BREAKING UP WITH A BORDERLINE:
There must be 50 Ways to leave your Lover.

By Shari Schreiber, M.A.
www.GettinBetter.com

 

When 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.

Virtually 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 trauma.

You 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 chemistry.

If 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!

There 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 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).

GIVING YOURSELF PERMISSION TO BREAK IT OFF

Allowing 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 a leftover from your childhood, which is discussed further down in this piece.

It 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 could be your safest option. If you're frowning more than you're smiling, get out!

If 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.

Some 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 you!

LEARNING THE LANGUAGE OF LEAVING - BE KIND, BE SWIFT, BE GONE

Try 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.

The best method is to keep it short and sweet. You may 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 the subsection; CAN'T WE STILL BE FRIENDS?? Friendship involves mutual trust 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!

Anticipate 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.

WHY WON'T HE/SHE RETURN MY STUFF??

As long as the Borderline keeps your belongings, they're retaining a part of You. Releasing your 'stuff' means 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!

If 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.

It 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.

IF A BORDERLINE FALLS IN THE FOREST, AND NOBODY'S AROUND TO HEAR IT--DOES SHE/HE STILL MAKE A SOUND?

If 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 actually bandage/soothe your feelings of unworthiness, and leave it at that!

The 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 craving 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.

The Borderline's self-worth is generally tied to remaining connected; 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 very 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.

Boundary 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 very likely hearing about the repercussions of someone living with this disorder.

GET SMART. DISCOVER THE ISSUES THAT KEEP YOU TRAPPED!

Borderlines 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.

Your confusion compels you to remain, because your rational mind wants to make sense of these experiences, and this response is pretty natural.

Clarity 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're 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.

Some men have reported a willingness to die for their Borderline--and a truly 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.

Borderlines 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 grasp.

BACKSTAGE, BEHIND THE CURTAIN OF THIS PLAY.

The 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 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.

The 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 a few of the souvenirs guys have retained from these relationships--regardless of how physically powerful they were, before they met their tormentor. One of my ex's married a Borderline--and twelve years later, he's been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. They're divorced now, but it's too little, too late.

Resuming 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.

Again, 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.

Interestingly 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 very primitive place inside, and makes this union seem magical--despite her deficits and disturbances.

The 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 leftovers from childhood that are making it horribly difficult to exercise sound, self-preserving choices, and extricate yourself from this mess.

WE LEARN HOW TO LOVE, AND WHO TO LOVE FROM OUR PARENTS.

The Borderline reawakens 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.

It's 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).

You 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 this chaos, pain and struggle because of those.

*It's 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.

Quite simply, this Shadow houses your darker facets and feelings, like envy, rage, jealousy, sadness, 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.

Hence, 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.

WHEN OPPOSITES ATTRACT, CHALLENGES TURN INTO COMPULSIONS.

I 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.

The 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 a futile exercise.

This challenge is invigorating, because it feeds your narcissism; you actually believe that you can fix someone else, like you've fixed yourself--in order to be accepted or feel a sense of belonging. Your obsession to repair this lover, is directly associated with cravings 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 no cheese at the end of that tunnel.

Consider this; if 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 aggression.

A RETROSPECTIVE ON TORMENT, AND WANTING CLOSURE

If 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 been told.

Never ask your Borderline questions to elicit their empathy or understanding! You're trying 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 make 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.

The 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 projecting their 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 energy. 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!

Are 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.

Looking 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. The problem is, even if you do--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 are right back in that painful yearning for the kind of love you couldn't quite grab onto, while you were together. You're playing with fire. Leave it alone.

In 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 move on to someone healthier.

IN THE FINAL ANALYSIS

I have come to think of the Borderline as a person with no epidermis or skin; in a metaphorical sense, 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--and criticisms were never constructive; they were delivered in a wounding, sideways manner, that fully intended to diminish, harm and undermine their self-worth. As adults, they're always on-guard, to discern indirect slights. They're severely damaged from childhood, but somehow You're to blame for their parental deficits.

A former gal-pal 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 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 deep wounds that have destroyed her interpersonal relationships. Ironically, she's a couples therapist.

People 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 number of colleagues/friends have 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 completely end that association.

The 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.

 

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Click here, to determine if you're in an abusive relationship!

COULD MY BPD LOVER BE RIGHT ABOUT ME??

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THE LESBIAN BORDERLINE

Both women and men can have BPD. Learn about toxic borderline males.

Literally hundreds of hours per month are given to writing and editing these articles. All of the words and phrases in these pieces are original--meaning, not borrowed from any forums, books, or other materials on the Internet. I have intended this site as a free wellness resource to help you to learn, heal and grow. You may link to my articles and share them with friends or family, but reproducing, amending or adapting these works or any portion thereof, constitutes copyright infringement and/or plagiarism, which is punishable in Federal Court. I've asked the owner, "Skippy" of www.BPDFamily.org/.com to respect this, in reference to material he's stolen from my pages for self-serving purposes after I refused him permission to use or adapt this article in Sept., 2008. This is a blatant disregard for another's intellectual property, which is a serious offense that feels akin to someone kidnapping your child. I'm pursuing this infraction, and am hoping that you (my readers) will not be harmed by it. Those who emulate you, either admire or envy you. Those who admire give you credit. Those who envy, steal what's yours and call it theirs.

Read my BPD Forum and other original works on this website, for more info on this topic. You 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 fourteen days.

 

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