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It's Nothing Personal: A Woman With BPD Explains Her Actions in Romantic Relationships

This article originally appeared in my Stop Walking on Eggshells blog on Psychology Today.

Have you ever wanted to ask a person with borderline or narcissistic personality disorder why he or she acts the way they do in romantic relationships? Here, a woman shares her insight into why she acts the way she does in romantic relationships. "I'll be the first to step up to the confessional and admit that what I do is irrational," she says.

It's funny that my non-borderline partners think I am attacking them because I feel the same way. Most of my actions are done in self-defense to protect myself from some perceived threat. Here are several behaviors I have displayed in romantic relationships and the reasoning behind them:

Purposely broken a gift you gave me

I did this because sometimes I get filled with rage that is hard to control. You may have hurt my feelings, and when I'm upset I get destructive. Weird as it sounds, destroying things you have given me hurts my feelings too. I may have felt a strong sense of self-hatred and may have wanted to inflict some emotional pain on myself too. At times people with borderline personality disorder can become masochistic due to repetition compulsion, a desire to repeat previous experiences of emotional pain in hopes they can be resolved on a conscious level.

Flirted with several other people at a time or having a crush on others while I'm still dating you

I have a short attention span and people intrigue me. I'm not planning to hook-up with any of them, so what's the problem? I love you, you know that. When I meet someone new, I generally put them on a pedestal since I think so badly of myself. I don't know the new person well enough to be appalled by their flaws. Once I see who they really are, beyond superficial charm and first impression, the enchantment quickly fades away. Infatuation and idealization are easily mixed up since they are so closely connected.

Said some of the most cutthroat things you've ever heard

I felt hurt and I was retaliating, I am used to chaos, and things in our relationship were going too smoothly. Or, I am playing mind games to see if you really love me. I often project my deepest fears and insecurities on relationships and try to sabotage them.

Talked about suicide even though I know it hurts you

I have so much angst and depression that sometimes it seems like the only option. It's nothing personal, and most things you'll try do to cheer me up simply won't work. I often cannot comprehend the profound impact my actions will have upon those around me. I may even feel like my death will be a relief to you so you will no longer need to deal with my disorder. Guilt, intense self loathing, emptiness and chronic inability to experience pleasure often cause my prolonged thoughts of suicide.

Pulled a "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"

I have rapid mood swings, and with them come sudden and unpredictable personality changes. Often I experience emotional amnesia and my perspective on life oscillates with my constant mood swings. I need some more therapy, so there is little you can do about this right now beyond offering me a little validation.

Pushed you away then pulled you right back

I am still learning to trust you. It takes time, so be patient. I am expecting to be hurt, and when I get to close my fear of losing you causes me to unconsciously emotionally distance myself from you. I do this to guard myself from repeated emotional pain and heartbreak. If you pass my "emotional test," I may pull close to you for a short time before returning to "optimal distance" I may be splitting you (which means you are either amazing or you totally suck). As my view of you changes, so do the signals I send.

Started an argument out of nowhere

I either felt hurt by something you did (probably unintentional) or things are just going too smoothly and I need to rock the boat. Tension accumulated over time eventually leads to an explosive conflict. Chaos and change are ironically my comfort zones. Relationships can't be this smooth; there must be something wrong. Somehow harmony seems to take the passion out of the relationship and it can get a bit boring, too. Turning the sexual heat up a notch or three can sometimes ease this tendency to seek out conflict.

 
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