Who's helping You, when his Ex is a Borderline?
By Shari Schreiber,
it's your husband or lover who has gotten involved with a borderline
disordered female, you're in for some harrowing times. This issue
becomes a monumentally stressful exercise for both of you--but sadly,
you'll generally end up feeling the brunt of it, not him.
Why is this, you ask? Females roll up their sleeves and do whatever
it takes to foster and maintain harmony in their relationships,
because it's elemental. It's in our DNA. We can't help
you're a male who's reading this piece, you must be willing
to look at your own psychopathology which has drawn you to this
type of female, and keeps you addicted
to the drama and chaos that's inherent in these relationships, or
you'll screw it up with any reasonably healthy gal who tries to
are so many layers to this emotional lasagne, it's hard for me to
know just where to begin--but I've heard from so many of you gals,
it's apparently a concern that can no longer be ignored.
madly in love with this man--but unfortunately, his baggage won't
fit in the overhead compartment, and you've begun sensing that this
struggle with his ex won't resolve itself anytime
soon. This has you concerned, but you believe that if you keep shoring
him up, you'll get to the other side of this turmoil, and (finally)
get the goodies you know you deserve. I hate to rain on your parade
dear--but by the time all this is said and done, you could be carrying
around tons of resentment you've stuffed
along the way, so as not to appear anything like his crazy
ex! (And God knows, you've been warned about that, in both subtle
and direct ways.)
this is a fairly new romance or marriage for you, your Honeymoon
period can easily become non-existent--a flimsy fantasy of what
you'd anticipated it being, if it weren't for all this struggle
that came with your commitment. But you're The Good Wife,
remember? You've come to understand how toxic and tormenting his
last relationship was. You've listened to him go on about it for
hours at a time--and tried to be a patient, nurturing bastion of
support in his upside-down world. Who else could he lean
on for all that?
a no-nonsense kinda dame hon, so I'm gonna give it to you straight:
No relationship is designed to withstand this kind of stress.
The bottom line here is, he can't be emotionally available to You,
until he's resolved his struggle with the ex girlfriend or wife.
I 'get' that you might have ventured into this deal eyes wide open--but
that still doesn't mean you have to fight his battles for
him. In truth, if your man didn't have avoidant and passive aspects
to his personality, it's unlikely he'd have gotten involved with
this female, and remained as long as he did.
emotionally sound/healthy male does not
become involved with a personality disordered partner. Any male
who's grown up in an environment that was chaotic, painful or crazy-making
has built a high threshold for that kind of relationship experience,
and has come to regard it as 'normal.' He's also come to depend
on drama/chaos to access feelings of aliveness. In truth,
it becomes his addiction.
bad news for You, is that he may find the calm and peace in your
relationship less exciting or stimulating (and boring), which leaves
you wide open to being the 'transitional' relationship that helps
him lick his wounds and rebalance, until he's craving that intense/familiar
excitement again with another Borderline, or the one he's left
behind. Yes, plenty of (untreated) men return to those insane
fixer/rescuer type--you may now be with a male who's giving
you plenty of opportunities to bail him out of a sticky wicket.
My best advice to you, is don't. You could end
up with all kinds of physical ailments from this stress, and no
relationship in the world is worth that. You may also lose
respect for him, for while you're doing double-duty by keeping his
kids okay in the middle of this battle--as well as countless hours
of Internet research so you can buoy him up and keep it together,
he's fairly content to let you! (Just who's wearing the testicles
in this relationship, anyway?)
this stuff's gonna get sorted out eventually (even though it seems
like it'll never end) but this is his mess--and
you're not the one who's supposed to be doing most of the clean-up!
Take a deep breath, set firm boundaries and get him to a solid therapist--that's
the job you're to resign from, now.
his brush with the Borderline, your man's trauma is substantial.
If they were married, he's not anxious to replicate that experience
anytime soon--and you may have a really long wait, before
he's even ready to live with you. This means, you're going to have
to be patient. He's shell-shocked,
and this sort of injury doesn't mend quickly. That doesn't mean
you must coddle him, and neglect your own needs--but which
of you requires the more immediate, critical care in this triage
unit is up for grabs. At times, that'll be you. Accept it, respect
it, and make sure you talk about it and get the support you need.
TIES THAT BIND
are a lucky lady, if they share no children together--but if they
do, these problems are compounded. Those poor kids are caught in
the crossfire, and there's little you can do about it, besides help
them make some distinctions between the truth, and their mother's
lies about their father and you. Even when they share custody, this
Borderline will stop at nothing to undermine her child's perceptions
of his/her dad. This is Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), and
I write more about it, in
feel it's crucial to note here, that these children will be torn
between their allegiance to their mother, who's brainwashing them
and making it seem like she's a martyr/victim of their father's
"cruel and unusual punishment" versus who they observe
their dad to be. The Borderline will always feel victimized by her
relationships and life circumstances, especially when there are
Waif features present--but
this emotional fallout is deeply troubling to the kids. Since they
have to deal with Mom's lying, enmeshment, craziness, volatility
and confusing/mixed messages at home, they're needing a stable container,
within which to de-program a bit. I'm sure your man remembers what
it was like for him, living with this female--and he
had the benefit of some adult reasoning!
you're a healthy/sound woman, you will do whatever you can to foster
a safe, nurturing environment for the kids. Thinking of yourself
as their dad's new partner will be much more effective,
than trying to be their Stepmother. You want them to come to trust
you, and think of you as a friendly presence in their father's life.
Someone who knows how to love him--and them. This helps
you keep the "responsibility" factor in proportion--and
lets you off the hook for needing to do it all right.
Remember, you didn't sign-on for children, or you would have had
some of your own. His came as a package deal.
you keep yourself as distant as possible from the crazy ex-wife
or girlfriend. This means, do not engage! Don't give her your email
or your cell phone number, and screen the calls that come to your
house. Most of her crises will blow over in a few hours or by the
next day--so if your husband feels compelled to return
her calls, have him wait until he's feeling centered and calm, and
it's most convenient for him.
one of the most important elements to integrate here, is that your
partner must be willing to set healthy, firm limits and boundaries
with his child/children, in terms of what's acceptable behavior,
and what's not. He's gotten a strong sense of how lax, crazy and
abusive his ex is, and may want to compensate for that
by being a friend or 'buddy' to his child--but this is an ineffectual
and dangerous way to intervene with a minor, and here's why:
kid hasn't formed his/her own container yet--this means,
(just like the Borderline) they need parameters set for them, in
order to feel cared about, and safe. Until they reach adult development
and learn to respect guidelines for themselves, the parent functions
as the child's protective shield. If your husband/lover is unwilling
to accept this role, he may be feeling guilty about having 'abandoned'
his child. He's also likely to have unresolved issues from his own
childhood, and still be recovering from his torment with the ex-wife.
This must be addressed. The outcome of not attending
to this issue, leaves this child without a stable/whole parent who
will intervene on his/her behalf, and help them grow to be a sound/healthy
adult. This job should not fall to you!
If your hubby leaves the disciplining of his child to you,
he's shirking his parenting role, and making you
the 'bad cop,' which is completely unfair. Maybe you should force-feed
him this article, because he's put you in a no-win situation with
his children, and they'll resent both of you for it.
he cheated on you with his ex, or a different woman? Does he still
feel he has to take the Borderline's calls, regardless of what time
of day or night it is? This is totally unacceptable, and we need
to help you set limits and boundaries around that behavior.
not a moralist--nor have I ever been. I've helped lots of men who've
had extramarital affairs with Borderlines, and their pain is palpable.
I don't judge them--I only do my best to help. I haven't been a
'good girl' my entire life, and don't intend to start now--but if
lightning hasn't struck for being true to myself, maybe you
should give it a try. You can be a loving, supportive wife, without
it keeping you up at night! Let's help you reconnect to your Self,
and start getting your needs met before it's too late.
we've got to respect/address the awful insecurities you've had to
cope with, if he's strayed from home. You may never have felt busty
enough, tall enough, pretty enough, etc., but you've come to terms
with these concerns over the years--and have trusted that your husband
loves you just the way you are. Why else, would he have married
you?? Suddenly though, this all comes into question.
tears the scabs off your man's self-worth wounds from boyhood, and
she does precisely the same to you. You could have been
feeling fairly safe and secure in this committed relationship--but
suddenly, the rug's been pulled out from under you (poor baby!).
All this sends you into a whirlwind of pain, as you imagine that
this Borderline, is everything you're not. Now, not only
is your foundation cracking, it's crumbling around you--and there
seems no end in sight, given his residual infatuation and/or anguish.
can feel like the bottom's dropped out of your life, and you're
sailing off the edge of the world you've built together. All the
trust you've felt toward this man has evaporated in a millisecond,
and you can't even figure out how to hold this relationship in your
mind (or heart) at this point.
may still be struggling to get over that Vamp--but you're struggling
with a lot more. You'll put on a brave face, try to pretend everything's
normal and keep your cool around the children. You can stand by
your man, but that's a tall order--especially when you're so angry,
you wanna stab him in his sleep!
relationship rupture like this, is nearly impossible to recover
from. It's bad enough that he's had the affair--but how
can you possibly compete with this femme fatale
who has gotten him under her spell, and won't let go? Even if he's
come to his senses, ended all contact with her, and re-devoted himself
to you, you're left with this dreadful, sinking sensation every
time his phone rings, or he gets a text message. Is it her
this time?? Will the harassments, vandalism, stalking, etc., ever
stop? Does he actually want them to--or does this attention
from her, help soothe his fractured ego?
could be the perfect lover/wife, and he may
still cheat, or 'work' far too many hours. This BPD affair isn't
about you. It's about his lifelong struggle with
closeness, abandonment and engulfment. Your man's attraction to
the Borderline taps into deep, archaic issues he's carried around
for decades. He may have done a great job of surmounting boyhood
setbacks he experienced at the hands of his parents--but they're
still alive in him. She's just brought them to the surface.
of my BPD articles speak to your man's underlying self-esteem issues
from childhood. That's what sets him up for this attraction to the
Borderline, and her constant push-pull emotional gymnastics. There's
always a template for these infatuations, and a solid therapist
will stay intensely curious about uncovering the boyhood roots that
have kept him captivated by this female. In truth, the Borderline
could be cut from the same cloth as his mom--or she may be a lot
like Dad. With patient, skilled help, he can start untangling the
hold this Siren, Witch or Waif has on him--and grow to be a
better man. You may decide to stick around at this juncture,
if you think this relationship is worth salvaging, and I wish you
the best of all possible outcomes.
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??
WITH A BORDERLINE
may phone for assistance, but I
do not offer online/written therapy. Only emails under
150 words are read, due to time constraints. Please
be clear/concise, and expect a straight answer within four to six