Home > Abusive relationships, Borderline Personality Disorder, bullying, divorce, Marriage, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, relationships > Can an Abusive Borderline Personality Disorder Woman Really Change?

Can an Abusive Borderline Personality Disorder Woman Really Change?

Hi Dr Tara,

First off, I want to thank you and inform you that your website has been great for opening my eyes and helping me in my healing process.  These may be questions to use in a blog post:

Starting in 2008, I began dating a single-mother whom I believe may have been a BPD/NPD.  Although she never verified to me that she was diagnosed as one, I do know she had her own personal therapist she called every so often and took “anti-anxiety” pills at times.  The relationship started out fantastic.  The sex was great, she gave me Hallmark cards telling me how wonderful I was, and we had so much fun together.

There were little things here and there, “red flags” so to speak, she did every once in a while, but I blew them off.  One of which was constantly accusing me of looking at other women, which I can tell you I NEVER did.  My focus was ALWAYS on her. Once at a concert, at the beginning of our relationship, she even pulled me out of a line by my arm while I was getting us drinks, telling me that I was standing too close to the female in front of me.  I ignored that issue….even thinking to myself that she must really love me to get that protective.

After a couple months of dating, she asked me to move in with her. I politely declined saying that it was too early, and since she was a single mother I did not think it was the best thing at the moment.  I was not ready to be the father of her child after a couple months, and I just did not think it was the right thing to do.  She seemed to accept me not moving in, but that is when everything started getting out of hand.

During the next several months I was subject to much verbal, emotional, even physical abuse.  She constantly checked my cell phone; wanted to know my email password, etc. (would kick me out of the house if I did not give passwords to her); set-up a fake online cell phone account in my name (with my number) so she could monitor my phone activities (which she lied about when I confronted her about it); attached my email to her Blackberry so she could receive every email I received; chased me down in her car when I left her house after an argument telling me she was going to crash into the back of my car; got mad when I did things with my “guy” friends and told me I should only do those things with her and her child; physically hit and assaulted me on two separate occasions during an argument in which she accused me of somethings I never did (I never laid a finger on her or verbally attacked her); chased me with an object while I was leaving in my car after she assaulted me, causing me to be terrified, open the door while forgetting to put the car in park, and being dragged by my car down the driveway and across the street; told me she didn’t want me around, just wanted me for my money; cursed at me and insulted me with name-calling; called me a “baby” and too “sensitive” when I expressed my feelings; told me that “I” needed therapy because “I” was a “baby” and too “sensitive.”

During these times, somehow I was in denial about the abuse and did EVERYTHING I possibly could to help her and make her happy.  She had a troubled family life in which her father left her mother when she was 1, her mother was an alcoholic, and she rarely sees her father. I tried all I could to show her true “love” and make her world a better place.  Yet, she did all these things to me and nothing I did was good enough.  When our relationship ended, she even had the nerve to tell me I had no “backbone.”  In a way, that was the most honest thing she ever said to me.  I should have left LONG ago.

However, for some reason, I am still looking for closure from her.  I wait for some kind of apology.  She has kept in contact with me over the last 4 months from time to time (we broke up 4 months ago) emailing me telling me she has come “a long way” in the past year…whatever that is supposed to mean.  And texting me telling me that she is trying to “reach-out” to me. Yet, I still wait for this “apology” from her for her behavior.  Can a person like this ever apologize?  Can they really change? What happened within me that wants this apology so badly?  Did she have traits of BPD?

Thanks for your time,
Hi Scott,
I can’t technically diagnose a person I’ve never met. However, given your description of your ex’s behavior, it’s highly likely she has some strong BPD traits, if not the full-blown disorder. Many undiagnosed borderlines, narcissists and other abusive personality types are best identified by the damage left in their wake—just like archaeologists know that Mt. Vesuvius erupted in Pompeii by the layers of debris they unearthed. You lived through it, which makes you the expert of your own experience. If you’ve read the diagnostic criteria and it seems to fit, your conclusions are probably correct. I’ve organized my response into 6 sections. Hope this helps:
1. Kaboom! The Love Bomb. It appears your relationship began with the classic abuse tactic known as love bombing, which is often used by abusive personalities and cult recruiters. You write: The relationship started out fantastic.  The sex was great, she gave me Hallmark cards telling me how wonderful I was, and we had so much fun together. Predators often drug their prey with love, admiration, validation, affection, adoration, flattery, laser beam attention, responsiveness and sexual and non-sexual touching. When love bombing, they hang on your every word and create a sense of instant rapport, connection and intimacy.

Don’t feel bad. Many people are seduced by this kind of behavior. Abusers play to your ego needs and then turn the tables on you, which is why it’s so difficult to break away once the abuse begins in earnest. Bottom line: The faster and higher someone puts you on a pedestal early in your courtship, the longer and harder you fall when they kick the pedestal out from beneath you. Intense valuation is always followed by intense devaluation with most borderlines or individuals with borderline traits.

2. Emotional Bullshit and the Toxic Trio. In Emotional Bullshit (2008), Carl Alasko, PhD refers to the foundation of all relationship emotional bullshit as the Toxic Trio, which includes denial, delusion and blame. I would argue that most relationships with abusive personalities run on the methane emitted by Grade A Emotional Bullshit. (*To purchase this book via Amazon please use my affiliate link above or click on the image).

Alasko writes:

“I call denial, delusion and blame the Toxic Trio because they always work together, and whenever they’re in action, a relationship is filled with toxic, negative energy. The result is an increase in the harmful emotions: anxiety, anger, fear and pain. Once the cycle begins, the relationship is either doomed to failure, or its full level of satisfaction is compromised” (Alasko, 2008, p.7).

To understand how the Toxic Trio works—the language and motivation—Alasko offers this typical script:

“DENIAL SAYS: There is no problem. Everything is okay. You’re exaggerating. The issue doesn’t matter; it’s irrelevant. (So I don’t have to change anything.)

DELUSION SAYS: Let me tell you what’s really true. Don’t believe what you see. Believe me. (The imaginary world I’ve created works for me.)

BLAME SAYS: You’re the problem. I was forced to do it; I had no choice. Or, it just happened. Destiny willed it. (No one understands my true motives. Your accusations only make things worse)“(Alasko, 2008, p.8).

You write: There were little things here and there, “red flags” so to speak, she did every once in a while, but I blew them off. You made the classic mistake of ignoring the early warning signs that something isn’t right. This is a form of denial from which delusion, myriad rationalizations and minimization of her bad behavior and your unfounded self-blame spring. She was just having a bad day. It’s not that bad. I can take it. I must have done something to really upset her. She must really love to get so angry and jealous.

Denying and deluding yourself to your ex-girlfriend’s problems got you into that hot mess. Don’t make the other classic mistake of believing that a predator can change her spots and re-enlist for Round 2. This type of person doesn’t change without hardcore, long-term treatment and even then, there’s no guarantee of any real change.

3. Boundaries Shmoundaries. When it comes to intimate relationships, many borderlines follow the sales credo, ABC—Always Be Closing. They invade your boundaries and move in fast. If it feels like your relationship is on warp speed; follow your instincts and put on the brakes. These individuals typically disarm you with love bombing while pushing the relationship forward at an unusually fast speed. Wanting to move in after only 2 months of dating is a definite warning sign and good for you for heeding that one.

Your instincts were correct and healthy, which is why your ex-girlfriend escalated her abusive behaviors. She was punishing you for having healthy boundaries. Abusers come down hard on any barriers to their ultimate objective—total control. They will vilify you for any self-care acts. They want you to be in a weakened state. You’re easier to control that way.

4. Abuse is Abuse. No One Gets a Pass—Not Even Poor Little Waif BPDs. Please re-read the long paragraph of emotional and physical abuse perpetrated on you by your ex-girlfriend. It shouldn’t make a rat’s behind of difference if your ex had a troubled childhood. It may explain some of her behaviors, but it does NOT excuse them.

Enough of this, “but she had bad parents and a bad childhood. We should all pity her and learn how to be more patient and forgiving.She dragged you down the driveway with your car and we should feel sorry for her because of her shitty parents and terrible childhood? BPD is not a Get Out of Jail Free card. Many BPDs are as sane and as well-behaved as they want to be when conducting a charm offensive or when they’re with people who won’t tolerate their bad behavior. She is responsible for her actions.

If you were a woman and your ex-girlfriend was a man; she would be in jail. In fact, she should be in jail for the physical abuse and reckless endangerment. SHE IS A DANGEROUS PERSON. You don’t treat abuse with patience and understanding. This is a load of crap promoted by BPD advocacy groups and other feminist organizations. Tolerate, understand and forgive the abuse if it’s perpetrated by a woman. Punish, prosecute and impoverish if it’s perpetrated by a man. No double standards for emotional and physical violence. Period.

You’re lucky to be out of this relationship physically intact and alive. If someone with BPD truly is incapable of controlling her behavior, particularly if she engages in violent behavior, then she should be in a facility—penal and/or psychiatric. (*Note to BPDs reading this: I did not say incapable of controlling her emotions—you can feel as crazy and out of control as you like; acting out your crazy emotions is another matter entirely)

5. You Can’t Save Everybody. Just Pray You’re Not Living Next Door to Them When They Decide to Go Off (Dennis Miller, Black & White, 1990). You can’t save someone who won’t admit she has a problem and attacks you for the many kindnesses you show her. This is the classic fable of The Frog and the Scorpion. You cannot save people like your ex. She has to do the heavy lifting. You can’t do it for her. All you will get for trying to help her is more heartache—just like the frog in the fable.

Many borderlines and other abusers treat their intimate partners as need gratifying objects instead of individual autonomous beings with their own needs, feelings and rights. “Many people with BPD, for instance, will be empathic towards, and care for, other people only under the expectation that the other person will ‘be there’ for them on demand. Many habitually make impractical claims that others are not ‘there’ enough and make unrealistic demands for amount of time spent together. They often inappropriately respond with intense anger to even brief separations or slight changes in plans” (APA, DSM-IV-R, 2000). You’re not an object; you’re a person. You will more than likely never be more than an object to be used by this woman to fulfill her bottomless pit of unquenchable, unreasonable needs.

Oftentimes, trying to rescue a Borderline is like trying to rescue a Big Bank; they’ll deplete your resources and you’ll be left with nothing to show for it except extreme losses. Furthermore, you’re the one who needed rescuing; you needed to be rescued from your ex-girlfriend. If this is a recurring relationship pattern for you, I encourage you to find someone to work with you on nipping this in the bud. Being a “rescuer” attracts women like your ex like bees to honey.

6. Closure Means Closing the Door. It’s natural to want closure at the end of a relationship. Unfortunately, you will rarely find closure with this kind of woman, so you’re probably not going to get an apology—unless it’s to manipulate you back into the relationship. Women like your ex rarely take responsibility for their actions and, as you’re well aware, blame you for their own transgressions. You want an apology because she wronged you very badly. She owes you an apology, but her pathology won’t allow her to give you one.

These women only value what they don’t have, which is why she’s reaching out to you now. This is called hoovering. Hoovering is a metaphor used to explain how abusive personalities, such as borderlines, histrionics and narcissists, try to suck their victims back into relationships by temporarily displaying improved or contrite behavior and/or claiming to have “changed.” BPDs tend to act like boomerangs and try to maintain contact after you break up, which also makes it difficult to find closure.

If you were to reconcile, she would probably devalue and abuse you again. As previously noted, you may get an apology from her, but it would ultimately be meaningless. It would be a manipulation, i.e., she figures out that if she apologizes she might be able to get you back. As for getting closure, I think the best you can hope for is the realization that this woman has serious issues that have nothing to do with you. You were the unsuspecting target of her pathology. The best closure is moving forward in your life, going totally NO CONTACT and finding a healthy and loving partner next time around.

Shrink4Men Coaching and Consultation Services:Dr Tara J. Palmatier provides confidential, fee-for-service, consultation/coaching services to help both men and women work through their relationship issues via telephone and/or Skype chat. Her practice combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Shrink4Men Services page for professional inquiries.


If you find the information I provide free of charge helpful and valuable here on Shrink4Men, please consider making a donation via PayPal to help me maintain the site.

  1. June 3, 2010 at 12:45 am

    gooberzzz – I was raised by a mother and a second mother (sister) just like you describe, and as narcisstice as they come – not an ounce of introspective (I’m okay, here, I bought these self-help books for you)

    • bernbeau
      June 10, 2012 at 9:58 pm

      I suffered a double whammy…..a BPD mother and ex-wife!!! But, when I think about it, the transition from home (BPD mother) to wife (BPD) was seamless!!! My mother destroyed my father (bless his soul), recruiting me in the process. So, when my BPD ex came along, I was ripe for the picking. I thought I could make her happy, despite oodles of red flags!!! So, my life until the split, consisted of placating BPD women!! No wonder I am only attracted to strippers and escorts….and have no interest in a real relationship!!!
      Well, at least now it’s over!!!
      Praise Allah!!!

  2. Ace
    June 3, 2010 at 12:01 am

    Good 2 cents worth gooberzzz :-)

    Ya sound pretty well balanced to me


  3. john
    June 2, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    Have you tried this doc?

    It is so BPD/NPD!

  4. gooberzzz
    June 2, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Thank you Dr. T. for another great article. I missed you for a few weeks, but this article was worth the wait, and sheds even more light on these types of personalities.

    I am going through a de-programming phase in my life at the moment. I am a male that came from a very small family which included my mother and a sister from a previous marriage. Both of them served a maternal role in my upbringing, but they are both undiagnosed BPD. My mother alienated most of the family away from us, my sister later did the same thing between me and my mother. I have been no-contact with them for almost a year.

    Do they ever change? No, they do not and will never change. Let me state that again, they do not and will NEVER change. They get worse with age.

    It took me 35-years to come to terms with this. The constant invalidation I received, the man-hating, the chronic bitching about people at work, or at the store, or on the road, or an ex-husband, or an ex-boyfriend, or whatever, or whoever passes through their warped sense of reality.

    The judgments upon others and their bitter words including the ‘N’ word to describe a race of people, or those who had a few extra pounds were called lazy and fat, or those with mental health challenges were told they should just get over it, it’s all in their head, the constant gossiping, the invasion of privacy, and the list goes on. I will give them some credit when they stopped using the word “fag” or “fagot” to describe gay people after I came out to them, which I regret doing. It only gave them more fodder to throw me under the bus for behind my back. They stick the knife in deep and use all types of emotionally abusive tactics.

    They are the types that take pleasure in taking a puppy by the neck and rubbing it’s nose in it’s own sh#t! They have absolutely NO ability for empathy, NONE!

    I never use the word ‘hate’ loosely, but I do, hate them both. I am out of forgiveness for them, something they have NEVER extended to me. I feel very alone in life right now, but this will pass too, and I will be better for it.

    My 2 cents.

  5. dazed
    June 2, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    torn and frayed :I did have one question that i can’t find an answer to: Do BPD’s use going to sleep as a defense mechanism? It seemed like the one i dated like to go to sleep at highly innapropriate times – like right after a nice dinner or after a concert. It was like “Here’s how i’m going to show my thanks for a great evening – i’m just going to crap out and go to sleep on you leaving you awake all night wondering what you did wrong.”
    At first I thought she was just tired all the time, but i began to see a pattern develop. It was almost like her going right to bed was a form of mental abuse. I have never seen this listed as a symptom. Does anyone have similar experiences of them using going to sleep as a weapon?

    My wife did the same thing. i would take her out for a great dinner, dropping $100.00 + only to end up going home and going to bed, no affection of any kind. I would ask her if she wanted to go to a nearby hotel and get a drink and just sit and talk and she would say “no I am tired and just wnat to go home and go to bed”. Now that she has left me and moved 3 hours away she is going out nearly every night with her new friends and drinking almost daily. In our 22 year marriage she drank only about 4-5 times per year total, she does that in a week now.

    I took my wife on 2 family cruises in the last 3 years and something would always go wrong or she would get upset to the point that she would never want to be intimate the whole time we were on vacation. it was usually she was upset with the kids for some reason. In fact on one cruise we renewed our vows and never even so much as shared a passionate kiss in the cabin when we were alone. I always felt that this was odd but never knew what to blame it on until after she left me my therapist suggested she might be BPD, NPD or HPD.

    In her case she has a great fear of abandonment, uses her sexuality to her gain, flirt with other men all the time (she use to try and control it but now that she has left it is out of control), uses others for her gain, is emotionally abusive to me and the kids, has had several physical abusive episodes, has had numerous emotional affairs and a few physical affairs, splitting, unstable interpersonal relationships, is meladramatic (even her uncle has said this aobut her), she admits she has control issues, trust issues, she also needs to be constantly validated and to be admired. Nothing I ever did for her was good enough or lasted long enough for her to “find true happiness”.

    • Mr. E
      June 2, 2010 at 3:01 pm

      Concerning vacations – Yep, something ALWAYS goes wrong. Once I apparently tipped the waitress too much. My wife decided the only reason I would tip so much was because I thought the waitress was cute, so she chewed me out and then wouldn’t talk to me for two hours. On a road trip.

      Nothing is quite as fun as trying to find your away around an unfamiliar place with a sulking passenger who won’t talk. Ah, precious memories. ;)

      • Alnico
        June 3, 2010 at 8:16 am

        I “loved” the trip with my ex where, when she was a staying at home and pregnant with our first, we planned to go to FL from MN by car. I told her that I was comfortable stoping wherever and winging the whole trip for fun, but that if she, being pregnant wanted to ensure we had hotel rooms – to go ahead and book them and I’d make the stops. Of course, she didn’t and I bore her anger for having to sleep at a rest stop one night when the area was so booked there was no hotel within hundreds of miles that was not full. I still don’t know what she was so busy with as a stay at home, pregnant with the first, that was so important she could not schedule things she wanted on the trip. Perhaps it was that she didn’t feel it a vacation if she had to do anything whatsoever?

        • June 3, 2010 at 2:29 pm

          Perhaps she expected “You” to do it. If she was anything like my friend, she always wanted her boyfriends to take care of everything and there was the constant pressure of wanting them to surprise her with things she couldn’t say no to. When they tried, she was always disappointed. That’s my guess, though. She wasn’t too busy – she wanted you to do it.

      • Cousin Dave
        June 4, 2010 at 5:30 pm

        Yeah, my story there was that my ex wanted to go to California. So I scheduled a trip and made all the arrangements. The day before, she informed me that a friend of hers was coming with us. Ok, I thought, until I found out that her friend would be staying in our room, for free, and that she would be accompanying us everywhere and I was expected to buy all of her meals.

        Well, we go there, did a couple of touristy things, and went out to dinner. The next day, ex informed me that her and her friend were bored with this city and were going to take a side trip to another city, several hours away. After they left, I found out that they had taken my credit card, the one I’d used to reserve the room, out of my wallet. They said they’d only be gone overnight, but they didn’t come back until our day of departure. So I was alone the rest of the week.

        They finally returned just hours before our departing flight. When I tried to pay the hotel bill, it didn’t go through because they had maxed out the credit card. Fortunately, I had my checkbook.

        After we got back, I caught her telling one of her friends about how I had been a complete stick-in-the-mud and never wanted to do anything “fun” on the trip. I intervened and pointed out that I’d only had a few hours together with her the entire trip. She got furious at that and I got the silent treatment for the next several days. The funny thing is: about two weeks later, she dumped the friend we’d taken on the trip. The friend called me crying, and I found out from her that during their side trip, they had picked up a guy in a bar and had a threesome with him. Now this was interesting because this friend, prior to this, had always claimed in my presence that she was a virgin (she was in her mid-30s). I pointed this out to her, and she told me that I was an idiot. Probably the only true thing she ever said to me.

        • shrink4men
          June 4, 2010 at 5:38 pm

          Why didn’t you report the credit card theft and identity fraud to your credit card company and the police and prosecute these two losers?

          • Cousin Dave
            June 7, 2010 at 4:52 pm

            Like I said, I was an idiot. We divorced a few months later — that’s a story in itself. She tried to stick me with more bills by taking out a bunch of new credit cards just before our divorce was final. Fortunately, I had run one of those public-notice ads when I filed for the divorce, so I was legally not responsible. Last I heard (which was some years ago), she still had creditors looking for her.

      • Livin'Better
        June 5, 2010 at 7:47 pm

        Ah yes, the memories…..
        I did an experiment on one trip ….. 2000 KM drive over two days…. only words to me that whole time was “I’m hungry or I need to go to the washroom”.
        The best part was her telling friends about the fantastic trip she had … “look at all these great pictures” (that I took) She did not contribute anything but stale air in the car.
        Thank you all for your contributions here…. I now know it is not all in my head or as she asserts… that I’m a high idealist.
        Just a guy looking for normal.

    • Kev.
      June 2, 2010 at 5:50 pm

      I’ve mentioned it elsewhere, but vacations, special occasions, anniversaries, holidays, birthdays, etc. were ALWAYS trouble, no matter how much I paid for them financially, there was always an emotional and psychological cost. Of course, it was made clear to me that *I* was the one responsible for “ruining” everything.

      And Mr. E – I know about the sulking passenger thing. For me, it was having to hold the entire conversation with other passengers during meals, because the ex would always bring a book to the table, and do little more than grunt.

      • jp
        June 2, 2010 at 7:29 pm


        I hear you.

        My ex just threw a birthday party at her house for one of our daughters and I was allowed, as is our tradition, to come and help.

        Two weeks before the party she asked for, and I gave her, an advance of 1K on her child support. I had to pay my own rent late in order to do it.

        She’d been extra busy at work in the same timeframe and I agreed to watch our-now-her dog about 5 times even though I’m not supposed to have pets where I live.

        The day of the party she asked me to stop on my way over to her house and pick her up a grande soy latte. I did.

        I arrived an hour early by her request to help set up, including setting up the moonwalk/bouncy house and drying the inside of it with sopping towels for about an hour since it had been out in the rain overnight.

        Then I helped set up the rest of the party, and played co-host, working happily in the hot sun for 4 hours, watching kids, snapping pics to share with her later, putting on band-aids, referreeing disputes, prepping and serving food, and playing the charming host to the grown ups who stuck around.

        As the party wound down, I took a break and joined her sister and some of our-now-her friends…all of whom I was quite close to pre-divorce (and who still like me very much despite they’re taking ‘her side’), sat down in the shade for a beer and to catch up while taking a break from the clean-up and dealing with the last few kids who were all now quiet and coloring the driveway with chalk.

        She joined us and soon began sending me body language signals and some overtyly rude indications she wanted me to go. I took the ‘hint’, asked if there was anything she needed before I took off, and cleaned up a couple more things she asked me to take care of.

        My time working the party: 4 hours. SMy time with beer and chatting: About 20 minutes.

        I was a perfect gentleman, respectful in every way, the entire time.

        A few days later we got in an unrelated argument in email and she launched in to a psychotic gaskighting rage which included an attack on my about the party telling me that “from my behavior” it was clear I had “no respect for her boundaries” and she would no longer be holding parties at her house or having me over on Christmas for brunch when I go to pick up the kids for my xmas afternoon with them.

        So, to recap: borrowing large amounts of money from me is ok. Asking me to fetch her $4.50 boutique coffee is ok. Grunt work, busboy and co-hosting duties at the party: ok.

        But assuming it’s ok to sit for a beer to catch up with old friends for 20 minutes and I’m a ‘crazy sad-sack jerk’ who doesn’t ‘get’ boundaries.

        I don’t even respond to that kind of stuff anymore. What’s the point?


        • June 3, 2010 at 2:34 pm

          Boundaries of your own sound like they are in order. There is a trend called “Parallel Parenting.” I am not sure how much custody you have of your child(ren), but it’s a philosophy that has saved the sanity of many men with crazy exes that still look at them as a target. I know you are trying to work with her for the good of your daughter, but it’s not good for your daughter to see her treating you like that.

          • jp
            June 3, 2010 at 10:05 pm

            Thanks Alicia.

            Yeah, now that I know her view of me at these events is so at odds with my own, I won’t be attending anymore. My kids will just have to understand.

            We parallel parent for the most part. We still take the kids to a local restaurant on their birthday, but the last three times she spent most of the dinner texting who I now know is her married boyfriend so I think I’ll have to put a stop to those too.


    • Ace
      June 5, 2010 at 12:32 am

      Hi Dazed

      Whilst I read your comment a few days ago I kept thinking of it today, especially the piece where you renewed your marraige vows without so much as a passionate kiss !!! Wow ! I thought it was just me who went months on end without any form of intimacy, even a kiss, simply touching or holding hands. it would appear many of us have endured this behaviour and felt guilty !!!!! the art of withholding is alive and well :-) I also thought a lot about the constant need for rest and sleep they suddenly acquire. Scary that they’re so similar and yet they think of themselves as special and unique

  6. been there done that
    June 2, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    Another awesome article from just about the best site on the ‘net for dealing with women like this….bravo!

    Dr T, you stated: “Women like your ex rarely take responsibility for their actions and, as you’re well aware, blame you for their own transgressions.” I would take this one step further….these women also try to make **you** own their actions. In other words, when wrong, they will take steps to actively deny that they did the wrong and transfer ownership for that wrong to you. If they know they are in a corner over it, they will then pass the buck back to you and have **you** own making their wrong a right. Its sick, dirty manipulation (and something that I am trying to deal with now in my own situation- far past divorce, and just trying to keep a handle on our parenting plan).

    • Mr. E
      June 2, 2010 at 2:37 pm

      And they do it in a sneaky way, too. For example, they’ll say something like “You’d tell me if you were unhappy, right?” (or, “if I was being irrational, a jerk, whatever”)

      The answer which results in the least suffering for that question is “Of course!” So she gets to feel like everything is kosher.

      And the trick is, you’d better NOT tell her if you’re unhappy. As you said, they’ll make sure to blame YOU for their bad behavior, and make YOU apologize for it.

      I tripped over this again just the other day.

      • Livin'Better
        June 5, 2010 at 7:37 pm

        I’ll second that!
        When it comes to being “trained”to just stomach the injuries day after day, that is the best way to do it.
        “Be honest” with your feelings…. ya right.
        Do I have stupid on my forehead? Most days, yes. Great website Dr. T.

  7. torn and frayed
    June 2, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    I did have one question that i can’t find an answer to: Do BPD’s use going to sleep as a defense mechanism? It seemed like the one i dated like to go to sleep at highly innapropriate times – like right after a nice dinner or after a concert. It was like “Here’s how i’m going to show my thanks for a great evening – i’m just going to crap out and go to sleep on you leaving you awake all night wondering what you did wrong.”

    At first I thought she was just tired all the time, but i began to see a pattern develop. It was almost like her going right to bed was a form of mental abuse. I have never seen this listed as a symptom. Does anyone have similar experiences of them using going to sleep as a weapon?

    • gooberzzz
      June 2, 2010 at 2:25 pm

      I am not an expert, but I believe that being crazy-b##ch can make a person physically drained and tired. Don’t be surprised if she tells you she has chronic fatigue syndrome. Real, or not, it will be used as a manipulation and control tactic.

      If you are seeing this as an ongoing pattern, I encourage you to plan your exit strategy, get out, work on yourself and question your relationship and upbringing by your parents, so you can avoid attracting this type of personality in the future. It may take several years of work and deprogramming, but nothing worthwhile is easy. Good luck.

      • torn and frayed
        June 2, 2010 at 5:06 pm

        I not only saw a vicious cycle of a pattern developing, but it only got worse as time went on. I did get out, thankfully.

        There was a serious rift that developed in the relationship when she first acted so badly towards me on a road trip that i was not only excited for, but planned and paid for as well. I was shocked. It wasn’t the first time, or last, that she used the go to bed early trick on me and it was always after i showed her some serious attention or affection through doing nice things for her that any normal woman would have really appreciated. I began to question my sanity and why i was staying with someone so hell bent on treating me so poorly over and over again.

        Towards the end she started to claim that we “didn’t talk enough anymore.” But this was 100% projection onto me of what she was doing. She was the one who stopped wanting to talk to me. This is when i saw a spike in activity on her facebook page – which she knew very well that i could read. I’d see at least 2 new strange men coming out of the wood work that she would open talk to and make plans with right there for everyone to see. It was like a huge F you to me and she was definately planning her next victim as a fall back move.

        She would not let go of this fantasy that we didn’t talk enough. It became her power play over me. Never mind that i had just got a new job, began a new internship, and was going through exams in school. She could have cared less about the important stuff i had going on – she only focused on her percieved grievance. The kicker is that when i finally had enough, she turned the whole situation on me to make me look like the a-hole and make her exit easier.

        I’m sure she is well past the honeymoon phase with her new victim – as i sit here 2 months later trying to pick up the pieces. I couldn’t think of dating someone new right now, but with her i’m sure she was activly pursuing new mates while we were in a “committed” relationship.

    • shrink4men
      June 2, 2010 at 3:09 pm

      Hi torn and frayed,

      Seems to me what you describe is just another form of withdrawal and shutting you out. It’s like the silent treatment, but under the guise of sleep. I too wouldn’t be surprised if she at some point claims CFS or Fibral Myalgia—often these individuals develop phantom illnesses to elicit pity and escape accountability.

      I think it’s a lot of psychosomatic nonsense in most cases.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr T

      • torn and frayed
        June 2, 2010 at 5:08 pm

        Thank you for the response and continuing to run this excellent website. It is a resource i could not have lived without. It makes me feel so much less alone after this whole ordeal.

    • Ace
      June 2, 2010 at 8:10 pm

      Hi Torn and frayed

      I’ve had her falling asleep whilst watching TV ( which you dare not open your mouth as it’s her programme piece) also when I first met her it was 3-4 am in the morning stuff, when I was not with her she’d be MSN’ing me till 3am, I’d be up for work at 6.30, I’d be asking her could I get some sleep, as I’d a testing drive to work and needed to keep the car on the road. That was my experience at the outset, on one of our ocassions together (on -off quite a bit over 5yrs) she started going to bed at 9.30pm versus 3am !!! she keep this up after that, sex was non existent (withholding) she even stopped kissing, holding hands etc, kept this going for months. When I’d visit her at her home she sit in bed watching TV again no talking and fall asleep, I’d have to tidy up, let mself out and lock up !!! how soft was I ?

      And yet every other day I question myself, she’s not a bad person etc !! then I revisit here and go hmmmm ! sorry but her profile fits and ticks an awful lot of theses boxes.

      I think the bd thing like the silence and the projection about your communication and the whole facbook piece which they seem expert at, is all about creating distance. Thay create distance, they say the want commitment but they really don’t, every time you or anyone gets close, they distance. it’s their protection mechanism, but it destroys us and raises so many unanswerable questions.

      I question myslf constanly, like you I’m in no place to even consider dating, though everyone is using the old ‘get back in tghe saddle’ I would only end up hurting someone else.

      Great artilcle

      Dr T

    • sm
      June 3, 2010 at 2:29 am

      Good point about the sleep patterns…my STBXW…left the bedroom over 5 years ago because “she needs a TV on to sleep.” She spent over 4 years sleeping on a sofa where her head and feet hung off the side…asked her several times to come back into the bedroom to which she replied “she needs a TV on to sleep.” I can’t sleep with a TV on since I feel that when I go to bed my day is complete and don’t want anything as important as a good nights sleep to be interrupted…besides it’s how the body prepares itself. So I asked to compromise…come into the bedroom 1-2 nights a week so we could share some intimacy. Still told “no” that leaving the bedroom had nothing to do with me to which I replied if it has nothing to do with me than why not compromise? Regardless…it was only after 4 years she told me she was angry and resentful at me for many things and being the caregiver for our developmentally disabled son (i was laid off and childcare duties fell to me). Not wanting to sleep on the couch any more she decided to move into a guest room, after a few months she asked me to paint it, which I did, only for her to hand me divorce papers three months later…geesh…

      • Ace
        June 3, 2010 at 10:40 pm

        Hi SM,
        I got the same admission, that she was resentful and had lost all respect for me !!! I asked hwta I’d done or not done ? ‘m still waiting for the answer, she decided to break up again, that was 6 onths ago, at 1st she was civil, then she went into no contact mode, now she’s mailing my daughter (not hers) it’s been on off over 5 yrs and sometimes off more than 6 months ! so who knows.

        But the sleeping thing is all about distance and intimacy, she can say what she likes, it’s withholding & control, you can’t have any intimacy if she’s sleeping on the couch.

        All about guilt tripping you

      • Quaestor
        June 5, 2010 at 11:38 pm

        I went through something similar with my now ex-wife.

        I have obstructive sleep apnea and need a CPAP machine to sleep properly. For the first two years of living together, the noise from the machine (which is low) didn’t bother her.

        Then one day she took to sleeping on the couch downstairs, never really saying why, other than that she was ‘sleeping poorly’. Then she developed this mysterious facial pain, the source of which no doctor or dentist could pinpoint. It rendered her unable to kiss me, and needless to say, brought our sex life to an end. To say nothing of any meaningful intimacy between us.

        Then again, save for the first six months of our relationship, when the sex and affection from her seemed unending, intimacy was always somewhat of a problem.

        The whole thing was capped off when her teenaged son got his teenaged girlfriend pregnant. In my house, no less. Wife saw no problem with the girl coming over for ‘sleep-overs’, despite my objections. The excuse was always that the girl was being abused by her stepfather, etc. and needed a place to stay.

        In spite of being grossly immature, and not being anywhere near completing high school, (never mind having jobs to go to to), wife’s son and the girl insisted on keeping the baby.

        To add insult to injury, wife wanted to move the girl and baby into our house, if she felt it necessary to do so. I put my foot down and said no. She then countered with an ultimatum – if I wanted to remain part of her family, I would have to ‘take responsibility and support this (illegitimate) child.’

        She flatly refused going for marriage counselling. But then, that was only too typical of her behavior. Refuse to co-operate in any way, shape, or form, in hopes of gaining the upper hand.

        My suspicion is that she wanted a grandchild by hook or by crook, and was prepared to take any covert steps she had to in order to achieve her aim.

        Needless to say, I was not prepared to subsidize, much less countenance this gross irresponsibility, and opted out.

        The house we lived in was sold a month later.

  8. torn and frayed
    June 2, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    I don’t think they are capable of change. Change scares them. Try to plan a trip with someone with BPD. The definition of nightmare. I know that they can’t change or stop their foul habits like talking to and friending every guy the can on facebook, even while they are in a “committed” relationship. This was one of the final straws for me. Seeing my “girlfriend” telling some d-bag on facebook that she would come and visit him with her paid time off. All the while bitching and moaning to me every chance she could how “we didn’t spend enough time together.” When in fact I saw her more than any other person in my life. They like to say things like “It’s only going to get better,” and “I’m trying to change.” But they absolutely do not mean it…especially if they are diagnosed and not seeking treatment. It is a vicious cycle. Do something nice for them and expect to be treated like a pile of crap. It’s like their backwards reward system. You be nice to me and I treat you like garbage to be tossed aside. It’s their favorite game.

    They cannot change and if you believe they can then they have you snared.

  9. manofhonour
    June 2, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Thanks Dr T for another great piece. I am wondering though, whether Narcs really do all these things without being aware of their suffering because when I first learned about BPD and NPD I went to my ex. – by then we’d already separated – and when I started to mention that I’ve done a lot of research re. her behaviour and therefore suspected that she maybe suffering from some kind of disorder, right there, she just looked me in the eye (as if thinking) and said something like “so do people like her able to find and keep good partners and what are their chances”. To this day I still have not finished telling her what the disorder was, she also didn’t even bother to find out, all she did try was to send me her pictures and tried to seduce me back into the crazy relationship – rather than apologies. Right there I knew I’ve been dealing with a sick nutjob, and this for the whole 10 years of my life..damn! what a waste of time.

    Therefore, in my mind I thought that she must have been aware while (or maybe after) doing all those crazy things. In any case, I’ve gone NC since and now all I get is the occasional message where she tries the old trick of guilt-tripping.

  10. June 2, 2010 at 4:06 am

    Dr. Tara:

    Wow…my God, how uncannily the timing of this article. I had just begun composing a letter to send you via email, as I’m concerned that he / she will read it and be upset with me for ‘revealing’ the details of what I’ve been told…just had this question…he insists that it’s not abuse, because she’s got a new positive attitude…but he has recently told me some really manipulative crap she has pulled on him…would love some comments from the men on this…can they change? If they do it with a smile on their face, but still ‘rule’ the house, but in a sweet voice, and he still doesn’t dare say ‘no’ to her (on anything, including sex) and she has been able to keep her positive (180 degree change) attitude up for 3 months…(after 33 years of treating him like sh**)…is it possible she has really woken up? That I’ve been wrong? Dr. T, I’ll send you a personal email…thanks again, and though you’ve said you’re not an avid believer, I still say God Bless all you do…you are one of the walking angels among us.

  11. D
    June 1, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    Dr. T – a suggestion which you are free to ignore, but I think I would enjoy the occasional book review here of some of the pop-psych-fem-lit that gets so much play. For example, my ex read Harriett Lerner’s “The Dance of Anger”. I’m not completely sure what to make of it. On one hand the book makes the case that women should “take responsibility for their anger” and take action based on it rather than bottling it in and lashing out randomly, but then be prepared to accept the consequences of other people’s reactions to their anger. That much, stated as I summarized it, doesn’t seem outrightly offensive. But at least one problem is that the whole book couches the range of female anger as being sourced in systematic repression. In other words: (a) are you a woman? (b) are you angry? then (c) you must be angry because you are being oppressed by the men in your life – so stand up for yourself! … there is little, if any advise in the text which asks the reader to be circumspect about her anger and ask what the specifics of it are in her individual experience, just a broad, sweeping attribution of anger to generalized oppression that seems to let women off the hook for their anger while attributing fault to men in mass. That’s my $0.02 take – but your take would be much more valuable and eye-opening I think.

    • Lighthouse
      June 1, 2010 at 10:31 pm

      Written with in jest…

      As long as the book has a chapter titled “How I channeled my anger towards myself to motivate myself to learn to set healthy expectations and respect the boundaries of others” then it sounds o.k.

      If it doesn’t, can you imagine in your mind’s eye how Harriett Lerner would react to a pop-psych-masc-lit book that advocates hitting emotional woman (so as to leave no bruises) and accepting the consequences ?

      Can you imagine the magnitude of the response ? Awesome !!!!!!!!!



      P.S. Just to be VERY clear, I am not advocating violence. I am merely using humor (a mature ego defense mechanism) to cope when presented with cognitive distortions.

      • D
        June 1, 2010 at 11:42 pm

        Lighthouse – I think you are on to something. A book as parody of women’s advice books, but “as written for men” … same advice women get all the time, just cast it out for men, towards women, then see how that goes down, i.e.: most likely either evokes laughter or rage – either way bodes badly for what it says about the state of things.

    • L.O.
      June 3, 2010 at 4:21 am

      I had pretty much the same response when my wife brought home The Dance of Anger a few months ago. Her latest counselor apparently suggested that she read it. She left it out conspicuously on the kitchen counter for days, so eventually I got curious and I spent an hour or so skimming it. My hopes sank when I realized that, rather than helping my wife take responsibility for her anger problem, this book would be yet more evidence in my her ever-growing dossier against me. She had written in the margins of the pages remarks I had made to her, connecting them to passages on abusive and manipulative anger perpetrated by men against women, so she was clearly seeing it as a heuristic for understanding how cruel I am to her.

      She’s now divorcing me again. The first time (five years ago) she hoovered me back at the eleventh hour, after we already had a court date and had met with the family court custody counselor, so the divorce was never finalized. In light of the Lerner book, and a few others along the same lines that she’s brought home since, I suspect that she’s being “counseled” into divorce because she’s able to paint such a vivid picture of me as an oppressor to her counselor and friends. Incidentally, I suspect a lot of this counseling happens while she’s out at various bars drinking with friends while I’m home bathing the kids and getting them to bed.

      So, in response to the question in the title of the blog post: based on my experience, she probably can’t change. I’ve lived with this crazy-making for almost 15 years, and frankly, it’s only gotten worse as the responsibilities of kids, jobs, a mortgage, and general adult life have grown.

      In response to the post by D: I was an English major in the 90’s, and there was definitely a certain amount of bullying on the part of Women’s Studies departments at universities (which are almost always attached to English departments). In a nutshell, the message was this: if you’re a man, don’t even think about thinking about women, because only women can think about women, because when men think, they only think to try to control and oppress everything around them, and control and oppression are (self-evidently, of course) antithetical to what women are and do. Men do the bad stuff. Since women are not men, they must do the good stuff. Of course, I’m reducing it to simple, snarky, terms, but my point is this: I suspect that a lot of the decision-makers in the publishing world have more than a hint of this sort of late 70’s/80’s feminist thought banging around in their minds, so it’s probably much easier to publish books that don’t stray too far from that sort of men-are-the-cause-of-all-women’s-problems orthodoxy than it is to publish books that say, “Hey, women can be big jerks too!” That level of equality between the sexes probably won’t sell as many books.

  12. June 1, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    Great blog! I came across this site while researching the terminology ‘women who are professional’ victims. I own and operate a website that targets single women ages 35-55 – the ‘elusive market’ that Forbes is always spouting off about. We are working on next month’s features and are pulling together one making fun of these ‘little weak girls’ – the psycho screwballs that ruin great men forever for the Women who only want to display feminine energy in their romantic relationship.

    I have to say though – you can go to any professional singles happy hour and find the girl with the ‘figurative walker and cane’ (mental mess) and men are drawn to these women like moths to flames. The NPD types – they always seem(wish I could bold and italic the win) to ‘win’ at the game of love. Look up the terminology “Mate Poacher” and the assessment of that type of woman is very close to the NPD description.

    I think the disservice that has been done to American men is that their parents never told them to “Be careful” the way they do their daughters. In the beautiful ‘natural’ way men at the gut level want to be the big protector . . . they overlook someone who has the capacity for cruelness underneath that “Oh little me I wouldn’t hurt a fly” persona.

    Let’s forget the psycho babble and get right into Harvey Mackay (Swim With TheSharks Without Getting Eaten Alive) – if it seems to be good to be true, if the desk is too large, the mahogany overly polished, and the crystal chandelier sparkles just a wee bit too much: It’s not real. She’s not real. You are getting scammed and she does not have the best of intentions for you.

    To the woman who runs this blog: You do a great service to men teach them those things they were never taught. Hopefully those who have been through this nightmare can heal, and hope, and draw a woman to them in the future who will respect them and revel in the masculine energy they have to offer.

    Stay Lovely,

    P.S. Don’t know if anyone here has read it but the book: The Gift of Fear is gender neutral. When I caught a ‘screwy louie man’ I was given it as a gift afterwards. It’s a great way to explore all of the red flags – so you NEVER this way pass again with a mean abusive partner.

    • June 3, 2010 at 2:22 pm


      I have heard is said, “A damsel in distress is just a distressing damsel.” It was said by my husband who was married to one for a long time. I also had a friend that made a habit of going to “Business After Hours” to catch a professional man to take care of her and her son. She was petite, beautiful, brilliant – men loved her. She even dated some of the Dallas Cowboys for a while. She was a trophy catch girlfriend. Men would do anything she wanted if she snapped her fingers and fell head-over-heels. Mind you, these weren’t dumb men. They weren’t desperate men – they were professional, good looking men, well-educated men – with the world at their feet. Her favorite targets were married. She managed to keep them around for about a year before they ran screaming, calling the police and getting a restraining order. I became friends and business associates with one of her boyfriends. She went craxy on him and threw knives at him (in front of her young son), she sold his collectible artwork while he was at work… he kept going back for more. She eventually broke up with him, citing that he was abusive and controlling. She had a fit when I wouldn’t stop working with him after they broke up. She gave me an ultimatum – and I agreed to her terms: I maintained my friendship with him and told her I didn’t care if she chose to stop being friends with me. I wasn’t going to be controlled like that. She was also always pushing me to divorce my ex-husband – which was probably good advice. I eventually did – on my own accord. She lived in another state at the time. Funny, I never heard from her again; however, John (my ex) does all the time. I don’t understand what it is about women like her that draws men to them like a moth to the very dangerous flames they are. More perplexing still, why do they stay? They aren’t desperate men, they could have their pick of normal, sane women. What is it about the craxy ones that draws them in?

      • June 11, 2010 at 6:13 pm

        Trust me – never hearing from her again? It’s probably a really good thing.

        I think asking my men in general stay for the abuse? I really think that it’s because they aren’t taught to SEE an abusive, mean women. Instead they say, “Well, it’s just this one incident” or – “She doesn’t do this often”.

        Add to that the stigma attached to a man who is abused . . . Men don’t have a lot of options. Think about it – had he thrown a knife back in his defense? The guy she threw the knife at would have been arrested.

        We need to move towards being a society of You Never Put Your Hands On Someone You Love: Male or Female.

    • Tsurvivor
      August 17, 2010 at 7:07 am

      AR – A more true statement was never made – Why don’t we warn our sons like we do our daughters???? After watching the h*** my husband’s ex has put him through, I will be warning my sons, carefully and specifically. I don’t want them to suffer through this and marry a crazy.

  13. June 1, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    Dr. T,
    I have a question. I am a very affectionate woman with my husband. We had dated in high school, separated – married other people – divorced and found each other again after 20 years – or rather, he found me. After 2 years of dating, we married. At first, he said that he was a little gun-shy of the attention I gave him because that was how his ex had roped him in. However, now, almost 4 years into our relationship, I am still just as affectionate. It’s not some ploy that I used to rope him in. It’s not all sexual attention either – we hold hands, snuggle and sometimes just hug – he even initiates it in public at times. I do hang on his every word – he’s a very fascinating person. David and I have a great marraige. We don’t agree on everything, but we agree to disagree and never fight. He frequently works out of town and I’ve encouraged him to go out to clubs and have a good time with his co-workers. My question is this, obviously, not every woman that wants to shower you with attention is BPD or otherwise “challenged”. Before the hellstorm of assaults begin, is there a way that one can tell if a person who showers you with attention is a psychonut – or just an affectionate type of person who really does find you fascinating?

    • B.E.C.
      June 1, 2010 at 5:45 pm


      I think the difference may have been that you already had prior relationship with you husband which you where continuing to build upon, not going from zero to 100 in 4 seconds. Also, I assume that when your husband wanted to go slow you didn’t punish him for it.

      If you were using affection to draw him in versus giving him affection because you genuinely liked him, that would be a BPD characteristic.

      From your husbands perspective (again I am making an assumption), he had no way to know know for sure if you really liked him or if he has headed down the same path as he went before with his ex. Rushing in could be dangerous but, refusing to would draw out the red flags if there were any.

      Also, we all have some traits that are shared by cluster-B’s but, the difference is the extent to which we have them and if they impact our lives and relationships in a negative way.

    • Mr. E
      June 1, 2010 at 5:57 pm

      The psychonuts always have red flags, and they can’t keep the lovebombing up for long. After a very short while, you’ll disagree about something, or assert yourself, or establish a boundary, and they’ll BLOW UP out of nowhere and leave you wondering what the hell just happened.

      Prior to that blow-up, though, there will be red flags. They’ll tell you and show you everything you need to know, if you pay attention and you’re not distracted by all the crazy sex, flattery and backrubs. My special lady did ALL KINDS of weird things that I just ignored because she wasn’t doing them to me, like dumping a pile of empty beer cans on her roommate’s bed instead of just, you know, asking the roommate to pick them up.

      • lahnnabell
        January 16, 2012 at 7:46 pm

        My boyfriend in college blew up the first time out of nowhere about 3 months into dating. We had just been intimate and I asked him a related question, but I was totally unprepared for the response. He immediately got up and walked out of the room. I was dumbstruck. I followed him, concerned and pleaded to know what I had done to upset him. He started yelling at me, “Just go home. Shut up and go home.” I pleaded a few more times, so confused and hurt. I drove the 1/2 hour home, sobbing and crying. Usually, I felt so self-aware and in control of myself, but I felt like the ground beneath my feet had given way. I had absolutely no clue what I’d done wrong.

        I went to work the next day in a fog. He called my cell that afternoon, and I asked him how he was feeling. He said, “Guilty.” I said, “Okay, well, I really meant ‘How are you?'” We made plans to talk, and he brought me a pint of ice cream. He told me that he thought I was trying to insult him, and I re-explained myself, and got hoovered back in.

        Little did I know this pattern would continue for the next year and a half. I finally got out after a long, arduous break up process which was only sparked by his selfish desire to suddenly have an open relationship (he wanted to sleep with other women). When I wouldn’t agree to continue, I told him that I couldn’t stay with him. He changed his tune very quickly and was pleading with me to stay. It took 2 months or so to really detach myself, but I did it. Sadly, it would be years before I would learn to seek out a healthy relationship (like the one I’m in now). But I did it, and you can too. This site is sooo helpful.

    • shrink4men
      June 1, 2010 at 7:54 pm

      Hi Alicia,

      B.E.C. makes some excellent points (thanks, B.E.C.!) You write: My question is this, obviously, not every woman that wants to shower you with attention is BPD or otherwise “challenged”. Before the hellstorm of assaults begin, is there a way that one can tell if a person who showers you with attention is a psychonut – or just an affectionate type of person who really does find you fascinating?

      This is a good question. My advice to men and women is to give it time and do not rush things. If the affection shower or love bombing is a tactic, the individual will not be able to maintain it forever. As B.E.C. states, cracks will appear in the facade, especially if you’re observant. These women become enraged when you try to enforce boundaries and slow things down. They’re like high pressure salesmen.

      Also, watch how she reacts to any challenges, disagreements or criticisms. Watch how she acts when things don’t go her way. This is when these individuals typically show their true colors.

      Best wishes to you and your husband. I’m happy you found each other again.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

      • June 2, 2010 at 12:40 am

        Thanks, Dr. T. I guess I just see myself sometimes – not in the control, rage stuff – that’s never been me. I’ve always been a little on the wild side – something David has known since high school – and fun loving. Someone mentioned backrubs, etc. – I do all that. I have given David hour-long massages while we watched TV that weren’t meant to lead up to anything (and usually didn’t) other than just getting him to relax. I just get a little frightened and think “Oh God, I do that!” I don’t do the other stuff though (like get irate if things don’t go my way.) LOL – we have 4 kids. Things rarely go just the way they should. I dropped any pretense of expectation a LONG time ago – so I guess I am OK.

        • Cousin Dave
          June 2, 2010 at 5:49 pm

          Alicia, I wouldn’t worry too much if I were you. The fact that you’re able to ask the question is pretty good evidence that you’re not BPD or NPD. Cluster B types are rarely capable of the introspection needed to ask that question.

        • Alnico
          June 3, 2010 at 7:48 am

          Ok, I’ve been too busy with work the past few days to notice your posts. :)
          The fact that you have not given me even the smallest bit of crud about that or tried to coax me into reading your posts and responding to them, or that I don’t have to ask myself it is safe to give an honest response to my wife’s posts or not — well — those are all wonderful signs that you are definitely neither my ex nor a NPD, BPD, HPD or other disordered individual.
          Without a doubt, you do all kinds of wonderful things for me but one of the most wonderful things you do is respect personal boundaries. For example, if I can but don’t want to take you on a road trip for work, you never make me feel guilty for wanting to do it without you. I would have NEVER suggested my ex go on a work road trip with me because once the floodgate of such an opportunity was open there would have been hell to pay if I chose to not take her. Sure, she would disagree, if asked – it would not be good for her image to be seen as someone who did not let her husband go feely to do work but the fact is who she was in public was not who is was behind closed doors. Not even close.
          Had I shared such a wonderful site with my ex, you could rest assured that I never would have rested again. She would have waited each night until I was truly tired – and then kept me awake harassing me to confirm that she had in fact changed her behaviors, being healed by God of them, all the while not having done anything different because she was simply not capable of it. It would be that or the other extreme of continuous crying and stating that I must think her the most horrible person in the world if I believed she was like that at all. Funny how on the few occasions I was able to muster the courage to leave the room and sequester myself to a guest room any such displays she put on were maintained for only seconds. If she read this now, she would probably say that I place limit God’s ability to change her. However, I believe God is a gentleman; he only helps change those who really desire to change – and since he knows the intent of the heart – I suspect he just didn’t help her because she only gave lips service to maintain and or gain in her very public false image.
          B.E.C. has it right on the money. There is absolutely no way I would have had such a fast start to a relationship with you were you not the long lost love of my life who I knew was a good person, who knew the Golden Rule, for all of the years we dated in H.S. Even at that, because I was still dealing with the recovery from so many years of a truly bad relationship, and because it had been 20 years, if you will recall, I insisted on individual counseling for me, marriage counseling, and a long period of living together without obligations, as friends, to let us see if we were indeed still the same people we each thought we were. Were it not for the 30+ hour drive difference between were we lived, I would have preferred, as I told you then, that we not share a place until we knew the answer to our interests and compatibility, but life does not always go the way we wish it might.
          The wonderful thing is that we have been together almost 3 years now, and I can honestly say I have not once had to ask myself, “WTF have I gotten myself into?” except when it comes to learning to parent your (now our) teens. But that is to be expected – since I know many, many parents who have their own mutual teens that ask the same question from time to time.

          If you were one of these BPD / NPD types, your ex would know it too. He would be in jail by now for not paying a dime in child support, etc. Last I checked you did not care to exercise the support you are entitled to because you did not want your ex to be able to say that such was why he did not bother to have a better relationship with the kids. Most of these such people, I do not believe are capable of making such a self-sacrificing decision in the interest of their own kids unless there is a real benefit they get out of it personally. After all, these people are selfish to the marrow. The only time they ever do anything for someone else is if they get something out of it somewhere. Often what they get is an enhanced sweetness to their public image so that they can cover who they truly are at the core of their being.
          The instances are fewer now than ever, where I expect based upon my past experience with my ex, for you to have an over the top response of angry, etc. to something that is has happened, or that I did, that was ultimately necessary or out of my control. I remember the first 6 months expecting you to get angry over little things, all the time, and feeling trepidation and fear because I anticipated the types of craxy responses that kept me off kilter and hyper vigilant for 10 years with my ex. Your compassion, grace, and just down right sanity is a MUCH welcome relief and had made it much easier for me to set healthy boundaries with you while enjoying the kind of relationship I always wanted.
          We may not have the cleanest home, we may not have most organized life, we may not entertain hundreds, we may not keep up with the jones – but then it seems that none of that bothers either of us. What we have is what I could never have with my ex, who I truly believe was BPD/HPD/NPD though she was never diagnosed to my knowledge as any such thing: we have a great friendship, a loving relationship, a good sex life that flows from the former (instead of trying to make sex be the basis for relationship and love), and we have a relationship that models the Golden Rule for all of our children. I don’t think it can get any better than this. But then, as that song goes, I recall telling myself that same thing just a month ago too, and I know it has only gotten better since then.

          • June 3, 2010 at 2:08 pm

            Thank you :) No, I didn’t expect you to reply at all. I didn’t think you would come back to this article having already posted and suggesting that I would enjoy it – which is why I didn’t even mention to you that I had replied here.

            Thank you so much for your affirmation. You are everything I have ever wanted in a mate also.

  14. Freedom
    June 1, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    The “patience” part in this article is one that really struck a cord with me. when asked what they want from you when they act like this, they’ll respond with the words “patience and understanding”. more more more patience, more more more understanding. but when i finally broke it down and thought about it, this is what i came up with – and said:

    “Let me get this straight… what you require FROM ME is more patience and understanding with you, about your impatience and lack of understanding WITH me. Therefore, you’re asking something from me that you can not or will not give in return, not even in the same sentence”.

    Her impatience with me (and lack of understanding that you don’t treat people that way), her very unhealthy ways of acting out, being abusive, and sometimes being downright embarrassing… was supposed to be met with patience and understanding FROM me.

    sometimes ya just gotta appreciate the ironies of life… um, not…

    • Mellaril
      June 1, 2010 at 5:35 pm

      I have to ask what her response was to your comment. I had a few conversations like that with my ex where the logic was inescabpable. Her expression was she would look totally blank and her mind would kind of mentally wander off awhile. When she came back, she’d be on different subject. If the conversation occurred on the phone, the response was always, “I’m late for work.” (click)

      • Alnico
        June 3, 2010 at 6:50 am

        I and my ex once went to a great counselor who cornered her a few times on her insistance that it was ok to treat me like a doormat because I let her – and her habit of expressing angst with facial expressions whenever I did anything whatsoever that might limit her ability to walk on me. The ultimate conclusion from the cousnelor was that she was either unwilling or unable to change and so I, as a husband with Christian values, would have to decide if I wanted to either learn to ignore her nearly constant angry looks of disapproval or given in to her attempts to control on everything. To his credit he also explained to her that if I did not like those options, my only other choice was to end the relationship. Of course, at the time, I was not strong enough personally to do either – and if I had one fault to point out with this counselor is that he did not suggest it best that I have some individual counseling to help me deal with such a difficult and controlling person in my life and my responses to her.

        Alas, plan “C” was best. As those of you have followed my post now, I’m happily married now to a wonderful person who is well balanced, well adjusted, and truly knows the answer to “what is love?”

  15. rod
    June 1, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Hi Scott Hi D.T.

    Scott is there a link between your primary care taker and you choice in women?
    D.T. could you explain the process by which we unconsciously atract mates with the same traits as our primary care takers ,is it possible to feel atraction for some one totaly diferent from the primary care takers?
    thsnk you in advance , i think this info will benefit all.


  16. George
    June 1, 2010 at 7:48 am

    Dr. T.

    This last article had a couple things in it which were very enlightening for me. The first one was that you mentioned that BPD was a character disorder. A BPD has bad character. They are capable of controlling themselves, but they choose not to. This is so true with my BPD ex. She definitely has the ability to behave when she has to, but in private she would be extremely abusive. I especially noticed this when we tried marriage counseling. She would always put on a nice front with the therapist, but there was usually hell to pay immediately on the drive home from therapy. It was always frustrating that the therapist often either could see her bad behaviors or sometimes didn’t want to see them. I would usually take several visits until the therapist started to catch on.
    The other thing that struck a chord with me was when you mentioned the relationship pattern of being a rescuer. This is something that I am definitely guilty of. I know that there is something in me that is attracted to that sort of woman. I also know that they are definitely attracted to me. This is a pattern that I need to stop. I don’t want to repeat this again. What is typically the root cause of this sort of attraction? Do you have any advice in regards to working on fixing this flaw with me?

    • Mellaril
      June 1, 2010 at 2:54 pm


      If you haven’t read them yet, check out:

      “Why Men Are Attracted to Crazy, Emotionally Abusive Women” Feb 2009 and

      “Healthy Self-Love: The Foundation of Good Relationships” Jan 2010 on this site.

      I also think you might find “BORDERLINE WAIFS AND UNSUNG HEROES;
      Rescuing The Woman Who Doesn’t Want To Be Saved” at


      I think those three blogs tie together nicely.

    • June 8, 2010 at 1:43 am

      Hi George.

      George :
      Dr. T.
      She definitely has the ability to behave when she has to, but in private she would be extremely abusive. I especially noticed this when we tried marriage counseling. She would always put on a nice front with the therapist, but there was usually hell to pay immediately on the drive home from therapy. It was always frustrating that the therapist often either could see her bad behaviors or sometimes didn’t want to see them.

      This is my ex to a TEE and my experience of counselling. There was a time when we had had an arguement during the day and that night we went out to some friends for dinner where she was really nice to me..when we come home I didn’t have sex with her which she really wanted… she complained to the counsellor that she had been nice to me that night…I had no reason not to be nice back to her.

      This site is so helpful and fascinating…

  17. Happy Now
    June 1, 2010 at 12:24 am

    Dr T, this is yet another outstanding contribution towards my own process of both learning and making sense of the time I spent in the land of make-believe.

    I know I have made this comment before – but you are absolutely correct, there must be a BPD/NPD/HPD college as the actions displayed by these roaches are very similar. My own expereince was almost exactly like the one described above – down to the whirlwind romance, to the ‘cant be without you let me move in’ after only 1 month, to the verbal and physical abuse. But, I also learnt to only discuss it with my closest friends as her family and her friends were subjected to an alternative ‘her’.

    My exw will never change. I was hoovered 3 times – that always started out great but ended up the same….and the more I was hoovered, the quicker it went to abuse, to the point that she would be so lovelly, I would meet her at her home and she would scream at me within 10 minutes…….then want sex as if nothing had happened.

    I re-found my self-respect and now, 18months on, can see just who she is (not was as she is probably the same) – a vile, hypocritical ——. Oh, and all the very best of luck to her!!!!!

    • shrink4men
      June 2, 2010 at 12:02 am

      Thanks, Happy now. I’m glad you’re making your way out of the Land of Suspended Disbelief that these personalities demand you inhabit. It can take awhile, but it’s worth it once you’re on the other side.

      Dr T

  18. Alnico
    May 31, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    Yet another awesome article Dr. T. Spot on.

    • shrink4men
      June 1, 2010 at 11:57 pm

      Thanks, Alnico!

  19. May 31, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    Another great piece, doc. hey – Barabara Oakley’s ‘Evil genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed and my sister stole my mother’s boyfriend’ is a very good book too, as it deals with the neuro-imaging and brain wiring, scientifically proving the problem with ‘Machiavellian personalities’ and the neurological basis of abusive women/men. Yes they never change, only pretend. It’s a rather chilling look into the neuroscientific basis of their lack of empathy and ploys. Had ‘aha’ moments throughout.
    I’m dealing with some very abusive women on my site too as I wrote a piece against the hedonism, consumerism and ‘princess-attitude’ & self-centredness promoted the in Sex and the City 2 film (titled ‘sweatshops in the city’) and a BPD woman is behind my behind now for daring to point out the consumerism. Had to finally put a ‘warning’ before the article that it was aimed towards straight men and self-assured women or those with INTJ sarcasm & humour. I drew my courage to face (or rather ignore her) by seeing your example and be inspired by the way you deal with cyber-bullies on your site.
    Really, can’t believe how strong you had to be.

    • shrink4men
      June 1, 2010 at 11:52 pm

      Hi Gipsy Geek,

      Thanks! I’ll check out Oakley’s book. Sounds interesting.

      Uh-oh! Better watch out for those crazed SATC fans who run their husbands into debt to buy Vuitton handbags and Choo shoes to shuttle their overscheduled children back and forth to soccer camp and the “You’re Very Special and Deserve an ‘A’—No Matter How Bad Your Test Scores Are” self-esteem courses. Wow. That was incredibly snide—even for me. I love the middle-aged suburban poseurs who are over-identified with vapid and vacuous (is that redundant?) FICTIONAL CHARACTERS.

      If anyone becomes that unhinged over a criticism of a total fluff-product placement film they have much bigger problems than your blog. Here’s the thing about most of these women; they have a lot of venom and unfounded indignant rage, but have a very loose handle on objective reality and a little something called “the facts.” Just get out your big can of REALITY! (kinda like RAID!) and spray it at them. Many of them will disappear. A few of them will come back with new allegations and name-calling whilst blatantly ignoring the facts presented in your initial response. Spray them with REALITY! again. More will disappear. Once you tire of the ones who refuse to go away (at first they’re amusing, then they’re just tiresome) just SPAM them.

      The more pissed off these types get, the closer to the truth you’re getting. View their flames as having hit the bullseye.

      “Fabulously Yours,”
      Dr T

      PS Am going to share the links I sent you earlier. Here are two great reviews on the SATC2 movies that made me snarf my coffee yesterday. Love the woman in Seattle:



      • June 2, 2010 at 3:05 am

        Hey Doc! thanks so much! Laughed out loud at the links and your advice here. On my blog – there was a male poster this afternoon who really seemed he should check your site out. He wrote: “I’ve had it – and sorry, had to vent – …but this post should be made viral and sent to every man in the UK and the US. Wake up! Stop paying the price for your forefathers sexism.” I told him he should really check your site too – because he wrote with such great pain a lot of other things about cooking, cleaning, bearing abuse etc.

        Are we beginning to see a silent ‘anti-wussification’ movement?

        I’ve managed the few bullies on my site now (one had a problem that I used the term ‘vintage vagine’)- but the most insistent one (who keeps using the term ‘4real’ – which rang a bell of a BP bully on your site – (do they use ‘for real’ expressions precisely because they can’t view reality)is on a newsblog message board in England that had posted my link days back. She resorted to personal attacks, then when some men defended my post, she went more crazy and accused me of ‘inventing’ friends. It was incredible. She just couldn’t accept reality – just like you’ve written above. ( I wrote back that she was projecting and that I won’t engage any more and she and her friend can attack all they want if it makes them feel happy.) Then they did all-out flaming. They’re so toxic, Tara. So toxic. You need so much strength to keep ignoring. You think bullying ends in school or work and then you find that cyber space is full of them too…..Sigh. But so far, my personal blog bullies I have managed now and have got support from men and good women. (that other board they can keep going I guess.) I’m getting some timid mails directly from men saying they liked the take on SATC2. I have your ‘princess’ & ‘golddigger’ articles linked to the post. Kept thinking of those while watching the movie too!

        Thanks so much again! You’re such a breath of refreshing rationality!

    • NoSeRider
      June 2, 2010 at 11:58 am

      [audio src="http://www.byoaudio.com/export/P7533ec705b8a20a8e7268fcbd6e2dba1Zlx5QVREZGV3.mp3" /]

      Barbara Oakley “Evil Genes” author interview. She’s an engineer, not a psychologist. I do not say this to demean her stature, quit the opposite. Because of the fact she’s an engineer, her conclusions are deductive and logical in nature.

  20. May 31, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    Good piece. Thank you for it. This disorder is a bell that needs to be rung until people recognize the sound.

    You may want to look at this: “put on the breaks”.

    • shrink4men
      May 31, 2010 at 9:00 pm

      Thanks, Wintermute. Spellcheck doesn’t catch homophones.

      Dr T

Comment pages
1 2 3 6

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: