trifling? Does it seem like the other person did it on purpose? Were there extenuating circumstance in their lives? have they done it before? if so, to what extent?

    The un-treated borderline’s EXTREME LACK OF EMOTIONAL REGULATION, based on a FAULTY INTERNAL BELIEF SYSTEM, makes them UNABLE to suss out the REALITY of the event.

    A hallmark of Borderlines is EXTREME LACK OF EMOTIONAL REGULATION. The un-treated borderline’s emotional reaction to events (or certain events) is usually WAY out of whack with the REALITY of the events. So . . . a friend might show up late, or not show up at all, or not react to something EXACTLY the way the borderline ‘needs’ them to react, and the borderline interprets this as a kind of ABANDONDMENT/BETRAYAL. To avoid the emotional pain of PERCEIVED (not real) abandonment/betrayal, the borderline will split the person. This – in a nutshell – is WHY splitting happens in the first place. You can’t stop splitting until you know WHY it happens. Knowing the ‘WHAT’ of it is the first step, but understanding the WHY is the real key. That’s when real recovery starts to happen.

    Splitting is an emotional reaction to the ORIGINAL TRAUMATIC EVENT in the borderline’s past. Some real ABANDONMENT/BETRAYAL – usually quite awful – happened to the borderline in childhood. In order to avoid the emotional nightmare of this abandonment/betrayal in the PRESENT – the borderline has taken on a MALADAPTIVE COPING MECHANISM. Basically, whenever the borderline feels ‘betrayed’ or ‘abandoned’ in the present, it is an echo of the ORIGINAL abandonment or betrayal. To avoid the feelings of the original abandonment/betrayal in their present lives, the borderline ‘splits’ people.

    Again, it is the job of the Borderline-trained therapist to: 1) Help the borderline understand the ORIGINS of their splitting behavior, which are based in their ORIGINAL TRAUMATIC EVENT. 2) Help the borderline FACE the reality of the original traumatic event and heal from it. 3) Change the borderline’s BELIEF SYSTEMS so that their emotional reactions to things are more normal (yes, there is such a thing) so that they DON’T split people in the first place.

    The trained therapist is there to teach the borderline that 99% of the time, humans are just being HUMANS and no one is abandoning or betraying them. The therapist must rid the borderline of the maladaptive coping mechanism that makes them SPLIT people in the first place.

    The only treatment that has had documented success with this is DIALTECTICAL BEHAVIORAL THERAPY (DBT). I suggest that any un-treated borderline look it up.

    And let us address the idea of ‘NORMAL” behavior. Many, if not most, un-treated borderlines take extreme umbrage at this notion, and consider it an insult. The point is NOT to insult, or even criticize; the point is to train the borderline’s EMOTIONAL REACTIONS TO EVENTS so that they can get along with people better. On an average level, the borderline’s emotional reactions to events is usually NOT normal, and causes them to be alienated from people. SPLITTING is one of these reactions.

    EXAMPLE: If a person cancels ONE DATE, the borderline might ‘feel’ this as a BETRAYAL. Doesn’t matter if they’ve been dating the person for a few months, or a few years. if the borderline is already in a ‘spiraling’ emotional state, a simple, everyday occurrence like a cancelled date might be enough to ‘split’ the other person completely black and ruin what might have been a perfectly good relationship. This is NOT a normal reaction to a normal, everyday event. We’ve ALL had dates cancel on us, and we haven’t dammed the other person to eternal penury.

    And BTW – CRITICISM is one of the PRIMARY triggers of splitting in a borderline. Un-treated borderlines often perceive ANY kind of criticism as an abandonment/betrayal. That’s why un-treated borderlines HATE the idea of ‘normal’ behavior. The idea of ‘normal’ behavior is interpreted as an IMPLICIT CRITICISM of their own behavior. This is why you’ll see borderlines lash out at the idea of ‘normal’ behavior on discussion forums. It is an EMOTIONAL REACTION to their ORIGINAL TRAUMA. They KNOW that there’s such a thing as ‘normal’ behavior, but they can’t deal with the EMOTIONAL REALITY of that knowledge because that sends them back into the pain of the original trauma.

    A messy situation, to say the least. That’s why borderlines need the RIGHT KIND OF HELP. And this is ALWAYS DBT therapy. Nothing else really works. In fact, run-of-the-mill ‘Talk Therapy’ can often make borderlines even worse.

    • I’m not sure why you felt the need to capitalise words here but I agree with some of what you say, perception is a big factor and being unwell with BPD affects perception. Yes, BPD’S do need treatment and DBT is the best, I couldn’t access that so my therapist and I worked through some DBT books and I was lucky that it worked for me, but agree that for many talk therapy may not be enough especially if they do not get a good therapist. In my situations I had actually been wronged, but even though the being wronged was real my perception of what happened was still distorted and things exaggerated by the BPD.

  42. Thanks for answering my question. It seems that walking away and staying away is the best option. It all seems counter-intuitive…do nothing. I’m used to negotiating, discussion, fixing etc. She’s gone. She looks at me at times inviting me to come over with these big sad eyes. I resist. The next day, instead of the inviting look, she just gives a cold blank stare like she doesn’t recognize me at all. Then maybe 2 weeks after that she flirts with me bringing up a variety of great memories and telling me “You changed colognes”…then…you get the idea. She won’t meet me.

  43. Is there ANYTHING a person could do to regain their idealized status once you’ve split them black?

    • Unlikely, I have never re-established contact with anyone I have split black before. Once someone is out of my life, that is it, permanent but I rarely split black unless someone really deserves it…

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  45. ugh… This is so me. I have lots to say about my bpd but I’m not sure that it would help anyone. I recently messed up an extremely important relationship and wouldn’t wish this pain on anyone! Thank you for this post. As much as I hate knowing there are others who suffer from bpd, it’s a relief to know I’m not alone.

    • You will be surprised how much it helps, even if you just rant about what you are suffering, I never expected so many people to find what I wrote on this blog helpful but even when I was just saying how crappy things are it helped others to know they weren’t alone when they read what I was feeling too. Don’t be afraid to share your experiences, it will help you by giving you an outlet and yes, it may help others too 🙂 x

  46. All very enlightening. I vehemently suspect my wife is BPD. She has a sister who is, and who finally wound up in permanent care after nearly dying alone in a shack. Because my wife is a charming person with a career, I never thought to learn much about BPD. I supposed that everyone with the condition was as dysfunctional as my sister-in-law.

    Perhaps unusually, my wife and I were together for twelve years. I thought we were mostly happy. She was very jealous of any woman I had known, and I had several female friends. I didn’t realize that this went beyond normal jealousy. In the first years of our marriage, my elderly widowed aunt lived with us, and although my wife insisted she live with us as long as she could, she also passionately resented her. She randomly accused me of having affairs whenever I was out of pocket for any length of time. Eventually most of my relationships outside the family atrophied.

    She held up under many stresses. My stepson from her first marriage was severely dyslexic and was diagnosed with type I diabetes at age ten. She expressed amazement that I stayed through all the trouble. Most of her accusations were so bizarre, I honestly believed she was joking.

    Our son finished his homeschooling and began college and manages his diabetes well. He moved out on his own about a year ago. At the start of last summer my wife moved to a farm nine miles away. Her excuse was that she needed better pasture for her sheep and horses. She is a passionate animal lover. At the end of the summer, she did not move back to our homeplace as I expected. Soon she was spending an inordinate amount of time with a male friend who was also a horse lover. I knew there was trouble, but having seen her intense, short lived friendships before, I hoped it would blow over. Then she informed me she was having an affair with the friend, Ironically, she always accused me of this, but I never once thought that she would do such a thing, until it became to obvious to deny. A chance remark she made during this painful conversation made me look into BPD, and while Psychology is by no means my line of country, I immediately recognized a great deal of my wife’s behavior.

    I feel I understand our entire relationship much better. I love her and miss her, but at the same time I feel such peace not having to deal with her that I wonder if I really want her back, assuming I could get her to return.

    • It sounds like you already know that the best thing is to let her go, hold on to the love you had as a good memory but don’t put yourself through the torture of what if’s or trying to regain what you had. BPDs are capable of long, loving relationships but if/when the illness takes a hold it will destroy even the strongest of bonds because it is so toxic 😦 I was with my husband 16 years until he passed away, I started to get ill not long before he died and spent the next few years in hell as I stuggled alone and then in a bad relationship to cope with my BPD. I have recovered now and am in a loving relationship which I fully expect to last a long, long time, and now I am aware of the BPD I have defeated should any signs begin to show that it is returning I would immediately seek help to prevent it destroying what I have because I would not want to be that person again.

  47. Thank you. I think you are right. It is very hard for me. I am a teacher. My father was a policeman and my mother a nurse. My grandfathers were both heroic figures. To just give up on a person and walk away goes against everything that is in me.

  48. Sharon, thank you so much for all your time and effort invested in informing and educating others on BPD. Learning about BPD from someone who has lived it is priceless information to me. I am so grateful for your compassionate vulnerability and desire to help others, including myself, who have loved ones with BPD. You mentioned DBT books that you worked through with your therapist. Would you be willing to share the titles of those you found most beneficial? I value your input and it would be much appreciated. Thanks, and much love to you. I am proud of you and have found joy and hope in witnessing your journey. 🙂

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