This is a post I’ve been asked to write – a very kind reader wanted to know if I could write about the topic of past relationships and presented me with quite a challenge. As I really appreciate people asking questions or even requesting posts I did my best though.
Especially as BPD is a disorder that manifests itself strongly in interpersonal relationships it also totally makes sende to speak about the topic. Furthermore I hope to appear human enough to convice some ex-partners of people with BPD that we definitely aren’t monsters.
The reason I haven’t had the idea to write about past relationships here is that they are over. Probably sounds quite uncreative but that is exactly what I feel: When something’s over it’s over. Period. You can let go before the actual ending is there and afterwards there’s nothing left to do. I have never mourned after breaking up with someone. I am a friend of clean cuts (not literally in this case ;)). One of the questions I’ve been asked by my own ex-partners as well as by those of other borderlines is: “Is there really nothing left anymore? From one day to the next?”
Of course I can only answer this question from my own point of view: Yes. My thinking and feeling are absolute. Over is over. And above all: Black is black and white is white. What I mean by that is that usually for me, there is a short phase of devaluation before a break-up. When I leave someone the following sentence will probably be said: “I have to go before I start hating you.” The fact that this came of out the blue for people in the past is not easy to understand for me – you know if it doesn’t work anymore and if it doesn’t work there’s no point in making an effort and if you can’t make an effort it is better to stop, short and sweet. I would say the exact same thing about (former) jobs or flats.
For this you have to know that the “classic borderline relationship” (is there such a thing?) has a pattern:
The first phase is this kind of melding. For me, all that can be said about this phase is just about falling in love but if I can trust observations from ex-partners of other borderlines, relationships with us seem to be more intense more quickly. I guess that is due to the fact that we are quite sensitive and can quickly see what our partner wants from us. Adaptable, enthusiastic, intense – those are the words borderlines in this phase are often described with. It is also the reason for our ex-partners being so hurt when we leave – such an intensity is hard to find without mental special effects. What I would also mention about this phase is a strong fear of loss that can be accompanied by huge clinginess. My whole world revolves around the partner.
Then there is the phase that didn’t last long in any of my former relationships but is the main part for most people: The middle. Once again not my favourite topic. For other people it means that you know each other better, the rose-coloures glasses vanish, you get used to your routine. I now have this phase for the very first time in my current relationship and want to write a seperate post about it. In my former relationships I’ve always experienced this phase as boring and/or oppressive. As if I would cease to exist because the partner was taking over my life, being torn between fear of losing myself…or the partner. At the same time boredom because the intense feeling from the beginning could not be sustained.
Yes and then, sooner or later, there is devaluation phase. Here the smallest things can cause a fight, the partner can’t do anything right anymore and before you know it only hurts. I, personally, keep this phase short. I know myself – as soon as I’ve thrown someone off their pedestal I cannot bring myself to giving anything anymore. And I know how…cold I am then. Cold is the right word I think. Proud, mocking, maybe even cruel. I just don’t care anymore. And as I don’t want to do that to anyone, I leave. Quickly. Astonishingly (for me) often unexpectedly for the other one. I even feel like I’m doing the person a favour because I would inflict more pain if I stayed.
To my knowledge there are people with BPD who wish to hurt the other person in this phase or even after the relationship is over. I read it often. I find it difficult to say anything about it as I, like I said, actively try not to hurt people unnecessarily. The opposite of love is not hate – it’s indifference. As long as I fight with passion there is still a chance.
What I read often about ex-partners is that they accuse us borderlines of having only one goal in life: manipulating dear people. This is yet another topic where I find it difficult to say anything as I think that we all manipulate our environment to a certain extent and that we do it more often when we are afraid or feel cornered. The fact that borderlines feel that way more often than others might be a possible explanation for our reputed manipulation. I also think that this phenomenon can be countaracted by looooooooooooooots of communication – if I feel safe in a relationship and know where I stand I, personally, will never knowingly or even maliciously manipulate anyone. Concerning ex-partners I would say that every time I did manipulate I had been hurt or there had been a lack of communication or I had been scared first.
This post is getting rather long but there is one more question I’d like to address: “How do you feel when you meet someone you once had a relationship with?”
I feel exactly like when I’m visiting my old school: Grown out of it. When I walk through my old city I have the strong feeling of being a ghost who doesn’t belong there anymore, who knows everything there is to know and therefore is searching for something new. Former workplaces, vehicles, pieces of clothing make me feel like that…as well as former partners. They don’t belong to me anymore, I don’t belong to them and that is somewhere between astonishing, creepy, relieving and nice. I’ve never had a desire for revenge. Nor feelings of guilt. Over is over.
Thanks to the person who gave me the idea for this post – if you, dear person, or anyone else wants to know anything specific, please just ask 🙂
As my present is a premiere (several years in the same relationship, the same job and the same flat) I want to dedicate a seperate post to this status. The special thing about it will be that my wonderful partner has given me lots of input with his own thoughts and will therefore be actively helping me work on this blog for the first time. Working on the thoughts of two people at the same time is an unusual task for me which is why the post might still take some time to write but I hope that it will show that, and also, how relationships with a part that has BPD can work 🙂