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Author Topic: Probably-Borderline Ex, Need Support  (Read 6051 times)
MapleBob
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« on: November 17, 2015, 10:11:14 AM »

Hi bpdfamily, this is my first post here, although I have been reading these forums for weeks and trying to take the advice to heart. I'm going to try to try to keep this short and relevant and see if anyone has thoughts about what I should do next... .

I haven't seen my ex girlfriend in 9 months, though we have remained in mixed contact. She has NOT been diagnosed borderline, though I am fairly (reluctantly) confident that she IS borderline. The lack of diagnosis doesn't really matter, though: she displays multiple traits of a borderline (or at least she does with me), so my experience with her is very much in line with other stories I've read here.

We met on a dating site almost two years ago, had a *magical* first date, had SO MUCH in common, fell in love quickly, and proceeded to have a long-distance (well, middle-distance) relationship for 14 months, seeing each other on average every third weekend. We were in constant contact through text message, Skype, and email - pretty much 16 hours a day, 7 days a week. Plans were being hatched for me to move to be with her permanently, but she lives in Canada and I'm in the States, so that was a complicated and expensive prospect that was going to take some time. In the beginning we were also casually dating other people in our respective towns, but eventually the decision was reached to be monogamous (after she blew up about it, dumped me, and then calmly told me that she had wanted to be exclusive all along despite giving no indication of that - which would have been fine with me!).

After a few months of monogamy and numerous breakup threats (all initiated by her, with the reasoning being that I didn't love her THE MOST, or enough), we (well, *she*) officially called it quits after a rocky Valentine's Day weekend earlier this year. In my analysis, she had wanted a more codependent relationship where I would be as obsessed with her as she was with me, rather than a healthy relationship of two independent adults. Any issues she had with my love style were kept a secret by her, I was supposed to be able to read her mind, and I was supposed to be completely obsessed with her. She just wasn't able to feel healthy love and healthy attachment AS love, at least not after the honeymoon period wore off. It was only many months after the breakup that I found out that her mother was a terrible alcoholic and had been for years, that she had had a very troubled childhood because of that, her father had cheated openly multiple times, and that my ex was deeply affected by all of this, for obvious reasons. She definitely went through a time of crazy promiscuity shortly before I met her, and had cheated on her ex-husband and still hasn't told him (I found out about this on our first date, by the way). She is high-functioning in her daily life (though she describes having "30 different moods a day", but certainly not with me! To hear her speak of it: we had a few good months, the distance and longing became too hard to deal with, and she started to blame me for it, while honestly believing that I just wasn't interested in her. I *know* that that was not the case; I am *not* a negligent partner by any stretch of the imagination (and my intensity and approach towards her varied not even slightly throughout our time together). It seems, quite simply, to be the classic "idealize/devalue/act out" borderline cycle. But to this day she insists that "well, my perspective is my perspective and I experienced what I experienced and it's all real to me". 

Since then it has been a rollercoaster, and her borderline traits have truly started to show. Mixed messages, push/pull, splitting - the works! It's almost too much to write it all down. I've tried to be a good friend to her, I've made attempts at reconciliation, I've done no contact, but I just can't seem to let this girl go. She'll say that a part of her "wants to be allowed to love me again", but that another part of her "refuses to let go" of feeling "SO pathetic for loving (me) like that the first time", so she just wants to be friends, but insists that we only talk once a month. Those "talks", by the way, are generally fights, where she cries, splits me black, splits me white, splits herself black/white, blames me and plays the victim, blames herself and says that she feels broken and like a failure, says that she wants to hug me and misses me, thinks about me ALL the time, but refuses to see me... .all the while insisting that this is all just "for now" (whaaaaaat?). She says that I'm wasting my time on her, that I should tell her to f*** off and be done with it, and that she needs time and space to process (which I'm already giving her, and she has shown ZERO progress from this time and space - and it's been nine months!). Her: "When I'm in communication with you it's like a Russian roulette happy/angry/sad/anxious/pulling my hair out. I can't count on how it will feel from one minute to the next." I'm pretty consistently calm and patient with her (which is difficult), but she picks a fight with me EVERY TIME WE TALK. And sometimes she's sweet, and sometimes we laugh, and she talks about sending Christmas cards and eventually seeing each other in person once things calm down, and that she just doesn't know what to do about us.

So, long story short, I'm in limbo and hoping that her therapy work is going to give her some insight into herself that will lead her back towards me (but from what I gather from talking to her about her therapy work she's mostly doing work about her ex-husband - and not, y'know, the troubled, problematic, obsessive, messy relationship that she has with me!). So I need advice as to how to make a decision to stay (and how to DO that), or to let her go (and how to do THAT). I don't feel like I'm articulating this very well, so I'm happy to answer questions. I'm well aware that mis-diagnosing your ex as borderline is pretty hip right now, and that's not what I'm trying to do here. I wish she WASN'T.
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MapleBob
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« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2015, 12:36:30 PM »

It just feels like I'm stuck in limbo with her. She keeps insisting that this is just "for now", and that she needs to clear her head through time and space, and that *then* some kind of decision can be made, or some kind of work can be done to get through this. But after nine months I see no progress; it's like we're having the same discussions over and over again, which result in me getting pushed away. It's just HARD, and I get so many mixed messages from her (when we're in contact at all). It's SO different than it used to be, and SHE is so different than she used to be. I love her; I just don't know what to do.
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MapleBob
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« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2015, 10:50:00 AM »

Anybody? 
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« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2015, 04:31:29 PM »

hey MapleBob and Welcome

im glad that you found us and it sounds like youre feeling less alone in your experience as a result. it helps to talk. it sounds like things have been pretty complicated and hectic for a long time and as you said you feel stuck in limbo. obviously i cant tell you what to do or decide for you but we can explore the situation and help you decide what you want to do. it sounds like you are acting mostly on her terms; the state of the relationship (state of it, contact and the nature of it, etc), her outcome in therapy, etc.

what are your terms, maplebob? what do you want to do? what are some good boundaries you might set around communicating? i think exploring these things will help you in your decision.
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     and I think it's gonna be all right; yeah; the worst is over now; the mornin' sun is shinin' like a red rubber ball…
MapleBob
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« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2015, 04:47:13 PM »

Thank you, once removed!

That is absolutely the case: everything on her terms. It feels like my hands are tied in this Catch-22 situation where either I settle for WAY less than I need from a relationship with her (be it in terms of a romantic OR platonic relationship), or ... .I settle for nothing. I know that I'm not utterly powerless here; I can walk away, I can get support and wait, I can have my feelings about this ... .I have options. I just don't like 'em! 

It feels like she dangles the carrot of "yeah, it's this way *right now*" and "part of me wants to be allowed to love you" and "I think about you ALL the time", but when I reach for that carrot I get the stick instead (the splitting, the near-abuse, the avoidance, the projection, etc.). I've read all about "No Contact", but I haven't heard of many situations where 30 days of No Contact gets repeated over and over and over again, like a broken record, with no progress. It's frustrating and infuriating and kind of insulting.

The bottom line is that I keep hearing "I need time and space, and I want to feel independent from you, and have things be casual to the point where neither of us is hurting about this, and I don't know what happens after that", so that's what I'm trying to do. And I'm staying out of contact with her for the moment, until the month is over. Not sure what to do then.
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« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2015, 05:36:21 PM »

is it worth settling for less than you need from a relationship with her? it may be. if yes, why?

no, youre not utterly powerless though i understand it feels like a no win situation. it sounds to me like your intent is to wait until the month is over, assuming she will contact you. you might consider the mean time as a cooling off period, to take time and reassess things, distract yourself, and hopefully enjoy your holidays with loved ones.

it sounds to me like the communication needs boundaries. if things spin out of control, calmly exit the conversation; offer to discuss it later (avoid saying something like "ill talk to you when you calm down" and mean it when you say you are exiting the conversation. at which point she may escalate; it will pass. it sounds like she is emotionally dysregulated when shes speaking to you. if there is going to be any kind of communication, that needs mitigating.

have you had a chance to check out the lessons (links) directly to the right? they begin with Stop the Bleeding and offer ways to immediately diffuse conflict. does that sound like it might help things in the short/near term?
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« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2015, 05:56:16 PM »

Hi MapleBob,

I'm committed to staying in my relationship with my partner.   after a pretty horrible 2013, we have gotten together and grown stronger together.   

three things contributed to our success at making this work.

1)  I learned everything I could about BPD so I understood how she processed life and what her world view looked like.   I noticed this.

But to this day she insists that "well, my perspective is my perspective and I experienced what I experienced and it's all real to me". 

Yeah.   My partner and I experience the same event much differently.   I need to radically accept that from time to time.   

2)  I needed,... .I desperately needed to learn how to communicate differently.  My way wasn't right.  Her way wasn't wrong.   We often talked passed each other or had circular arguments that were absolutely mind blowing in their illogic.   Over on the staying board, in the Lessons, Lesson three is all about communications.  SET, Validation, DEARMAN and LEAP probably saved our r/s.  At first it felt unnatural to me to talk that way, now I don't even think about it.

3)  My partner was just as committed to making this work as I was.  We both agreed the discomfort was worth the potential pay off.

It took a lot of effort on both our parts.   my first step was coming here and learning about validation.

would it help to list your options out here?

'ducks
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MapleBob
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« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2015, 06:58:26 PM »

A few replies here:

@once removed:

She has promised to contact me once the month is over, and I believe that she will. We've done this a couple of times already and I have no reason to doubt that we'll be speaking in December. She is *absolutely* emotionally dysregulated when speaking to me, and that is a big problem for BOTH of us. I feel like the blame/accountability generally falls on me for that, in an "oh, talking to you makes me feel crazy, so I shouldn't talk to you as much, because I have to not feel crazy to do my life." It's something that she only takes personal responsibility for in a self-blaming/victim kind of way: "I'm just broken ... .not everyone is calm and rational like you ... .I feel like a failure... ." etc. I have thought a lot about refusing to engage past the point where she's escalating emotionally, but I'm hesitant. It's likely me being codependent, but it feels like giving up. I'll re-read the lessons and report back!

@babyducks (Thanks!)

I'm definitely in the process of #1 and #2, but I can't control #3 (not that control is my end game or anything). I question her level of commitment, mainly due to the issues I just mentioned ("YOU make me crazy!". She's also talked about feeling "pathetic" for loving me as much as she did, and not feeling like I was on the same wavelength about that (when I totally totally was!). She gets it NOW, but she says that it's too late (and then acts like it's not). Mixed messages.

I feel like my communication is generally pretty good with her (and I think that frustrates her, like she *should* have been able to push me away completely by now, or I *should* be losing my cool). She mentions feeling pressured to be more attentive or more caring or more present, and that it feels totally unnatural. But then she often indicates that she's thought about getting in touch with me and stopped herself (so, withholding?). I *will* look into the lessons about communication and try some stuff out, if I get the chance.

As far as my options go, they feel pretty limited:

1. I don't contact her, and if she contacts me, I ignore her/block Facebook/etc. No contact forever, I move on.

2. I don't contact her, and if she contacts me, I engage. (That seems comfortable for HER in the present time, but I have grief and longing and resentment about it.)

3. I contact her lightly and occasionally despite her insisting on time/space, and she's free to do what she wants about that. (I think this will push her away over time, honestly - I've tried this option and it's not working, for whatever reason.)

I guess to clarify: I would like to have a romantic relationship with her again, or at least seriously explore the possibility of working towards that. In these whole nine months she has perpetually refused to have that conversation - won't even talk about it. Hints at it once in a while, but won't go there. In the absence of that romantic possibility, I'd like to get to where we could be in casual, easy contact and have things be peaceful and familial. I care about her, she cares about me, that has NEVER been the issue, but it would be hard (possible, but hard) to let go of the romantic/sexual part for me. She seems to want to let it go, but can't. I think she's waiting for something to change, and I don't know what it is. It's like she's waiting to not feel borderline anymore! 
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babyducks
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« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2015, 07:56:35 PM »

She is *absolutely* emotionally dysregulated when speaking to me, and that is a big problem for BOTH of us. I feel like the blame/accountability generally falls on me for that, in an "oh, talking to you makes me feel crazy, so I shouldn't talk to you as much, because I have to not feel crazy to do my life."

Opportunity for validation.   If talking to you pushes her to emotional dsyregulation than of course she is going to feel uncomfortable.   Don't accept blame but validate what you can.    If it's a problem for both of you, agree with her.   "Yes there is a lot of intensity in the air right now, I feel it too.   Let's take a break from this topic for a while."


question her level of commitment, mainly due to the issues I just mentioned ("YOU make me crazy!". She's also talked about feeling "pathetic" for loving me as much as she did, and not feeling like I was on the same wavelength about that (when I totally totally was!). She gets it NOW, but she says that it's too late (and then acts like it's not). Mixed messages

pwBPD crave a relationship and fear them.  they think if you REALLY knew what they were like you wouldn't care for them.   They also fear being engulfed by the relationship.


I guess to clarify: I would like to have a romantic relationship with her again, or at least seriously explore the possibility of working towards that. In these whole nine months she has perpetually refused to have that conversation - won't even talk about it. Hints at it once in a while, but won't go there. In the absence of that romantic possibility, I'd like to get to where we could be in casual, easy contact and have things be peaceful and familial. I care about her, she cares about me, that has NEVER been the issue, but it would be hard (possible, but hard) to let go of the romantic/sexual part for me. She seems to want to let it go, but can't. I think she's waiting for something to change, and I don't know what it is. It's like she's waiting to not feel borderline anymore! 

I would still recommend visiting the staying board and reading the lessons there.   It's important to understand what a relationship with a pwBPD is like in terms of consistent respect, trust, support, honesty and accountability, and in terms of negotiation and fairness, or expectations of non-threatening behavior.  It is important to accept the relationship behavior for what it is - not hope the person will permanently return to the idealization phase, not accept the external excuses for the bad behavior, and not hope that changing your behavior to heal someone else.

I had the opportunity to leave my relationship and made the decision not to do it.   I would make the same decision today.  I am happy with my relationship.   No relationship is perfect, I've made some sacrifices to stay.  But I did it with my eyes wide open.   I knew what I was signing up for.

ducks

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MapleBob
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« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2015, 08:09:57 PM »

I would still recommend visiting the staying board and reading the lessons there.   It's important to understand what a relationship with a pwBPD is like in terms of consistent respect, trust, support, honesty and accountability, and in terms of negotiation and fairness, or expectations of non-threatening behavior.  It is important to accept the relationship behavior for what it is - not hope the person will permanently return to the idealization phase, not accept the external excuses for the bad behavior, and not hope that changing your behavior to heal someone else.

I had the opportunity to leave my relationship and made the decision not to do it.   I would make the same decision today.  I am happy with my relationship.   No relationship is perfect, I've made some sacrifices to stay.  But I did it with my eyes wide open.   I knew what I was signing up for.

I definitely feel committed (and she says that she is too, but with severe limitations). I feel like I could learn to accept the behaviors and develop skills around them *in the context of a relationship*. But we don't really have a relationship right now, honestly - what we have right now is a dysfunctional attachment that gives me pretty rare opportunity to even *try* anything. And there is no clear goal, because our stated intentions are different. I say I'd be willing to try dating her again (and if not, we can be friends, I'll learn to live with that) - she'll only talk about being friends, but then hints at the possibility of more, and honestly isn't even really engaging in much of a friendship at the moment.

I know *so* little about her life right now (she could be dating someone for all I know), because when we talk it gets escalated pretty quickly, no matter what I'm doing. (She's "incapable of not starting a fight", she says.) I'm actually really good at turning it around and calming her, but it always comes back to "well, I'm crying again and I hate this and give me a month or tell me it's not good enough for you, doesn't change anything, yadda yadda".
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MapleBob
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« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2015, 08:34:36 PM »

She says she wants to "move forwards, not backwards", which I'm taking to mean that she doesn't want to pursue anything romantic with me again. Then again, "I feel nostalgic, and part of wants to be allowed to love you... ." 
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« Reply #11 on: November 18, 2015, 10:44:47 PM »

im not suggesting she wont contact you in december, but my concern is that if, hypothetically she didnt, that it could leave you feeling stuck in an even wider limbo and unsure about acting. its something to consider in this arrangement. or, this dynamic of her contacting you once a month and losing it could go on for quite a while as is. neither strike me as in your best interest.

babyducks really beat me to it on using validation in the kinds of moments that she quoted and i want to echo it as strongly as i can, and she has the experience to back it up. i didnt have the opportunity to use the tools with my ex, but theyve improved all of my personal relationships. they can go a long way toward stopping the bleeding and diffusing conflict. its not a guarantee, and it does feel very awkward at first, but i think its crucial in smoother communication, and it becomes more natural with practice.

why does exiting a conversation feel like giving up?
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MapleBob
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« Reply #12 on: November 19, 2015, 12:38:43 AM »

or, this dynamic of her contacting you once a month and losing it could go on for quite a while as is. neither strike me as in your best interest.

Oh agreed, I certainly don't want the current dynamic to continue. I *can't* have it go on for much longer. I'm not sure how long. It's utterly unsatisfactory, which is why it becomes so difficult for me to be just sitting with it, and feeling relatively powerless in my agreement to it, "for now".

I will definitely give some thought to validation. I've seen positive results at times from being validating of her and her experience, however foreign it may seem from my perspective. That validation is almost what keeps ME going even, because it's often hard for me to justify staying through all of this - especially the fear and the near-PTSD I experience at times when thinking about just how *hard* things have been.

In regards to "exiting a conversation feels like giving up": I think that it feels invalidating to me, but maybe there is a certain amount of "your actions/reactions are not okay with me" that I need to reiterate. It's also, like, things are so dramatic and difficult and confusing as it is, and we talk so rarely as it is, that exiting a conversation feels like saying "enough is enough, I'm done", especially with the current fragility. Again, that's probably codependent thinking.
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MapleBob
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« Reply #13 on: November 19, 2015, 12:47:51 AM »

Tonight it feels like I should give up and not speak to her again. I feel foolish placing any faith in this, after nine months (well, over a year really, since the breakup cycle started) and this much dirty water under the bridge. Sigh.
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« Reply #14 on: November 19, 2015, 01:01:25 AM »

maplebob, you mention that exiting a conversation feels like saying "enough is enough, im done", and it occurs to me that it could easily be perceived that way and trigger the sense of abandonment. it really depends on your goals. tonight you feel you should give up and you feel foolish. you may feel differently tomorrow. you have time to reflect on whats best for you. should you decide you want to improve things, your emphasis should certainly be on validation as opposed to a hard and fast exiting of a conversation. should you decide to end things, you have many options not limited to but including not speaking to her again. you have time. i encourage you to make the most of it.
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« Reply #15 on: November 19, 2015, 08:51:29 AM »

should you decide to end things, you have many options not limited to but including not speaking to her again. you have time. i encourage you to make the most of it.

Well, technically things *are* ended between us. Well, sort of. We're not a couple. And talking strictly once a month, to me, doesn't move things forward in ANY direction, which I keep trying to get through to her. That part makes me frustrated and she acts like I'm crazy for believing that. That's not a crazy belief, right? That you have to DO a relationship. She says that she needs time and space to "get over it" and "not care as much". I have a hard time validating her wanting to get to the point where she cares less about me. (Not to mention the fact that withholding and *telling* someone that you're intentionally being withholding is pretty much abusive.)

When all we have is talking once a month (again, "for now", the only option I see for "ending" things is to not do that anymore.

I'm also worried that she's seeing someone else and just isn't telling me, either because she doesn't want hurt to me or lose me as a friend, or because she's stringing me along for some reason. *That's* hard.
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« Reply #16 on: November 19, 2015, 10:52:38 AM »

I think that I can use SET with her, if given the opportunity. I can see that I've been, at times, invalidating. At other times - maybe most times! - I've been essentially using SET and just didn't know it. It works, but I've felt like a pushover sometimes with her when I'm consciously being validating of her feelings/perceptions that I know just aren't based in objective "reality".

She has this big thing about "not being able to feel the love" that I have for her. Does anyone have advice about that? That was the reason for us breaking up - she felt that the relationship was imbalanced - but I think she's come around and realized that I'm still here, so I *must* actually love her pretty hard. Now she's staying away from romantic entanglement with me because "Well, why didn't I feel it?" She doesn't want to go back to that (to feeling "pathetic", and I don't want that either, but I'm not being given any opportunity to *change* anything, or demonstrate anything. It's just a couple of hours a month on the phone, and maybe one or two sessions of texting when I've decided to break no contact.
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« Reply #17 on: November 19, 2015, 06:01:36 PM »

Any further advice/support would be much appreciated. I'm kind of white-knuckling here in order to respect her contact boundaries. Torture! (At least it is today.)
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« Reply #18 on: November 20, 2015, 05:18:35 AM »

Well, technically things *are* ended between us. Well, sort of. We're not a couple. And talking strictly once a month, to me, doesn't move things forward in ANY direction, which I keep trying to get through to her. That part makes me frustrated and she acts like I'm crazy for believing that. That's not a crazy belief, right? That you have to DO a relationship. She says that she needs time and space to "get over it" and "not care as much".

Hi MapleBob,

being stuck in limbo is not a good place, and it's not a place that anyone can sustain for long.   "being ended, sort of" is untenable.  exactly what you already think.  you need some clarity about the state of the relationship and she is unable to provide anything more than she already has.  she has reached the end of her emotional limits.  it's not being done deliberately to hurt you. pwBPD are emotionally undeveloped and reach their limits before you and I.  unfortunately that means it's up to you to provide the clarity you need.

nothing you can say or do will change anything she feels or thinks.   that's her job.    changing your behavior won't heal her.   she won't quickly recover from the traits of BPD or develop the relationship skills you hope for rapidly.  it took my partner 9 years in therapy to reach the point where she was released from care.   you can accept that the person you care deeply about is at the limit of her emotional bandwidth and accept the relationship is what it is, without trying to change it.   that's a tall order and you are going to wrestle with many difficult feelings during that process.

you can decided that working within the limits of the relationship is not something you can do, and you can disengage with compassion and grace.   my perspective is no contact is necessary in situations of abuse or domestic violence.   in other situations I don't happen to consider it a magic panacea.  if you detach, however you choose to do it, that will be a tall order too and you are going to wrestle with many difficult feelings during that process.

if there are two people equally in a relationship both people should have their wishes on the table and respected.   if you want more contact and her less, your wishes are diametrically opposed.  the person with the 'more' healthy coping skills will have to lead the way.   

it's good that you respect her contact boundaries.   when the knuckles start to get white it's time to do something else with all that energy... .exercise, read a book, go out with friends.  rechannel that energy into something positive.

'ducks
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« Reply #19 on: November 20, 2015, 09:02:14 AM »

if there are two people equally in a relationship both people should have their wishes on the table and respected.   if you want more contact and her less, your wishes are diametrically opposed.  the person with the 'more' healthy coping skills will have to lead the way.

For starters, I don't think she really KNOWS what she wants; I'm certainly being given opposing signals. She defaults to (essentially) "I'm having a hard time thinking about talking to you regularly and getting worked up about it on a regular basis, because that is what happens, so leave it alone and give me a month or tell me to f**k off. I'll understand if you do." Like it's a dare!

But then she says that she thinks about our relationship ALL the time ("obsessed" is the word she uses, until I ask her about that and she says "well, I'm not obsessed with our relationship", says the once a month thing is "just for now", says that she doesn't know what happens in the future between us (won't make a definitive choice), says that she wants to be close, and have regular contact eventually, says that she "wants to be allowed to love me".

Regardless, she's forcing space. Loudly - and, honestly, pretty rudely. I'm having a hard time with a few other things in my life right now too, and she is utterly unsupportive and wouldn't put this aside to be present for me. I would have for her!

Anyway, if I'm the one with the "more healthy coping skills", how do I go about leading the way? I feel like I'm pretty validating (at least eventually   ), but like you said, it always boils down to "I want to talk more, you want to talk less (for now, at least)", or "I want to work towards being together, you want to work towards being friends". It's hard to lead the way when all you have to work with is her crying and raging on the phone and then eventually settling down long enough to give me a fraction of hope before we hang up - once a month.

I really can't validate her desire to put our relationship on hold.
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« Reply #20 on: November 20, 2015, 09:22:40 AM »

Think about how things could play out if you didn't try to match her level of comfort and ability to express herself but made it more about you and your wants, thoughts, needs.   

Not a  tit  for tat exchange but an offering up of ideas.  I use the Yale Communication Model which is built on this format.

When event or occurrence happens

I feel this emotion

So I would like to

For me it looks like this When our plans get confused I feel anxious so I would like to decide what we are going to do Friday night now.   Is that okay with you?    Keep your suggestions small and positive.   Don't overwhelm her with far reaching solutions or emotionally fraught topics.   

Baby steps.   If having the same conversation over and over isn't getting you any where, stop having it.  My 2 cents.
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« Reply #21 on: November 20, 2015, 09:36:09 AM »

Think about how things could play out if you didn't try to match her level of comfort and ability to express herself but made it more about you and your wants, thoughts, needs.    

Not a  tit  for tat exchange but an offering up of ideas.  I use the Yale Communication Model which is built on this format.

If having the same conversation over and over isn't getting you any where, stop having it.  My 2 cents.

Ah yes, I did a lot of that in my therapy work years ago. Validation, "I statements", calm behavior change requests... .but none of that seems to work on her.

Here's a literal quote from her: "I am allowed to ask for space! And yet it's always wrong and insensitive and disappointing! And somehow surprises you! When I ask for it every time ... .I feel like a failure, do you get that? You are great and you try harder and are nicer and more patient and more dedicated. I am constantly disappointing. It's not fun being that person either! The one dad is always wishing was different ... .and of course THIS is why I can't talk to you often. Because I am incapable of not starting a fight. Just give me a month or tell me to go away. I'm sorry."

Like whoa. Provocative. We even went to the extent of writing each other letters and reading them to each other a couple months back. One angry letter (to get the grief out and be heard), then two weeks later one nice, loving letter (for affirmation, and balance). She literally got nicer after the angry letter and then angrier after the nice letter. Completely the opposite of what one would expect.

I'm definitely going to try validation, and some behavior change requests when I talk to her in December, but I don't feel hopeful about it.
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« Reply #22 on: November 20, 2015, 10:00:23 AM »

If I had to make an assumption as to her wants/needs: I think she still has feelings for me (although she insists on describing them as "nostalgia", blech), but she doesn't want to have those feelings anymore. She wants time and space to let me go (let the relationship go), and to feel more casual and "friend"-like about me, but it isn't working. So she doesn't know what to do, and has extreme and conflicting feelings. She certainly won't see me, which is kind of a deal-breaker for me, because I am *positive* that an in-person meeting would make things, well, more difficult at first, but better in the long run.
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« Reply #23 on: November 20, 2015, 12:34:24 PM »

It feels like it might come down to an ultimatum, and I *HATE* that, because she will definitely walk away.
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« Reply #24 on: November 20, 2015, 01:07:43 PM »

If I had to make an assumption as to her wants/needs: I think she still has feelings for me (although she insists on describing them as "nostalgia", blech), but she doesn't want to have those feelings anymore. She wants time and space to let me go (let the relationship go), and to feel more casual and "friend"-like about me, but it isn't working. So she doesn't know what to do, and has extreme and conflicting feelings. She certainly won't see me, which is kind of a deal-breaker for me, because I am *positive* that an in-person meeting would make things, well, more difficult at first, but better in the long run.

pwBPD struggle with object permanence. this is often thought of as "out of sight out of mind" but it doesnt usually work exactly that way.

generally, the closer we grow to our partners, the more intense a trigger we become. you will notice she compares you to her father, "the one who is always wishing" she was different. this isnt your fault (i dont think most people consciously become a stand in for a parent) but it may be reality.

so the more distance she has from you, the better she is able to regulate her emotions, and thus feel a longing for you. when she gets closer to you (talks to you) she is triggered intensely and must either lash out or back away. this looks and feels like push-pull to you, and it is.

within that quote from her, there is plenty to validate, none of it easily. i think in general you want to avoid getting to that point; probably avoid discussion of feelings. leave that to her, if she does, and then validate. and like babyducks said, don't overwhelm her with far reaching solutions or emotionally fraught topics. baby steps, but based on your wants and needs.

remember, you still have plenty of time to think this through, as well as get some space for yourself and decide affirmatively your wants and needs.
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« Reply #25 on: November 20, 2015, 01:16:07 PM »

You cannot solve the problem with the same minds that created it.

What has changed in you and/or her that make you think a getting back together will result in a happier and long lasting relationship?

Or you will end up the same place you were the last break up ?
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« Reply #26 on: November 20, 2015, 01:24:09 PM »

generally, the closer we grow to our partners, the more intense a trigger we become. you will notice she compares you to her father, "the one who is always wishing" she was different. this isnt your fault (i dont think most people consciously become a stand in for a parent) but it may be reality.

There has been a running theme of her comparing me to her father. It's usually little things, but I've always thought that was interesting. I've said that, if anything, it's a sign of compatibility between us, and an explanation of the intense chemistry we seem to have. You know, that "you fall in love with people who represent the best and worst of your parents' qualities, so that you can have a corrective experience" thing. I desperately want that corrective experience for both of us!

within that quote from her, there is plenty to validate, none of it easily. i think in general you want to avoid getting to that point; probably avoid discussion of feelings. leave that to her, if she does, and then validate. and like babyducks said, don't overwhelm her with far reaching solutions or emotionally fraught topics. baby steps, but based on your wants and needs.

remember, you still have plenty of time to think this through, as well as get some space for yourself and decide affirmatively your wants and needs.

I feel clear about my wants and needs (well, to enough of an extent to get started). When I express them (even in the teensy tiniest of ways), I'm suddenly laying on intense pressure and expectations and she feels like she can't rise to the occasion, so she feels like garbage, and then *I'm* making her feel like garbage, and she has to go because she's spiraling, "talk to you in a month"... .It's frustrating.
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« Reply #27 on: November 20, 2015, 01:38:25 PM »

You cannot solve the problem with the same minds that created it.

What has changed in you and/or her that make you think a getting back together will result in a happier and long lasting relationship?

Or you will end up the same place you were the last break up ?

Well, that prospect DOES frighten me. Not much has changed, honestly, except that when we finally broke up in a more "permanent" way 9+ months ago, it was with the stated reasoning that I "didn't love her enough/well enough," and that she was tired of waiting for me to move there (though there were significant obstacles in her life that SHE had placed there that made a move more difficult for me than it had to be - and some of those *have* started to change). I think I've managed to get through to her that that wasn't the case, mainly by sticking with this (I certainly DID love her, and still DO), so now the conversation is "Why did she feel that way? What can we do differently to allow her to feel more secure, confident, and loved? How can we forgive each other after all of this?"

I have her quote "I feel nostalgic and there is a part of me wants to be allowed to love you (because I am good at that), and there is a part of me that is *refusing* to let go of the anger I feel because I used to feel SO PATHETIC for loving you like that the last time ... .But in reality I just want to know you and be a tiny bit casual about it. And we can talk when we have a minute and not talk for a while and that's just okay, and nobody is hurting about it. And I think that takes time, and space. I just believe that to be true."

Now, that points to "let's take some time and just be friends later when the fallout settles," EXCEPT for the "part of me wants to be allowed to love you." That's a pretty strong mixed message, right? "I *want* this, but really I *want* the opposite of this." Or is that me just focusing on the part that gives me hope?
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« Reply #28 on: November 20, 2015, 01:46:47 PM »

There has been a running theme of her comparing me to her father. It's usually little things, but I've always thought that was interesting. I've said that, if anything, it's a sign of compatibility between us, and an explanation of the intense chemistry we seem to have. You know, that "you fall in love with people who represent the best and worst of your parents' qualities, so that you can have a corrective experience" thing. I desperately want that corrective experience for both of us!

i think the situation is unfortunately more complicated than that. you see, i was often compared to my exes father, though we are nothing alike. in fact her father withheld affection and was pretty cruel to her. besides, im my own man, id prefer my partner not project their father onto me.

BPD has its origins in very early childhood, around the ages of 2-3, where its theorized the person failed to complete the separation/individuation stage, where one begins to internalize that they are their own person, separate from their earliest attachment (mother/father). thus they remain, emotionally, very very young, and feel a life time of great shame. its a failure to attach. so every intimate relationship will play out with this underlying dynamic, with that same failure to attach, which increases shame. this is not a conscious thing but will replay with the same outcome without long, hard work in therapy.

in other words, we were/are virtually all stand ins for our BPD loved ones parent(s). for many members, our exes were stand ins for our parents too. this is fraught with peril and generally does not lead to a corrective experience.

"When I express them (even in the teensy tiniest of ways), I'm suddenly laying on intense pressure and expectations and she feels like she can't rise to the occasion, so she feels like garbage, and then *I'm* making her feel like garbage, and she has to go because she's spiraling, "talk to you in a month"... .It's frustrating."

this is where the yale communication model that babyducks mentioned may help. make small and positive suggestions based on your wants and needs, but avoid framing them as wants or needs. this will require great restraint. it looks less like "i want to/need to/would like to see you" (interpreted as a demand) and more like "what are you doing on x day? would you like to get together?". thats just an example.
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« Reply #29 on: November 20, 2015, 02:06:34 PM »

in other words, we were/are virtually all stand ins for our BPD loved ones parent(s). for many members, our exes were stand ins for our parents too. this is fraught with peril and generally does not lead to a corrective experience.

Oh she's a total stand-in for my mother as well. My mother was an abuse survivor who did her core therapy work when I was an adolescent, so I spent years watching her go through a rough time, being alternately raging/unavailable and loving/clinging (exactly like my exBP). I hear you - it generally isn't our partners who give us corrective experiences. We have to give them to ourselves.

"When I express them (even in the teensy tiniest of ways), I'm suddenly laying on intense pressure and expectations and she feels like she can't rise to the occasion, so she feels like garbage, and then *I'm* making her feel like garbage, and she has to go because she's spiraling, "talk to you in a month"... .It's frustrating."

this is where the yale communication model that babyducks mentioned may help. make small and positive suggestions based on your wants and needs, but avoid framing them as wants or needs. this will require great restraint. it looks less like "i want to/need to/would like to see you" (interpreted as a demand) and more like "what are you doing on x day? would you like to get together?". thats just an example.

I think I'd have to start significantly smaller than requesting an in-person visit, but I see what you're saying. Invite instead of asking to be invited. I've made a lot of mistakes around that, honestly, because she's been so so so avoidant and withholding and trying to run, knowing that I won't leave. I'm waiting for her to come around (because she says that she will if I "leave her alone" for long enough), I'm trying to be patient and validating, but that's leaves me here, waiting. Waiting for SO LONG for zero progress - progress that I feel *could* be made if she could be present and committed in the relationship. I guess I'm having a hard time seeing time and space as presence or work. And no contact is really hard.
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