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Family Court Strategies: When Your Partner Has BPD OR NPD Traits. Practicing lawyer, Senior Family Mediator, and former Licensed Clinical Social Worker with twelve years’ experience and an expert on navigating the Family Court process.
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Author Topic: What makes people susceptible to BPDs?  (Read 496 times)
Belizabeth

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« on: February 21, 2017, 01:37:20 AM »

As someone who is healing after a relationship with someone who has BPD and (I think) narcissistic tendencies as well. What makes people susceptible to these types of people? I am currently in therapy and working on healing child hood wounds. I know for me I am a people pleaser to a fault. I am wondering what exactly makes people susceptible to these types of people? Also are BPDs empathic? My ex always stated she was empathic and would randomly start crying out of nowhere and "feeling immense emotional pain" but claimed it wasn't her pain but someone else's she could feel. It always came off very dramatic and disengenuine like she needed somewhere to place blame.
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« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2017, 05:46:13 AM »

My answers are my opinions, not medical or scientific conclusions, so don't take them as gospel by any means.

As someone who is healing after a relationship with someone who has BPD and (I think) narcissistic tendencies as well.

What makes people susceptible to these types of people?

First and foremost, people who are not aware of Cluster B disorders. This is the single largest obstacle.

Next:
People pleasers, codependents, introverts.

Then:
People who are vulnerable, lonely.
People who felt something was missing in their past relationships e.g. sex
People who find it hard to differentiate between lust and love

People with compromised self esteem (in one aspect: one may have high self esteem in multiple areas, but low self esteem in a particular area which is susceptible to exploitation.)

Excerpt
Also are BPDs empathic?

Difficult to answer.

Initial explanations I read said BPDs were excessively so. In retrospect, I think this mostly comes from people in denial and struggling BPDs themselves.

Later explanations and accounts from recovered pwBPDs, seem to suggest the exact opposite.
They also suggested they were not capable of love; the sensation was more like having a need met.


Excerpt
My ex always stated she was empathic and would randomly start crying out of nowhere and "feeling immense emotional pain" but claimed it wasn't her pain but someone else's she could feel. It always came off very dramatic and disengenuine like she needed somewhere to place blame.

I'd have to have context to be able to take a guess;

My ex did something similar to this when I asked her a difficult question, like if she was imagining someone else during sex.
My therapist explained it was a method of deflection and not answering the question.
Once I understood that, I realised it also applied to other scenarios.
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« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2017, 07:39:51 AM »

borderline personality disorder is a spectrum disorder, a part of ones personality, but not the definition of that person. so its sort of like asking what sort of people end up with introverts, or left handed people.

it might narrow down your inquiry to view it as "what draws someone into an unhealthy relationship and what keeps them in it?".

and there are many answers, unique to us as individuals, and the dynamics of our relationship. have you considered what drew you in and kept you in it?

also important to remember bowens family systems theory that states we choose partners of the same or similar emotional maturity (a good way to define emotional maturity is our level of differentiation).
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Belizabeth

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« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2017, 11:02:08 AM »

These are great responses I can definitely relate with the "love versus lust" thing. Prior to this experience I thought lust was love and I equated high intensity drama w love. After this experience I see that couldn't be further from the truth. I tend to have great lasting friendships but have a difficult time in romantic relationships.
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« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2017, 10:56:57 AM »

I think that the biggest factor in staying in any unhealthy relationship is that both parties simply just don't know what they need to have sustained happiness in their lives.

Eating candy three times a day might sound appealing, and we can want to do it, but it's not the best way to live long and feel good.

To continue the metaphor, a lot of people that end up getting involved with a BPD partner tend to have a sweet tooth. Why is that? The answers are going to vary from person to person, but the end goal is always the same—to eat less candy and to know how it can best fit in to your life without ruining your teeth and making you feel like crud all of the time.
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« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2017, 12:52:55 PM »

Hi Belizabeth 

To add to this interesting discussion... .
I know for me I am a people pleaser to a fault.
Some caretakers aren't aware of when to stop helping ("pleasing" in a given situation. Normally, helpfulness can be seen as a good societal behaviour--but I think a relationship with a pwBPD is not a normal circumstance.

Also are BPDs empathic? My ex always stated she was empathic and would randomly start crying out of nowhere and "feeling immense emotional pain" but claimed it wasn't her pain but someone else's she could feel.
I think pwBPDs go through a lot of suffering and pain. This may lead to such a person thinking they are empathic--i.e., "I feel a lot therefore I must be empathic". But I think empathy is not simply a sensation--just because one feels a lot, doesn't mean one is empathic. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. Therefore, just because I tend to drive at 100mph on a highway--this doesn't mean I can park, turn at junctions, or understand other road users.
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« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2017, 10:12:35 AM »

You are working on yourself, trying to become more emotionally healthy, and it will make you a lot less susceptible.

pwBPD are horrible boundary busters. It starts with small things, and as the two of you get "used to them" they will get bigger and more egregious over time. If you have really solid, healthy boundaries, you will not let the first small ones go by, and the process will hardly get started. You might even deflect them on autopilot without noticing it. (I say this 'cuz I think I did it--I got into a r/s with a woman (I don't think BPD, but not all that healthy!) for a year, and she was never abusive toward me, although I realized she had been horribly abusive in a prior r/s; worse than the abuse I put up with in my marriage. I had great tools to STOP abuse, and never even had to use them with her. It was kinda weird.

One general truth about relationships is that you tend to form* a r/s with somebody about as emotionally healthy as you are. (If one person is way too messed up, it never gets started; the healthy one doesn't let it!)

That said, the exact flavor of unhealthy you are drawn toward is usually opposite of your personal "flavor". A pleaser or rescuer can be drawn toward somebody with BPD or BPD traits. BPD/NPD relationships are textbook examples of something that is chaotic but can be very long lasting.

* R/s form with people at a similar level. If you stay together over years, you may not stay well matched. Either could get healthier; either could regress. Sometimes a big disparity appears, even when it didn't start out there.
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« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2017, 11:49:30 AM »

 Bullet: comment directed to __ (click to insert in post)@Also are BPDs empathic? My ex always stated she was empathic and would randomly start crying out of nowhere and "feeling immense emotional pain" but claimed it wasn't her pain but someone else's she could feel.Bullet: comment directed to __ (click to insert in post)@

I feel like the answer is "no".   I think they have a finely tuned radar to issues, but lack the ability to feel outside of their own feelings or understand that others do things differently than they do.   

For instance, let's say a classmate of yours died and you made mention of it.   If they were close to their classmates, they may not understand why it doesn't devastate you that it happened.  Or conversely, if you were close to this person and they weren't close to their classmates, they'd think you needed to get over it. 
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« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2017, 10:03:15 PM »


Initial explanations I read said BPDs were excessively so. In retrospect, I think this mostly comes from people in denial and struggling BPDs themselves.


From what I understand they lack any kind of compassion or empathy. HOWEVER, if you speak of pain, or something terrible, or whatever, it might trigger them... .and that could be how they might mistake their feelings for empathy. They internalize an external event - and feel the pain. But that makes it about them, although they could argue that they feel the pain of others, which they likely do - but to me that is a boundary issue, not empathy. My mother has incredibly little empathy. Like very very little. She sees little children as her enemy and inherently ill intentionned... .   

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gotbushels
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« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2017, 10:32:24 PM »

HOWEVER, if you speak of pain, or something terrible, or whatever, it might trigger them... .and that could be how they might mistake their feelings for empathy. They internalize an external event - and feel the pain. But that makes it about them, although they could argue that they feel the pain of others, which they likely do - but to me that is a boundary issue, not empathy.
I think this makes a lot of sense. I think the distinction of feeling the pain by one person, and the similarity of that pain could be more closely a boundaries issue than empathy.

"Hey, I'm hurt for some reason → this pain from this other event feels like the baseline hurt I seem to feel more than others → perhaps if I can show this → then I will be noticed → then others (particularly some others?) will be drawn in to attend to me → then the pain may go away."

On this other hand this doesn't necessarily mean they are devoid of empathy. The ability to empathise could be seen as limited to a set of narrow means. E.g., your experience here:
My mother has incredibly little empathy. Like very very little. She sees little children as her enemy and inherently ill intentionned... .   

My ex also seemed to have grave suspicion of young female children.

Perhaps it is our experience of their way of empathising that is so distant from what we think is true empathy? Or their idea of empathy is so narrow that it's not "enough" for what we want in a partner? Then the amount of pain they exhibit (and hold out as "empathy" may incite us to think we are judging their level of empathy as too low--therefore the problem is that our standards are too "high"? I don't know.

But if we follow this chain then it makes it seem like the problem is our standards are too high, when in reality, these standards of empathy may be either too low, accurate, or genuinely too high. So I think we'd do well to know ourselves in this way, define that for ourselves, and have confidence in that standard. If we don't, then I think it's obvious we're leaving the absence of self-work as an opening to be taken advantage of.

I think that's consistent with why ideas around empathy can leave us open to Belizabeth's first question of what makes people susceptible to these types of people.
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« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2017, 12:33:16 AM »

Very interesting thread!

I have identified a few things in myself. Most of it goes back to my FOO.

I was conditioned to believe that boundary busting was the equivalent of love. Not sure how to explain it exactly. The best example is the mother or grandmother that insists on hugs and acts like she is devastated if she doesn't get one. If I (or a grandkid) didn't give in and give the hugs, then that meant that you didn't love her or were going to make her sad or some other BS. She wanted a hug because she loved you NOT because she was boundary busting and self centered. There are lots of other examples that I could give. This one came to mind because it became so obvious to me when I had kids and my mother did the hug thing with my kids. I intervened every time and I made it perfectly clear to my mother and my kids that hugs are NOT a requirement to show love. Another aspect of this is that the kids were NOT allowed to say no to the parents without fear of retaliation. When you spend your whole life having your boundaries busted and living in this weird state of confusion, it is so easy to seek that out because it seems comfortable and familiar even though you know it isn't right or good and feels horrible.

I had another light bulb moment related to this the other day. I grew up in a very dysfunctional household. I tend to be very understanding and non-judgmental for the most part. I find it way too easy to dismiss red flags because of what I saw as a child. I am not sure how to explain this but there are some people that I want to give a chance because I want them to be "good". They say all of the right things at all of the right times. A non-BPD isn't as likely to tell you what you want to hear. They may say that they don't like something that you love so you walk away. A pwBPD is much more likely to say that they like all the things that you like. That feels really good especially if you grew up in a house where you felt like the odd man out because you saw the dysfunction but were powerless to say or do anything about. I was hungry for validation. In the early stages when getting sucked in, they can be very, very validating. Heck, they will invalidate stuff that is totally and completely invalid and sometimes that feels pretty darned good, especially if you came from a place where if you got a 95 you were asked why it wasn't a 100.

A non-BPD is much more likely to challenge you in healthy ways that are good yet can be uncomfortable. I am thinking of my best friend and how we sometimes challenge each other on stuff. We call each other on stuff and are both able to say stuff like, "Ugh, that is painful to hear but you are so right." I compare that to how my ex and some of my FOO challenged me on stuff. Ex would challenge me on stuff that was complete and utter crap. It was very similar to how my FOO did it and I had a difficult time distinguishing between the normal and healthy stuff versus the stuff that was crap. I have spent a lot of time looking at the different relationships that I have had over the years.

Something else that I think has contributed to my susceptibility is ignoring my gut feelings. Really, I don't know that I ignore them as much as I don't trust them like I should. When I was a kid or with my ex, there were things that I brought up because it seemed pretty obvious to me that something was off or messed up only to be told that I was imagining it or "don't worry about it" or something else that was dismissive. With ex, "There is nothing wrong with our relationships. Everything is fine." or "I don't know why you would be hurt by me looking at porn instead of being with you. It isn't about you. Stop making it about you. I was being nice and letting you sleep. You are being ridiculous."
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