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 inner 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 more
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 and listen
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, get out!
you've exited this affair, it catalyzes such intense self-doubt
and turmoil, you can barely think about 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, 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 difficulty with their guilt
over leaving, they develop life-threatening diseases that ultimately
force their departure. In truth, now there's something
'outside' their control, that has allowed them to exit
this toxic/tormenting dynamic. Yes, remaining in a relationship
with a borderline disordered individual, can actually 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 person. It's easier to think about running
away from a disease, than an individual who wrestles with one, and
this difficulty is addressed here.
sold rule of thumb for your future is, never get involved with someone
who has more problems than You do.
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. In short, it's 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; 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
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
this long! We're 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. Whenever 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, but you've made the right decision.
WON'T HE/SHE RETURN MY STUFF??
long as the Borderline keeps your belongings, they're retaining
a part of You. Releasing your 'stuff' can mean it's really over,
as those parts of you don't remain with them. In short, it's
closure, and they can't tolerate that!
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 (at least, 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've gotta be willing to kiss it goodbye, or you'll be having
to keep this door open long past wanting to end it.
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!!! As
long as you hit this ball back across the net, and let him/her engage
you (in any way), 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 ameliorate your feelings of unworthiness
to a degree, 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 you.
The Borderline will try every tactic and trick in the book, to get
you to respond--the most painful one being, when they threaten;
"this is the very last time," but then they've phoned
or texted you, eighty-seven more! With 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 (and so is yours); this
can take the form of solicitous contacts, after numerous months
or even years. He/she could be flirtatious
with you--even after you've become involved with another,
which speaks to their lack of boundaries. Disappointment
with their current love, can trigger phone calls or unplanned,
impromptu visits with you! If you've had a bunch of 'hang-ups' on
your answering machine or voicemail, these could be the unrestrained,
juvenile impulses of somebody who's extremely underdeveloped.
At some point, you'll probably have to set firm parameters and limits
for the Borderline concerning acceptable behaviors (as you would
with a child), as this person is incapable of discerning/setting
them for him or herself. This is hard--but you'll pay a much
higher price, if you don't.
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 frequently
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 this disorder.
SMART. DISCOVER THE ISSUES THAT KEEP YOU TRAPPED!
are extremely tormenting and confusing, due to their paradoxical
natures. You may have felt totally perplexed by their unpredictable,
contrary responses to your gestures of affection and care. Indeed,
this is actually the most confounding problem one faces,
with a borderline disordered individual; as you love them more,
they love you less.
confusion compels you to remain, because your rational
mind wants to make sense of these experiences, and this response
is natural. The problem is, it leads to obsession.
is crystalized, when you begin to accept that harmony and peace
can mean death to a Borderline. They've grown up with
such strife and chaos, it takes tremendous stimuli (acute psychic
or physical pain) to break through to their feelings, and produce
sensations of aliveness. They often feel empty and invisible during
the serene times, while you may relishing
a brief vacation from all that drama and struggle! This peculiarity
is central to why they pick fights--it helps them feel
something, other than nothingness. It's also why they're frequently
drawn to abusers (which could 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! There is such an intense need
to have your affection returned, you could be "dying
to love her," but this actually 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 gives us a
spectacular portrayal of a high-functioning, emotionally
vapid female with BPD.
are bullies. Reasoning with them is an
utterly useless exercise that digs you deeper into chaos and drama.
It 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 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 this call immediately.
You are conditioning the Borderline to start learning which
behaviors are acceptable/appropriate, and which are not. Very 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 toxic
BEHIND THE CURTAIN OF THIS PLAY.
Borderline is an emotional vampire. He/she has
steadily worn you down with constant brainwashing, and drained your
vitality. 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 bent 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 and glaucoma are just a few of the souvenirs
guys have retained from these relationships, 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 neurological Parkinson's-type disease. They're divorced now,
but it's too little, too late. The damage to him is irreversible.
this relationship--no matter how empty, adrift or tortured
you feel when she's gone, could literally 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. To 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 stuff, 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 surpasses 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.
fact that you're struggling with this decision, 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 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. If you have frequently exclaimed
"whatever" during your lifetime
when frustration or disappointment overtook you, you're probably
an adult child, who's stored this pain deep inside.
hard to comprehend why we've decided to love a broken, dysfunctional
person. We want to resist believing that something's wrong with
him/her, as it brings up questions about ourself. We can't imagine
that there are deficits and wounds in us, which attract us to this
individual and keep us ensnared. We shudder to think that we could
be damaged too, and 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 all the chaos, pain and struggle because
likely that you've become a People
Pleaser, with perfectionistic traits. This means, you learned
how to behave and respond in childhood, to get the kind of attention
you needed, to feel okay or good about yourself--and this became
the foundation of your self-worth. This is salient in reference
to your 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
aspects in all humans, as The Shadow. These are instinctual/animalistic
traits that are neither good or bad--but get triggered in response
to various stressors.
simply, this Shadow houses your darker facets and feelings,
like envy, rage, jealousy, depression, etc., that you've been unable/unwilling
to claim and operate from yourself, because you judge them as wrong
or bad emotions. The problem is, you've unwittingly selected the
perfect counterpart (in your Borderline), to hold/express
these feelings for you. This could be why he/she makes you feel
more complete or whole.
if you cannot allow yourself any vulnerability, you may be drawn
to a Waif. If you
had to be the "perfect child," you could be attracted
to someone with larcenous traits, like the Witch. If you've been
taught to be humble and self-effacing, the Queen's imperious nature
would fascinate you. Your open, gregarious personality could be
tempered by the Hermit Borderline.
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 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/excusing them, hoping they'll 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 character, as
persistently as you have amputated them from your own. This
is futile, and you're wasting your energy.
challenge 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 meet these needs--and there's never any cheese at the end of
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 WANTING CLOSURE
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/mirroring elsewhere. In a sense, partners
are interchangeable--no matter what you've
ask your Borderline questions to elicit their empathy or
understanding! You're attempting to engage a 3 year old,
remember? He/she won't relate to your pain, or 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 an effort to vindicate yourself. Don't waste your time. No matter
what you say to this individual, their cognitive
distortions 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 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
everything. It's impossible to make a 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 absorb the blame for all those early deficits.
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 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 a BPD Witch, and it's left horrible
wounds that have destroyed her interpersonal relationships. Ironically,
she's a couples therapist.
have accused me of vilifying or hating Borderlines, but this just
isn't true. A few clients I've been very fond of, had personality
disorder features, and a great number of colleagues/friends have
had borderline traits, as well. Do I care for them any less? No--but
I've come to accept some serious limitations in those relationships,
and I maintain a safe distance, or I've completely ended these 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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I've asked the owner, "Skippy" of www.BPDFamily.org/.com
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for self-serving purposes after I refused
him permission to use or adapt this
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and am hoping that you (my readers) will not be harmed by it. Those
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