Home > Abusive relationships, Borderline Personality Disorder, bullying, divorce, Marriage, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Psychology, relationships > Another 5 Coping Strategies for Dealing with a Narcissistic or Borderline Women

Another 5 Coping Strategies for Dealing with a Narcissistic or Borderline Women

Rope_LadderThis is part three of Coping Strategies for Dealing with a Narcissistic or Borderline Woman and 5 More Coping Strategies for Dealing with a Narcissistic or Borderline Woman. These strategies aren’t guaranteed to help you avoid an attack or “fix” your relationship. If a BPD/NPD woman is determined to raise hell, she’s going to do it. Even if these strategies aren’t effective every time she’s looking to hurt you or get a reaction out of you, they can help you become aware of what’s going on in the moment and not get sucked into another endless conflict.

These women want you to react to their hurtful behaviors, so they can feel righteous, indignant, hurt and justified. If you don’t react, that upsets them, too. Remember, ultimately, there is no winning with this kind of woman. You win by not giving her the reaction she wants, disengaging, and if you can do it, ending the relationship and recovering yourself. Maintaining this level of hyper-vigilance and behavioral maintenance would be emotionally, physically and psychologically exhausting and I urge you not to do so:

11. Just the facts, ma’am, i.e., hold her accountable. Some of these women may become violent if you hold them accountable for their behaviors. If your wife or girlfriend is the non-violent type, holding her accountable may give you a respite from the yelling, carping, kvetching, insults, accusations, etc. She won’t admit you’re right. She’ll never accept responsibility for her abusive behaviors, lies, and distortions. You won’t get the validation and vindication you long for, but it may make her blink and go speechless, if only for a short while.

Don’t yell. Don’t get in her face the way she gets in yours. Calmly and clearly bring it all back to the facts. Commit these phrases to memory: “That’s not true.” “I won’t admit that’s true no matter how angry you get.” “That’s not how I remember it. Here’s what happened. . .” She’ll probably continue to talk or shout over you, change her story as she goes along, deny it ever happened and/or call you a liar, but that still doesn’t change the facts of her behaviors and events.

12. Choose your battles. You can’t respond to everything she says, does or demands. You just can’t. There aren’t enough hours in the day. Figure out your bottom line. Make concessions on small issues to allow her to feel like she’s “winning” and stick to your guns on the big issues. This will help to preserve your sanity.

13. Contain any and all emotions. Whatever you do, DON’T ask these women to explain their feelings and DON’T express yours. Yes, women complain that men don’t express how they feel enough, but expressing your emotions to a woman like this is a trap. It will be held and used against you in the future if you tell her what you’re thinking and feeling.

BPD/NPD women can’t handle their own intense emotions much less the emotions of others. That’s why these women are human projection machines—engaging in what I like to call “emotional projectile vomiting.” Think of feelings like anxiety, fear, self-doubt, worthlessness, self-loathing, anger, etc., like a case of food poisoning. As the bile starts to rise in your throat, you vomit, sometimes violently, wipe your mouth, burp and then say, “oh, that feels better.”

These women do the same thing, but with their emotions and guess who’s the toilet. . . you. You become the receptacle for their emotional bile. After they deposit the contents of their highly disturbed psyche onto you (projection) or into you (projective identification) they feel better because you’re now carrying their toxicity for them.

Of course, this leaves you upset, which these women don’t understand. They feel better, so why don’t you? You’re upset because of something they did? What’s wrong with you? You’re making things up. You’re being too sensitive. If you don’t just take it and pretend you’re alright afterward, it may trigger another attack episode. Remember, these women are genuinely taken aback when you express displeasure with their abusive behavior (see #7).

So when she starts projecting, don’t discuss her feelings—because that’s a bottomless pit—and don’t tell her how bad she’s making you feel because she’ll interpret that as an attack on her, which will then compel her to attack you again (that’s in addition to her initial attack). Briefly acknowledge her upset feelings and then direct the focus to something else.

These women are too emotionally raw and vulnerable, no matter how shut down they appear to be at times. Discussing feelings with them will only trigger her to escalate the abuse and dump on you some more. Don’t ask her how she feels, but rather, what she thinks you and she should do about it, assess the feasibility and proceed from there.

14. At the risk of sounding like a Zen devotee, because I’m not, DETACH FROM THE OUTCOME. You can’t control her. You can’t make her change. All you can do is make choices for yourself, decide how much you can tolerate, set boundaries and decide when enough is enough and end the relationship, which leads me to. . .

15. LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS.  Ordinarily, I’d encourage people to expect the best from others to create a positive self-fulfilling prophecy. However, expecting the best from women like this will only lead you to feel broadsided, perpetually disappointed, and hurt.

For all their crocodile tears and hyper-sensitivity, these women are emotional predators and bullies. If you stay in a relationship with one of these women, the best you can expect is more of the same. You may achieve some periods of “peace” if you can learn how not to trigger her 30% of the time (remember, she’s not responsible for her behavior; you’re responsible for her behavior and your behavior and all the other problems in the universe), how not to take her attacks personally (even though they’re extremely personal in nature), and how to maintain your boundaries through implementing behavioral consequences a small percentage of the time.

Again, these strategies are meant to be short-term coping skills, not long-term solutions. Next week, I’ll post the next 5 techniques, so please check back.

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. JT
    April 18, 2013 at 2:52 am

    My ex wife earns too little, spends more than she has, and often asks for more money, e en though I voluntarily doubled my child support when I got a new job. She said recetntly she has no food for the kids, and had tonsteal grocceries. I suggested I take the kids while she gets it together and she said they’re the reason she puts one foot I front of the other, and that it would mess them up if I took them. She’s usually hostile but right now she’s being nice, saying she has a spending disease and needs therapy but in the meantime could I borrow a few months child support from my parents, give it to her and pay them back so she won’t get evicted. She’s diagnosed bipolar but I’ve always wondered if she has BPD, traits at least, and instead of cutting, hurts herself financially and then holds the kids hostage. What the f do I do?

  2. jouncy
    April 12, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    Thank you sooo much! This may be for women but it applies a lot to my husband, especially the throw up part. He comes at me with all those hateful words and gets in my face at full speed ahead, I end up crying and then he says, “well, I feel better now” and smiles as he walks away. And of course we get into it in the first place because there is something wrong with me! Now I get it. I have only read this part but I will go back and read some more. Thanks everyone for your comments as well.

  3. Ozzie
    September 14, 2012 at 1:05 am

    Thank you everyone. This it is like a light in the darkness to know other people have the same experience. All this time I have been thinking that somehow it was my fault and I could change it.

    I should have guessed I was in for a wild ride when my wife’s first words, still at the alter were “if you leave me I will kill you”. Perhaps there is something about lawyers because my wife is one also. We have a girl 12y and a boy 8y. I have read that boys are very vulnerable to divorce until about 16. Now it is about surviving as best I can to protect our kids and helping them through it and them an exit strategy.


  4. Michael
    January 7, 2012 at 3:51 pm


    I posted this on one of the other pages of this article but have not heard anything, so am reposting here.

    I have read all these tips with great interest and see huge value in them for husbands. But what about Sons?

    My mother is the narcissist in my life. She’s been hostile to me ever sin ce my father walked out on her 35 years ago. I now have a 12 year marriage with 2 great kids, but my mother has grown worse and worse.

    In summer she was diagnosed with lung cancer. I sat with her eery day of the surgery and recovery. We seemed to get on well. Then, over Xmas, she dumped me again. She did it by stealing several hundred dollars from me (or not repaying me for gifts I had bought on her behalf over the holidays) and using the cash to buy herself an iPad and change the lock on her door (to stop me getting into her house) instead.

    I am her only child in this country… She has no one else here for her except friends, and has to go thru chemotherapy. My brother lives abroad and is the “golden child” who thinks I am the crazy one for alwYs picking fights with dear old mom.

    This is as painful for me as your other correspondents feel with regard to their wives. But you cannot divorce your mom, and have social and moral obligations to look after the old, the sick, and your own mother.

    Help… What do I do? I am losing my mind (having already lost my mom and my brother)!


    • shrink4men
      January 7, 2012 at 4:26 pm

      Hi Michael,

      Who says you have to remain in a relationship with a parent or other family member who abused you? Who says you have to take care of an older parent who hurt you horribly and is unappreciative of your efforts to care for her?

      As a child, you we’re dependent upon our parents. As adults, we can choose to have as little or as much contact with them as we like. If your mother continues to be abusive and cruel toward you, cut the rope and don’t look back.

      There is no managing Crazy. There is no managing sociopathy. The healthiest thing you can do for yourself is to get the hell away from toxic abusers and stay away if you’re not tied to them because of shared children.

      Dr T

      • danno
        January 9, 2012 at 1:51 pm

        Great advice, Dr. T.; thank you so much!

        Many of us who are involved with crazy Significant Others were primed for abusive realtionships by our psycho parents.

        Anyone who abuses us or sides with our abusers should be cut off. We don’t need them, and they’re not doing us (or themselves) any good with their hurtful behavior.

        I can’t thank you enough for this site.

      • Jonathan Doe
        March 15, 2012 at 7:37 am

        Dr T,

        They sociopath waif BPD finds third-parties to control to control–psychologically, socially, financially and weight…you can’t get away ever…they are obsessed. My ‘stalker’ situation has been going on for approx. ten years. ‘No Contact’ may sound good but it doesn’t work in reality—just third-party ‘baiting’ techniques and ‘victim-playing’ as they are destroying your life…as the victim…and contacting your manager with lies every time you tell the truth…so now I don’t work and she’s still a lawyer I met for a couple of minutes at best at a picnic…lose-lose…BPD…control all people at all times—stalk, blackmail, manipulate, control…all because I wasn’t interested in her…her smear campaign took away my entire life as planned—she had her closest person say ‘we are going to ruin your life’ ten years ago then they did…they would say things like ‘we figured out where you live’…

        Stalked by a Crazy Person

        • shrink4men
          March 15, 2012 at 3:26 pm

          You’re right, Jonathan Doe. Sometimes No Contact doesn’t stop a sociopath who is determined to cause you harm. Sometimes, the only thing that stops them is a lockdown facility, that is, if the authorities are willing to do anything about it.

  5. Argh.
    November 16, 2011 at 7:09 am

    hell, my ex the bipolar attorney poisoned me with mercury “to even out the mental playing field” and to cover up all the physical attacks on me and the kids. I left her 4 times in 4 yrs due to her abuse. She cries in court say she is a stay at home mom who is too depressed to work her law practice anymore and gets fn Alimony from me when she made more!! So I’m finanially ruined and had to leave. But before I became homeless she made sure to attack me 3 times, my girlfriend once and my son once. and she got off scott free. And she took everyone in my church to court. Now she’s had 2 yrs alone with our 8 yr old and she’s been telling everyone he is mentally disturbed and had him committed and drugged after she did the samething to me while poisoning me. She’s a sick fuck. And I got to go to a custody evaluation tomorrow and I don’t even know where to start!!

  6. sean
    April 30, 2011 at 12:21 am

    Hi, how does a woman with npd respond to divorce? Assuming she’s been asking for separation and is telling you she hates you and has boyfriends. Can someone walk me through their experience when they finally decided to get a divorce, things i should and should not do. Pearls and pitfalls. I might need multiple opinions on this so I can see it from different angles. What would a classic response be to different divorce methods: like if i simply file and serve her a restraining order, or if i tell her first, or if i attempt a join divorce agreed out through lawyers and not a judge?

    Also, when involved with an npd wife, will the husband run risk of developing similar characteristics or other disorders?

    • fightnpd
      January 10, 2012 at 2:37 am

      What ever you do dont tell her. I made that mistake. File first and be the plaintiff. Trust me.

  7. Atlanta One
    December 28, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Good article–I am dealing with a long BPD/NPD vilification/distortion campaign from a female lawyer stalker.

  8. November 19, 2009 at 12:32 am

    I am SO dealing with this but with my husband…how do we end up here?

  9. jham123
    September 28, 2009 at 6:18 am

    @ Jim R,

    It is amazing how they can read your mind. I’ve been devouring this blog; every article every reply since Dr. T started in Jan. My wife has seen this blog and she see’s me reading it…….

    …I’ve been reading for 9 days straight now…….and she has been trying to be so nice about everything……sort of “I’m not crazy” type of act.

    I think she senses things just aren’t “right”

    Thanks to this Blog and Dr. T, I’ve not been questioning her about why why why she did this or that…….I’ve found peace in my mind about the whole past 18 years.

  10. Jim R
    September 7, 2009 at 5:09 am

    After reviewing most of the tags I am amazed by how prevalent BPD and NPD women are and how most of the stories of abuse are a reflection of the life I have lived through for 26 years. My wife destroyed my Mother, alienated me from my brother for nearly 15 years, left me with no friends, deprived my children and their grandmother and uncle from knowing each other and left me with physical and psychological problems. Today she only verbally abused me once and other than that she has been sweet as can be. I think she realizes I am finally taking steps to divorce her. Funny thing is that she has seen or heard nothing – it seems she can read my mind. It is astounding how often she knows what is going on in my mind or what I have been trying to keep from her for my own protection. I wish I had found this blog many years ago. Now to find an attorney and a judge familiar with the pain of being a victim of an abusive wife. The media and law enforcement only seem to be concerned about abused wives. Abused husbands are treated like wimps and the subject of jokes in their eyes. If it weren’t for the psychological effect on my kids I would have killed myself long ago.

  11. Mike
    August 12, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Interesting story on the “triggering” related to you expressing you were hungry. I once “triggered” a HUGE blowup that lasted for a week (until she just dropped the argument because we were going on a cruise) by simply saying that I didn’t think we had time to meet up with her friend before the game because I wanted to get to our seats before kickoff. You would have thought I asked her to cut her leg off or something. Of course this argument happened after I had spent the previous weekend at the hospital with her and her family because her mother (whom she despises) had cancer surgery. How unbelievable things were over and over and over…….

  12. Mike911
    July 27, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    Hey folks, thanks for all the great advice and thoughts. I’d like to share a couple of incidents that occurred this past weekend…I feel that some of you might read ’em and experience a “deja vu”.

    Saturday morning, me, the wife, and the dog take a 1/2 hour ride to a well-known bakery…it’s been featured on TLC. OK fine; while she’s getting some stuff for us and her sisters, I walk around with the dog. When leaving, she mentions that she hasn’t had breakfast (neither had I), and if there was a bagel store or Dunkin Donuts, could we stop? Sure, no prob…so we stopped at DD, and she asked if I wanted anything…I say no, and SPECIFICALLY say that while I’m hungry, since we’re only “dropping off” at her sister’s house, I could wait ’til we got home. So, she got a sandwich at DD…of course, griping that they didn’t make it “right”. When we got to my SIL’s house, the dog had to “take care of business”, so I went in the yard with the dog, while she went inside.

    Next thing you know, 45 minutes has gone by! Finally, she concludes her chat inside, and we’re getting going. While getting into the car, she mentions that we have to drop off a bag at her friend’s house around the corner. Without thinking (dopey idiot I am!), I say “OK, but please no yakking, I’m starving and need to eat.” Uh-oh, trigger time…I proceed to get the speech about “It’s not what you say, it’s the words you use and the tone of voice.” Correct? Maybe, but yet never got an apology about my hunger…instead, I got the guilt trip, that their conversation was about my health issues…meanwhile, I’m silently thinking “Well, I’m gonna have a STOMACH issue in a few minutes from not eating!”

    Later that day, we had attended the wedding of a friend of hers from work. Now, we had “pre-discussed” that if she wanted to drink, that was fine, but I would like to have, at most, 2 or 3 drinks. The event was fine, we had a mostly enjoyable evening…until later on. I had my three drinks, and the waitress had taken my empty 3rd drink and replaced it. I never touched it, but when she saw it, she quietly detonated…despite my explanations re: replaced without my knowledge. She said I should’ve “pushed it to the center of the table”…WTF??? Upon driving home later (15 minute drive), I got the rant…”You have no consideration for me, you know how I feel about drinking and driving…” and this winner: “You have no right taking MY life into your hands”…OK. But yet, it’s OK when you’ve gone to AC and you let your half-drunk brother drive OUR car home 1 1/2 hours because “…well, you know how my brother gets belligerent when he’s drunk, and I didn’t want to fight with him…” (Yes, she did say that once!) I see, so it’s OK for your brother to risk your life on a 90-mile ride late at night while soused, but your husband can’t drive you 7 miles after having 3 drinks over a 5-hour period. Allrighty then!

    Being an action movie buff, I have a habit of using well-known lines as fodder. How many of you have seen the 4th Die Hard movie? In the climactic scene, the bad guy tells McClane, “Your tombstone should say ‘always in the wrong place at the wrong time.'” You know what mine should say? “Always said the wrong words in the wrong tone at the wrong time.” Me personally, truer words cannot describe what it’s like being married to a BPD/NPD.

  13. shrink4men
    July 24, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Thanks, Freedom! Good user name, btw.

    Dr T

  14. Freedom
    July 24, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    i love the picture you chose for this particular blog. cuz that’s the ONLY way to get out, get healthy, and get back to being happy… step by step. it takes courage, strength, fortitude and personal honesty to climb that ladder and get back out into the sunshine.

  15. Mike911
    July 22, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    Oh, just wanted to add a little more info, and a bit of levity.

    I’d bet the ranch that MOST of you guys here with BPD/NPD spouses do most, if not ALL the housework? That is, cook, clean, vacuum, laundry, yadda-yadda…am I right, guys?

    Lastly, while putting away clothes today from doing said laundry, I came across a t-shirt I bought down in Disney World a couple of years ago. It’s a Grumpy shirt (gee, I wonder why?), and it says:

    I’m right

    You’re wrong

    Any questions?

    How accurate is that? Should be a mandatory part of any BPD/NPD’s wardrobe…

    • Tony
      July 22, 2009 at 5:38 pm

      Well, I have to put my hands up here and say no. My wife works hard in the home and does do the majority of the housework. I can’t deny her that. (She is folding laundry as I type this on my laptop.) ‘Course I have my share of the work which if I don’t attend to will cause problems, but this might be fair and not like some of the narc triggers.

      I do wonder at the “ditch the bitch” advice given unanimously. This is clearly a disorder with a spectrum of symptoms. I even read about “healthy narcissism.” So there must be a point between “healthy narcissism” and “ditch the bitch” were it is going to be hard, but possible to work through.

      • shrink4men
        July 24, 2009 at 2:07 pm

        Hi Tony,

        “Healthy narcissism” is a confusing term. It basically means healthy, realistic self-esteem and has nothing whatsoever to do with NPD.

        Here’s how you can tell the difference between healthy self-esteem and narcissism: Ask a person what he or she would like to improve or change about him- or herself. An individual with healthy self-esteem will have no trouble coming up with a list of things that he or she would like to improve without beating up on themselves. They realize that everyday, they’re a work in progress and there are always new things to learn about yourself.

        A narcissist will give you a death stare and tell you, “I’ve done my work. How dare you imply I should change anything. You’re the one with the problems. Who do you think you are? HOW DARE YOU imply there’s something wrong with me?” There are people out there who will disagree with me, but I just don’t think you can work through this entrenched mentality. It’s a highly primitive defensive stance. To a NPD it’s a matter of ego preservation vs. ego annihilation (i.e., a matter of life and death) and they will fight you on this to the bitter end.

        The pain will subside once you stop banging your head against the wall. Think about it.

        Dr Tara

        • gib
          September 12, 2014 at 5:38 am

          Hi Dr T,
          I like the nice short test – is this specific to NPD, and is there a similar test to apply to other Cluster-B types?

    • Mr. E
      July 22, 2009 at 8:25 pm

      Yep, though recently she seems to be “inspired” to do more housework. But generally speaking, yes, if something gets cleaned, chances are I did it.

      In the past I used to get in trouble for not having dinner ready when she got home (obviously, I got home earlier). When our schedules reversed, guess who was still expected to cook…

      I’m also expected to handle buying airline tickets, making hotel reservations, renting cars, getting quotes for house repairs…. you know, everything.

  16. Mike911
    July 22, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    Dbear, thanks for the advice. And, you’re dead-on right about the miserable factor…when I take the time to step back and look at her family’s dynamic, I see the pattern…other than her one sister, who just retired as a schoolteacher, they’re all just miserable people.

    I mean, her brother has two kids from his aborted marriage: One son who’s 25, with 2 college degrees from a prestigious Philadelphia university who can’t hold a steady job, who’s already showing signs of being an alky like his father and grandfather, spends plenty of time in casinos blowing money he really can’t afford…a daughter who’s 21, got knocked up at 17, and even though she FINALLY got an A.S. degree, still won’t get a decent job, but keeps milking her dad for more and more money…and even though she’s says how much she hates her mother, still lives at her house and feeds at the public trough, AND uses her mother to aggravate my brother-in-law.

    Yet, I think brother-in-law THRIVES off this conflict. Even when things are “stable”, he’s still a miserable person…it seems like NOTHING makes him happy, short of winning big down at the AC casinos. Nice life, huh?

    What my wife misses in her “no pain meds” rant is that from 2001 to 2007, when she discovered that I was taking them, everything was “hunky-dory”, and it was only SINCE then that I had these “personality changes”. Yeah, I realize that violating her “trust” and withholding this information isn’t right, but I just didn’t want to chance hitting one of those triggers. What’s laughable is the stubborn resistance to even a supervised “test”; I can understand “once bitten, twice shy”, but she has now seen the xrays, she’s heard other medical professionals describe the damage as “never seen anything this bad in 20 years of practice”, and STILL no budging from her stance. Again, classic control issues…

    I guess at this point I’d like US to go to counseling just to confirm that I’m not the nutty one, and that WHEN (not IF) I decide to leave, I will be confident in my decision. I’m also quite concerned about the probable smear/distortion campaign that’s sure to follow, but, enough people, both family AND friends (particularly hers), know us well enough to know that they’ve already seen the “brow-beating” and public humiliation to know differently.

    • Tony
      July 22, 2009 at 5:24 pm

      Mike911, sorry to hear about your situation. Like you, I see counselling as part of the process. I expect that any victories gained in the counselling session will cost later. I remember a long time ago going for some counselling with my wife. I brought up the fact that time and again I would endure issues in arguments, and that my wife would NEVER apologise for ANYTHING. Eventually I had to just let it go. No closure.

      The counsellor remarked that “That must be very difficult for you.” The rest of the session focussed around my wife’s inability to grant closure. The counsellor, very insightfully, explored further back in my wife’s history. Ignoring my wife’s usual “I don’t apologise to him, because whenever I have done this in the past…. ” (blaming me for her shortcomings)

      My heart was racing – the things my wife was saying were alien, she had never spoken like this before. She explained some of her childhood problems. Hallelujah! We are making a real discovery. I was elated. She understands her own problems. When the counselling session ended I wanted to give my wife a big hug on the stairs outside, but she seemed to miss this. We drove home – just a few minutes by car. Little speaking. “Am I getting the silent treatment?” I thought, but dare not ask. I didn’t have to wonder for long – 5 minutes at home. Narc attack.. “How dare…” I play the victim. You can fill in the rest.

      • shrink4men
        July 24, 2009 at 1:58 pm

        Hi Tony and Mike911,

        My comments must read like a broken record. I had a logjam of comments to reply to and the admin board lists them out of sequence. Let me reiterate, therapy not only doesn’t work with individuals who take no responsibility for their actions and blame others instead, it also becomes another device in the BPD/NPD’s arsenal with which to bludgeon you. Just like your wife twists the things you say and do, she will also twist what a therapist says—especially if the therapist holds her accountable.

        Additionally, if you divulge any “state secrets” (i.e., expose her abusive behavior) in treatment there will be hell to pay later on, away from the eyes of the therapist. Most NPD’s/BPD’s save their worst attacks for when there are no witnesses present. I think it’s a fine idea for you to seek individual counseling to support you for this difficult process, but don’t include your wife.

        Kind Regards,
        Dr Tara

    • shrink4men
      July 24, 2009 at 1:51 pm

      Hi Mike,

      I want to address what you wrote in the last paragraph of your comment:

      I guess at this point I’d like US to go to counseling just to confirm that I’m not the nutty one, and that WHEN (not IF) I decide to leave, I will be confident in my decision. I’m also quite concerned about the probable smear/distortion campaign that’s sure to follow, but, enough people, both family AND friends (particularly hers), know us well enough to know that they’ve already seen the “brow-beating” and public humiliation to know differently.

      Couples counseling will not help you prove that she’s the nutty one. Therapists are trained to remain “neutral”—at least when it’s the woman who’s abusive. Worse yet, even if they can see that’s she’s out of her gourd, they’re unlikely to acknowledge this. Furthermore, you already tried couples counseling before and you wife twisted it around to make you the source of the problem. I think if you go this route again you’ll be wasting your money and time and are unlikely to receive the validation you’re seeking.

      As for a potential smear campaign, you’re right to expect it. However, you can take the wind out of her sails if you approach the people who matter most to you and give them a head’s up of what to expect. Explain the situation as calmly and clearly as you can. Avoid badmouthing her and her family. Just explain what it’s been like for you and how you’ve felt. Tell them that you hate having this discussion with them, but you suspect your wife will further try to punish you by maligning you to the people you care about and you don’t want them to be taken by surprise if your wife starts slinging mud. If you do this, you minimize the shock factor of the smear campaign. Your friends and family will remember what you told them and her efforts just may backfire on her. As for her family, do you really care what they think of you? Best to wash your hands of the whole lot of them. Looks like the apples didn’t fall very far from the tree, so to speak.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  17. Mike911
    July 21, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    OK folks, here’s a challenge for y’all…first the facts.

    –Currently married for 18+ yrs
    –No children (she had health issues-ovarian cysts, etc.)
    –Wife came from VERY screwed up family–parents verbally abused each other constantly (both deceased now), 3 older sisters NEVER married (or EVEN dated!), 1 older brother married 9 yrs, two kids, been divorced for 20 yrs, no women in his life since (and not gay)
    –Wife is the youngest; she’s now 49
    –I’m the oldest of six kids, stable, normal family; I’m 45
    –Wife had TWO short relationships (one sexual) before we dated; I dated quite a few women, one long-term (3 yrs), and six “partners”
    –Wife has always had a weight problem; medical diagnosis of insulin resistance; always told her that weight was not an issue for me UNLESS it became a health issue; which it has, as her cholesterol is 253, and she REFUSES to take medication for it
    –I have had severe rheumatoid arthritis for 23+ yrs, before her, and while it’s now controlled by meds, stress aggravates the resulting joint damage pain

    Anyway, going back 10+ yrs, I had looked into BPD, as she demonstrated the classic “Move away closer” characteristics. And, like so many of us men here feel, I figured I could “make things better” and that “it had to be MY fault” she would fly off into the emotional rages that we all experience with BPD spouses.

    Last year, she “made” me taper off my pain medication, as she was convinced beyond ANY doubt that it was causing “personality changes” in me. Oh, and the fact that work (and yes, we worked at the same place then: her for the last 18 yrs, me from 2000 to 2008) was slow and I was aggravated that business was real slow and the owners weren’t doing anything about it? And how about recognizing stresses here at home? But of course, BPDs never see anything wrong with THEIR behavior…

    I/we went to a therapist last summer, and while I in particular learned many good skills, I heard plenty of the “poor me” comments out of her during the sessions. After a few joint sessions, she (my wife) didn’t feel it was necessary for her to go anymore, as I was the problem…after a few more solo sessions, I realized that “resistance was futile”, and stopped going as well.

    So, let me see…I’m unemployed, thanks to the economy, and since she feels that I should get my joint damage fixed while out of work, I’m kinda stuck in this “dependency” mode. Of course, being off the pain meds, every part of my body hurts like hell, and she just outright refuses to allow even a “test” to see if said “personality changes” emerge…she’s made it clear that if I want to return to pain therapy, she’s gone.

    I do love her very much, but I’m guessing that y’all think I should “beat feet” and make tracks ASAP, right? I’m really not thrilled with the prospect of starting over at 45, but, do I want to be stuck in this “death sentence” for the next 30 or so yrs…

    Oh, one last thing: Last year, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome…you can look it up, and then think about THAT combined with a BPD spouse. Maybe I should RUN not walk away???

    • dbear
      July 22, 2009 at 2:12 pm


      Get back on the pain therapy for you! She wants you to be as miserable as she is. And if she leaves then you have 2 sources of pain relieved. :)

      • shrink4men
        July 24, 2009 at 1:40 pm

        Hi dbear,

        Just read your comment after posting mine. I basically said the same thing about Mike911 having two sources of pain. Too funny! Sad situation, but it’s good to find the humor where ever and whenever you can.

        Dr T

    • shrink4men
      July 24, 2009 at 1:28 pm

      Hi Mike911,

      Is your wife a medical doctor? No? Then disregard her medical advice and take care of yourself. First, I’d be highly surprised if she actually leaves if you resume treatment (assume you’re going to a pain mgmt clinic and not solely taking pills–PSA announcement: Opiates are highly addictive and dependency forming. For chronic conditions, you should take them under strict supervision of a medical doctor while receiving alternate forms of treatment to control the painPSA finished). Second, even if she does leave, would it really be that big big of a loss? Seems to me if that occurred, you’d be neutralizing another major source of pain.

      Your wife’s ultimatum about not taking your medication is another control tactic that’s probably intended to keep you in a weakened state so that she can get better reactions when she pokes at you. 45 is not too old to start over. You’re never to old to have a chance at happiness and peace. Furthermore, you refer to your marriage as a “death sentence.” That’s pretty strong language and, I think, answers you question about running as opposed to walking away.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  18. rom
    June 30, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    I do not understand are these women crazy or not? What do they hope to acheive by behaving in this way? Do they have a game plan or are they self aware of their manipulation?

  19. Vicki B.
    June 19, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    Excellent series of answers. I found these very helpful because they are concise, practical and can be used immediately. Better than much of what I have read about BPD.

    • shrink4men
      June 19, 2009 at 6:31 pm

      Thanks, Vicki.

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