Home > Abusive relationships, Borderline Personality Disorder, divorce, Marriage, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Psychology > Can a Relationship with a Narcissistic or Borderline Wife or Girlfriend Change your Personality?

Can a Relationship with a Narcissistic or Borderline Wife or Girlfriend Change your Personality?

bitch 1Dear Dr. Tara,

Today, after 23 years in an abusive relationship with a woman suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder, I find myself at a crossroads; leave now or live the rest of my life in misery. Sounds easy, but I, for the life of me cannot find the strength and courage to make the right decision, even though I clearly know what it is.

I have been in this abusive relationship for so long, I am no longer able to discern reality or normalcy. I live in such an evil, chaotic environment, that I can’t think straight. Thanks to you and your website, I finally have the answers to the unknowns that have haunted me for 20 years. Knowledge is power and you have given me the power I need.

I asked my parents to read the blogs as well to assist with their understanding, as they may be involved in some capacity with the process of my leaving. After reading your response, my Mother ask if I would write to you and request your opinion related to the transformation of one’s personality and behavior when they are exposed to an abusive partner for as long as I have been.

She says that when I was young, I was extremely independent and resisted anyone who tried to control me. I was my own person and thought for myself. Although I was a good kid for the most part, I apparently gave the authority figures in my life difficulties. Is such a drastic personality transformation common, and how does it happen?


Hi Jim,

You’re welcome. Asking your parents to read information about what you’re going through, whether it’s my blog or other resources, is smart and adaptive. Unless you’ve experienced what these women are like firsthand, it can be very difficult to describe it to others. Oftentimes, you’re met with disbelief and/or people think you’re the crazy one.

It’s also a good way to prepare your parents. Many women with Borderline Personality Disorder or Narcissistic Personality Disorder traits begin vicious smear campaigns when you end the relationship. For example, she might:

  • Contact your family and friends without compunction to tell outrageous lies about you.
  • Make false abuse claims.
  • Tell people you’re “losing your mind” or “having a mid-life crisis” or pathologize you by claiming you have a personality disorder.
  • Contact your place of work and make wild accusations to try to get you fired.

She’s right, of course. You must be crazy if you don’t want to take her abuse anymore. These women would actually be funny if they didn’t cause so much damage—I find it helpful to find the humor in these situations where ever and whenever you can—Giving your parents’ a head’s up on what they can potentially expect will save you a lot of stress later.

As for your mother’s question, it’s not at all unusual for a person’s personality to change when exposed to prolonged repetitive emotional and/or physical abuse. Abuse is a violation of trust and a betrayal that has profound effects on an individual.

Staying in a relationship after the first abusive episode, opens the floodgates for more abuse. You telegraph that her abusive behavior is ok because she didn’t experience any negative consequences (e.g., ending the relationship) for treating you poorly. Many men minimize or rationalize the first incident by telling themselves she was “having a bad day,” that she’s “emotional,” and/or the BPD/NPD apologizes with a ready made excuse for her bad behavior.

Please note: These women rarely accept responsibility for anything they do. They only feign remorse if they’re afraid you’re going to leave and/or they’re trying to manipulate you into doing something. When someone’s truly sorry, they do everything in their power not to hurt you again. Expressing anger at her behavior will get you nowhere. In fact, she’ll use it against you to portray herself as the victim and you as the bad guy.

Once you decide to stay in the relationship and tolerate the abuse, a NPD/BPD woman slowly begins to:

  • Undermine your confidence.
  • Confuse what you know to be fair and true.
  • Destroy your self-esteem and self-worth.
  • Brainwash you into believing that you don’t deserve better.
  • Erode your ability to take action in your life.

You begin to doubt yourself, question your sanity, feel powerless, and develop what’s called “learned helplessness.” This explains how a person who was once independent can become scared, confused and dependent.

It’s sort of like what happens to a prisoner at a POW camp. A BPD/NPD woman basically brainwashes you into believing that she’s a saint, that she puts up with you, that she’s the victim and you’re the bad guy. If you receive these messages on an endless loop, eventually, you’re going to start to believe it.

Also, her rages, tantrums, verbal attacks, mood swings, blowing hot and cold with her affection, and tear-filled, “poor me” dramas are so convincing, you begin to wonder if maybe you are a jerk. This is projection and projective identification.

A BPD/NPD woman projects the wretched feelings she has about herself, but will never consciously admit to you or anyone else (including herself), and pins them on you. When she says, “You’re angry and unloving,” she’s actually describing herself. This is called projection.

Projective identification is when a BPD/NPD woman takes her crazy, internal garbage and self-loathing and manipulates you into feeling what she feels. For instance, when she goads you into losing your temper—it’s because she’s the one who wants to explode. So you feel her inner rage for her and she gets the added bonus of playing the victim/martyr after she baits you into blowing your stack.

Or, she shuts you off sexually, avoids intimacy, and shows you no warmth so that you feel abandoned. If you seek comfort elsewhere, she can paint you as the bad guy for having an affair—never mind that she starved you of love and affection.

She’ll also blame you for her frigidity by saying that “maybe” she would have wanted to have sex with you more often if you weren’t so—fill in the blank—”angry, hostile, distant, spent too much time at work (to support her, mind you), or were ‘nicer’ to her.” She makes you feel like the sexual deviant, pathologizing you for the very natural desire for emotional and sexual intimacy. In reality, she’s the one who can’t handle intimacy and has seriously warped sexuality issues. Projection, projection, projection.

Wow, I’ve gone on quite a tangent.  To summarize, yes, it’s possible to undergo a significant personality change when in an emotionally abusive relationship. However, it’s also possible to recover who you once were prior to this relationship. You’re still that person.

The strong, independent part of you had to go into hiding because a BPD/NPD woman can’t tolerate strength and independence in others—it means they’re not in control. So they break your spirit to control you and establish their distorted view of themselves and reality. It’s like being under a spell. You’ve broken the spell. You can put yourself back together, Jim.

Counseling, 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 or send an email to shrink4men@gmail.com.

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  1. Stefano
    June 29, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    That’s amazing…my EX girl friend was just the same. Always moving from one dead end job to another and sniping at my career and how much I got paid. That is how she justified only ever buying the groceries and leaving me with all the rest.
    I once asked her to contribute and pay the poll tax monthly. I might as well have asked for her kidney! Yep another rage and another row, no doubt with the tantrums and throwing stuff. I really can’t remember they just all tend to blend into six months of hell. Hats off to you guys that stuck it for years…Glad you finally did it. I think if I had spent any more time with her then you would have been scraping me off the road under some bridge somewhere. Anyway you’re not and I’m out of it.
    Is it normal even on day 2 to feel a bit eurphoric, like you want to dance? I almost feel guilty how I feel. I cannot tell you how good it is to not have her coming home at 9 tonight and me treading on egg shells for rest of night. I can party, play computer games, drink beer and watch the footie all night long. I no longer have to hide bruises at the gym and lie to mates when they say “Christ mate how did you get that bruise.” Would you guys believe I am over six feet, workout and boxed in my youth. How can a woman do that to guys like us? Another guy would have been eating the dirt.

    • June 29, 2010 at 9:17 pm

      Yes, it’s almost like they’re working from the same script, though from reading posts here at least seem capable of working and caring for themselves.

      The deal with them is the old “what’s yours in mine and what’s mime is my own” thing.

      My wife never seemed to make much more than what it took to screw up my taxes, i.e., just a little too much for me to be able to claim her as a dependent, and I never saw anything of what she did make. Once in awhile she’d buy a few groceries but that was about it.

      Then every now and again she decided she just wanted to be a “stay at home mom”. Of course, she never fit the mold of the “stay at home mom” I and my friends grew up with as she didn’t like to cook and after a few weeks as “stay at home mother” would announce she wasn’t cleaning various parts of the house any more because the kids and I were “too messy” and had the attitude that after working all day, I should still be “helping her” around the house.

      I never wanted to be married to the “stay at home mom” type you see in “Father Knows Best” style 50s television shows and was upfront about that long before we were married. My interest was in finding an equal partner who’d work together with me to build whatever future we decided we wanted.

      What I ended up with was of course the “leech” with whom we’re all familiar.

      Anyway, Stefano, in my opinion the best thing that could happen for you is if our “ex-” gets on Plenty of Fish or some similar site and finds another “love interest” to replace you and focus her attention on and leaves you more or less in peace … at least beyond the to be expected occasional shot at you re: “how happy she is now”, “how well she is doing” or whatever else she can think of to try to hurt you for whatever bizarre reason she can create in her mind.

      If not, I’d expecty you’ll get the “we need to talk” or “I’ve been doing a lot of thinking” line soon, if you haven’t already, meant to open the conversation as to “how sorry she is”, “she knows she has a problem and wants to work on it”, “how much she loves you and doesn’t want to hurt you”, “it’s only because she was abused as a child”, etc. lines and whatever else she can think of to push your buttons and regain control and get her life (with you paying for it ,,, in many ways) back.

      Which is another great reason to take Lighthouse’s advice and avoid personal contact. These folks are so very, very good at playing on the sympathy, pity and decency of others to rope them back in.

      I’m feeling a certain level of euphoria myself right now, though guarded, so your feelings seem quite normal to me. I assume escaped P.O.W.s probably have the same feelings following their escape.

      Most of us have stuck to the “don’t hit girls” rule we received growing up. I know my wife tried, without success, to provoke me into hitting her many times.

      Discussing female physical abuse of males, I can’t help but think of an occasion from years back when I had a female friend who was sort of “Tom-boyish”. She had a habit of punching me in the upper shoulder whenever we were joking around and she had a pretty good punch, so it usually hurt a bit.

      One day, I did it back to her at the same force, i.e., not much, guys do when we’re making fools out of ourselves in bars, etc., which was rather lighter than what she usually did to me.

      She was taken aback by this and indicated “it hurt”. I pointed out that she was always doing the same to me, to which she responded “but it doesn’t hurt you”.

      After further discussion we established that she, a University graduate, seemed to actually believe that “men don’t feel pain” and that there was no way that anything a female did, e.g., hauling off and slugging a guy in the upper shoulder, would hurt a male.

      Go figure.

  2. Stefano
    June 29, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    Thanks for that…Yes I am concerned about her coming here for them. so much so that I took some legal advice and because I am the owner of the house with only my name on the mortgage and deeds and I asked her to leave and she has. I am entitled to deny her entry to what is my home now and not hers. I don’t know where to write to her because she won’t tell me. I guess when she wants her stuff I will load up my car and meet her at a neutral site and hand over the belongings.
    I just know she would try and smash up my home if she came here and that is why I have changed the locks on legal advice.
    She never paid a single bill whilst here and only paid for the groceries which left me with everything all still in my name. Thank God it went that way or it would be harder now. You see her main arguement was always that this was my home and she felt I could ask her to leave at any point. I have worked for 23 years and I wasn’t about to sign away my home after six months of living together. You can only imagine the rage this caused.
    I have “put up” with the verbal and physical abuse because she smartly used the very fact it was my home as a tool to turn it around and explain why she was so angry. I have on occasion after violent episodes asked her to leave but she always played the “it’s your home card” and made me feel bad and so I let her stay.
    I guess the final straw was when I paid for an all expenses holiday and yet she still chose to have a violent row with me where she swung fisted punches at my head wilst hurling books and anything she could find at me and over what? Yep you guessed it…It’s my home. I tried to explain I couldn’t help it if she has nothing and I have worked really hard but it did no good she just wasn’t getting waht she wanted and so tripped into rage mode.

    • June 29, 2010 at 5:00 pm

      Heard my wife’s variation on the “it’s your home” line and the old “poor, poor pitiful me” routine many times.

      Unfortunately for me, the “feel sorry for me” routine has worked for her in the past … though not recently.

      My wife likes to wear a tough facade and make it clear to all that she doesn’t need me.

      This facade has crumbled pretty quickly on the past occasions I’ve suggested that if she wasn’t happy with me, as she often claimed, she should go and make some sort of happier life for herself.

      For some reason, her bravado doesn’t extend to job interviews, etc., for anything other than part-time, low paying, retail type jobs … which coincidentally had her working weekends, evenings, etc. when the kids and I were around. Nothing full-time ever lasted more than a month, with a new excuse for leaving … which of course I understood … every time. So, she has never had a job that would allow her to pay her own way and never shown much motivation to find one, regardless of having more education than me.

      Leaving us with her never leaving … just sticking around telling all who would listen how she didn’t need me, as well as my (in her eyes) many and varied flaws.

      She finally left recently, only because she had a relative nearby from who she could mooch.

      In the thirty years or so I’ve known my wife, I’ve been through just about everything I’ve read so far in the posts and comments.

      About the only thing I haven’t had to really deal with a physical abuse. My wife has from time to time thrown things around but not, that I can remember, at me.

      I’m a bit luckier than some here because she managed long ago to destroy my feelings for her, so there’s no emotional impact for me in having her gone … beyond guarded optimism and relief.

  3. Stefano
    June 29, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    Thanks for that “Old Guy”…it helps to know other people have done it and come out the other side OK. I had her on the phone this morning trying to reason it out but it’s like I said to her “even on the morning I ask you to leave you throw two pints of water over me whilst I am in bed.” And that’s supposed to win me round!!! She is playing the woe is me card a the moment saying she has nowhere to go and is sleeping on a sofa of a relative and that I have forced her out of her home. No doubt her family think I’m mean and horrible and no doubt she has failed to mention all the abuse and the cold bed shower.
    I am strong enough to do this and no going back, this may seam a little crazy but I went to see a psychic just to try and get direction in my life and it was amazing how she knew about the horrible times I have had and that this woman would never change and I must not go back. I never gave her any info at all but she nailed it exactly, even about her past. She made me promise I would not take her back because she was being told that I was close to a breakdown and that would really play into her hands.
    It’s hard being a guy sometimes, we are supposed to be so strong and always there but right now I just want her to get her things and never come back. I honestly cannot see that changing. If I wilt a little I just think back to the fights and the water/wine in the face and it re-affirms I am worth more.

    • Lighthouse
      June 29, 2010 at 2:57 pm

      You may want to consider asking her (in writing) where she wants her possessions delivered then confirming her choice (in writing).

      Trust me, you won’t regret the investment in your own protection.


  4. Stefano
    June 28, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    Hi and firstly many, many thanks for this website. I finally did it yesterday and told my partner to leave my house. I made the mistake of letting an emotional, verbal and physically abusive woman into my home. After 6 months of rows that end up with drinks thrown in my face, tables hurled into my home wall and general all out war were punches are thrown at my head and I end up having to resort to violence to literally just defend myself. I, with the help of this site, told her to leave or I was seeing a solicitor to get a court order to get her out.
    I like so may others have been backwards and forwards with this woman and tried my absoulute heart out to make it work but she would just erupt over the slightest little thing and once I have ignored the first glass of wind thrown in my face it just got worse. In fact so bad that she was swinging for me like a backstreet brawler…and then blaming me for pushine her back or trying to hold her arms to stop the punches.
    She does come from an abusive background and has suffered at the hands of a very cruel and non treated bi polar maother. I always used that as an excuse and felt sorry for her but then I guess I looked at it and thought hang on a minute here… it is me that is going to end up losing it and then she will have me right where she wants me if I have retaliated too much.

    The strange thing is you start to think it OK to be treated like this and think it’s normal!
    It is all about letting the love you had go and seeing what your relationship has become. Once they have taken the steps down the abusive route whather that’s mental or physical then you are fighting a losing battle to get back onto a good relationship.
    My advice is as the Ad says “JUST DO IT” yes it’s hard, yes it hurts but you owe it to yourself and your life and dreams to get out and smell the free air. Believe me it smells gooooooood.

    • June 29, 2010 at 1:12 pm

      Good for you, Stefano.

      My wife also has a pretty bad childhood and like yourself, this was one of the excused that through the years I made for her.

      However, it also occurred to me that my childhood hadn’t been that great or emotional abuse free either and I knew a number of other folks who’d also had some real bumpy early years however, neither I or they acted like my wife.

      Part of the reason I stayed with my wife for many years is that I did hold onto the belief that she would eventually work some things out and did, depite her behaviour to the contrary, actually love me.

      Although I’d heard the term “borderline personality” before, I never knew what this was until a few months ago when I started doing some reasearch to see if I could identify what exactly was “wrong” with a relative. When I came across various clinical descriptions of BPD, I realized the individual described sounded a lot like my wife and finding this site and reading the posts and comments settled any lingering doubt re: what my weife is and is all about, i.e., NPD and herself.

      I’ve finally accepted that my wife, who many years ago was described by someone who knew her as something along the lines of “a tornado that passes through people’s lives and leaves devastation behind her”, will never change … or see why she should do so as “there’s nothing wrong with her” … and that it was time for me to go.

      At the end of the day, it comes down to whether you hope for some kind of contentment from life or are willing to sacrifice any hope of this in remaining with BPD/NPD significant other.

      We’ve both made the right choice.

      • mgh
        July 11, 2010 at 5:54 pm

        Gentlemen…. “A Tornado passing thru people’s lives leaving devastation behind her” is CLASSIC!!

        Thank you……this is why we must “FLEE” immediately and move to “NO CONTACT” as Dr T has stated…..these sick and dysfuntional creatures are ALWAYS a dead end street in life and love.

        They are ultimately about punishment, revenge, pain, suffering and insanity!! RUN!!

        All the best to “The Non’s”!!

  5. jeff
    June 2, 2010 at 11:39 pm

    I have a personal question and don’t want it published on line. Please write me so I can ask it

    • shrink4men
      June 3, 2010 at 3:12 pm

      Hi Jeff,

      You can write to me at shrink4men@gmail.com. This information is also on my Contact page, which you can find on the tabs bar at the top of this page.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  6. Jonathan
    March 12, 2010 at 6:13 am

    I would like to start off by saying that after 5 years, I have finally found peace with this website and thought that there was no end in sight for the life I have had. First of all if you are a man or woman that is envolved in these kinds of relationships, there is hope. I found that today. My name is Jonathan and I have 3 wonderful children that for so long by their mother, was not good enough for them, or didn’t love them. Don’t make enough money for her or them. Every word that I have read on this sight is an extreme mind blower of what I always thought I was the one that was the problem. I now realize through every situation on this site is so many memories that I have relived myself. I’m not perfect by no means or better than anyone else. I have had the same job for 8 yrs and always done my best to do everything I possibly can to provide for my family. Up until now, my wife has always belittled me telling me I don’t make enough money when shes never worked a day in her life and is very capible to do so. But complains when we don’t have the money for her to go out with her friends. I have always been independant since I was a teenager and I know I’m a good father and when me and my wife were separated 2 years ago I raised them by myself for a year and a half and always tried to work things out with her cause I though I was doing wrong and wanted to do better. I can go on and on with exact similarites on this site about my wife and always prayed to God what should I do? I would die without my children but I now know what is best and when they get older hopefully they will understand. I have much respect for single parents, especially single fathers that aren’t dead beat and provide and care for their children. God has answered my prayer and he trully sees what I do for my children and know everything will work out with my children and me. Thank You Dr. T for giving me hope. I always knew it was there but had my insides tore out by this woman to where I couldn’t get to the point I needed to to be happy. Thank you so much!!!!

  7. akn
    January 28, 2010 at 9:33 am

    Hi – I’ve been lurking for some time but have finally decided that this is the best and most reasoned web site for victims of BPD/NPD women. Thank you Dr T for straight talk and cutting through a lot of gender biased commentary (not, please note, that I’m in any way unwilling to accept that many more women than men are victims – it is just that the gender assumtions of other sites are a bit wearing after a while).

    To address the question then: can the relationship change one’s ‘personality’? Or way of being in the world? Sure can. It tears up faith in the decency of humanity for a start. It shakes you to your very foundations. The level of malice required to act out the way that the disordered do is astonishing. I experienced four years of a disordered cohabitational relationship that I finally fled in the middle of the night after yet another threat to call the police for a non-existent infringement on my part and then another five years of sustaining the relationship on a non-cohabitational basis. That gave me plenty of time to watch and learn from a safe space. I sustained the relationship from a safe space (my own place) because I still loved her very deeply and thought that this would be do-able.

    However, I am now convinced that what distinguishes the BPD from the NPD is agency and volition. From the literature it appears to me that the typical BPD is impulsive and driven by the fears of abandonment. My experience with a woman who I am convinced has NPD is that while she has the same level of fear of abandonment there is considerably more agency and deliberateness to her actions than with a BPD. The prime example of this is planning around betrayal and deceit. This has been cool, rationally organised and well executed time after time. It is, in essence, very bad ethical behaviour and beyond redemption. I understand the need to feed the false self and still have pity for a person caught in such a dilemma which is that, in desparate need of loving attention, they nevertheless destroy the person who provides it to them. But a snake has the nature of a snake and so do NPD’s.

    I am no longer the person I was. I descended into a pit of mentall illness and grief from which I’ve not yet entirely recovered. Along the way I’ve learned that there is no shame in that because I was targetted by a truly awful person precisely because of my good qualities which, in a deeply strange psychological manouevre, I think she wanted to acquire for herself through a process of engulfment. Phew, that was wierd. I’m not overly defensive or fearful of intimacy but, at over 50 years, am wondering whether or not there is energy enough for another try at intimacy.

    The story is long and full of woe and I’ll save the details for other spaces. Suffice to say at this point that I concur totally with the following four points at your header:

    The disordered will:

    * Contact your family and friends without compunction to tell outrageous lies about you.
    * Make false abuse claims.
    * Tell people you’re “losing your mind” or “having a mid-life crisis” or pathologize you by claiming you have a personality disorder.
    * Contact your place of work and make wild accusations to try to get you fired.

    It is the last point I want to emphasise as I wouldn’t have belived it if it hadn’t happened to me. After years of reeling around the place in an old career I moved into child protection which is an area that is immensely satisfying and economically secure. After I had failed her in some way (get this) she rang my (government) place of work pretending to be a distressed woman on whom I had attempted to prey after meeting her in the course of child protection work. Obviously, in this area, any attempts to initiate intimacy or any form of social contact with clients is a dismissable offence. The workplace is also heavily feminised (ie, lots of women) and heavily feminist. I’ve no problems with either. You can, however, imagine how the suggestion that I was seeking social contact with vulnerable women clients would go down in a place like that.

    Fortunately, the co-worker who took the call thought it passing strange because my alleged actions were out of character with what she knew of me. She showed me her report on the allegations and I stood reading it with my mouth open. I finally asked what was the phone number from which the anonymous call had been made and she stated the first four digits and I finished the last six before she could say them. It was the N’s home number which she had failed to obscure from our phone ID system.

    Unbelievable. If the whole thing hadn’t been ‘caught in the act’ it could have ruined me, my new career and my financial situation. I acted appropriately, reported the entire matter to stratospherically elevated levels of management and have suffered no negative consequences. A person with nothing to hide, hides nothing is agood principle.

    Believe Dr T. They know no limits.

  8. Ken
    January 28, 2010 at 4:35 am

    Whoa!! I just left a 3 year relationship that you have jsut described to a T. I thought I was insane but to see you write it out like this I know that I was right to leve her.

  9. aryan vaid
    September 15, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    this website is a life saver.i’m an indian guy,trying really hard to make it work,with my american wife.i am an actor here,and by god’s grace have done fairly well in my life..when i look back,i think the reason why i was able to achieve whatever little success i could,was because i was fairly confident,and a no fuss happy go lucky kinda guy.then,i met my wife,and the abuse started soon after..either she got her way,or there was hell to pay.initially i gave in,mostly because i felt,like i was dealing with a child,a month into our marriage,and the sex was abruptly stopped by her..she said,i kissed her,like i was kissing a whore.this from a woman,who always said,what a great kisser i was before marriage.then,she stopped the sex completely.called me a pervert,and all such things.during this time,there was constant abuse.verbal emotional,and on quite a few occassions,ever physical,all from her end.around this time,i started losing interest in my work,and felt,every actor out there,was better than me.and i deserved no work.let me tell you,no matter who you are,that is suicide for an actor.i tried to read some self help books,ones that pseudo pump you,into some kinda temporary confidence.they wouldn’t work.all this time,i was trying to make my wife happy somehow.i thought,she would have a change of heart soon.went on 3 super expensive holidays in 6 months,and tried to somehow make it work.in the meanwhile my confidence in myself almost vanished,and i went around like a confused,numb person.nothing mattered..or if it did,i had lost my ability to fix it.then i started reading this website,and i can’t begin to express,the kind of relief i felt.i wasn’t alone.there’s an army of these women out there.who just take,take and take..emotionally,financially and more..anyway a couple of days of reading stuff here,and i started standing up for myself.i think that confused her for a while.suddenly i wasn’t trying to fix it all for her.in fact,i even asked her to leave.but then she shed some tears,and showed remorse for a few hours.our verbal matches continue.but now i don’t keep quiet,and i think she is completely flustered by my fightback..anyway she hasn’t changed..but i have,she now sees a man who is no longer a pushover.and i see some strange blend of confusion,fear and helplessness in her eyes..atleast the anger and rage is somewhat controlled..but i’m not a 100%,but a lot better,out of just standing for myself,and not allowing her to treat me like a pushover..this website is amazing.can i pls ask you to put up,more stories of personal accounts,and of course,some ways to heal,and restore confidence even whilst,she is still somehow around..she won’t leave me,and divorce is very complicated in this country..anyway sorry about the length of this email.and a huge thank you.this website is a god send..

  10. jonny
    August 11, 2009 at 10:30 am

    My ex-partner had BPD. I found this out within the first six months of the relationship. She made it sound like it wasn’t really a big deal, so I took it lightly. About a year later she cheated on me with close friends brother. I found out and chose to forgive her.

    Two years later she left to Australia originally she was only supposed to be gone for about a month and a half, but the night before she left she told me that she wasn’t sure when she was coming back…I received about five e-mails in nine months. During this time I found out that she was unfaithful during our entire relationship. For me, this pretty much meant that it was over.

    When she returned we met for coffee, and went for a few walks, she seemed to be normal. She apologized for hurting me and some how convinced me that she would never hurt me again… Why I got back together with her is a huge mystery. But for a while things were really great, than something changed in her again. she became distant and was less interested in sex. She started getting text messages in the middle of the night. I was suspicious and decided to read her messages, yes I felt guilty. it was almost like she wanted me to find out…she didn’t eras her messages or turn her phone off in the middle of the night. Not only was she cheating on me, but I found out that she was using cocaine.

    I told her that I she needed to make some decisions. She said she didn’t want to hurt me anymore so she ended the relationship. A week later she was trying to convince me that she would never hurt me again.

    I learned that forgiveness has limits. I do still miss her…

  11. jack
    July 15, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    My most intense relationships…where I felt the deepest attachment…were with imbalanced women. I have wondered why that is. They say bipolars atract each other, but I really think that I am well balanced. I think its just something about the intensity of their personalities that draws me in. I would be interested to know the doctor’s opionion on that one.

    Its funny about the “fire in the eyes.” A good friend of mine said he saw that in my girlfriend’s eyes when he met her. How right he was.

    • shrink4men
      July 23, 2009 at 2:42 pm

      Hi Jack,

      I believe your “most intense relationships” are what an ex (also attracted to highly unstable and abusive women) used to refer to as crazy chemistry. In his case, he never receive unconditional love and approval from his parents (father seemed to be a classic NPD). He felt he had to work for love/prove himself. If he could please these women enough to make them happy for even a second, he felt like a total hero. Also, this guy was a little unstable himself and I think he felt normal in comparison to his ex-girlfriends. I’m not saying this is the case with you.

      In any case, I encourage you to figure out what relationship dynamic you’re replaying because relationships with BPD/NPD women always lead to heartache.

      Dr Tara

  12. jack
    July 15, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Well I broke up with my NPD partner last night…for the seventh time in 3 years. Hopefully writing about it will help with my recovery….I know I am in for some tough days ahead. Actually, it has gotten easier each time and this time was the easiest.

    I met her for dinner with the hopes that she would be returning to a warm cycle. In April she came to me wanting to get back together, was so nice, said she would never push me away again. I told her she couldn’t do it but said I would give it one more try. This last month she has been withdrawn from me so I knew she was fading again. After reading this great website about NPD, I had totally new awareness about her disorder. I always thought she was bipolar. So this time I already had decided that it was time to move on for good. Late into dinner she did her accidental …calling me another man’s name. Not just another guy, she dated this guy between some of our break ups. She proclaimed it was just a slip. Of course it was just another one of her ways of messing with me. This time I was in total control. I didn’t get upset. I calmly told her to go back to him. “Obviously, that is where your heart is,” I said. I reitereated several times. I think she was shocked. “I don’t want him back.” she proclaimed. “Yes you do,” I insisted. Of couse she tried to do the “I will break up with you before you can break up with me” thing. But it was too late. It was over and she new it. I calmly walked away (we drove separately) and felt relieved and satisfied as I drove home. However, I new the night would be tough. But not as bad as I feared. I think I have new strength this time. The days are better than the nights, and I have some good friends to help. And I re-read this site to remind me of what she is and how bad she has hurt me over the last three years.

    In closing, getting over someone for me…in a few cases, has been almost too painful to endure. This website is wonderful, but if I could make one suggestion, it would be nice to include more tips on how to get over a broken heart. I once read a book, “Letting Go.” It has some great advice. I should go buy a new copy and read it. The tough days are ahead. But what I remind myself is that the pain is temporary. And also, when you finally rcover from the break up, you can see with clear vision. And inevitably you say, “what did I ever see in her?”

    • July 15, 2009 at 4:23 pm

      Jack- You hit the exact question.
      It’s really somewhat of a mystery why morally upright men almost always end up with you-know-what.
      In one of my experiences, a close friend of mine introduced his bride-to-be and the first thing I saw in the woman’s eye was FIRE!
      Of course I couldn’t say that to my friend.
      And of course, the woman gave him hell or almost led him to it.

    • shrink4men
      July 23, 2009 at 2:38 pm

      Hi Jack,

      Sorry to read about what you’ve been going through. I took your suggestion and wrote 5 Stages of Letting Go of an Emotionally Abusive Woman. I wish you strength in exorcising this woman from you heart, mind and life.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  13. July 8, 2009 at 5:54 am

    Dr. Palmatier,

    Your website is an excellent resource. I discovered it recently as your readers have visited another website for which I sometimes write. I’ve passed along the info to my friend Rob and he’s writing an article now as I’m typing this and linking to several of your insightful articles to help direct readers your way.

    I’d like to point out the BPD Distortion Campaigns article as suggested reading for Jim and others in his situation. The experiences in that article are very real and shocking for people who have never experienced anything like it.

    How to defend yourself from a distortion campaign? If you don’t have kids, one of the best options may be disappearing and restarting your life elsewhere, perhaps even with a new name and getting help from your family and friends to keep your whereabouts secret. Otherwise you may find yourself the target of so many false accusations that you’ll end up in government criminal databases, possibly lose your job, and be a “party of interest” every time the local police are having trouble finding the culprit of some crime you didn’t do.

    If you have kids, disappearing is unfortunately not likely a good option for them and a responsible parent in this situation is in a real bind. Stay and run the risk of being destroyed and your children being harmed by you being pushed out of the picture using false allegations, or leave and run a even higher risk of harm to your children from them not having at least one more or less mentally healthy parent in their lives.

    • shrink4men
      July 22, 2009 at 5:41 pm

      Hi June,

      Thank you for the positive feedback. I appreciate it. Thank you also for sharing advice on how to handle a BPD/NPD distortion campaign. Unfortunately, it’s also difficult to disappear if you have a job, family, friends and other obligations.

      As difficult as it may be, before uprooting your life, I recommend pursuing legal action against these women, including suing them for libel/slander, pressing charges for cyberstalking and harassment and being totally honest about what’s going on with your friends, family and colleagues.

      Oftentimes, but not always, if these women are exposed for the demented bullies they are, their smear campaign falls apart pretty quickly.

      Thanks again for commenting. Also, I read Rob’s article on AngieMedia. Good stuff!

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  14. Jack
    June 21, 2009 at 3:35 am

    I guess I was lucky and had all of my family on my side. Including hers. Her family stopped talking to her for a couple years and when I finally filed for divorced after 6 years of marriage, they came out of the wood work to help me out. I still did not get custody of our son because I was deployed at the time and I’m back overseas again, but I am starting to get my sanity back.

    I can tell you first hand that have more extreme PTSD from being married to her for 6 years than the 12 years of Service.

  15. barry
    May 8, 2009 at 9:31 am

    hmm. good luck w a borderline.ur whole life will b destroyed! especially if u dont realize it and protect urself in advance. and it will destroy u 2 ur family so dont look 2 them 4 help cuz theyll believe her. good luck! and ur kids will b destroyed!

  16. Man with Ex-BPD
    May 4, 2009 at 4:10 am


    I can tell you that you are having an identity crisis, but it is for all the right reasons. I likened it to having my reality forcefully pulled from my identity. If you think of yourself as one of those ball and paddle games on an elastic string, you are at your most content when your reality (the ball) is setting calmly on your paddle (your identity). When you began having these incidences with your wife, it was like hitting your identity against your reality and then it would snap back to you. Over time, you have hit this ball so many times that it seldom is coming back anymore. At the sake of sounding crude, your wife has you by your ball, has the elastic pulled taunt and your identity is in crisis.

    I believe that when we are young, out identity and reality are most in sync. As it gets to the point you are now, you long for that again. However, you have choices – you could give in to your situation and let your paddle follow the ball which I believe would be a miserable existence, or you can do as you are seeking and determine that it is time to get the calm back into your life. To me it represents a responsible mid-life crisis. You can either continue with the facade of “happy couple” or you can put your life (Identity/Reality) back together. Obviously, you are looking for peace rather than a sports car so that tells me you are on the right track.

    I was exactly where you are now 2 1/2 years ago. I didn’t know BPD existed and I was in such fear as to what would become of my family if I did not keep the “ball in motion”. It was exhausting and I was finding it increasingly difficult to parent my wife and my emerging adult/adolescent children. It will not be easy, but I can tell you that it is worth it 1000 times over. It will not be without doubt, fear, remorse, loneliness and heart-ache, but if your committed, your life is going to open up to you again just as it felt when you were a young man.

    Take Dr. T’s warnings about what will happen when you announce your departure very seriously. You will need a well laid plan before you let on that you are ending the craziness. Read “Stop Walking on Eggshells” and pay close attention to Chapter 11 about lies and smear campaigns. It will happen to you whether you believe it now or not.

    I have gone to the gauntlet and have survived to tell about it, but if I had a venue like this when I began my quest for normalcy, I could have done it with much less angst and for much less money. Buckle up and get ready and just the remember that all those fantasies you have had about a normal life are coming into focus.

    Good Luck!


    • F
      June 25, 2009 at 8:32 am


      I’m a female survivor of marriage to a BPD/NPD man. I don’t know if women are allowed to comment but I’m sure this will be pulled if not.

      My best friend married a man who escaped from a wife with BPD/NPD. 15 years later, yes, 15 years, she is still as mad as anything and still lies to strangers that they are still married. Every possible bullying tactic you can name he and his new wife have gone through. But not only them, their friends and family are suffering from this woman as well.

      Be aware that any and all who stand by you in any way, shape or form, whether for real or simply because she perceives you are “on his side”, will be her victims of abuse and tyranny.

      My family and I have been mercilessly gossiped about and my reputation is shot in our small country town. Very few people associate with us anymore and new comers are pounced on by her with fabricated stories that I somehow caused their marriage to break up and got my friend and her ex together! If it wasn’t for the fact I’d lived through my own trauma, maybe I’d have been less tolerant and walked away from my friend and her husband but I know first hand how these people operate.

      Good luck, warn everyone that they may and probably will be affected by her tantrums and the fall out. You might like to get in first with the facts. If there are kids – take them with you or be prepared for everything Dr T has said and more. My friend’s husband has no access to his kids even though he has court orders. She is god and she knows how to play the victim. I’ll never forget the day she put her stiletto through his skull in public and while he was in hospital having his head glued, she was at the police station crying abuse! Even though he had witnesses, she was never charged!

      Go and don’t look back. You’ll actually feel free. Enjoy your new life and if possible, move towns – far away. You’ll wonder why you never did it years ago!

      Good luck, F.

      • shrink4men
        June 25, 2009 at 2:26 pm

        Thanks, F. Men and women with these disorders can be very malicious and frightening. Never underestimate their ability to cause you damage.

        Thanks for reading and posting. I appreciate it.

        Dr Tara

  17. Chuck
    April 8, 2009 at 4:38 am

    Thanks for printing this.

    This is my life, for the last 23 years.

    She is a bottomless pit, never enough, never happy, never EVER taking responsiblity for her own choices, esp in bed.
    I am not crazy, and was a fine human being before I met her.

    I needed to hear this. I need to read this every monring and take my life back,

    • shrink4men
      April 8, 2009 at 2:54 pm

      Hi Chuck,

      I’m sorry to read you’re suffering in a similar relationship. “Bottomless pit” is an expression many have used to describe these women. I usually add the qualifiers, “never ending, bottomless pit of unreasonable, unmeetable needs and expectations in which nothing you do is ever enough or good enough.”

      The sexual aspects of most of these women are really messed up. Sex isn’t about expressing love, lust, intimacy, passion, affection, pleasure, etc. It’s about control for them. Many engage in transactional sex—i.e., if you want to get laid, then you have to give them something or behave how they want you to behave. Many BPD/NPD women use sex to lure you into the relationship and once you’re committed, shut it off. If you threaten to end the relationship, they use sex to get you to stay.

      Others use sex to feel attractive, desirable, and powerful—powerful in that they were able to manipulate someone into wanting them. This is the variety of NPD/BPD who has affairs and one night stands. NPDs/BPDs aren’t able to trust. Deep down, they hate themselves and can’t understand and envy those of us who aren’t like them. They’ll never admit this—not even to themselves.

      Sex is about intimacy and these women simply cannot, will not do intimacy. Intimacy is perceived as exposure and these women fight tooth and nail, as all emotionally abusive bullies/professional victims do, against having their true selves exposed—especially to themselves. Not only can these women “not handle the truth, they’ll punish and/or banish you for speaking the truth.

      So they label you as perverse and sick for wanting intimacy, when they’re the ones who have a perverse and twisted sexuality and relationship behavior.

      Take care,
      Dr T

  18. April 8, 2009 at 1:13 am

    Dictator women have always ruined relationships and made
    calm men murderous.

    • shrink4men
      April 8, 2009 at 2:18 am

      Sounds a little extreme, but I think I see your point. It’s natural to have extremely negative reactions and feelings to NPD/BPD women, but murder isn’t ok. It’s much better to just end the relationship. In other words, there are times when one of these women may make you feel homicidal, but it’s definitely not alright to act on those feelings.

      Thanks for the comment.

      • Ace
        April 26, 2010 at 2:42 pm

        Hi Dr T

        My problem is that whilst I’ve read lots on here and do appreciate and understand the vast majority of it.

        I don’t actullay feel extremely negative towards Ex ! I know I should and to be honest I have as much and maybe even more right/ need to as others on here but I don’t.

        You’ll likely tell me I’m till in denial, and I may well be.

        My current issue is whilst I have been on and off over a 5 year period with this woman, I could argue tat this is no different from other ocassions, barr the fact that I now undestand it all better thanks tothis site & some other readings. What I don’t get this time is I’m booted off her facebook, yet she’s retained 5 yrs of photos in which I and my kids feature heavily !! This I can’t figure. She’s also retained my friend yet moans that I still have some of hers which would now actually be mutual. I did post on other articles but the facebook piece is beyond me, as is the fact that I don’t have negative feelings for her. And yes I’d like to help or fix her and yes I know that that’s never gonna happen
        ;-) But hey !!

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