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Before you can make things better, you have to stop making them worse... Have you considered that being critical, judgmental, or invalidating toward the other parent, no matter what she or he just did will only make matters worse? Someone has to be do something. This means finding the motivation to stop making things worse, learning how to interrupt your own negative responses, body language, facial expressions, voice tone, and learning how to inhibit your urges to do things that you later realize are contributing to the tensions.
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Author Topic: Dating after a BPD relationship  (Read 402 times)
LaRonge

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« on: May 26, 2022, 03:27:52 PM »

BPDfam—

I'd like to know your experiences with dating after a BPD relationship. I'm slowly trying to dip back into it, and I'm finding it incredibly challenging.

It's funny that after all the turmoil of my relationship disintegrating, all the drama and weird behaviors and anxiety, all the pain and humiliation of the devaluation and discard, all of the torture and rumination and heartbreak of its aftermath, all the difficult work of figuring it all out and resisting the desperate urge to get in touch, and so on... I still feel like the hardest part is yet to come.

I'm almost four months out now and I know I've made some remarkable strides, especially considering the terrible shape I was in back in February. I'm still in a kind of pain, but it's not excruciating. I'm optimistic about life in general, I appreciate my close friends and family in a new way, I'm thriving with work and experiencing unexpected successes in my career, I'm in good physical shape and doing interesting and creative side projects. My life is more robust and positive than it was before and during my relationship. Things are good!

But...

I still can't get this woman out of my head. I've gone on a few dates, have spent some time on and off on the dating apps, and very briefly had an intimate fling with someone. But even though I'm starting to feel good about myself and my life, I'm still having a hard time letting go of my ex in my mind and I compare every woman I meet to her in ways I shouldn't. In those moments, I forget all the horrible qualities about her, and remember only the things I loved about her.

While I'm sitting across from a woman on a date, or even a friend on a night out, that person shifts in my mind into the person of my ex, and my heart sinks, because in those moments I just wish I was there with her. I think, "You know what would be better than this? If I was with my ex." "You know who is more attractive than this person I'm with? My ex." "You know who is more interesting and smart and funny and awesome than her? My ex." And once I have those thoughts, I can't get rid of them, and no matter what I do to try to get back into the moment, I can't. Even when I slept with the other person, I thought of my ex. I couldn't help it.

I don't know if there's any advice anyone could give me that would help—I know it will just take more time, more work, more letting go—but I would love to hear others' experiences of getting back into dating after a BPD relationship. How long did it take for you to be ready? Was there an approach you took that worked? Have folks succeeded in meeting someone stable and reliable? That's my other fear: that even if it's not her, I will just end up with another striking, charismatic nightmare. I have a deeply engrained belief that, in my personal life, things just will never get better. As though I'm missing something that prevents me from having a stable relationship and building a life with someone. (Yes, I'm working on all this stuff and family history etc. in therapy.)

My ex has reached out to me a few times, not necessarily to reconcile, but I know I could see her if I wanted to. I can't bring myself to totally block her ability to contact me. (Truthfully, I still want to hear from her and for her to think of me.) Most of the time, I remember how much pain I went through, and think, "No," but other times, I flirt with the idea. I think, "You're not going to find someone better, this is the type of person you're meant to be with... maybe you should just go for it and try to get her back." It's taken all my will power to resist doing that.

What are your dating stories after The End? Please tell me there's hope!
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NotAHero
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« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2022, 10:13:14 PM »

BPDfam—

I'd like to know your experiences with dating after a BPD relationship. I'm slowly trying to dip back into it, and I'm finding it incredibly challenging.

It's funny that after all the turmoil of my relationship disintegrating, all the drama and weird behaviors and anxiety, all the pain and humiliation of the devaluation and discard, all of the torture and rumination and heartbreak of its aftermath, all the difficult work of figuring it all out and resisting the desperate urge to get in touch, and so on... I still feel like the hardest part is yet to come.

I'm almost four months out now and I know I've made some remarkable strides, especially considering the terrible shape I was in back in February. I'm still in a kind of pain, but it's not excruciating. I'm optimistic about life in general, I appreciate my close friends and family in a new way, I'm thriving with work and experiencing unexpected successes in my career, I'm in good physical shape and doing interesting and creative side projects. My life is more robust and positive than it was before and during my relationship. Things are good!

But...

I still can't get this woman out of my head. I've gone on a few dates, have spent some time on and off on the dating apps, and very briefly had an intimate fling with someone. But even though I'm starting to feel good about myself and my life, I'm still having a hard time letting go of my ex in my mind and I compare every woman I meet to her in ways I shouldn't. In those moments, I forget all the horrible qualities about her, and remember only the things I loved about her.

While I'm sitting across from a woman on a date, or even a friend on a night out, that person shifts in my mind into the person of my ex, and my heart sinks, because in those moments I just wish I was there with her. I think, "You know what would be better than this? If I was with my ex." "You know who is more attractive than this person I'm with? My ex." "You know who is more interesting and smart and funny and awesome than her? My ex." And once I have those thoughts, I can't get rid of them, and no matter what I do to try to get back into the moment, I can't. Even when I slept with the other person, I thought of my ex. I couldn't help it.

I don't know if there's any advice anyone could give me that would help—I know it will just take more time, more work, more letting go—but I would love to hear others' experiences of getting back into dating after a BPD relationship. How long did it take for you to be ready? Was there an approach you took that worked? Have folks succeeded in meeting someone stable and reliable? That's my other fear: that even if it's not her, I will just end up with another striking, charismatic nightmare. I have a deeply engrained belief that, in my personal life, things just will never get better. As though I'm missing something that prevents me from having a stable relationship and building a life with someone. (Yes, I'm working on all this stuff and family history etc. in therapy.)

My ex has reached out to me a few times, not necessarily to reconcile, but I know I could see her if I wanted to. I can't bring myself to totally block her ability to contact me. (Truthfully, I still want to hear from her and for her to think of me.) Most of the time, I remember how much pain I went through, and think, "No," but other times, I flirt with the idea. I think, "You're not going to find someone better, this is the type of person you're meant to be with... maybe you should just go for it and try to get her back." It's taken all my will power to resist doing that.

What are your dating stories after The End? Please tell me there's hope!

 I think you are on the right track but need more mental/emotional work and of course time!

 I have been living alone for almost 9 months. First 6 months I couldn’t even think about another woman let alone try to date. I just grieved and was in deep emotional pain. I wasn’t just sitting there in pain I was working on healing of course.

 Couple months ago I started dipping my feet in dating but my experience started worse than yours. Couldn’t even be myself or get myself to charm, not even maybe complement another woman properly- and I’m a writer !

 I kept pushing myself and my new therapist strongly encouraged me to go get intimate with someone- my previous therapist had the opposite approach.

 At some point something “clicked”. Not sure what exactly but maybe the horrible behavior of my ex? Maybe her trying to make me jealous by stooping even lower in the cesspool she called“dating “

 I took a trip to see one of my old buddies, had already got fit thanks to combination of emotional torture and working out. We went out to beaches and public places and I started talking to ladies finally. My buddy took great pics for my dating profile and I came home rejuvenated. 

 Since then I got out on 3 dates with quite a few more lined up. Didn’t go all the way sleeping with anyone but there was cuddling, touching kissing.

 Here is where my experience changed, I was almost disconcerted that these new women were the ones touching me with deep and intense interest! I forgot how it feels for someone to reciprocate ! Oh wait she is eager to kiss me back? She is passing her hands on my arms and neck? What happened ? Oh what was I doing with that emotional vampire ?

  The complements, the touches, the smiles on these beautiful women faces ….I almost forgot what normal felt like! I was starved of attention and intimacy I so rightfully deserved and for what ?

 I cringe when I think of being with my ex now.
 
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getfree
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« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2022, 08:28:12 AM »

LaRonge - your whole post resonated with me massively. I don't even really like this woman after everything she did to me but: (a) I can't get her out of my head, and (b) I have a twisted anger/jealousy that she's moved on so quickly and is giving me a second thought.

Hope I can get to the point you are at NotAHero sooner rather than later.

I have got back on the apps and started talking a few women but I am taking it very slowly as I am still dealing with the fault out of my failed reconciliation.

Apart of me finds it harder since she jumped into a new relationship immediately and has completely forgotten I exist - it's pretty intense how they can move on and it definitely makes me feel a kind of way about getting back out there.

I've lost a tonne of weight due to a mix of stress and working out so I am in weirdly the best shape I've been in for a very long time so hopefully it pays dividends.

 I forgot how it feels for someone to reciprocate ! Oh wait she is eager to kiss me back? She is passing her hands on my arms and neck? What happened ? Oh what was I doing with that emotional vampire ?

This part really resonated with me, with my BPDex the first few weeks she showed interest but after that it very much felt like she was doing it as a chore or doing me a favour. She seemed to enjoy "during" but that could well have been fake - I definitely didn't at any point feel like I was desired which I am definitely missing.

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Ellala

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Relationship status: single
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« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2022, 01:55:56 AM »


I don't know if there's any advice anyone could give me that would help—I know it will just take more time, more work, more letting go—but I would love to hear others' experiences of getting back into dating after a BPD relationship. How long did it take for you to be ready? Was there an approach you took that worked? Have folks succeeded in meeting someone stable and reliable? That's my other fear: that even if it's not her, I will just end up with another striking, charismatic nightmare. I have a deeply engrained belief that, in my personal life, things just will never get better. As though I'm missing something that prevents me from having a stable relationship and building a life with someone. (Yes, I'm working on all this stuff and family history etc. in therapy.)

LaRonge, I understand what you are saying, and while I don't have a "success" story, I felt to share my experience and approach. It's been 5 months since the break up for me.  I went on a date after 3 months. I still felt a bit vulnerable and also feared I might end up with another "striking, charismatic nightmare" as you say.

I let another month or so go by and kept working on me… Something has definitely shifted … my number one priority is a stable and loving relationship with myself first  I am not looking to get into a serious relationship at the moment, but rather to meet people, connect, be curious, enjoy the company, learn more about my own boundaries, needs, and be authentic.

In the process of meeting / dating people now, I feel less concerned with the outcome, impressing anyone, and feel more comfortable being with where I am at (which is healing.. my heart still hurts). On the dates, I briefly mentioned that my last relationship didn't go as I hoped, and left me hesitant to jump into a relationship. It's been surprising that 3 of the 4! men I have met, opened up and shared about their involvement or past/recent experiences with a person who had BPD like behaviors (or were diagnosed with BPD).… and the effects of that, what they are going through now. These conversations felt really healing. Not ideal "dating" conversations, but felt good to get out there, be real, feel heard, and have understanding and compassion for what my fellow "brothers" have been through. All the men were interested in meeting again, even if only as friends.

I am glad to hear you've made such incredible progress in so many areas of your life! Good for you!  Be easy with yourself. The heart will heal in it's own time.  I believe if you keep doing the work, you will meet a stable and loving partner.

Curious how others are navigating this process too.


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LaRonge

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Relationship status: Broken up
Posts: 41


« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2022, 01:43:53 PM »

Thanks for replying NotAHero, getfree, and Ellala!

Ellala, I actually think your's IS a success story. To be able to date and not be tortured by thoughts of your ex is a big deal. And to be able to enjoy it too.

It's funny you mention that BPD has come up on your dates, because I've noticed that it's come up both on dates and in general conversations with people, without me bringing it up. I think it's because I've learned so much about personality disorders that when people talk about past relationships I get curious and ask questions and eventually it comes up that someone's ex was diagnosed with or showed traits of BPD or NPD. I think part of it is because these personality disorders are quite prevalent but rarely discussed (a recent NY Times article about teenagers struggling during the pandemic described a few people that seemed to meet every BPD trait, but never once mentioned the possibility of a disorder), and also that it's unlikely someone got to a certain age (I'm early forties) and is still single without having dated a person who has traits of a personality disorder.

In any case, hearing all of your stories is encouraging. My first date two months after the breakup was a disaster, I was an emotional mess afterwards; my second date a month or so later was better; and now I'm setting up more dates, but like you, I'm taking it slow and not putting a lot less pressure on myself or worrying about outcomes. I'm honest that I had a traumatizing breakup but don't feel the need to give to much away, and also honest that while I'm looking for a partner, I'm only just starting dating again and not looking to rush into anything. I wouldn't say I'm excited about it yet, but I'm not totally dreading it. I guess that's progress. (Oh, another thing that has helped my mental wellbeing during this time is that I've unfollowed my ex on social media, and muted any friend of hers, so that I don't see anything about her dating. I assume she is/moved on, but I don't know, and it frees up my mind not to agonize over it.)

Also funny (well, not funny, but you know) how everyone who has been discarded by a BPD loses a ton of weight and works out a lot. So at least we look good! They didn't leave us with nothing after all.
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NotAHero
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Relationship status: In the recycling phase
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« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2022, 06:48:23 PM »

LaRonge, I understand what you are saying, and while I don't have a "success" story, I felt to share my experience and approach. It's been 5 months since the break up for me.  I went on a date after 3 months. I still felt a bit vulnerable and also feared I might end up with another "striking, charismatic nightmare" as you say.

I let another month or so go by and kept working on me… Something has definitely shifted … my number one priority is a stable and loving relationship with myself first  I am not looking to get into a serious relationship at the moment, but rather to meet people, connect, be curious, enjoy the company, learn more about my own boundaries, needs, and be authentic.

In the process of meeting / dating people now, I feel less concerned with the outcome, impressing anyone, and feel more comfortable being with where I am at (which is healing.. my heart still hurts). On the dates, I briefly mentioned that my last relationship didn't go as I hoped, and left me hesitant to jump into a relationship. It's been surprising that 3 of the 4! men I have met, opened up and shared about their involvement or past/recent experiences with a person who had BPD like behaviors (or were diagnosed with BPD).… and the effects of that, what they are going through now. These conversations felt really healing. Not ideal "dating" conversations, but felt good to get out there, be real, feel heard, and have understanding and compassion for what my fellow "brothers" have been through. All the men were interested in meeting again, even if only as friends.

I am glad to hear you've made such incredible progress in so many areas of your life! Good for you!  Be easy with yourself. The heart will heal in it's own time.  I believe if you keep doing the work, you will meet a stable and loving partner.

Curious how others are navigating this process too.




 Your last line, calling it a process is right on.
If you asked me 2-8 months ago where I would be today I would not have imagined that I would be doing this well today. Granted I have a child with her so my suffering is far from over BUT as far as the emotional attachment to her goes I am in a great place now.  She no longer has any power over me and I am able to be open with others. There is lingering pain of course but I think the key is their POWER over us. She can no longer bait me or control me. That is a huge win. Something clicked and I woke up, I no longer secretly want “that hit” or “dose of intimacy” from her anymore. That’s huge and I don’t know how my healing accelerated at the end exactly. I can tell others that what I did was taking my time, self care, self help books, therapy and focusing on evolving. I did that all day - as time allowed - everyday intensely and finally my feelings caught up to my mind for the most part.

 That’s my “process” so to speak.
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60av8tor

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Relationship status: Going through divorce
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« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2022, 08:00:52 PM »

Your last line, calling it a process is right on.
If you asked me 2-8 months ago where I would be today I would not have imagined that I would be doing this well today. Granted I have a child with her so my suffering is far from over BUT as far as the emotional attachment to her goes I am in a great place now.  She no longer has any power over me and I am able to be open with others. There is lingering pain of course but I think the key is their POWER over us. She can no longer bait me or control me. That is a huge win. Something clicked and I woke up, I no longer secretly want “that hit” or “dose of intimacy” from her anymore. That’s huge and I don’t know how my healing accelerated at the end exactly. I can tell others that what I did was taking my time, self care, self help books, therapy and focusing on evolving. I did that all day - as time allowed - everyday intensely and finally my feelings caught up to my mind for the most part.

 That’s my “process” so to speak.

Thanks for sharing this! This is so good to hear. It’s only been a little under 4 months for me and I still find myself like a recovering heroin addict from time to time. I was FINE being alone before this relationship, but now there are days when I would give anything to be back in the relationship - even knowing how dysfunctional it was. Thankfully those “cravings” are coming less often.

Yesterday, I told my therapist that the loneliness is excruciating some times, and there are moments I want to rush for companionship. However, my logical brain knows I have to work on myself, figure out why I got so hooked into a toxic relationship, and proceed slowly.

I’m confident I’m making progress - albeit not as quickly as I’d like - and some day I’ll be in a healthy relationship where my love and actions are reciprocated.
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Anonymous1847

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« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2022, 06:06:59 PM »

You are making good progress friend. It's easy to look back at your BPD ex with fond memories, but you need to remember the abusive word salad that got thrown at you when you tried to hold her accountable for something. When you remember all her BPD actions and words, you'll chuckle for being silly and missing her.
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60av8tor

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« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2022, 10:17:53 PM »

It's easy to look back at your BPD ex with fond memories…

When you remember all her BPD actions and words, you'll chuckle for being silly and missing her.

I’m working so that the former fills far fewer days than the later. It’s slowly working itself in that direction
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drumdog4M
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« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2022, 11:07:19 PM »

That is so wise. It's funny how the good times seem indelibly etched in my memory, but the bad ones get minimized and forgotten. It's almost the invest of what people with BPD do where they remember every little thing as trauma and forget all of the love, effort, and energy you provided.

I wish I can soon get to the point of counterbalancing the good memories with the bad ones and summoning the anger to motivate me to move on from her emotionally. I seem caught between bargaining and sadness in the stages of grieving. 
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NotAHero
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Relationship status: In the recycling phase
Posts: 277


« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2022, 11:27:54 PM »

That is so wise. It's funny how the good times seem indelibly etched in my memory, but the bad ones get minimized and forgotten. It's almost the invest of what people with BPD do where they remember every little thing as trauma and forget all of the love, effort, and energy you provided.

I wish I can soon get to the point of counterbalancing the good memories with the bad ones and summoning the anger to motivate me to move on from her emotionally. I seem caught between bargaining and sadness in the stages of grieving. 

   In my own experience it wasn’t anger that pushed me forward. To this day I don’t “hate” my BPD who abused me in sadistic ways. I just know I opened my eyes to the possibilities of a better life. It’s weird, no amount of wisdom can “talk you” into it. I knew first hand everything to know but those emotions linger. It’s the power of the systematic brain washing an attractive and experienced BPD can work. The best thing you can do is keep pushing until you break free.
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drumdog4M
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« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2022, 11:58:27 PM »

Thank you for that. I do need to focus on enriching my own life without her in it. You're so right about the difficulty in pushing forward due to the brainwashing. It's so powerful. I never would have thought I'd even be susceptible to it. I was so wrong.

I too love and feel sorry for my ex, even as I am trying to accept on an emotional level (rather than just intellectually) that I cannot be with her and am far better off alone than in a dysfunctional / abusive relationship with a disordered (though not a bad) person.
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2020
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« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2022, 12:22:47 AM »

I am in the same boat guys. I fell head over heels in love with her. At least that is what I thought it was. In reality, it was a daily struggle through a landscape of eggshells.

It has been eight weeks since she did her Houdini impersonation, escorted by the local police. I have been struggling since. And just when I think I am going to pull through, the phone rings, at midnight. And the next day. That was on Wednesday. My chain is being rattled and I am so  Cursing - won't cause site restrictions at Starbucks (click to insert in post) up I don’t even know what sub forum I should be posting on here. Laugh out loud (click to insert in post)

It is cruel, the way we are treated. But I suppose we have a choice. Either way it looks like we get the sh**y end of the stick. I fully expect to be haunted by her until the day I die. Got myself in a real mess. Walked through that valley of the shadow of death… god help us all! Frustrated/Unfortunate (click to insert in post)
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NotAHero
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« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2022, 08:00:50 PM »

I am in the same boat guys. I fell head over heels in love with her. At least that is what I thought it was. In reality, it was a daily struggle through a landscape of eggshells.

It has been eight weeks since she did her Houdini impersonation, escorted by the local police. I have been struggling since. And just when I think I am going to pull through, the phone rings, at midnight. And the next day. That was on Wednesday. My chain is being rattled and I am so  Cursing - won't cause site restrictions at Starbucks (click to insert in post) up I don’t even know what sub forum I should be posting on here. Laugh out loud (click to insert in post)

It is cruel, the way we are treated. But I suppose we have a choice. Either way it looks like we get the sh**y end of the stick. I fully expect to be haunted by her until the day I die. Got myself in a real mess. Walked through that valley of the shadow of death… god help us all! Frustrated/Unfortunate (click to insert in post)

 Breaking up with a BPD ( after 5 years) was the hardest emotional experience in my lifetime.  I didn’t think I would ever be “ok” but here I am. Just keep going through the mental and emotional work required. Therapy is helpful too.

 The pain won’t just “go away” on its own. You have to keep pushing until you see the light.
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