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How to communicate after a contentious divorce... Following a contentious divorce and custody battle, there are often high emotion and tensions between the parents. Research shows that constant and chronic conflict between the parents negatively impacts the children. The children sense their parents anxiety in their voice, their body language and their parents behavior. Here are some suggestions from Dean Stacer on how to avoid conflict.
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Author Topic: Only a friendship?  (Read 792 times)
Sirnut
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« on: April 11, 2018, 07:32:34 AM »

I’m conscious of the fact that most of the posts here are about romantic relationships, marriages and family bonds. My BPD relationship was *only* a friendship. But even a friendship with someone with BPD traits can be hugely intense. This one has knocked the stuffing out of me in a way that is off the scale compared to anything I’ve experienced before, or probably ever will again.

I’ve posted my story previously so I won’t repeat the details. In short, my friend and I became incredibly close very quickly after we first met. We are opposite-sex friends of similar age, but our relationship was always non-romantic given we are both partnered and faithful and we took these things very seriously. We stuck to that, but within our boundaries there was something very special in the way we bonded together. I could see she was vulnerable and I put every emotional resource I had into helping her and building her up.

Unlike other men, I respected her and treated her as an equal. She idealised me and put a huge amount of trust in me, and for some years we were a big part of each other’s lives. That was up until a few months ago.

There are a number of ways I could describe what happened next. But in summary she was always emotionally unstable and she seemed to get more and more demanding as time went on. And I became more and more unstable myself trying to ride the roller coaster of her life with her. In the end she asked me to do something I just couldn’t do - I disappointed her, and she turned against me. I can’t describe what happened then, but maybe these words are enough.

Since then, it seems like she has become a different person - harsh and insensitive where she used to be so understanding, and blaming me for the end of our friendship while refusing to talk about what happened. She has cut off contact in a very public and deliberate way that seems designed to punish and humiliate me. It’s been unbelievably hurtful, and all without any words of explanation.

Since that happened, I’ve been working with a counsellor to try to come to grips with what happened. I think I’m getting to a place where I can live with the lack of closure and move on with my life. I’m learning to be content with the understanding I have and the memories I have of our time together. That’s big progress from where I was three months ago. I haven’t seen her much for several months now.

The hard part is, I’ve learned recently that after a period of absence, she is intent on re-engaging with our shared social circle, and that she has been trying to recruit allies to her view that I’ve treated her badly. She is going to be looking for some kind of public vindication against me, even though objectively (at least as I see it) she’s the one who has broken the relationship.

What to do?

Ideally I’d like to have a talk with her about what happened, and just sort it out. We used to do that sort of thing all the time and really it shouldn’t be that hard. But she won’t do it - won’t communicate in any way, and I don’t understand why. It just seems that her coping mechanism is to shut me out.

I know the best thing for me in the circumstances is to try to cultivate a sense of indifference towards her. I’m working on that, and it’s fine when I don’t have to see her.  The problem is, next time I see her the passionate intensity will still be there.

How do I get this under control? I don’t want to keep stressing out every time I see her, or to feel like I have to avoid going places where she might be there. But seriously, the thought of seeing her now, knowing she will give me a very public cold shoulder, just fills me with dread.

It’s so strange when, a few months ago, we seemed to have the most natural companionship in the world.

Does anyone have any thoughts on how I should think about this? It’s really stressing me out.
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Skip
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« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2018, 08:39:52 AM »

I read your letter ( #msg12951910 ). Showing this suffering is not going to open any doors... .it will only be perceived as weakness. It will help to understand that she is, in her mind, showing you her strength right now. She standing strong with silent treatment because it is hurting you and "you deserve it." The harder you try to break through, the more resolve she will have.

If you already reached out, and it sounds like you have, you have little choice but to live with the vast emptiness of being cut off. That emptiness stops, when you let go of it. The only way to do that is to understand why it is there. Payback.

You've hinted that there was "an event" that catalyzed all of this.

What happened?
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MyBPD_friend
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« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2018, 09:07:06 AM »

Sirnut,
I'm very sorry for the loss of you close friend.

I'm in the same situation, except, we've not seen each other that much, because devaluation, no contact, silent treatment started early on. It's been 12 months exactly when we met.

Communication, especially about personal and rather difficult issues, seems to be very very difficult for people with BPD, I've experienced that over a course of a year now.

Out relationship is also *only* a 'friendship', unfortunately she doesn't really understand the concept of friendship.

From what you said, it eems to me that there is a deep emotional bond between the two of you. I think I know what it feels like. We're also both in a close rs with a long time partner. I'm married since 21 years.

Since I'm in an identical situation, I can't really help with any advise.
Our rs/friendship has been very difficult emotionally, I don't know about her, she doesn't talk.
Since last fall and especially since I joined this wonderful forum, I've leared a lot about BPD and myself. I know why we feel/felt so deeply attached, I love this woman on a level, that was unknown to me before we met. Looking at each other, touching and holding hands was extremely intense, as I said, that never happened to me before.

Coming back what to do, at least what I'm about to do is this.

I can't take the pain and game with NC or ST anymore. I got a new cell phone number and will start using it next week. I won't tell her or give her my new number.
I live three hours away, also in a different country, however, I'm worried to run into her, as I did in January, which was a very bizarre experience.
I'll try to avoid the places where I could meet her, at least until much time has passed. Keeping in touch with her seems impossible for me, she doesn't change and does not really understand my letters and wishes how to resond to me.

Regarding your friendship, do you think you've ever been in love with her or would you cosider the fs as purely platonic?
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icky
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« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2018, 09:33:04 AM »

I just wanted to chime in and say that friendships are not "less" than relationships.

There's the saying, partners may come and go but friends are with you a lifetime - because often that's how it is! Even tho we assume the opposite... .

I find friendships even more sacred than relationships in some ways - because in a way they are "pure".

When I met my BPDx, I was really moved when he asked me to be best friends. When a few months later, he said he'd like to be more than just friends, I actually burst into tears... .   I knew we would probably f*** up a relationship, and that a friendship would have been the far bigger and deeper thing.

I also "lost" a very long, valuable friendship a few years ago - we'd been close friends for over 20 years, which was a deep loss - much bigger than some less significant "relationships" over the years.

Anyway, that's not very "helpful" re your current situation, but I just wanted to say that the loss of a deep and important friendship is every bit as huge as the loss of a relationship/ partner.
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MyBPD_friend
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« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2018, 01:16:07 PM »

I just wanted to chime in and say that friendships are not "less" than relationships.

There's the saying, partners may come and go but friends are with you a lifetime - because often that's how it is! Even tho we assume the opposite... .

I find friendships even more sacred than relationships in some ways - because in a way they are "pure".

When I met my BPDx, I was really moved when he asked me to be best friends. When a few months later, he said he'd like to be more than just friends, I actually burst into tears... .   I knew we would probably f*** up a relationship, and that a friendship would have been the far bigger and deeper thing.

I also "lost" a very long, valuable friendship a few years ago - we'd been close friends for over 20 years, which was a deep loss - much bigger than some less significant "relationships" over the years.

Anyway, that's not very "helpful" re your current situation, but I just wanted to say that the loss of a deep and important friendship is every bit as huge as the loss of a relationship/ partner.

I mostly agree with you. Real, long and  deep friendships are very rare and valuable if it is not a one sided rs.
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Sirnut
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« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2018, 07:50:30 AM »

Thanks all for these responses - in different ways they all help.

Skip, I think your analysis is spot on and you’ve given me some good advice. You asked what was the initial catalyst for what happened. I’ll have to think about how to explain that - it’s very hard to summarise. In barest outline: after a series of crises, I just ran out of emotional energy to keep helping her. I tried to explain that to her, but she seems to have interpreted it as deliberate vindictiveness and has chosen to punish me accordingly. So ironically, I am being punished for exhausting my emotional resources in supporting her.

MyB - you asked whether I might have been in love with her. I really don’t know - I just know we had an unspoken boundary such that these sorts of feelings were never expressed in any way. Somehow we were emotionally close but there was a kind of childish innocence to it. I don’t know what her feelings were because we never talked about it.

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« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2018, 08:10:35 AM »

I am being punished for exhausting my emotional resources in supporting her.

This might feel a bit harsh, but that is not my intent... .we are all here to help.

Be careful not to distort what happened in your own mind. It will make it harder to process. She is not reacting to "you exhausting your emotional resources in supporting her"... .she is most likely had a very strong reaction at the time where she felt that you abandoned her at a critical time when she needed you... .and she is angry that she experienced that reaction and holds great resentment over it.

This is a difficult thing to face, I know. Does this sound possible?

What happened? We might be able to help if we know.
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Sirnut
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« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2018, 04:32:22 AM »

This might feel a bit harsh, but that is not my intent... .we are all here to help.

Be careful not to distort what happened in your own mind. It will make it harder to process. She is not reacting to "you exhausting your emotional resources in supporting her"... .she is most likely had a very strong reaction at the time where she felt that you abandoned her at a critical time when she needed you... .and she is angry that she experienced that reaction and holds great resentment over it.

This is a difficult thing to face, I know. Does this sound possible?

What happened? We might be able to help if we know.

No it’s not too harsh. I was just venting on how this felt to me, but I do understand that her perception of things is different from mine, and I think your summary of how she experienced it is probably about right. It certainly accords with what I’ve since been told by a trusted source who knows us both, even though I was mystified by her behaviour at the time.

You ask what happened. Aside from the general escalation of drama that had been happening over a period of months, there were a couple of things that in hindsight brought it all to a head. One was that she asked me to help her sort out an interpersonal problem she was having with a mutual friend, and when that didn’t work out she shifted blame to me in a very upsetting way. I chose to let that go because I could see that she was under a lot of pressure on a number of other fronts, but it did create a bad feeling between us. The other was that, with everything that was happening, I started to feel that I couldn’t handle the stress in our relationship and I needed to establish some healthy distance between us. She had some big plans for our shared activities and I felt I had to cut back on my time commitment to her.

When I talked to to her about this I didn’t link the two things. I just said I was having a stress problem (which was true - she was the main source of it, though I didn’t say that) and that I was cutting back on a number of commitments not just related to her (also true). It shouldn’t have been a big deal - we had ups and downs before and it wasn’t an issue. We always said, we’ll only do as much as we’re both comfortable with.

When I talked to her she seemed ok with this at the time, but it turned out to be the last real conversation we had. As I said, I was mystified at first as to how she was behaving - it was a total shutout. But I’ve since learned that she saw all this as me abandoning her in response to that first issue I mentioned. She got angry and then, following her standard MO from earlier relationships, she took control by shutting me out.

As I started to understand this, I sent her a few conciliatory messages trying to reassure her of my ongoing friendship, but with no success. The last one was about six weeks ago and I’m not going to try again.

As far as I can tell, she’s still of a mind to punish and seek vindication, and the best I can do is just let her go. That’s what I’m working on.

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Sirnut
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« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2018, 07:10:07 AM »

Hi all,

Thanks for your replies, I really appreciate it.

I’m expecting some further drama now as my friend has started re-engaging with our shared social circle and seems intent on recruiting allies and seeking vindication for the way she has cut me off (mind you, this is after me giving her more help than any friend has a right to expect, over a period of years, but it wasn’t enough).

This relationship can never be repaired now, and I know that my only way forward is to learn not to care about her any more. Still, I would like to do this in a way that doesn’t unfairly devalue her. Any thoughts from the community as to how to work on this would be much appreciated. I feel like I’m approaching a period of high stress in the next few weeks and I need some wisdom here.

Thanks to all who read this ... .


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truthbeknown
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« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2018, 11:37:48 AM »

Hi all,

Thanks for your replies, I really appreciate it.

I’m expecting some further drama now as my friend has started re-engaging with our shared social circle and seems intent on recruiting allies and seeking vindication for the way she has cut me off (mind you, this is after me giving her more help than any friend has a right to expect, over a period of years, but it wasn’t enough).

This relationship can never be repaired now, and I know that my only way forward is to learn not to care about her any more. Still, I would like to do this in a way that doesn’t unfairly devalue her. Any thoughts from the community as to how to work on this would be much appreciated. I feel like I’m approaching a period of high stress in the next few weeks and I need some wisdom here.

Thanks to all who read this ... .





I can relate to "the relationship cannot be repaired now"  because my exgf did this to me ( thwarted my attempts to talk even as friends).   For me i didn't want to fall in love with my exgf.  I simply wanted to be her friend.  I wonder if you would have taken the path that i took if you hadn't been married?  I was single and while my intent originally was to be freinds with her (more because i was in a huge transition in my life), her unconditional understanding of my situation in the beginning and the deep bond i felt with her lured me in.  I suppose in some way i thought that i was helping her to heal and I even wrote a piece about this in my writing group that i was in last fall.  In my free writing i admitted that I felt like we were in a boat together and she was at the helm.  I knew it and even though she paddled our boat toward the waterfall, I never jumped out.  I stayed fixed on her, loving her all the way as if it were my contract with her that i came her to do.  I watched her destroy our relationship and then jump out of the boat.  As i plummeted to my demise over the waterfall, she looked down below at the wreckage and standing with her new boyfriend metaphorically asked "are you okay"?

I will never understand how it feels to betray another person but I do understand how it feels to betray myself.  What i mean by this is despite her bad behavior, i tried so hard to show her love and compassion and as skip said that only makes them look at us as the inferior person.  It's really a double bind for both parties.  Like your ex friend, they push away those that really go deep with them because it scares them so and they go for those relationships that they can control even if in a negative way.  I have seen my ex do this with friends and i know it's not just romantic people that she behaves this way with.  As you say, if she is disappointed in any way then there must be punishment and retaliation (in her mind).   I discovered that when i did protect myself and have good boundaries I was punished by her.  The pattern seems to be the same for most that i read about on here.  If they don't get what they perceive that they want they punish but we can never know what they want because they don't tell us.  In the triangle we go from rescuer to victim to perpetrator in their mind.   

I just want to say i'm sorry and i wish we had an answer, i magic wand to wash over this destruction and make the pain go away.  I call it the human version of Pottenger's Cat's.   You can read about that on the internet.  The jist is that society is having some major issues with mental health that is out of our control.  It's hard not to take it personally although that is part of my detachment process.  I have lost her social circle and mutual friends because of this void in addition to her family who i loved like my own.  I have now lost two families due to personality disorders and your post helps me to see that it is not just romantic relationships that this is happening with.  It is happening to so many.   Thanks for sharing and again i wish i/we could help more but just know I understand your pain my friend. 
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EdR
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« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2018, 07:25:09 AM »

Hi Sirnut!

A similar story right here! I have done everything in my power to try and work things out or at least get some closure. It didn't happen.

I agree with the views expressed here: it is all about the emotional connection. And in that respect such a friendship could even feel more intense than what other people perceive to be a relationship.
But that also holds true for the pwBPD or BPD traits... .and an intense emotional connection is quite difficult for them.

I have reached a point of more indifference in the meantime. But the awkward thing is: she has stopped her total ST. So more indifference sure helps in that respect.

The most scary thing now is how much these experiences have scarred me emotionally. I have HUGE trouble to get out and experience new things. I have HUGE trouble to really connect with people again.
And that sucks... .
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