Community Built Knowledge Base => Library: Tools and skills workshops => Topic started by: StreetSmart on March 05, 2008, 08:55:08 AM

Title: 8.24 | Why we don't see it coming and why we stay
Post by: StreetSmart on March 05, 2008, 08:55:08 AM
I Didn't See It Coming.

I can even hear that dude in that commercial singin' that tune while strummin' his geetar and dressed up like a pirate in a chowder house... .

Funny, but I liked that commercial as well as another for the same product in which that same dude cleverly sings another ballad lamenting his (financial) loss over marrying "the woman of his dreams gone-wrong", who in the background huffily flits silently thru the commercial in too- tight blue jeans and blouse... .an obvious uBPD hottie who looks a whole lot like my exgf from behind!

Well I thought a bit on this in another thread here (Red Flags) and instead wanted to address the "Why We Stay" part of the relationship in terms of what I see as three (at least) stages of the development of the BPD relationship... .but from our POV... .

And so this material has been gleaned from analysis of posts on relationships as described by members on these Boards as well as from my own experience... .

The Three Stages of a BPD Relationship and Why (maybe) We Stay

Stage I: Honeymoon Phase

Everything is rosy/cute and new ... .High degree of forgiveness/blindness to red flags because we like the emotional/physical high the SO gives us, or we make excuses for them 'cause the relationship is new: "newbie relationship jitters"... .

Stage II: Post-Honeymoon Phase

Things going badly in relationship but we minimize/ignore flags 'cause we were addicted to that high and want it back and are afraid to "rock the boat" with confronting their bad behaviors/attitudes for fear that we will not be rewarded again with these highs... .or our SO ellicits/appeals to our compassion to "give aide" to them and not be seen as abandoning someone we love who is in need... .

Stage III: Late Stage

Things going very badly and/or are entirely emotionally/physically dead in the relationship, but now we don't bail/ignore red flags for fear of been seen as a "bad person" to abandon our SO in deep crisis, or our fear of having to start over again new, or we be wanting somthing to show for the waste of our time and life with the SO (the "I can't walk away empty-handed after all this" syndrome)... .

I see overt problematic issues arising within 1-3 months (Honeymoon) of the start of the relationship and usually a major blast within 4-6 months (Post-Honeymoon)of the start of the relationship... .

I haven't thought it thru completely, but I think it sketches out to at least these stages and maybe more.

Comments please?

Title: Re: PERSPECTIVES: Why we don't see it coming and why we stay...
Post by: Skip on March 05, 2008, 11:19:22 AM
In my relationship, I tried to understand her part as a way to uncover what my part was - after all a relationship is largely about the reaction of two people to each other.

Nothing really made sense to me until I saw the "stages" as described by Roger Melton, M.A. (see Melton's article) (https://bpdfamily.com/content/how-borderline-relationship-evolves).  It's not the most well written article, but the concept of the stages answers a lot.

My thoughts/observations (using Melton's titles)

The Vulnerable Seducer Stage

BP: I suspect this is the idealization phase where the BP sees the relationship partner as the "wonderful" answer to their life and become awed by the relationship partner - and is even willing to transform to be just as attractive back.

NON: In the idealization phase, I suspect many NONs are just as intoxicated about the relationship as the BP- wanting to believe that they have found someone that really appreciates them for who they are. As Melton and others suggest, this adoration is all consuming and is intoxicating - even difficult for therapists treating a BP patient to keep in perspective.

The Clinger Stage

BP: The is the absorption (clinging, controlling) phase where the BP wants this new and  "wonderful" relationship partner as committed to their life as possible.  I suspect there are all kinds of ways this comes about. Isolating the partner from friends and family is often part of this.

NON: As things start moving way too fast, I've often wondered if this is where the the healthy start to back off.  An astute NON would see that "it is too good to be true" and would back off - feel suffocated - resists as the BP tries harder. This probably results in the slowing down and eventual ending of the relationship.

A less astute NON - someone in a down phase (e.g., after a divorce), or with chronic low self esteem, or with very high, possibly blinding, self esteem (e.g. narcissistic traits), or maybe just someone that is naive - continues on.

The Hater Stage

BP: Maybe this takes shape when the BP sees the reality and the flaws in the "wonderful" partner and the disappointment and resentment sets in... .as the partner is not living up to expectations.  It's a slow progression where the disappoint/resentment comes and goes and as the BP initially hopes to return to the earlier phases but becomes more disappointed/resentful with time / situations. Some of the resentment is about everything they did and sacrificed earlier to be "perfect".

NON: This is shock stage where the NON sees the "perfect" relationship starting to fail and takes responsibility for it either by trying to live up to the expectations set by the BP, or by trying to justify why they can't. 

This dynamic between the BP and the NON sets up the "push and pull", ups and downs (roller coaster), that we refer to the dysfunctional dance.  Both sides are dealing with the "dream" - one trying to get it back - one resentful that it is gone.

The Resolution Stage (I'm adding this one  :))

I think, from reading on the board, eventually one of four things happen:

1) The BP moves on in hopes of finding better.

2) The NON gets out because the situation becomes intolerable.

3) Both eventually accept the dysfunctional dance for many years, find ways to make it more tolerable, and live it as long as they can.

4) Both get professional help and work independently and together to improve the relationship - with varying degrees of success/failure over time.

Title: Re: PERSPECTIVES: Why we don't see it coming and why we stay...
Post by: owdrs on March 05, 2008, 11:48:55 AM
I think Skip is right on. The phrase of committing the non to their life as much as possible explains the rush into love, marriage, etc. My senses were tingling when she said love right away and then we talked about marriage prematurely. My problem was that I went along with her, not thinking she was seriously set on those things happening so soon. I never proposed marriage it was kind of agreed on, is the best I can explain it. But she had a dress and a hall picked out and reserved in a week. That scared me. I moved out and told her I wanted no contact. It didn't work. I took her back, I wasn't sure what to do. She was nice when necessary to keep me there, but after the wedding that wasn't needed as much. She started to pick at me with no attention towards 'loving'. Fights got bad. I stayed, I tried harder. It didn't work. I became resentful, hurt, angry. Instead of leaving I found ways to cope. Kids came along and now I felt I had to stay.

Unlike most of the posts here, I'm the one who hurt our credit. I took cc's and used them without her knowing. There were hundreds of times when I would tell myself that I'm not going to do this anymore, then some rage would happen at me or the kids and I would say F%^& this, I'm going to do whatever I want. We had/have 100K's in assets but I used the cc's to get at her the only way I could (she is very controlling with money... .what she earns is all hers), and it did hurt her. Now all I've done is make myself a financial hole and it's the only thing keeping me in the marriage. Immature? yes, Foolish? yes, but I had to go through all of this for years before I woke up and said I can't live like this anymore. If I hadn't learned about BPD I would still be wondering what was wrong with me (not that there aren't many things), but now I feel empowered... .finally.

The last stage gets stronger over time. The struggle of the bp to get control over you never ends. Each inch given only sets a new target. Suddenly, inches turn into feet and then miles. I don't think you can change a lifetime of supporting their behavior by setting boundaries when it's too late. All you can do is try to leave and start new.

(sorry for venting)


Title: Re: PERSPECTIVES: Why we don't see it coming and why we stay...
Post by: elphaba on March 05, 2008, 01:12:57 PM
Great posts!  

Everybody needs love. And unfortunately, many men and women will go to any lengths to get it--even if it means remaining in a bad relationship. Some people who are accustomed to unhealthy relationships often stay cornered in situations like this because they do not recognize that there is another way of living. They might continue the unhealthy relationship indefinitely and never seek a better way of life for themselves or they may leave the unhealthy relationship, but not the pattern. 

Title: Re: PERSPECTIVES: Why we don't see it coming and why we stay...
Post by: Skip on March 05, 2008, 08:57:23 PM
Here are a couple of factors that sometimes come into play in these relationships.

Intermittent Reward

B.F. Skinner (http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operant_conditioning) demonstrated that something that pays off every time does not have as strong an influence as something that only pays off once in awhile. This is what drives casino gambling, for example.  The higher the stakes, the more the impulse to take a chance on it, or keep trying - even though most of the time you lose.

The drive for the intermittent reward takes much longer to "extinguish" than the drive for the every-time reward. In the latter, as soon as the reward stops coming, you stop trying.  In the former, you keep trying... .

At some point in the BP relationship I think this can become a significant factor.  It explains why we keep trying to win "idealization" from our BP partner even when confronted with repeated abusive defeats.  During the highs and lows that are often described on this board as the "roller coaster" - the high is, in affect, the intermittent reward.

This drive caused by intermittent reward is so strong that the human psyche will actually override the more numerous times we lose by allowing us to dream of winning.  And this dreaming fuels the fire of our drive for each new effort.

BTW, I first learned this from a dog trainer  :)  And I think I got caught on this one.

Stockholm Syndrome

Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response sometimes seen in an abducted hostage where the hostage shows signs of loyalty to the hostage-taker, regardless of the danger (or at least risk). The syndrome refers to a bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden, in which the bank robbers held bank employees hostage for 6 days in 1973. In this case, the victims became emotionally attached to the robbers, and even defended their captors after they were freed.

In one article on our Web site, Joe Carver, PhD discusses how, in an abusive relationship, the abused can similarily bond with the abuser. It is, as he describes it, a survival instinct - possibly similar to the way newborn babies form an emotional attachment to the nearest powerful adult in order to maximize the probability that this adult will enable the survival of the child.  Carver Aticle (https://bpdfamily.com/bpdresources/nk_a108_xx.htm)

Carver says; In clinical practice, some of the most surprised and shocked individuals are those who have been involved in controlling and abusive relationships. When the relationship ends, they offer comments such as "I know what he's done to me, but I still love him", "I don't know why, but I want him back", or "I know it sounds crazy, but I miss her". Recently I've heard "This doesn't make sense. He's got a new girlfriend and he's abusing her too…but I'm jealous!" Friends and relatives are even more amazed and shocked when they hear these comments or witness their loved one returning to an abusive relationship. While the situation doesn't make sense from a social staNPDoint, it does make sense from a psychological viewpoint... .

(Note:  See related workshop here:  https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=63989.0  )

Title: Re: PERSPECTIVES: Why we don't see it coming and why we stay
Post by: acd on March 08, 2008, 04:56:11 PM
Agree with all of the above.  Here is a simple recipe for creating a non- who will stay to the bitter end with an abusive BP:

There are four basic ingredients:

1. Actual love: We nons tend to be nurturing by nature, and we do give more of ourselves to relationships than the average bloke;

2. Addiction: To the highs of the relationship, the great sex, the memories, etc.

3. Commitment:  Based on vows, religious views, children - or all three

4. Co-dependency:  encompassing everything from the Stockholm Syndrome to intermittent reinforcement to becoming an enabler, to fear of being without them etc. etc.

IMHO nons stay too long and don't see it coming because all four of these components are often present to some degree, and together they form a difficult-to-destruct glue that keeps us attached to our abusive BPs

Title: Re: PERSPECTIVES: Why we don't see it coming and why we stay
Post by: LAPDR on March 08, 2008, 06:41:34 PM
This is interesting and I can agree with the ideas presented. What I want to add is another variable to the dimensions of the staying with them. Some of us entered into the relationship very young and were totally oblivious to issues and total lack of knowledge of any mental health problems. From posts here there are many who tied up with their BPso when they were older and maybe much wiser. In my case my SO left the care of her parents right in our marriage and we enjoyed the honeymoon period and appeared to mature along the road. ln reviewing back with all the things that happened it took her a long time to 'bloom' with her multiple symptoms of BPD along with many other issues. It just appears that time is another factor in the periods we transient through this type of relationship. Some are in and out in a few years, others are long term and I don't believe it is all because of degrees of intensity or the depths of codependency we place ourselves in, some appear to get out of control faster than others for some reason. Was it that it was a slow cumulation over time or some significant event that was the trip wire?

Title: Re: PERSPECTIVES: Why we don't see it coming and why we stay
Post by: Christy2 on March 08, 2008, 08:11:31 PM
lapdr hits on an important point - while every case has similarities (I think your summarization of the three stages is spot on, Street) every resolution is not the same.  Too many variables. Life 'taint black and white.

Title: Re: PERSPECTIVES: Why we don't see it coming and why we stay
Post by: Isitme on March 09, 2008, 09:11:32 AM
I would just like to point out that these stages can be seen in friendships too, not just SO relationships.  Of course the details may be a little different, but the underlying patterns really ring true to me in my situation w/ uBPD SIL.

Title: Re: PERSPECTIVES: Why we don't see it coming and why we stay
Post by: AnalogGuy on March 10, 2008, 02:51:59 PM
Another reason we stay is fear.  Fear of the unknown, fear to hurt our loved one, fear our SO won't make it if we leave, fear that life will become intolerable while we try to leave, fear that we will be alone, fear that maybe YOU'RE the one who is sick and if you get out you will still be messed up inside but without anyone to love you.

I know that is what is happening to me.  I am so afraid... .  when I'm talking to her I start think I am so out of here, but then I get scared... .  Especially when she talks about the future or says something sweet (which is rare, but it happens).

Title: Re: PERSPECTIVES: Why we don't see it coming and why we stay
Post by: TonyC on March 10, 2008, 04:09:58 PM
just a thought... .and its my thoughts wether BPD, or the love isnt there, or any other disorder... .

some wait 1 year , 2 years... 5 years... .

ususally nothing changes... .in these periods... .

like the house it. still isnt paid for, the kids are 9 and 10 instead of 5 or 6 ,there is still a car payment... .your job is still your job. and he or she still dont have a job... .and the cost of living went up 10 percent and your paycheck hasnt... .

but those that want to leave... .the only thing that changes is they add on years of more unhappiness... .

but y0u have to make your own choices... .

but what good does waiting do? just prolongs... .the inevitable... .


Title: Re: PERSPECTIVES: Why we don't see it coming and why we stay
Post by: another_guyD on March 10, 2008, 04:48:46 PM
All of these are very good points

The naivety in regards to mental illness.

This was definitely a factor, here.

A BPD relationship is so multifaceted.

Really any relationship is, but you just don't expect to be hit from all directions.


Title: PERSPECTIVES: Discovering other inhibitors to leaving
Post by: LAPDR on May 21, 2008, 10:51:04 PM
Have had several members tell me that a post I did last year helped them a lot to overcome and break out of a long term relationship, it was things I went through after I gave up on the relationship and had to overcome my own internal denial and issues before I felt acceptance of my own decision.

I'll list the post here for development and hope others can add on to the list of non BPD issues that had to be faced.

The pain you feel can be terrible, very terrible and even feel like a physical injury but you don’t bleed blood, only grief and betrayal. brucey’s statement that you must psychologically break from her is correct, it sounds tuff and cruel but it’s what you have to think about. Try not to think that she has a campaign plan to hurt you in her agenda, even though it looks that way. She doesn’t have the inner strength to address her own issues and issues inside the marriage, she probably addresses her own problems with irresponsible short term solutions that keep changing to cover her pain without ever admitting what she really needs, wants or feels. The term of FOG stands for fear, obligation and guilt, I didn’t know about it then but it was what I had to evaluate and overcome for me to move on.

During the last year of my marriage I had a big fight within myself as to what to do. Below is a list of things that went through my mind, it was an expression of my desires and fears of the unknown to come.

Inside the marriage:

1.   I loved my wife (or I thought I did.)

2.   Over 25 years together and I felt comfortable for some reason.

3.   I didn’t want a failed marriage; I wanted to work on it.

4.   Didn’t want my children to think it was my fault.

5.   We had shared so much, why not continue on?

6.   I wanted to help her or help her get help so she would recover.

7.   I wanted grandchildren to have place and home of traditional grandparents.

Internal to myself:

1.   I had plans for us even though she didn’t.

2.   How was I going to get along as a single guy in the world?

3.   I didn’t want to give up ½ of everything I had physically gained over the years.

4.   I thought the pain of divorce would be worse than I felt then.

External to the world:

1.   I didn’t want to be a divorced guy like all the other men.

2.   I wanted to avoid embarrassment to family and friends.

3.   Fear of starting all over again at my age.

Looking back now I see most of these items were stupid and selfish. The first bridge I had to cross was realizing that maybe I didn’t love her anymore or that I couldn’t love a woman who didn’t love me or who’s values were not inline with mine. When I started to realize that I had spent way too much time trying to fulfill her needs I was empty and was not getting anything in return except grief and pain. I spent a lot of time by myself just to think about what I wanted for myself and ponder many of the items listed above. It took three or four months but I realized she would not change and I couldn’t change her, it had all been a waste of time. Focused on myself I got my bearings, swallowed a lot of pride and set off on what I wanted for myself in my life.

The journey began, it wasn’t easy or short but looking back I don’t regret it one bit. I moved out over seven years ago, received a divorce a year later and enjoy a fulfilling life that I enjoy now.

I hope that the bpdfamily.com board and the books you purchased will help you make the correct decisions you will face.

Please stay in touch here, read, post and evolve.


Title: Re: PERSPECTIVES: Discovering other inhibitors to leaving
Post by: LAPDR on May 24, 2008, 07:07:28 AM
Some additional items that appears to dwell on others.

Bound to stick by the marriage vows.

Bound to stick by the religious dogma of their religion.

Fear of a long drawn out nasty divorce.

Fear of maybe loosing contact with their children.

Fear that divorce will harm the children more than staying.

Afraid of change, period.

Some are SHMs and have no assets or income to survive on.

A few still doubt their own sanity and may think they are the crazy one.

   (Still in the FOG but they want to get away so bad)

Chime in if you have ideas or personal thoughts.

Title: Re: PERSPECTIVES: Why we don't see it coming and why we stay
Post by: ravenstar on July 17, 2008, 06:55:09 PM
This is the part that gets me

Why do I not SEE them for who they are? Is it because I have a blind spot because I had a mother figure with BPD and I'm desensitized? I have done TONS (read YEARS) of work on myself and codependency issues, self-esteem stuff... even FOO work... yet I find I am either attracted to the unstable (of a couple of different varieties, pd's or addictions, etc... pretty much can count on the fact that if I like someone SOMETHING is wrong with them) or I don't see it or they seem to be attracted to me... like I have a neon sign over my head or something.

It sucks not being able to trust one's own judgment. I do fine with friends, employment... etc... it's just romantically I seem to have this... whatever it is.

How much of this is our own unexamined or accepted needs, or boundary issues?

I KNOW why I stay once I'm in though... because I have this belief that I can help (a form of egomania I think! LOL) or I am ridiculously loyal and take my commitments seriously... I am also a stoic and put up with far more pain than I should, which I think is a form of unhealthy pride... I also really don't like hurting people, or abandoning them - which stems from my own fears of abandonment (this is MUCH better than it was - I actually prefer my solitude these days)

It's a mystery... and one I need to solve.

Title: Re: PERSPECTIVES: Why we don't see it coming and why we stay
Post by: owdrs on December 08, 2008, 08:36:27 AM

You have listed every reason I've used to stay. Fear of change, needing to do the right thing, financially scared, and especially how the kids would be affected. I am at another point where I feel I must find the strength to leave, but it is soo hard.

I look at my notes and I see that almost weekly I write about a fight or something that makes me comment that I have to get out. Yet, I stay.

I attribute it to such beaten down esteem. I look over almost 20 yrs together and I can't see anything that has lifted me from w, only negatives. How strong I had to be to stay and fight her and fight for my kids. Why can't I assume that will carry on in a new life without her?

My family, like many on this board, say I will thrive once I get out. It's hard to believe sometimes. Tony is again right on, what has changed other than more of my life is gone. Nothing. Time goes by and as I get older I see it's precious.

I personally want to thank all on this site for such helping words. This place has helped me more than you know.


Title: Re: PERSPECTIVES: Why we don't see it coming and why we stay
Post by: 577days on December 09, 2008, 09:40:14 PM
I m sure others cn identify. I think we stay for a variety of reasons, not just one and as the stages progress our reasons for staying change and become less voluntary and more forced either through circumstances they create, or by literally forcing us. When things first started to go bad and I knew as little about BP or mental illness as anyone else on the street, I just thought my situation was unique, and I felt a duty to fix her and maintain that "Great guy" title she gave me in the idealization stage. That was the carrot dangled in front of me, and the idealization stage was so powerful, so lasting that even the first time she cheated and I found out I wasn't phased or jealous because I thought after all, I was the "First guy to ever satisfy her", I was her "Soulmate" - yeah right. But my mind wanted to step up to the challenge, and not lose that title that not only did she give me, no one ever had before.

After repeating the same re-engagements again, and the next cheating incident happens followed by the suicide threats, the rescue, etc. You start to literaaly get worn down mentally, and become physically exhausted. Your mind is telling you that the relationship is wrong, you know its no good for you but life with a BP makes it impossible to complete a rational thought. You know its wrong, you know you have to get out but just when you are starting to find a solution, or even a thought of one they knock you off balance with their unpredictable nature.

As the relationship progresses, it worsens- and each time you hit bottom you say to yourself "It can't get any worse than this" or they couldn't possibly do anything worse than they just did, and the next thing you know they top the last thing they did! After awhile they know you are tired of the suicide threats. And you also realize that even when you do have them committed the only thing that happens is they spend 24 hours in a hospital that doesn't help them, only makes them come out madder at you. Instead of the self directed threats of violence, they turn it outwards. They know your weakness and they go for and threaten them. They threaten your employment by embarrasing you, threaten to have you arrested with false accusations nd will go so far to stage scenarios to make them look like a victim to have you arrested if necessary. (Mine once cut herself with glass intentionally to make it look like I did it and tried to have me arrested)- you learn quickly through conditioning that if you even turn to the police for protection, you will be the one in handcuffs. That's a scary feeling, and isolation- you are now forced to stay with them, your day is consumed with waiting for the other shoe to drop while fantasizing about an escape or your own early demise. But the most irrational part is, you are still going above and beyond tring to please them even though you hate them because your life revolves around minimizing or trying to control outbursts or episodes. You become exhausted still, because no matter how much you do, how hard you try you still can't satisfy them or make them happy.