What Relationships Look Like With Untreated BPD
I am currently being treated for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).
Thankfully the treatment is working; my general functionality, mood, and relationships are all improving. I have now learnt how to manage, maintain and grow positive relationships, as well as how to appropriately handle the symptoms of BPD when they arise.
This certainly wasn’t always the case.
A look back over my past relationships reveals the common trend. They would all start with a slight interest that would quickly grow to an obsession.
I would find something about the person and fixate on it. I would then convince myself that she were special because of this trait. It made them particularly unique, different from the crowd, dangerous, rebellious, and intriguing.
Quickly I would find myself wanting to spend as much time with them as possible. At this stage, they would either embrace it or completely reciprocate the attention, or else they would become overwhelmed by it and distance themselves.
Those I most often formed relationships with likely had untreated Borderline Personality Disorder themselves. I think that, more than any other single factor, drew us together; even though we didn’t know it at the time.
We would become inseparable.
With both of us avoiding others unless in the presence of each other. We couldn’t stand to have competition for time or attention. We became completely enmeshed in the drama of our now combined lives.
We couldn’t keep our hands off each other. Taking every opportunity to become passionate — so much so that we would regularly risk being caught just to get some more passion.
Don’t get me wrong, the sex was fun, but it never really evolved into ‘love making’. We were both too afraid to surrender to one another, to let go and truly become vulnerable. To actually connect.
This surface level passion approach permeated our entire relationship. We would do stuff with one another, but never really together.
There was an intimacy gap that we were both too afraid to cross.
Eventually we would begin to grate on each other’s nerves. Finding flaws in everything from clothing choices, to turns of phrase, to basic mannerisms. What was once something sweet and endearing, quickly became something quite infuriating. Small misunderstandings became massive arguments.
Eventually we would break apart, with both of us feeling like the victim. Both feeling like we were the ones hard done by and thus justified in our subsequent treatment of the other.
I have said and done terribly mean things in this state, and have had similarly terrible things said and done to me.
I regret all of this.
Following the break up, even one that I initiated myself, I would go through a brief but very intense period of mourning.
Realising the relationship was dead, I would struggle to come to terms with my new reality. Typically I didn’t handle this well. Soon though, I would find something negative about that person to dwell on (often the very thing that attracted me to her the first place) and convince myself that they were never good for me.
Then I would move on, and the cycle would repeat again.
My relationships now no longer follow that same pattern. They are increasingly deep, intimate and long lasting.
I attribute this to three main factors.
The first was enlisting the support of a trained and competent therapist. She is taking me though Dialectal Behaviour Therapy.
And other related treatments that are designed to best treat BPD. Trusting her and her treatment system was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
The second was establishing a culture of open and honest communication in all of my relationships. I make a pledge to not play games and to speak my mind freely. I expect the same back. This way I don’t have to guess at any hidden motives of the other person, nor wonder what they are thinking; I just ask and listen.
The third was assigning the blame for arguments onto myself. Realistically I know that it takes two to tango, but I also know that by default (BPD) I will blame the other person, and play the victim. Knowing that I have this tendency, I now make sure to ask myself honestly ‘how am I at fault?’ — I then take corrective actions to address it.
This is of course balanced with a realistic look at the other persons actions so that I don’t become a doormat!
~ Zachary Phillips
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