Home > Abusive relationships, Borderline Personality Disorder > 13 Signs Your Wife or Girlfriend is a Borderline or a Narcissist

13 Signs Your Wife or Girlfriend is a Borderline or a Narcissist

BPD-1My girlfriend / wife doesn’t have a personality disorder. She’s just emotional. Maybe, maybe not. Borderline Personality Disorder isn’t as mainstream in public awareness as other psychiatric diagnoses, but it’s a very real problem that affects many individuals and the people who are in ongoing relationships with them or trying to end relationships with them.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a kissing cousin of BPD. There is usually some overlap between the two. Most people think being a narcissist means that you’re conceited or vain–there’s a lot more to it.

Men are typically accused of being insensitive and out of touch with their feelings. We rarely talk about women who emotionally abuse the men they claim to love. There are different reasons why this is a silent epidemic:

a) Society and psychology hold a reverse sexist attitude regarding the perpetrators and recipients of emotional abuse.

b) Men have been brainwashed into believing that “she’s just expressing her feelings” when she’s being abusive and that “he’s insensitive and doesn’t understand.” Unfortunately, many mental health professionals perpetuate this phenomenon through their own gender biases. Should these men enter into couples treatment, they often get tag teamed by their girlfriend/wife and the therapist into believing they’re the problem. Should this couple actually find a shrink worth his/her salt that tries to hold the Borderline/Narcissist accountable, said shrink is duly fired and vilified by the BPD/NPD.

c) Men are too embarrassed to talk about the hurt, pain and confusion they experience as a result of the way these women mistreat them.

Warning: Being involved with an abusive Borderline or Narcissist May Be Hazardous to Your Mental Health

Here are some common side effects of being in an abusive relationship, whether the abusive individual has a personality disorder or not:

1) Censoring your thoughts and feelings. You edit it yourself because you’re afraid of her reactions. Swallowing the lump in your throat and your hurt and anger is easier than dealing with another fight or hurt feelings. In fact, you may have stuffed your own emotions for so long that you no longer know what you think or feel.

2) Everything is your fault. You’re blamed for everything that goes wrong in the relationship and in general, even if it has no basis in reality.

3) Constant criticism. She criticizes nearly everything you do and nothing is ever good enough. No matter how hard you try, there’s no pleasing her or, if you do, it’s few and far between.

4) Control freak. She engages in manipulative behaviors, even lying, in an effort to control you.

3186177287_1423ed4f22_o5) Dr Jekyll and Ms Hyde. One moment she’s kind and loving; the next she’s flipping out on you. She becomes so vicious, you wonder if she’s the same person. The first time it happens, you write it off. Now, it’s a regular pattern of behavior that induces feelings of depression, anxiety, helplessness and/or despair within you.

6) Your feelings don’t count. Your needs and feelings, if you’re brave enough to express them, are ignored, ridiculed, minimized and/or dismissed. You’re told that you’re too demanding, that there’s something wrong with you and that you need to be in therapy. You’re denied the right to your feelings.

7) Questioning your own sanity. You’ve begun to wonder if you’re crazy because she puts down your point of view and/or denies things she says or does. If you actually confide these things to a friend or family member, they don’t believe you because she usually behaves herself around other people.

8) Say what? “But I didn’t say that. I didn’t do that.” Sure you did. Well, you did in her highly distorted version of reality. Her accusations run the gamut from infidelity to cruelty to being un-supportive (even when you’re the one paying all the bills) to repressing her and holding her back. It’s usually baseless, which leaves you feeling defensive and misunderstood.

9) Isolating yourself from friends and family. You distance yourself from your loved ones and colleagues because of her erratic behavior, moodiness and instability. You make excuses for her inexcusable behaviors to others in an effort to convince yourself that it’s normal.

10) Walking on landmines. One misstep and you could set her off. Some people refer to this as “walking on eggshells,” but eggs emit only a dull crunch when you step on them. Setting off a landmine is a far more descriptive simile.

11) What goes up, must come down. She places you on a pedestal only to knock it out from under your feet. You’re the greatest thing since sliced bread one minute and the next minute, you’re the devil incarnate.

12) Un-level playing field. Borderlines and Narcissists make the rules; they break the rules and they change the rules at will. Just when you think you’ve figured out how to give her what she wants, she changes her expectations and demands without warning. This sets you up for failure in no-win situations, leaving you feeling helpless and trapped.

13) You’re a loser, but don’t leave me. “You’re a jerk. You’re a creep. You’re a bastard. I love you. Don’t leave me.” When you finally reach the point where you just can’t take it anymore, the tears, bargaining and threats begin. She insists she really does love you. She can’t live without you. She promises to change. She promises it will get better, but things never change and they never get better.

When that doesn’t work, she blames you and anything and anyone else she can think of, never once taking responsibility for her own behaviors. She may even resort to threats. She threatens that you’ll never see the kids again. Or she threatens to bad mouth you to your friends and family.

Tomorrow, I’ll post a follow-up blog in which I explain why this emotional abuse and what you can do about it.


Dr Tara J Palmatier_Shrink4Men_02Counseling, Consulting and Coaching with Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD

Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD helps individuals work through their relationship and codependency issues via telephone or Skype. She specializes in helping men and women trying to break free of an abusive relationship, cope with the stress of an abusive relationship or heal from an abusive relationship. She combines practical advice, emotional support and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Schedule a Session page for professional inquiries.

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Related posts:

Photo credits:

BPD-1 byPushkia on flickr.

Spin-the-mood-wheel by MashGet on flickr.

  1. Jonathan
    December 21, 2009 at 8:55 am


    This video was written about a Narcissist friend of the lead signer of Radiohead.

    If you watch it and listen to the words, without a doubt you can see the damage the personality disorder does in the end to everyone who gets involved, tries to help, or simply comes near the person.

    A fascinating story indeed–you can tell the lead singer of Radiohead REALLY wants to send a message through this song.


  2. Red7742
    December 16, 2009 at 4:06 pm


    I have been reading your blog for several months. It has been very helpful in understanding my wife’s behavior. After about 20 years I am resolved to end it. We recently tried to go to counceling again and as happened last time, she ended it after one session. The counceler listened to her explain how everything was my fault for most of an hour and then still wanted to explore how we related to each other. He seemed very interested in working on our communication dinamic and understanding what made both of us tick. My wife was concerned that he was male and that he was wasting time on non-issues and not consintrating on THE ISSUE: my filings.

    She then proceded to talk about me to her shrink who now wants me to come in to be medicated. This shrink sees my wife once every month or so for 20 minute or less to issue scripts for anti-sicotic and anti-depresents without ever offering counceling to help her deal witht eheffects of this condition. If this is not mal-practice, it should be.

    Sorry to dawdle: My question is this, my wife racks up 12 of your 13 tests, but is not lazy. She works full time and is constently doing something at home. SHe is always complaining about both and is extremely non-focused but she is not lazy. She used to get very upset with me if I tried to read a book (Readers are just lazy people looking for an excuse). If it wasn’t for the fact that she has to go to bed at 9PM because of her job, I would never get an hour to set and read the paper or watch the news and relax/decompress. I feal like I am on a never ending tread mill. I have completely given up having an opoinion about what I want to do with my time at home.

    How do you evaluate this?

    • Mr. E
      December 16, 2009 at 5:57 pm

      “How do you evaluate this?”

      Well, I’m not a psychologist, but I’d say that 12 out of 13 is enough to identify a BULLY and a JERK. ;) Don’t try to diagnose her, just realize she’s not a nice person, she’s not going to change, and work on getting yourself out.

      My wife loves to harass me about what I “should” be doing if I try to read a book. She’ll insist I stop anything I’m doing to focus on whatever it is she wants me to do.

  3. CK in Philly
    December 14, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    And Ron – I’m the furthest thing from proud of what I did, and I will NEVER do it again, no matter what happens. But one thing I guess that maybe some others on here will understand, is that I’m kindof a passive guy… which makes us targets in the first place! Plus I love my son more than anything in this world. At the time, it seemed like a safe idea – stay married, get the intimacy I need elsewhere, and still be home every morning when my son wakes up. Horrible, horrible mistake, any way you shake it. Overall, I agree with you. I’m just saying that when you’re backed up against a wall, sometimes people do things they aren’t normally capable of… cheating on my wife was formerly something I never thought I was capable of.

  4. Ron
    December 14, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    CK in Philly :helloquestion-
    I found this site today and it was like a gut-punch. THIS IS MY LIFE.
    Interestingly, I was caught with another woman. I cheated one time. Once. But let me tell you – I cheated BECAUSE my wife has treated me horribly for a long long time. We have a child together, and in my mind, it was easier to try to find some comfort and peace outside of my marriage, while still getting to see my kid every day. Big mistake.
    First of all, I went against everything I stand for when I did it. Secondly, my life has been a miserable nightmare ever since, no matter what I do to make amends.
    Yes. My wifes NPD/BPD has been greatly magnified since the incident. But it’s always been who she is. It’s what led me to go astray in the first place.

    Well, I’m not sure you can pin your decision to cheat on your wife’s behavior as we have no fault divorce available.
    Once you cross that line, even with a healthy spouse, it is ver common for things to be forever changed. The betrayal and damage is just too great for many. And, most therapists will tell you that infidelity is the most severe form of spousal abuse.

    • CK in Philly
      December 14, 2009 at 8:08 pm

      Ron – Trust me, I understand all that. No matter what has ever happened to me, I know that is and will always be one of the worst mistakes of my life. I’m disgusted with myself, to the point that I need therapy to just get past this transgression, not just the fact that I’m a miserable husband. Believe me, despite the fact that my wife has caused me years of grief, it was still never my intention to hurt her, and it kills me to see how it did hurt her. That doesn’t make me a good guy or worthy of forgiveness… I get that. But I was addressing someone’s previous statement that sometimes infidelity may cause women to act this way. I’m just saying that no, it doesn’t make them act this way, but it can greatly exacerbate this “condition” I suppose. It’s been 8 months… and it’s been a complete and utter nightmare.

      • B2
        March 19, 2013 at 1:29 am

        CK, I had the same thing happen to me. I was actually attacked sexually by one of her friends. I couldn’t get away from her. I hated it and I still hate it. It had been so long since my wife had been affectionate and caring that I just wore down. I know it’s not an excuse, but it happened.

  5. My Love
    December 13, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    All I ever wanted was to better understand and learn about my ex-fiance’s behavior and the rage and where it comes from and why. Not only did I not understand her, but I believe she didn’t understand herself as well and couldn’t control her outbursts and rage episodes. I have come to learn that I was just a trigger.

    It is very difficult on those people who love them. Inflicting verbal, emotional and physical abuse on another individual is wrong. We are all responsible for our behavior.

    Nonetheless, I loved her very much and wanted to grow old with her. It is sad.

  6. CK in Philly
    December 8, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Hi, Dr. Tara. Like I posted on page 1, this is my life. I seriously almost broke down when I read this stuff. I had no idea that what I’ve been dealing with is actually a common thing! Lots of people act like this! It’s crazy to me.

    We have a child together though… and just when I was starting to really fantasize and get used to the idea of being a single dad, my wife got pregnant. We’ve seriously gone for stretches of 6 months without having sex. I think maybe we’ve had sex twice in the last 2+ months – and most people in my circle think this was planned, because she knew I was thinking about leaving.

    What now?? I’m scared, and stuck. What can I do? Please help!

  7. Tony
    November 30, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    Hi Guys, I return to this site quite a few times to strengthen myself and reinforce my resolve to get over my ex. I have posted my full story in another section here. It has been almost 3 months since i split with my NPD/BPD girlfriend and it is amazing to read everyones stories and how they are all so similar.

    The common traits such as twisting the truth and reality during arguments, the white hot rages and how you simply cannot please these women. They make the rules and then bend and break them, and they turn you little by little into a wimp. You start to deny yourself and you slowly morph into this docile little man who panders to your NPD’s every need.

    I believe they will never change, their relationship history will be littered with similar situations, although they will likely hide that part from The reassuring thing is that they will continue to be the same to every man they hook up with. Its inevitable. It sure is traumatising to have foundyourself in suh a relationship with one of these totally soul destroying women.

    • shrink4men
      November 30, 2009 at 6:31 pm

      Hi Tony,

      It’s good to hear from you and I hope you’re doing well. Thank you for sharing your experiences here. It’s very helpful for everyone who is in one of these relationships to know that they’re not alone and that there is a much better life on the other side.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  8. Scott
    November 25, 2009 at 4:28 am

    Dr. Tara,
    I don’t know how I missed this site with all of the searching I’ve done online, but this is the first time I’ve seen anyone articulate so precisely my life for the past 10 years.

    Each of the 13 signs pretty much sums up my life and existence. I am a shattered shell of a man who is emotionally exhausted from “the game” of trying to anticipate her next thought or action, and trying to “do the right thing” to please her and avoid a blow up. No matter what I do, it’s never right, it’s never enough.

    “walking on eggshells” is the best description. She swings from insanely energetic highs, to dark, deep, angry, bitter lows in a nano-second. I am always wrong, I have been called every degrading, demoralizing, berated curse and name in the book. The aggression of her responses are always 200x the offense. Something as mundane as folding a towel wrong in the laundry launches a tirade of screaming, yelling and total character assassination reserved and deserved perhaps only if she were to find me in our bed with another woman.

    Over 8 years, we have attempted couples therapy with 5 different therapists only for her to quit the moment the therapist began to catch on to her and began to force her to face herself. She even went as far as accusing me of being “emotionally involved” with one therapist in an attempt to turn the therapist against her. Pathetic. Ironically…THAT therapist was the first to use the term Borderline Personality Disorder to me about her which opened my eyes to what I was dealing with.

    I have been kicked out of my house countless times and told to stay with my mother, a friend, a hotel etc…only to call her bluff, pack a bag and leave then to be summoned by phone or text message begging me not to go, or threatening me that if I “cross that line” there’s no turning back driven by her sheer embarrassment. She then plays the smooth “I love you…let’s talk and work this out” usually followed by very sensual sex as a way to lure me back…only to wake the next day and explode again over my next mundane misdeed.

    I have pushed my family and friends away. She drinks every day, wine is her poison often a bottle in a day (between getting home from work and bed). Her behavior and personality when drinking changes for the worse. It’s like it brings out an evil twin. My father was an alcoholic that exhibited similar behavior changes when he drank Scotch. She knows that and immediately tells me I am “transferring my loser father’s behaviors” on her by telling her she has a drinking issue.

    I used to be a pretty happy, easy-going guy. I fell in love with my wife and took in her two sons and have raised them for 10 years to their college age that they are today. They are damaged from years of hearing the fighting and abuse between us. We have an 8 year old son together, and I see the same thing happening. I want out, but have financial constraints and a deep concern for my sons safety and well-being that keeps me here.

    But I am getting so close to a breaking point, and it is getting more hostile and violent. I have had everything from books, tv remotes, cell phones and shoes thrown at my head at close range, and we have gotten physical a few times. One incident led to my arrest because my hand hit her lip and caused bleeding. She threatened to call 911…actually dialing and hanging up…not knowing that the police are required to go to the address if a hangup occurs.

    How did it start? Her INSANE jealousy of my close relationship with my Mother. My father left when I was 4 years old, so it was me, my mom and my younger sister. The 3 Musketeers. I am very close to my Mom. She is my hero who sacrificed so much of herself to raise my sister and I. My wife is so threatened and uncomfortable with the fact that my Mom and I are close. So in a fight, she used it against me and told me I was a “sick scumbag who likes to f*ck his mom to get his rocks off”. My open-hand flew across her face faster than I could realize what I was doing. When I realized what I had done, I felt remorse, but it was done…and the police were on the way. Bottom line is…never again. That’s not me, and I cannot let this psycho bring me down to her neanderthal level.

    Everything within this website is so spot on. The article that talks about BPD women who have the maturity of a 15 year old. I tell her that all the time. She’ll respond over one little thing telling me I’m “gay” and a “faggot”. I always say to her…”Who talks like that? What mature, well-adjusted 43 year old mother of 3 talks like that?”…and her response is always “f*ck you and go away loser”.

    I know I need to leave, and I know I can see my son and make the time we do have together better than the time we have now. But I fear her using him as a pawn to manipulate me because I have sen her do it with my stepsons and their Dad.

    Don’t know where to turn or what to do.

    Depressed, discouraged and confused.

    • jp
      November 25, 2009 at 5:19 pm


      Sorry to hear about your situation.

      The only way out of the helplessness, in my view, is to fight. The only way to win, i.e., to get out of the marriage with some money and with full or 50/50 custody of your son, is to be tougher and smarter and more prepared than she is.

      It’s all about the homework. Check our dadsdivorce.com…there’s a whole community there of guys advising each other on how to win in the these kinds of cases. They even a have a post called The List, which tells you all the kinds of the things you’ll need to do upfront to prepare for and win a custody battle. You’ll have to poke around…I don’t have the direct link handy.

      The key is making the mental leap to thinking of her purely as an enemy, then acting as stealthy and ruthless as you would if you were fighting for your life, which, of course, you are.

      First things:

      Find a lawyer with experience with BPD divorce.

      Get a notebook and LOG EVERYTHING CRAZY SHE DOES. Dates, times and details. The parent with the log book wins the he said/she said disputes in court.

      Record her outbusts on a small digital recorder.

      Tell her about none of this. Telegraph nothing. Resist the urge to show her how smart you are by reveling your tactics. Ideally, on the day she’s served divorce papers, you’ll be armed with a total, legally airtight package ready to take to court and win, and she’ll have nothing.

      Don’t leave the house, lest you look like you’re ‘abandoning’ your son.

      There’s lots of info out there. Get busy and get tough. Habituate your mind to the fact that you will be in warrior mode for a long time to come and then your actoins will follow suit. A few years of war is preferable to a lifetime of oppression.

      I’d say good luck, but luck has nothing to do with it. It’s about homework.


      • Scott
        December 1, 2009 at 3:45 am

        Thanks for the sound advice. I have read many sites regarding BPD and Divorce that reinforce your message to gather info, “evidence” if you will, to unload in the hearing.

        I often wonder if she’ll ever see herself for what she is or get help. I’ve thought about video taping her during one of her raging tirades, then letting her watch it the next day when she’s in one of her “happy modes” and see her reaction. I truly believe when she rages she is emotionally hi-jacked and doesn’t know the evil she unleashes on those she supposedly loves.

        Some people advise me to stay as it is my responsibility in marriage to support my wife and bring her back to good health, but how much can a man take? And at what point am I better off having one on one time with my son, without her ruining every moment, so he can see normalcy as he grows up?

        I am about to leave for 3 days on a business trip, and she “suddenly” has acute pain in her back and abdomen. Psychosomatic in my opinion. Her way of trying to get me to cancel my trip. Fear of abandonment perhaps?

        I am just so tired of the name calling and character assassination…and in front of my son. There are no boundaries…no subject is off limits even within his earshot.

        I’ve been making excuses for her for so long and thinking “it’ll eventually get better”, but instead it gets worse. More anger, more rage, more hostility, more frequent attacks, more bitter attacks, and a total level of illogical, nonsensical insanity.

        I started a journal the other night at your suggestion, recording her outbursts. I’m working on the recording device, and will soon begin a search for a lawyer with BPD experience.

        It’s unreal to me that I am in this situation. I swore when my son was born that I would always be home and provide a stable safe family environment that I never had. But I guess it wasn’t meant to be. My only hope is that as he grows up, he’ll see me for who I am, and her for who she is, and he won’t hold it against me for leaving.

        Thanks again for your support and advisement.

        • Doug
          March 1, 2010 at 9:52 pm

          Of note is your “she is emotionally hi-jacked” comment. I agree…there is something going on in the brain which is giving “pleasure” or “satiating” to the perpetuator. We are early in our studies of the human brain. “Hi-jacked” is empathetic on your part. I need to better understand what was going on with my ex for 22 years. I have always said that she “got off” on her behaviors. That she was “addicted” to fighting. Such anger and cruelness without ever acknowledging the devastation it caused others!
          Only hi-jacking explains why the BPD afflicted cannot self diagnose. And it explains why the partners must leave.
          Kudos to you for seeing the problem clearly.

      • Morty Frobnitz
        August 23, 2013 at 12:25 pm

        JP I know this statement is a few years old but you and Scott have hit the nail on the head. I was an easy going guy, fun loving and loved to do things like movies theater, work, etc. In almost all the ways I am living what Scott posted. i have been raising her two sons for four years and we have a son of our own. We have not got to physical blows, at least i haven’t but I am a guy that never thought of hurting myself but the thought ran across my mind a few months ago and thats when i realized I needed to do something to protect myself and to find out what i was dealing with. You guys are helping me a bunch.

      • Dino
        July 23, 2014 at 3:50 pm

        I agree about your advice. I am happy about this opportunity to help each other. We need it definately. We are strong men, who loyally went downhill. So much for love. I hope things add up.

        Well I just wanted to add something to you commentary Scott. I have for many years been seeking to know God and understand the meaning, no matter the truth: WIthout prejudices or expectations, due to contemporary needs.

        I am from a family of non believers and have a high education. But there is no reason whatsoever to believe in or follow the wrongful wall between science and being one with God our true element. I got to be a believer, not due to naivity but due to answering every negative saying about our father. I took it from there. I say this because I have seeked to pass on this love to my wife and did she seemingly change? Yes but I changed and became this unstable stressed man, doing everything to become calm and untouchable and even accepted to become emotionally numb and not expect the ease of natural beautiful love.

        When saying this I still feel very close to my wife but maybe it was always my illusion. I guess I love her good side which however (in Biblical terms) the devil keeps down, also using me as an instrument to prove her being right about her egos illusions.

        So I decided despite of the tough relationship of nine years with our beautiful and loving son to believe in her and forgive her for leaving me 10 times. I now have had to forgive a divorce. I became destroyed emotionally and this came out in rage due to getting drunk due to daring to be realistic and ask for some prove of her love because I started having nightmares again about her going with other men (they were often my dreams and I dreamed things such as me looking for her in a house with a lot of people like a party, then discovering she went to bake a cake with some man in some room, or a dream where I walked with her and she suddenly went off street with two other men or recently some dream of me loving her crazily and her loving me seemingly crazily too but then suddenly not wanting to be with me for personal decisions/issues.).

        SO my issues, obstacles: 1) FOrgiving my faults and believe in forgiveness and 2) Not knowing whether to believe in the way people teach the Bible. I always followed my own sense of what is credible, though being humble, due to being observatory and understanding deep matters well 3) Forgiving her 4) Believing in myself again instead of allowing for those devilish attacks which result from having lost my self confidence and just trying to keep it up. I had a hard childhood so I built it my self but it broke down again and again with my ex wife. 5) How to be honest and not full of hate but win the same against someone who (here is my addition Scott) hates and tries to win and destroy though I never was one to put her down, accuse her, make her loose. I WAS ALWAYS LOYAL TO THE BITTER END.

        • Dino
          July 23, 2014 at 3:57 pm


    • James
      December 13, 2009 at 4:14 pm

      Hi Scott…I understand your pain and difficulty of being with someone you love who has sign that they are Borderline. The best advice I could give you is obtaining knowledge about Borderline Personality Disorder as well as learning the distinction between the person and the disorder itself.

      You can’t change people. The only true way someone can change iand address a particular problems is to acknowledge first that they have a problem. However, the BPD never takes any responsiblity.

      My therapist advsied me to RUNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!

  9. November 22, 2009 at 4:46 am

    “It felt very one-way, because her “trying” to work on the marriage was to “put up with me” in the meantime, with periodic cold-shoulder treatment or threats to separate when I wasn’t doing good enough. I was repeatedly told that I was abusive and controlling if I complained.”


    How well I understand and can relate to your statement. I now understand how this is “their” way to condition us and train us. It sends out a strong clear undeniable message! “Go against me and you will be punished”

    “It came apart very quickly at the end, when out of sheer frustration I accidentally set a “boundary” (didn’t know the term at the time) in one of her most sensitive areas (money).”

    Again ditto for me. When I started getting a backbone my days were numbered. While I didn’t know that at the time. Thinking back today (It’s been 3 years of NC) I only wish I found mine backbone years earlier for it would have saved me years of heartache and emotional stress.

    PS: Welcome Survivor and hope you do get out ASAP.

  10. Survivor
    November 21, 2009 at 9:05 am

    I’m not going to go into detail about the “relationship” but thanks to all for the stories and strength I need for getting the hell out before it was all too late….I’ll will consider myself saved. I will survive this.

  11. November 21, 2009 at 5:32 am

    Thanks for your comments AnonymousT. They’ve a great comfort to me as for this pathological behavior they all stead to share. I read in one book how no matter what we do it’s never enough for them. So that in the end we learned (many times the hard way) that they really don’t want solutions for the many problems so that no matter what we do they will just keep raising the bar. These dysfunctional relationship will only in the end leave us confused hurt (emotionally and psychologically) and totality drained…

    • AnonymousT
      November 21, 2009 at 2:44 pm

      James, I get a LOT of comfort and perspective from reading about the experience of other men with these patterns of behavior. Many thanks to Dr. T, again, for this blog.

      On the “bar-raising” stuff, I found it helpful to make a specific, unemotional timeline of her increasing demands over the last couple of years as the marriage deteriorated, and my (in hindsight) futile attempts to meet or fulfill them until she left me. I have faults and limitations that made these imperfect attempts, but I was sincerely trying to make her happy and do what I thought I was supposed to. It felt very one-way, because her “trying” to work on the marriage was to “put up with me” in the meantime, with periodic cold-shoulder treatment or threats to separate when I wasn’t doing good enough. I was repeatedly told that I was abusive and controlling if I complained.

      Here’s a good example: Although she didn’t work, didn’t cook much beyond frozen and microwave foods, paid to have the house cleaned, described herself as low-energy, and said that I wasn’t making enough money, she decided she wanted to do a triathlon. I encouraged her despite the enormous diversion of time and energy away from family and home, hoping it would help her self-esteem and give her a goal. Then after a few months she wanted to join a club (within walking distance) that had special training equipment (lap pool, running machines, weights, etc). I said yes, and we did, despite the financial worry. Shortly after this she said she needed to buy the same equipment to have at home, because it was too much trouble to have to change and walk over to the club every day, and was hurting her motivation. I agreed even to this, with some increased concern about whether we could afford it, but she assured me we could and that she really needed it.
      Despite this sort of thing, she continued to call me financially unsupportive, and to label me “mean” and “abusive” and “controlling” if I ever complained about the state of the house or her lack of energy or affection for me.

      It came apart very quickly at the end, when out of sheer frustration I accidentally set a “boundary” (didn’t know the term at the time) in one of her most sensitive areas (money). She didn’t work but she managed the money, I just earned what I could and generally let her allocate it. But at one point she presented me with such a contradictory set of financial accusations/demands that in frustration I said no more, I am going to be involved with this henceforth because it is totally confusing me what you are saying.

      She was gone within a week, saying we were just too different to continue together, had nothing in common anymore, and she gave me a new set of demands to fulfill or she wasn’t coming back. When I realized that these were never-ending, one-sided conditions for ME to meet, without any promise from HER to love or support or help me, other than to be the perpetual judge of my performance, I could finally see that I would be putting myself in jeopardy. She would have held these over my head the rest of my life, with the constant unspoken threat to leave or kick me out if I ever failed to measure up.

      You cannot win with women who view life like this, no matter what you try to do.

  12. Jake
    November 21, 2009 at 12:56 am

    Today my gf got angry at me for saying I “didn’t care” when I had to get off the phone with her to go to training ( I swim). I wasn’t able to answer the phone when she called back because I was training and I texted her asking her what was wrong. She accused me of not caring because I didn’t call her back right away. Then later when I asked her what was wrong she said I didn’t love her and she wouldn’t tell me what was wrong. I kept asking and she kept saying that I didn’t care and I didn’t love her. If I didn’t care then why would I keep asking and why would I keep calling you back?? Because she wouldn’t tell me what was wrong I told her to do what the nurse on the phone said to do and I had to go. She accused me of not caring once again. What was I supposed to do if she won’t tell me what’s wrong!??!? I kept asking her like a million times and she STILL won’t tell me and then accuses me of not caring!!??!?!?

    • B2
      March 19, 2013 at 12:21 am

      Jake, for years while I dated/was married to my wife, she would accuse me of not loving her. She called me nonstop and demanded so much of my time. I was young and foolish and liked the attention given to me by this hot wild woman.
      I recall being busy at a shift at work and didn’t get a chance to call her. She was furious. I explained to her that there was no humanly way possible that I could have taken even a minute to call. It didn’t help.
      So, I went ahead and married her anyway. After years of being accused of being a cheated and not caring about her.
      Well, we had about 6 or 7 years of great sex before she cut it all off.

  13. AnonymousT
    November 14, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    Brian and James, I also tried everything I could either think of or that she demanded, as best I could, including trying to be more affirming, less critical, more understanding, working more diligently to make more money, hiring household help, trying to change my comfort zone socially, doing individual and joint counseling, etc. But like both of you found out, the refrain was always that I had to change or do something to meet her needs, to fulfill her conditions, to make her life bearable, and it never seemed to be the other way around. If I asked for something I was told I had to grow up, or tough it out, or quit bothering her and be less needy.

    And she left anyway, just as I thought I was rounding the corner on what she wanted. Like James, when I finally put MY foot down on something, not even that big a thing, she was gone within the week. To this day she still pins the fault on me for everything that happened, which I have finally realized to be false and have found some peace with that.

    I, too, had not heard of NPD or BPD before she left, but reading and re-reading this and other blogs and books, seeing these patterns jump out, and hearing the eerily similar stories from men like you has helped sort things out and make me take it a little less personally.

  14. November 14, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    While I wish I could say I knew about NPD/BPD before our breakup but that wouldn’t be truthful. But I did everything I knew to do including but not limited too therapy discussing our problem and looking for answers (The only answer in this is that I change and she do nothing which never worked) for our many problems. I did see many red flags in her behavior but neither didn’t understand them or choose to ignore them. One thing is when I put my foot down and told her we couldn’t live like this and how things had to change in whatever way to do that. Of course know I know that was the beginning of the end. Whatever reality gets too close they run and run fast! Well anyway all my patience’s struggles and hard work paid off in the end because she left and I got my boys. After the break up then the re-building started and here I am today, Three years later. I got my boys peace of mind and free from her. I couldn’t wish for anymore then that!!

  15. November 14, 2009 at 3:28 am

    well..I can honestly say that I gave everything due consideration and decided to see if I could make a difference in her life. I told her I thought she was bpd and sent her a link to this site.. in a letter to her. I told her that I would stay with her and work through these problems, with her. I would support her efforts to get grounded in reality and help in anyway I could. I told her I wasn’t scared of this monster and that together…there was a good chance we could deal with this successfully. I guess she just cant help herself and has been a victim for so long she’s turned into a volunteer because she has chosen to break it off by informing me that she’s dating again. I guess anything is better than facing the truth, that must be an enabling mechanism, huh ? I feel good about myself, I did everything I knew to contribute to recovery and to our relationship. I was proactive and aggressive. I searched for answers on my own and found this site in the process, I’m glad I did. It has been a journey for sure and in the process I have been hurt badly but I’ve also grown because of it. Clearly.. the tuition for this schooling was very costly. As I write this I am filled with mixed emotions, I feel like crying and I feel like isolating but I also feel like a weight has been lifted from me and I can walk away from this with a clear conscience because I tried, I really tried. Now that this break has been made ? I will not be going back. Iam sad about this whole thing, it was not a pleasureable experience to go through… with this ending. From what you all are saying ? I should count my blessings I got out this early and somewhat intact. I thank all of you for being here and I thank the good Dr from the bottom of my acheing heart for creating this site. I welcome any feed back…….thank you, Brian

  16. November 13, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    Brain, I see your point in that “I am fast coming to the point of realizing that there may never be an amicable break up or friendship afterwards.”

    If there is one rule (and there are many) is that one can’t be friends lovers wife’s or husbands with those that suffer from an cluster B disorder. Even if they are willing to go to therapy it takes years and that before contemplating having a type of relationship with them. I have found that the only relationship anyone can have with a dysfunctional abusive controlling person is a dysfunctional relationship, that’s the best one can hope for. These are the type of relationships they will continue to have with you and others. Yes, Brian I too quickly got to the point where I saw it’s impossible to maintain any type of normal relationship with those who are simply not normal. So each one of us have both two choices. One let them drain you until there is nothing left or Two cut them from your life.

  17. November 13, 2009 at 7:14 am

    I went back to her for a bit and of course it fell apart again. We talked and she all but came right out and admitted she was bpd, she skirted the issue and I let her but she came very close to admitting it, I figured it as a small victory towards recovery. She persists with having a huge attitude about an ex lover/roommate who is now a friend ans says she’s sharing me with her which isn’t true. Rachelle only calls once every 10 days or so and just to shoot the shit with me, were friends and nothing more. Linda keeps using this as an excuse to withdraw affections and power play. She knows I won’t abandon a old friend and shouldn’t have to yet.. makes a huge deal of Rachelle every chance she gets. I am fast coming to the point of realizing that there may never be an amicable break up or friendship afterwards. Bummer cause she’s one of the “big” people, for sure and that is sooo seductive and appealing. Geezus, I’m tired…….

  18. linus
    November 5, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    I was in a relationship with a guy with a npd/bpd ex-wife. she cheated and left him for her new guy. This was a great guy and I loved him very much, but the damage she did to him and continued to do to him was too much for me to handle. I don’t think he ever got over it. The abuse for many years then the blow to his manhood of being cheated on and then she dumps him. They have two kids and she continued to abuse him by way of the kids. The worst part is what she was doing to those kids. Raising the next generation of npd/bpd to keep the cycle going. I don’t know what advice I can give because I walked away. All I can say is please protect your children, spend time with them, talk to them, support them. Do not let her be the dominant influence in their lives. I would also say, it may not be a good idea to bring another woman into this situation. Your number one priority should be your children, not a girlfriend. They really really need you. good luck guys, hang in there and be strong. try running with an ipod, great therapy for me. took me a marathon to get over this guy.

  19. AnonymousT
    November 1, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    jham123 :

    JR :So I did a bunch of reading on Narcissism and the more I read the more confused I get. I am thinking, if she is oblivious to her behavior, could it be that it is really me that is oblivious to my behavior and she is the real victim and I’m the real problem. She has many symptoms but isn’t a perfect match. Does her behavior and our problems belong on this forum? Talk to me guys.

    Yes, The are very crafty about convincing you that it is all your fault. That is the “talent” that these women possess.

    Dr. T, how do you break this loop of wondering whether it was really your own fault for the end of the relationship/marriage? What JR describes is exactly what I have gone through – how do I know I’m not the one who caused it, and am conveniently labeling or blaming my ex-wife to avoid my own responsibility?

    As best I can remember, I was accused of being the problem right to the end for having refused to meet her needs, and for generally ruining her life and our marriage, and I recall being frustrated at feeling like she never took any responsibility or blame for even small things. I recall apologizing many times for things I said or did that were wrong or thoughtless (and I was sincere, these weren’t phony apologies to buy peace), of trying to make amends, and of trying to meet her conditions for staying with me. But I can’t remember any apologies from her for anything, or any offers by her to do something to repair the relationship – other than her leaving and laying out her conditions for me to fulfill before she would ever come back. Since these seemed completely one-sided and somewhat threatening over the long-term, I ended up divorcing her instead.

    Why do I keep going back to it and wondering? Any suggestions to help sort this out in one’s head?

    • jham123
      November 1, 2009 at 5:22 pm

      AT, A normal person would blame their position on life on someone else?? Answer is, “NO”

      That is the huge indicator between you and her…you being normal and her being “whacked”.

      She is completely responsible for where ever it is that she stands in life. NOT YOU. Every step along the path of her Life was her choice. So if she is unhappy about how it is turning out, The person in the mirror is to blame, not you the spouse.

      That is the key here. YOU are responsible for you and she for her. Her saying anything is your fault is not really fair.

      I’ll make it personal. My wife claims that I didn’t do enough in our early years to make her happy. (Happy=Big house on the water front). Guess what? I was un-employed when we met!!!

      She started dating me when I had no job and no prospects for one…..I had just quit my Job in Seattle and relocated (sorry Seattle, you guys were great, the rain just zapped me badly) I had a few bucks in my pocket but that was it….

      Let’s be clear here, if she wanted the big house on the water front, why then would she date (AKA “choose” me) an un-employed broke homeless man?? What did she think?? I would miraculously land the VP level job?? And since I didn’t it is now all my fault that we lived in just a regular house?? (We actually had a nice house)

      So no, I no longer tolerate her “revisionist” history of our early years. I bust her for even mentioning anything like that unless it is to say how great it was raising our fine young sons. (’cause that part was great). I point out how ridiculous it was for her to “pine” for the huge waterfront home and then chose to marry a homeless bum……..That usually shuts her up pretty quickly. (Saul
      Alinsky anyone? Ridicule??…need I say more?)

      AT, just look at the fact that you have the ability to consider these things and try to fix your relationship rather than try to utilize this catastrophe in order to try to “get something” out of it. That is the “X” factor that proves you aren’t the issue.

      • bman
        June 28, 2013 at 2:05 pm

        My wife complains that I didn’t make enough money either. Then she would add, she knew I would never be a doctor. Hmmm.
        But, I was offered a very nice promotion at work. It would require me to move and I could eventually make 6 figures or better eventually. Well, this move was the first step along the way and my wife refused to move. She did not want to leave her friends and her parents. So, now when she complains about money I remind her that money would not have been an issue if we had relocated.

  20. October 30, 2009 at 2:01 am

    I was completely surprised and fascinated by the heartfelt responses I recieved from all of you and value each as the pearls of wisdom and experience that they are. ThankYOuThankYOUThankYou !! I recognized her from before…in my life, I have met “her” before, I have slept with “her” before and I have had my heart roasted on a stick by “her” before. This definition fits several women I have known before and clears up alot of questions I had about myself because of having had contact with this before and not knowing what it was. NOW I understand !!! I am validaterd by this info and set free of guilt in many ways. I am vindicated ! This has been a true epihony for me and I thank you each… for your part.. in making it happen.

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