Borderline Personalities in Relationships

Borderline personalities have a poorly developed and unstable sense of self (For more on this, see also:  Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder and Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder – Part 2).  As a result, their relationships tend to be marked by much turmoil. One author poetically summed up the pathologically ambivalent dynamic borderline personalities often bring into their relationships with the title “I hate you, Don’t Leave Me.” Possessed of deeply conflicted and equally intense feelings about both themselves and others, and lacking in their ability to modulate their emotions, individuals with borderline levels of personality integration can make life for their relationship partners a painful experience, and depending upon what traits tend to be the most dominant in their personalities, the particular kinds of difficulties they can bring into their relationship vary considerably (I am among those who assert that the borderline personality syndrome is not a singular, distinct, personality style, but rather a failure of personality organization and integration, and therefore, depending on what traits are more strongly present, every borderline personality is different and brings unique challenges into their relationships.  For more on this see pp. 130-132 in Character Disturbance).

Borderline personalities with prominent Passive-Dependent personality traits tend to be extraordinarily “needy” and “clingy.”  They quickly and firmly latch onto those whom they perceive to have strength.  They anticipate maltreatment but hang on tightly due to their deeper dread of possible “abandonment.”  This makes them prone to episodes of great despondency and depression when they have the slightest inclination their relationship partner is growing in frustration over or simply tiring of their neediness.  Borderlines with prominent Active-Dependent (i.e. “histrionic”) personality traits (for more on both the active and passive Dependent Personalities see pp. 32-33 in In Sheep’s Clothing and pp. 59-68 in Character Disturbance) tend to be highly reactive, attention-seeking, seductive, and manipulative.  They also tend to be sensation-seeking and prone to making dramatic gestures – including potentially self-destructive acts – that keep the attention of others focused on them. If narcissistic or antisocial traits are also present, they can be prone to intense but incredibly shallow relationships where the relationship partners feel chronically abused, emotionally drained, and exploited.

A young man with a very significant history of emotional and physical abuse in childhood had a series of intensely-charged but short-lived relationships (Caution: As always, details of cases have been altered to preserve anonymity).  He met all the requirements for BPD (labile moods and intense mood swings, self-damaging acts, periods of great despondency, etc.).  In the abusive environment in which he grew up, all efforts on his part to assert himself were quashed with an intensity that was truly spirit-crushing.  As a result, he came to view himself as inadequate and always gravitated toward those he perceived to be stronger and more capable.  And in his emotional dependency (Passive-dependent traits were strongest in his personality but he had some active-dependent or “histrionic” traits as well), he would latch onto relationship partners with such intensity that he gave them little breathing room.  But equally fearful of both eventual maltreatment as well as emotional “abandonment,” he would engage in a wide variety of behaviors (e.g., dramatic self-harm threats and gestures, displays of intense raw emotion, hateful, venom-spewed rants followed by plaintiff sobbing, clingy behavior and begging not to leave, etc.) that would rightfully “test” the level of commitment of any relationship partner.  The partners, of course, tended to see these behaviors as deliberately manipulative, and, of course, the behaviors were also emotionally exhausting. And while there is no question this man’s behaviors had a manipulating effect, there was never any doubt in my mind that they were not consciously done to ensnare or punish but rather represented a true unconscious “acting-out” of his deepest fears and neurotic “complexes” (For more about what “acting-out” is and isn’t see: “Acting-Out” and other Commonly Misused Psychology Terms and “Acting-Out:” Top 5 Misused Psychology Terms – Part 2).  Still, the behaviors were so stress-evoking that the partners would eventually “burn out” and flee he coup just to save their sanity (It’s worthy of note that the official Diagnostic Manual most mental health professionals in the U.S. presently use cautions against interpreting typical borderline symptoms as deliberately manipulative.  And while this case underscores the importance of not making such a rash judgment, there are some borderline individuals – as will be exemplified in next week’s post – who have traits in their makeup that do predispose them to more active, deliberate manipulation). 

Identity uncertainty is often part and parcel of the borderline syndrome.  And I’m aware of several cases where that uncertainty extended to sexual identity as well (SPECIAL NOTE: This example is not meant in any way to suggest that sexual orientation or preference is necessarily an outgrowth of identity disturbance or that a sexual orientation or preference that some might consider a departure from the norm is necessarily a manifestation of a personality disturbance).  In one case, a woman over her lifetime experienced periods of same-sex attraction only to find herself at other times greatly dissatisfied with her same-sex relationships and hungry for opposite-sex involvement.  She made a surprising announcement to her husband one day that she was leaving him to be with a woman with whom she’d been having an affair only to want to return to him less than a year later.  As you can imagine, this left her husband feeling more than a little confused and bewildered.  This woman was a relatively “high-functioning” borderline (never displaying some of the other common emotional or behavioral symptoms and never qualifying for a diagnosis of full-blown BPD) and her sexual identity uncertainty was only part of a pervasive uncertainty about a wide variety of identity issues (the woman had changed careers, religious affiliations, and her sentiments with regard to having children and raising a family countless times). And there would be no stability in her working life, in her spiritual life, or her relationships until she came to a more certain understanding of who she really was at the core, what truly fulfilled her sexually, and what she genuinely wanted out of life. With much time in therapy where the focus was almost continuously on identity awareness and solidification, this woman eventually came to “find herself” and establish a relationship that has remained stable for several years.

Next week, we’ll be wrapping-up the series on borderline personalities.  The case vignettes will include examples of borderline individuals with prominent narcissistic and/or antisocial features in their personalities (i.e. those with a fair degree of character disturbance as opposed to neurosis) and will illustrate the unique kinds of problems such personalities bring into relationships.  I’ll also be talking about the hope there exists these days for individuals who have disturbances of the self to heal through specialized intervention.

On last Sunday’s Character Matters program I announced that I’d be airing the Barbara Roberts interview on domestic violence and other abuse perpetrated in the name of religion on this coming Sunday’s show.  But unfortunately some persistent technical difficulties are preventing that from happening just yet.  And because I had planned to do the show from a remote location (airing primarily the recorded interview with Ms. Roberts yet accepting phone calls), unfortunately, this Sunday’s program will be a rebroadcast of last week’s program (hopefully, this will not be a common occurrence).  Given the continuing problems in the NFL and the renewed media focus on issues of domestic violence and child abuse, it’s a program that remains timely, and if you missed it last week, you’ll certainly want to catch it this week and/or share the podcast with your friends.


48 thoughts on “Borderline Personalities in Relationships

  1. Dr. Simon. I have always been told by other people that I am complex and it’s never said in a critical way. I am a very curious person by nature and also open to try new things, etc. Sometimes those new things take hold and remain with me but not always. I like that aspect of myself and I feel like it reflects a zest for living i guess. But when I read the description above it kind of sounds like it’s describing me in some ways.

  2. Hi Dr Simon just wanted to say hooray for you with your great show on Character Matters for strongly telling it as it is. So much I could identify with though I don’t know much about the particular case you were talking about. A few triggers as well…like I could empathise a little with the lady in question, I too married my husband although he’d been abusive, though at that time not as badly as the one she endured. I understand the dynamics involved, and that trauma bonding/slot machine syndrome, I can’t believe it myself and I had invested so much emotion and I keeping my family together I dearly wanted things to change. There are so many dynamics at play that it’s so difficult and confusing to explain. But wonderful show and I do wish there were more media commentators who would be brave enough to call a spade a spade. Great Work…should be broadcast widely!

    1. Hi Tori! 🙂
      Is is so frustrating to explain, yeah? There is so much that is very subtle and hard to tangibly prove especially if there is no physical violence or child abuse or money taken.

      1. Big hi to you too Puddle 🙂 Oh those subtle, crazy making things. Sometimes even with physical violence it’s difficult to prove because of the charming facade or just ingrained beliefs in the wider society. As that’s how it looks and I think Dr Simon really touched on that issue in the show. There needs to be a huge cultural shift or a real shift in the idea that this behaviour is in any way remotely acceptable. I know there is big movement over here toward bringing about change but I think what is really missing in the debate is the Character Disturbance issue and that I think is central to the issue on domestic violence. There maybe cultural beliefs on perceived gender roles etc… but it really misses what is at the core of the problem.

        How are you going Puddle? I hope all is getting better where you are? Hugs to you! 🙂

        1. Hi Tori:) things here……..not so good actually. I don’t know if you saw my comment about the latest incident in Spathville but it’s really bad. I just got taken for a ride on the Spath go round by a contractor. I am having a hard time absorbing it but he really s*rewed me and I’m in a tight spot now because winter is just around the corner.
          I just read a very good post by a friend of mine on Psychopatha and Love. 3 part series, be sure to read all three.

          Hugs to you Tori! 🙂

          1. So sorry to hear that Puddle…hugs 🙂 It seems they never leave you alone. Thanks for the post link. I did read them and yeah as usual rings true. The subject on animals was interesting as usually they’re supposed to hate and be cruel to animals, this was the first post I’ve read where it was looked at differently. My ex was never cruel to animals, especially dogs and his cats. He’d spent so much money on them if they were hurt. Whenever our dog got out it was the only time I saw him in anyway fearful or in an anxious state. My ex almost demanded affection from the pets and of course they would oblige to a point but then it seemed to get too much for them. He expected them to give him unconditional love and when my dog actually bit him (his fault I might add because of his stupidity) he went ballistic. He would get extremely jealous when our pets followed me around…as they did.I remember I used to think it was so odd and I even said to him that I don’t understand why this upsets you so much. But having said that he also told me he used to love getting other peoples pets to like him more than the owner. It was just another oddity about him.
            I also found a link to another of Dr Simon’s posts I hadn’t read which was quite enlightening it made me shudder as that getting away with it trait… exactly my ex and maybe not to that extent but it’s what I’ve always felt. I’ve also read about the chameleon sociopath in another book and will tell you when I read that I could have sworn the author must have known my ex husband extremely well.
            I do hope Puddle that things get better for you…stay strong! 🙂

          2. Thank you Tori, I’ll do my best. It’s looking like this could get ugly and I’m actually quite concerned about my safety. Not that I wasn’t already but I do need to beef up security around here,,,,,,,,,,,where to start?? I’d like to have the money I just lost (hope not) to use on beefing up security!

    2. Thanks so much, Tori. I’m so glad the show is striking such a positive chord with folks. And I pray I’m improving in my skills as a broadcaster – so much different than writing or doing workshops!

      1. Dr Simon, your broadcasting skills are fine. You speak with passion, belief and conviction about what you are trying to convey and that makes for a great media commentator. Onward and upward! 🙂

    1. I’m not sure I understand this actually……If someone hits you, don’t you have a right to strike back? Of course there is more often than not a reason a woman gets to the point of striking a man…..I “kicked” Spathtard in the butt once……. He never touched me physically but the damage done more than equaled it. So I’m not sure about this! I can’t stand WG or The View anyhow,,,,,Like WHY in the world would I want to listen to those women go on and on about their views?? Who CARES? anyhow,,,,,,,,,

      1. I have never watched the view but I believe it’s one of those panel shows which I always find annoying. Even when they’re actually about something important they generally turn into a rabble. So yeah I can agree “who cares” but at the same time these people have a platform to say things that really should be carefully considered before airing them to the public. Not just on issues such as domestic violence but other issues in society.

        I also agree with what you say with there being a REASON when women strike back. I never threatened my ex with any physical retaliation…basically I was terrified and I’ve never been a physcially aggressive person anyway but I was no shrinking violet either. I would stand up for myself at times but gosh how do you do that in such a crazy situation? If I was rational and kept my voice calm I was labelled aggressive (honestly I think back and I can’t believe it considering what he did). I was thwarted almost from putting forward my concerns about things going on because I was confronting him and he would belittle me and treat it as a joke. So in the end you would be left feeling more than a little crazy between that other manipulations and violence. You do tend to have moments when all rationality goes out the window. I’m certainly not proud of some of the ways I reacted when in that situation and I really do hate that I allowed myself to fall into his manipulating traps by reacting the way I did. Of course sometimes I was just plain angry, when your concerns are belittled constantly you can’t always stay calm.

        1. Dots and Tori……..I am almost certain that the statistics about men and women being abused is totally skewed because if a woman is being abused and the cops get called, if she does something in self defense it will be her that is arrested. I don’t know if I’m saying that right? Spathtard totally baited me into a melt down at his mother’s house one time by waving me away because i was upset about something and trying to discuss it with him but he was being,,,,,,,,,,a spathtard. So I end up in tears and upset and he is holding the puppet strings but then his highness decided that my presence was no longer welcome, probably time for an early morning cocktail, and silently dismissed me with the most demeaning hand gestures like he was brushing crumbs from the table. I pretty much lost it and my mouth took off like a run away train (over exaggeration). So then he jumped on THAT and made it into a real drama scene by threatening to call the sheriff?? It was just ridiculous but my point is,,,,,,,,,I can see how someone in a highly abusive and manipulative relationshi* could be pushed to the point of doing something they normally wouldn’t do…….like “kicking” their Spathtard in the a**. It was maddening and draining at the same time……….and just SO much more.

          1. So……..I lost my train of thought there! LOL! Maybe I’m just biased but I am leaning towards the belief that a lot of the violence reports about women against their partners
            has another side to the story because of what Dots is saying:
            “There is still a huge discrepancy in the direction, and the rates of men murdering women they know vs women murdering men… are vastly different — I don’t mean to minimize that.”
            I’d be curious to know what the rates are in female same sex involvements.

          2. Totally agree with what you say here, Puddle. I’ve read so many studies in recent months and survivor’s stories and they correlate with what you say on how women can be treated at scenes where domestic violence takes place. Even police admit that they find it difficult to understand the dynamics of what may have taken place because of the cool demeanor of the partner compared with the hysterical raving woman who more than likely is terrified for her life. I myself have been treated in such a patronising manner on the few occasions that I did call police that I thought what’s the point. It just seemed that he could do whatever he wanted. It’s so frustrating. Even leaving it doesn’t get any better, they intimidate in ways that can’t be proven and seem to be able to do whatever they want and unless they commit a definite crime you’re on your own. I know men can be abused in relationships and I’ve seen women losing it brawling in the street in a terrifying display of violence. So everyone has an element to them that’s flawed and disturbing, though if I may borrow a line from Dr Simon on not being politically correct there is a real issue with violence against women, always has been and I feel sometimes that issue now that it is finally getting some real attention, we are not allowed to discuss it wholly on its own for what it is. I am not trying to ruffle feathers or downplay the other side of the coin or even say women abusing men doesn’t happen but I would really like to see something substantial done to help women and children in these situations.
            Puddle I was baited too and remember at one time confronting him only to have my words twisted into something so far removed from what I’d said, just so he could have an excuse to hit me. So of course you end up becoming an emotional mess…they play games and love seeing you unravel and then complain that you’re unstable. Personally good for you for kicking him in the a&%!! But I feel so sorry that he did that to you to get you to that point.

          3. Tori, My counselor deals with this every day, that is her specialty and she is an associate of Dr. Hare’s. There is SO much injustice it the courts and law enforcement department so her job, to the best of her ability, is to go to bat for women who are getting mistreated in the courts. Some of the stories are just So in your face amazingly unfair and wrong it is truly disheartening. One of her clients is fighting for full custody of the children and her ex-partner wants them and HE had his children from his previous marriage taken away from him (sexual abuse I think but I’m not sure)…’s just…..litterally…..UNBELIEVABLE! One thing people need to keep in mind that is a very real fact and I don’t hear very much recognition of it, is that women are 9 out of ten times significantly smaller and generally physically weaker than their male partner, and in my opinion there is a very subtle underlying patriarchal/ male superiority issue floating around. I don’t care if it’s recognized or not but I for one see it and in my opinion it fuels a lot of the problematic attitudes that these abusive men have, that and the unresolved love/ need/hate issues they have with their mothers. And sure enough, this contractor has a questionable mother dynamic in HIS background. I think this issue can be subtle and fly under the radar too because A) the mother isn’t going to say anything against herself and B) the Spathtard isn’t going to say anything against Mommy and the dynamic of it starts from a very early stage in life. But it seems like time and time and time again on survivor/ victim web sites I ha have heard one person after another talk about the Spath they were involved with had some kind of serious kink in his mother/ son relationship!! AND it would seem that EVERY one of them that has crossed my path most definitely does, as did my brother.

          4. Thank goodness for people like your counsellor. There is a definite discrimination problem and what’s worse when you leave you are left substantially financially worse off which makes it even more difficult to get good legal representation in the court process or even be able to begin a process. Again frustrating. I agree there’s still a definite male superiority issue. You can’t just say that isn’t happening anymore it has been ingrained in our social institutions for so long. Change happens but it’s so slow and it is a huge problem world wide which must say something. You know as for the mother/son dynamic I don’t know if that had anything to do with my ex…his mother was a lovely woman and I know she saw the problems with him. Mind you he was very close to his mother. Though I think there were some issues within the family but not that they were ever spoken about in great detail. I tend to think my spath was a bad seed. Though one of his brothers is also but unlike my ex he was at least easier to read…he didn’t hide it I think that was again a superiority thing. My ex liked to see himself as the new age male. Ha just a ruse. They change to suit the circumstances.

          5. Tori, it’s the same with Spathtard on the surface…….his mother, for all outward appearances is no one you would ever question being a “nice” person and Spathtard is “close” to her………….TOO close. But IMO, she has fostered his overblown opinion of himself, groomed is and is working it to her advantage. This mother/ son issue does not have to be blatant, glaring or in your face. The hate aspect of it is a result of the need for the mother and the resentment of their own dependance on the mother and her dependance on them. It’s the narcissistic childhood bond with the mother that has never been properly severed. There is the father issue as well which is either missing altogether, as in an absent father, or faulty or abusive towards the child. From what I understand, the narcissistic bond with the mother is normal in any child but at a certain stage of development it ends and with a boy child, the father plays a crucial roll in that transition. If the father figure is faulty and or the mother clings to the child’s attempt to gain their “independence”, the separation doesn’t happen right or at all. It’s very hard for me to explain as an amateur!! 🙂 But I have read about it and it makes sense in the people I have encountered. ALL of them had an unhealthy (in one way or another) attachment to their mothers. So it’s not like they weren’t “close” to their mother……..but they had not fully separated from their mother.
            As far as Spathtard goes, I think his father played an huge part in the development of his core attitude towards women. His father was the only male sibling of nine children and spathtard is the only male sibling of three children. So in Spathtard’s family it was Dad(more then likely a woman hater) and Spathtard, the king and little prince.
            ok,,,,,,i’m getting lost! Sorry…..But examing your spath’s relationship with his mother with an open mind……do you see anything?

          6. Tori, and by the way…… mother was a lovely woman on the outside but she was a MN and my sociobro’s biggest enabler and used money as a means to keep him coming back. Very sick relationship.

          7. Puddle once more it’s the same. My ex’s father hates women and has severe abandonment issue as he never knew his mother and was given away as a baby to a home. He didn’t know his father either. But yes, his father had a low low opinion of women and I believe that had something to do with forming my ex’s beliefs on women. I’ll admit I didn’t get to know his mother as well as I would have liked but in my mind she was lovely and as I said she did let me know if not in a straight forward manner but yeah that her son had issues. Looking back she was so happy that he had found a relationship that she said gave her back the good son she remembered. Well…that wasn’t at all what happened. But my ex was clingy to her, very clingy and was living with his mother and had been for some time when I met him. I now see that yeah, there were some issues. Not that I can totally put a finger on it but he certainly was dependent on her at the time. I mean he had a well paying job and still at the end of the week had to borrow money from her.
            And I can very much identify with what you say about your mother…mine exactly the same especially the control with money. It’s only really since leaving my marriage and reading everything on manipulation that it has really started to make sense. I’ve always suspected it…for years in fact and was getting counselling years ago about it and was told I needed to distance myself. Easier said than done but never really got into how manipulative it was. I was still very confused about it…again outwardly lovely to the world but something so sinister. My mother is the classic if she doesn’t get what she wants or dislikes something I say particularly if I stand up to her I will be ostracised and it has happened so often. I’ve known something was wrong as a child it was very obvious. Really moving away has been safe for me from my ex but also gives me distance from my own family. I know as an adult and a mother it made me determined that I would be very different with my own children. So far they are very independent and confident and for that I am so happy. Mind you I have to also live with the fact I put them into a violent situation with my ex and that has caused trauma for them growing up. Something I have to deal with and that causes me a lot of pain.
            As usual Puddle you’ve given me a lot of food for thought. It’s so good to be able to go through these things with someone who has lived it also. It is very alienating particularly when moving to a new place as I feel very anxious when people ask me why I moved. Trying to deal with things, be strong and move forward when inside you are a mess at times has been the most difficult thing. I’ve tried to find support groups here but there is nothing only my counsellor and that’s it really. So thank you again. ((hugs)) 🙂

          8. Tori……..awww…..thank you 🙂 I’m happy to know that you feel supported and that our exchanges are helpful to you. I would love to hear that you could find some support where you live though. Do they not have domestic violence support groups??? As far as why you have moved, you don’t have to explain that to anyone. You just needed a change in your life, or what ever story works for you but there is no shame in being someone who has been done wrong……don’t let him leave THAT on or with you. Hold your head high and be proud of how much effort you are putting into moving on and your love for your children. I have heard before that it’s not what happens to you that impacts your life in a negative way, it’s the inability to process it in a healthy and supportive way so in regards to your children’s experience… sounds to me like you are the type of person who will be able to see them through this.
            Now, in regards to your ex-spath and his mother?? Hello!! red flags are waving! 🙂
            And the father……….it all falls right in line…. Have you read Lundy Bancroft’s book, “Why Does He Do That”? again, it’s the father’s job to help the son separate from the mother and if that father/ son relationship is damaged or faulty in some way (father gone, father abusive, father hates women and teaches this to the son) the separation doesn’t happen right or the son takes on the father’s beliefs. The sins of the father shall be visited upon the son! NOW, in my brother’s case… father was basically inept in the father roll, very self centered and emotionally withdrawn, uninvolved, alcohol oriented,,,,, and my mother was not getting her needs met by my father… she bestowed her needs upon my brother? I’m not sure but it was a VERY sick enmeshment full of enabling, manipulation, deceit…..drama and intrigue! And I, like you, was told to get the hell out of there at a very early age by a family councilor( on the QT). I did my best to separate from the whole mess, sometimes more then others but also was the one to stay loyal and responsible in the family too. During all of this I was a raging alcoholic though and my life was pretty much of a mess in a different way but at age thirty I got hit by a car and sobered up for the first time in my life. Something changed in me, like a switch was flipped and although I continued to drink off and on until two years ago.,,,,,,Something had changed. Sorry, I got off track there… I moved away from my home town, far away, when I was almost 40 and after that Everything really started to become crystal clear. It had begun when I was thirty and really solidified through my 40’s and I finally told my mother that if it was going to be like this the rest of the time we knew each other, I was done! I would not continue to participate in a destructive relationship with her. It kind of almost worked, LOL but things did improve somewhat. She passed away in 2009 and I was at her side, for better or worse. And honestly? I miss her now 🙁
            Isn’t it amazing what you have put up with in your past because you just didn’t know any different? It was just the way it was!

          9. Tori,
            “But my ex was clingy to her, very clingy and was living with his mother and had been for some time when I met him.”
            At what age??

          10. Puddle you seem like a very strong lady, to have come through what you have and to keep going and help others. I admire your courage, that’s one thing that stands out in your posts.
            And yes I have read Lundy’s book and felt a lot of those scenarios could have directly been taken from my life. I must get my own copy so I can refer back to it at times when I need to. As for my ex he was 31 when I met him and he’d been living with his mum for some time on his own and with his previous girlfriend. He hates his father but he also acknowledged he’s just like him and well he has lived up to that and much more.
            I really see it a lot clearer now.
            I also identify with being the loyal and responsible one when it comes to the family. It always seems when everything goes wrong I am there. I can’t be now I don’t have the financial resources so I do feel guilty some times but also feel that there’s a certain freedom and as you say I can now look at things from safe distance.
            You know I can see how I may have relied on my children for support when going through this hell and that has caused problems for them. It was just part of the whole mess, no one new outside of the immediate family and again that’s something I have to come to terms with and make amends the best way I know how. It is terrible, I could do the if onlys and what ifs but I really didn’t know of help and support at that time or where to get it…I kept thinking it was me and was looking for ways to right myself through counselling never admitting what was going on. How warped do you get? Don’t worry I don’t blame me now, as now I see. You can’t choose your family so you just have to make yourself a better person and change what you can. I could have chosen a better husband LOL! Ah well a hard lesson to learn.
            Thanks again Puddle and I have tried to find support groups but I will really look into it a bit further as it would help immensely. 🙂

      1. ARE Tory and puddle still around two years later lol. I would love to chat outside of the comment thread if possible.

        1. Danielle,
          To my knowledge they haven’t posted for at least a year. There have been so many incredible posters on this site. When you read their personal stories they have shared and the wisdom in so many of the comments, they come alive and I always wonder how they are. Puddle, Tory and so many others will never be forgotten.

          Both parties have to agree and it would have to go through contacting Dr. Simon. I hope this helps you.

          I would encourage you to post your comments, we have some very people on the blog that are more than willing to help.

          Take care

  3. Domestic abuse can go both ways — a fact that sometimes gets overlooked. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline: “Nearly 3 in 10 women (29%) and 1 in 10 men (10%) in the US have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by a partner and report a related impact on their functioning.” I mention this because I think it helps to take domestic abuse out of the domain of aberrant masculinity, but consider it more as a profound flaw that any adult can have. There is still a huge discrepancy in the direction, and the rates of men murdering women they know vs women murdering men… are vastly different — I don’t mean to minimize that.

    About the right to strike back, yes there’s a legal self-defence for using reasonable force to prevent imminent harm to oneself or to others.

    1. just to clarify, the domestic violence hotline statistics and other similar results are based on anonymous surveys not on police reports or data from the criminal justice system.

      1. Dots, I’m not sure I understand the implications of that. Surveys of victims?
        No offense but I don’t place a lot of importance on survey results. I for one do not participate in them and I know very few people who do……basically hang up the phone.
        I would have to say that police reports would be a more valid reflection of the issue?

        1. Puddle, there are many credible government and charity sources for this information. It’s the same way one gets information on the incidence of rape, for example.

          I am not suggesting you believe that information just because I do and try to present it. To me the notion that a significant fraction of women also seriously abuse men (or other women, the rate there is not different) in intimate relationships is important to getting at what abuse is about. It is true that abuse has a discriminatory impact on women because the rate difference is 3 to 1 and women do not escalate to murder as often as men.

          I also think it is a slippery and dangerous slope to argue that physical violence can be justified other than in self-defence, which means imminent harm. Such arguments were used for a long time, and in fact ingrained into English common law that a husband had the right to beat his wife to discipline her. It is just as immoral in my view to say that a woman who is maybe physically weaker has the right to hit her husband, unless it is in self-defence.

          1. Dot’s, I didn’t mean this as you took it. Sorry if I was unclear.
            “It is just as immoral in my view to say that a woman who is maybe physically weaker has the right to hit her husband, unless it is in self-defence.”
            I was speaking to an underlying imbalance between the sexes physically. One thing I’m remembering that Spathtard used to do when I was trying to talk with him is he would stand “over” me and I was sitting down. I don’t know how many times I would ask him to please sit down a talk to me. Looking back on it now I see it as a subtle form of intimidation. Another tactic he employed right from the start was to walk out, leave my home when I tried to pin him down about anything. I see that now as him “saying” that if I cause him any discomfort or ask for direct answers to direct question, he would leave and slowly but surely (not always) it took hold.
            I’m not sure I’m understanding some of your wording Dots. I feel like I’m not.
            “It is true that abuse has a discriminatory impact on women because the rate difference is 3 to 1 and women do not escalate to murder as often as men.”

            I am speaking to the state of mind and the emotional state an abused woman descends to when she is under the influence of someone who is covertly manipulating her in my comments, where her well being and stability are being purposely eroded and she is being set up to dig her own grave.
            I respect you opinion Dots and am not being argumentative, just looking at a deeper layer of abuse. I’ve said this before, even a kind and gentle animal can visiously lash out if injured or frightened.

          2. Dots I have been thinking about what you are trying to say and I’ll admit that I have some biases from living in my situation that influence my beliefs on this issue so I find it difficult to come to it with a thought process that is neutral. But I will try. I think in an ideal world if you could assess whether or not a man is more likely to emotional abuse than a woman is to emotionally abuse a man starting from a gender neutral point you would have to have people who have grown up in almost perfect family relationships. Where everyone treated each other equally, that love and nuture was given freely. Unfortunately that utopia just doesn’t exist. There are many factors involved, environmental, learned behaviours, genetic, economic strain and the list could go on that influence individuals directly or indirectly. All these factors establish our ways of looking at ourselves and others.
            Historical perspectives come into play, and you quoted the common law that from what I believe was only taken out of law in 1876 in America not so sure about other places…that a man was allowed to beat his wife as long as he used a rod no thicker than his thumb. It may well have been removed but only within a certain context…as was said that if these things should happen in domestic situations it would be better if the parties could learn to forgive and forget. This doesn’t exactly admonish such behaviour. (I’m sure that’s changed now) I don’t want to get bogged down in that but I think these laws have formed long held beliefs and opinions that were enforced as they were law. So these beliefs are passed down from generation to generation through families and religion and in the scheme of things that wasn’t so long ago. Indeed the obey and submit to thy husband in marriage vows is still used today. So that in itself, despite the changes across the board in gender equality and how we see things I would think still makes it difficult to start looking at abuse and the motivations from a gender neutral standpoint.
            In certain situations it may well be that women use emotional abuse in the same manner as men might…take workplace bullying between women that is most definitely emotional and it is done with one purpose in mind Power and Control. I know of a friend who suffered terribly at the hands of an emotionally abusive female boss. It was nothing short of shocking and still makes my mind boggle that women could be so hurtful to each other and yet it happens so often. I hope I am understanding where you are coming from and may be there’s something I am not seeing.
            Statistics always differ from what perspective they are taken, police statistics are very rarely indicative of the real problem because so many victims don’t report the violence out of fear. There is also those who still see it as a private matter and don’t report it to anyone so taking that into consideration the situation is most likely worse than we are led to believe from both gender perspectives. There’s so many variables and as with other research you would have to have clear parameters to really be able to establish a clear picture. I just don’t think that’s possible but again may be I am not seeing exactly where you are coming from. 🙂

  4. Puddle, I find your comments interesting. I’m also trying to learn about deeper levels of abuse. What you describe above is emotional abuse. It seems true to me that people who feel intimidated and backed into a corner can lash out physically, and the law as well takes that into account.

    I also want to say that it isn’t clear to me right now that men are much more likely to emotionally abuse women than women are to emotionally abuse men. I guess what my point is that if one starts from a gender neutral standpoint and looks for general properties of abuse, then it makes sense to distinguish how men and women might commit abuse. I am not so sure that the motivations are so different between male and female abusers.

    1. Dots, I know(?) that men are more violent period and I think that I extrapolate on that in my belief that men are more abusive towards women than women are towards men. And I am speaking of intentional covert abuse. But that is my belief and i could well be wrong. I’m not familiar with the surveys, only with the information I have access to. And I by no stretch of the imagination am saying that female abusers do not exist. I guess I really just don’t know enough to support my belief or even the opposite belief so I am going to have to leave it at that. I don’t support or justify violence of any sort unless it’s in self defense but also, as I’ve said before…..see that there are some grey areas. There are just so many facets of the whole issue it makes my head spin thinking about it sometimes.

      1. Puddle, I’m trying to make my head spin less 🙂 I think that people who physically abuse their partner also invariable emotionally abuse them. You are right that men are more physically violent period.

        1. Emotional abuse without physical abuse is probably more or at least equally as common. It doesn’t matter re my starting point which direction (mtof) or (ftom) is more common — just that they both happen with significant frequency that they both must be considered.

        2. Then I ask about whatever commonalities might exists for abusers regardless of gender. Given gender roles, abuse will be expressed in different ways — maybe the tactics are different but the strategies and motivations are the same. IDK.

        3. The types of abusers Dr. Simon often writes about seem to be motivated in large part by a desire for control. They only think of their own needs and how to manipulate to get what they want. I don’t see that as a characteristic that is male per se. It is human. So I wonder if women who abuse are also motivated the same way, although the expression of abuse may be different.

        1. Tori, I appreciate your thoughtful response. One thing to clarity is that the statistics I have referred to are not from police reports but from anonymous surveys that have been repeated now for years by various groups and agencies. It is the same way one gets rape statistics because most rapes are not even reported, as you indicate. I take them as ball park estimates but they clearly show that these are not rare occurences in either direction.

          1. I agree that our cultural history is gender biased in ways that directly impinge or affect interpersonal abuse. That doesn’t negate my question of what can one reason about starting first from a gender neutral perspective, if the motives are the same for instance for male and female abusers, or are they different?

          2. So I don’t agree with your statement ” I think in an ideal world if you could assess whether or not a man is more likely to emotional abuse than a woman is to emotionally abuse a man starting from a gender neutral point you would have to have people who have grown up in almost perfect family relationships.”

          I am not asking which is more likely. I am saying both happen. Why? And to answer that question one does not need a hypothetical perfect world. Indeed in such a world there would be no abuse.

          3. I do believe there are answers out there once one is willing to ask the question. Those answers may be preliminary but they can often lead to more questions. I do believe there is something to understand here by not viewing abuse purely as a construct based on the historical domination of men over women. There is more to it.

          1. Hi Dots, not wanting to take anymore away from the actual post in the comments section but just wanted to say I can see a little more clearly what you were trying to say. I may not completely concur but can see where you are coming from and will agree the basis of a good discussion on varying perspectives is always beneficial in looking at such problems. It’s always good to see things from others points of view it opens up doors that may never be considered. 🙂

        2. Dots…..I think that the abusers I am referring to are the ones who silently hate women and intentionally set out to hurt, use and destroy them and what I see there is physical violence taken underground. They don’t just want control, they want to satisfy their distain towards their partners and what they represent.
          As Dr. Simon says, we all can be manipulative and I am no exception but being manipulative in a relatively benign sort of way and being manipulative in a way that is geared not only towards getting what you want but being destructive to another person’s well being as well is two different animals.
          I would agree that any relationship that is physically abusive is more than likely emotionally abusive as well.

  5. Over the years I have had some friends. But on average they have lasted no more then 5 years. I believe the average time span is around 7 years. So I guess I am not too bad. After awhile some of the negative traits I have as a borderline emerge. My issues are not so severe- but they do exist and I can be toxic to a degree, if I feel I am being rejected, or treated poorly. I can be a bit ‘clingy’ and expect too much from others. Working now to try and improve my deficiencies. Hoping my future relationships can last longer and be more fulfilling.

    1. Skybuzz, apologies for my part in taking this comment section off topic. I am also working to try and improve my deficiences. Although I don’t have BPD, I would appreciate your insights in regards to self-improvement.

      1. Good call Dots! I second that to Shybuzz. Once the comments start moving along I easily loose track of what article they are even under.

    2. Hello Skybuzz — we all have deficiencies, it’s a life-long problem, but it does get easier as you get older. Here’s a suggestion for reading / studying. Get Abraham Maslow’s book, Motivation and Personality. A bit of background here — 50 years ago, when I was trying to get myself sorted out, I read a lot of psychology books (worked in a college library, then a univ. library, so had easy access). All of them dealt with neuroses of various kinds. Except for the Maslow book — he proposed a view of what a really healthy psyche would / could be. At last! A view of what was actually healthy, that I could try to emulate in my own life. I bought a copy, studied it, underlined it, then foolishly loaned it to someone who took off with it, never got it back. But I had copied the most important chapter. When Maslow died in 1970, I felt that I had lost a real friend, though of course I had never met him. It’s available on Amazon, or through your library or interlibrary loan. Or various summaries are available on line, Google will find them for you. It’s now used as a textbook.
      Strongly recommended.

      As for emotionally needy people, I’ve been on the receiving end of such behavior a couple of times, not fun, one woman I finally had to tell her to back off, she had needs that I could not in any way fill, looonnngg story, maybe for another time. I agonized over that, prayed, asked advice of several customers (Baptist pastor, licensed clinical social worker, psychiatrist), it seemed to have been given to me to tell her some hard truths. Maybe a story for another time. Proverbs 25:17 (NIV) is succinct:
      “Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house–too much of you and he will hate you.”

      Every one of us needs tea and sympathy when we are going through difficult circumstances. The trick is to know when to pull back a little and give the other person a breathing space.

      And people change over the years. I’ve seen changes in some people who used to be close friends, but were involved with other manipulative people,who influenced them to pull away from me. I can honestly say I did the best I knew how, but sometimes that is not enough. Sometimes friendships just wither away, or they pull away, sometimes you will never know why. Once someone I had thought was a friend just reamed me out, castigating me for things he did himself. I always try to take time to think about what I should say, so I don’t blurt out something I will regret later. After considering what he had said, I thought maybe that was God’s way of letting me know not to spend any more time with him. But God has always sent other people to fill the void for me, I trust Him completely.

      Don’t know if any of what I have said is applicable in your life, but know that we all care about you.
      Peace and hope from Elva

  6. Yes very sorry Skybuzz,I really wanted to comment on the character matters program and I appologise for taking it off the topic.

    1. Dot’s, I’ve always heard that BPD is the hardest PD to treat and has the least chance of success? Maybe that was before things like DBT though.

  7. Personalities orders can be treated today reasonably well= BPD- up to 80% of patients see a reduction in their symptoms after a year of treatment.

    NPD however remains very difficult to treat, while psychopathy is likely impossible to change.

  8. Thanks Elva for the information. I am still sorting out lots of new insights into my BPD issues. Its a process of discovery everyday- BPD has largely hollowed out my life considerably- but one must go one, and attempt to improve.

    The past is just that.

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