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.

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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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Photo credits:

BPD-1 byPushkia on flickr.

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

  1. Derick Standard
    December 9, 2018 at 10:56 pm

    I just read this article and broke down in tears. This describes my ex wife….perfectly to a tee, exactly what I had experienced. Every single one of the descriptions. It was like I was reading my own thoughts and feelings. Thank you for the insight and awareness. This has helped me understand what I was dealing with for so long.

  2. GMan
    October 2, 2018 at 3:52 pm

    I been married for 14 years and have 4 children ,3 are from me and 1 is from my wife’s previous marriage. My wife hits the nail on the head for everything that was mentioned here pretty much and I feel so lost and hurting inside , No matter what I do i am criticized , belittled ect.. from her , she is mainly negative and is always stressed out about something. If the kids go through problems its always my fault to why they are that way. Due makes me feel like i am not good enough and compares me to others to the point i feel like she is cheating on me. She barely shows affection and barely ever wants to have sex , I hold a lot in considering i know all it will do is cause conflict and she will turn it around that I am the one that is crazy and that maybe i am the one that needs help. I have gone to counseling years ago and my therapist told me to leave her but i didnt cuz when my wife isnt going through an episode she is a sweet heart to me and loving and , i know it is a sickness she bad but this sickness has taken a toll on me , I never know what direction to turn and always feel like I have a question Mark on my head whether she loves me or not? Yes I am married to Dr Jeykll Me Hyde. ,i been reading a lot on this mental illness just to give myself sanity , I love my kids and i do love her but it’s hell to Pay. Part of me wants to walk away but then i stop myself cuz i feel I am a coward if i do that. I know i am being emotionally abused and controlled and i am at my wits end. Just recently I been noticing other girls , I Havent cheated but the thought is there. I am just drained from living this life style for this long , I realize she isnt changing that it is only a temorary change. I am tired Of making excuses for her actions , she puts me down and makes me feel like I am not good enough. I dont have a.good job, i dont make enough money , she shouldnt have to work, i should be with a real man , these kids need a real father ect… this is the stuff i put up with.

    • Tim
      October 27, 2018 at 1:28 pm

      Hi GMan, dont feel that you’re alone. I dont think your wife is going to change. and i dont think you are crazy. i think she might be the crazy one. it appears to me that you have young kids which complicates things a bit. I cannot advise you anything except that have a plan ready for both scenarios – if staying on how to tackle day to day issues and if walking out when where to go etc.

      • GMan
        October 30, 2018 at 12:00 pm

        Thanks man, Yeah i basically just been focusing on myself, after reading this article i realized this is exactly what i am dealing with. I pretty much dont take her shit anymore anything negative out of her mouth i just walk away. By me walking away it is kind of making her realize that I am not messing around and she seems to be chasing me when i dont respond , kind of like a game of cat and mouse. Now i am at a point where i feel like i dont want to be in a relationship like this and realize its abusive , i love her and care about her but their is only so much negativity someone can take from someone , i express my feelings to her but i come.to terms that it really doesnt matter considering her mental illness takes over. She says she loves me and is just stressed out , I said well if.you’re stressed stop taking it out on me I am not yoir punching bag. She said thats just who she is and if i dont like it i can leave , she says she uses me as a punching bag cuz she knows she feels safe with me. Again its abuse , its like she only thinks of herself and the love from her only comes when it is convienent for her. So i am tired Of feeling like I am walking on egg shells never knowing what mood she is going to be in when i get home from work. When she does treat me like crap she always has an excuse to why. This time is cuz she lost her Mom around this time 2 years ago . I feel sad and bad for her but if i tell you the story of what she put me through during that time she was losing her Mom you would be shocked on how I am still with her. I dont want to sound like an a hole cuz i know Its hard losing a loved one and Yes it makes people sad and depressed but losing someone on top of already having a mental illness is Beyond anything i ever experienced from someone in my life. So if anyone here needs advice when their bipolar spouse loses a loved one I am here for you cuz what i want through was not normal especially when all your doing is trying to be their for them and be their rock. So i wish you all the best if you ever habe to experience that. Out of everything i dont really know how i feel anymore , i feel like I always have a question Mark on my head and I am at a point in life i just want to be loved and wanted and be happy. I thought i could handle my wife’s mental illness but i realize all it due was take a toll on me , if you want to Call me selfish then Call me selfish cuz again the only thing I am doing for my sanity right Now is focusing on me and my kids , I am still there for her but i feel like a room mate thats hot respected half the time. I pray to God to guide me on whats the right thing to do but i also feel like i have the Devil helping me as well , considering i still have been faithful to my wife but part of me la telling me not to be, in starting to see positives in other people and realizing my wife is negative so i am drawn to that positive

        • Glen
          October 30, 2018 at 12:08 pm

          Dont for one second think you are alone. Like so many others, I am sure, your story resonates deeply with me. I served a 22 year sentence and finally got out once my daughters had graduated from university. It nearly killed me but now I am a new man, happy and fulfilled.

          It is not ‘selfish’ to think the way you are, it is self-preservation. You deserve a shot at happiness as much as the next person. It does not seem like you are going to get it where you are, unless she changes drastically and the odds of that happening are statistcally minimal to say the least.

          Best if luck with it all.

          Glen

  3. thegirlinside2018
    September 28, 2018 at 9:10 pm

    Men: I have a question. I’m in a relationship with a truly amazing man. Kind, sensitive, caring, affectionate, who thinks I’m amazing and tells me so regularly. He has a very big heart, always wants to help others and is very gregarious.
    He was in a relationship for 15-20 years and had several children with his former (doesn’t like to use the term ‘ex’), but they were never married. He was telling me a few things about his former, that didn’t seem like ‘red flags’ at first–he portrays them in a very sympathetic and forgiving light–(suicide threats, throwing things at him when he left to provide for their family, a really bad incident from her childhood, no female friends, moving him across the state away from his family, asking him to move out because he wasn’t paying her enough attention, etc.)–until the day I went with him to drop off his children. At the time, all she did was make little digs at him and asked for money. I asked him about it, and he replied, “She’s always talked to me that way…I’m just so easygoing, it never bothered me.” He said that she was actually a lot better that day than she normally is. After that, I was 95% convinced that she is BPD.

    Then I went with him to pick up the children a couple weeks later. While she didn’t swear at him (she’d apparently used up her swears with him on a phone call the day or two before), she was belittling and demeaning him in front of their children, with a tone that suggested “Don’t you see what a loser he is??” to the children, and probably also to me.
    He thought she was freaking out because she’s short on cash. I think she freaked out to scare me off or to provoke him. This incident was extremely uncomfortable. He handled it very well, basically ignoring her screaming at him from the open front door, and paying attention to the children. When we got back to his home, I felt like just holding him and crying. I wonder how many years he’s been putting up with that.
    —-
    I grew up listening to sh** like that from my own mother, effectively making me feel bad for daring to love / care about / want to be with my father. So it offends me profoundly to have witnessed it as an adult. I would feel the same way even if I hadn’t known either of them.

    So now I’m 100% certain that she is BPD. How do I approach him with this? He suffers from anxiety, insomnia, and difficulty concentrating / focusing, with occasional GI issues. She told him at one time that he has attention deficit, but I vehemently disagree. I’ve studied for years, and been around Cluster Bs my whole life. I know the signs of an abuse victim; he’s got a lot of them, including perfectionism and hyper-vigilance to any slight hint of my being upset or frustrated (because [1] you have to be ‘perfect’ in order to please a CB and [2] you have to be hyper-vigilant because CBs will go from 0-100 in about 2 seconds).

    I imagine that presenting this as a possibility might make him feel bad / like a victim and cause resistance. I’m confident that this is a possibility he hasn’t even considered. I’m hoping for an opening statement; some way to plant a seed. I did that slightly by letting him know that when I worked for what I now believe was a malignant Narcissist or even sociopath, I experienced a lot of the same symptoms, evidence of being in an abusive relationship (this was before the batsh** pick up). I’m tempted to record every single pick up or drop off from now on…but don’t want to offend him.

    There’s a ton more to it, but I just wonder, what would you have wanted someone to do / say in your situation? He’s a wonderful man; I worry that he will self-sabotage our relationship, and that while she’s got a live-in boyfriend, she will attempt to Hoover him back. Not that he’d fall for it, but I just would rather avoid that situation if possible.
    I’ve spoken with an advocate with the National Domestic Violence Hotline and have copied some of Dr. T’s articles…just not sure how to ‘break the ice’ on this topic in a way that will not alienate him or make him feel like he has to defend her.
    Thanks in advance to all who respond!!

    • Neil
      October 2, 2018 at 8:05 am

      If it were me, I would gradually become ‘okay’ with a bit of nurturing from my new partner. Unfortunately your man had a supposedly BPD mum and then a gf. It will probably take a while. Telling him that he has all these issues because of his mum and gf would mean that you are observing him and he would be hyper vigilant again. Not what you want. Is there any way he can avoid his gf while seeing his children? least contact with her would be preferred since she is not helping him at all. At this stage i think he needs support from you without you pointing out his faults (weakness in a man’s mind). Give him some time say at least a couple of years, limit exposure to his ex gf. Don’t try to stop him from seeing his mum. Hope for the best. I sincerely hope he turns the corner.

      • thegirlinside2018
        October 2, 2018 at 2:56 pm

        Neil: Thank you for your reply. What I want to avoid completely, is feeling like I’m telling him what’s “wrong” with him, and that I’ve got the cure for all his ails (potentially sparking an “Oh sh**, here we go again” trauma response). I do support him fully, have made just a few comments, such as the ex gf is being petty when she refuses to meet him halfway dropping off / picking up kids, and that if it were me, I’d text back, “I’ll call an uber. Have your credit card ready.” But of course, he’s very confrontation-averse, so probably will do whatever it takes to avoid her ire.
        As to his mother, that may have been from someone else’s comment. His parents were wonderful, according to him, but he lost them both, 10 days apart, as a teen…a horribly traumatic experience, which probably did cause him, and maybe still causes him to question what he ‘deserves’ and how God feels about him.
        I will ask him about a way to meet the children without her being there…he’s pretty smart, and has a lot of ideas, so it might spark him to come up with a solution.
        In the meantime, will take your advice, and hopefully show him the vast difference between a mature, emotionally healthy woman and what he had with her.
        Thanks again!

  4. Neil
    September 23, 2018 at 5:40 am

    This has been my life for the last 30 years. I was such a happy go lucky fella but now always cautious always walking on eggshells or landmines around her. one misstep and whom! Done that plenty of times mind you.

    According to her, I do nothing (despite paying all the bills) plus much house work. I helped her mother but oh no, I actually harmed her! I cannot go to meet her mother because the aged care facility will then look after her less because they will find out that she (her mother) has someone else to help her.

    She brings to forth events that happened 30 years ago! some minor indisgression of mine such that taking her to a party and then staying there for quite a while and then dropping her back home and then head back to same friends. 30 years ago!! She says she feels so bad even now after that many years that she can cry even now. At another incident which happened 3 years ago, at a marriage reception I left her (after asking her if she wants to join me to which she said no) with my family members to walk over to a food stall!!! Still upset with me. She is upset that I didn’t tell her the table number to sit down which is true because I didn’t know myself

    According to her I am liar, I am after her money, I enjoy seeing her in pain, I delayed her surgical procedure by playing tricks with her, am a womaniser, controlling her – all completely and utterly false,

    She says I mistreat her mother, her mother was on record to say it is unbelievable how I have put up with her daughter. Anyway all false allegations. Completely baseless. Her mother is quite fond of me but had verbal battles with my wife almost daily when she visited us, some days I suspect even physical altercations because her mother (aged woman) showed her the bruised arms saying this is what her daughter (my wife) did to her.

    She yells at me, wouldn’t even let me speak/reply. yells at me at dinner, at breakfast, will wake me up early morning to tell me what wrongs am doing to her, yell at me even if I start to cry in front of kids (oh these are crocodile tears, kids don’t worry). Been hit more times than I care to remember, have had things thrown at me infront of kids,

    If I remain quiet after listening to her allegations continuously for around 40 minutes, she alleges that I am not listening to her, how is that even possible when she is yelling while sitting next to me. Then asks me to answer questions what supposedly i did say 5, 10, 15, 20 years ago, tell her my reasons, my true reasons. How can I tell my reasons when I didn’t even do the thing she is accusing me of. If I say I didn’t do it, oh yeah you damn well did, you think I am lying you so and so (expletives).

    She bad mouths my family, my friends, my mother, my sister. She talks bad of everyone, her neighbours, has no friends because they all have upset her, doesn’t talk to her mum or her sister (bcos she is secretive). Doesn’t talk to neighbours because next door woman smiled wickedly at her and said such and such nice thing but was actually meant something else. I say how do you know she meant bad. Oh you don’t know women, The other neighbour we have also shouts at her man. My wife thinks there is nothing wrong with that because that man deserves it. One other neighbour she doesn’t like because he walks with a swagger, Berates me while I am driving, if I drive my normal way, oh your are trying to injure me.

    I recently thought enough is enough, grew a pair and left her. She asks me to come back and when i say i need more time or not yet, she gets furious and then it starts again.

    Thanks for listening, reading. I don’t know if i am doing it right. My son wants me to come back. I am in two minds. I don’t want to go back to the same environment. Financially i am much affected, emotionally i am better off here without her. I do miss meeting my son, one of my best mates though.

    Anyone any ideas, anything you would like to share, any advice….all very welcome.

    • Glen
      September 24, 2018 at 2:04 am

      Neil, get the hell out. Stay out. Don’t look back. I served a 22 year sentence with my NPD ex-wife but when my twin daughters had graduated from university I met the woman of my dreams (amazing, intelligent, beautiful, sexy, non-contolling, psychologically healthy…) and now I am VERY happily re-married.

      It may take time to re-forge relationship with your son in the way that you want, but your priority should be YOU. As partners of BPD or NPD women, us men are told we are ‘selfish’ (and much, much worse as well of course) and it takes a while to sink in that THAT IS WHAT WE NEED AND SHOULD BE. No selfish in a ‘bad’ way, just in the way that we are our own responsibility. It is what healthy adults do…they take responsibilty for themselves and that includes finding their own happiness.

      And by the same token it us your wife’s responsibility to sort herself out, not yours. It is harsh…I went through a complete nervous breakdown over mine, was dragged though the courts for three years and got my kids turned against me (for a while) as thanks for 22 years of putting up with manipulation, control, psychological (and sometimes physical) violence.

      But is it worth it? Hell yes. Reborn. True to myself. Life is amazing again, not a disquieting, morally ambiguous quagmire of self doubt and emotionally warping roller coasters…

      Just know, you are not alone.

      Glen

      • Neil
        October 2, 2018 at 8:05 am

        thanks Glen. cheers

    • onemeremember
      September 24, 2018 at 5:27 am

      If you ask the psychologist who runs this site, I think she would say that all these individuals who claim bad things in others are actually “projecting” their own behaviours onto you others. It’s a psychological / psychiatric condition. So just take whatever the person says and examine it in the light of them, not you.

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