Every week, at least one self-identified BPD and/or Golden Uterus sends an email or tries to post a comment taking me to task for warning people to be wary of personal relationships with individuals with Borderline, Narcissistic, Histrionic and/or sociopathic traits. Interestingly, I only receive messages from self-identified BPDs, concern trolls (see below), and stay-at-home-moms who are angry about the articles Why Your Wife’s Excuses for Not Working Are Lame, The Real Reason your Wife Doesn’t Want to Work and Hostile Dependence: Is your Wife, Girlfriend or Ex a Child Masquerading in the Body of a Woman?
I never hear from self-identified narcissists, sociopaths and histrionics, well, until recently. A few weeks ago, I received an email from a self-identified histrionic woman, which will be the subject of it’s very own future article, Self-Pitying Sociopaths.
Over the years, I’ve noticed several themes and patterns in these messages:
1. Concern Trolls. These messages are from women who feel compelled to warn me about how “dangerous” it would be if the information on Shrink4Men fell into the “wrong hands.” Typically, these comments go something like this: “While it’s true some men may be abused, have you ever considered what would happen if your posts fell into the wrong hands? What if an abusive man found your articles and used them to abuse his wife?”
Um, you mean like what can and does happen with the glut of domestic violence websites and resources that solely focus on female victims and male perpetrators? Tell you what, I’ll take down my information when the female abuse victim-focused websites do, m’kay?
Another variation on this theme is a certain kind defensive comment from women who want me to know that, “Men can be abusive, too! Why do you only focus on male victims?!” Whenever I receive this particular comment, my eyes roll so hard they have to do a wind-up first. One has to wonder if the women who express this concern are so self-obsessed that they have neglected to notice the abject lack of resources for men and boys who are victims of emotional, physical and social violence? By the way, that was a rhetorical question.
2. Don’t paint all BPDs with the same brush! For the record, I don’t paint all individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder with the same brush. For those individuals who have been diagnosed with BPD and have made the commitment to enter and stay in treatment, I truly wish you the best. It is difficult and painful work with arguable rates of success. Please keep working at it.
What I also do not do is sugarcoat the fact the realities and likely outcomes of treating BPD. Nor do I tell men and women involved with BPDs to be patient, hang in there and hope for the best while they are actively being abused by their BPD partners. Just because a person with BPD enters treatment does not mean it will be effective. It could take years to see improvement, that is, if there is any improvement at all. Meanwhile, the partners and children of these individuals continue to suffer.
3. You’re making ME feel bad about MEEEEE! These BPD individuals acknowledge that they mistreat and abuse their loved ones, but they can’t help it!!!!!! They then go on to tell me how much pain they are in and that is why they hurt others as if this somehow makes their behavior okay. I suspect these individuals haven’t made it to the Why Empathy for Others is a Good Thing component of their therapy yet — or even worse, they have.
4. Accusations that my stance on BPD is “unprofessional.” Basically, this is just a shaming tactic that stems from “You’re making ME feel bad about MEEEEE!”
Yes, it is very unprofessional for a psychologist to be anti-abuse and to have greater sympathy for the victims of abuse rather than the perpetrators of abuse who show paper thin remorse for the abuse they perpetrate. Oftentimes, individuals with this condition are remorseful when they experience natural consequences for their behavior rather than being remorseful for having hurt others — typically when their partner is at the end of his or her rope and wants out.
5. Name-calling and unintelligible gibberish. Self-explanatory.
I rarely publish the Comments from the Edge (*a wonderful phrase coined by CrazyBuster, MicksBabe) I receive for several reasons:
a) Shrink4Men is for the targets of BPD/NPD/HCP/AsPD abuse, not a platform for people with these issues to sound off and to try to garner sympathy while taking no responsibility for themselves.
b) It’s upsetting to read their circular arguments, distortions and blame shifting for many individuals who frequent S4M. They already get enough of that at home and/or from their exes, thank you very much.
c) Publishing these comments would allow these individuals to participate in the discussions here. I tried that once or twice and, frankly, I was appalled, but not surprised, by the hypocrisy, intellectual dishonesty and unwavering lack of empathy for anyone else’s pain other than their own.
d) I get to choose whom I invite into my house and I close the door on individuals who want to enter and take a dump on the carpet.
For those of you who are interested in the inner thought processes of some individuals with BPD, NPD, HPD and full-on sociopathy, I’ve decided to start posting some of their comments here. I suspect the excessive emotionality, name-calling, lack of empathy, blaming and shaming in these comments will be very familiar to many of you.
The following comment is from “Jen.” She posted the same comment 3 times in quick succession. I suspect she didn’t realize that new commenters are held in a moderation queue and became frustrated because, “Dammit! She has a right to express herself!”
Jen commented on Can an Abusive Borderline Personality Disorder Woman Really Change?
THIS IS BULLSHIT!! People with BPD are seriously mentally ill and need serious help. I have had it all my life and before diagnosed went through very violent outbursts in which after I admitted to at a police station as the guilt ads to the hate and disgust people with BPD already feel. There are many different types of BPD she sounds narcissistic to me which is a rare trait with bpd, Imagine the most drunk you’ve ever been to the point you can’t see or understand people, then add the worst experience you’ve ever been through the most soul crushing abandonment and thinking you have nobody, wanting to die but being to scared, and desperately wanting to express yourself but being so emotionally stunted that you are completely unable to even say why you are sad or to explain why your unhappy it LITERALLY WILL NOT COME OUT so it all bottles up, then someone quite innocent says something that a bpd sufferer will completely misunderstand and will get in the firing line, it is literally completely uncontrollable. I often don’t even remember, I can feel myself loosing control and have learnt to try my best to get out of the situation but when you are followed and after begging for them to leave you alone, there’s a certain snapping point. It goes two ways either the person will get abuse or the bpd sufferer them selves will self mutilate this sometimes is the ONLY WAY OUT. Violence is unavoidable with a bpd sufferer but once it gets dangerous the police should be called and this I completely agree with. People with BPD should be honest from the get go with potential partners I always have painted the darkest picture so they no what there taking on and it is then left to the individual to decide to stick it out or not But STUPID IDIOT STEREOTYPES AND ABUSE TO THE PEOPLE WITH THIS SERIOUS mental disease is disgusting and needs to stop would you go abuse people with down syndrome NO so don’t do it to people with bpd there lives are usually a living hell without people like you. Learn a bit about what you chatting about before spreading abuse and chatting S***
Let’s break Jen’s comment down to try to make sense of what she is really saying. My interpretations are speculative, of course, as I have no interest in contacting Jen for subsequent commentary.
Jen writes, “THIS IS BULLSHIT!!” Translation: “I’M ANGRY!!”
“People with BPD are seriously mentally ill and need serious help.” This is very true.
“I have had it all my life and before diagnosed went through very violent outbursts in which after I admitted to at a police station as the guilt ads to the hate and disgust people with BPD already feel.” I could have this wrong, but Jen seems to have thought that telling the police officers who arrested her for her violent outburst that she has BPD should have exempted her from arrest. Translation: “I should not be held accountable for my behaviors.”
“There are many different types of BPD she sounds narcissistic to me which is a rare trait with bpd,” Actually, some degree of narcissism is frequently present in persons with BPD. In fact, this seems to be the norm and not the exception. The higher the degree of narcissism in the BPD, the worse they are and the more untreatable they are. In my experience, this is very common.
“Imagine the most drunk you’ve ever been to the point you can’t see or understand people, then add the worst experience you’ve ever been through the most soul crushing abandonment and thinking you have nobody, wanting to die but being to scared, and desperately wanting to express yourself but being so emotionally stunted that you are completely unable to even say why you are sad or to explain why your unhappy it LITERALLY WILL NOT COME OUT so it all bottles up, then someone quite innocent says something that a bpd sufferer will completely misunderstand and will get in the firing line, it is literally completely uncontrollable.” TRANSLATION: “I am a ticking time bomb. If you cross my path when I am angry, scared, anxious or feeling rejected, abandoned or inferior, I will take my anger, etc., out on you and then expect you to feel sorry for me.”
Many people suffer incredible heartbreak, childhood abuse and catastrophic loss, however, they do not go onto abuse others and expect people to tolerate their abuse because “they hurt, too” and blame everyone else for their unhappiness.
I also object to the “uncontrollable” statement. I have observed many people with BPD. Most are perfectly capable of controlling themselves in public settings, when they are Hoovering and with people that won’t tolerate their crap. They typically reserve their abuse for the people who love and care about them and who they feel “comfortable” abusing (i.e., don’t believe they will experience negative consequences for their bad behavior).
“I often don’t even remember, I can feel myself loosing control and have learnt to try my best to get out of the situation but when you are followed and after begging for them to leave you alone, there’s a certain snapping point.” Translation: “I’m not responsible for my behavior.” Jen appears to disassociate when she goes into her rages. This is not uncommon for many individuals with BPD and/or NPD. Here’s the thing, just because Jen can’t or won’t remember raging at and abusing others, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. It is good that she tries to remove herself from these situations, but she still blames others for her behavior, which is not good.
“It goes two ways either the person will get abuse or the bpd sufferer them selves will self mutilate this sometimes is the ONLY WAY OUT.” Translation: “If I can’t hurt you I will hurt myself.” I also call foul on this one. There are at least two more options. One, the individual gets into treatment, and/or, two, abstains from intimate relationships if they truly cannot control their behavior.
“Violence is unavoidable with a bpd sufferer but once it gets dangerous the police should be called and this I completely agree with.” Actually, not all people with BPD resort to violence. Better be careful with that paintbrush, Jen!
Unfortunately, the problem with calling the police on a violent BPD female is that it is often the non-disordered male who gets led away in handcuffs because the BPD turns on the waterworks when the police arrive. Therefore, if you are with someone like Jen, please follow the ABR rule — Always Be Recording — so the police can arrest the right person.
“People with BPD should be honest from the get go with potential partners I always have painted the darkest picture so they no what there taking on and it is then left to the individual to decide to stick it out or not” I agree with this. In theory, people with BPD should be honest about their condition and warn others away, but many are undiagnosed and both diagnosed and undiagnosed BPDs are too self-serving to be truly honest — even with themselves.
I have received many emails from other BPD individuals who believe they are “entitled” to love, too, no matter how much they hurt anyone who tries to love them. From these individuals, I get some variation on, “It’s like you think all BPDs should lock themselves away from the rest of the world! What about us?! We need love, too!” Actually, if you really can’t control yourself, keeping your distance from others you feel compelled to hurt is probably a good idea. Men who can’t control themselves and hurt others end up in jail. The same is rarely true of women who cannot or will not control themselves.
Please note, Jen does not say she abstains from intimate relationships. She claims she gives potential romantic partners fair warning. If potential partners ignore her warning, does that mean it’s open season on them? Hey fellas (and/or ladies), Jen warned you, so you can’t blame her if she emotionally or physically abuses you.
“But STUPID IDIOT STEREOTYPES AND ABUSE TO THE PEOPLE WITH THIS SERIOUS mental disease is disgusting and needs to stop . . .” Pointing out how abusive many undiagnosed and diagnosed individuals with BPD/NPD are to their partners, family members and friends is not abusive and herein lies the problem. Many individuals with BPD, NPD, HPD and sociopathy cannot tolerate holding the mirror up to themselves. They rage at and blame the mirror for the ugliness and damage they perpetrate. It’s not their fault, it’s the mirror’s fault for reflecting their own behavior back to them.
” . . . would you go abuse people with down syndrome NO so don’t do it to people with bpd there lives are usually a living hell without people like you.” I would no more abuse individuals with Down’s Syndrome than I would individuals with BPD or any other physical malady, developmental delay, mental illness or characterological disorder. Again, pointing out the abusive behavior perpetrated by many individuals with BPD, NPD, etc., is not abusive. Furthermore, comparing Down’s Syndrome to Borderline Personality Disorder is like comparing apples to oranges. They are entirely different things and, to the best of my knowledge, abusing others is not an effect of Down’s Syndrome.
This is a very common strawman argument. I have also gotten, “You wouldn’t advise people to break up with their wife or girlfriend if she had cancer, diabetes, etc., etc. BPD is not like any of these ailments.
“Learn a bit about what you chatting about before spreading abuse and chatting S***” Well Jen told me, didn’t she?
Basically, Jen’s point is, “You must feel sorry for me! I didn’t ask to have BPD! I’m not responsible! I feel guilty after violent outbursts that caused me to be arrested, and feeling guilty about my shitty, violent behavior makes me feel even worse!”
I posted Jen’s comment on the Shrink4Men Forum a few months ago and would like to share a few comments from members who made some excellent observations. One member had this to add:
Many BPDs often use their BPD as a crutch and a scapegoat. “It’s not my fault…I have BPD” Jenny was probably floored when she was arrested. “What? You mean…I’m ACCOUNTABLE? … ummm, does that mean the same thing as entitled? Cuz that’s a word I know well.”
it is literally completely uncontrollable. ——- And yet she says they need serious help? Well what’s the point if it’s “uncontrollable?”
I often don’t even remember, — -Cop out.
I can feel myself loosing control and have learnt to try my best — Learnt to try? Just gave herself an excuse for failure. “well…I TRIED… sheesh! Isn’t that good enough?”
to get out of the situation but when you are followed and after begging for them to leave you alone, there’s a certain snapping point. — They asked for it? I think if I had to guess, I’d guess Jen was the one doing the following.
would you go abuse people with down syndrome NO so don’t do it to people with bpd — Did she just compare a birth defect to a mental defect? Wow!
there lives are usually a living hell without people like you. — Oh if only that were true.
Another forum member writes:
Interesting that NPD in BPDs is so common, I think I finally understand the overlap in symptoms in my mother. I love how they think not even one site on the internet can be a place where they’re not welcome. I don’t go to BPD sites looking for sympathy on being the victim of one. I stick to this site. If they can’t control themselves enough not to meltdown from seeing a site for their victims and are unable to, you know, JUST NOT GO TO THE F*CKIN’ SITE, they need to be locked the f*ck up.
I’m a U2 fan. When I first got internet access I searched for sites on them. I found some anti U2 sites. Did I waste my time and energy on them? No, I just f*ckin’ hit the back browser and went to the fan sites. How f*ckin’ hard is that?
I think this may be related to the compulsion many of them have to control other’s narratives — even complete strangers on the Internet.
Another forum member writes:
The crux of all PD’s is that they lack empathy. Borderlines, Histrionics, Narcissists and Sociopaths (anti-social). They’re all completely self-centered. The only variance is the flavor of self-centeredness. They’re all narcissists. Other people don’t matter to them. Including this nutcase who wanted us all to know why she matters and the rest of us don’t.
I really don’t care how much she or her ilk are “suffering”. By virtue, the amount she suffers is always paltry in comparison to the amount of pain she inflicts.
My toddler pitched one hissy fit. EVER. I don’t buy that Borderlines can’t control themselves. They choose not to control themselves because being out of control gets them what they want. It worked when they were toddlers (because they had parents who didn’t put a cease to that sh*t or enabled it and gave into the screaming brat or ignored it). And the grown Borderline seeks out mate(s) in adulthood who will appease her rather than punish her for throwing fits. It’s a learned behavior, sure. One that can’t be unlearned. But this, IMO, is not the same thing as, “they can’t help it.”
Another BPD survivor (and by survivor I mean someone who got away from their BPD) adds:
If they wanted to be better, they would ask for HELP. They don’t. They insist on enabling, because in their minds, that is help – you are allowing them to do what they want. After all, they are entitled to whatever they want.
I used to be lots nicer about individuals with BPD, NPD, etc. But I have seen the way that the personality disordered are excused more and more over the years. 20 years ago, you kept it quiet, and got yourself help so that you kept your sh*t together. Now, you are allowed to dump your sh*t all over the place, bitch at those who complain about being hit, berate those who don’t pick your sh*t up and carry it for you, kissing your ass all the way.
Um. No. We all have issues. Pick up your own sh*t, carry it yourself, and if you are an ass, take ownership of it. If you don’t, then you get to be scooched away from my life. You are welcome to be your unhelped crazy self – but not near me. You have the right to be an unhelped crazy ass, and I have the right to back the f*ck away and wave the torch in your direction.
Another forum member provides a different theory on the ability of personality disordered individuals to control themselves:
I hear you, but based on my experience, they can control themselves. However, it is an act when they do it–they are imitating an expected behavior, not processing like a healthy adult. In that sense, they are like children, as you noted–they are imitating the right thing to do. Children, however, learn from their imitation of others and eventually incorporate that into their lives. PDIs, not so much.
Although this is probably not a good comparison, it takes tremendous energy on their parts to maintain the facade of controlling themselves. I am an introvert, and depending on the situation, groups of people just wear me out. If the wife has thirty people over to the house (not at all unusual in the old days), I need to take breaks to keep it together, or just focus on people one-on-one. (Meanwhile, she is basking in the attention of a dozen others who are telling her how wonderful she is.) She gets fed, I get wore out. So much for our parties, but I can understand the energy level that is involved in a PDI keeping up appearances, and how when it runs out the need for psychic feeding is incredible, and the games begin. Which is also why those of us that have been close to a PDI are the ones who know the madness, and those who aren’t get the high-energy schmooze job.
So what’s your take on this? Can these individuals control their behavior or not? Does your abusive wife, girlfriend, ex, husband, boyfriend, partner’s ex, mom, dad or sibling have the same excuses, lack of empathy and blame shifting as Jen?
Counseling with Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD
Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD helps individuals work through their relationship and codependency issues via telephone or Skype. She specializes in helping men and women trying to break free of an abusive relationship, cope with the stress of an abusive relationship or heal from an abusive relationship. Coaching individuals through high-conflict divorce and custody cases is also an area of expertise. She combines practical advice, emotional support and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Schedule a Session page for more information.
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Dr T, you’re at your best when you’re crazy-busting!
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Thanks, AZ. I try 🙂
Got a 2nd article for you too! Will send it over by the end of the week.
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Cool. Plan to post the other one toward the end of this week.
Heheh awesome! Need to change the name though, so i’ll ping you a mail about it now.
Nice to have a new post from you, Dr. T! This is a very insightful article. My husband has often told me about his ex wife and her uncontrollable rages… and the things he would put up with in order to avoid them. When the ex tried to force me to spend Christmas with her at my father in law’s house (with her and her current victim actually staying with the in laws), I refused. I later heard that she threw a fit. A couple of years later, she was still blaming me for “ruining Christmas”, even though I wasn’t even there and she had repeatedly claimed that my husband’s daughters didn’t even like me.
When I finally responded to her and pointed out a few of the things you posted in this article, she really went off the deep end. One of my observations is that she only cares about herself and her hurt feelings. She doesn’t do anything for the greater good of others, even her children. It’s like she’s a small child in a 45 year old body. Thankfully, she leaves us alone now. So do my husband’s daughters, who are apparently as nuts as she is. What I think is saddest is that the cycle will probably repeat itself… but as long as I don’t have to be a party to it, I guess it’s okay.
Good to have you back!
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Thank you, knotheadusc.
Two similar themes in your comment and PoB’s: Pointing out the behavior often causes these types to implode and unload, then DARVO (Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender). Textbook.
Mike D says
Cluster Bs see the world in black and white. If you accuse them of behaving badly, they hear you labeling them a bad person. That would put anyone on the defensive, healthy or not.
I wonder if there’s a way to show someone unconditional acceptance without being appeasing.
LT Greenwald says
I like you’re point about showing “unconditional acceptance without being appeasing.” That’s how I’ve tried to handle my relationship with my mother. I have very strict boundaries with her, but the key is that I keep those boundaries to myself — she doesn’t know about them. Also, when she tries to “bait me” into a fight, I do my very best not to take the bait. Rather, I just change the subject and pretend like I didn’t notice. It’s a rather exhausting process. But it’s necessary if I want to have any kind of relationship with my mother. I hope that helps! 🙂
Mike D says
Some might call that “pretending not to notice” as being passive aggressive. Same with boundaries you choose to keep secret. I think you may to something though, regardless of the labels.
Wow. The comment from “Jen” could have just as easily been written by my ex. It’s fascinating how these ppl never give a second thought as to anyone else’s feelings other than their own. And when they are called out on their shit, they offer nothing but excuses accompanied by an award winning performance in an attempt to convince onlookers of their victimhood status. The performance I refer to is proof that they can change, but they’re too full of self-pity to make substantive changes. “High energy” albeit temporary performances, however, are part & parcel of the act.
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Welcome to S4M. I’m glad that the woman who reminds you of Jen is EX.
I’m always amazed at how many other people are going through or have been through what my BF & I are going through with his ex wife — not to mention what he put up with during the 12 years of marriage! He’s truly a good man and 5 years APE (after psycho ex) we are still working through some baggage from his time with her. I’m so grateful for this site & the forum.
Anyway, his ex is recently “officially engaged” to the love of her life, couldn’t be happier, etc, etc, etc. She feels compelled to email or text these things to her ex…maybe the more she declares it, the more true it becomes. Who knows? Can’t find logic where there is none. Well, during the unofficial engagement period, she had a few blow ups with the fiancée’s young son. Calling him names (p*ssy, for example), giving him the finger, etc. She later explained it all away by saying she was jealous of the boy because she wanted to be fiancee’s #1. Oh, and she’d been drinking. But she “doesn’t drink…[please standby for fine print]…like that anymore”. Her “admitting” to this happening & her reason – I mean – excuse of jealousy will definitely be the extent of her being held accountable. Because how dare YOU call HER out on anything? What’s that? You have facts & proof & recordings? Eye witnesses?? No matter. She did not ever do anything wrong & never will. I mean, she closes her emails with “have a blessed day”. How could anyone who goes to church & have that email signature ever do anything wrong?? I digress… So this guy (who is the head of a school for troubled youths, by the way) is having no issue enabling her because, as he has stated, “we all have issues…we all have meltdowns”. Um…I don’t think so. The kids also tell us that fiancée disappears when their mom begins going off on his son because it’s “better” that she gets upset at the kid…when she’s mad at the fiancée, the whole house “blows up”.
The ex also likes to remind my BF that she was suffering from post-partem during their marriage (4 kids) & that she is all better now. She WAS sick, but is no longer (translation: you’re missing out on the best of ME!). I should mention that she was twice diagnosed with bipolar disorder during the marriage & never returned to either Dr beyond the diagnosis. Clearly she has found the cure…I wish she’d share it with the world so we could all live in peace 🙂
Dr Tara Palmatier says
What a mess. If you ex’s fiance allows this woman to treat his son in this way, I can only wonder what happens at his school for troubled youth. He’ll be lucky if his own son doesn’t become a student there.
Swan Song says
“I’M MAD AT THE WORLD!”
That’s what my CBx told a mutual friend when asked what she was always so angry about. This was shortly after our separation, and shortly before my eyes were finally opened about the extent of her serious disorder. For a long time, I believed that her dysphoria that was punctuated with rages and binge drinking was partly caused by me, or living with me, and I found myself in the escalating yet hopeless cause of trying to please her. Because I believed that her terrible alcoholism was her main problem, I started going to Al Anon, where one of the first things I learned were the three “C”s about a loved one’s alcoholism; “You didn’t Cause it, you can’t Control it, and you can’t Cure it”. I think the three “C”s could easily apply to BPD, NPD, etc., and by relieving yourself from the blame and responsibility for THEIR abusive behavior, you’ll go a long way in getting out of the fog. They won’t be able to guilt-trip you, hoover you, or gaslight you when you remove yourself from their crazy-equation.
Recently, after an unnecessarily huge drama (started by the CBx of course) my 15 year old son seemed to have his eyes opened. He made some very good observations about his mother that are all consistent with her BPD, and he now looks at his mother very differently. He told me, “Mom doesn’t remember things the way I do”, “Mom thinks the worst of EVERYONE”,”Mom never apologizes and she always blames someone else for her screw-ups” and “Mom holds onto grudges like crazy”. When he asked what I was laughing about, I told him, “It’s nice to know I’m not the only one she feels that way about. Now you’ll know that when she trashes me, she’s just saying I’m like everyone else.”
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Hi Swan Song,
I am glad your son’s eyes are starting to open. Just remember, he’s still young, the FOG is strong and he still has to live with her. Keep doing what you’ve been doing by providing with a healthier and far more loving alternative.
Do you think that now he is maturing toward manhood that he is becoming her target instead of you?
Swan Song says
“Do you think that now he is maturing toward manhood that he is becoming her target instead of you?”
When my oldest son (now 23) was 15, he lived entirely with his mother after she did an alienation number on him. However, after a year and a half of no contact with me, and being dominated by his mother, he started failing at school, he became covered in acne, and he started to cut on himself. He was a mess. He was also becoming her favorite target for abuse, especially when his voice changed and he started to sound like me. My youngest son would report to me that his Mom was calling his older brother an asshole, just like his father, and she started cutting him off from his friends and isolating him. When he’d had enough, he told her he was going to live with me, and she told him she never wanted to see him again. Within a few weeks of living with me, he made a dramatic turn-around, his grades went from F’s to A’s, his acne cleared up, and he became his old outgoing self.
In the last year, my youngest (now 15) had a growth spurt, his voice changed, and he’s not only his Mother’s favorite target, but now his sister (21) has also joined in with the abuse and bullying. He tells me that he feels the need to hide in the corner when he’s over there, and that whenever he tries to defend himself or protect his boundaries, they team up on him, and they tell him that he’s becoming abusive like his Dad. Apparently, according to him, whenever there’s an argument over there, my name comes up as the cause. I’m the “Emanuel Goldstein” upon which they can heap all of their problems and lay all of the blame for anything bad that happens in their lives. Fortunately, my son can now see the truth through the bullshit, but he still wants a relationship with his mother, so he doesn’t dare tell her that he wants to live with me most of the time (he does) because he’s afraid that she’ll disown him the way she did to his older brother. He’s in a real bind.
I can’t help wondering what will happen at his Mom’s if he decides to live with me full time. I imagine it wouldn’t take too long for his Mom and his Sister to be at each other’s throats, it will get ugly. I don’t know where my daughter would go if her mother booted her out, I would not let her stay with me for very long, I wouldn’t want to be rid of one crazy just to have it replaced with another. I know that sounds cruel for a father to say, but she’s now an adult, and sadly she’s too sick for me to deal with.
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Your stance regarding your daughter possibly living with you isn’t at all cruel.
Just because a person shares your DNA does not give them carte blanche to abuse you. Should your ex kick your daughter out or daughter storm out because the ex starts targeting her and seek to live with you, I would not let her in your home unless she agrees to the house rules and respects your boundaries.
If daughter won’t or can’t respect your boundaries than she forfeits the privilege of being in your home and having your assistance in other ways.
People like your ex and daughter really are amazing in that they expect everything in return for nothing — or worse — expect you to cater to their every whim and kiss their asses while they’re abusing and exploiting you.
You give the same boundaries to your daughter as you would to anyone else. Who knows, if it isn’t too late, which at 21 it very well may be, you might be able to give your daughter a very important life lesson that she will never learn from her mother:
Don’t expect people to help you, be kind to you or want to have a relationship with you when you have consistently shit all over them. The world and everyone in it do not owe you anything. If you’re a nasty, entitled asshole, healthy people will not want to be around you.
It’s pretty basic stuff, but somewhere along the way, people like your ex failed to learn this.
Amen to this. My husband has two daughters. One of them was always referred to as the “dragon baby”, because she was temperamental. The other one is sort of a “golden child”. Now those two girls are young women. The so-called “dragon baby” was actually nice when I met her. And while she did disown my husband, she didn’t do it in an extremely cruel way as her younger sister did. I don’t like her, but I think if she came around, I might come around. I think she just caved to pressure.
The other daughter is a carbon copy of her mother. Her interactions with my husband have been mean and cold. When she was 9 years old and visiting us for the first and only time, she slapped my husband across the face for having beer in the refrigerator. When she was 12 years old, she sent him a letter disowning him using very cruel, hateful language. She has a blog that my husband reads occasionally and it’s pretty clear she’s like her mother’s mini me, right down to her delusional thinking.
I have this feeling that there will come a day when one or both of them will approach him for whatever reason… Mom put them up to it because she’s angry with her current husband… They’re mad at mom and getting back in touch with my husband is the best way to piss her off… They’ve been convinced by a church leader that my husband needs to be reactivated in their faith… There are any number of ways this could happen; we have already seen it happen with the ex’s son and his bio dad, who was cut out of his life for over 15 years. I suspect that these kids will expect us to welcome them with open arms. We made that mistake with their older brother, my husband’s ex stepson. In the end, he screwed us over. We have noticed, though, that their mother never really lets anyone go and won’t hesitate to pop out of the woodwork if she thinks she can get away with it.
I have told my husband that they are his kids and if they want to reconnect with him, I won’t stand in the way. But I probably won’t stick around to witness it in person. If my husband’s daughters do come around, I don’t want them in my home. I have told my husband many times that you can’t reward people for being assholes, especially if they’re your kids. When you reward people for acting like assholes, they become emboldened to continue acting like assholes or they become super entitled assholes.
I think one of the most responsible things a parent can do for a child is teach them how to behave appropriately. That means teaching them to respect others and not letting their sick behavior contaminate your life or the lives of other healthy people around you. Our lives improved dramatically when he finally just resigned himself to letting them do their own thing.
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Exactly right, knotheadusc. Excellent boundary setting by you and your husband.
It’s heartbreaking, but the daughters are adults now. They have a choice, whether they know it or not.
Sure enough, on Christmas day, we found out my husband’s younger daughter contacted my husband’s dad after five years of not speaking to him. I have a feeling the psycho ex put her up to it. Something stinks.
We really need to put together a documentary on this. These women are nothing but domestic terrorists and they are experts at what they do. God Bless Dr. T for her insight into this nightmare and her ability to peel back the layers of their methodology of destruction. The number of lives and families destroyed by them is astronomical. I would say it is epidemic at this point.
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Thanks, megatron. All I do is observe and support. The folks who are living this, fighting to get out, protect their kids and rebuild their lives are the real heroes.
Funny you should say that, as i started speaking to people recently about doing something like this (i work in film, when i’m not working in software). All we need is the money, and the rest is easy. There’s definitely a case for it.
Yes please do this documentary, I’m broke but will chip in a few dollars and do anything to get this to TV or film.
Right. And is it only me, but is anyone else getting sick of the medicalization of horrible behavior? But for family immunity, a goodly number of these folks would be called upon to respond in criminal court. I love the euphemisms in this field, too. “Domestic theft.” Uh-huh. That’s when the Axis II cleans out the partner, lock stock and barrel. Because of the immunities that attach to home and hearth, very little is said or done about these matters, at least not very much in the public eye. It’s not like Jeff Foxworthy said about “mutual funds,” which is when everybody has a good time.
Seriously. I hope men are paying attention and not suffering in silence. Getting sick of men being kind of hunkered down and caved in on themselves. (Although it is totally understandable, the signs of a life lived in fear are never attractive.)
Well, that’s my $.02, worth every penny of it.
I was driving over to my ex’s to visit my 3 ½ yo. daughter, and it began to snow. I was thrilled at the prospect of being there to share with my daughter the experience of her first snow. My daughter was putting on her winter coat and full of joy when I got there. She runs to me and says, “Daddy it’s snowing” then the eruption started. My ex comes into the room screaming; my dog had jumped on a bed all of 2 seconds (she has 2 dogs btw). She was unrelenting in her screaming and profanity. It was a powerful display, like a force of nature. It was heart wrenching to watch my daughter’s face go from a look of wonder to one of being terrified and confused.
The next day I was asked to come over to watch my daughter, as the ex wanted to do some Christmas shopping. I came right away because at the time I only got to see my daughter at the caprice of my ex. When my daughter saw me she began crying and would not come out from under the bed. She was terrified. I could not placate her. I told the ex I was not staying and would come back another time. Act 2 of the screaming and profanity – “yes you will stay!” When I say screaming it is not hyperbole. It is so intense it is almost unnatural. I put my hands ups, mute, and backed away. She gave me a silent ride back to my place; I was lending her my car that day. When I got out of the car she asked me if I wanted to have lunch.
Lunch after that? No apologies or acknowledgment of the episode? WTF?
Dr. T asks: Can these individuals control their behavior or not? I don’t think they can control the outbursts, but they never ever accept responsibiliy for them afterward. In other instances they are selective in whom they target for their abuse. In this instance I believe thay can control their behavior and put on a mask. When she is nice to you she wants something, and when she is abusive she wants something.
Playmisty: I know exactly what you’re going through. What you describe is like a synposis of many visits I had with my daughter. Just when you’re connecting, bonding, seeing happiness in your child’s face (and your own), the BPD/Biatch strikes and ruins everything…and sick as it is, she enjoys inflicting the pain on both of you.
I used to give rides and do favors for my ex too. That’s a very dangerous thing to do. I suggest you stop immediately. Sooner or later, something will happen and you’re going to get caught up in some bad shit. Stop the favors/car loaning/rides etc. Just sayin.
“When she is nice to you, she wants something, and when she is abusive, she wants something.”
That comment reminds me of a tenet from the book “How to be a Rainmaker,” a book for salespeople. Which is, ‘Give to Get’–an effective strategy for business relationships, but NOT for personal relationships.
For whatever reason, Sociopath-spectrum PDIs seem to intuitively apply Give-to-Get for all their personal relationships…only they seem to think that giving others a nickel[‘s worth of love, affection, compassion, gifts,thoughtfulness,ec.] equates to your owning them $5,000[‘s worth…] in return.
There is NEVER a true give-and-receive with these types.
Wow good call GirlInside. Thats not just an analogy. My ex, and another woman I dated last year, were sales people (figuratively speaking). They perceive the weakness, your need, the chink in your armor, tailor their sales pitch/play to it, and reel you in. Oh, and you’re supposed to be grateful for the privilege of them taking you in their emotional scheme/scam.
Yes, TheGirlInside, excellent call on seeing the parallels to salesmanship. My soon-to-be ex viewed (views?) our relationship in a very transactional way. She also frequently mentioned how, as she was growing up, she intentionally copied her father’s skill at salesmanship, and how she combined that skill set with a careful and conscious adherence to her mother’s advice to “always kill them with kindness.”
It all sounds so harmless on the front end, at least to people like me. And, if one was going to be killed, what better way than by kindness?
But then you get to the back end — the place in a marriage where, on whatever small issue, neither person is going to get the precise outcome he or she wants. I had been *told* that these are the places for compromise. I had been *raised* to see that one person expresses a desire and the other acquiesces as he disassociates himself from whatever independent desire he may have held (of course, I wasn’t around for the early years of my parents’ marriage, the years when friction may have occurred, the years before the pattern was set). I also failed to fully appreciate that my in-laws’ relationship was, from my perspective, vicious. Not overtly, but passively. Being around them remains one of the most uncomfortable feelings I have experienced.
So, in my own marriage, my wife and I mapped out our first areas of compromise by my wife expressing her preference for things, and me agreeing to it. I had learned my role so well that, in those early days, I always thought that each little thing wouldn’t be a big deal. I had always assumed that, eventually, there would be some reciprocity. I would want something, and she would agree even though she didn’t necessarily agree. But that didn’t happen. It took a couple of years for me to recognize that my marital happiness was within my control, just as long as I could choke down my disagreement with a multitude of little, petty things. Everything would be fine if I expressed agreement to her desires (even if I did not agree). Nothing was fine if I expressed disagreement.
Another problem was, during those couple of years, I was only intuiting the problem with this arrangement, and then I was acting out on that feeling. In those instances where I expressed my disagreement, it was typically met with passive aggression, and we would begin to argue and fight. In those arguments, we would each run through our full arsenals of persuasive techniques. Hers is a variety of passive-aggressive techniques that eventually evolves into a cross-examination against the transcript she prepares, in real-time, in her mind. I would engage in that for a while, but I would always end up shouting (which is how we resolved things in my household growing up). We would exhaust each other, both figuratively and literally. Hostilities would cease when I submitted to her wishes about whatever inane, pedestrian thing it was that we were arguing about in the first place.
For years, I had defined the end of our arguments as the point when I would offer an apology (always for my shouting — that was the thing she (rightly) took issue with). But, now, I suspect that my thinking was incorrect. She never offered her own apologies, nor would she reciprocate after I offered mine. She also never accepted any of my apologies. Rather, her approach was to claim the need for time to process her feelings. Now that things are over, I can also say that she never let me know when that process concluded. Honestly, and even though it is a strong word — never. It seems to me that, for her, reconciliation was not a factor. My apologies meant nothing. I doubt that she even heard them.
Towards the end, I stopped shouting. This, amazingly, seemed to cause her to shout. I pointed this out, but she had an argument for that (“You taught me how to do it.”). The first time she did that, I told her that it was wonderful that she had only recently picked up the habit — because that meant she should be able to kick it in no time at all; after all, I was raised to be a shouter, and with just 6-8 months of work I had gotten it under control. I thought that was the end of her shouting. It was for that evening.
But it wasn’t the end of her shouting. The second time I heard her tell me that I had taught her to shout, I just stopped arguing with her. About everything. If I disagreed with something she wanted, I told her so. When she started in with whatever fighting technique she wanted to employ, I just calmly insisted that we needed to find a compromise. This invariably pushed her alarm button, and the raised voice and shouting would begin. When that happened, I calmly told her that we could discuss it when she could stop shouting, or being rude, or calling names (or all of the above). This invariably pushed her nuclear button. Then I would walk away. This invariably pushed her global-thermonuclear-war button.
For a while, I was confused about how doing what I was asked to do (stop shouting) could make things worse. I focused on the behavior, and quickly found that (a) I gained a better understanding of her objection to being shouted at; and (b) I won’t put up with that crap. So it only took a couple of months for me to ask for divorce. We’re in that process now.
But it wasn’t until very recently — and in no small part because of this article and this comment — that I noticed that, in our arguments in the waning days of our marriage, we never came to an agreement on the things we were disagreeing about. Or, to state it more precisely in terms of our original relationship dynamic, I didn’t cave.
That’s when things started to get really bizarre. I recall her mentioning at one point (with a small degree of self-awareness) that I needed to understand that I had established a pattern of acquiescing to her wishes, and therefore I shared in the responsibility for her emotional outbursts now that I was changing the dynamic. Again, she had a chastened tone when she said this. But she still said it, and she stood by it. She followed it up with a comment about how, when we were starting out, she had told me that she had trust issues (she did tell me that, and it was obvious), and that she didn’t really trust me (she actually told me the opposite of that). Recently, she equated my request for a divorce with “[my] evasion of the consequences of my deplorable behavior.” In other words, she has decided that I am solely responsible for the unworkable state of our marriage, and therefore I am honorbound to refrain from asking for a divorce. (?) This all seems nuts to me. But I digress.
I don’t know if I can answer the doctor’s question — my wife is not diagnosed (nor am I, for that matter), and although I find the resources and stories here familiar, they are different (in degree) than my own experiences. In my experience, my wife can control herself, but only when she wants to. Her desire for self-control seems to exist only as a means to an end; if she wants something. And, in that regard, part of controlling herself includes letting herself loose on me at appropriate times. She only seems to lose complete control at the moment when it becomes clear that her salespitch is not going to get her what she wants. Then it’s just all-out war.
Throughout all of this, she is not even negotiating. She is selling. Compromise is just not in her vocabulary.
Swan Song says
Good salesmanship is a terrific skill that I think most BPDs share, they persuade you to ‘buy’ the phony character that they’ve developed to conceal their true persona. But in the end, you’ll have purchased nothing but heartache from them, and it’s easy to argue that they’re actually ‘taking’ instead of ‘selling’.
TI85 – nice summary. Pretty much described how the emotional landscape was with my ex. And, like you, I would try to think things through, resolve in an intellectual way, assuming my ex would be ‘reasonable’ and choose the most logical solution to whatever conflict was going on at the time.
When I acquiesced and let her have her way, she would rub my face in it. My emotional surrenders were perceived as weakness, and I would be humiliated and emasculated by her for having given in to her demands. When I would stand up for myself and disagree with her, I would be met with verbal and often physical violence/aggression. It was literally a lose-lose situation. I finally concluded that she wanted 2 things: 1) Conflict. She thrived on it and the negative energy it created; 2) My emotional pain/suffering. She took pleasure seeing me hurt.
It was difficult for me to fathom that someone would purposely initiate conflict for the sole purpose of conflict, let alone a pretty woman like my ex also initiating emotional pain and suffering, again, just for the sole purpose of seeing me suffer. I believe these kinds of people, on the sociopath spectrum, enjoy seeing others suffer.
I understand there are people in the world who will steal, cheat, lie, rape etc. because they get some kind of tangible benefit from it. Its twisted on their part, but I am aware of this and can usually prevent being a ‘victim’ of these types of crimes.
What I still struggle with are people, especially women/moms, who steal, like, rape, pillage, destroy despite NO TANGIBLE benefit, or even for a ‘net loss’ (financial etc). they still perpetrate their emotional crimes b/c they cannot stop, they enjoy seeing others suffer, at all cost. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to fully understand or accept there are people like this in the world.
Swan Song says
“…..She took pleasure seeing me hurt.”
“I believe these kinds of people, on the sociopath spectrum, enjoy seeing others suffer.”
The impression I got from my CBx when she would intentionally inflict pain and drama, didn’t seen to be as much about the pleasure she got from seeing someone else suffer, although I often caught her smirking at my misfortunes and injuries. Creating discord and hurtful drama almost seemed to be the only way she could communicate to those closest to her the pain and unhappiness she was experiencing herself. It was as though she was saying, “I’m going to make your life as miserable as mine, just so you know what I feel like”. It’s their way of expressing just how pissed off they are with the world and their lives; make everyone else as miserable as they are, because misery loves company.
Perhaps. But I think most sociopathic ppl derive some pleasure from seeing others suffer. I think its some kind of release for them. The mind games they play there’s really no benefit other than getting some kind of ‘kick’ from seeing someone confused and hurt, and the control/power play I suppose.
I would believe it. My ex-friends actually wrote to me, after reading about all my anger, pain and sadness at the things they had done, “We had a good laugh.”
Though, of course, the laughter ended later on in the message as they threatened to sue….
“Recently, she equated my request for a divorce with “[my] evasion of the consequences of my deplorable behavior.” In other words, she has decided that I am solely responsible for the unworkable state of our marriage, and therefore I am honorbound to refrain from asking for a divorce. (?) This all seems nuts to me. But I digress.”
Hmmm…. This sounds eerily familiar. When my husband and I decided to break off a friendship after this woman kept accusing me of things and raged at me and refused to listen to the truth, then after a time of trying to reconcile, we asked for a six-month break to cool off and come at it again later–Her response to me: “You know where we live if you decide to GROW UP and stop feeling upset over the consequences of YOUR BEHAVIOR.” Ummmmmm…NO. Just no acknowledgement at all that this breakup was the consequence of HER behavior and constant accusations. To this day, she still claims she did nothing wrong.
Mr. E says
I think they can control themselves just fine, when they think it’s in their best interest to do so. My ex was able to “behave” around people she was afraid of or wanted to impress. And I think the “I do this because you make me” statements, in my ex’s case, were just her admitting that her behavior was a strategy to get what she wanted.
Of course, now that I have a little distance, I think my ex was pretty far down the continuum towards sociopath rather than borderline. In another post, you mentioned that it’s possible to pity a borderline. It’s hard to pity my wife, beyond a Mr. T-like “pity the fool.” She was/is cold and calculating. Before I got out, I was able to see that in any given situation, with any people, she was watching everyone, regardless of what the rest of her face was expressing.
The only time I can think of when she seemed to regret her actions was once when she slipped up at work and make a nasty joke about a VP to another co-worker, and she realized it was possible the VP had overheard it and she might get in trouble.
I think she’d file away the results of her behavior for future reference. Eg. “If I do X to Mr. E, I get presents!,” or, “If I do Y at work, I get praise from my boss and co-workers.”
LT Greenwald says
Excellent post, Mr. E.
So Cal Dad says
This post was so insightful for me. It’s so nice to have a new blog entry from Dr. T. Just when I think I have learned all that I need about BPD, I suddenly learn a whole bunch more. In reading some of Jen’s comments, I felt myself empathizing and feeling for Jen and her problems. Then Dr. T’s clarifying observations bring home the truth. I am not as able to see clearly the blamelessness and lack of empathy embedded in Jen’s rant. It’s like a I need an inner Dr.T to guide me through the labyrinth of self-blame and denial.
These are the same tactics my BPD/NPD wife uses to manipulate me, my feelings and my viewpoint. Those tactics are very effective for my wife and they worked well for her for years, until I began to discover the counseling at this S4M website and through other books and materials. I now know that I have been vulnerable to these women and I am trying to learn why and to change. I am not blameless in these matters, and I suffer and then withdraw, am depressed and feel guilt, all of which certainly isn’t good for building closeness with my daughters and my family.
Like many of the posts here, my worry has turned more toward the effects and alienation of my 2 teenage daughters, who are firmly under their Mom’s control. I now realize the PAS probably began years ago, I didn’t recognize it and capitulated on so much that I probably should not have. The marriage is emotionally destructive and toxic and should probably end soon. But divorcing my BPD wife, who is a lawyer, strikes fear in my heart. My teenage daughters, alienated and rude as they are to me, are the reason I try every day to cope and carry on.
The only thing worse than a BPD woman is a BPD wife, and the only thing worse than a BPD wife is a BPD wife with a law degree.
Don’t beat yourself up for withdrawing, etc. These are normal responses to the unique misery of trying to maintain a relationship with someone with BPD traits.
If you leave your wife, you may find that your daughters, after the initial crisis has passed, develop a new respect for you.
As for the fear…find a tough lawyer who knows what he’s doing with respect to high conflict divorce and together develop a solid plan in stealth, the fear should be manageable. Good luck.
So Cal Dad says
“You may find that your daughters, after the initial crisis has passed, develop a new respect for you.”
Thank you JP. I would hold on to that hope if and when leaving becomes a reality. Thoughts that I would be mutilating their young lives keep me in place. It feels like I am standing idly by watching their Mom mold them into “mini-me’s” of her, with the blaming, avoiding responsibility, constant ridiculing of others, etc. A sort of “enmeshment” has developed with the 3 of them over the last couple years, as the emotional distance has increased between their mother and I. Mom emanates an increasing disrespect toward me and the kids follow her lead. Teenagers are disrespectful, that’s life. But it feels like I get the “full monty” of disdain and ignoring, while they often happily interact with Mom. They hardly talk to me anymore. Maybe leaving is the only way to gain their respect.
Socal Dad: I’m a Socal Dad too. BPDs/NPDs and the sociopaths are abundant here in southern California. You got involved with one too. I also withdrew a lot and capitulated much; really beat myself up for not being a ‘stronger man’, standing up to my ex, trying to save my daughter from her and the crazy enmeshment. I still feel guilty to this day…even though I did all I could and the legal system not only failed me and my daughter, it was downright abusive to me. Save yourself while you can. Don’t be the hero/martyr, because nothing you say or do will change anything. You’re dealing with a bona fide sociopath; a miniature Hitler if you will. Save yourself and your daughters will see the example you set of escaping and utilizing an exit strategy. Staying only teaches them they must stay and endure abuse too, IMO.
“BPDs/NPDs and the sociopaths are abundant here in southern California.”
Hm. My BPD/NPD/sociopathic ex-friends are from southern California….
My husband’s children, two daughters, have also been “brainwashed” by BPD Mom into not only thinking Dad is a cheating slacking loser but that men can not be relied on.
He is a hard-working, moral person and she has the two teenagers saying things like “everyone lies,” and believing it. More concerning is the emotional lability and unavailability and immaturity they are both displaying. They are emotionally and developmentally stunted. How will they ever grow up? How do kids of BPD parents mature?
These are great posts, thanks,
LT Greenwald says
Your use of the painting, “The Scream,” is perfect for this article. 🙂
I literally lol’d at “Jen’s” comment from the Edge: “…you are completely unable to even say why you are sad or to explain why your unhappy it LITERALLY WILL NOT COME OUT”
And then she proceeded to write a long diatribe about why she was sad.
Swan Song says
However, when they sit down and calmly start to enumerate the things that are bugging them, they’ll go on, and on, and on…….and on. It’s when they’re in a red faced rage that they’re incapable of effectively expressing, or actually understanding, whatever it is that wound them up in the first place. I believe the reason for that is that the cause for many of their rages is an internal misinterpretation or exaggeration of an actual event that is usually benign in nature. I often asked my CBx the day after a huge blowup “What the Hell started that?”, and she would usually admit that she couldn’t remember how it started, but then she would call me an insensitive asshole for not accepting her need to blow off steam every one in a while. The really disturbing thing happened next, of course. Over time, maybe a week or so, she would retroactively fabricate in her own mind the cause for the argument (it was always something awful that I did), long after I would have let it drop, and she would add yet another rotten thing that I did to her ever expanding list of grievances.
Dawn De Beer says
My son’s bpd ex has the amazing talent for behaving and controlling herself when she needs to.People who can be used by her in the future will only see this wonderfull loving mummy( she has accummulated quite a few of these dimwits)but I have watched carefully and seen how cunning she is.She is so in control that she makes damn sure there are no witneses who can verify what a dangerous person she is when she starts her violent behaviour.Cunning, devious and fully aware and fully in control of all her actions.She is so in control that she plans everyday according to what her needs are for that day.Rushes to the dimwits for sympathy,,the lies are carefully planned to gain the most sympathy.When she needs to feed her anger, the emails and sms at about 100 a day with very carefully thought out, nasty hurtfull comments more than enough to damage the whole day for the person on the receiving end,,she is carefull not to put in writing anything that can be libelious.How in control is that.?Come on…she knows exactly what she is doing every single day.Fully in control.Maybe that is why one can’t get enough evidence against them(she has eyes in the back of her head,,try recording her. didn;t work. she shut up)I am beginning to think that good kind people just can’t think their way and therein lies the problem.Is any person out there who is not terrified of them?
So Cal Dad says
It seems Dr. T has been the lone voice on the acknowledgment, recognition and change re men suffering emotional abuse. Maybe awareness is growing, as NPR’s “Can I Just Tell You” program has this subject today:
Women Can Be Abusers Too
December 12, 2012
In her regular ‘Can I Just Tell You’ essay, host Michel Martin shares her thoughts on the myths and troubling facts about domestic violence.
Oh, I think they absolutely have the power to control it. That, to me, is the definition of “high functioning” – they control it and choose when the frustration will come out. My husband is doing a great job teaching his daughters (with the disordered ex) that no one is responsible for how they feel except themselves and that they cannot use “she MADE me” as an excuse for anything. Many PD individuals have a sixth sense for gauging how much sh*t someone will take from them and adjusting their behavior accordingly. Like others have said, it’s all about training them with boundaries, like a toddler … and they will move away from anyone whose boundaries are effective to find someone they can control more effectively.
I always like the slot machine analogy. Just like people will sit there and press the button knowing that eventually it will spit out quarters, disordered people keep pressing buttons until they get what they want too. They’re skilled in knowing when to pull back and when to go in for the kill. They’ll only walk away from a machine that NEVER pays out, so being that machine is the only way to get rid of them.
I also have to say that as a woman, I am appalled at so much of society’s treatment of men today. From the Subway ad where two women (in little girl voices) take a man’s sub away from him for themselves to sitcoms that make fun of stereotypical men’s weaknesses, I just think NO ONE would let people get away with that kind of demeaning treatment/attitude towards women. Then you see grown men acting like immature jerks and trying to shrug it off with, “boys will be boys” as if they’re only living up to how society has written them off. Is this like a woman standing helplessly in front of a closed door waiting for someone to come open it for her? We all have to do better to call BS on abusive treatment towards men the way society does towards women. Domestic violence is wrong no matter who the perpetrator is, just like both parents are equally deserving of custody of their child. But that’s a whole different soapbox.
Welcome back, Doc.
Another timely article Dr.T!
They can control themselves just fine when they need to put on the “poor-me-I-am-so-hard-done-by” act. Then they can come across as looking all soft spoken and reasonable….but with others (expecially their ex’s) they can rage like a nutcase. This is how my husband’s ex is. She will leave a voice message laced with profanity and be short of breath and high pitched…almost foaming at the mouth. It seems like she is so angry she can barely string 2 reasonable sentences together. But she never yells. Even when she is angry at her kids, she never yell. Her aggression is more passive than that. If she is displeased with their 13 yo son, she will just quit talking to him. It’s as if he doesn’t exist.
Last week, he ran away from school when he was at the counsellor’s office and was told his mom was coming to join the session. He wanted to come spend the evening at our house. My husband called the police and asked them to let her let his son spend the night at our place (so she wouldn’t charge my husband with kidnapping). She unhappily agreed and only after the cops urged her to put his needs first. This was last Thursday. She has not spoken to him about why he ran away or what he was upset about….nothing! It’s almost like she wants it all to go away and if she doesn’t bring it up, it will. She has not even spoken to him since then. This kind of emotional abuse is de rigeur for her. She used to give my husband the silent treatment when he was married to her so he knows what she is capable of.
But then she gets out in public, at his hockey games or wherever and she is the image of the perfect, doting mom. So carefully does she have this facade down that noone would even guess she hasnt spoken to her son for a week.
It’s really quite frightening to know that someone can be so different a person in public and private.
My mother, who was probably NPD, used to give me the silent treatment as a kid. Once for a whole week. I think it was probably more emotionally abusive than the insults or the micromanaging. At least if she was yelling at me I was visible to her. The silent treatment was worst … it was as if she was denying my existence.
When I think about personality disordered people, I think of them as emotionally incontinent. So when the question is posed, can they help their rages, the answer is yes, and no. Everyone alive has negative emotions that they have to deal with, just like everyone alive needs to eliminate waste. The difference is, well adjusted adults know how to contain their emotions,and wait for a proper time and place to deal with them: they take care of themselves and do not harm or inconvenience others in the process. It takes discipline and sometimes it’s even uncomfortable, but we do it. Disordered people are not like this. Also, they’re not like people who, through nerve or other damage, can’t control themselves. They’re more like full grown adults who never submitted to potty training- they think it’s their right to dispose of their emotional waste wherever they please, and other people are there to clean it up, or tell them they had every right to soil the carpet, we’re lucky they didn’t go for the chair, and furthermore, it smells like roses. When you consider the fact that these people feed on jealousy, envy, and rage (the emotional equivalents of chili cheese dogs, green apples and scotch bonnet peppers)you see how you can have a hellafied mess.
Now there are some people who will not tolerate this behavior, they make it plain, verbally or non-verbally, that it will not happen in their presence. Disordered people seethe with resentment towards these boundaries: they view it as a violation of their rights. I guess they see it as being denied a toilet, or some other indignity. But in doing so, they mistake their right and responsibility to process their emotions with the right to harm others in the process. They may also become desperate for emotional release, and impinge on the rights of those weaker or more complacent than themselves in order to meet their emotional needs (children, beaten down spouses).
Lastly, if anyone points out to them how truly noxious their behavior is, they seem to respond with rage, and any technique to block reality: but how would most of us feel, if we hadn’t been potty trained, or taught to read, or keep ourselves clean, or any of the basic skills which we should be learning in childhood? I, for one, would ache with shame to look at myself, and would prefer not to, ever. It’s hard for me to face the very real flaws that I have, and they’re not that glaring. I think the older they get, the more difficult it becomes to admit that they don’t have these skills, and so they choose to bully others into acceptance and maintenance, or they move on when the amount of filth they create becomes unbearable even to themselves.
Oh, definitely. After I dared to point out how noxious the ex-friend’s behavior was, I ended up on her sh** list. So far as threats to sue me if I went to my priest for help and protection.
This post makes me wonder if it is not a good thing that my wife refuses to be tested. I am thinking that it might just give her another reason to excuse her behavior. “I can’t help it, I have a disorder!” But what strikes me is the complete lack of empathy for her victims.
Thank God there are at least some judges that can see through the ” poor me I suffer so much because he’s such a mean person” act. I’m finally a free man and the judge (a wise lady in this case) saw through act. It didn’t help that she was very uncooperative in court but then it’s what I expected. I was ready to sign a settlement that was much more favorable to her but she w sure she was entitled to more so she backed out at the last minute. Now she gets squat. Change comes slowly but it does happen.
You make it sound so easy dealing with and getting free of a bpd, but I think I will die in the process.
Joe, no, you won’t die in the process. Many of us have felt that way, you’re not alone there. But we didn’t die, and we’re better for the fight, and so are our children.
Read through Dr T’s articles. Read the comments. Find your boundaries and start setting them. The only other thing I’ll tell you is that the BPD isn’t your biggest enemy, it’s your fear of her that is. Get a handle on that fear, and you’ll find the rest will come together.
Welcome, there are lots of good people here to stand behind you. If you want to, you can and will get free of the BPD in your life, and you’re not going to die in the process.
No she does not. She consistently points out how extremely difficult the process of allowing to set yourself free from a PD really is.
It is anything but easy, individual circumstances are all different, but one thing is for certain, this is never going to be an easy task, but and this is important, it can be done, and once it is a good bit behind you, things do get easier, by the minute, I speak of experience.
Dr. T is a pioneer in the field and honest, sincere advocate for men. Perhaps the only advocate we have. She won’t sugarcoat or back down from facts and truth. Its really refreshing – saved my sanity.
Please send me 1,000 more Dr. T’s. That’s all I ask. Milk & cookies on the table.
Reading Jen’s comments sends a shiver down my spine. Almost verbatim verbiage my ex used to say. Made me remember of all the times I tried to reason, rationzalize, discuss feelings and problems with the ex, all to no avail. Always wound up browbeaten, belittled, beleaguered, badgered, beaten and emotionally drained. Thank God I woke up and found these websites, and the other folks who’ve suffered. This quasi-community has saved my life. My sanity. A piece of serenity remains…
Thanks for the article Dr. T! My take is that BPD’s certainly CAN control their behaviour. Either that or they all have multiple personalities. I used to watch my ex change in moments from a helpless clueless child needing sympathy to a bossy, in charge all knowing capable worker. She was very high achieving and held one of those positions that many idealists would want their child to be. Excuses, lack of empathy and blaming/shaming was constant with the ex. I was pretty much constantly to blame for something or deserved something or had one more (infinite) hoop to jump through. I love coming back to this site just to reflect on what a great choice I made in leaving my ex. No remorse at all. I hope she’s doing ok but really if she isn’t – that’s ok too. I’ve lost my anger and I rarely think of her now but my 2 yrs with her taught me more about pd’s than I ever would have thought I’d know. Being able to detect all the warning signs that signify the pd’s are great skills to have these days as pd’s seem to be everywhere. Great read. Thanks again.
LT Greenwald says
“I love coming back to this site just to reflect on what a great choice I made in leaving my ex.”
Same here! 🙂
Me, too! 🙂
Thank you so much for this website. I will never see her (or her manipulations) the same way again. I found my way here trying to make sense of what I’m experiencing. Dr T, PLEASE continue to post comments from BPDs that you think will be helpful. I valued your translation.
Like many of you, I reached this place of reckoning with fond memories of my former, healthy normal life. I have questions. I feel like a shell and I am angry about it. Sadly, having this awareness means you have suffered a loss to acquire it; loss of your former life, health, sanity, possessions, time, money… and once the victim reaches a place of emptiness (a rich reward for our loyalty and devotion) we are left to sort through the wreckage alone because of course the BPD has never done anything wrong.
After a year of the romance phase, I cut off one thing after another either to give US more time or to chivalrously prove my love and devotion until I put all of me into the relationship to “save us” and preserve my sanity. For me, rewriting history while invalidating my feelings was the worst abuse and reality checks were always interrupted by a vitriolic distortion campaign or her having a meltdown so she can’t hear the truth as I am sure it makes her feel shame. She hates herself and says so often. Distorting reality can make you feel insane.
What parent ever thinks to train their child in how to detect a psychopath? I was sucked in after a year of seeing everything I ever wanted in a spouse, including voracious passion and steamy sex, THEN the other person started to come out. I tried to leave several times – I wish I had stayed away.
She shows me glimmers of hope to keep me hooked and I believed the hype because I want to believe that person was real. My GFS primary goals are; never to be blamed, busted or be in trouble and she admits this (of course not up front). I’m assuming if they ever admit they are “wrong” it gives away too much power and control? Is that what that’s about?
She has studied me like a book and in many ways knows me better than I know myself and what I noticed is that she KNOWS to hide certain things from me. If someone knows enough to know to hide/lie about something, doesn’t that suggest they know it is wrong? Why do we call this very normal realization a sickness? I just want to understand the mental process, no matter how depraved. Is there a BPD on here who can explain this mental process? What do they think when they are being deceitful and knowingly hide it? Is it that they don’t care? Are they resolving some childhood trauma? Do they really have no control over themselves? Are they temporarily insane when they do these things and then are so filled with shame that they get us to “abuse them” because they feel deserve it?
It took years for me to get here. Now (and I have no idea how this happened) it’s almost like I deny my own reality and I am now abusing myself in doing so. I had her followed for a while and eventually thought what’s the point? I was never going to show her what I got or force her to acknowledge that she lies pathologically. If I did, I know i would hear “well of course I did this because YOU ___” and certainly “this is the first time I ___”. It was worth it just to feel validated.
The empty and constant unfulfilled promises, excused away by a revised version of history has damaged my trust to the point where I don’t really trust anything. I am starting to think she HAS TO live somewhere else so she can maintain a secret life, like an emotional vampire who is only real (for a short time) with the next victim and it will be years before they know they will need this website.
Garlic, wow. You summarized most my feelings. We’ve probably lived many, many of the same experiences. I feel your pain. Welcome to the site, and, hopefully to some kind of recovery/sanity/serenity.
I’ve been watching Alfred Hitchcock Presents on Netflix. There are several episodes featuring cluster B personalities. So far the most scary accurate was The Young One from season 3.
LT Greenwald says
Nice reference Jason! I have a similar feeling watching “Walking Dead” — a drama set in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by zombies. And my ex-wife reminds me of one of the zombies! She was sweet and nice when we were dating. Then after we got married, a switch flipped and she tried to destroy me. I had to fend her off by locking doors that she would try to break down, etc., etc. She even bit me! Thank god she wasn’t an actual zombie! 🙂
I just saw “Prozac Nation” – there should be a picture of the author next to the word ‘histrionic’ in the dictionary.
You’ll be glad to know the author, Wurtzel, has not procreated.
I am 99.9% sure i know who “Jen” is, even though she could be anyone’s ex-bpd. And if it is, i’ll absolutely vouch for everything Dr T has said in the article.
I am a 42 year old gay man and my relationship with “AG” started in June / July of 2011. AG has an on-again / off-again opiate addiction. When we met, he was only using pot and occasionally drinking. He moved into my condo about 6 weeks after we started dating. Oddly, he was “working” with his cousin as a “driver”. When he moved in with me, he started a job working as a waiter at a local mexican joint. His job at the mexican restaurant lasted from August until almost the end of October, when he was either fired or quit. He then proceeds to get a job at another restaurant, for which I have to purchase clothing. This job lasts for only a short time .. about two weeks, after which he is fired. He goes back to the prior job for a few weeks, and proceeds to get fired there also. Other than this, the relationship seems to be going ok, other than his demands on my time. He did make a troubling statement … to the effect that he wanted me fat so that no one else would want me.
In January of this year, he started using opiates again (how many of these addicts really ever stay clean) and the abusiveness started. This includes accusations of being unfaithful, being forced to delete online profiles (including an old yahoo account) … he basically stated i could either delete the profiles or he would leave (emotional blackmail?) At this time ( in Februrary ) there were a number of threats to commit suicide by jumping from my 3rd story deck / balcony. He would also make it very very difficult to sleep at night. There were a number of occasions where he would threaten me with a knife, only to say “just kidding”. One of his favorite tactics to get money for heroin is to threaten to either sell himself (prostition) or leave.
Fast forward to November, the week of thanksgiving, one night he wakes me up with a loud phone conversation — disconsiderate and rude — I asked him to go upstairs, and he blatantly refuses. Apparently I dont have the right to sleep in my own home. On Thanksgiving he leaves to go visit family in California — paid for by guess who —
Even since then the games and bull crap hasn’t stopped. I have been accused of lying and being unfaithful… when in reality I counldn’t care less about sex and my sex drive is pretty much a goner. I have to prove where I am and who I am with, and if I don’t answer the phone or txt immediately .. it becomes evidence against me. Or if I enforce a boundry and object to inappropriate behavior, I am accused of cheating. A perfect example, I went to a family function the weekend before christmas, and he was aware I was with family. He proceeds to send very sexually suggestive text messages to my phone, which I have to have with me due to professional obligations. When I told him not to send those sorts of text messages when at work or with family .. the accusations of unfaithfulness and freakout commence.
Just this week he has threatend to have my condo burned and my car blown up. He has said he is having me watched, having friends of his come over to check on me, etc etc …
I dont know anymore if this is part of the addition disease or something much deeper .. maybe I should sell everything and high-tail it out of dodge .. but I can’t due to family obligations. (My skills and profession would make this very easy … can get a job almost in any major city)
Here’s a good website specifically for gays/lesbians: http://gmdvp.org/domestic-violence/
Whatever the cause of his abuse, you don’t deserve it and shouldn’t have to put up with it.
Never mind all of the put-downs and name calling. I’ve been told that I dont know how to dry myself off, that I don’t know how to properly wipe myself after defecation. I’ve been called a piece of sh*t. I’ve even been told that I don’t know how to drive, and I’ve been driving longer than AG has been alive.
I was just wondering if Dr. T has any experience with women like this having health problems. My undiagnosed BPD/NPD wife has high blood pressure and is borderline diabetic. This is very recent. Also she has some problems with her feminine areas that resulted after her full hysterectomy.
I just think that her incredibly negative attitude and constant complaints are having a really negative effect on her health.
As a stay-at-home mother, I was concerned at first about the articles about wives not working. But then Dr. T explained that she’s not talking about SAHMs like me, who clean the house, take care of the child(ren), manage the finances, cook, keep the house running, etc.–but ones who don’t do anything all day but veg on the computer while the kids tear the house down. Though of course, a person does have to be careful about that, too, because there are guys who will accuse their wives of sitting on their butts all day when they actually are being run ragged by small children and could use some help….
This article peaked my interest because of Tina Swithin’s Narc Decoder. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tina-swithin/post_4269_b_2346919.html I could certainly use one of those, but I don’t have her book (I’m not divorcing a narc), so I don’t know how it works. 🙂
I’ve also seen troll/scold comments just like that on various other blogs about narcissism/BPD/sociopathy. It’s why I don’t open my own blog to comments. The bloggers keep getting told they’re “being victims,” don’t have credentials to diagnose anyone, etc. etc. Oh, the irony that even a counselor with credentials is getting these comments! They’re basically blaming the victims. We know something is terribly wrong because we were in that relationship, and we wouldn’t be looking for help on the Web if it were just about a difference of opinion. We’re here because we feel abused. We want answers. We want to hear that it’s not our fault. Telling us we don’t have credentials–What, so just because I’m not a psychiatrist, I’m supposed to take everything my abuser tells me to heart, and fall victim to every wolf out there? Don’t I have the intelligence to be able to go through the characteristics and identify what I have seen as sociopathic or narcissistic? It’s invalidating, like they’re saying, “Shut up! You haven’t been abused; you’re just whining, a crybaby.”
I do occasionally see evidence of narcs taking information from sites like this, and turning it around so that they accuse women of faking abuse, being borderline, etc. It is one of the dangers of easy Web access to information. But I suspect the vast majority of men (and women connected to those men) on these sites are legitimately abused.
Since my narcs have been reading my blog weekly for months, and I often reference Shrink4Men, I keep wondering if they’ll try posting here. 🙂 I’m glad Dr. T doesn’t post comments like that, since arguing with and trying to reason with my narcs has proven to be pointless enough. They read my blog every week yet show no signs of repentance or even acknowledging one word of my story/feelings/pain to be real or true. Just their own supposed offendedness and my supposed bad behavior. I sure don’t need to see even more arguments just like that in the comments here. The e-mails they sent me are just plain baffling in their narc rages, DARVO and accusing me of threats I never even made, then making legal threats which are ridiculous. That’s enough crazy for me. 😛 From what I’ve seen, I’m likely dealing with a couple who combines a BPD/NPD wife and an NPD husband, and sociopathy is quite likely for them both.
“Pointing out how abusive many undiagnosed and diagnosed individuals with BPD/NPD are to their partners, family members and friends is not abusive and herein lies the problem. Many individuals with BPD, NPD, HPD and sociopathy cannot tolerate holding the mirror up to themselves. They rage at and blame the mirror for the ugliness and damage they perpetrate. It’s not their fault, it’s the mirror’s fault for reflecting their own behavior back to them.”
–This would explain how upset my narcs got at me writing about how they abused me and others, and also for the time one overheard me telling my husband what had been going on. Everything I said was true, but I was accused of manipulating my husband, lying, hatred, etc. On the day she blew up at me in narc rage, she even told me not to tell my husband about it. I suppose you’d call that controlling my narrative. I also sensed a strong sense of entitlement to treat me and others any way she darn well pleased, while I was supposed to “grow up” and just put up with it or else. And when she found my narrative in my blog, she tried to control it with a threat of a lawsuit, with threatening me if I told anyone at church, even.
Cousin Dave says
Kay, to answer your first question: If a couple agrees that the wife (or, for that matter, the husband) will be a stay-at-home, and if she is truly dedicating herself to raising children and upkeep of the household, I have no problem with that. There are some people in the men’s movement who disagree, but I don’t see the problem with it. The sort of thing we’re really talking about is this sort of thing: right after my ex and I got married, she assumed that she would be living a life of leisure from then on. She fully expected that I would provide for her and maintain a lifestyle of her choice, and that she would have full freedom to go anywhere she wanted and do anything she wanted at any time. She also expected that I would accompany her whenever she wanted company, and she bitterly resented the time I spent at work trying to earn the money needed for all of the things she wanted.
We were married for one year, and in that year she drained all of my savings and retirement accounts. One of the things that motivated me to divorce her was the realization one day that, in the five years I had known her, she had never supported herself: either I supported her, or during a period that we were broken up, she mooched off of friends. She never had a job for more than a few weeks at a time during that entire five years.
I got another sms and an email in which all my ex’s crazy behaviour is projected right back onto me: I wanted a divorce, was in love with another woman, wasn’t happy in a family and could not be happy unless I totally controlled and bullied her. God, its like being in the twilight zone with these people. I am so tempted to send this quote from the movie se7en to her as it really just encapsulates her behavior so well:
“I’ve been trying to figure something in my head, and maybe you can help me out, yeah? When a person is insane, as you clearly are, do you know that you’re insane? Maybe you’re just sitting around, reading “Guns and Ammo”, masturbating in your own faces, do you just stop and go, ‘Wow! It is amazing how fucking crazy I really am!’? Yeah. Do you guys do that?”
I read the Narc Decoder article on Huffington Post. Loved it. We never used that term but I admit we spend too much time translating the Narc’s endless stream of malicious texts and emails. In general, however, all of her communication translates to the same message: What about MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE?????
James T says
First post. Can’t even believe what I’ve learned on this site in the last few days… I made a new friend who’s life mirrors mine and he encouraged me to research BPD, and my God, my wife fits it like a glove. 13 out of 13 signs.
For years I was convinced I was crazy, that I was a narcissist, that I was a bad father, that I was unattractive, unworthy of friendships, that I wasn’t good enough, that I was unworthy of real, supportive love and partnership. That the trophy house and Porsche I provided her somehow weren’t enough. My self-esteem was HORRIBLE. I began self-medicating, drinking to escape… pushing the “off button” on my pain. She had systematically broken me down with repeated cruel comments, judgement, hostility, isolation, withholding of sex, manipulation, and control. She even had me believing that I had a “small penis.” I don’t, for the record.
To try to please her, and attract her, I embarked on a self-improvement quest. I committed to hard-core exercise, and after a year of daily workouts got myself into the best shape of my life… I looked like a fitness model. Bought new clothes. Got a new haircut. Still nothing, no sex… now getting questioned — “who are you doing that for?” For you! To try and please you!
Then something unexpected happened… After I whipped my ass into shape, I felt and looked much better, and I started to get some confidence back. People started telling me how “hot” I was. The few friends I managed to maintain began telling me my life was not normal, that I deserved better. What? Mr. Ugly and Worthless? I started to realize that I wasn’t being treated fairly. After years of brainwashing, I started to figure it out. I decided that I was no longer going to allow my wife to tell me what music I could listen to, or what TV shows I could watch. To constantly critique me for the dumbest little things that I actually hadn’t done wrong. To tell me that my feelings were invalid and stupid. That I would no longer live in fear of her, that I would no longer walk on eggshells. That I would no longer believe her revisionist history.
And that’s when the wheels came off. Our relationship, which had been in a stable pattern of heavy dysfunction, became increasingly unstable once I stood up to her. Inexplicable hysterical episodes. Running off into the night. Physical attacks that left scratches and bruises. Dragging our kids into our arguments. One of her go-to techniques was to threaten to kick me out, so I would grovel and beg and get back in line. I called her on that one. After one such threat, I said f*** it, I’m going and moved out — I had actually found myself afraid to sleep in my own house and would lock myself in a room, as I feared she would attack me in my sleep. So I felt like I had nothing to lose. On my way out the door, she demanded I give her my wedding ring… Dumb move.
I left for six months. And I found that I was PROFOUNDLY happier away from her. That I could be myself, and people loved me for it. I reestablished old friendships that I had been isolated from. I made new friends, very easily. I reconnected with my family, who I had been convinced for years were terrible people that I shouldn’t be around (they’re not!) I felt alive for the first time in years. I was hit on by beautiful, interesting, attractive women. I declined, as I am still married. But what the hell! Really? I had actually believed I could never meet anyone else if I left her!!!
But throughout, the parental alienation has happening. My calls and texts to my kids would go unanswered. I know she was saying terrible things about me. And the guilt kicked in, hard. I was a super-devoted father and it was killing me. So I moved back in… and she was like a different person. Sex? Of course! All the time! Do you want to watch porn too? Great! (long ago, when I hadn’t had real sex for YEARS, she caught me looking at porn, pretty tame stuff as far as that goes, and crucified me for it… called it evil and cheating and labeled me a cheater and brought it up constantly.) You’re the greatest! I love you! I just want to have fun! Take me out!
I wondered who this person was? How can someone go from thinking you are horrible to the greatest thing ever on a dime? Then the mask started to slip… Embarrassed me in public twice. Hid my keys so I couldn’t leave (another favorite technique.) And I really started doing some BPD research. Oh, I get it… I’m being lured back in for more abuse… it had happened before.
I realize now that this relationship is irretrievably f***ed. Even when she’s “perfect” I just don’t feel the love, I don’t believe. I told her I’m done, I want out for good. She won’t accept it — “The past is the past, I’m doing everything you want now, why can’t you just love me?” I try to explain the long history of feeling like hell, and she denies that any of it happened. I tell her that we’re just incompatible and we’ve been lying to ourselves and she won’t accept it. I can’t tell her that I really think she’s just mis-wired and I need to cut my losses. I don’t actually want to hurt her at all… But I see the pending split as a total disaster, emotionally, for everyone, including my kids. And I’m wondering what the best approach is to minimize the damage…
Sorry for the long post, had to get it off my chest.
And thank you for the site, it has opened my eyes to reality.
I’ve been reading alot of comments and amazed at what goes on with some of these toxic relationships.
I certainly is in one but certainly not as bad as some here but I think it’s only a matter of time before she starts getting the knives out.
Having left a marriage for my GF back about 3 months ago I thought I was doing the thing I was missing in my marriage, a loving, committed marriage but I was quite wrong. Though my marriage was not great we just didn’t talk and drifted apart and she certainly was emotionally abusive and physical against me. We left on amicable terms and wasn’t a bad relationship.
My GF now is alot younger than me and very different background. We have had an intense relationship for about 4 months and only get to see each other on Sundays due to her work committments.
The signs were there early on and I was one for ignoring them though I knew they are wrong. I now have boundaries with what she does to manipulate me. Through her jealousy rages, her consistent beratement when we fight, to once she hit me drawing blood which was the first time ever a woman has hit me! It was a shock and she knew she had done wrong.
We constantly fight about 1-2 times a week on small things. For example, the other night I said I was going out with a friend and his wife while in town for one night. I told her, she was ok, said I won’t disturb me but I said I will talk to her later tonight. About 10pm she calls and asks (which is the first thing she says EVERY TIME she calls me, no hello, how are you etc), ‘where are you now?’. I reply in a bar street with my friend, will leave soon etc. Being honest etc about what I am doing. She says some bad things and hangs up. Totally ruining my mood and the night for me. She sends a text later saying I ignore her when I am with my friends! Every time I go out with my friends she does this.
I now don’t accept this and told her before I will not play her games and respond to her needy behaviour. I have had no contact with her yesterday where we usually talk every 1-2 hours. Last night I got about 40 messages on Whatsapp with her usual condescending tone and really distasteful posts about my ex, how Im a user, abuser, I’m a dog, a prostitute etc.
I’ve had enough and recently said she needed to get help with her anger outbursts and stop and think about what she is doing. We patched it up as I do love her and when together we have a strong bond together but extremely needy and jealous.
Another example was the other day I got a text from someone and they wanted to meet. I didn’t know asked a number of times and said ignored the texts sometimes. I didn’t know it was her. This person said she was Filipino (she is Indonesian). I was about to block this person when she confessed it was her. She was testing me. She doesn’t trust me as I have lied to her before about talking and meeting my ex (which was nothing happened) but she hates my ex with a passion so I choose not to tell her about her but when she asked me I tell her. As I didn’t tell her the truth it’s a total betrayal to her. I’ve done this a few times not telling her these things. To me they are nothing, to her it’s like I have cut off one of her fingers!
I, years ago left a relationship when I didn’t understand myself and had boundaries. Was confused etc. It finally pushed me to therapy where I learnt to have some boundaries and a healthier emotional attachment rather than being silent and withdrawn.
This time with the GF I felt like I have more bounderies, I am communicating more and I feel that being angry and sorting out our differences is better than before but not so sure now.
This website has helped me read through the experiences, understand some of the things these women do and try and make some sense of the situation. The manipulation, the blame game, the jealousy, the anger and mood swings, amazing love and total hate, the promises of change. but nothing happens.
She always sees herself as the victim, I’m doing things that make her angry and don’t like, I’m the one who is lying to her etc etc.
I’m not totally innocent and not totally healthy but at least I know abuse and have some sort of boundaries. I now refuse to act out with her.
I still want to be with her though but I know from what I read here that it will get worse and not sure if she will change. I am not sure if I still have hope she will change or it will get worse.
Tomorrow is her day off and she will probably come over so not sure what to expect. I feel a bit scared to ask her to leave and honestly not sure if I really want that as I still see something in her that is good and loving.
I will have to hide all the knives and other blunt heavy objects and keep my wits about myself.
I need help with dealing with my ex (it’s still hard to let her go) girlfriend. She has agreed to seeking help. I just need to tell her what she needs to tell the shrink, so that she can get the correct help she needs. She has BPD, and it’s been years since she first got diagnosed, and our relationship was great at first, but things gradually got worse. She started to blame me for everything, twisted my words around, lied, and did anything to become the victim. I need your help to know what to tell her, to tell the shrink. Please help me, I know she wants to get help (she still thinks I ask her to get help because I think she is a bad person, and that I don’t love her), but I am pretty sure that she doesn’t know exactly what she has done wrong. Only that she feels bad, and doesn’t want to hurt me, or feel like a bad person. She might just end up saying very little, to nothing of what she has done to me over a year, and then get out of there, thinking it really wasn’t her fault, and take no responsibility, as always, and keep abusing everyone. So, I know leaving is an option, and I will, if this fails, but I need to know exactly what to tell her, to tell the shrink, so she gets help properly.
Last year I dated a neurologist/neuropsychiatrist. She is a pure narcissist and borderline through-and-through. She knew something was wrong with her, many of her relationships were often bumpy and always complaining about her family, friends, co-workers, and she played so many head games and other stuff that I won’t go into right now.
Anyway, she started going to therapists to talk about her problems. She jumped from counselor to counselor. Within a 3 month period she had been to 3 or 4 different counselors because the previous one ‘just wasn’t helping her’.
In reality, she was counselor shopping for someone to validate her jibberish and someone she could dump all her crap on and condone her narcissistic behavior. My point being, you may not want to get your hopes up too much about counseling and seeing change in these people.
This is a great site, Ive been working with abused women for years, and its only just dawned on me, whilst being neglected as a kid, my mother has NPD. Worrying as when I read this it clearly makes me co-dependant. And of course Ive fallen into the trap of loving a NPD woman. It hurts and Im feeling sorry for myself, being a Christian makes it harder as NPD hide behind the religious facade. Actually I do feel sorry for her/them/me, none of them/us /me asked for this rubbish, so as Ive become more aware of this stuff, its a matter of taking responsibility on a daily basis. One thing I noticed, NPD and no doubt others will try and stop you thinking, if you are in a relationship with an NPD, ironically you might find your brain is doing overtime (trying to work out why this person you love would do such things and worse still, rationalising your reaction to justify remaining in the relationship. Dont stop thinking, just adjust your emotions that are being played to a more rational focus, and learn, read. For those of the Christian faith, read 2 Timothy 3 v 1-9, its quite specific in covering all types of abuse and the religious behaviour of those who are sufferers of NPD and other dis -orders. In my experience prayer does help, yes your unconscious will help, but I had clear ( external) warnings from God, which I ignored. Remember this is a journey for us all, no excuses, but it helps.
Agree God/Deity/Spirituality is needed more than ever to deal with such people. Nonetheless, my experience with ‘Christian/Pastoral’ counseling on these matters was less than optimal. They just couldn’t grasp (as many secular counselors cannot either) that there really are evil little female Hitlers out there destroying men’s and children’s lives. It was basically ‘pray to God’ and practice Bible worship to make things get better/go away. Essentially, to me, it was a form of denial and made matters worse, made me feel worse.
While I’ve learned not to directly engage in dispute, debate, battle with these Borderline/Sociopaths, I do focus on setting boundaries, avoiding contact as much as possible, and being stronger (not necessarily ‘nicer’ that the Christian pastors preached).
In the end we each do whatever we can do deal with this stuff. If you have a good church thats working for you then more power to you!
you ask “Can these individuals control their behavior or not? ” – but I wonder: why would they control their behavior?! the way I understand it – they see life entirely different than we do, their purpose in life is to feel better by abusing others, while our purpose in life is to feel better by using our own resources, abilities, qualities in healthy, balanced relationships & interactions with others…
they don`t realize what we mean by these emotions we are talking about, because they can`t process emotions, therefore it`s simply a concept that has no relevance in their lives, and one that they simply can not relate to…I think it would be something like asking us to take into consideration some abstract concept every time we make a decision, without us really understanding it, or even without understanding it at all…
so, IMO, they see no *reason to change, therefore we have no way of really assisting them, or even to some extent enforcing this change in them…the disorder is causing them to behave in this way, and that`s simply how they see and relate to life as human beings, they probably have no clue what on Earth we are talking about, as much as we explain to them what we mean…
there is a huge difference between us – who take into consideration long term consequences (both positive and negative) when we make a decision to offer a behavior, and those with BPD (Cluster C) – who are only interested in the in-the-moment / now consequence: “what can I get out of this?!”, and based on this – they will offer one behavior or another…
unfortunately, after having been raised by two sociopaths, and having been in relationships with other sociopaths, and having interacted with BPDs all I have come up with: let them be, and stop all contact with them…they will not “listen to reason”, because they don`t have the same understanding of “reason”, it`s an abstract concept to them, and by allowing contact with them we actually enable them (consciously or not) to continue to (at least try, but mostly succeed) manipulate us in order to “get whatever they feel they want in the moment” (pity, empathy, admiration, …)
as long as we leave the door open – they think they have a chance to manipulate us, therefore they will try…and most often they will succeed because our way of relating to life disallows us from constantly (easily) taking into consideration the fact that they are conscience free…
Hi, so, I am writing from Germany so my English may be not so good… First, thank you for the very interesting article, I just discovered your website. All the things a read here were quite common for me. My “almost” (fighting since 3 years) ex-husband has a diagnosed BPD. I spend five years of my life with him, he was very intelligent and manipulative and he had incredible skills to find out my co-dependent part on personality and to use it for his needs. He always saw himself as the poor victim, all the world was against him, specially me, I never could, even if i tried very hard, fullfill all his special needs and wishes. I took out of me all the energy for live. And yes, he had his “uncontrolled” moments with big drama and violance. Looking back, I see him as a very talented actor (he read books on psycology and acting, as well). He manipulated my complete family and isolated me from my friends. I had to be under his control 24hs, 7 days a week. Well, the point is: He could PERFECTLY CONTROL HIMSELF when he was with other people, working or being out in public. He could switch from his “i -am – so- poor- and- under-control-of-my-illness” to “perfect-smart-nice-guy” into seconds. I saw it so many times!!! He always was aware of the things he did, full concious of everything. And he never never had any feelings of regret or empathy to anyone (of course, himself…) and he never ever took responsibility for anything he did.
And the end: As I experienced it, people with BPD are knowing that they are ill or at least that there is something going very wrong. And they are very knowing what they are doing with their environment. So there is no reason for seeing them as poor victims.
Ok, thank you very much Dr. T, you are doing a great work!
Dr Tara J. Palmatier,
I would like to say thank you very much for taking the time to share these articles with everyone who is suffering from abuse of a partner, ex-parntner or family member. My husband’s ex-wife fits so many of the criteria that you write about, from continued false allegation to parental alienation, she has done it all. After 2 years without seeing his children and all allegations being unfounded with social services and police, he is now attempting to start his relationship with his 2 children who treat him the way their mother treats him. They accuse him of things he has never done, they ask question which are far beyond their ages of 5 and 9 such as why he and her other husbands (yes she has 6 children with 5 men) have left her and why they don’t give her more money so she can get everything she wants. The children are in pain and very confused. It is breaking my husbands heart. His ex blames the world and the men she uses, for everything that happens in her miserable life. I have not met the children because we feel it is better for him to have a solid relationship with them before introducing them to me or our home. It is very hard some times. The expenses of court, traveling the 7 hours, hotel rooms for him to visit them once a month and child support. Then having his children blame him for not having the best in life, but the truth is she refused to work and stayed on face book all day posting how horrible of an abuser he is. To her children are ATM card and their fathers are simply ATM machines. She is sick and will not admit she needs help. It is everyone else who is wrong, never her. She is the eternal victim, “super mother of the year” as she calls herself. I guess if I had a crystal ball I would ask if the children will ever see the truth and will they be come to know how much their father really loves them and has fought for them? I am happy to have found a place where my husband and I can feel we are not alone.
Thank You Kindly