Is It My Fault that My Borderline Girlfriend and I Broke Up?
I received the following email from a young man who recently broke up with his Borderline Personality Disorder girlfriend. He’s struggling with blaming himself with what went wrong in the relationship and maintaining a “friendship” with his ex.
I met my ex online several months after my previous long term relationship ended due to infidelity on my partner’s behalf. When I met my ex online, she was the sweetest, smartest, most passionate and loving person I’d ever met. We immediately hit it off, and fell in love with each other in less than 2 weeks.
She was planning to move to the city where I lived, but plans fell through with her roommates, so we decided she could live with me a for a few months until she found a place of her own. As soon as she got off the plane (the first time we met in person), I knew something was off.
She was so anxiety ridden that she could not even look at me. It took a few days before we had our first fight. It was shocking too me how emotional and aggressive she became. This pattern of behavior grew more common and I grew distant, not wanting to get hurt anymore. My distance was also fueled by the grief from my last relationship, which she eventually discovered by breaking into my email. I went to therapy to get past all of this, but she still used that distance during the last 2 years we were together as a valid reason to resent me.
Once a week we would have an earth shattering argument that she would start, usually about something so minor (like me not liking her favorite band) that it seems ridiculous. Fights start with her getting offended, her anxiety grows, and then the shouting and tears begin. This was usually followed with name calling, insults, and sometimes physical abuse. The night often ended with her making a rough attempt at suicide, hitting herself, and me forcibly holding her down until she fell asleep or had a seizure.
At one point, she knew she was going to lose me unless she got help, so she visited a therapist, started medication and therapy, and things got better. Friends noticed how happy and upbeat she was. She was cleaner, more independent, and I was falling for her again. She kept on this routine until my father died (the time I needed her most) when she stopped taking her medication.
Her emotional stability became my responsibility again, and at this time, I was having a hard enough time keeping myself together. I was grumpy, sad, and easily annoyed, and at the same time, she was unstable and messy again. A perfect storm!
After a few months, I got myself together and realized I was acting controlling because I felt out of control after my dad died. I admitted this to her and apologized, but she still resented me for it. She was mad every night, yelling and screaming, until I ended things. She moved out after a few months, but in the mean time she flaunted that she was dating other people and had sex with someone else in front of me. When she saw how much that hurt me, she berated me for breaking up with her and that this was my fault.
I have only had one serious relationship before this. I was with her 4 years. She had some issues, but I nothing this serious. For the most part, it was a normal stable relationship until she cheated on me a few weeks before I was going to propose (with my roommate who knew this) and things fell apart after that. She cheated on me again a few months later with a coworker, which in therapy I realized she was running from her problems instead of fixing them.
From what I can see, the biggest mistake you made was letting a woman you knew for only 2 weeks via phone and email move in with you from another city without having spent any time together in person. You fell for a classic BPD trick, “My roommates are mean, unreliable, flaky,” etc., etc., “Can I just stay with you temporarily until I find a place of my own/other roommates?”
The answer to this question if you’ve only known a woman for a short time and/or if you’re already having relationship problems should always be a resounding, “NO.” I’d be skeptical that she had “roommates” lined up at all. Her plan all along may have been to move in with you. Even if she had a potential apartment/roommate, she probably sabotaged the situation before arriving to your town. When women like your ex-girlfriend have roommates, they typically have trouble getting along with them because of the same erratic, needy and abusive behaviors she directed toward you.
These women are like cockroaches. Once you let them in your home, they’re damn near impossible to get out. Don’t feel embarrassed about this. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard or read similar stories except that in those situations, these women also had their pet cat or catsssss in tow.
When you meet a woman online, especially when she’s dating outside her own geographic area, BE SKEPTICAL. Why is she choosing to date so far out of her zip code? Does she have intimacy problems? Is she having a long distance relationship as a way to avoid building intimacy? Or, is she so freaking crazy that she burned through the dating pool in her town?
Sometimes people who contact you from other cities that express an interest in you are perfectly sweet, good people; but sometimes they’re not. When beginning a relationship, most people don’t want to start off with the extra hurdle of a 100 + mile distance. I’d be willing to wager your ex didn’t plan to move to your town until she met you online. That was probably a ruse so that you’d “date” her even though she was living in another city. She most likely saw you as a “geographic cure” for her problems.
For future reference, when a woman like your ex comes to you “in crisis”— a crisis she probably created, by the way—and “needs” to stay with you “temporarily,” she’s violating the ultimate personal boundary. Your response should be a very gentle, but firm, “Gosh, I’m sorry you’re having trouble finding a place to live or with your roommates, but I just don’t feel that we’ve known each other long enough to let you move in, even temporarily. However, if you want, I’ll help you find another apartment.”
The bottom line is, when you really need to find another place to live, you find it—whether it’s with a friend, family, or a temporary sublet. There are always options, so don’t fall for her “damsel in distress shtick.”
Setting the boundary and telling her, “no,” won’t be the end of it. She’ll amp up the tears, anger and guilt and probably say things like, “You don’t really love me/care about me. I spend the night here a couple times a week, so what’s the big deal? I can’t believe you won’t help me? Do you want me living on the streets? Is that what you want?!! You’re a selfish jerk! Maybe we should break up!”
Your response to this level of manipulation and emotional blackmail is, “I hear how upset you are and I know it can be tough to find an apartment (especially if you’re a crazy, self-destructive lunatic), but I don’t think moving in is a good idea. If you like, I’ll help you find another place to live. If you want to break up over this, it’s probably a strong sign we shouldn’t be together because you’re asking me to do something that makes me feel uncomfortable.”
She’ll probably continue to rev herself up and rage and accuse you of having “commitment” and “intimacy issues” all the while threatening to end the relationship. Most men panic at the thought of her ending the relationship or begin to feel guilty and believe her manipulations. BIG MISTAKE.
As for the rest of her behaviors you described, she appears to be an off the charts BPD—especially the suicide threats/gestures. What a nightmare. Count yourself fortunate that you got out.
It seems like you became involved with this woman on the rebound from a very painful relationship with your previous ex. While the last girlfriend doesn’t sound as crazy and erratic as this one, she dealt you a double betrayal—sleeping with your friend/roommate (he also betrayed you and I hope you don’t consider him a “friend” anymore) and then her co-worker. Clearly, this woman has her own set of issues. Then you rushed right into a relationship sight unseen with Ms. BPD who also betrayed you in numerous ways.
During your 2 week online courtship, she put on a false front of sweetness and normalcy. As soon as she showed up, the mask was removed and the horror show began. Then she had sex with other men IN YOUR APARTMENT knowing full well about your previous relationship. Lose the guilt, man. You should’ve kicked her out of your apartment and sent her back to where ever it was she came from the first time she threw one of her fits. I understand you wanted to help her. Hopefully, you’ve learned a valuable lesson. You can’t help these women. All you can do is protect yourself from them and end all contact.
My advice to you is to NOT start dating again right away. Please give yourself a dating “timeout” until you sort through these last two relationships, examine your codependency issues and get wise to these kinds of women. You seem like a very kind, supportive and generous guy. Exactly the kind of guy who is a prime target for abusive women.
When you are ready to date again, TAKE IT SLOW. Really get to know the next woman before you commit to a relationship much less cohabitation. NPD/BPD women put on a good front at first, but they can’t maintain the Dr Jekyll persona for very long before Ms. Run and Hyde appears. And when Ms. Hyde appears, don’t feel guilty. Don’t feel obligated to help her. The only obligation you have is to yourself and to get out of harm’s way
Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD
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Angry woman on brandsizzle.