The following is a reader letter that I received recently. I have decided to use this letter as a post because it is a well-written example of how a relationship with a Borderline can transpire. Your inputs and insights are certainly appreciated, please post them in the comments section at the end of this post. I plan to follow-up on this letter in the coming days.
On to the letter…
Thanks for your interest and insights. Very briefly, here’s my story. I met my ex-girlfriend in April 2008 and the whirlwind began. Both recently divorced, we were two needy souls with unhappy recent pasts. The sense of connection was instant and we bonded quickly and unbelievably well. Here was a beautiful woman who understood me, related to me, adored me. I’d never known anything like it. And I adored her. She was intelligent, energetic, funny, loving, understanding and fun to be with.
It was extremely intense. If we weren’t seeing each other we were sending long romantic emails, texts by the dozen and having lengthy phonecalls every night. This continued throughout the 18-month relationship.
After two months she introduced me to her children, aged 9 and 11. This was rather quick I thought. But she flattered me that I’d be a positive influence on them as I was totally unlike her ex-husband, whom she routinely referred to as “the idiot” or “the nutter” and with whom she had a volatile relationship.
Fairly soon she began talking of moving in together and wanting to meet my children, and for them to meet hers. Tragically, my ex-wife had become ill with breast cancer and I resisted integration because I felt my kids had enough on their plate. I said I didn’t want to burden them with a new family constellation and she interpreted this to mean that I saw her children as a burden, which I didn’t, and has consistently used it against me – despite my assurances that I really liked her kids (which I did) and would have liked to spend more time with them were it not for my ex-wife’s illness.
My girlfriend felt she wasn’t gaining full access to my life and broke up with me for the first time. She wanted to plan a future living together – something I felt I couldn’t deliver at that point given the impact of my ex-wife’s illness on my teenage children. We quickly reunited, the months passed. Every now and then she’d react to “my situation” by leaving me and then quickly returned. It was always me winning her back.
A successful career woman, she hastily quit the job where she’d been for a year after being passed over for promotion. Three months later she walked out of her new job because she felt undervalued. A period of angst and a slow slide towards depression began. She finally met my kids in February 2010. A few months later my ex-wife’s condition suddenly worsened and she died in June.
Within days of the funeral my girlfriend demanded I commit to living together within 12 months or else she would leave me. She objected to me taking a few days off with my kids and going to see friends, complaining of exclusion – a now regular gripe. She told friends that I was only interested in my own life when in fact I prioritized her as much as I could.
There were numerous red flags and I sailed past them all. Black and white thinking. Her low self-esteem, which I was supposed to “fix”. Accusations that I “wanted to please all of the people all of the time”. Her anguish at any contacts I had with people from my past life with my ex-wife. Impulsive and poor judgement. Overreaction to minor misunderstandings. Constant criticism that I was failing to meet her needs.
The core relationships in her life were all dysfunctional. She resented her mother and was in permanent conflict with her ex-husband.
Our relationship remained rocky but after all the grief and heartache of my ex-wife’s illness I assumed the stresses and strains would ease and we could settle down to plan a future together. We holidayed together and had a fantastic time. Then came the straw that broke the camel’s back. I’d promised my children a foreign holiday at Xmas – the first without their mother. My girlfriend wanted to come with her boys and I suggested we spend a week together and a week separately, so I got time alone with my two. She then decided she couldn’t afford it and declined my offer of financial assistance, saying she’d be happy to celebrate Xmas with her mother and encouraging us to travel alone. I was disappointed we couldn’t agree a joint trip but booked for me and my kids.
Before we traveled she told me she loved me and didn’t want to lose me. We agreed joint activities for 2011. But once the trip began she became upset and withdrew. The texts and phone calls ruined the holiday. She said she was suicidal. Never once did she say she missed me; just that I wasn’t there. The day we returned she had visited my apartment, tidied up, filled up the fridge, left fruit and chocolate out and a birthday present for my son.
But when I phoned her to say thanks she ended the relationship, insisting I had left her and she could never trust me again. She claimed the impact of my ex-wife’s illness and death drained her of energy (though in reality it was her own problems and conflict with her ex-husband that did most of the damage) and all she wanted to do was “survive”.
I’d said things in the past that she’d never be able to get over and she was furious I hadn’t promised to move in with her when she “needed to hear it” a few months earlier. In fact, I initiated the idea myself but she avoided it and brushed it off.
By this time, of course, my children knew her well, liked her and had bonded with her and her children.
I desperately tried to talk her round, but to no avail. She terminated the relationship, joined Facebook the same day and I haven’t heard from her since. I’ve been excised and it feels like emotional apocalypse.
I’ve never felt this bad over a relationship before – not even my marriage breakdown. I crave contact with her but so far have managed to stay away, partly on the advice of my GP, who has suggested she may have Borderline. Whether or not she does have BPD I don’t know, but it would be very interesting and helpful to hear your feedback and reactions.
Thanks for listening.