As a licensed therapist, I have worked with women who have borderline personality disorder (BPD), mostly in psychiatric hospitals. In a more personal facet of my life, I also help facilitate a local men’s group that focuses on empowering men through fellowship and a positive self-image. After so many years of working with these men, I have started to hear the same stories repeated often. One that I continue to see, time and again, are men who come to the group feeling lost and broken because they have been in a chaotic and prolonged relationship with woman who has BPD. This article is intended to be a quick reference for behaviors consistent with BPD, not a diagnostic tool. If you are seeking a more detailed and accurate diagnosis of BPD, please consult a mental health professional.
1. When you first met her, you fell for her quickly because she was so fun, charming, flirtatious and passionate
And now she feels cold, mean, distant and sexually unavailable. One of the most interesting things, to me, about BPD is how they seem to have this incredible ability to turn into the amazingly charismatic and charming woman in different situations. Many of them seem to have learned that if she shows her true colors right off the bat, she’s going to be completely and utterly alone in life so she has learned to produce this personality that everybody loves. I often hear men mention that when he took her to a family reunion or a work party, she became “the girl I fell in love with.” Unfortunately, this is often just smoke and mirrors, a dog and pony show that she has learned to produce when the situation calls for it and is rarely a part of who she actually is.
2. She blames you and everyone else when something goes wrong
Women with BPD seem to be convinced that nothing is their fault and that they never do anything wrong. I’ve seen them admit fault only in extreme circumstances. When they go to couples therapy, she usually talks as though their relationship problems are primarily his fault. If she gets fired from a job, she usually reports that it’s someone else’s fault, etc. There’s one common denominator whenever something goes wrong in her life but she usually fails to see it.
3. She’s manipulative
Women with BPD seem to be particularly skilled at distorting truth and making you feel like you’re the crazy one. One reason is that they are usually unwavering in their resolve that they are right in the situation. If there is doubt in their mind, they rarely show it. She will even blatantly contradict herself, even in the same sentence and then continue to plow through as though it never happened. If she’s one of the only people that you interact with, day in and day out, you will lack a point of reference and start to think you’re the crazy one.
4. She’s unable to maintain relationships
Women with BPD usually have extreme difficulty keeping people in their lives. Their relationship pool is more like a desert. The unfortunate truth is that they drive people out of their lives with their behavior and treatment. Friends, partners, spouses, children, siblings, parents and coworkers seem to inevitably tire of her antics and cut her out of their lives. She tends to smother her romantic partners because there are few other people in her life willing to spend time with her.
5. She completely lacks boundaries
Women with BPD are notorious for engaging in high risk behaviors but it doesn’t end there. She doesn’t seem to know when enough is enough and she just seems to have a complete lack of discretion or any sense that something is just a bad idea. They are known for drinking and driving, drug use, bringing strangers that she just met into her home and the list goes on. If she’s angry at someone, she seems to lack a sense that she may have gone too far.
Despite all the dysfunctional behaviors, women with BPD are seeking the same thing that everyone else is. Love, acceptance and validation. They just don’t seem to know how to get it in a productive, loving way. They need and deserve compassion just as much as anyone because they are truly struggling with severe mental illness. Women with BPD are usually highly intelligent, her ability to learn, achieve and be successful is quite high even though she is usually inhibited by her emotional problems. Women with BPD are usually much more stable and successful when people in their lives set firm boundaries and stick to them.
For more information on BPD visit my website for a list of additional resources and download my free report which is designed to be a more comprehensive report about BPD.