Home > Abusive relationships, Borderline Personality Disorder, divorce, Marriage, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, relationships > How to Have a Healthy Relationship After Being With an Emotionally Abusive, Borderline or Narcissistic Woman

How to Have a Healthy Relationship After Being With an Emotionally Abusive, Borderline or Narcissistic Woman

Shawshank-Redemption-swimming-through-a-river-of-shit-and-coming-out-the-other-side-Tim-RobbinsThe following is a comment posted by a man who was married to an emotionally abusive woman with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). His advice on how to heal from and get over an emotionally abusive relationship in order to prepare yourself for a new, healthy relationship is so excellent, that I’m posting it as its own blog.

Dr. T,

I stumbled upon this site when I was doing research on how to initiate Mother’s Day events between my ex and my children when their mother is emotionally abusive and has not had a consistent relationship with her children in many (16) months. As I began to read the blog entries, I was struck by the fact that few men had posted. This is an excellent site for men , but only women seem to frequent it.

I am a 45-year old man who finalized an 18 month separation/divorce a year ago. I spent my whole relationship hoping my wife would “grow up” and had no understanding of BPD and its impact. What I got from the relationship was adoration, but not love and I mistakenly confused the two as the same thing for many years. I loved that she adored me, I loved being the savior, I loved having the answers, I loved giving my ex-wife the life that she never had as a child – but that was not a loving adult relationship. It was a parent-child relationship.

I would have continued in this cycle for who knows how long if she had not released me through her behavior during the separation. I give thanks to god that it happened and that I have the opportunity to grow and make changes in my life and emotional well being.

I believe the following:

1. Recognize that you were attracted to this person for a reason. Most likely that you were comfortable with the behavior you received from them. Reach deep into your childhood and recognize parental behaviors that might have felt similar.

2. Do not get into a relationship too quickly (I am talking years). When you have been emotionally battered for years, you need time to heal before you try to jump into another relationship. Also recognize that jumping too quickly might push you back into a relationship with your ex-wife. You may begin to compare the new relationships before you are emotionally ready. In-turn you may go back to what feels emotionally comfortable for you – BIG MISTAKE.

3. You must end your relationship with the ex-wife. As adult as you may think you are being by developing a “friendship”, this is not a normal adult relationship and you need to end the behavior patterns in order to move on. If children are involved, communicate by email with very direct, but not curt communications. Do not initiate or engage in any dramatic episodes even on email – Kind, Direct, Simple, the end.

4. Do not identify with being victimized. Be a big boy and realize that you made decisions and you knew the outcomes whether you admitted them to yourself or not.

5. Frequent a therapist. Try to understand why YOU made the choices that YOU did. It is not always easy, but definitely worth it. I remember one time my therapist told me to “stop going back into the museum”. What she meant was stop looking at the past. There is a time for this, but not too soon. What I told her was that the museum was a mess. Valuable artifacts had been broken, overturned and everything was in shambles. I needed to go back into the museum no matter how painful it was and clean it up. Once it is clean, lock the door and only visit it on the occasion when you determine a better spot for a memento.

It has been 2 1/2 years since I separated from my ex-wife. I have concentrated on my children and normalizing their lives and my own. Recently, people have begun to ask me if I am ready to date since they know someone they would like for me to meet. I feel I am now ready to take that next step and will let you all know how it is progressing.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

I am ready to have an adult relationship and my future seems wide open and full of possibilities. However, I have to admit, there is a little piece of me that is afraid I will be attracted to the same type of person even though the greater part of me is determined not to do it again.

—Man with ex-wife with BPD


Thank you for reading and leaving such a heartfelt and well considered comment. It’s all the more impactful when given by someone who’s had your firsthand experiences.

Men who’ve been involved with an abusive woman (or women) desperately want a healthy relationship. Yet, they’re not going to get there unless they do exactly what you describe above. Even men who wait before jumping into a new relationship  can muck it up with a healthy women if they maintain a ‘friendship’ with the ex, don’t do the work to heal from the abuse and/or don’t connect the dots regarding their attraction to abusive women and past relationship choices.

I’ve always found the maintaining a friendship thing puzzling. Would you invite the man who waterboarded you and beat you in prison over for Sunday barbecue after you’ve been released? “Maintaining a friendship” is code for “not ready to let go.”

I’m very happy that you managed to end your relationship and put yourself back together. You’re living proof for other men in similar straits that they can also break the cycle of abuse. I think you’re going to be ok and will find a healthy, loving and reciprocal relationship. You’re an expert on women like your ex now. Pay attention to the warning signs when you meet a new woman. Here’s what I recommend:

How to Avoid Getting Involved with Another Crazy, Emotionally Abusive Woman

1) Do a little gentle digging (i.e., no police interrogation tactics) about her past relationships and why they didn’t work out. Does she blame all of her exes and make them out to be bastards? If so, steer clear. You want to hear a potential love interest take some responsibility for the demise of her past relationships. “I was young and immature. I didn’t know what I wanted. I realize now that I…

Taking responsibility for her choices and holding herself accountable is a good indication that you’re probably dealing with a grown-up. However, don’t confuse self-blame and responsibility. If she trashes herself, puts herself down and blames herself for her failed relationships, get out while the getting’s good.

2) Beware of an inexplicable, instant, powerful and overwhelming attraction to a woman or feel like you already know her because of an instant connection. Odds are you do already know her. She’s probably just another embodiment of the old issues. Yes, instant chemistry exists and this new woman might be as wonderful as she appears to be, but go slowly.

The wonderful, but illusory façade of emotionally abusive women usually cracks fairly soon into the relationship, but gradually, which is why so many men minimize, overlook, deny and/or excuse the abusive behaviors. She seems amazing and then there’s an attack out of nowhere. She goes back to normal for a few weeks and then there’s another incident and another and another and another. In most cases, the period of time between abusive episodes becomes shorter and shorter. Don’t wait that long to get out.

For example, the two of you meet and she’s great. Two weeks go by and she has her first rage episode in which she accuses you of being insensitive or selfish or something equally unfounded. You’re bewildered and left wondering, “What just happened?” This is when you should go on high alert and pay very close attention to what she does next:

  • Does she pretend like it didn’t happen? Does she minimize or deny that it happened? This is called gaslighting and it’s abusive. Get out now.
  • Does she apologize prettily, cry and say she was having a bad day at work and her boss was being mean to her and then when you didn’t call her at the exact minute she was expecting you to call and she just couldn’t take it anymore and snapped? Don’t fall for it. This isn’t really an apology. She’s not taking responsibility for her bad behavior. Rather, she’s blaming her boss and you. Everyone has a bad day from time to time and maybe you want to give her the benefit of the doubt. Ok, but when it happens a second and a third time, she’s not just having a bad day, this is who she is.
  • Does she blatantly blame you for her bad behavior without even feigning an empty apology? There’s no gray area here. She’s an abusive personality and you need to walk away.
  • Does she cry and beg you not to leave her, flushed in high drama, saying things like “I don’t know what I’ll do if you leave me. No one has ever made me feel this way. I don’t want to go on without you. Please don’t leave me!?” Get a restraining order, change your phone number and get a new email account. This is probably full throttle BPD.

3) Beware of grand gestures or extreme selfishness. If she gives you an extravagant gift or orchestrates some incredible fantasy date within a few weeks of knowing her, be alarmed. If she expects you to take care of everything, make all the plans, entertain her, pay for everything and doesn’t reciprocate, be alarmed. The former shows inappropriate boundaries and she’s probably working from the angle of “now he’ll owe me” and the latter indicates you will always do for her and get nothing in return except complaints and criticism. Nothing will ever be good enough for this kind of woman.

4) Getting too close, too fast—BOUNDARIES. Another warning signal is if she tries to insinuate herself into your other relationships and personal space too quickly. For example, you’ve been dating for two weeks, she finds out it’s you dad’s birthday that weekend and buys him a gift. Or she has roommate troubles and could she stay at your place temporarily after only knowing you a month. Or she wants to introduce you to her family in record time. This is evidence that she has poor or zero boundaries and it only goes downhill from here.

When you meet a kind, loving and healthy woman, it’ll probably feel a little strange to you at first. That’s normal. Ride it out. Remind yourself this is what you want and let yourself enjoy it. Consciously make the decision to be open to it and you’ll get there. Relationships really can be that mutually rewarding and satisfying.

You’ve already undertaken the two most difficult steps: You extracted yourself physically and psychologically from the cycle of abuse. You seem to have an incredible amount of awareness and maturity from your experience. I have every faith that if you take your time, exercise good judgment and open yourself up to being treated well, you’ll do just fine.

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.

Want to Say Goodbye to Crazy? Buy it HERE.


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Photo credit:

Still from Shawshank Redemption on 100ker.

  1. Paul
    August 3, 2015 at 11:56 am

    If she has children check how she, and her family treats/talks about her ex. If she can maintain a relatively positive attitude towards the father of her children then that’s a good sign.

    Disagree with her, don’t manufacture some problem, just don’t be afraid to speak your mind. If she can accept a difference of opinion then that’s a good sign.

  2. Matt
    December 2, 2014 at 6:10 am

    Thank you all for your stories, it’s so helpful to hear of others who had to get out of emotionally abusive relationships. My ex wife is narcissistic and so is her mother. We have one child together and my ex uses her as a tool for manipulation. My ex would start fights, go silent, withhold sex, go through my email and blame me for everything. My mom died in 2012 and she wasn’t even there to support me. In fact she made sure I felt every hurtful feeling known to man. Before our divorce papers were final she was already pregnant for her new boyfriend and she moved my daughter in with him and didn’t tell me. My daughter told me and she is 4. I bought her a car in my name, got her a good job and she stepped out on me with the next man. I even owed taxes because of her and it’s taken me 2 years to pay off $17k.. I provided her with everything she didn’t have in childhood. But I will no longer be a victim.. I deserve love, I deserve a healthy relationship and I won’t let one woman destroy me. While in the relationship I turned to alcohol to escape reality and my loneliness. Now that I’m away from the abuse I don’t even drink or desire too. I realize I must be a clear headed father who is grounded mentally, spiritually, financially and emotionally. I keep our contact extremely brief and I don’t engage in any side conversations. In fact I’ve set up separate parent teacher conferences so that I can fully engage in what’s going on in my child’s life. My ex appears to be having the time of her life with her new man. Going to concerts and on vacations, playing love songs in the car when I drop my daughter to her. She cut me deep, really deep.. At this time I am single and I need to heal from this drama and the passing of my mother. I know in time I will heal but I’m going to take this time to grow as a person and see what made me attracted to this type of person. For those out there in these type of situations, RUN, get out and keep your sanity. Narcissists don’t have any empathy, they are cold self seeking manipulating control freaks! They suck you and bleed you dry. I pray that in the future I will be able to spot these type of people. I never want to go through this again. If you have any words of encouragement please respond.

  3. James
    June 25, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    I have been in and out of denial about my wife being a BPD. I just didn’t want to accept the fact that our marriage was a failure from the start. I wanted to believe that we all have our little quirks and issues, all of which can be ironed out if two people really love each other and want to commit to a happy, successful life together. Well, I’m ready to face the truth now. This relationship has to end. I’ve been on this site now for about 7-8 months. I’ve read all of these articles, read and re-read everyone’s posts but it wasn’t until this article did the truth ring out loud.

    I’ve been married to my BPD wife for a year and a half. In that time, we have split up 5 times. 4 of them she left on her own accord without telling me where she was going….just left angry and stayed gone for days or weeks…all because it was my fault. The other time I actually had to kick her out. I came home after work (which I was dreading) and she had been drinking. She said some mean things and when I tried to defend myself against her criticisms and accusations, she threw her drink in my face. She then proceeded with colorful remarks about the size of my manhood….in front of her son too. A man can only take so much so I told her to get the hell out (I only meant for the night but she gladly took it literally). She packed her things and took her 12 yr old son with her. She turned her whole family against me for making her leave. Man, I was (and still am) the devil incarnate according to them. Each and every time we got back together, she would say that I needed to make positive changes in my life if our marriage was to be successful. What changes you ask? I don’t know, just positive changes….she gave no specifics. It was always my fault for her leaving so I tried to do things her way. I was just happy to have her back in my life and the make-up sex was always amazing. One time she moved out because she felt we should have a “non-traditional marriage” (i.e. you live here, I live over there, we’ll go on dates and have sex once in a while). Where the hell that came from is still a mystery to me. Back in January, she got angry about the sky being blue I suppose, and moved out telling me to initiate the divorce paperwork…so I did. Two weeks later, she’s sending me some really heartfelt emails about how she’s ready to surrender to love, how much I mean to her, that she would go with me wherever my career took me, etc. I took the bait. She quit drinking and moved back in. She has successfully been sober since then. Over time, I dismissed the whole BPD concept and contributed her past mean and violent outrages to her alcohol consumption. Things were going OK for a few months but then Dr. Evil started to slowly rear its ugly head once more…..the criticisms, the gaslighting, idealizing/devaluing, the name-calling, the yelling, screaming and foul language, the blaming and finger-pointing, the cold shoulders and withholding sex, the temper tantrums….it all returned only to a slightly lesser degree since she’s sober now.

    Once again, she moved out just last week…..two days before her out-of-town business trip. She left angry because I had been seeking advice online about whether I should stay here or seek employment in a different state. She well knows that I am not happy living here in a border town and have the opportunity to relocate as early as next year. She snooped into my emails and found my post. She gaslighted on her email from January about moving with me if my career took me elsewhere…..she supposedly never said that. Somewhere along the way, she evidently snooped into my email account and deleted that message (I was saving it just in case). She said that I won’t get another job next year or the year after because no one will want to hire me….just childish, mean stuff as usual (Parent-Child Relationship?). Her leaving this time around is obviously a fear of abandonment issue. Guess she wanted to get a leg up and make the first move before I did. She is 38 going on 13. I’m 42 and starting to feel like I’m 62. We’re both gainfully employed. We have no children together but we each have one from previous relationships.

    Personally, I believe these leaving acts of hers were just a means to get a little something on the side and then come crawling back to me when she had her fill. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m right, but either way this is no way for a person to live. I’m tired of the hurt, the resentment, the fear she instills in me, the emotional blackmails and beatings, walking on eggshells. It’s all got to stop. I love this woman like there’s no tomorrow….sad but true. She has a good heart but she keeps making a series of bad choices that I keep letting slide. Haven’t heard from her since she left. Guess all of you reading this want to slap some sense into me, huh? All of my friends sure do.

    ON ANOTHER NOTE: Ever tried to open up to your BPD mate with an issue you’re having in your relationship only to discover you’re defending yourself against criticisms that had nothing to do with the original issue? At the end, you’re like “How did we even get on this subject? I was talking about apples and now I’m defending myself about oranges”. You both walk away upset having never touched the issue about apples. How many of you have experienced this? Is this a common clever tactic used by BPD individuals?

    • March 28, 2015 at 12:43 am

      Repy to additional note. You bet it is! It will happen 100 times out of 100.

    • olddude
      August 9, 2015 at 2:47 am

      Absolutely,stricking how these Bpds act the same,the one about apples to oranges happened exactly as you described,sad with these Bpds my soon to be ex wife mother has Bpd too.I am in the middle of a divorce with 2 kids.As expected she is dragging the divorce with the Bpd attitude,I don’t love you,you are bad don’t leave,add physical and verbal abuse.Life is short,I want to show my kids accountability and not to think it is ok to stay in an abusive relationship.Thank you Dr T for your work,you are saving many lives literally,thank you.

    • chris
      September 15, 2016 at 6:41 pm

      wow!! you described my ex-bpd girlfriend to the tee! i guess they all do act the same. we met, it was great, did not take long for her true colors to start coming out, but i ignored all the red flags. moved in together for three months and she left and came back 5-6 times… no kids together thank God, we had been dating 8 months and we were already seeing a therapist together (i arranged all that) we’d go to church together, listen to amazing preachings but she’d continue with the same destructive pattern. she has a 10 year old son and during those impulsive “I’m leaving you for good” episodes, she would take him with her at 12am 1am 2am whenever it ocurred. my kids started reaenting her, telling me they would go live with their mom if my GF came back.. i realize i will never be good enough for her, i’m not her savior, it’s been 4 days of no contact, it’s hard but Thanks to these posts I know it can be done and move on to someone normal!

      • James
        October 18, 2016 at 1:04 pm

        HI Chris. It has been a little over three yrs since I last saw her. I filed for a divorce from that crazy woman back in late 2013 and have never looked back. What I’ve realized from that chapter in my life (and that’s what it needs to be for you – a CLOSED chapter) is that I didn’t have enough self-respect to just say “Enough!”. I didn’t stand up for myself. I let another person emotionally abuse me just so I could get some little shred of love and affection from her, all the while hoping she would change for the better. But here ya go Chris – there can only be one alpha in a relationship and that’s the most important thing you need to take away from this. BPD women always try to steal that away from you. That’s why these relationships are so toxic.

  4. energyamin
    October 16, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Good for you! I lived with a manic bi polar ex husband and thought I had seen it all but it is easier to treat and cope with than BPD. After dealing with the BPD ex wife it makes my ex husband look like a walk in the park. When he calmed down at least
    he could rationalize. When you are ready to date again remember to treat women the way you want to be treated and those learned habits will stop and you will have the chance at a normal loving relationship. Best of luck on your NEW beginning!

  5. Nick Ugaste
    October 16, 2012 at 3:20 am

    I found that living 15 years with a narcissistic woman, has turned me into one. I tried leaving 3 years into the disaster, but was convinced to stay…”I’m gonna change…” Then our first child came, a daughter, and I felt trapped and totally helpless. I could not leave my kids…so many years of hearing women complain of men walking out on them, had me crippled in fear that I would now be “that guy”. So I stayed, took the verbal abuse, got depressed and angry, had no self esteem at all….but the kids loved me!!

    Unfortunately, I also learned that not taking the abuse-being a man and yelling back-backed her down. So, the more she came at me, the louder and more hostile I’d get. Never got violent, but I was there…it could’ve. I believe everyone feeds off each other, and adapts / takes on each others personalities. I was surrounded by narcissists and BPD’s and in turn, I became crazy. Her family is chock full of behavioral issues, and it rubbed off on me. I’m now, finally beginning to feel myself again after 9 months of living alone, and creating new healthy habits and relationships. However, I’ve also had to set strict boundaries with her, block her number and only answer questions that need to be answered.

    • shrink4men
      October 16, 2012 at 3:28 am

      Lie down with dogs and wake up with fleas.

      I am glad to read that you extricated yourself from such an unhealthy relationship, Nick, and hope you are working towards ridding yourself of the defensive mirroring you employed to cope in an abusive relationship.

  6. energyamin
    October 15, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    My heart goes out to everyone dealing with a relationship with a BPD. The last three years I’ve watched the BPD ex wife lie, manipulate, twist words and attempt to turn the older kids against my boyfriend. It hurts me just watching him suffer. The sad thing is it almost seems as if the kids have been trained to think its ok to eliminate people out of their lives if the mother says so. My boyfriend was always the provider and caring father so that is very hard to understand. A healthy normal parent will always want the kids to have a relationship with both parents. As your kids become adults you should be able to cultivate an adult relationship with them without the BPD parent in the middle. I believe that creating STRONG boundaries and sticking to them is the only way you will ever achieve this.

    • shrink4men
      October 15, 2012 at 6:56 pm

      You have it exactly right, energyamin.

  7. September 15, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    I think that this site saved my emotional soul. I have just went to divorce court and waiting to get and sign papers to finalize things. I was married to this woman for 20 years though. I hope that someday I will not feel so sad about how much I lost trying to make this work.
    All you men out there thinking about leaving her because of these characteristics. Do it if possible before you have children. This type of woman will not eat your soul away but nibble at it until you eventually become so empty inside that it takes everyone in your family and friends to help you escape. Don’t wait like I did. They do not change! They just conceal it better over time. Best of luck to all you out there. I was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. But the fog is beginning to lift. You will survive!

    • October 10, 2012 at 5:13 pm

      How hard is it after you get out to stop listening and falling for her tricks?

      • Mellaril
        October 10, 2012 at 9:33 pm

        In response to this and your other question, I recommend you check out the Forum.

    • Mellaril
      October 10, 2012 at 9:41 pm

      My recommendation is you report the threat to the police and keep any communications from her as evidence. His concern that she may attempt to turn his son against him is valid but she shouldn’t be allowed to hold any of you hostage. Don’t be surprised if he tries to talk you out of contacting the police or actually defends her. Check out the laws regarding recording conversations in your state.

      Even if your BF cuts her off, she may still be a threat. If he refuses to deal with her, you may have to re-evaluate the relationship.

      Good luck!

  8. Sunshine69
    July 29, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    I am with a man who has experienced a very emotional abusive exwife who still plays games, uses their child as a pawn, etc. It’s very draining on us. I love him so very much as he is a good man, and I want to help him past this, he goes in circles. Does anyone know of any good websites that have any free group counseling for men, especially divorce groups? I’d like to see if we have one in our state and go with him. Thanks

    • October 10, 2012 at 5:11 pm

      Any advice? I’ve been dating my boyfriend for two and a half years. He was married to a BPD personality for 18 years. He has an 18 year old son. He has been divorced for 5 years! It seems the longer we are together the worse his ex wife gets. She has told his family all kinds of things about me, like I told the 18 yr old son it was ok to watch porn, have
      multiple girlfriends and not listen to his mother. None are true. She has blocked home phone, cells etc. Now she has threatened to fly to where we live and kill me and stalk my children. I feel it is appropriate for him to cut ALL conversations and email off at this point since his kid is 18. He thinks she will still turn the kid against him. Is this an unreasonable request at this point? Thank you…lost

      • Mellaril
        October 10, 2012 at 9:42 pm

        I misposted a reply below.

        • energyamin
          October 10, 2012 at 10:33 pm

          Thank you for the response. I think if he takes a stand and blocks all communication from the ex and only deals with his 18 year old son it may also show the son that he too has personal rights and is allowed to speak up and defend himself. At that point he seems afraid to go against his mother or even have an opinion of his own. I’m assuming that someone has to show the child that healthy boundaries are important and should be respected.

  9. May 28, 2012 at 6:11 am

    Dr T-
    Thank you for all of the helpful information on your website. I am involved in a 5 year long on again/off agian relationship with a MAN who has BPD. The agony of being in a relationship with someone with BPD is undescribable to anyone who has not dealt with it firsthand. It is very difficult to find friends to talk to, the ones that I have left from what he has destroyed, and I enjoyed reading the letter from—Man with ex-wife with BPD; it has given me new hope that there is life beyond this.
    I do choose to leave again, I will not return to this or any other relationship with a BPD. I appreciate all of the advice, and wish for the best for all that are going through this. I do not hear you writing about women dealing with male spouses who are affected, is it that rare that men are diagnosed with this? I am seeking as much information as I can find, before I make my decision whether to stick this out or hit the highway. Luckily we do not have any children together, although we each have children from previous marriages, and his children would be devistated if I left them. However, my two sons 12, and 9 have come to me and asked me to find a “new, kinder boyfriend, who I can marry, and we can have fun with”. …Yikes!!

    Now I have a huge weight on my shoulders. I know they are getting older and my BPD’s behavior is bothering my children, as Man with Ex Wife had said, and I quote, “I spend my whole relationship hoping my significant other will “grow up” What I get from the relationship is adoration, but not love and I mistakenly confuse the two as the same thing. I love giving my boyfriend/fiance the life that he never had as a child – but that is not a loving adult relationship. It is a parent-child relationship.”

    I am so thankful that he wrote that, because I have felt that for years but have never been able to express what exactly the feeling was. Well, that hits the nail on the head. Thanks for the eye opener, and good luck to everyone, I wish you the best.


    • Mellaril
      May 29, 2012 at 12:24 am

      A lot of women find Dr. T’s stuff helpful. You may find this helpful:

      “BORDERLINE MALES I’VE KNOWN, AND ALMOST LOVED; Surviving the Crash after your Crush.” by Shari Schreiber http://gettinbetter.com/casanova.html

      There’s a link to Shari Schreiber’s site on the right.

  10. Chade
    March 15, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    I wanted to thank you for taking the time to maintain this blog. It has helped me understand what has been happening to me over the past two years and has helped give me the strength to end the relationship with my wife. I have been married for one year to someone that was diagnosed with BPD about seven months into our marriage. It was the most horrible, confusing, painful experience of my life. All of the articles about BPD and narcissists I have read explains what I have been through to a “T”.

    Directly after our honeymoon (literally three days) the attacks/abuse started. I found myself walking on egg shells and I couldn’t do anything right. It was so confusing because she treated me so well during the time we dated. I felt like I was on top of the world with her (now I know she was putting me up on a pedestal). I became severally depressed and beaten down into submission. I made a tough decision as a last ditch effort to try and “fix” our marriage issues and made an appointment with a therapist.

    I was afraid that she would try and pit the therapist against me so I was a bit leery about going. She proceeded to try and continue to control me through the therapist. Her attempt to do this failed and actually backfired on her. She became angry with the therapist because he didn’t tell me what she thought he should tell me to force me deeper into her control. Any of you out there that is contemplating going to therapy I suggest you do it! I have never been to a therapist before this and I’m glad I took the plunge. It has helped me so much, it is one of the best decisions I have ever made.

    Luckily I did not have any children with her. She does however have a five year old son from her previous marriage. I feel terrible for that poor boy as she treats him in the same manner that she treated me.

    I reached my breaking point of not being able to take anymore about three months ago. I ended the relationship with her and told her I needed to take some time away from her to clearly think through my thoughts and feelings. I already knew inside what had to be done. I am one of those people who don’t believe in getting divorced, so this was especially hard for me. During the next two weeks my decision was only confirmed based on her behavior during that time.

    It has been two months since I broke it off with her. She proceeded to make up lies about me and spread them to everyone I know and go to church with. She made up lies to the leadership in my church and pretty much dragged my name through the mud. She stopped at nothing to try and guilt and manipulate me back into a relationship with her.

    I am happy to say that I can finally see light at the end of the tunnel. I had to change my cell phone number after receiving 4,000 text messages from her in one month and blocked her from my email accounts and completely disconnected myself from her. Ending my relationship with her was one of the best things I have ever done and the hardest thing I have ever done. For all of you out there that have fallen victim to someone with BPD I feel your pain. It is hard to deal with and incredibly painful and demoralizing. There is hope and getting out of a relationship like that is such a great feeling. I without a doubt have some deep wounds that need to heal which I am working on. Nobody deserves to be abused in a relationship. There is just no excuse for it, don’t allow yourself to stay in that kind of situation. Take your life back!

  11. Thankful
    December 9, 2010 at 12:01 am

    I am so appreciative for this information. I stumbled upon it searhing for info re daughters who were emotionally abused by their dads. What you have here I have used in “treating ” myself for about three years; the process is slow but rewarding. Sticking it out and doing the necessary work to heal is beneficial. Keep it coming. Thanks again.

  12. sam
    April 14, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    Dr T,

    I’ve been reading through the pages and have found it very helpful. I particularly identified with the author of this one. I feel my soon to be ex wife (separated 2 mos) and I have had a very parental relationship. She asked me where she should go to live when she left me and our two boys (2 and 8) for another man. She asks me questions about the divorce instead of asking her lawyer. She claims that I “made” her get married and have kids. She talks a big game about the kids when others are around, but she agreed to have them every other weekend, plus some visits. And me or one of our moms watch them most of her time anyway.

    The confusing part for me is how I didn’t notice this stuff. She never screamed or yelled. When she was angry with me, she would go hook up with someone (not only did I not know, it didn’t even occur to me that it could happen) in a very teenage way (going to dinner then making out in someone’s car). I guess finally one of these guys agreed to leave his marraige and child as well and off they went. Only when she had secured this new man did all of the character assasination start. She’s not very good at it, though. Every one of her friends has called me to apologize and see if they can help me and the kids out. She tells them she is very proud of how strong she is being.

    This is my thing, but I feel better if I think she has some personality disorder. That helps me not keep myself up at night wondering what I could have done different. Taking responsibility helps me gain some kind of control in a situation in which I have no footing. My therapist said we had normal marraige problems, but I shouldn’t let her draw a cause effect relationship between me leaving clothes on the floor and her leaving her family. My question is whether there is overlap between disorders. Ultimately, I guess it doesn’t matter if she’s NPD, BPD, or just a mean, uncaring person. The end result for me and the kids is the same.

    I do realize that I am lucky that a) she left and b) she didn’t try to take the kids. She wants to live the single party life at 40 yrs old and the kids don’t fit into that. I realize we’ll be much better off, not now, though. Doing lots of damage control. Not even close to being ready to look for someone else.

    Thanks to everyone for posting.

  13. amy
    December 30, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Good advice. I just wanted to update you guys now, it’s been a couple months of the separation and no big changes. He still says counseling is for “people who can’t handle their own problems” but has acknowledged saying things to me “you should never ever under any circumstance say to a woman or anyone else.” Gee, thanks. Ha. About the silent treatment, he still says that I made him do it. That I always caused him to be angry about something. Guys, the last time he ignored me for a month and a half was because I told him I was doing my annaul summer vacation with my sister. He was mad about this. WTH? I started doing individual counseling by myself recently. It’s really helping to get this all off my chest. He’s invited me out a couple of times. While things are ok in the moment I always leave remembering all of the pain. Still haven’t filed for a divorce or anything but I just feel like a little lost grasshopper. I am terrified to ever be in this situation again. I go over and over again my head and wonder if in fact this marriage does end, will this become a pattern for me? That scares me. On the flipside, this is the first relationship I’ve ever been in where someone has treated me like this. Granted, I only dated 2 people before my husband, neither of those being really serious relationships. But again, I’ve never felt so badly in my life.
    And my apologies, I know this thread was directed to men who’s been with emotional. abusive women but it really resonates with my situation.

  14. jham123
    October 19, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    amy :
    but doubt I will ever marry again.

    I’ve said that so many times tom myself and others……just live by myself and “date” a bit.

  15. amy
    October 19, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    These were good. I recently left my husband who is a huge emotional abuser. I find myself qurestioning why I did it sometimes & rationalizing his behavior but then I remember all of the depression & anxiety and sleeplessness it caused me… I feel so much better now. I have no idea what happens next but doubt I will ever marry again. It was such a crazy experience for me. I feel so drained. I feel so stupid for everything in a way and at the same time I feel so good Im not living w/ him anymore. I used to absolutely dread going home from work…

    • shrink4men
      October 19, 2009 at 5:59 pm

      Hi Amy,

      Congratulations on ending your emotionally abusive relationship. It can be very difficult, sometimes more difficult than ending a physically abusive relationship. Emotional abuse leaves bruises and scars that no one else can see but you.

      Many of the men who frequent this site feel the same way as you after ending their relationships. You’re not stupid. These kinds of relationships are disorienting and cloud one’s judgment. Don’t beat up on yourself; your ex did enough of that while you were still together. Keep focusing on how good you feel, watch for red flags in new potential partners and keep moving forward.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

      • amy
        November 17, 2009 at 7:08 pm

        I still feel numb and totally guilty for leaving. My husband & I have spoken several times since I left and he has told me that I provoked him, that I made him do the things he did. He even said I made him contact a lawyer regarding our property. Sure, ok. It’s maddening & depressing. I know I won’t be too trusting of people after this but each day is a little better than the one before.

        • NoSeRider
          November 17, 2009 at 8:46 pm

          Crazy people often make you feel crazy and responsible for ‘their’ behavior. If he’s smothering you with anger and contempt, you made the right choice. Most conflicts are not instigated by deductive reasoning but rather by emotional abuse.

    • Abe
      March 6, 2012 at 12:35 am

      Hi Amy…
      Just want to point out to you that you should stay positive and look forward to a more rewarding experience. Don’t let it get into you. I see that you might not want to marry again, and that touched my heart. I had this experience and truest me it gets better with time. You just dealt with an emotional vampire and all the confusion and heart you feel is directly proportional to hanging out with a dysfunctional person. Good luck…

  16. fromCOtoAZ
    May 6, 2009 at 1:09 am

    i really wish i would have read this 6 months ago. oh well, better now than never. i am very thankful for all that you have on this site. i frequent it often and have guided one of my best friends – a girl – to check out this site as well cuz i do think she will gain a lot from it. her ex is the male version of all that you have written.

    • shrink4men
      May 6, 2009 at 1:45 am

      Thanks for the positive feedback and thanks for spreading the word. I truly appreciate it!

      Kind Regards,
      Dr T

      • Mike
        July 30, 2010 at 9:50 pm

        Normally these BPDs girls (younger ones) tend to go for the older, richer guys. The guy takes the role of a father, care taker. She expects you to take care of her as if she´s some sort of a baby. This can be cute at the beginning but with time it gets draining…

        • Robert
          July 10, 2013 at 3:06 am

          Mike, you described my 4 year relationship with my ex-girlfriend in a few sentences. Wow! When I was with her I felt like dying, I had no energy what so ever, I was moody, my body began to have chronic pain everywhere, the day she moved out of my house, my health went through the roof, not to mention my mental and emotional health as well.

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