BPD and The Nice Guy Personality Type

Most people know that women with traits of BPD or borderline personality disorder share certain personality characteristics that create the behavior patterns we associate with the disorder. But what you might not know is that the men who enter relationships with women with traits of BPD often have a pattern of behavior of their own which can be similarly recognized.

Just like women with traits of BPD, these men seem to share similar character traits. And these traits can influence them not only to fall in love with a woman with traits of BPD, but also to remain emotionally attached to her long after he should have left the relationship and sometimes long after the relationship has ended.

The personality type that seems to most often become entangled in the web of a woman with traits of BPD is a man we often refer to as a nice-guy type. There appears to be an alchemy of sorts that takes place when a woman with traits of BPD and a man with nice-guy traits get together.

And it is this unique dynamic that can initially attract the nice guy and subsequently lock him into an unhealthy relationship often despite his better judgment. We often think of women with traits of BPD as having personality traits that cause them to have an unrealistic perspective on human nature. But as it turns out, the nice-guy type also has traits that cause him to see the world unrealistically.

The woman with traits of BPD may see the world through a lens of negativity, believing that people are less trustworthy than they really are. But the nice-guy type has the opposite bias when it comes to human nature.

His character traits lead him to believe that people are nicer or more trustworthy than they really are. And it is the nice-guy type’s mistaken assumption that deep down the woman with traits of BPD is really just like him that keeps him from recognizing her limitations as a relationship partner.

But there is a very good reason for him to believe that she shares his nice guy traits. Anyone who has been in a relationship with a woman with traits of BPD can tell you she does not start out by mistreating her partner.

Differences and Similarities Between
Traits of BPD and The Traits of a Nice Guy

In most romantic relationships, women with traits of BPD move through an initial phase of idealization. This phase is fueled by an intense drive to achieve emotional intimacy which because of her lack of trust she is then unable to sustain. During this first phase her behaviors perfectly mimic those of a nice-girl, which is exactly the personality type the nice guy will be looking for.

The nice-guy type, when he meets a woman who seems to share his trusting nature and appears as interested as he is in true intimacy, will naturally believe he has found his perfect match. He will not realize that the nice-girl behavior that women with traits of BPD initially display will be followed by behavior that is anything but nice.

But because the idealization phase of BPD relationships creates the illusion that he is with a kindred spirit, the nice guy will naturally assume she is as trustworthy as he is, causing him to throw caution to the wind. And by the time she transitions out of her idealization phase and into her devaluation phase, he is usually deeply in love with her.

If he were not in love he may have been able to realize he was wrong about her ability to treat him well. He may have been able to emotionally disentangle himself from her. But the combination of being deeply in love and his lack of awareness of how other personality types function may instead launch him into a state of disorientation and great confusion.

Everything the nice guy experiences once she has transitioned into her devaluation phase will clearly indicate she is not the nice-girl type he mistook her for. But because he is in love with her, he will not connect the dots. Desperately wanting to believe that the woman he loves is still his perfect match, he will repeatedly attempt to approach his relationship partner with reason and logic.

Convinced she is a nice girl at heart he will be blinded to the fact that although reason and logic work for nice-guy and nice girl-types, they are nowhere near powerful enough to get through the defenses of a person who lacks his trusting nature.

In order for the nice-guy type to free himself from the illusion that he could bring back the idealization phase of his relationship, he must find a way to accept that his initial assessment of this woman was wrong. He must learn that although the woman with traits of BPD may closely resemble a nice-girl type, the motivations behind her behavior are quite different.

But it may take more than education about traits of BPD to convince a nice-guy that the love of his life was not who he thought she was. In order to accomplish this the nice guy may also need to come to terms with his own identity.

He may have to learn to accept the fact that the ability to treat others well that comes so naturally to him is not a trait that most people share and that in order not to be taken advantage of he must learn how to carefully vet anyone who asks for his trust.

He may also need to understand his own motivations, driven by his nice guy character traits before he can truly accept that she is not like him after all.

We’ll begin out exploration of the nice guy-type by addressing what differentiates the nice-guy type from the rest of the population.

Defining The Nice Guy Type

The nice-guy type is a somewhat common cluster of personality traits that is present in both men and women. This cluster is very beneficial to those that possess it, particularly in regard to their romantic relationships. People with this cluster of traits seem to have a natural aptitude for interpersonal communication. They also have a natural aptitude for closeness and intimacy.

What makes them different from most people is that they lack the fear of betrayal that most of us must overcome in order to be intimate with others. The nice guy will tend to use logical reasoning to assess whether another person is safe to get close to as opposed to what we might call emotional reasoning.

When we look closer at this natural aptitude for intimacy we find that what seems to separate the nice-guy type from others is actually not a trait that he possess, but a trait that seems to be strangely missing from this personality type. The trait that the nice guy type seems to lack that almost all other people possess is the natural fear of being hurt or taken advantage of that most people have to work through in order to achieve intimacy.

Although his lack of fear may help him immensely in his relationships with others, there are several reasons that his lack of experience with this type of fear may cause problems for him. Because he lacks the trait of fear of closeness that almost all other personality types have, he is not familiar with what we might call the dark side of human nature when it comes to romantic relationships. This dark side could be defined as a series of defense mechanisms that people use to protect themselves from feeling vulnerable.

Not understanding the fear involved for many people to expose their vulnerability to others, he may not be able to comprehend the range of emotions an untrusting type can feel for a romantic partner. Interestingly enough, the very trait that the nice guy lacks seems to be the one that the woman with traits of BPD possesses the most of.

Here are a few of the negative behaviors often seen in women with traits of BPD that the nice guy may not be able to recognize or understand:

Domestic violence
Verbal abuse
Emotional abuse
Accusations of infidelity

Although the nice-guy type may believe there are abusive or unhealthy people in the world, he will often have a black and white perception of how good and bad manifests in human behavior. He may not completely grasp the concept that when it comes to romantic love, untrusting people can feel both intense love and intense hatred for the same person.

Without having any familiarity with the deeply troubling and almost paranoid state of mistrust that the woman with traits of BPD routinely experiences, he may mistakenly believe that her destructive behaviors driven by fear of closeness can be addressed through standard methods of communication.

Now that we have addressed some of the difficulties nice guy types have in understanding other types, let’s turn our attention to misunderstandings that other types have for the nice guy.

Are Nice Guys Too Nice

The most common misperception that people make about this personality type is that nice guys are all people-pleasers. Although people-pleasing can be a tendency among nice-guy/nice-girl types, people-pleasing is not part of the nice guy constellation of traits. The nice guy’s good treatment of others is not, as many people may assume, motivated by fear or by low self-esteem.

However, the value he places on connection with others can in certain circumstances create a vulnerability for the nice guy that other types may not be susceptible to. We will find that nice-guy types who are under extreme stress or who have not received enough positive reinforcement from early caretakers can be susceptible to people-pleasing or in more formal words, over-dependence on others.

The common assumption that being a nice guy means you are a pushover or a doormat is usually a projection from people who do not possess the natural ability to treat others well. These are often individuals who can’t quite grasp the pay-it-forward benefits that the nice-guy and nice-girl type grasp intuitively.

But if a nice guy does realize he has fallen into the habit of putting others’ needs ahead of his own, it may be important to recognize that this tendency can be easily remedied through therapy, behavior modification or personal development and self-help techniques.

Since it is fairly easy to determine whether you might be gravitating towards people-pleasing, and recognizing it can be the first step to becoming less dependent, let’s take a brief moment to more closely examine the full range of human dependency.

The Nice Guy and Over-Dependency

When we talk about dependency, we are really talking about how much reliance we will put upon others in order to get our emotional needs met. In order to get a clearer understanding of how dependency relates to the traits of a nice guy we are going to look at an imaginary scale or spectrum of dependency.

bpd nice guy personality traits

On the far left side of this scale we are going to put people who are overly dependent on others. On the far right side we are going to place people who are under-dependent. These are individuals who hardly depend on others at all. And in the middle we are going to place individuals who are what we will be calling inter-dependent, meaning they are capable of achieving a healthy balance that lets them retain their sense of independence while also allowing others to take care of some of their emotional needs.

In order to be healthy in the kinds of relationships in which we depend on others, we need to find the balance between over-dependency and under-dependency. The nice guy type will most often sit somewhere near the middle of this spectrum. But because he has a strong affinity for human connection, we will place him slightly towards the side of over-dependency, but still in the healthy zone.

Then we will place an individual who we might call an independent personality type also near the middle but slightly to the right side of this scale or the under-dependent side. This individual is also still in the healthy zone, but closer to under-dependence because of their less pronounced drive for human connection.

We will find that most of the population sits somewhere in the middle of this spectrum, occasionally having to make minor adjustments at stressful times to bring them back towards the healthy center. A nice guy may from time to time need to develop his independence and an independent type may need to remind themselves to focus on their connections with others.

But there are also those individuals who chronically end up on the unhealthy or extreme ends of this spectrum. Let’s now take a look at the qualities associated with first an over-dependent person, and then someone on the opposite end of the scale, an under-dependent individual.

Over-Dependency In Relationships

An overly dependent individual is someone who we might call too nice. This is a person who experiences other people’s needs as more important than their own. When we sacrifice our own needs to take care of others needs, we send a negative message to ourselves which can strongly affect our self esteem.

Low self esteem and insecurity can make a person feel like they are not worthy enough, and this can often drive them to be overly dependent on others. They may feel like they cannot survive without the help of their family, friends or romantic partners. They may also find themselves being taken advantage of by others.

There are many factors that lead to over-dependency, most often stemming from negative experiences in early life. When events happen that make a child or young adult doubt their own worth, they may end up placing less value on themselves and more on others. Or they may not trust in their own worth and may feel obligated to give more to others in order to receive anything back.

If you are curious as to whether you have a tendency to be over-dependent you might ask yourself if you tend to put others’ needs before your own. You might also reflect on whether there are regular circumstances in which you want to say no to taking care of others’ needs but find yourself unable to. And the third tell-tale sign that you might be losing your sense of self to others is if you find yourself trying to rescue others who should be helping themselves.

Let’s now take a look at the qualities of a person who is in the unhealthy zone of under-dependency when it comes to relationships with others.

Under-dependent Relationships

We will define under-dependency as the lack of desire to depend on others for personal needs. Under-dependent individuals are fully functional on their own, but because they are unwilling or unmotivated to give and take in their close relationships, we would consider them on the unhealthy side of the scale when it comes to their ability to participate in an emotionally reciprocal relationship.

Some of the reasons that people may become under-dependent are negative past experiences, usually linked to betrayal that cause them to feel too vulnerable to allow themselves to risk being hurt again. We may find people who have married and divorced who choose to stay permanently single because they do not want to repeat such a negative experience.

Some people are raised in an environment where they have been taught that leaving oneself emotionally vulnerable is something to feel ashamed about. They may want to enter an intimate relationship but not be able to risk the shame that could go with it.

And just as there are people who have naturally strong drives to bond with others, there are plenty of people who have almost no natural drive to bond. These people get their sustenance from other areas in their life. They may find their work so engrossing that it fulfills their needs. They may have a drive to connect romantically to fulfill physical needs but not have the drive to connect emotionally.

There are also people who, because of the anxiety that is caused by entering into intimate relationships choose to have many superficial or social relationships. These individuals may find that they can compartmentalize their needs, and find many different people to support them instead of having putting all their eggs in one basket and risking that the person is not up to the job.

The Self-Made Nice Guy

There is one other aspect of the nice guy personality that we need to address. Not every nice guy was born with prominent nice-guy traits. Although most people possess their nice-guy behaviors from birth, there are also some nice guys who develop these characteristics in childhood or over the course of their life.

As human beings we are capable of developing character attributes by strengthening areas we might be weak in. Many parents help their children develop nice-guy or nice-girl qualities. Some nice guys develop these parts of their personalities on their own in later life as they mature. Both men who were born with nice guy traits and those who developed them in later life share the same perspective and face the same challenges.

Now that you have a general idea of what the nice guy is and also what he isn’t, let’s take a look at the actual traits that define this personality type.

Profile of A Nice Guy

So exactly what are the recognizable character traits of the nice guy? We can best understand the characteristics of a nice guy type by breaking down his behavior into three character traits. When we use these traits to define the nice guy we can easily see what motivates him to treat others consistently well:

Trait 1. A strong drive to do what’s right.

Trait 2. A strong drive to establish an authentic connection with others.

Trait 3. A strong drive to create interpersonal harmony.

Now let’s look at the behavior patterns that each of these traits produce, starting with the first trait, a strong sese of doing what’s right.

One of the qualities that stems from nice-guy personality traits that motivates nice guys to treat others well can be an unusually clear sense of right and wrong. This highly developed understanding of the fair treatment of others may have come naturally to him or he may have developed this part of his personality as he made his way towards adulthood.

But in order to understand the characteristic of wanting to do what’s right, we must first address why treating others the right way should be an unusual behavior pattern in the first place. In other words, why isn’t everybody a nice-guy or nice-girl type?

Many people make the assumption that everyone is basically nice, and when they aren’t being nice to others they are deviating from their natural behavior. They may assume if someone isn’t being nice it’s because they must have a psychological problem or issue keeping them from acting in a nice way.

The truth is that we don’t actually need to have a psychological problem in order to treat others badly. Being nice to others does not come naturally to human beings. In fact, it’s actually the complete opposite. We are by our nature somewhat selfish creatures. We all possess an instinctual drive to continually look towards our own interests.

Although this drive is certainly helpful when it comes to helping us stay alive, it doesn’t serve us very well in modern society. So in order for us to be nice to others as well as to ourselves, we actually have to be taught how to override our natural selfishness. If we look closely at our early upbringing, we may realize that our ability to do the right thing in terms of how we treat others was actually a skill we had to learn.

Treating others fairly and respectfully is part of a skill set we all learn in childhood as a normal part of our socialization process. Those with very good memories will recall that it was our parents and more commonly our early teachers who taught us how to treat others fairly.

Every time our teacher asked us to refrain from kicking or biting our fellow schoolmates or insisted that we wait on line for our lunch or made us share our toys with others, we were learning the skill set of how to treat others well.

It is these important skills of good treatment of others that allow us to move through later life with ease, how to be productive members of society, and how to conform to standards of good behavior that allow us to be accepted by the majority of the people we come into contact with.

Although many of us gave our early childhood teachers a good run for their money, most teachers will tell you that there are always one or two students in each class who didn’t seem to need as much supervision or restraint as the others. These students from a young age seemed to understand how to treat others well without much encouragement at all.

If you are a nice guy and you can remember that far back, you may realize that you were that child who seemed to understand the rules of good behavior without trying too hard. Behaving well towards others would have felt natural to you. Children who don’t need much training in how to treat others usually have a natural high aptitude for learning the skills of getting along with others.

Of course, not every nice guy was born that way. There are many men who become nice guys after growing up in communities or families that strongly reinforced doing the right thing when it comes to treatment of others. A nice guy may also have taken on these characteristics after growing up in a strongly spiritual family or community. Or his family and community may have put special emphasis on human rights which played out in their treatment of each other.

A nice guy may have been raised in a family or community that had strong feelings about honoring their cultural traditions which may have resulted in a deep understanding of the value in showing respect to others around him. Sometimes nice guy-types simply have strict parents whose rock solid boundaries may allow them to get significantly more practice controlling themselves than the average child.

These are also men who when they reach adulthood realize that they value their own personal integrity so much that they are willing to put in the personal development work necessary to learn the skills of control over their less healthy impulses. In later life they make a conscious effort to develop the nice guy side of their personality in order to be able to align their beliefs with their actions.

Let’s now move on to the behavior pattern driven by the second nice-guy trait, the drive to connect with others.

Some people are uncomfortable with the nice guy type’s obvious drive to connect with others. They question whether the connection the nice guy seeks is authentic and genuine.

If you identify as a nice guy type you will probably know that this wish to connect has nothing to do with the hidden motive to have the favor returned. The enjoyment of connection is its own worth. Many nice guys simply enjoy the feeling of closeness and connection that intimacy can bring more than the average person.

Let’s now take a look at why a strong drive to connect with others is not a trait that the average person possesses.

In order to make an authentic connection with another human being, each of us has to make some mutual promises that we will be loyal and won’t betray the other person or take advantage of their good will towards us. Because human beings have a bad habit of misjudging their ability to override their selfish desires, they often cannot fulfill these promises even when their intentions were good.

This poses a real challenge when trying to connect with others on more than a surface or social level. If individuals who are trying form a close friendship or romantic relationship do not possess strong skills to override their selfish desires, they may end up betraying each other’s trust, leaving both individuals wary to try to establish this kind of connection again.

The nice guy’s unusually high affinity for connection allows him to more easily override his fear of rejection or betrayal. His drive to connect allows him to take the chance of getting hurt without the kind of ambivalence that most people feel when entering into a relationship. His personality lends itself to connecting with others because he gets most of his life sustenance from authentic human connection.

Let’s now take a look at the behavior pattern driven by the third trait, the strong drive for interpersonal harmony in his relationships with others.

The third in our cluster of personality traits that we identify with nice guy types is what others might interpret as an avoidance of conflict. But the real motivation behind the nice guy’s wish for harmony in his relationships with others is not a fear of conflict but the promotion of good feelings.

If a nice-guy type is afraid of conflict, this fear usually stems from painful childhood experiences, but fear of conflict is not part of the profile of the nice guy personality. Most nice guys simply prefer a healthy and nourishing environment to one that is filled with drama. They are generally a peaceful sort who are not easily provoked.

They simply prefer to settle their issues with others in a non-confrontational way. Because of they possess the trait of striving for harmony, a nice guy type may choose security over excitement in their relationships, gravitating towards authenticity over hype.

Just like the strong drive for doing what’s right and the drive for connecting with others, the drive to achieve interpersonal harmony does not always come naturally. There are many individuals who discover through negative experience with conflict-filled relationships that they are more than ready to give up the excitement in favor of a harmony, security and comfort. The relationship they then seek may be characterized by some as boring, but for those who seek a safe haven from drama feels exactly right.

As we now stand back and look at the personality profile of the nice-guy/nice-girl and compare it to the profile of the woman with traits of BPD, we see that there are very real differences in these two personality types. The most pronounced difference between these two types is the ability to trust in an intimate relationship.

Although her ability to trust him in the initial phase of romantic idealization does match the trust level of the nice guy, she will not be able to sustain this level of trust on an ongoing basis. She does not operate from a strong drive to do what’s right. Instead the woman with traits of BPD will be operating from whatever she is feeling in the moment.

Although she has a strong drive to establish an authentic connection with others, she does not possess the skill set to sustain it. The nice guy will also find that as opposed to his drive to create interpersonal harmony, the woman with traits of BPD will have a destructive drive to create conflict due to a naturally high level of fear of betrayal.

Armed with the knowledge that the woman with traits of BPD was truly not the woman she professed to be and finally aware that the fleeting initial phase of his relationship can never be attained again, the nice-guy type can often break out of his state of confusion.

Once he declassifies her from the nice-girl type and re-classifies her as a woman who although alluring and passionate is not capable of sustaining a long-term relationship, he can often find the separation he needs to move on with his life.

Related Posts:

Did Your Ex-Girlfriend Have Traits Of Borderline Personality Disorder?

Women on the Spectrum of BPD: Did She Really Love Me?

Women With Traits of BPD – Why Did She Lie?

Did Your Ex-Girlfriend Have Traits of BPD: How to Let Go of the Good Times

Breakups With Women With Traits of BPD – Five Misconceptions That Keep Men From Letting Go and Moving On

Identifying Traits of BPD In Women Before Relationship Commitment

Romantic Idealization And Devaluation In Women With Traits of BPD

Women With Traits of BPD – Why Men Stay

Did Your Ex-Girlfriend Have Traits of BPD-The Defense Mechanism of Projection

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