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Author Topic: Anyone have success being friends with their ex?  (Read 553 times)
Kaufmann

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« on: September 19, 2020, 10:24:07 PM »

I'm still in love with M. Our relationship has been a roller coaster, pretty typical for a relationship with someone who has borderline traits. She wants to be with me, but she's afraid to be with me. Today she said that she's struggling with many things in her life and wants to just be friends. That's a mature decision on her part, although I wonder how long it will last.

I'm in love with her, but I also really care about her. I'm in love with her, but I also realize that a romantic relationship with her would be very unhealthy for me.

We're trying to be friends. I want to be her friend. I want to set clear boundaries. She needs a friend. She doesn't need a "friend" who gives into her when she's weak and allows himself to get romantic again and again.

Can such a friendship work? Advice?
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« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2020, 10:46:54 PM »

Most likely if you're kept around as a friend, you're kept around as a potential option for a relationship, if her other options fall through.
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« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2020, 05:42:33 AM »

Can you be friends with someone to whom you feel romantic feelings? And what does it mean that she "needs" a friend? It's not like there's realistically limited number of people on this planet, and it's never someone else's business about what the other person needs, unless they're a child. Why would you feel any responsibility towards that? Because it might sound like codependency.

I understand there are people who really can be friends with their ex-es, I've seen it. But more often I think it's a masked way of expressing FOG or malignant hope. Trust your gut on this one, you know best.
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« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2020, 09:44:35 AM »

Hey Kaufmann, What's the point?  Time to move on, my friend.

As BFS notes, if she's keeping you around on the back burner, it's only to provide another option if her current r/s falls through.  Why would you want to be her back-up?

If you are hoping for a recycle, maybe you should post on another Board, as we are pretty jaded here on Detaching.

LuckyJim
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« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2020, 11:00:12 AM »

Kaufmann,

I'm going to have to agree with the others. Try to be strong and move on. The recycles and constant heartache just aren't worth it. I was in your shoes around five months ago.

My uBPD ex-g/f and I had been together for nearly two years. She had been pressuring for an engagement and marriage since last Fall. She came to me one day in tears and gave me the "either we get engaged or I'm out" ultimatum and said "I love you so much and would do anything or go anywhere to be married to you".  I couldn't commit at the time due to the fact that she would not face her severe emotional issues but said that I would stand by her side while she sorted herself out. We kept in touch for nearly two weeks following the breakup and and talked about trying to work things out. About 16 days after the breakup she was out on a date with the guy that she rebounded with after she left her ex-husband and filed for divorce. I found out a month or so into our relationship that she dumped this rebound guy to start dating me. Supposedly he came calling on her again as soon as he found out that she and I had split.

When she told me about this date with this man, she almost seemed proud of what she'd done, and I got the distinct feeling that it was being rubbed in my face. She had actually kept in touch with this guy while she was with me to some degree no doubt to keep him interested. Obviously it worked. The last time we actually spoke, she specifically said that she wanted to remain friends and keep in touch. I never acknowledged her saying that. My first thought was that she intended on trying to keep me around just in case something fell through with this guy, which is a common trait of people with BPD. I didn't want to be a party to that.

Due to all of the heartache, the advice from my counselor, and the kind people in this forum, I went into no contact mode (NC) with her. I quit calling/texting her and also removed her from all of my social media. I've seen her in passing a half dozen times as her folks live next-door to me. Aside from one social media ping from her about two weeks ago, I've been mostly able to avoid her. Hopefully it stays that way.

If you go into NC mode, it will give you a better opportunity to focus on yourself and heal. I wish you all of the best in the coming days. Take care of yourself.

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Kaufmann

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« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2020, 05:10:55 PM »

dindin:

Thanks for your response. Yes, I think there's some codependency here or something like it. I honestly just feel guilty, like I have some obligation to her. It's like I have some savior complex. I don't view this relationship as one of equality; rather, I feel that I need to be there for her. And of course, when I step back, I can recognize that she doesn't need a savior, that she needs to work through this on her own.
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JNChell
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« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2020, 07:05:47 PM »

I have no desire to be friends with my ex. As I’m rediscovering my values and virtues, we are polarized. Even though we have a child together, I could never have a friendship with her. Lies, deceit, extortion and manipulation aren’t virtues that I want anywhere near me. If I pursue her as a friend, I would be devaluing myself. I’m completely done doing that to myself.

What value can she bring to the table as a friend? How did she hurt you in the relationship? Don’t set yourself up for more pain. It gets worse each go around. Been there. A lot of members here have. Some people out there didn’t get to become members because they didn’t make it out alive. This stuff can get really crazy. It’s time to move on. I know that’s blunt, but it’s from a friendly place.
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Kaufmann

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« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2020, 07:15:19 PM »

JNChell:

Thank you for your words. Thank you for being blunt.

Yes, the woman I love has lied to me, cheated on me, manipulated me -- repeatedly. If I could be angry with her, I could easily move on. But I guess I understand why she acts as she does -- because deep down she's insecure, hurting, terrified -- and so I feel compassion for her.

This relationship is not healthy for me. She's become dependent on me. I'm essentially her emotional caretaker. And I know that she needs to learn to deal with her own emotions. But I know that the more I pull away, the sadder she becomes, and that's really tough to see.

I know what I need to do. I need to leave. But it's so hard to see someone you love suffer.
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Kaufmann

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« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2020, 07:18:31 PM »

brighter future:

Did you say anything to yourself to make separation easier? Sometimes I'll tell myself really mean things about her -- e.g., "She a liar, she's mean, she doesn't love me" -- but after a while, I feel sad that I'm downtalking her, even though just to myself. I see the good in her, and I don't like saying such nasty things about another person.
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JNChell
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« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2020, 08:16:55 PM »

I understand and you’re a good person with a good heart. Try to center on yourself. You’re not much help to anyone else if you’re not strong and grounded in you.

You can’t fix or help her. She will continue to make you believe that you can and then continue to hurt you. The speed of these recycles will escalate if you allow them to. Then you will be so emotionally upended, you’ll think you’re a borderline. Set boundaries and step away from the situation. If she threatens suicide call 911 or whatever the emergency number is there and send first responders to her. This isn’t your cross to bare. Space and time allows the FOG to lift off of our brains. It gets easier. It won’t if you stay in contact with her.

She’ll be fine. She made it this far before meeting you. She will hurt you tremendously if you continue on with this. Are you willing to shift the direction of this conversation onto you and what is good for you?
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« Reply #10 on: September 22, 2020, 07:40:33 AM »

brighter future:

Did you say anything to yourself to make separation easier? Sometimes I'll tell myself really mean things about her -- e.g., "She a liar, she's mean, she doesn't love me" -- but after a while, I feel sad that I'm downtalking her, even though just to myself. I see the good in her, and I don't like saying such nasty things about another person.

Kaufmann,

It was really tough for me to get over this breakup because it was so sudden. My thought was how could a person who said I was the man of her dreams, the best man she ever dated, called me her soulmate, asked me to never leave her, and said she would never give up on me just walk away from me out of the blue? She maintained all of that right up until the very end. The breakup happened back in April, and I didn't start feeling better emotionally until the latter part of June or early July

My counselor and all of the nice people here on the forum helped me understand the illness better and showed me that a healthy relationship wasn't possible with my ex-g/f in her emotional state. I just had to keep telling myself over and over in my mind she's not capable of a healthy relationship with you or anyone else.  In her mind she thinks a new relationship with someone else is going to fix all of her problems. The truth is, no relationship is going to to work for her unless she works on fixing herself BY HERSELF just as I am the only person that can fix what's wrong with myself.

She didn't want professional help at the time of the breakup and said "Counselors don't work for me. I don't need help. I'm fine This is just the way I am, and I just deal with it." Also, she quit taking all of her medications at the end of January, which made her emotional state go downhill even further. Just like counseling, she said she didn't need her meds either and felt better without them.   Both of her children have significant emotional issues as well (most likely my ex'es issues are the root cause), so that doesn't make things easier either.

I had a hard time letting go in the first few months partly because she has a hard time functioning on her own. I also worried about her children a lot and still do. During the course of our relationship, either me or her parents had to frequently come to her rescue either financially or by helping her do things usually with a moments notice. I finally had to get it in my mind that if things got bad for her, her family were the appropriate people that needed to step in and help her, not me. I have a co-dependent/rescuer tendencies, so it's been hard for me to stop owning their issues. Now I'm working on myself and trying to get my own life  back in order.

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Lucky Jim
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« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2020, 11:48:30 AM »

Hey Kaufmann, Most of us Nons have codependent tendencies, because you sort of have to be codependent to be in a r/s with a pwBPD, as you've discovered.  It runs with the territory.  Nevertheless, you can get out of old patterns.  Took me a long time to grasp that caretaking is unhealthy for both the care giver and care recipient.  At some fundamental level, those w/BPD don't really want to be saved, so it's time to let go of your savior complex.

I nearly destroyed myself in my marriage to a pwBPD.  I echo JNChell:

Excerpt
Some people out there didn’t get to become members because they didn’t make it out alive.

LJ
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« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2020, 01:23:23 PM »

I spent about 3 weeks being "friendly" to her in limited contact and via versa, but it really helped to have had 9 month of no contact. very hard to come to opinion in that time apart either side "needs" each other, but this thought was a super strong one throughout the r/s so I understand in a way of relating to the use of that word here Kaufmann.

I have experience of my ex and I know of another relationship with partner with BPD that is just so volatile. It is my view that yes both very much need someone but it goes way beyond a "friend" it is specialised, professional help.

what about going into such a relationship - offering a friendship, platonic, and on traditional "ill be there for you" grounds. Then a situation arises where maybe you cant help her at that moment and have to refuse?

another situation, you might try to help and inadvertently make the situation much more difficult for her than if you had not been there at all. due to lack of training, being out of depth.

Just asking because I discovered more about how much I did for her and was really trying to do things that were way beyond the average person's ability to do - properly, with sufficient education and knowledge about the disorder.

what are your thoughts on some limited contact but without exposing yourself to difficult situations or expectations?
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Kaufmann

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« Reply #13 on: September 29, 2020, 07:07:31 PM »

Lucky Jim,

Thanks so much for your response. I'm curious about something you wrote:

Excerpt
Took me a long time to grasp that caretaking is unhealthy for both the care giver and care recipient.  At some fundamental level, those w/BPD don't really want to be saved, so it's time to let go of your savior complex

I'm definitely her emotional caretaker. Why is that unhealthy for her?

We have a push-pull relationship. It's unhealthy for me. Why is that unhealthy for her?

Also, do you think it's fair to say that those with BPD don't really want to be saved. I feel like my ex-girlfriend doesn't want to live in the torment that is BPD. I feel so incredibly bad for the inner turmoil she suffers. I think she wants out but just doesn't know how to find the way.

Did you ever have a "savior complex." If so, what do you think that was about? I'm trying to answer that same question for myself. Why do I feel so obligated to save her?
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Lucky Jim
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« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2020, 10:21:36 AM »

Hey Kaufmann,

In my view, caretaking is unhealthy for both of you.

Why?  Because caretaking leads to codependency.  In other words, it allows the care recipient to shift responsibility for his/her own well being to someone else, the care giver.  It also allows the care giver to avoid his/her own issues by putting the needs of the care recipient ahead of the care giver's own needs.  The result is codependency, where both parties engage in a kind of dance that allows each to avoid taking personal responsibility for his/her own issues, in childlike fashion.

Well, it feels good to play the role of the White Knight, something most of us us Nons have experienced in a BPD r/s.

LJ






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« Reply #15 on: September 30, 2020, 10:54:43 AM »

Lucky Jim,

Thanks so much for your response. I'm curious about something you wrote:

I'm definitely her emotional caretaker. Why is that unhealthy for her?

We have a push-pull relationship. It's unhealthy for me. Why is that unhealthy for her?

Also, do you think it's fair to say that those with BPD don't really want to be saved. I feel like my ex-girlfriend doesn't want to live in the torment that is BPD. I feel so incredibly bad for the inner turmoil she suffers. I think she wants out but just doesn't know how to find the way.

Did you ever have a "savior complex." If so, what do you think that was about? I'm trying to answer that same question for myself. Why do I feel so obligated to save her?

I want to add a couple more things. Sorry if I'm repeating myself some. My uBPD ex-g/f didn't want to live in torment from her mental health issues (she acknowledged most of her issues), however, she didn't want to do anything to fix her issues. It broke my heart to see her and her children suffering because of these issues. Throughout most of our relationship, I thought the love and support that I gave her would be enough to steer her in the right direction. I thought wrong. During an emotional meltdown about a month before we broke up, she stated through tears "When are you going to take me away from all of this?" (marry me and take care of me).   Through my own therapy (and this forum) I've learned that I can't be emotionally and financially responsible for her or her kids. If she truly wants change in her life, she needs to do this on her own. I still worry about them, but I'm still working on not owning their issues and just owning my own problems. She is a beautiful human being inside and out, and I just wish she'd get help and learn to love herself.

It will be six months very soon since we broke up, and nothing has changed in her life based on what I've seen and heard from a couple of people. Their emotional issues have gotten worse, I've been told, and she and her children continue to gain weight. I've received a couple of social media pings from her in the last couple of weeks, and I've ignored both of them. It would be very easy to get sucked back into that, and I just can't go down that road again with her.
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JNChell
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« Reply #16 on: September 30, 2020, 05:45:24 PM »

At the end of the day, these people have hurt us in tremendous ways. There is no reason to be friends with them. Would you accept that treatment from your real male best friend? No, you wouldn’t. Your feelings are still in limbo.

It’s hard to let go. If my assumptions are right, you didn’t get any real closure. Is that the case.
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Kaufmann

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« Reply #17 on: September 30, 2020, 07:20:42 PM »

JNChell,

You're right, I would not accept this behavior from my male best friend. I realize that I'm in part holding on because I haven't given up the dream of being with her. My head says, "No, no, no," but I'm still addicted to her. Part of me still want to be with her even though I know that would be very unhealthy for me. Ugh.

Another part of me wants to be her friend because I hurt her in the past. For years, she wanted to be in a relationship with me, and I made promises but then broke them and kept going back to my ex-wife. I know, it's messed up. I'm not completely healthy. I'm trying to get there. Anyway, I seriously hurt this woman. Now she's emotionally dependent on me. She feels like she can't live without me. Although she can't stop seeing another man. (She says she doesn't love him, says she loves me but doesn't think she can ever trust me again. Her fear is real.) So I tell myself, "Just deal with the pain of being her friend, of knowing that she's seeing another man, the pain of her inadvertently playing with my emotions. Move away from her, create some space, but don't completely cut her out of your life." I feel like that will devastate her.

I don't think it's healthy for her to be so dependent on me, but I don't feel right completely cutting her out of my life. In part because I still want to be with her. Ugh again. But in part because I know that she has a good heart. I know that she has tremendous pain in her heart, and her hurtful actions are done out of fear, not out of any intention to hurt.
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JNChell
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« Reply #18 on: September 30, 2020, 07:47:48 PM »

You’re a grown man and you should make and be responsible for your own choices.

Why do you say that you’re not completely healthy? What’s going on there?

It sounds like the whole relationship was a mess of infidelity. It was never going to work and there is no hope for it in the future. It’s done. Cheating equals done.

Understanding that all of this is done, where do you go? It is completely done. If you go back for anything, you will be hurting much worse when it’s over. Take the advice or leave it.

What are your next steps?
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Kaufmann

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« Reply #19 on: September 30, 2020, 08:01:29 PM »

JNChell:

Excerpt
Why do you say that you’re not completely healthy? What’s going on there?

I've been afraid to be alone. My wife became a very powerful attachment figure in my life. We divorced, but living without her terrified me, and so I kept running back to her. I think I mostly worked through those issues in therapy.

I'm also not healthy because I still finding myself clinging to M, who has BPD. If I were healthier, I would not still long for her. In other words, if I were healthy, I would not crave an unhealthy relationship. (I think I've largely figured out why I crave this relationship, although my craving is still there.)

Excerpt
It sounds like the whole relationship was a mess of infidelity. It was never going to work and there is no hope for it in the future. It’s done.

There was no infidelity on my end, but you're right in saying that this relationship will never work. I know that.

Excerpt
What are your next steps?

I'm moving next Saturday, out of M's neighborhood.

I want to be strong. I want to set clear boundaries (e.g., no kissing). I want to be her friend, not a friend with benefits, but a real friend. Not a friend who sees her every day, like we do now, but a friend who talks to her on the phone twice a week. I want to spend more time alone and learn to be more comfortable with myself. I want to get over M and know without any doubt that I can never and should never be with her. Well, I already know this, but I want my feelings to fall into line.
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« Reply #20 on: October 01, 2020, 02:29:11 AM »

I honestly just feel guilty, like I have some obligation to her. It's like I have some savior complex. I don't view this relationship as one of equality; rather, I feel that I need to be there for her. And of course, when I step back, I can recognize that she doesn't need a savior, that she needs to work through this on her own.

i think that if this is the basis for your friendship, it will be a rocky road.

exes can be friends, no doubt about it. i am, with a couple of mine. not the relationship that brought me here, but, for what its worth, i am pretty good friends with an ex who has bpd traits.

but understand that it is a rarity, and that when it happens, both parties are usually in a space where they have fully grieved the relationship, and the relationship looks very different than it ever did.

Excerpt
I'm also not healthy because I still finding myself clinging to M, who has BPD. If I were healthier, I would not still long for her. In other words, if I were healthy, I would not crave an unhealthy relationship. (I think I've largely figured out why I crave this relationship, although my craving is still there.)

this is good self awareness. it will help.

the long and short of it is that although theres nothing wrong in theory with the prospect of being friends, you may both be using it as a bit of a crutch in your grieving process; nothing wrong with that necessarily, either. sometimes the cut off, cold turkey approach is really not the best.

but recognize it for what it most likely is: a bandaid, and difficulty on both sides when it comes to letting go. you can work with that, if you want to have "ex transitioning to friend" boundaries.

if a friendship is really your goal, understand that it very much requires the hard and painful work of grieving and detaching, and it tends to entail a lot of space, emotional and physical. one of the most common things i see is one party getting upset over the other party not making the effort they feel should be made, and pushing for more, and thats mainly about difficulty letting go.

understand that one or both of you may ultimately change your mind as you detach.

as husband and wife, its pretty likely that you will not fall entirely out of contact, although you may well. dont expect it to be a relationship where you get the best parts, without the bad ones. it will look very different to what youve known.

a good rule of thumb is that you dont want to rehash the old relationship woes; dont fight about who wronged whom. if she vents at you, listen, dont compete or expect her to soothe your wounds, it will only drive a deeper wedge.

expect that one or both of you may send mixed signals. if youre committed to letting go, see them more as difficulty grieving than a change of heart.

regarding your specific situation, Kaufmann, i might consider posting on the Bettering Board, whether you want to reconcile, or whether you want to be friends, or whether you just arent sure. Detaching is a board for members that are deep in the grieving process, and actively committed to letting go. the advice you receive is going to pertain to that.
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« Reply #21 on: October 01, 2020, 10:31:20 AM »

Hey Kaufmann,

Why the guilt?  Generally, those w/BPD use fear, obligation and guilt (F-O-G)  as a way to manipulate the Non.  I was quite susceptible to this type of arm-twisting, and maybe you are, too?  My advice?  Let go of the guilt.  You're both adults.  Time to move on.

LJ
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« Reply #22 on: October 01, 2020, 05:19:12 PM »

Attachment and being afraid to be alone is a real thing. It’s tough. But, that attachment style can land us into very bad situations. Know what I mean? I think you do because you’re talking about it now.

That’s a wise observation. You don’t want it, but you’re craving it. Mind vs. Heart. There are parts of your brain that remember the good stuff, and parts of your brain that are protecting you. The brain is a very powerful organ. It’s amazing how much resides in the gray matter. You should not pursue this girl. You found this forum by researching your feelings and what you saw and experienced in real time. You need time for yourself without a whisper of her. You’re moving away. What do do you think about no contact with her? No looking at her social media. Space for you to get back to you.

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« Reply #23 on: October 01, 2020, 11:18:23 PM »

JNChell:

Excerpt
You should not pursue this girl. You found this forum by researching your feelings and what you saw and experienced in real time. You need time for yourself without a whisper of her. You’re moving away. What do do you think about no contact with her? No looking at her social media. Space for you to get back to you.

You're right. You're absolutely right.

Sometimes the thought of not talking to her feels awful, but sometimes I get a glimpse of how liberating it would be. The thing is, I've had periods of no-contact with her before -- over a year ago -- and I actually got over her very quickly.

I know the right answer. I know beyond doubt that I would not ultimately be happy with her.

I said to my therapist this summer, "What are my blindspots? What am I not seeing about this situation?" She told me that I'm seeing the situation very clearly. I then said to her, "I wish you could give me like the three steps I need to take to get out of this relationship." And she said that there aren't any number of steps. She said that I just need to leave; she said there's nothing more she could tell me to do.

I need to do it. I know. I keep writing on this site as though hoping to discover the secret answer. But maybe there is no secret answer. I just need to do it. Right?

I think if I could be absolutely convinced that this relationship is bad for her, I could better summon the strength. I know it's bad for me, but if I could just be see how it's hurting her -- how this push-and-pull is hurting her -- I could more easily get out.

Either way, I know that I need to leave.
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« Reply #24 on: October 01, 2020, 11:20:31 PM »

Lucky Jim:

Excerpt
Why the guilt?  Generally, those w/BPD use fear, obligation and guilt (F-O-G)  as a way to manipulate the Non.  I was quite susceptible to this type of arm-twisting, and maybe you are, too?  My advice?  Let go of the guilt.  You're both adults.  Time to move on.

You're absolutely right. She knows how to make me feel guilty. She's so good at that. She has a good heart, and she only manipulates because she's so terrified inside. Nonetheless, she is so incredibly good at manipulating me. The more I see what's happening, the easier it is to get out. I hope.
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« Reply #25 on: October 02, 2020, 09:55:18 AM »

Excerpt
I think if I could be absolutely convinced that this relationship is bad for her, I could better summon the strength.

Hey Kaufmann, No, you've got that wrong, in my view.  You are coming at the issue from a codependent angle, whether the r/s is bad for her, rather than from an adult perspective, which is whether the r/s is right for you.  The former is something you are in no position to judge, the latter is a question only you can answer.  I can't tell you what to do.  If you are confused, I suggest you listen to your gut feelings.

LJ
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« Reply #26 on: October 02, 2020, 05:45:53 PM »

There is no secret answer. You are very correct on that.

It’s understandable to miss talking to her. The reality is now. She was not an honest person. If you value those conversations with her, and you are now in this emotional place, she was not honest with you. Sounds like the aftermath of being gaslighted.

How are you feeling this evening?
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« Reply #27 on: October 03, 2020, 04:01:16 AM »

I found that going complete no contact was the only way to get out of my BPD ex's life and save myself. It was rough at first, but it gets easier. Good luck! 
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