General Question

Nimis's avatar

Is it possible to have a healthy relationship with someone diagnosed with Borderline Personality?

Asked by Nimis (13194points) November 17th, 2008

If so, what kind of advice would you have?
If not, what made you come to that conclusion?

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37 Answers

augustlan's avatar

It wasn’t for me. There was just too much baggage, all of it harmful to me. In my late 30s, I finally broke off all contact with my mother.

Edited to add: In all fairness, there was a lot of shit in my childhood that was not my mother’s fault, but she did nothing to help the situation, and never took responsibility for that. I believe it was a function of the BPD. It just became far too much to bear.

Nimis's avatar

Do you ever think wonder if you could have made it work if you had approached it differently?

augustlan's avatar

Nope. I spent my whole life trying to make it work. I felt like the worst daughter in the world for feeling that way about my own mother, and tried very hard, for a very long time trying to protect her from that knowledge. Pretty ironic, in that she never protected me from a damn thing.

augustlan's avatar

How close are you to the person with BPD?

Nimis's avatar

Was one of my closest oldest friends.
Fifteen years.
Operative word being was. On one hand, I’m relieved.
On the other hand, I wonder if I could have approached it differently.

augustlan's avatar

The only way you can have a ‘relationship’ with someone with this disorder is to know going in, it will be a one-sided effort at best. At worst, your efforts will be deliberately undermined. From my understanding and personal experience, this disorder causes the sufferer to perceive the entire world around them in this way: “So…how does this affect me?” and causes them to behave as such: “So…how can I manipulate it so that everything goes my way?” Not much of a relationship, to be sure.

shilolo's avatar

Nimis, there were a bunch of answers here as well.

Nimis's avatar

Aug: sigh That’s how I feel too.
Shi: Thanks. Am off to read.

Sorry about the delay in response. Had to clear my cache.

augustlan's avatar

Nimis, I’m sorry that you’ve had to go through that turbulence. I feel for you. {Hugs}

Nimis's avatar

You too. Thanks, Aug. [hugs]

I ditched two therapists because they told me to ditch her.
I probably should have listened to them earlier. Heh.

Despite everything though, I can’t help but wonder what I could have done differently.
Though I realize the how part isn’t just about what to do.
Sometimes it’s also about having the energy to do it.
And I’m just so emotionally tired. So very tired.

augustlan's avatar

I had two (or three?) therapists tell me the same, years before I was ready to hear it.

augustlan's avatar

I know it hurts to let your friend go, but please believe me when I say it will get easier. One day you’ll even feel relieved.

Nimis's avatar

Yes, it was three if you counted one my friends
who is doing her psychology residency program.
It’s amazing what we’ll tune out until we’re ready to hear it.

I do feel relieved…but also sad, guilty, angry and numb.

augustlan's avatar

After several years, I am finally down to relief and a slight sense of melancholy.

Nimis's avatar

How long did that take exactly?
It’d be amazing if I could mark my calendar and count off the days.
Though I suppose it doesn’t exactly work that way.

Nimis's avatar

This question is depressing me.

augustlan's avatar

I want to say it was about 2 years before I felt pretty much ok about it. Remember though, it’s my mother. The guilt was awful for quite some time. I knew I had to do it, but it pretty much killed me for a while, there. But you know what? I know (through my aunt) that she’s doing just fine without me, which just goes to prove the point, huh?

Do your crying, Nimis, and then move forward. In the long run, you will be far better off without this drama in your daily life. And if your friend is anything like my mother, then in very short order she’ll hardly register your absence. I know that’s sad, but it may help you to know that the benefit for you is much greater than the pain will be for her.

Nimis's avatar

I can only imagine it being that much harder because it was your mother.
I hope me bringing this up doesn’t drag up stuff for you. =(

And, yes, if her pattern of behavior over the years can be any indicator, she’s already over it.
I know I should do the same. Am trying to catch up what I feel with what I know.

Fluther has been a good distraction from all of this. Though now I’ve gone and asked this question.
I think I’m going to call it a night and find some other kind of distraction. G’night, Fluther.

krose1223's avatar

Can I join the crazy mom club too? My mom has a personality disorder that is linked to BPD. I’ve tried cutting ties with her but we live in a town where there are more cows than people so it makes things difficult. It is very hard to have a relationship with her and I really think I will end up cutting her out of my life as soon as I can. It is very emotionally draining and I have way too much resentment built up. Maybe if I could get past that I could have a relationship with her, but never like a mother-daughter relationship should be.

augustlan's avatar

Ok, krose, you’re in! Maybe you should consider moving out of that town, when your SO returns…

krose1223's avatar

Oh, I’m moving to Guam in February. I’m thinking being halfway across the world will help. :-D

augustlan's avatar

It definitely will, but don’t think it will fix it. When my mom moved to Vegas (from Maryland) I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Until she started begging me to come visit, with my husband and 3 kids, and stay in her mobile home with her for a week. (I would have been murderous). Finally told her I wasn’t coming, no way, no how. Guess what? She fucking moved to Delaware…and started up with exactly the same song and dance. Despite my having already explained why I wouldn’t visit in Vegas, she just could not understand why I wouldn’t want to spend a week cooped up with her like a bunch of sardines. Distance helps, for sure, but it’s not a cure all ; )

cookieman's avatar

Member of the crazy mom club reporting for duty.

Prior to my Dad dying last month, I wrote a very frank and heartfelt letter to my mother. I explained that I couldn’t tolerate her behavior any more. My father was always the buffer between her and the rest of the family. So I figured with him likely dying, I should try and “fix things”.

She ignored the letter, he dies, family gets involved, ugly drama.

Last week she calls me out of the blue, “when can I pick up my granddaughter?”

I tell her not until I see some real effort on her part to adress the issues in the letter (lying, manipulation, volatile anger – not to mention chain smoking and self medicating).

“Oh that”, she says, “I just don’t have the energy to deal with that.” Well after two hours on the phone going over numerous recent occurances and how that behavior would be detrimental to my daughter -she took no ownership of her behavior, blamed me or my father (or his sister, or…) for much of it, and suggested we just move on.

Needles to say, I have no intention of subjecting my daughter to that, but the guilt is terrible. How can someone be THAT out of touch. It blows my mind.

So sorry you guys had similar experiences, but it is comforting to know I’m not alone in this boat.

susanc's avatar

The answer to the question is a simple, but infinitely sad, no.

cdwccrn's avatar

living with family with BPD is very difficult. If this is a new relationship, run as fast as you can, as far as you can.
If it is too late, having a good sense of your own self and having healthy boundaries is essential to your own survival and well- being.
A person with BPD often does not accept that they have a problem so resists treatment. The problem is that there is no pill to treat it. Healing comes via long years of talk therapy.
Blessings to you.

cdwccrn's avatar

aug, one thing I learned along the way was this: I needed a boundary with my mom that would allow me to deal with her eventual death without guilt.
So I called once a week, saw her occassionally.
This worked well until she quit drinking and fell ill to lung cancer. I was the one who took her to appts and grocery, etc when she was very sick.
But even then, I had to be clear about my own needs and boundaries, and practice self care.
It worked pretty well. Mom succombed to her cancer three years ago. I still miss her sometimes, despite the dysfunction and drama.

cdwccrn's avatar

@nimis, I am sorry for the loss of your friend. Once you get through the fresh, raw grief stage, you will be surprised how liberated you feel.

flameboi's avatar

Nope, I think Phil Hartman had a close experience with that…

augustlan's avatar

@cdwccrn: I am glad for you that you were able to maintain some type of relationship with your mother. I wish I had been able to do the same. I did try, and did set boundaries. She just ignored them, and crossed them at will. With that said, there was a much bigger issue lurking behind all that.

Some background information: My uncle (mother’s brother) sexually abused me until I was 13 years old. Entire family knew about it, but A) never called the police B) never kicked him out and C) my mother was still friends with him…going to the movies together, playing cards, etc., right up until he died.

I learned at a young age that no one else was going to save me, so it was up to me. At 13, I put a stop to my abuse. At 19 I withdrew from family events, so as not to be forced to see him anymore. 3 years ago, at 39, I finally decided that my mental health was more important to me than my mother’s.

tinyfaery's avatar

It depends on the patient. If the person with BPD is on meds and engaging actively in a good cognitive therapy, then I say a relationship with such a person might have it’s ups and down’s but that’s true of all relationships. Having woeked fir many years with those diagnosed as BPD, I have maintained a few relationships. You really have to know how to react to the outbursts and impulsivity. Once your feelings are in check, it’s much easier to deal with those a little less stable.

cdwccrn's avatar

@augustlan: wow. You are a brave survivor. Thank you for sharing that piece of yourself. You did the right thing absolutely.
I am sorry that you had to suffer that way for so long. Life is not fair, is it?

augustlan's avatar

@cdw: Nope life is not fair, but it sure beats the alternative! In any event, I’m doing very well now, and I gladly share my story in the hopes that it will help someone else. Thank you for your kind words.

cdwccrn's avatar

you are welcome. And a hero. A hero to your child within. Never forget that.

MacBean's avatar

My hero, too! <3

avvooooooo's avatar

A lot of times, there’s nothing you can do with a person with borderline personality disorder .Either you are able to live with the and all their drama, or you aren’t. Sometimes they can be helped through therapy, sometimes they can’t. It all depends on the people involved. If you are able to deal with it, more power to ya. But if you aren’t, you are far from alone. :)

cdwccrn's avatar

@avvoooooo, so very true and wise.

Coloma's avatar

I have come to think a friend of mine whom I have also known for 15 years is Borderline.

I have seen so much with her this year, maybe because while I have known of her emotional fragilities before, this is the year I have really SEEN some big stuff.

I beleive she is what is termed the Borderline ‘waif.’

She is an incredibly attractive woman but plays the helpless woman thing around men, goes into her little girl mode, leaves cutesy childish sounding messages on her answering machine, is terrified of being alone and has crashed hard after the break up of a 5 yr. relationship this year.

She has two failed marriages and has never gone, ( if they don’t overlap which is more her pattern ) more than a few months between relationships.

She is extremely envious and jealous and is very withholding when it comes to celebrating or acknowledging any of her friends successes and happy moments.

I have observed a good amount of hypocrisy and dishonesty in her latest relationship and it’s been pretty revealing.

She is terrified of losing her looks which she has overly relied on for years, and her seductive powers. She just had some cosmetic facial procedures and is has started on anti-depressants due to the latest breakup and her mid-life crisis stuff.

I have really witnessed a side of her this year that is very unattractive and it has been a rather defining year in terms of my feelings about her situation.

We are biz. partners so I have to keep my thoughts to myself, but I have backed off from too much personal relating the last few months.

It goes to show how you can know someone for a looong time before you discover the true nature of their issues.

She has two sons, one in his 20’s and they adore their mom, but…she has leaned heavily on her youngest who is 18 and turned him into her confidant and shoulder which I disagree with.

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