In my first article I outlined the specifics of codependency and borderline personality disorder or BPD. If you’re reading this article before that one, I recommend starting with it. I asserted in that article that codependent “nice guys” and borderlines make each other worse. That is to say that a borderline makes a codependent more codependent and codependent makes a borderline more borderline. Not only do they keep each other sick but they really make each other worse. As I gain more knowledge about this dynamic, I becoming more and more confident that each person in the relationship is quite hard to treat as long as they are in that relationship. The codependent nice guy seems to gain a certain kind of obsession around the relationship, becoming clingy and overly obsessive about the relationships. They often get caught in a cycle of trying to please her and his entire life becomes centered around this task. He abandons other relationships, the closeness he feels with family and friends atrophies due to his lack of attention. The fact that a person sees this as an acceptable situation is often a big indicator that they are codependent to begin with. The most damaging thing in the overall dynamic is that he takes all responsibility for her which, in turn, takes away her ability to be the agent of her own change.
For the purposes of this series of articles, I will refer to the male in the relationship as the codependent and the female as the borderline. BPD occurs most commonly in women, about 75 to 80 percent of the time. In the future, I intend to address codependent women who commonly get into relationships with men who are narcissistic.
I’ve recently learned that women with BPD experience a level of confusion in their day to day interactions. They don’t know how to feel or act in situations and they kind of wing it. I know a lot of codependent guys are thinking that she seems quite sure of herself so this may seem incongruent. When the male is codependent, he looks to her to take the lead, he looks to her to make the big decisions because he is motivated by his desire to please her. And yet, any codependent knows that no matter how much effort they put into pleasing that person, it’s never good enough. It’s like the carrot on the string dangling in front of you, no matter how fast you run, you just can’t catch it. It always stays just out of reach.
We can argue that women with BPD have no idea what they want. In fact this is part of the BPD diagnosis. It is described as instability in personal identity. What this really looks like is that she changes her mind often and quickly about what she wants to do with her life. One day she’s really enthusiastic about becoming a paramedic and then a week or two later she has forgotten all about being a paramedic and wants to be massage therapist and so on. The codependent in this relationship is usually going to work for her. He’s looking up paramedic programs, filling out the applications for her and then he scrambles to look up places where she can learn to become a massage therapist, find nearby schools and taking the steps to sign her up. He sees it as his job, his responsibility to do these for her. It becomes his identity. That’s part of what codependency is.
She does this because she has become accustomed to acting purely on emotions. These women are extremely emotional creatures and they have learned to function, if you can call it that. This bouncing back and forth between things creates dysfunction. She doesn’t know how to see things through. If she’s not excited about it, she abandons it altogether. With each new thing that she is excited about, the codependent is usually scrambling around trying to get it done for her and he inevitably finds himself working way harder at it than she is. This behavior actually harms her because it enables her inability to see things through.
For more information, be sure to read my next article in my series – A match made in hell: Codependents and Borderline Personality Disorder. If you are codependent or borderline, there is help. You must recognize that you are the agent of your own change and nobody else. If you are tired of repeating the same destructive patterns in your life, change is possible. You can take your life back, hope is not lost. Contact me today for a free consultation on counseling services that work.