Today we will look at the experience of dating someone with borderline personality disorder and the signs that you are dating someone with BPD.
Firstly, people with borderline personality disorder are not “bad” people.
They are people with a severe mental health condition that show up in very toxic and dysfunctional attachment strategies and relationship dynamics.
Let’s look at the experience of dating someone with borderline personality disorder.
I will share my own story to illustrate the common experience of someone dating someone with BPD.
While people with borderline personality disorder most often don’t want to hurt or harm their partners, unlike narcissists and socio/psychopaths, their dysfunctional attachment behavior and lack of emotional regulation still cause devastation and trauma to people that date them.
If you have BPD, then this article/video is not for you.
This is for partners that are or have dated someone with BPD.
While most videos and articles list the nine traits of BPD, I will focus on how those traits look like in a relationship dynamic as it’s more practical and useful for you.
Many of these nine traits do not explain what your experience might have been like or look like if in a relationship with someone with BPD.
I often get asked how people can miss these warning signs, and I will cover that in another video.
The warning signs are always there, but because of our needs to feel wanted, our fear of being alone, and our bias, we ignore the red flags and walk into a trap that can spiral us into despair.
The only way to describe it is to imagine how it feels being sucked into a black hole and unable to get out.
You met, and this person showed so much interest in you.
They asked questions about what you liked and seemed to like the same things as you.
It felt like a spotlight being shown on you, and the attention and interest in your life felt great.
They seemed like the perfect match as your interests and goals aligned, or so it appeared…(it’s called mirroring)
The compliments, attention, and adoration were unlike anything you have ever experienced before. (It’s called love-bombing and idolization)
It felt like someone finally could see and appreciate you fully.
The speed and intensity were also unlike anything you had experienced before.
The love messages, the discussions of a future together after only dating a short while. (It’s called future packing)
There might have been many victim stories of how horrible people have been to them, and in all these stories, they were the victim.
You felt empathetic and wanted to help them because you are a “good” person, right.
Or, as we will talk about in another video, you are highly empathetic with a lack of healthy and clear boundaries…
It felt like you found your soulmate even if you never believed in a soulmate before.
The sex often happens fast and was intense and focused on your needs.
It was like you were on a pedestal being adored.
You might have noticed them talking about many short relationships and jumping from one to the next relationship, but you ignore that because it felt so good.
Suddenly something changes dramatically.
They might go into a rage or go cold and give you the silent treatment. Affection is withdrawn.
They have split on you. Their emotional extreme has made them go from adoring, glorifying, and idolizing you to the opposite, seeing you as a villain or simply becoming emotionally numb towards you.
You might get discarded and blocked, and a new partner is lined up before you are sent out the door.
Just last week, you were the love of their life.
You can’t comprehend what happened. Your mind will not accept what is happening. You go into denial.
You will be in a state of shock, anxiety, and despair, and it’s the first stage of grief called denial.
It makes you hope that they will return to the wonderful person you fell in love with.
But that person never existed, and so your path to healing and recovery starts.
Suddenly you feel more anxious.
You feel worse about yourself and must prove yourself to the BPD to get some of that affection back.
This is the addiction of the trauma bond that intermittent reinforcement creates through the dynamic of inconsistent rewards and punishment.
While people with BPD claim to have too much empathy, the opposite is true.
More on that later.
They lack compassionate empathy, meaning acting with empathy and kindness towards their romantic partner and often others close to them.
Here are just a few examples of the lack of empathy shown by my borderline ex.
1. She laughed at her as she told me she left him because he got cancer.
2. She left her friend waiting 3 hours in the cold because she wanted sex with me, and she laughed and said, “she will be fine,” when I showed concern for her friend.
3. She told me she did not care about her ex-fiancée and just recently unblocked him as he was useful for childcare.
These are just a few examples, but if you are dating someone with BPD, you will likely see a lack of empathy as their unstable emotional world and self-blame make it impossible for them to stay balanced enough to act with empathy.
Did your partner have a history of many short relationships and jumping from one to the next relationship without a break?
That’s typical for most people with BPD because they are unstable and can’t keep relationships for long, and they split on their partner’s and either push their partner away or run away out of fear of being left.
They also often jump straight to the next partner because their lack of identity and emotional regulation makes it too painful to be on their own.
They need someone to give them a sense of identity and help soothe their emotions.
Love bombing, idolization, and future projections.
They will shower you with affection so fast and intensely.
They will appreciate everything about you and compliment you frequently.
They will talk about the future a lot and very soon.
Here is a text I received from my ex with BPD after dating a short while.
Look at the extreme and intensity of this message for someone that has known me for a few months.
The use of “I have never” and “Every cell in me open to you.” Can you see the extreme language and intensity for someone that hardly knows me?
Calling me her husband after a few months? A bit intense? Typical behavior for a stable person? I don’t think so.
They seem like too good a fit.
They like the same things as you.
They have the same goals.
It all aligns, and for the first time, you might believe there is such a thing as a perfect fit.
They mold their identity to fit you like a nice warm glove.
It’s so warm and cozy until the illusion breaks, and they split and no longer will play that game to hook you in.
They move on while you are left in confusion and devastated.
They often change what they want in life, their goals, job.
It’s changing often and rapidly and lacks stability and a consistent sense of identity.
If your partner changes their goals and mind about job, friends, values frequently, then it’s a big warning sign.
Their primary target is highly empathetic people with weak boundaries because they tend to care-take, are less likely to leave, and are easy to emotionally hook in with victim stories.
It’s an unconscious process for most people with borderline personality disorder.
If we had healthy boundaries, you would have said, “That’s too much and too early to share so much trauma; I think you need a therapist as that is not for me to hold.”
But because slightly anxious, empathetic people like to feel wanted and needed; we buy into this so easily.
People with borderline are at the extreme end of anxious attachment, and so to feel secure, they create jealousy.
This is often in the form of letting you see them flirt with others or by talking about people and ex-partners interested in them.
They might randomly find a phone number in their pocket and say “ops.”
The more insecure you feel, the more control they have and, therefore, the safer they feel.
That is the pattern of toxic and dysfunctional attachment strategies.
Listen when they talk about their ex-partners; they tend to target insecure and anxious partners as they are easier to suck in and keep.
Someone with healthy boundaries would not tolerate the borderline’s behavior, and so the borderline avoid those.
Ask yourself why someone would date so many insecure ex-partners unless they feel very insecure?
Instability and lack of emotional regulation are at the core of borderline personality disorder.
If you are dating someone with BPD, you will experience extreme mood swings from adoration to silent treatment or rage.
From loving you more than anyone ever to dumping you in the most cruel and cynical way, you can imagine.
The core of a healthy relationship is emotional stability and regulation, which is why you can’t have a healthy romantic relationship with an untreated person with BPD.
Toxic relationships are defined by a lack of mutual respect and support towards each partner’s needs and boundaries.
They don’t respect your boundaries and will violate them or make you feel wrong about your boundaries.
This is a huge red flag.
A healthy partner will support your boundaries.
Because they are so anxious about being left, their strategy is to suck you in with emotional intensity, a sense of compatibility, and using victim stories and future projection to get you emotionally invested.
But it’s an artificial construct of attachment that can’t last.
It’s like a sugar house.
It will fall at some point.
They lack identity so take on your identity, making them appear as your perfect match, and after a breakup, you are in denial and hold on to the idea that you lost your ideal match.
That person never existed.
We all want to feel safe. It’s our most core need.
They just have dysfunctional strategies to feel safe and create the opposite: instability and lack of safety for everyone involved.
They are replaying a horror film repeatedly, and you are just a new actor in the same movie they have on repeat.
They know no other way.
Without extensive therapy, there is little to no chance of significant improvements in these toxic behaviors and defense strategies they have developed.
And even then, the fundamental part of a healthy and nurturing relationship is not possible with someone emotionally unstable and lacks object constancy.
Stability, safety, and mutuality are the core of a healthy relationship, and they simply can’t provide that.
It’s not their fault, but if you play with a tiger, you will get bitten at some point and perhaps even killed no matter how beautiful and fascinating you find the tiger, and it’s not the tiger’s fault.
You should not play with a tiger.
Off-course you did not know it was a tiger which is why these experiences are so traumatizing.
They do not even know they are a tiger. They don’t want to hurt you. They are just a tiger.
No, is the short answer.
They project their ideal onto you and only see you positively as part of the idolization stage.
Once that fantasy is broken, they see you are an actual human who can’t take away their pain and have excellent parts and faults, so they devalue you.
The fantasy is over, and while they might short-term idolize you for a short while and suck you back in, it’s the same unstable cycle with the same predictable result.
The more you go back to the drug, the more addicted you become.
Addiction and trauma bond makes you hold on to the image you have of them because you are in a state of denial.
They have emotional empathy when not highly triggered and dysregulated, meaning they can feel how other’s might feel.
Still, they lack cognitive empathy meaning they can’t understand the other’s perspective and therefore can’t act compassionate on their empathy.
They also lack object constancy meaning out of sight, out of mind, and splitting, meaning they can go from extreme emotional affection to coldness in a moment.
Their emotions dictate their reality, which is why empathy is not possible.
Empathy requires stable emotions and balanced integration between logic and emotions and object constancy which they don’t have.
Therefore, when they split or at the end of the relationship, you will be treated more coldly and harshly than you have ever experienced before, leaving you in shock and a state of denial and trauma.
It had nothing to do with love.
Love is slow, stable, consistent, and based on safety, trust, and mutuality, all elements that can’t be in a relationship with someone with BPD.
Idolization and projecting a fantasy onto someone else have nothing to do with love.
Intense emotions and ups and downs are not love.
And while it feels good to be high, it is just that “a high,” and the pain of coming down is just that of drug addiction.
And you want to go back even when you know it’s bad for you because you are addicted, but you think it’s love.
I wrote a book about love, and it a short summary its safety, vulnerability, and responsiveness. But, unfortunately, two of the three elements were never there and never will be.
It’s not love.
It’s an addiction which is why you need to treat your recovery as an addiction if you struggle to break free and let the borderline go and keep no contact.
That’s enough for today.
If you are in the middle of this confusing and painful place, check out the comprehensive course I did on how to heal and flourish after dating a borderline, narcissist, or socio/psychopath.
Never forget. You are worthy of love, safety, kindness & mutuality.