UP WITH A BORDERLINE:
There must be 50 Ways to leave your Lover.
By Shari Schreiber,
you've begun dating your Borderline, you're so excited and enraptured,
you don't want to hear anyone's warnings--or read anything that
might make you think this Honeymoon phase won't
last forever. It's natural/normal to feel this way, but it keeps
you from benefiting from the prophylactic value of my articles,
which can save you from indescribable pain up ahead.
anyone can write a 'how-to' manual about leaving a Borderline, but
this is not a behavioral issue--if it
were, you'd have gotten out long before now. This piece attempts
to help you understand the intricate conflicts you face
about leaving this person, and assists you in making a sound choice
to exit this toxic relationship, and avoid subjecting yourself to
could have been wrestling for awhile with leaving your Borderline,
due to the substantial levels of stress and drama you've had to
endure, since it got started. You're conflicted, because when you
think about moving on, you feel guilty--but when you consider sticking
around, you're pretty sure this pit in your stomach will
remain, too. And then of course, there's the unbelievable chemistry
that keeps you wanting more.
you've been with a Borderline
Waif, the prospect of deserting this fragile, needful lover
is far more daunting, because you're trapped between sensing
that this ship is about to sink, and saving yourself--or
remaining, and going down with it. Attraction keeps you hooked into
him/her, despite the chaos, uncertainty and craziness that comes
with it--still, it shouldn't be so hard to walk out on this deal,
right? Don't kid yourself. Walking away is the easiest part. What
happens inside you afterward, is why this article was written.
is no denying, that leaving your borderline lover will be tough--but
at some point, you'll have to reach a determination about your own
well-being. You'll vacillate between guilt if you leave, but repetitious
bouts of shame if you stay. This song by Paul Simon is upbeat and
fun, but it addresses your very difficult decision. Take a minute
to 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover (click on the YouTube video
once you're there--you'll feel a bit lighter).
YOURSELF PERMISSION TO BREAK IT OFF
yourself to leave somebody is the roughest part of all this, because
you'd never deliberately hurt another~ and you'd much rather
harm yourself, than risk being thought of as an "insensitive
or abandoning person." *This is an
emotional leftover from your childhood, which is
discussed a bit further down in this piece.
takes a lot of courage/fortitude to actually leave a Borderline,
and scores of people never do. Your motivation might finally come
from recognizing that this prize isn't worth the
price you're paying to remain. Some folks
develop a secret plan for their escape, in response to many years
of having to fear a partner's emotional and/or physical volatility.
This probably isn't the best or most admirable way to exit this
relationship--but the sad reality is, it might be your safest option.
If you're frowning more than you're smiling, make concrete plans
to get out!
you've already exited this affair, it catalyzes such intense
self-doubt and turmoil, you can barely give your focus to anything
else. Another one of my articles reveals sixteen
myths about Borderlines, that will effectively
help you navigate your way back to stability and sanity. And yes
dear, rest assured that this insanity you're presently experiencing,
is only temporary! It's in direct proportion to hanging-out with
someone who's dangerously unstable, dysfunctional and living on
the border of crazy--that's why we developed
the clinical term, Borderline.
people have such self-judgment and guilt over the
idea of leaving, they develop life-threatening diseases
that ultimately force their departure by death. In short, now there's
something 'outside' their control, that has allowed them to exit
this toxic and tormenting dynamic. Throughout my practice, I've
seen how the monumental stress of a relationship with a borderline
disordered individual, can literally kill
THE LANGUAGE OF LEAVING - BE KIND, BE SWIFT, BE GONE!
to remember, you're not separating from "a disorder,"
you're separating from a human being. It's far easier to think about
running away from an affliction, than an individual who wrestles
with one, and this difficulty is addressed here.
solid rule of thumb for your future is, never get involved with
someone who has more problems than You.
best exit method is to keep it short and sweet. You might have a
tendency to blame her, or point out all the reasons you need to
leave--but this will only relieve your guilt about ending
it, and be harmful/shaming to the Borderline. This is not
an effective or compassionate departure strategy! Express
that you've cared for and appreciated her, but this relationship
is no longer a solid fit for you, and you need to move on.
If she wants to maintain you as a friend, reference this
article, and scroll down to subsection; CAN'T WE STILL BE FRIENDS??
Friendship involves mutual trust, caring and respect, which
has never been at the foundation of this relationship. If it
wasn't there when you were sleeping together, it isn't gonna be
there when you're not!
and expect that you'll be experiencing some mixed/conflicting and
difficult feelings for awhile, once you walk away from this relationship.
This is extremely normal, which is why you've put off leaving for
programmed from an early age to think that 'right' choices or decisions
result in good feelings, but that's seldom true. Sound/healthy decisions
require a lot of courage, because they're the hardest ones to make.
Emotional fallout usually follows, which tests our integrity and
the strength of our convictions.
hard emotions follow correct choices, we second-guess ourselves,
and presume we made the wrong choice! This could leave you doubting
your perceptions of that relationship after the break-up, and thinking
you should return. I know this part feels lousy, because you're
having to experience your own inner pain or emptiness that you've
been distracted from while you've been with a high maintenance
partner~ but you've made the right decision for yourself, so stick
WON'T HE/SHE RETURN MY STUFF??
long as a BPD ex holds onto your belongings, they're able to retain
a part of YOU. Surrendering your 'stuff' can mean to him or her
that it's really over. In short, it's closure~
which the Borderline has a very hard time tolerating.
you're considering leaving, it's best to start taking your
things out of their environment, for you might not be able to get
them back (intact) after you've ended the relationship.
doesn't matter how much your Borderline claims to hate you or never
want to see you again. If you value your clothes, razor, watch,
etc., you must take them before you leave, or be willing to kiss
'em goodbye~ or you'll be having to keep this door open long
past when it seems much healthier to walk away and end all contact.
A BORDERLINE FALLS IN THE FOREST, AND NOBODY'S AROUND TO HEAR
IT--DOES SHE/HE STILL MAKE A SOUND?
you've managed to get away, the Borderline may barrage you for
months, with incessant text messages, emails and phone
calls. It's highly advisable that you ignore
all attempts at contact, as these will keep you hooked into depression,
torment and deep despair. The craziness you've been feeling will
intensify, whenever you listen to or read
these efforts to manipulate you, so delete, delete, delete!!!
long as you hit this ball back across the net, and let him/her engage
you in any manner, you are keeping
your pain very present and alive. Yes, your self-worth
feels dependent on these outreaches, but try to take heart
(for now) that their frantic attempts to get your attention, can
be thought of as a Bandaid for your long-held feelings of unworthiness,
and leave it at that!
come here, go away stuff doesn't end, just because you're not together.
An ignored Borderline will alternate between diminishing/shaming
comments or vile accusations, and loving expressions that cajole
you into thinking they still care. When you stop taking or returning
their calls, they can't stand this loss of control,
so they flip-flop between "wanting" you and despising
Borderline will try every tactic and trick in the book, to get you
to respond~ the most painful one being, when they've threatened;
"this is the very last time you'll hear from me," but
then they've phoned or texted you, eighty-seven times more! With
most Borderlines, there's almost no such thing as finality. In other
words, it's not over, 'till the Fat Lady sings--and if it
is, you're one lucky son of a gun!
self-worth is tied to remaining connected (but so is yours). This
can take the form of solicitous contacts, after numerous months
or even years. He/she could be flirtatious
or seductive with you--even after you've become seriously
involved with another, which speaks to their lack of boundaries.
with their current love or feeling too close to
him/her, can trigger phone calls or unplanned, impromptu visits
with you! If you've had a bunch of 'hang-ups' on your voicemail,
these are the unrestrained, juvenile acting-out impulses
of somone who's extremely underdeveloped and unstable.
some point, you'll have to set firm parameters and limits for the
Borderline concerning acceptable behaviors (as you would with a
young child), as this person is incapable of discerning or setting
them for him or herself. This is hard--but you'll pay a much
higher price, if you don't. The healthiest thing for you,
is totally blockng their access to you, but I doubt you can do this
before undertaking some growth
and healing work.
issues typically draw intense media exposure, due to their bizarre
or sensationalistic nature. Headline stories about women or
men engaging in self-sabotaging or foolish behaviors at serious
risk to their professional and personal lives, are most often generated
by borderline disordered individuals.
Whether we're hearing about teachers sexually engaging their students,
or a wife who's severed her husband's genitals, we're observing
a lack of impulse control that's typical of borderline
pathology. Are you feeling incredulous or shocked by incidents reported
in the news? You're hearing about the repercussions of someone living
with acute levels of this disorder.
SMART. DISCOVER THE WHAT KEEPS YOU BONDED TO AN IMPAIRED, DYSFUNCTIONAL
can be extremely tormenting and confusing, due to their paradoxical
natures. You may have felt totally perplexed by their unpredictable,
contrary responses to your gestures of care and affection. Indeed,
this is actually the most confounding issue one faces with
a borderline disordered individual, for as you love them more,
they love you less.
confusion compels you to remain, because your rational
mind wants to make sense of these odd experiences, and this response
is natural. The problem is, it leads to obsession.
is crystalized, when you begin to accept that feelings of harmony
and peace can mean death to a Borderline. They've grown
up with such strife and chaos, it takes tremendous stimuli (acute
psychic, emotional or physical pain) to break through their numbed
out feelings, and produce sensations of aliveness.
can feel empty and invisible during serene times, while
you may be relishing a brief vacation from all
that drama and struggle! This peculiarity is central to why they
pick fights with you after the calm or especially good times. It
helps them feel something, other than nothingness or deadness.
It's also why they're often drawn to abusers, which let's be honest~
might be true for you, too.
men have reported a willingness to die
for their Borderline--and a deeply disordered individual might ask
this of you, to prove your devotion! You feel such an intense need
to have your affection returned, you could be "dying
to love her," but this essentially mirrors your own
deep, painful craving for loving attention. Watch the film, Casino
starring Sharon Stone and Robert DeNiro.
He struggles to trust this woman he loves--but Stone's character
makes it impossible, while giving us a spectacular portrayal
of a high-functioning, emotionally impaired female with BPD.
are bullies. Reasoning with them
is an utterly useless exercise that only digs you deeper into chaos
takes one person to change a relationship (not save it--that
requires a commitment by both), and two to keep
it the same or stagnant. The only way
to handle a Borderline's acting-out, is to set very
firm limits and boundaries for them, as you would for a three
year old. When they begin acting up, tell him/her you need
them to leave. If you're in their environment, you leave.
If you're on the phone, terminate that call immediately.
You are conditioning the Borderline to start learning which
behaviors are acceptable/appropriate, and which are not.
simply, 'bad' behavior must consistently be associated with loss
of contact and attention. Otherwise, whether you're still in this
dynamic or not, you're playing by their rules, not yours--and
this ball has to remain in your court. You must be the
adult in this relationship, and take charge--it's
your only hope for any peace and sanity, unless/until you extract
yourself from their insidiously toxic grasp.
BEHIND THE CURTAIN OF THIS PLAY.
hate to say it, but the
Borderline is an emotional vampire. He/she has
steadily worn you down with constant brainwashing, and drained your
vitality and health. When you have finally left this treacherous
dance, you could feel like a shadow of your former self. Their skewed
perceptions make it seem like you're viewing yourself in a warped
Fun House mirror, and you start believing that this distorted
reflection of you is accurate! You've been mortally wounded, and
it's taken a toll on your spirit, psyche and body.
continuous stress of emotional/psychological warfare affects the
human condition more than physical abuse, and some men
develop serious ailments during their time in these relationships.
Prostate problems, heart conditions, blood disorders, herpes breakouts,
migraine headaches, glaucoma and cancer are just a few of the souvenirs
guys have retained from these couplings, regardless of how physically
powerful they were before they met their BPD tormentor. One of my
ex's married a Borderline--and twelve years later, he's been diagnosed
with a Parkinson's-type neurological disease. They're divorced now,
but it's too little, too late. The damage to his body and psyche
has been irreversible.
this relationship--no matter how empty, adrift or tortured
you feel when he/she's gone, could absolutely bring about
what I call, Death by Borderline.
if breaking away from your Borderline were simply a behavioral issue,
you'd have certainly done it long before now--but there are some
powerful emotional and psychic underpinnings to this attraction,
which have kept you going back for more.
one extent or another, all of my BPD articles reveal and explain
these issues in fairly concise terms--and if you think that no part
of this has to do with your unresolved issues,
you will painfully continue longing for somebody who's just
beyond your reach.
enough, several married men have admitted that sex with their wife
far surpassed any sensual/sexual relations with their Borderline!
This is not the norm, but it does happen. There's something
about their connection with this particular female that
touches on a primitive
place inside from infancy and early boyhood, and makes this union
seem magical--despite her deficits and disturbances.
very fact that you're struggling with the decision of leaving, means
you have a degree of emotional health and grounding--that's the
good news! The bad news, is this conflict you're experiencing,
involves some nasty leftovers from childhood that are making it
horribly difficult to exercise sound, self-preserving choices, and
extricate yourself from this mess.
LEARN HOW TO LOVE, AND WHO TO LOVE FROM OUR PARENTS.
feelings you had to suppress/put away as a child, to survive in
your environment. A child's emotional pain often goes unnoticed
or unattended to by his parents, and so he learns to disregard it
himself--or make it not matter, to get by.
you have frequently exclaimed "whatever"
during your lifetime when frustration or disappointment overtook
you, you're probably an adult child, who's stored your pain deep
hard to comprehend why we've decided to love a broken, person who
makes us feel so much pain. We want to resist believing that something's
wrong with him/her, as it brings up questions about ourselves! It
forces us to examine what's wrong with us, that we're attracted
to this kind of individual who keeps us illogically ensnared. We
shudder to think that we could be damaged too~ but perhaps
that's why this has seemed like a 'match
made in heaven' (at least, at first).
need her to be the Identified Patient (IP), which is a
clinical term that's used in Family Therapy, when parents enlist
therapeutic help for a child who acts-out the subtle, underlying
tensions in his or her home environment. But the truth is, you have
both survived abandonment wounds during childhood, and
you're attracted to chaos, pain and struggle because of
likely that you've become a People
Pleaser, with perfectionistic traits. This means, you learned
how to act and respond perfectly in childhood, to get the kind of
attention you needed, in order to feel okay or good about yourself--and
this became the foundation of your self-worth.
issue is salient in reference to your irresistible draw toward the
Borderline, as he/she represents the disowned personality
facets you had to discard early in life, to gain acceptance or approval.
Carl Jung (noted psychiatrist) referred to these natural and darker
aspects in all humans, as The Shadow Self. These are instinctual/animalistic
traits that are neither good or bad--but get triggered in response
to various stressors.
simply, this Shadow part of us houses our darker facets
and feelings, like envy, rage, hatred, jealousy, depression, etc.,
that we've been unable/unwilling to claim and operate from ourselves,
because we were taught by our parents to judge them as wrong or
bad emotions during childhood.
you've unwittingly selected a perfect counterpart (your
Borderline), to hold and express these feelings for you.
This is mostly why he/she can make you feel more complete or whole.
if you cannot allow yourself any vulnerability, you may be drawn
to a BPD Waif. If
you had to be the "perfect child," you could be attracted
to someone with larcenous traits, like the BPD Witch. If you've
been taught to be humble and self-effacing, the BPD Queen's imperious
nature would fascinate you. Your open, gregarious personality could
be constrained or tempered by the Hermit Borderline. In
short, you're looking for a sense of balance that's been missing
OPPOSITES ATTRACT, CHALLENGES TURN INTO COMPULSIONS.
once had a client who was the epitome of responsibility.
She'd gotten good grades in school, had entered a solid profession,
and always did everything she thought she was 'supposed' to. This
woman consistently chose abusers and losers who were broke,
cheated on her, and left her in serious debt. At the end of every
destructive affair, she swore she'd "never go there again,"
but as soon as she'd begin to recover financially and emotionally,
the next guy chosen was literally a carbon copy
of the one before! Her lovers' traits were the antithesis
of her perfect,
"good girl" image--and she was addicted to pain.
Borderline may act-out in ways we'd never consider behaving
ourselves! He/she might have infidelities, be violent, castrating,
abandoning or actually steal from you, and exhibit the
most vile/repugnant behaviors imaginable--but you'll somehow keep
overlooking and excusing them, hoping they will change. Healthy
people don't do this. The 'good' parts of the Borderline
are the ones you can identify with and relate to--the 'bad'
parts, are the ones you keep trying to abolish from their
personality, as persistently as you have amputated them from your
own. This effort is futile, and you're wasting your energy.
is invigorating, because it feeds your narcissism; you actually
believe that you can fix someone else, like you've
fixed yourself to be accepted or feel a sense of belonging. Your
obsession to repair this lover, is directly associated
with cravings during childhood for affection and positive mirroring
from your parents. The trouble is, you have unwittingly selected
the same type of person who raised you,
to try and meet these needs~ and there's never any cheese at the
end of that tunnel.
you're willing to embrace the darker aspects in another, and love
them in spite of those--why won't you
do the same for yourself? Once you get stronger at this, you'll
have a much healthier relationship with You--and stop needing others
to hold/express the emotions you don't want! You'll
also begin letting go of your passive
RETROSPECTIVE ON TORMENT, AND THE PHENOMENON OF NEEDING A SENSE
you felt like you and your needs didn't matter (past the seduction
phase in this relationship), you were very close to the
truth. In reality, a Borderline is primarily interested in obtaining
narcissistic supply. This means, virtually anybody can
become the next object of interest, to satisfy their ego needs.
They might flirt with others or initiate romantic exchanges over
the Internet, while they're involved with you! If God forbid,
you aren't instantly available when he/she wants you, they
could forage for attention and mirroring elsewhere. In a sense,
their partners are interchangeable--no matter
what you've been told.
ask your Borderline questions to elicit their empathy or
understanding! You're attempting to engage a three year
old, remember? He/she cannot relate to your pain, nor comprehend
the motivation behind your questioning. You must only offer statements
that start out with, "I feel, I want, I need you to..."
etc. A small child has zero capacity for reason. Stop expecting
this developmentally arrested guy/gal to 'get' what you're trying
to say. It ain't gonna happen.
of anyone who says, "I'm never wrong."
Borderline will never take ownership of their flaws
or failings--but they may accuse You of the most heinous
acts or betrayals. Some even file false police reports of violence,
and take out restraining orders against you--but they're simply
own shame onto you. You'll probably struggle with this,
as your natural impulse is to point out these behaviors in them,
in a frantic effort to vindicate yourself. Don't waste your time.
No matter what you say to this individual, their
will not go away--and you'll only be helping them make you crazier,
with each contact!
you outraged that your Borderline could put this stuff on you--when
it's really theirs? Of course you are! But the
only satisfaction/revenge you'll ever get with
a Borderline, is to shut them out/ignore them completely. The very
minute that you re-engage, you're giving them the attention
they're craving, which instantly makes them think they still deserve
your love and care--even when you're desperately trying to recover
from their abuses.
for closure? Don't hold your breath. The Borderline's
defenses will derail any/all friendly, open dialogues that might
afford you some peace of mind--unless you're extremely
fortunate enough to catch him/her in a lucid or sane moment (which
guarantees nothing, by the way). The problem is, even if you catch
him/her in a moment of sanity, it revives your hope
that this individual can behave in a rational, healthy manner~ which
is how you stayed far too long in the first place! The upshot? You're
right back in that painful yearning for the kind of love you
couldn't quite grab onto and hold, while you were still with this
guy or gal. You're playing with fire. Leave it alone.
truth, the only kind of closure you can get on this, involves You
coming to terms with the fact that you've tried to have a functional
relationship with a dysfunctional individual. Learn and
grow from this experience and work hard to get well, so you can
eventually be attracted to someone healthier.
THE FINAL ANALYSIS
have come to think of the Borderline as a person with no epidermis
(skin); metaphorically, they lack a container. Perhaps this is why
they're so raw and hypersensitive to--well, just about
impossible to make a simple comment to someone with BPD, without
them personalizing it. After awhile, this gets pretty tedious,
even in friendships! These folks were raised by toxic, passive-aggressive
parents whose guidance and corrections were never constructive,
but were delivered in a wounding, sideways manner that fully intended
to diminish, harm and undermine a child's self-worth. Borderlines
are always on-guard, to discern indirect slights. They're severely
damaged from childhood, but somehow You are expected to
absorb their ongoing hurt feelings and rage for all those early
is a psychologist. She's brilliant and beautiful--but every
single time we got together, she would apologize for the way she
looked! I'd pointed this out during our lengthy friendship, but
the issue never changed. I finally stopped trying to compliment
or correct her distorted view of herself--I'd just smile, and facetiously
agree; "Yah--I'm utterly shocked
you have the nerve to meet with me tonight!"
Sadly, this woman's mother was an alcoholic BPD Witch, who left
her with horrible wounds that have demolished her interpersonal
relationships. Ironically, she's a self-proclaimed couples therapist!
have accused me of vilifying or hating Borderlines, but this isn't
at all true. A few clients I've been very fond of, had personality
disorders, and a great number of colleagues/friends have had borderline
traits, as well. Do I care for them any less? No, but I've either
had to accept serious limitations in those relationships
and maintain a safer distance, or terminate those associations for
my own sake.
Borderline is much like a tornado that
rips through your world, leaving only destruction and chaos in its
wake. You can easily lose your home and
family, your job or business, your health, your reputation, your
friends, etc. Is he/she really worth it? You be the judge.
you have an iPhone, iPad or iPod this app will let you hear
here, to determine if you're in an abusive relationship!
MY BPD LOVER BE RIGHT ABOUT ME??
THE LESBIAN BORDERLINE
women and men can have BPD. Learn about toxic
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him permission to use or adapt this
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