bpd breakup

Women With Traits of BPD:
How To Let Go of the Good Times

Breaking up with a woman with traits of BPD or borderline personality disorder can be very painful. But one of the toughest aspects of these breakups is the persistent longing to get back that feeling of ultimate fulfillment you may have had at certain points during the relationship. Many men find that they can’t get through a day without being haunted by these memories.

This longing after a BPD breakup can be so strong that it can drive a man to return to a woman who he knows will try to abuse him. And even those men who successfully resist the urge to rekindle the relationship may find their recovery bogged down by these constant reminders of what they once had.

Most relationship breakups are messy and they can also be quite painful. But there are certain very complex dynamics at work in a BPD breakup that can make this experience literally traumatic. These breakups are often described as a complete blindside with no possibility of closure.

Much of the healing for men after a BPD breakup involves understanding the negative aspects of their partner’s behavior. But in order for a man to heal from the longing to get back those good feelings it is very important that he understand the profound effects her positive behavior had on him as well.

In this blog post we are going to address the positive feelings that women with traits of BPD evoke in their partners during the initial idealization phase of the relationship. You are going to learn that the feelings a woman with traits of BPD evokes in a man are actually already in place long before she meets him. We’ll also be examining the very specific method that these women use to trigger men’s deep-seated longings and why these feelings remain in place long after the relationship is over.

But before we begin this process of exploration, let’s take a moment to define our terms. The label of borderline personality disorder is thrown around with a lot of frequency. You may be aware that in order to receive a diagnosis of BPD an individual must meet certain standards. But you may not realize one of those standards is that their behavior patterns must be interfering with their life in a way that makes them dysfunctional.

There are many women who have some personality traits that make them susceptible to the condition of BPD but who for many reasons do not develop the full-blown disorder. Although they may be quite functional in the rest of their life, they may still engage in all of the destructive behaviors associated with the disorder within their romantic relationships.

When we use the term “woman with traits of BPD” we will be including all women who engage in behaviors associated with the disorder in their romantic relationships whether or not they qualify for the diagnosis. For your reference, here is a list of common behaviors that women with traits of BPD may engage in while in a romantic relationship:

List of Negative Behaviors

Because these behaviors are part and parcel of BPD relationships, before we address how to let go of the good times, let’s take a brief moment to look at the underlying mechanics of the behavior of women with traits of BPD in relationships. This big-picture understanding of why your ex behaved as she did can help put the suffering you may be experiencing now into clearer perspective.

Excessive Need For Love And Attention

We all have need for love and attention. It’s part of the human condition. But women with traits of BPD have an exponentially greater need than the average person. Having a strong need for love and attention is not in itself a negative trait. But when combined with certain other personality traits, it can lead to trouble in a romantic relationship.

The trait that causes problems when combined with an excessive need for attention could be labeled as a sensitivity to the negative judgment of others. Just like excessive need for love and attention, this trait on its own is not particularly negative. People with great sensitivity to negative judgment often make good peace-makers or mediators. They can make wonderful parents, and they may excel in any of the healing or caring professions.

But the combination of excessive need for love and attention and an equally excessive fear of negative judgment can lead to opposing forces that create a tremendous challenge for these women to overcome. The most challenging area that a person this sensitive will encounter is in their romantic relationships.

For most people, a romantic relationship is a true test of whether they can risk showing their most vulnerable side to another human being. When we expose our inner vulnerabilities to a loved one we risk the negative judgment from someone we care about, which can be very painful. Most people find they can overcome this obstacle. But for women with traits of BPD, the excessive need to get love and attention combined with an excessive need to protect themselves from negative judgment may put them in what feels like an impossible situation.

Instead of rising to the challenge, many women with traits of BPD, driven by these two opposing needs will figure out a workaround. This workaround is very destructive, both to the relationship partner and to the relationship itself. But it gives them what they need, which is a way to get very close to a romantic partner so they can get their excessive needs taken care of and then allows them to quickly back out of the intimacy in order to escape the consequence of the negative judgment they are so afraid will follow.

In order to understand just how destructive this two-step workaround really is, we need to isolate this dynamic so we can examine exactly how it works.

BPD Push/Pull

Relationships for women with traits of BPD usually begin with an excessive longing for love and attention that drives her to find a willing romantic partner. But in order to get her needs met risk-free, she will perform a few mental gymnastics. She will block out from her awareness all of the negative or potentially threatening aspects of his personality. But because she must accomplish getting her needs met very quickly before her fear catches up with her, she will take one further step to ensure that she can get as much love and as attention as she can as soon as possible.

She will now block out her own negative and potentially threatening qualities, only showing him her very best side. This move ensures that her partner will buy into the idealized dream relationship, one where neither partner could ever hurt the other one. At this point both partners are in a shared delusion of ultimate safety.

This feeling of safety allows the woman with traits of BPD to maneuver her partner into a mindset from which he is willing to give her the excessive amounts of love and attention she needs. And for a while this method of imagining her love interest to be a human being without flaws who could never hurt her works to ward off her fear of negative judgment.

But her suspicious nature eventually catches up with her. When her fear kicks in, two things will happen. Her image of him as a flawless individual will evaporate. She will realize he is capable of hurting her. The second thing that will happen is she will also drop the illusion of herself as his perfect woman. She will be aware of not only his potentially threatening faults but of her own flaws which now leave her wide open to scrutiny and negative judgment.

To protect herself from the negative judgment she will then deploy a second coping strategy. In order to move him away as quickly as she drew him in, she will block out all of his good qualities in the same way she previously blocked out his bad qualities.

This will serve to transform her partner into what she sees as a malevolent personality, someone who is out to hurt her. Seeing him as all bad will give her immediate justification to close down every vulnerable part that she opened to him when she was fulfilling her need for love and attention. But some women find that it’s not enough to just close down.

Because a man who believes he has found the love of his life is not likely to understand her suddenly reversed perception of him, he may ignore her attempt to push him away and attempt to get close again. At this point the woman with traits of BPD may begin to use stronger tactics to keep him at a safe distance. She may use degrading or emasculating language, she may ridicule or try to humiliate him, or she may use episodes of rage to keep herself safe.

This pulling very close followed by pushing a relationship partner away is the classic defense mechanism or coping strategy that defines BPD behavior in a romantic relationship. And it is during the destructive devaluation phase that most men leave women with traits of BPD if the woman hasn’t already left him in an attempt to regain her emotional safety.

But the second phase is not the one that causes so much pain after one of these breakups. It is the first phase that locks him in so tightly that even the most abusive treatment cannot convince him to make a final break from her. So just how is it that women with traits of BPD are so easily able to evoke such powerful feelings in their relationship partners? The answer to this question unlocks some of the mystery surrounding the woman with traits of BPD’s siren-like power over men.

BPD and Male Self-Esteem

Women with traits of BPD have the ability to elicit or evoke very powerful feelings in their relationship partners. But this effect is not mysterious nor is it magical, although it certainly may feel that way at the time. We’re now going to take a look at how the reflection of a man’s best qualities seen through the eyes of the woman he loves can cause him to throw caution to the wind and take down all of his barriers leaving him in an extremely vulnerable state.

In order to understand how she accomplishes her goal of getting a man to completely devote himself to her, we will need to address one more aspect of BPD idealization. Once a woman with traits of BPD has blocked out a man’s negative character attributes, she often begins a process of mining for hidden positive qualities in him.

These are positive qualities that all people possess. Although we are all capable of embodying these qualities, our fear and negative past experiences often cause us to keep them under wraps. But when someone recognizes our best hidden qualities it can make us feel like a million dollars.

We all have egos, and when we see ourselves reflected in another’s eyes as braver, stronger, more powerful or more loving, considerate or kind, we cannot help but bathe in that adoration. Seeing our best self reflected in the eyes of a loved one can soothe all of our fears and inhibitions and can heal our childhood wounds. By reflecting these hidden qualities a woman with traits of BPD can lift a man’s self-esteem to new highs.

Here is a list of some of the positive character attributes that women with traits of BPD may evoke in their partners during the initial idealization phase of their relationship.

Positive Male Character Attributes

Enhanced feelings of altruism towards their partner.

Enhanced empathy and understanding for their partner.

Enhanced benefit of the doubt when it comes to their partner.

Enhanced feelings of trust of their partner.

Enhanced sense of responsibility within their relationship.

Enhanced maturity in their relationship.

Enhanced desire for stability or long-term commitment.

Enhanced desire to provide for their partner.

Enhanced desire to protect their partner.

When we closely examine this list we find that all of these qualities of character are ones that boost or heighten self-esteem, particularly in men. We all know low-self esteem can have a very destructive influence on interpersonal relationships. Similarly we can easily observe that high self-esteem has a very positive influence.

The ability to focus on a person’s best qualities is a wonderful gift if used for the benefit of another person. Many teachers, therapists, and healers of all kinds use this gift to enhance self-esteem and help others overcome their fears so they can be their better selves.

But the woman with traits of BPD is not using her gifts to enhance the self esteem of her partner. She is using it in order to create a temporarily safe environment to satisfy her excessive needs before her fears come in to ruin the party.

Her intentions, however, are not malevolent. This behavior pattern, as well as all other negative behaviors associated with BPD works on an unconscious level. She will not be aware that she is blocking out his true nature as well as her own. She will believe fully in her version of reality. She will feel just as he does, as though she is falling in love with the partner of her dreams.

Let’s now take a look at exactly how these women seem to know the exact right thing to say to make a man feel safer than he ever has in a relationship and more loved, accepted and approved of than he ever has, perhaps in his entire life.

The answer to this question lies in the understanding of an additional personality trait commonly found in the cluster associated with BPD. The additional trait that helps women with BPD to identify both a man’s deepest dreams and his worst nightmare is a unique sensitivity to what others are feeling. This is a trait that we usually label as the ability to empathize.

bpd breakup

BPD and the Power of Empathy

Women are generally very good at sensing the feelings of others. But women with traits of BPD take being empathetic to a new level. These women may be able to intuitively and instinctually know what others are feeling even when those people themselves don’t know. They may pay attention to body language sometimes more closely than they do the spoken word. And their aptitude for reading emotions may give them the ability to easily identify their partner’s wants, needs and desires on a minute-by-minute basis.

Although a woman with traits of BPD will not be consciously aware of it, in the initial idealization phase she will be using this sixth sense continually to assess her partner’s responses to her. It is this built-in feedback system that allows her to reflect not only his idealized version of her but also his idealized version of himself.

Women with traits of BPD use their ability to read body language to exploit men’s desires in many ways. They may use it to supply him with the best sex he ever had. And there are men who become so addicted that they will find themselves helpless to resist another round in what they know is an unhealthy relationship. There are also men who once they break up with a woman with traits of BPD find they can no longer go back to a normal sex life.

Having a man’s deepest desires for both sex and love fulfilled is a very powerful experience. Most men don’t question how or why their girlfriend is able to fulfill them. He will simply thank his lucky stars for winning what to him will feel like the relationship lottery.

It is only when the relationship breaks down and finally ends that he may begin to question the motivations of his ex. But despite his eventual realization that this woman was exploiting his emotions in order to meet excessive needs, he may still be unable keep from longing to get those good feelings back.

It is natural for human beings to link or associate feelings from the past with events in the present. But it is very difficult for us distinguish between the two. Our brains are not wired to make the connection between the original event and the present incident that triggers that memory.

So it is natural for a man to assume that his ex is the only one who could fulfill those longings and that if only he were back with her she could give him the feelings again. But for most men, the feelings that this woman evoked for love and acceptance were actually in place long before he met her.

The truth is we all carry a deep longing for love and acceptance that for most of us starts in early childhood. When we are very, very young we don’t see our parents or caretakers are human beings with flaws. When we aren’t loved the way we should be, we don’t recognize that our parent had a bad day or that they were distracted, much less the complex reasons for real neglect or abuse some children are subjected to.

Because no parent can be perfect, even children of very happy homes are going to emerge from childhood with a certain amount of psychological injuries, minor as they may be, in the area of love, acceptance and approval. These minor childhood injuries usually lie dormant throughout our lives rarely causing us pain. But when they are triggered, either in the idealization or devaluation phase of one of these relationships, they rise to the surface and until resolved may feel as painful as a truly traumatic childhood wound.

Although you may have had a history of sound mental health before you entered your relationship with a woman with traits of BPD, most men by the time their relationship ends are overwhelmed by the amount of painful childhood feelings that have been lit up or triggered by the behavior of their ex.

Because we lack the wiring to easily follow our own trauma or psychological injury back to the original source so we can apply the appropriate attention that heals the wound, we often need help. This help usually takes the form of an experienced therapist who can guide us back to the time of the original injury so we can heal ourselves.

Many men find that their decision to seek therapy to speed along their recovery had a benefit that went far beyond healing from a past relationship. Although nothing can make up for the devastation a man might experience after a breakup with a woman with traits of BPD, using this downtime to address these important childhood issues can be a way to both shorten the time it takes to recover and to come out the other side in better shape than you were before this unfortunate experience.

Related Posts:

BPD and the Nice Guy Personality Type

Women With Traits of BPD – Why Did She Lie?

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

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

Note To Readers: I’d like to take a moment to thank all of you who have taken the time to post in my comments section. Your questions, opinions and personal stories form an invaluable contribution to this important discussion.

If you would like to learn the Nicola Method so you can put an end to the high conflict situations you may be experiencing, click on this link to the welcome page of this website where you will find the resources you need.

If you want to try out some of the basic techniques of this method for free to see if this method is right for your situation, you can learn them from an intro guide flip-book here or a PDF version of the intro guide here.

Visit Joanna on Google+