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Author Topic: Did I find a rare Pokemon?  (Read 225 times)

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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
Relationship status: Broken up
Posts: 11

« on: September 05, 2020, 08:29:00 PM »

My exBPDgf exhibited soo many of the traits and behaviours discussed here, apart from 2 aspects:
  1) I never saw any rage. Not any real anger, directed at me. She certainly could and did get angry, but it was directed at work clients who had done despicable things, and perfectly reasonable IMHO.
  2) She seemed self-aware of many of her limitations/triggers, and warned me up front, and was happy to discuss and negotiate, and then kept to the agreement.

  E.g.1) When I wasn't 20 mins early once, she told me that punctuality was very important to her, because if someone was late she tended to worry, then think they had abandoned her, and she wouldn't date someone like that. She acknowledged that it was not normal, and we were able to agree that a time "-ish" (like 10:15-ish) meant a window of 15 mins before or after, otherwise on time or a txt explaining a delay.
  E.g.2) she explained her fear of abandonment, and asked what things I was willing to do (hold hands in public [Y], respond to txt within 5 mins [N], leave things at each other's places [Y], always spend x nights/wk with her [N]). Once agreed, these weren't challenged, and the discussion process was reasonable and pain-free.
  E.g.3) Early on, she said "I'm thinking of trusting you", which triggered me (I'd been unjustly accused of multiple affairs for 10 years by ex-wife), and I took a couple of days to calm down and think it through before going back to ask for an explanation.
During those days, she'd been off work, vomiting, panicking, crying in bed all day, assuming that I'd abandoned her. She hadn't broadcast this to me, but I found out when I next saw her. The following discussion about her need for "connection" and reassurance, and my withdrawing being a guarantee of me never yelling, smashing or hitting, went well (albeit emotionally). She said that thinking she'd been abandoned hurt so much that she never wanted to feel that way again, and if I just disappeared, she would probably have to break up to avoid the fear that it might happen again. This was all said very tearfully and honestly (IMHO), not threateningly or dramatically, (but who knows, hey?)
 E.g.4) A couple of times I challenged her on idealising statements, and she agreed that "You're the best" was simplistic, and maybe shallow, so she'd change to something specific, like "I really appreciate it when you help me hang out the washing. It's much nicer than having someone watching TV and yelling at me how to do it 'properly' ".

Me: 1 marriage - 10 years to a narcissist. 3 yrs single. 1 coffee with a woman 45 mins away (thanks POF!). another 5 yrs single. Wow, finally, an actual relationship with someone who likes me  Way to go! (click to insert in post)... 1.5 yrs later, posting here.

Her: Bipolar dad, moved house, changed schools, every 6 months. Childhood abuse.
1st marriage at 19? "Went wrong on wedding night" (her quote). "Chased down and married 2nd husband in under 6 months" at 23? (her quote). This was an 18 abusive marriage to a narcissist, who's followed her internationally with the woman he cheated with, and still has access to the 5 kids.

So... my understanding was that I was the first guy she'd dated after taking 5 years to deal with 18 years of abuse, the divorce, move countries, reconnect with family, get a job etc., and that she'd done some homework on herself, the impact of various abuses, and was hoping for normality tempered with acceptance of imperfections.

Sorta like "you should know if we go to the beach, that I've got a wooden leg"

Our breakup was at 3 levels:
1) Practically - me: retired, own house, 18 y.o. daughter. Her: 5 kids, (youngest 8, some with special needs), impressive collection of debt, 6 people+5 pets renting 3 bedroom unit.  She was starting to hint at marriage, but couldn't formulate any practical options about the "how" of blending two very different scenarios. Future-faking ?

2) I'd noticed a cycle - she'd interpret something through the lens of her abusive ex-husband (like thinking I'd be angry because whatever), I'd feel slightly insulted that she didn't know by now that I was different to him, back off a bit to process that, and thus trigger her abandonment (even though I'd say "I need a day to think through that you didn't mean to hurt me, but you've been trained for 18 years to expect an angry reaction").
The post-mortem discussions were always the same: "I'm scared that you're leaving", "Isn't it better that I think things through, than yell and scream and bash you?"
I couldn't see either of us changing enough, even though it seemed that both of us were making sincere efforts to accomodate each other, and I felt it would get worse if we moved in togther, or married.

So, during COVID separation, she emailed that she felt I had a poor self-image regarding relationships, and wanted to help (start of subtle devaluation?), and I replied with my concern about our cycle for the future, and that we should go our separate ways.

Up until now, I was thinking we were two hurt, possibly damaged, humans, who'd found a pretty damn good match, and had given it a red-hot go. Close, but not quite.

Even the final meeting to return stuff left at each other's was fine. No property damaged or withheld, no snarky returning of special gifts, just a misty-eyed "I'm really sad, I thought you were the one, but thank you so much for being a nice, kind, normal partner after my disastrous marriages." Big long hug, and mutual wishes for the future.

Three months passed with no contact (apart from a couple of tiny petty-seeming distant incidents in the week after the breakup), then info came that I'd been replaced instantly. That was level 3. That's the one which I knew nothing about.

So, what's my point ?
I knew NOTHING about BPD before this relationship, and the more I learn, the more I feel that I *did* hurt her, through ignorance and arrogance.

She said a few times that she felt that she cared about me far more than I cared about her. My reaction then was to feel hurt, challenged, upset. Now, I feel that she was being very truthful, and painfully open, and that a more informed, mature and caring response could have been to validate that it was probably true, but that I was caring about her as much as I possibly could, so she might be caring at level 12, while I was at level 8, but it was 100% for both of us.

She said several times that she was worried that I was getting angry. I wasn't, and my reaction then was to try to prove that I wasn't - "I'm not shouting, I'm sitting calmly, do you want to check my pulse?" but the repetition started to annoy me.
Now, I feel that, again, she was being very truthful, and open, and really *was* feeling that I was angry, possibly triggered by some triviality that my less-sensitive emotional radar missed. A more informed and caring response could have validated that she *was* feeling that, and perhaps guided her as to what clues to look for which indicated calmness in me.

She said several times that she really wanted to feel "connected". My reaction then was to point out that we'd slept in each other's arms, and that I was currently 30 mins into giving her a massage, and that this wasn't something that I did with anyone else. Now, I feel that she was being truthful, and open, and that I blundered badly by assuming she was complaining about a problem, and that (typical male) I should be fixing it. A more informed and caring response could have validated that she was struggling to feel connected, even at such an intimate moment, and acknowledged that she did have constant emotional turmoil, which was making her life more challenging than normal.

So this is my apology to her, for being a "normal" who really didn't understand the depths of her feelings, or the pain and conflict they caused. I, who pride myself on my intelligence and problem-solving skills, completely missed every clue she gave me - I didn't even know that she was a complex puzzle, that could be perhaps somewhat understood, if never solved.

My feeling from what I've read is that I have dodged a bullet, maybe lucked out with an extended idealisation and exited just before devaluation, but apart from the short, sharp shock of immediate replacement, (and what that *may* imply), I have lots of fond memories which I will cherish.

I am not tempted with thoughts of going back, but I have been feeling like a clumsy oaf who's accidentally kicked the crutches out from under a cripple, as I've learned more about the uncontrollable intensity of BPD emotions, and matched them with things she'd said or asked. I thought that I was being caring and understanding, having had a relatable marriage experience to her, and while I was caring in many ways, I also wasn't. Not in the way her BPD needed. So, for what it's worth, sorry. Again.

Thank you also to the providers of these boards! Posting my apology here means that I'm not tempted to apologise in person, or through her family, or write a letter to her friends, or try to find if she has a counsellor and pass the apology via them if they deem it helpful, or any of another 27 fanciful scenarios.

After reading so many stories of hurt and devastation, I feel almost guilty to have had a vast majority really good relationship with a BPD, and just wonder ...

once removed
Online Online

Gender: Male
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
Posts: 11892

« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2020, 03:53:53 AM »

Up until now, I was thinking we were two hurt, possibly damaged, humans, who'd found a pretty damn good match, and had given it a red-hot go. Close, but not quite.

bpd or not, this is most likely where you will end up ultimately, in terms of reflecting on the relationship. im many years out myself, and that is, basically, my version of things.

relationships come into and out of our lives for reasons. ideally, we cherish the best qualities of each. sometimes we make mistakes, and we shrug them off, or we kick ourselves, or we really struggle over them.

i can tell that youre struggling over these things, though you have largely accepted that the two of you werent ultimately meant to be. they are useful questions youre asking; you want to learn the lessons to take into future relationships, after you have fully grieved this one.


     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…
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