My girlfriend / wife doesn’t have a personality disorder. She’s just emotional. Maybe, maybe not. Borderline Personality Disorder isn’t as mainstream in public awareness as other psychiatric diagnoses, but it’s a very real problem that affects many individuals and the people who are in ongoing relationships with them or trying to end relationships with them.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a kissing cousin of BPD. There is usually some overlap between the two. Most people think being a narcissist means that you’re conceited or vain–there’s a lot more to it.
Men are typically accused of being insensitive and out of touch with their feelings. We rarely talk about women who emotionally abuse the men they claim to love. There are different reasons why this is a silent epidemic:
a) Society and psychology hold a reverse sexist attitude regarding the perpetrators and recipients of emotional abuse.
b) Men have been brainwashed into believing that “she’s just expressing her feelings” when she’s being abusive and that “he’s insensitive and doesn’t understand.” Unfortunately, many mental health professionals perpetuate this phenomenon through their own gender biases. Should these men enter into couples treatment, they often get tag teamed by their girlfriend/wife and the therapist into believing they’re the problem. Should this couple actually find a shrink worth his/her salt that tries to hold the Borderline/Narcissist accountable, said shrink is duly fired and vilified by the BPD/NPD.
c) Men are too embarrassed to talk about the hurt, pain and confusion they experience as a result of the way these women mistreat them.
Warning: Being involved with an abusive Borderline or Narcissist May Be Hazardous to Your Mental Health
Here are some common side effects of being in an abusive relationship, whether the abusive individual has a personality disorder or not:
1) Censoring your thoughts and feelings. You edit it yourself because you’re afraid of her reactions. Swallowing the lump in your throat and your hurt and anger is easier than dealing with another fight or hurt feelings. In fact, you may have stuffed your own emotions for so long that you no longer know what you think or feel.
2) Everything is your fault. You’re blamed for everything that goes wrong in the relationship and in general, even if it has no basis in reality.
3) Constant criticism. She criticizes nearly everything you do and nothing is ever good enough. No matter how hard you try, there’s no pleasing her or, if you do, it’s few and far between.
4) Control freak. She engages in manipulative behaviors, even lying, in an effort to control you.
5) Dr Jekyll and Ms Hyde. One moment she’s kind and loving; the next she’s flipping out on you. She becomes so vicious, you wonder if she’s the same person. The first time it happens, you write it off. Now, it’s a regular pattern of behavior that induces feelings of depression, anxiety, helplessness and/or despair within you.
6) Your feelings don’t count. Your needs and feelings, if you’re brave enough to express them, are ignored, ridiculed, minimized and/or dismissed. You’re told that you’re too demanding, that there’s something wrong with you and that you need to be in therapy. You’re denied the right to your feelings.
7) Questioning your own sanity. You’ve begun to wonder if you’re crazy because she puts down your point of view and/or denies things she says or does. If you actually confide these things to a friend or family member, they don’t believe you because she usually behaves herself around other people.
8) Say what? “But I didn’t say that. I didn’t do that.” Sure you did. Well, you did in her highly distorted version of reality. Her accusations run the gamut from infidelity to cruelty to being un-supportive (even when you’re the one paying all the bills) to repressing her and holding her back. It’s usually baseless, which leaves you feeling defensive and misunderstood.
9) Isolating yourself from friends and family. You distance yourself from your loved ones and colleagues because of her erratic behavior, moodiness and instability. You make excuses for her inexcusable behaviors to others in an effort to convince yourself that it’s normal.
10) Walking on landmines. One misstep and you could set her off. Some people refer to this as “walking on eggshells,” but eggs emit only a dull crunch when you step on them. Setting off a landmine is a far more descriptive simile.
11) What goes up, must come down. She places you on a pedestal only to knock it out from under your feet. You’re the greatest thing since sliced bread one minute and the next minute, you’re the devil incarnate.
12) Un-level playing field. Borderlines and Narcissists make the rules; they break the rules and they change the rules at will. Just when you think you’ve figured out how to give her what she wants, she changes her expectations and demands without warning. This sets you up for failure in no-win situations, leaving you feeling helpless and trapped.
13) You’re a loser, but don’t leave me. “You’re a jerk. You’re a creep. You’re a bastard. I love you. Don’t leave me.” When you finally reach the point where you just can’t take it anymore, the tears, bargaining and threats begin. She insists she really does love you. She can’t live without you. She promises to change. She promises it will get better, but things never change and they never get better.
When that doesn’t work, she blames you and anything and anyone else she can think of, never once taking responsibility for her own behaviors. She may even resort to threats. She threatens that you’ll never see the kids again. Or she threatens to bad mouth you to your friends and family.
Tomorrow, I’ll post a follow-up blog in which I explain why this emotional abuse and what you can do about it.
by Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD
Private Consultation and Coaching
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- 5 Ways to Avoid Becoming Involved with Another Crazy, Emotionally Abusive Borderline or Narcissistic Woman
- The Emotionally Abused Man: When Love Hurts
- Is She a Crazy Bitch? A Quiz
- How to Deal with a Borderline Woman
- 13 Signs your Wife or Girlfriend is a Borderline or Narcissist
- Is your Girlfriend or Wife a Professional Victim?
BPD-1 byPushkia on flickr.
Spin-the-mood-wheel by MashGet on flickr.