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Author Topic: Useful Insights I've Gained Since Breakup  (Read 723 times)
HarborBP

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« on: February 10, 2019, 12:28:49 PM »

November 9th, 2018 was the day my uBPDgf told me she was tired of the constant arguments and didn't want me any longer. I wrote extensively then about the pain I was going through. Once Removed was there all the way- thanks again OR.

Fast forward three months and memories continue to haunt me, though to a significantly diminished degree. During this time I've continued therapy, joined two excellent Meet Up groups and established correspondence with what appears to be a validating, compassionate woman. Because I am still healing and continue to be hell bent on learning everything I can about BPD I resist getting closer to this person. For me it's just not time for romance.

I've gained several significant insights about the personality of the borderline during this period of reflection, which I would like to share. This information has its source in two books: Stop Caretaking the Borderline... .by Margalis Fjelstad and The Search for the Real Self by James Masterson. Dr Fjelstad's book has been with me for more than three years. I treat it like a desk reference, referring to it often as a way to understand the roots of my strong caretaking proclivities. I can't recommend this book highly enough for those seeking insights into how they found themselves so deeply mired in a relationship with a borderline.

More recently I purchased the book by Dr. Masterson. I learned about this book from a  bpdfamily thread. Although thirty years old, The Search lays out with incredible clarity how we develop in early life our sense of Self. Self basically is a composite image of who we are- all the various aspects of experience and core that come together to guide our behaviors. When interaction with caregivers (critically with the mother) in our earliest days of life malfunctions we create defense mechanisms that protect us from annihilation. These defense mechanisms combine in what Masterson calls the False Self.

There were two important aspects of the relationship with my ex borderline gf that forever puzzled me. One, unlike most of what I read, was that my ex NEVER made attempts to contact me or initiate reconciliation following a blow up. I always found this odd because it didn't match what I had read about the popular image of a clingy borderline and a repetition of those crazy push-pull behaviors.

In his chapter The Challenge of Intimacy, Masterson describes what we all know to be the borderline's dual fear of abandonment and engulfment. According to Dr. Masterson, the degree to which one of these fears predominates is determined by how far along the borderline was in his/her attempts to separate from the mother and establish his/her own identity when the process was arrested. As many have read a borderline's psychic short circuit occurs somewhere between two and three years of age and is associated with trauma of one kind or another.   

Dr. Masterson writes that if the arrest occurred early, before ego boundaries were secure, fear of engulfment will come to dominate the borderline's behavioral patterns. This behavior reflects the withdrawing mother at a very early age. Should the arrest occur once ego boundaries have begun to form, abandonment behaviors will predominate. Abandonment fears are associated with clingy-ness toward the loved one whereas engulfment manifests as a need to withdraw from the loved one. For me the latter is best defined by behaviors seen in the hermit borderline.

Reading this represented an epiphany for me because I was so confused by my gf's cold, steely silence following a blow-up. Here I was waiting for the clingy gf to call to say she was devastated and all I ever got was a brick wall of silence. I learned that if I didn't crawl back to reconcile there would be no reconciliation.

Masterson's observation gave reason as to why this was so. It also provided insights into why her rages, and our blow-ups, often followed on the heals of some really close and fun times: a vacation, for example. Our closeness, and my professing of love during these occasions, must have frightened my gf to the depths of her soul.   

The second puzzle that consumed me was why the relationship ended as it did, after three and a half tortuous years of break-up and make-up. During our romance my gf was always complaining about my harried lifestyle. According to her, my working full time with long commutes and single parenting (one week on/one week off split custody) placed strains on the relationship. There just wasn't time in the week for focused romance, or so I thought.

I tried to ease my gf's anxiety by telling her my son would, in a short time, be off to college, at which point we'd be together whenever we liked. While I understood the borderline fear of engulfment I failed to consider this when reacting to my gf's complaints. I thought it was all about a lack of steady physical and emotional closeness that drove her anxiety. The Search provided an answer to this conundrum.

According to Masterson many borderlines prefer a partner who is only partially accessible. He gives an example of a married borderline woman in an affair with a non-borderline married man. The man decides his love for his BPD lover is far greater than his love for his wife. He divorces his wife to pursue unfettered access to his BPD lover.

As soon as the man is free the borderline lover's opinion of him changes, from white knight to one with many character flaws. The relationship for her turns toxic and she abruptly dumps him. She never realizes it was her inability to be involved in a beneficial partnership, one that provided a future, that ultimately doomed the relationship.

And so the second puzzle of why, once I attained an empty nest, my gf decided to end the relationship, was answered. This one blew my mind because I clearly remember how our romance began. It started with my ex gf e-mailing to ask if I had interest in exploring the local parks and seashore with her. This was one month after she completed a professional landscape design project for me.

I wrote back to say I had very limited free time but if she was OK with that I'd enjoy exploring an area I had only recently relocated to. Voila! She wasted no time scheduling that first hike, and many more thereafter!

Fast forward three and a half years to last November. My son left for college the end of September, which meant I was now available every evening and weekend for romance.

It took less than a month for engulfment fears to assume full control of my girlfriend. She bolted shortly thereafter.

All I can say is wow, how fascinating the human mind.

HarborBP

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« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2019, 09:46:41 PM »

Excerpt
There were two important aspects of the relationship with my ex borderline gf that forever puzzled me. One, unlike most of what I read, was that my ex NEVER made attempts to contact me or initiate reconciliation following a blow up. I always found this odd because it didn't match what I had read about the popular image of a clingy borderline and a repetition of those crazy push-pull behaviors.


I've experienced something like this.  My BPD wife of 11yrs almost never apologizes to me for anything big or small, and if she does it's not for a day or two later and it's usually a "sorry, but you did this... ." .   She often says "please don't leave me, I would be devastated, I wouldn't know what to do with out you".   3 weeks ago she left me, after 1 couples counselling session.   How do you go from being fearful that i'd leave her to having no problem leaving me?   I think about events all day, every day and usually through the night and just can't make sense of anything as nothing is rational.
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« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2019, 10:28:04 PM »

Dear 415,

A side of me wants to say "well lucky you, at least your bp wife shows a little contrition now and again." But the fact is her behavior and comments only serve to baffle. We caretaker nons want so much to rescue our partners that we seize every crumb of humanity to remain engaged.

I know my relationship of three and a half years lasted that long because of the extraordinary care I took to accommodate her needs- from giving an abundance of space when she was in the throes of engulfment to grabbing the ball for whatever responsibility she couldn't deal with at the time. The weird thing is I enjoyed most all of it. Her diatribes bounced off my ego like hail off a tin roof- made a lot of noise but caused no discernible dents. Or so I thought.

I'd like to ask if you are still fully invested in caretaking your bp wife? If so, can you share whether she continues to display love and compassion toward you? Or, are those comforts long gone? If gone, do you continue living days of the past when those elements succored you and kept you close? It's important for you to ponder these questions because they help guide your healing journey.

Toward the end of my relationship I came to find I was nearly solely responsible for keeping the flame alive. I suffered beyond belief. I came close to being unbalanced. Following our last break-up my hypervigilance at times had me thinking I was some kind of weirdo stalker.

What was it that had me so mesmerized by this crazy human being? I have yet to answer that question, which is why I continue to research the psychology behind these beguiling individuals.

I wish you well. Detaching (if this be your intention) is an incredible challenge. Just remember, life springs eternal.

We are very fortunate in this day and age to have outlets like Meet-Up. In the last few months I've had wonderful experiences with many people blessed to have never fallen for a borderline partner. From our perspective it is hard to believe such people exist. But when you find them it is like escaping a smoke filled building into fresh air. All you can think at that moment is, humanity is alive and well and caring. And that life is good and worth living.

Good luck to you 415,
Harbor BP

 
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« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2019, 10:50:36 PM »

Excerpt
One, unlike most of what I read, was that my ex NEVER made attempts to contact me or initiate reconciliation following a blow up.

Just a thought... .
My ex also would never initiate reconsiliation.

I believe it was because he is more NPD than BPD and it was not possible for his ego to allow him to reach out to repair things.

My belief is that he felt if he waited long enough then I could “forget” what was causing us friction and he wouldn’t have to be held “as accountable.” It gave him “the upper hand” in the reconciliation... .and he enjoyed this aspect of the dynamic... .it fed his NPD ego.

Also, my ex had a detached attachment style... .so his method of coping with conflict was to simply detach and wait for the olive branch to get extended to him.  (Whereas I am big on confronting issues... .which now I realize... .after reading the book Attached... .causes the Detached person to want even more distance.)
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« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2019, 09:01:27 AM »

HarborBP   Welcome new member (click to insert in post)

I support your discussion here.

Very interesting thoughts about the 'why' of the behaviours with your ex.

Reading this represented an epiphany for me because I was so confused by my gf's cold, steely silence following a blow-up.
That the dominant defences of the person (in reaction to engulfment fear) is set out during early childhood years makes sense to me. I think if you were in a relationship with a person whom favoured more engulfment fear defences, then naturally there will be more of it in your relationship.

It also provided insights into why her rages, and our blow-ups, often followed on the heals of some really close and fun times: a vacation, for example.
Me too, I lived this. Following or within periods of high closeness, it wouldn't be unexpected to deal with a dysregulation lasting overnight. Once on vacation, my ex and I spent 2-3 nights in a row fighting/arguing/disagreeing until early morning. The struggle with being in a relationship with a person with those self fragments at war with each other really is a struggle. Looking back, I wanted to sleep so many times. But if the purpose of the vacation was to spend time with your girlfriend, and hopefully improve that relationship, and if you don't 'settle' them, they will take their passport and leave, how can you get out of the fight? Exit with grace and the next day you have a BP that is literally on the plane. Not a good situation for either person.

What was it that had me so mesmerized by this crazy human being?
Any thoughts about what this could be? Some of the questions you can ask yourself can be pretty tough and if I had a to-do over again on recovery, I personally would probably have bought more time with my T.

Good luck in your search for answers, I hope you'll share more of your recovery, and I hope you're enjoying your peace.  
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« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2019, 10:37:14 AM »

good to see you again, HBP  Welcome new member (click to insert in post)

I suffered beyond belief. I came close to being unbalanced. Following our last break-up my hypervigilance at times had me thinking I was some kind of weirdo stalker.
... .
What was it that had me so mesmerized by this crazy human being? I have yet to answer that question, which is why I continue to research the psychology behind these beguiling individuals.

if you want to find the answers to this question (why you were so mesmerized, suffered as you did, etc) i think youre more likely to find it looking in you, than the psychology of BPD.
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« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2019, 11:51:06 AM »

Excerpt
Just a thought... .
My ex also would never initiate reconsiliation.

I believe it was because he is more NPD than BPD and it was not possible for his ego to allow him to reach out to repair things.

Hi Sunflower,

thoughts on narcissistic behavior in your ex BPD partner generally agree with the experts. In fact, sufferers of BPD are placed in the middle of Lowen's spectrum of narcissistic disorders. And who among us laypersons would not see narcissism in our partner's rages, devaluations and brutal verbal assaults, many of which were triggered by minor transgressions or, no transgressions at all!  

Excerpt
My belief is that he felt if he waited long enough then I could “forget” what was causing us friction and he wouldn’t have to be held “as accountable.” It gave him “the upper hand” in the reconciliation... .and he enjoyed this aspect of the dynamic... .it fed his NPD ego.

Either that or your ex was gripped by fear that getting too close would rip the scab from what Masterson calls the "abandonment depression". It was always hard for me not to apply logic and "normal" thinking to my ex. When in this mode I often became resentful of her manipulations. But recently I watched a video (I think there is a link on the bpdfamily site) featuring Marsha Linehan and three people suffering from BPD. It's worth a viewing.

The BPD sufferers in the video take issue at whether their illness, given the fear and chaos, allows for manipulative behavior because it requires a stream of consciousness that often isn't there when dealing with a loved one. This makes sense to me. Or, at least, it allows for manipulation that isn't consciously delivered as a cogent means to get what the borderline craves.

Excerpt
Also, my ex had a detached attachment style... .so his method of coping with conflict was to simply detach and wait for the olive branch to get extended to him.  (Whereas I am big on confronting issues... .which now I realize... .after reading the book Attached... .causes the Detached person to want even more distance.)

Yes, because you forced the problem back onto the borderline, which is a frightful proposition for them.  

HarborBP


 
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« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2019, 11:55:19 AM »

good to see you again, HBP  Welcome new member (click to insert in post)

Excerpt
if you want to find the answers to this question (why you were so mesmerized, suffered as you did, etc) i think youre more likely to find it looking in you, than the psychology of BPD.

Hi OR,

right you are! After re-reading my post I had the same take-away. T is helping a great deal, as I elaborated on in postings from last December. Time and dreams are also helping sort out my overwrought attraction.

HarborBP

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« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2019, 12:35:51 PM »

HarborBP,

Thank you for a great post!

My udx BPDw (separated now) … she is also an engulfment BPD'er … I can also relate to the "never resolve" phenomena as well.

I need to read Dr. Masterson's book !

Again, thanks for this post.

Safe Travels, Red5
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« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2019, 12:45:25 PM »



…... She often says "please don't leave me, I would be devastated, I wouldn't know what to do with out you".

I heard the exact same … for years,

I also; married eight years, eleven years relationship, now separated since 1 December.

She is udx, and absolutely refuses any form of counseling/therapy … although, now that our Pastor is involved, there is a remote chance she may go to sit with him, where that will go if it does happen, anyone's guess.

Red5
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« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2019, 12:52:45 PM »

Hi Gotbushels,

thank you for your response. Weren't those vacations from hell simply awful? Stuck in a distant place in a damned if you do damned if you don't twilight zone. I guess I was fortunate that typically my ex either picked a fight or, came down with a mysterious malady, as pretense to cancel a trip before it began.  

Excerpt
Any thoughts about what this could be? Some of the questions you can ask yourself can be pretty tough and if I had a to-do over again on recovery, I personally would probably have bought more time with my T.

Masterson elaborates a bit more on how the borderline locates a partner. I'll paraphrase his thoughts. Basically, borderlines are highly attracted to unavailable partners. Unavailability can take many forms, from working a lot, to living out of town, or being married, to name a few. It can also be a potential partner who finds it difficult to get close emotionally.

For a normal person these impediments dampen the flame of attraction. Yet for the borderline it offers hope that the relationship can sooth abandonment anxieties while at the same time provide security against being drawn too closely to the partner emotionally.

So prevalent is this behavioral characteristic that Masterson often tells his patients that if they walked into a room with twenty potential partners, they'd choose the one who is least available. Knowing the relationship has no future makes it "uniquely attractive" to the borderline.  

Emotional closeness requires the borderline to rip back the scab of abandonment depression, that horrible dark place that began with "separation" from the mother at a critical stage (e.g. a mother who died, or one who withdrew emotionally, or one who relentlessly persecuted the child). It is hard to imagine how psychically devastating such experiences must have been. At that age life is so precarious and dependent on nurturing caregivers. Remove it and the terror of mere survival, without tools to secure it, must have been immense.  

Why does any of this matter? Well it matters for me because it confirms that a relationship with a borderline who refuses therapy is a dead end filled with emotional pain. It helps ward off crazy thoughts like "If only she acted like this all the time" or "I just need to be a better listener and provide validation more often".

At the end of the day, as stated repeatedly by those who have run the gauntlet before us and written about the experience, it has to be about us and whether our needs are being met in the relationship.

Although working hard at changing behavior through T, on reflection I stayed because I am a caretaking automaton. I also had a heavy dose of ambivalent love from a happy one minute/angry the next father. I was set up for the volatility of a borderline relationship from an early age.  

During my romance I was in complete denial. Despite everything I read I pressed on, filled with hubris, thinking I would succeed in forging a loving relationship because I would be the one to show my ex of her value as a human being and of her as someone worthy of being taken care of. Man, who was I kidding!

Excerpt
Good luck in your search for answers, I hope you'll share more of your recovery, and I hope you're enjoying your peace.  

Thank you for that. Peace at this stage comes in fits and starts. I thank my lucky stars everyday for my two sons. When life turns dark I pull myself up by focusing on them and my responsibility to be there for them as they move through life. I am also diving into Meet-Up' hiking, mushrooming and social groups. So far I have never failed to come home uplifted at the experience.    

HarborBP
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Red5


« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2019, 01:09:02 PM »

... .vacations from hell simply awful? Stuck in a distant place in a damned if you do damned if you don't twilight zone.

Me2 !

The 'best' one was last June, well over a thousand miles from home, by air, from the Carolinas to North Dakota, to visit her son and his wife … eight days, … out of the eight days, six were 'twilight zone /zone'.

Red5

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« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2019, 01:12:50 PM »

Basically, borderlines are highly attracted to unavailable partners. Unavailability can take many forms, from working a lot, to living out of town, or being married, to name a few. It can also be a potential partner who finds it difficult to get close emotionally.

so which was the case here, and why?

Despite everything I read I pressed on, filled with hubris, thinking I would succeed in forging a loving relationship because I would be the one to show my ex of her value as a human being and of her as someone worthy of being taken care of. Man, who was I kidding!

why might an unavailable person be attracted to a borderline?
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« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2019, 01:23:03 PM »

HarborBP,

Thank you for a great post!

My udx BPDw (separated now) … she is also an engulfment BPD'er … I can also relate to the "never resolve" phenomena as well.

I need to read Dr. Masterson's book !

Again, thanks for this post.

Safe Travels, Red5

Thank you Red, I've enjoyed reading your posts as well. We're all in this together and I give thanks in this specific instance for the power of the internet. Can anyone imagine what going through this would be like if we thought we were dealing with this pain and agony alone?

HarborBP
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« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2019, 01:35:45 PM »

Excerpt
so which was the case here, and why?

In my case it was the fact I was working full time (while she was on disability), parenting half time and running a household solo. I was highly unavailable much of the time.

Excerpt
why might an unavailable person be attracted to a borderline?

I'd say because of a beguiling nature, or physical appearance, or great sex. My ex possessed all three. In yet another part of Masterson's chapter "The Challenge of Intimacy" he describes a successful professional woman living in NYC who only pursued men who came into town on business. Local prospects created far too much anxiety given the potential for engulfment. He tells this patient "It seems to me that for a man to qualify for your bed he has to come by plane and be holding a return ticket".

HarborBP
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« Reply #15 on: February 11, 2019, 01:39:13 PM »

... .the power of the internet.

*Can anyone imagine what going through this would be like if we thought we were dealing with this pain and agony alone?

Not to "date" myself, but I remember a day that only print ruled, and as well the six o'clock news …

Yes, …. I remember a day, if you wanted to "know more", you went to the library, or the book store ; )

Now, we can read an entire book on our "smart" phone, or listen/watch a video while traveling down the highway on the iPhone/Uconnect (Jeep).

Red5

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« Reply #16 on: February 11, 2019, 06:59:46 PM »

Excerpt
I'd like to ask if you are still fully invested in caretaking your bp wife? If so, can you share whether she continues to display love and compassion toward you? Or, are those comforts long gone? If gone, do you continue living days of the past when those elements succored you and kept you close? It's important for you to ponder these questions because they help guide your healing journey.

I'm mentally still unable to detach after almost 4 weeks.  Mostly b/c it was such a shock and without rational reasoning.  I'm also very used to caretaking for her.  Part of me definitely likes to feel like i'm taking care of her.  This whole thing started at the end of Aug 2018.  She was away for 3 days, where while out of town she went and saw a "psychic".  The "psychic" told her that i'm actually gay and that i'm just using her as a cover so that my parents don't find out.  She's never even held my hand since, which we'd do just driving to the mall.  She threw herself into her music project and basically pushed me to the corner of our relationship ever since.  We were both in counselling separately and started couples counselling on Nov 30th.  She didn't want to go back because she felt attacked.  I'd say that she felt attacked b/c the therapist actually asked her real questions and pointed out that she was contradicting herself.  The therapist was out of the country so we didn't have our second session until Jan 17th.  We got there early and sat in the car and talked for 1/2hr like it was any other day.  Then when we started our therapy appointment she brought out a letter saying that she was leaving and that she has a bag packed in her car already.   She mentioned 2-3 days in the meeting but i had to track her down 8 days later.  She keeps saying that we're best friends, not to hate her, not to talk badly about her to my family and for us to be civil to each other.  I don't think she knows what friends/civility is.  She made a comment that she's been an amazing wife to me.  Again, i'd like to know what her definition of that is.  I hadn't read about NDP before, but there is definitely some of that there too.  She texted me like usual all day the day before.  We layed in bed the night before like usual sharing snacks and watching our TV shows.  Then next day she's gone?  I can't seem to reconcile that
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« Reply #17 on: February 11, 2019, 10:58:00 PM »

I'd say because of a beguiling nature, or physical appearance, or great sex.

there was this aspect too, right?

She was fond in those days of saying "You fell from the sky". For a guy who had recently come out of an emotionless 20 year marriage that ended in a very nasty manner, the experience was over the moon, so to speak.
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« Reply #18 on: February 12, 2019, 12:14:46 AM »

there was this aspect too, right?

Wow OR, you make me nostalgic reminding me of the early days of my romance. Lord, that woman was so beguiling. Her, looking into my eyes and telling me 'I fell from the sky', beguiled me to my bones. Still beguiles me to my bones.

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« Reply #19 on: February 12, 2019, 02:28:42 PM »

What about "fell from the sky" made it beguiling?  What did it mean for you to hear that?
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« Reply #20 on: February 12, 2019, 03:14:41 PM »

What about "fell from the sky" made it beguiling?  What did it mean for you to hear that?

Well, for me it was very heady, and stoked my ego big time. To hear and see this coming from a woman I was rapidly falling head over heals for was like smoking an opiate. It said to me "where on Earth did you come from" and "where have you been all of my life", two themes she came to repeat numerous times during the early stages of our romance.

She also said if it didn't work out this time she'd give up trying (she was 62 at the time). I wonder sometimes if she meant it, though today it is none of my business.

Thanks for asking,
HarborBP
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Learning from the Wounds of a Failed Relationship board is a place to post after the acute anxiety and wounds of breaking up are expressed and to learn about relationships, human nature, the difference between dysfunction and normal relationship difficulties, and how to make better choices.
If you are still in coping with acute anxiety and the immediate wounds of breaking up, please post on Relationship Ended - Break-up Crises
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« Reply #21 on: February 12, 2019, 03:41:24 PM »

masterson is not describing men who are busy or just physically less available. hes describing emotional unavailability; men with whom there may be a high element of fantasy, but where true intimacy is ultimately unobtainable. 

if a borderline is attracted to this (a big generalization, appropriate given we are discussing the pathology of the disorder, but can sometimes detract from the big picture of our personal experience), thats only one half of the puzzle, right?

what about that other half? work the moving parts if you want to complete the picture.

Excerpt
For a guy who had recently come out of an emotionless 20 year marriage that ended in a very nasty manner, the experience was over the moon, so to speak.
... .
She also said if it didn't work out this time she'd give up trying (she was 62 at the time).

it sounds like you both had a lot riding on this working. i suspect it drove a great deal of passion in the beginning, and in some ways both for better and worse, over the course of the relationship.
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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…
HarborBP

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« Reply #22 on: February 12, 2019, 04:26:57 PM »

Excerpt
masterson is not describing men who are busy or just physically less available. hes describing emotional unavailability; men with whom there may be a high element of fantasy, but where true intimacy is ultimately unobtainable. 

OR,

Masterson writes the following: "In many borderline relationships, the patient prefers a partner who is only partially accessible, such as one who lives a considerable distance away or is only available on weekends or works a lot or is married." (The Search for the Real Self, 1990, Page 116). However, I think what you say is true and gets at the deeper point Masterson is trying to make. 

Excerpt
if a borderline is attracted to this (a big generalization, appropriate given we are discussing the pathology of the disorder, but can sometimes detract from the big picture of our personal experience), thats only one half of the puzzle, right?

Indeed. Masterson's writings struck a particular cord in me, as I wrote a couple days ago. I think the regular and vociferous demands for solitude was the most hurtful aspect of her character. I couldn't have her as much as I needed and that fact tormented me constantly. She was cold and coiled so much of the time I found myself afraid to ask for more.

Excerpt
it sounds like you both had a lot riding on this working. i suspect it drove a great deal of passion in the beginning, and in some ways both for better and worse, over the course of the relationship.

Well, I'd like to think so but often believed she was much stronger emotionally than me. I loved her so much. She once said her former boyfriend's suicide was the ultimate rejection. Her vanishing into thin air, supported by blocking my phone and threatening a restraining order (remember that) represented the ultimate rejection for me.

Just have to keep growing, reflecting and healing.

HarborBP


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« Reply #23 on: February 12, 2019, 05:30:16 PM »

Masterson writes the following: "In many borderline relationships, the patient prefers a partner who is only partially accessible, such as one who lives a considerable distance away or is only available on weekends or works a lot or is married." (The Search for the Real Self, 1990, Page 116).

what do these things have in common? a workaholic, or a married man, is not someone in a place to fully contribute emotionally to the relationship.

Excerpt
She never realizes it was her inability to be involved in a beneficial partnership

this might also describe an unavailable partner.

what is true is that when big elements of a romantic relationship change, it threatens the stability of the relationship.

there are cases on the Bettering board where the member learned the tools, cleaned up their side of the street, successfully drove the relationship into healthier territory, and then found the relationship less fulfilling, and left.

so its true - there are things that bond partners, sometimes healthy/unhealthy, sometimes functional/dysfunctional, and when that changes, it can be make or break; the couple may grow together or fall apart.

it sounds like (correct me if im wrong) you are extrapolating this notion and taking away, effectively, "she got what she wanted, she couldnt handle that, so she had to run" (engulfment fears) to explain the breakup, and that to mean it was doomed from the start.

im pushing you (since we are on the Learning board) to look at the other moving parts. things like your emotional makeup as well as hers. your perspective of and hopes for the relationship vs hers. multiple make up break up cycles. unresolved(able?) conflict. the foundation the relationship was built upon. there are lots of different aspects and clues. i dont mean to push you too hard in that direction too soon - my point is really that BPD pathology is one aspect of many, and that a bigger picture will ultimately bring greater understanding, and detachment.
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« Reply #24 on: February 12, 2019, 07:34:37 PM »

what do these things have in common? a workaholic, or a married man, is not someone in a place to fully contribute emotionally to the relationship.

Excerpt
this might also describe an unavailable partner.

Very true and the point that struck me is the attraction I KNOW this sort of unavailability had for the my borderline ex gf. Through countless actions over three and a half years my ex broadcast a need to be alone and detached, not only from me but from all humanity. Having a source in engulfment fears makes perfect sense and works for me.

I can't stress enough the signs pointing in that direction: an almost total lack of friends in the area after 38 years; near total estrangement from her family; insistence on being alone much of the time. Say what you will but this lady was not solely backing away from my desires to get closer because of personality clash. She feared closeness.  

Excerpt
what is true is that when big elements of a romantic relationship change, it threatens the stability of the relationship.

Yes, this is how I reconcile her pushing away once I attained an empty nest. My newfound availability had an impact on her. Logic would suggest that, for someone reclusive to begin with, this new reality brought on added anxiety and fear.  

Excerpt
there are cases on the Bettering board where the member learned the tools, cleaned up their side of the street, successfully drove the relationship into healthier territory, and then found the relationship less fulfilling, and left.

I wish this had happened to me. I would have preferred it to the manner it which it abruptly ended. Seems to me the process of detaching as you describe would bring some form of closure, something many on these boards yearn for but will never get.

Excerpt
it sounds like (correct me if im wrong) you are extrapolating this notion and taking away, effectively, "she got what she wanted, she couldnt handle that, so she had to run" (engulfment fears) to explain the breakup, and that to mean it was doomed from the start.

No, that is not my feeling at all. I can see that breaking up actually allowed her to settle down. Because she was so shy and fearful of exposing what she believed to be many personal failings she suffered incredible anxiety at the prospect of interacting with others. I think she grew comfortable in my presence but only in very restrictive metered doses. I honestly believe she is more at ease in a life that includes her dog, a friend she sees one time a week for an hour and a younger brother 2,500 miles away who she speaks to 3 to 4 times a year. It's a World that works for her.

I also believe my ex desired love and companionship but just couldn't reconcile the fear and the desire. Classic push-pull behavior.

Excerpt
im pushing you (since we are on the Learning board) to look at the other moving parts. things like your emotional makeup as well as hers. your perspective of and hopes for the relationship vs hers. multiple make up break up cycles. unresolved(able?) conflict. the foundation the relationship was built upon. there are lots of different aspects and clues. i dont mean to push you too hard in that direction too soon - my point is really that BPD pathology is one aspect of many, and that a bigger picture will ultimately bring greater understanding, and detachment.

I agree with you 100%. I learned a very important thing about myself in my relationship- one I had not faced before because of the ample validation I received in previous relationships. Even my wife, through most of those 20 years of marriage, provided validation much of the time.

My ex gf rarely provided any validation and this treatment rattled me to my core. Almost like deja vu with my Dad. I really had trouble handling it. While I firmly believe my gf wasn't withholding validation as a manipulation I do think she was able to feel my insecurity, the negative vibe I carried as a result. This caused stress in her which, in turn, created stress in me.

For this reason I do believe, from a physical health standpoint, we are better off apart. But I do wonder what draws me to her memory. Is it really her, the oft angry, raging recluse, or the ideal of our romance that has me by the short hairs? I don't have that answer yet but am working on it.

HarborBP
« Last Edit: February 12, 2019, 08:03:20 PM by once removed » Logged
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« Reply #25 on: February 12, 2019, 08:19:47 PM »

Excerpt
I can't stress enough the signs pointing in that direction: an almost total lack of friends in the area after 38 years; near total estrangement from her family; insistence on being alone much of the time. Say what you will but this lady was not solely backing away from my desires to get closer because of personality clash. She feared closeness. 

thats sad to read.

what is also true, and goes to your point, is that sometimes we fear the things we desire the most.

Excerpt
Yes, this is how I reconcile her pushing away once I attained an empty nest. My newfound availability had an impact on her. Logic would suggest that, for someone reclusive to begin with, this new reality brought on added anxiety and fear.   

i guess the point im trying to make is, what if she had doubts before that? what if it came too late, or what if there were other compatibility differences that weighed on her decision?

its a rhetorical question, not a conclusion; just something i think is worth exploring.

Excerpt
wish this had happened to me. I would have preferred it to the manner it which it abruptly ended. Seems to me the process of detaching as you describe would bring some form of closure, something many on these boards yearn for but will never get.

if it helps: the person who is broken up with rarely has that happen in the way theyd prefer. they are often left with many lingering questions. think of the tens of thousands of songs written, that if you think about it, are all seeking closure. it sucks man. breakups more often than not, are messy.

we get closure if we work for it, and embrace the tough aspects of detaching. there will come a time one day where you can accept the end for what it was and how, and it wont pain you.

Excerpt
I think she grew comfortable in my presence but only in very restrictive metered doses. I honestly believe she is more at ease in a life that includes her dog, a friend she sees one time a week for an hour and a younger brother 2,500 miles away who she speaks to 3 to 4 times a year. It's a World that works for her.

you might be right.

Excerpt
My ex gf rarely provided any validation and this treatment rattled me to my core. Almost like deja vu with my Dad. I really had trouble handling it. While I firmly believe my gf wasn't withholding validation as a manipulation I do think she was able to feel my insecurity, the negative vibe I carried as a result. This caused stress in her which, in turn, created stress in me.

if youd like, lets discuss this further. it would seem that the heady idealization you describe is pretty validating stuff; at the same time, such a highly sensitive and needy person, struggling in the ways she was, will have a pretty hard time acknowledging and tending to the emotions of another.

so how did that play out in your relationship?
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« Reply #26 on: February 13, 2019, 09:30:45 PM »

Excerpt
thats sad to read.

Too true, makes me want to bawl sometimes. She was very special to me.

Excerpt
i guess the point im trying to make is, what if she had doubts before that? what if it came too late, or what if there were other compatibility differences that weighed on her decision?

Well I guess it's all moot now. We're both moving on and hopefully, her path has fewer pot holes that the one I'm on.

Excerpt
if it helps: the person who is broken up with rarely has that happen in the way theyd prefer. they are often left with many lingering questions. think of the tens of thousands of songs written, that if you think about it, are all seeking closure. it sucks man. breakups more often than not, are messy.

Yes it does suck. But what is weird is this break-up hit harder than any before. My marriage break-up was tough but I attribute that to twenty years of shared memories, the impact on my kids, asset distribution, walking away from the house I had rebuilt from top to bottom. There was something about this girl that had me don the blinders and almost completely discount her very nasty and hurtful side. My beguiling borderline lover.

Excerpt
we get closure if we work for it, and embrace the tough aspects of detaching. there will come a time one day where you can accept the end for what it was and how, and it wont pain you.

I know this will happen too.

Excerpt
if youd like, lets discuss this further. it would seem that the heady idealization you describe is pretty validating stuff; at the same time, such a highly sensitive and needy person, struggling in the ways she was, will have a pretty hard time acknowledging and tending to the emotions of another.

I'm glad you point that out because there was validation that I have chosen to downplay. Perhaps this is because the validating experiences so often took a backseat to verbal put downs, angry attacks and, most of all, that extreme need of hers to be alone. It can probably be attributed to, as you write, her sensitivity and internal struggles.

Excerpt
so how did that play out in your relationship?

Not well. I remember summer before last, as we were gearing up for another relationship rift. I asked how she was able to switch from being loving to hateful at the flip of a switch. I guess I was trying to bait her into self reflection because by this time I was certain she suffered by BPD. Her response was angrily delivered and came in two parts: 1) that her relationships never lasted more than two years and 2) the reason was "because I'm a crazy bitch". Indeed!

HarborBP


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« Reply #27 on: February 16, 2019, 02:04:41 PM »

Thank you so much for this post. I have been obsessed trying to rack my brain trying to figure out why the man I’ve come to desire over the last 5 months has never really come back. He has in the slightest amount with a text asking me what I’m doing every time I try to walk away. But that’s it. . Often it will be for sex. But when it’s just sex he comes on strong and texts and pursued me multiple times a day. I couldn’t figure out why this was. Now I know. He leans towards engulfment fears every time. The idea of just sex makes him feel safe enough to pursue a relationship of sorts without any risk to his emotional being. But if it gets too heavy, he is gone. Once we connect he is gone for a bit. He has never come back to me except in the first couple months prior to me liking him much and sensing he was borderline, and not wanting to get involved with him. When I wasn’t available or interested, he was apologetic and claimed he needed me. Once I began my “addiction” to him, the tides turned. He has since been like that. It also makes me realiE that no matter what I do, he will NEVER be available for a relationship. He only wants what is at arms length and safe to his emotional state. He fears engulfment far more than he fears abandonment.  I am too anxious for the push pull of a arms length Relationship. It’s stay or go for me. Looks like you’ve given me the tools and insight as sad as I am, to know this time, I have to go. As hard as this will be, I’m not in it that deep and I thank you for allowing me to finally understand why I simply cannot get close to him no matter if I stay or go. If I just allow for sex and no relationship. He heavily fears engulfment. It doesn’t matter. 
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« Reply #28 on: February 16, 2019, 03:58:52 PM »

Excerpt
I'm glad you point that out because there was validation that I have chosen to downplay.

so would you say you struggled to get that aspect of the relationship back?

is there a reason you have chosen to downplay it now?
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« Reply #29 on: February 16, 2019, 08:29:56 PM »

HarborBP,  Thanks for sharing.  I never considered the fear of engulfment before with my uBPDbf but I can see this makes a lot of sense now.

We dated for 3 1/2 yrs with make up break up cycles.  I used to think too that I would be the "one" who could love him to his recovery. 

We had planned a vacation to Cape Cod the 1st year into our r/s.  About 4 weeks before we were ready to go he ducked out on me.  Left me scrambling to find someone else to come instead which lucky for me I found a single gf who was very happy to take his place.  The following year we had planned the same thing and he did it again.  My good friends came through again and were happy to share the cost of the cottage and trip.  Once more because I am insainley unable to give up at times, I asked him during our third summer together and decided I would just ignore his saying he didn't want to leave and see if he would go anyway.  He did in fact say he didn't want to go about 1 week before we were to leave but he came anyway.  This is where the crazy got even crazier.

While we were on our vacation we went to see fireworks and it was late and we were stuck in traffic and there were cops leading the traffic at the intersections.  Every time we would go through the intersection he would honk the horn at the cops and I became embarrassed at this behavior for some reason.  My stuff I know.  So I asked "why are you honking at the cops?"  He took that comment so personal and became very over the top angry with me and started driving erratically.  I was afraid we would crash and said if he kept driving like that I would call the cops.  That just made him angrier but he settled down so it worked to get us home safer.  That night he didn't want to sleep in the same bed.  The next day he said he didn't want to break bread (eat a meal) with me and he ate a separate table.  He wouldn't cook my dinner on the grill and said I had even though I prepared all the other ingredients for our meal.  Then he tells me I need to find my own way home from the Cape to NY which would have been a 7.5 hour drive.  I could not even imagine what I possibly did to deserve that type of treatment.  I was so frantic and crying which was probably exactly the response he was looking for maybe?  Or should I say the disorder was looking for.

We ended up leaving 3 days early, drove home like I was a prisoner in his truck because I was afraid he would leave me at a rest stop.  We talked but it was cold and icy. 

It was after this trip that I would read and research every possible thing I could to figure out what this behavior was all about and that is what eventually lead to this site.  I finally had a name for the behavior and it make so much sense to me know.  I began to try my best to validate and listen to him and accept him for what he was.

The trip to Cape Cod is what he says was the beginning to the end for him.  For me it was a big one to get over.  I was never able to trust that we could go any further after this trip because if he could ask me to find my own way home after a trip what would he do if I moved in with him?  There was no way I was going to sell my townhome, hire a mover and move all my stuff in with him so he could tell me to move out in 3 weeks.

So, I think really the trip meant to him a sign of our relationship moving to deeper level in which he would feel engulfed, and that is why he would duck out each time.  He often told me that if a couple can do well on a vacation that meant to him that the couple could be together and make a commitment. 

Another piece of the puzzle solved for me which helps me to understand.

I saw him the other day on the trail and he told me that the trip to Cape Cod was the worse experience that had ever happened to him with any other human being in his entire life. Ouch.  I told him I will take responsibility for my part.  Trying to sort that out.  I am sure it didn't help to ask him why he honked at the cops.  I am probably being hard on myself here. 

Sorry for my long post.  I still have some stuff to get out. 

Thanks for sharing on on this topic though.  It helped me to heal just a little more.  It's been about 9 mos since his final discard over a boundary I set. 

Tsultan
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