A Borderline Relationship Story

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.

waifFairly 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.

Comments 6

  • Wow, I am sorry for your loss of your ex-wife. I know what you’re going through in regards to it being an emotional apocalypse. Your story has helped me realized that my BPD relationship could’ve been much worse, as she and I were both young and without real responsibilities (kids). My relationship only lasted 5 months and it still scarred me emotionally. I am now thankful that it did not last longer, as she was just entering the last and most detrimental phase of the BPD relationship: the Hater phase (source).

  • Hi,

    I am so sorry for your loss, the loss of your ex wife that is and also for your kids losing their Mum.

    From what I have read, you did nothing wrong and it’s really important that you keep away from this woman until you
    do not crave her anymore. Email me if you have to. Seek conversations with people who have been through similar because your life is a gift and your kids have a right to the full person that you are capable of being.

    Your ex girlfriend may have listened to you and allowed you to believe that there was a level playing field, but to meet half way requires a person who is honest with themselves. The way that she “spoke for you” in terms of how she gaslighted the story to be all about her and that you saw her kids as a burden was a big sign. BPD can suffocate you and leave you with no room in yourself for a life. Then as you become less and less and they feed off you, they get to blame you.

    Often the BPD has had trouble in their family individuating. They get caught up in a web of emotions and thoughts and cannot get free of it. I had clues from my ex in our relationship that were obvious and I chose to overlook them and it was not worth it.

    I hope you meet someone really nice who cares for you in the way you care for others and that you eventually get a sense of that balance that comes from true self acceptance. The highs/lows from a BPD relationship are not healthy.

  • Wow. This story is nearly an exact replica of an 18 month relationship of an exfriend of mine. I say ex because he didn’t like that I could put two and two together and that I spoke the truth about his relationship…… The truth will set you free. But what if you want to remain a captive? A prisoner is someone who is deprived of liberty; kept in restraints. But a captive? A person whose behavior is dominated by some emotion; prisoners in biblical times were killed but the wives and children of these prisoners were held captive, enslaved and treated with great cruelty and indignity. Captive also mean mentally enchanted. Are we enslaved, brought into servitude, or have we enslaved ourselves? Eventually we give up trying to gain our freedom. We realize that if we don’t agree with our partner in all things, we get one of two forms of emotional abuse: aggressive control or coercive control. Whether yelling and screaming or withdrawing or whining and complaining, it’s all emotional abuse. We don’t recognize it because we’ve experienced it before and we don’t see it as wrong. My exfriend actually thought that women were just like that. He’s now on his third borderline relationship, but this ones the waif. The ex-wife and ex-gf were witch/queens. Time will out the truth…..

    In regards to the ex-wife, what were the circumstances behind that ended marriage? After five years of therapy, it is a psychological given that we attract our emotional equals at all phases of our lives. Real love never goes away because it is based on who we are and not on what we do. In order to truly love, we have to know ourselves and allow ourselves to be fully known. Only then can we love ourselves. Once we do, we will attract someone who also knows themself and loves themself. Perhaps a better term would be accepts themselves. Then, we wouldn’t have to pretend to be anything other than who we really are. Authentic and real is the only thing that lasts because any of us can only pretend so long. We pretend long enough to realize that the other person is controlling us and then start helping them along to change and get fixed. Actually, we want to rescue them from day one. Once we begin our fix them plan, that’s when they try to get us to comply with their ideas or they cut us out of their lives like we never existed.

  • The story sounds familiar – I have recently had a BPD partner walk out of my life. She was not diagnosed with BPD but from the research I have done on the subject and the numerous amounts of BPD relationships I have read about, the storyline seems to follow each to the tee. The three stages: seduction/ clinger/ hater are all so true to the word.

  • A very candid and heart breaking story and I am sorry for your loss. Almost ALL Borderlines have internal conflicts with their birth Mother. My borderline ex being no exception, she was abandoned from a very early age, they resumed contact years later but the damage had already been done. I’d like to say at this point that I have nothing against Borderlines and I wish we could use a slightly more sympathetic and compassionate term, I feel it devalues them as human beings and afterall that’s what they are; human beings in a great deal of emotional pain.

    All the classic bahaviours are described in your letter – projection, push and pull, guilt, blame. I am not surprised that she didn’t tell you that she missed you, remember all they miss is supply, and I’m afraid that’s all you were, she wasn’t getting her ‘fix’ and the fact she created an FB account as soon as you broke up speaks volumes.

    Borderlines don’t relate to ANYONE, sure she put the mask on and mirrored you, I bet you had lots of things in common? trust me you had NOTHING in common with her and as time passed with my ex I realised that in actual fact I had nothing in common with her at all apart from the fact we were both fragile people and my own childhood had been blighted (to an extent) by the loss of my father when I was two years old.

    If I can offer any advice it would be to recognise and accept that you had a relationship with a disordered and disturbed indivdual, the relationship was based on an ideal in your mind, look at her actions they are your truth. Healthy partners enhance your life, this woman gave you NOTHING, the good times were an illusion because as you have discovered with the highs come the crashing lows and you’re asking yourself why you feel the way you do about her?

    We become addicted to the highs, the make up s*x, the attention, the adoration, but these are all fleeting moments, borderlines cannot attach to ANYONE, always remember that, they engineer the demise of what appears to be a healthy relationship because they don’t love themselves and the ‘testing phase’ NEVER ends, your letter demonstrates the aforementioned in acute detail. She also attempted to sabotage your relationships with past aquantencies, another classic sign of a borderline, they want you all to themselves so they can begin the process of devaluing you, by which point you are in thick cloud of fog, your frame of reference for right and wrong completely and utterly shattered, they take all semblance of normality and turn it on its head. Unacceptable behaviours are normalised and brushed aside, although they have a nasty habit of appearing when you’re at your lowest ebb.

    I understand it doesn’t feel like it at the moment but please trust me when I say that she has done you the biggest favour – she has walked away, now you can heal but be aware there is a high probablity that she will make contact when her supply runs out (it’s only a matter of time). Be on your guard, do not go back to her, the scenarios you describe will happen again and again, remember it’s pathological, she can’t help herself and there is no cure. Your treacherous dance with a borderline is OVER! Best of luck.

    • Omg……this is exactly what I have gk e through
      Over the past 2 years. Thank you for writing this.
      I am struggling to get out of the fog. He has turned things
      around, that I have no idea which way is up. He has made me
      feel as if I am crazy. ” You are 40, single, childless, and alone” . Who writes
      such mean things to someone. A very unpredictable person. I have been struggling
      to stay a sane person. I have always been happy, with no real issues. Life is
      short! He has told me things like, “you need therapy”. I did go to
      his therapist who told me that he sees a “very dark person in Mark”….
      Unfortunately, I am a strong person that apparently thought I could
      fix this or make him realize that my love and faithfulness was enough.
      He is on Prozac and just started abilify because I “push his buttons”!
      I have never pushed anyone’s buttons before.
      Because I was wanting more , he has given less. He has walked away this weekend. I hope
      it stays that way, as I know that is my only hope. Ridiculous right ??
      Thanks for listening…..Lake Tahoe !

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