Borderline Personality Disorder
By: Dr. Sam Vaknin
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The fact that the Borderline personality disorder is often found among women makes it a controversial mental health diagnosis. Some scholars say that it is a culture-bound pseudo-syndrome invented by men to serve a patriarchal and misogynistic society. Others point to the fact the lives of patients diagnosed with the disorder are chaotic and that the relationships they form are stormy, short-lived, and unstable. Moreover, not unlike compensatory narcissists, people with the Borderline Personality Disorder often display labile (wildly fluctuating) sense of self-worth, self-image and affect (expressed emotions).
Like both narcissists and psychopaths, borderlines are impulsive and reckless. Like histrionics, their sexual conduct is promiscuous, driven, and unsafe. Many borderlines binge eat, gamble, drive, and shop carelessly, and are substance abusers. Lack of impulse control is joined with self-destructive and self-defeating behaviors, such as suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, gestures, or threats, and self-mutilation or self-injury.
The main dynamic in the Borderline Personality Disorder is abandonment anxiety. Like codependents, borderlines attempt to preempt or prevent abandonment (both real and imagined) by their nearest and dearest. They cling frantically and counterproductively to their partners, mates, spouses, friends, children, or even neighbors. This fierce attachment is coupled with idealization and then swift and merciless devaluation of the borderline's target.
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Exactly like the narcissist, the borderline patient elicits constant narcissistic supply (attention, affirmation, adulation, approval) to regulate her gyrating sense of self-worth and her chaotic self-image, to shore up serious, marked, persistent, and ubiquitous deficits in self-esteem and Ego functions, and to counter the gnawing emptiness at her core.
The Borderline Personality Disorder is often co-diagnosed (is comorbid) with mood and affect disorders. But all borderlines suffer from mood reactivity.
From an entry I wrote for the Open Site Encyclopedia:
"(Borderlines) shift dizzyingly between dysphoria (sadness or depression) and euphoria, manic self-confidence and paralyzing anxiety, irritability and indifference. This is reminiscent of the mood swings of Bipolar Disorder patients. But Borderlines are much angrier and more violent. They usually get into physical fights, throw temper tantrums, and have frightening rage attacks.
When stressed, many Borderlines become psychotic, though only briefly (psychotic micro-episodes), or develop transient paranoid ideation and ideas of reference (the erroneous conviction that one is the focus of derision and malicious gossip). Dissociative symptoms are not uncommon ("losing" stretches of time, or objects, and forgetting events or facts with emotional content)."
Hence the term "borderline" (first coined by Otto F. Kernberg). The Borderline Personality Disorder is on the thin (border) line separating neurosis from psychosis.
and Histrionic personality disorders may be manifestations in females of secondary type
psychopathy (as measured by Factor 2 of the PCL-R test). In other words:
Borderline and Histrionic women may actually be psychopaths. A growing body of
recent studies supports this startling conclusion. Survivors of CPTSD also
manifest psychopathic and narcissistic behaviors (overlay)
Intimate partners won't not surprised: impulsivity, defiant grandiosity, antisocial and interpersonal aggression, manipulativeness, dysregulated negative emotionality, lack of object constancy (object impermanence), attachment dysfunctions, hostility, splitting (dichotomous thinking), high levels of distress, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse are all typical of and common among secondary psychopaths - and among Borderlines. These women also defy gender roles and behavioral norms (act masculine). But the Borderline adds a twist to this cocktail: dissociation. Whenever stress levels and inner dissonance become intolerable, she hands over control to her inner psychopath, depersonalizes, derealizes, or develops amnesia.
When the Borderline's life partner is another proud member of the Cluster B tribe (another Borderline or Psychopath, or a Narcissist), he reacts with equal measures of abuse to her frequent misconduct. The relationship ineluctably devolves into a vicious power play and warping cruel mind games, exacerbating traumatic mental health outcomes for everyone involved.
and derealization are common reactions in Borderline Personality Disorder
(BPD), in Dissociative Identity Disorder DID, formerly known as Multiple
Personality Disorder or MPD), and in patients with post-traumatic stress
disorders, such as PTSD and CPTSD.
The experience is variously described as being on auto-pilot, sliding into anaesthesia, or reverting to the status of an empathic or sad spectator. It is provoked by intolerable dissonance (for example: when cheating on a partner, having ambivalent sex, breaking the law, or breaching some deeply held mores and values). The patient distances herself from the events, from her pain, and from anticipated abandonment and rejection via the mechanisms of estrangement and alienation: "This is not happening to me, this is just a nightmare, not real". Substance abuse and ambient distractions (bar hopping or video games) tend to exacerbate these reactive patterns and the patient often misattributes to alcohol or drugs the behaviors wrought by her alters or the subsequent amnesia.
BPD can be best described as a subspecies of DID: the mood lability and emotional dysregulation are outward manifestations of changes in self-states and switching from host (ANP) to alter (EP). The dissociative trigger in BPD is typically either actual abandonment or the perceived threat of rejection and separation from an intimate partner within an interpersonal relationships which results in unbearable abandonment or separation anxiety.
Indeed, severe dissociation is even now a diagnostic criterion of BPD. When one of the alters is a psychopath, the Borderline patient will be antisocial, impulsive, dysempathic, mendacious (lie about everything all the time), aggressive, and defiant. She will be able to go for long periods without any romantic or sexual liaisons, a lone wolf in her lair - something BPD patients whose alters are not psychopathic cannot ever countenance or do.
It is a myth that people with BPD/DID cannot fully control the behaviors and choices of their alters. They can. This is why the courts reject both BPD and DID as a defense and throw people in prison even when it is proven beyond doubt that an alter committed the felony.
According to Cavenar,
Sullivan, and Maltbie ("A Clinical Note on Hysterical Psychosis",
American Journal of Psychiatry, June 1979), some narcissistic and histrionic
people - mostly women - react with a transient form of psychosis
to unwanted sexual advances - but also when their fervent sexual interest is
not reciprocated. In the footsteps of Martin (1971), the authors explicitly
attribute such decompensation and acting out in some cases to "oral
narcissistic" structures in the personality and immature object relations.
I would add to this list women who succeed to bed the men they desire, but are then abandoned or ignored emotionally, contrary to their wishes and fantasies.
The connection between brief, reactive psychotic episodes and symptomatic manifestations of dissociation, including amnesia and even Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), is well established (see the definitive work "Dissociation and the Dissociative Disorders: DSM-V and Beyond" edited by Dell and O'Neil, 2009, Routledge). So, when these women disintegrate under stress or trauma, the transition to dissociative psychosis is abrupt and shocking: it resembles switching from the core personality to an alter in DID. Patients describe it as "brain fog", though they may appear to be perfectly oriented and goal-focused.
On such occasions, behavior changes markedly, becomes disorganized, and then escalates to become aggressive, impulsive, dysempathic, reckless, promiscuous, and antisocial. Amnesia sets in to repress painful and acutely uncomfortable (ego dystonic) memories which, had they remained in conscious awareness, would have provoked extreme shame and guilt. Where amnesia is absent, the woman undergoes depersonalization and derealization: she feels that she were acting as an observer on "auto-pilot". Substance abuse - such as binge drinking or getting stoned - exacerbates all these mental health issues and defenses.
I have been arguing to
reverse Kernberg's hierarchy: I postulate that the Narcissist is far closer to
psychosis (his personality is far less organized) than the Borderline. Only
the narcissist's rigid grandiosity is keeping him together and when it is
effectively challenged, he decompensates, acts out, and disintegrates.
Grotstein postulated that the Borderline is a failed narcissist: the pathology did not progress (or devolve) into narcissism which is a full-fledged form of binary Dissociative Identity Disorder with two selves (the False and the True)
The Narcissist's solution to this duality of selves is to switch off the dilapidated, atrophied, and dysfunctional True Self and relegate it to the deepest recesses of the mind where it has no influence whatsoever on the narcissist's psychodynamics. Only the False Self is left.
In contrast, the Borderline fails to repress and dissociate the True Self and, consequently, never becomes a narcissist. This "failure" causes the Borderline's two selves to compete for control of her identity and memories.
It is this inner struggle that mimics other dissociative disorders and led scholars such as Masterson, Dell, Putnam, Ross, Ryle and many others to suggest that BPD may merely be another label for the identity diffusion and alteration common in dissociative disorders.
The shy or quiet borderline internalizes her struggles rather than externalize them. She becomes the exclusive target of her own turmoil. She “acts in”.
Both the classic and covert borderline (many of the latter are men) act out.
Here is a table which compares the clinical features of the two subtypes.
It is based on the schematic present by Arnold M. Cooper and S. Akhtar in 1989 for classic vs. cover narcissist.
And Emotional Regulation
2. false self grandiosity;
3. preoccupation with fantasies of outstanding love; undue sense of uniqueness; feelings of entitlement; alloplastic defenses;
4. internal locus of control; seeming self-sufficiency;
9. mood lability;
10. emotional dysregulation and rationalization or reactance and defiance, contumaciounsess;
12. low boredom threshold and tolerance;
15. No suicidal ideation, aggression other-directed;
16. No self-mutilation, hypochondriasis, addictive behaviors;
17. dissociative self-states, mainly: selective attention, confabulation, repression or denial, primary psychopathic protector
1. identity diffusion;
3. morose self-doubts and ego-dystony or ego discrepancy (“wrongness”), autoplastic defenses;
4. external locus of control;
5. marked propensity toward feeling ashamed, guilty, or to blame;
6. fragility, vulnerability;
7. relentless search for safety and completion;
8. marked sensitivity to criticism and realistic setbacks;
9. mood lability;
10. emotional dysregulation and numbing and dysempathy;
12. low frustration threshold and tolerance;
13. depression and anxiety;
15. suicidal tendencies;
16. self-harm and substance abuse or self-trashing (like egregious promiscuity)
17. dissociative self-states, mainly: realization, depersonalization, or amnesia
1. paranoid ideation;
2. numerous but shallow relationships;
intense need for love from others, people pleasing;
lack of real empathy in primary psychopathic phase;
valuing of children over spouse in family life;
7. inability to genuinely participate in group activities;
9. passive-aggressive, sullen, surly, self-denying, behaviors; cunning and premeditated malevolence;
10. intermittent reinforcement;
11. scorn for others, often masked by pseudohumility;
12, 17. histrionic attention seeking;
13. recklessness aimed at hurting or affecting others;
14. sadistic-punitive or goal-oriented triangulation;
15, 16. object inconstancy: idealize-devalue-discard-revert or replace
1. inability to genuinely depend on others and trust them, hypervigilance;
2. instant or fake intimacy (sometimes in casual sex)
3. abandonment anxiety (impostor syndrome);
4. engulfment anxiety and fear of intimacy;
5. rejection sensitivity;
6. effortful control;
7. chronic envy of others talents, possessions, and capacity for deep object relations;
8. lack of regard for generational boundaries;
9. disregard for others’ time, limitations, obligations, and resources (unreasonably demanding);
11. explosive behavior;
14. interpersonal triangulation;
15. approach-avoidance repetition compulsion and preemptive abandonment;
16. object inconstancy;
17. drama queens
2. Socially charming, charismatic;
3. consistent hard work done mainly to seek admiration (pseudo- sublimation);
4. intense ambition;
5. often successful;
7. preoccupation with appearances
1. nagging aimlessness;
2. social anxiety;
3. shallow vocational commitment;
4. dilettante-like attitude;
5. multiple but superficial interests;
6. chronic boredom;
7. aesthetic taste often ill-informed and imitative
1. idiosyncratically and unevenly moral, caricatured modesty, activism and apparent enthusiasm for sociopolitical affairs;
2. inordinate ethnic and moral relativism;
3. pretended contempt for money in real life, feigned spirituality and “guru” status;
4. irreverence toward authority
1. readiness to shift values to gain favor;
2. pathological lying;
3. materialistic lifestyle;
2. cold and greedy seductiveness;
3. extramarital affairs and promiscuity;
4. uninhibited sexual life
1. inability to remain in love;
2. impaired capacity for viewing the romantic partner as a separate individual with his or her own interests, rights, and values;
3. inability to genuinely comprehend the incest taboo;
4. occasional sexual perversions
1. dichotomous thinking;
4. impressively knowledgeable;
5. egocentric perception of reality;
6. fondness for shortcuts to acquisition of knowledge
7. decisive and opinionated;
8. love of language, often strikingly articulate;
1. dichotomous thinking;
4. knowledge often limited to trivia (headline intelligence);
5. forgetful of details, especially names;
6. impaired in the capacity for learning new skills;
7. tendency to change meanings of reality when facing a threat to self-esteem;
8. language and speaking used for regulating self-esteem
The Three Voices: Histrionic, Psychopathic, Borderline
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is often diagnosed together (comorbid) with other personality disorders: histrionic, narcissistic, and antisocial (psychopathy). The majority of persons diagnosed with these comorbidities of personality disorders are women.
Borderline Personality Disorder is a post-traumatic state which is repeatedly triggered by neglect, abandonment, withholding of sex and intimacy, verbal and psychological abuse and by life’s circumstances, dangers and chaos.
When Borderline PD is comorbid with Histrionic PD, such women react by seeking comfort, acceptance, validation, sex, and intimacy from other men.
But the comorbidity creates conflicting inner voices:
Histrionic: Men will make you feel better, restore your self-esteem.
Antisocial: Don't feel guilty about cheating and being a "whore". It is fun, you deserve it, it is not your fault, no one gets hurt if you keep it a secret - so go for it.
Borderline: Your Sexuality is bad, mad, and dangerous. Don't take it too far or it will end calamitously.
When such a woman experiences a narcissistic crisis or injury – when she is hurt, humiliated, or frustrated and when her femininity is doubted or challenged - her histrionic side forces her to reach out to men to make her feel better by ameliorating her frustration. Flings with men restore her self-esteem and self-confidence and regulate her labile sense of self-worth. She contacts men with the intention of having intimacy and sex with them.
Her antisocial (psychopathic) voice legitimizes her histrionic behavior: "Don't feel guilty about cheating and being a 'whore'. It is fun, you deserve it, it is not your fault, no one gets hurt if you keep it a secret - so go for it."
Her borderline aspect feels stressed and panics. When she is faced with a man's expectation to have sex and with her own sexual desire, she freaks out. Sex is perceived as traumatic: it is associated with pain and hurt, a kind of punishment. The following negative thoughts prevail:
(a) Sex is "dirty";
(b) Men are evil, dangerous, one-track minded (they want only sex and then they will discard you);
(c) Sex inevitably results in pain and hurt;
(d) You should feel guilty about cheating;
(e) You should feel ashamed for being so "whorish".
So, when faced with the prospect of sex, borderline patients panic because of these negative thoughts. The panic leads to depersonalization ("splitting" from oneself in a paralyzing trance, going “auto-pilot”, or lapsing into a dream-like state).
If such a woman crosses the line and has full-fledged sex, she experiences dissociation: she forgets sexual acts that conflict with her values and boundaries, especially if she finds them enjoyable.
narcissists - and histrionic and borderline women - are driven by primitive
urges, unrequited needs, raw negative impulses (like rage and vindictiveness)
and psychological defense mechanisms run amok and awry. It is not so much a
lack of empathy as it is a one track mindedness that renders them robotic and
You cannot contract with a psychopathic narcissist or with a histrionic borderline woman: they recognize no rules, have no deep emotions, get attached to no one, play mind games with everyone, and lie incessantly. They will not hesitate to hurt you fatally if it gratifies the triflest of their wishes. They are not sadists: you are mere collateral damage.
Where a human being should be, there is a vast deep space of emptiness with howling, primordial winds.
These defective renditions of humans have no spouses and know no children, maintain no friendships and keep no families. They plough through their lives and the lives of their "nearest and dearest" like unstoppable and unconscionable wracking balls, swinging apathetically between compulsions and obsessions and the ever more dimming awareness of the stirrings that pass for their consciousness.
Codependents and borderlines
do not react to object
impermanence (inconstancy) the same way as narcissists do. When they are
abandoned or left alone by significant others, they experience anxiety, but it
Narcissists delete the absent person and dissociate (forget about him or her). They do not miss the missing ex or lover or child or neighbor or colleague. They simply move on to the next interchangeable target.
Borderlines and codependents are much more like the infants described in Piaget's work: they react even to the slightest hint of absence as a total abandonment and then proceed to cling, mourn, and get depressed.
In extreme cases borderlines decompensate and disintegrate and then act out recklessly (go on shopping sprees or engage in promiscuous sex, for examples).
into the intimate partner one loves is very common among codependents and borderlines.
The clinical term is "merger" or "fusion" and it is
accomplished via sex or emotionally or, more commonly, in both ways.
The beloved mate then fulfils psychological functions that non-codependents and healthy people perform on their own, internally.
Codependents and Borderlines outsource their psychological functioning to a partner and therefore "vanish" as an autonomous, self-efficacious agent.
Hence their clinging and extreme separation or abandonment anxiety: a breakup with the partner is tantamount to psychodynamic amputation.
Narcissists, psychopaths, and
Borderlines react with abuse to perceived abuse. But the problem is that
their reactive misconduct is based on perceptions and internal dynamics, not on
reality, which they cannot be trusted to appraise properly.
People with these personality disorders also possess a low threshold for frustration and poor impulse control.
But the greatest problem is the triple whammy trifecta of cognitive deficits, hypervigilance, and referential ideation. Cluster B patients maintain poor reality testing and paranoid ideation.
Consequently, they misperceive and misinterpret many behaviors as abusive - and react with an arsenal of nuclear weapons to the slightest upset.
So, though many of these perpetrators abuse only when triggered and rarely ignite the chain reaction of maltreatment, their behavioral choices are disproportional and they leverage everything they have, body and intelligence, for instance, to lend their response a bleeding edge.
They may be first provoked (via projective identification, for example) - but then embark upon an unbridled attempt to DESTROY the source of frustration and narcissistic injury (at least mentally, if not always physically). This dynamic is especially evident in couples where one partner is a Borderline and the other one, a Narcissist.
Narcissistic-Borderline Couples: Daddy Issues
Borderline women often end up with narcissistic men. But they feel overpowered and overwhelmed in these relationships as the narcissist leverages his cold empathy to push all their buttons cruelly and repeatedly until they are triggered badly, decompensate, and act out. The Borderline partner often claims that the narcissist “made her misbehave” in dramatic or histrionic ways, “drove her crazy”, and that his very presence bothered her, that “he was too much and everywhere”.
The narcissist’s strong and ubiquitous personality compels the Borderline to test boundaries and to mock or challenge his omniscient bloated self-importance.
The narcissist is perceived by the Borderline as a Father figure, or even, in moments of diffusion and dissociation, as an actual father. The narcissist wants to possess the Borderline, reduce her to a mute witness of his grandeur, and transform her into a mere function or extension. This extended mistreatment provokes in the Borderline (often a secondary psychopath herself) reactance and defiance, a re-enactment of a teenage rebellion.
With her egregious misconduct, she is communicating to the narcissist: “I am not your daughter or property, but an autonomous person, an emancipated, independent, and accomplished woman, desired by other men”. Cast as an immature and even infantile object by the narcissist, she just wants to “grow up and leave him behind”. Ironically, her misconduct amounts to a regression to adolescence, stripping away adulthood and its responsibilities
The Borderline is testing the Narcissist’s unconditional love for her, regardless of how extremely she misbehaves, in an attempt to make up for her emotionally distant biological original father. But she is unable to accept unconditional love owing to her dread of engulfment and enmeshment. She feels brainwashed and in the throes of vanishing via a vertiginous process of merger or fusion. What appears to be unconditional love elicits in her paranoid suspiciousness because she “smells a rat” as she misinterprets any solicitous empathy and verbalized positive emotions to be fake manipulative insincerity.
Consequently, when she is truly loved and despite her paralyzing abandonment or separation anxiety, the Borderline feels trapped, threatened, and immobilized. This leads to an inexorable approach-avoidance repetition compulsion: confronted with a strong, boundaried, and centered partner – she flees. If the partner is codependent and spineless, she sadistically taunts, torments, and punishes him for failing to provide her with a stable core and to compensate for her diffuse and kaleidoscopic identity (which I dub “identity cloud”).
Unconditional love has the potential for infinite pain: the Borderline is aware that, with her lability, dysregulation, and hurtful acting out, she is bound to compromise, tamper, or lose her loved ones and it is going to kill her (she is catastrophizing). But she also feels inadequate, bad, unworthy, inefficacious, and defective and so unable to reciprocate the love given to her, a deficiency which guarantees eventual abandonment. So, she misbehaves in order to pre-empt and precipitate abandonment.
The Borderline’s ideal partner is someone who is strong enough to be weak and vulnerable at times.
Other motivations intermingle with the aforementioned dynamics and result in antisocial and dysempathic, hurtful, or even sadistic choices and beahviors:
Envy and Competition
The Borderline is grandiose, holds grudges, and is passive-aggressive (negativistic), so she is virulently envious of her partner’s superiority and ascendance, whether real or self-imputed. She competes with her partner and subtly undermines, or actively sabotages his efforts and accomplishments.
Punishment and Power Play
The Borderline’s splitting leads to a constant wish to punish the persecutory, evil, bad, frustrating, and punitive object that her partner is or had become (in her mind) - thus restoring justice and a balance of power within the relationship.
The Borderline goes haywire conspicuously in order to secure attention and guarantee a monopoly on her partner’s emotional and other resources. The Borderline equates his ministrations to her tantrums and externalized aggression with vows of loyalty and faithfulness: as long as her partner cares about her, caters to her self-inflicted wounds, and is preoccupied with her antics, she has in him a safe and secure base, he is unlikely to abandon her.
Getting Rid of the Narcissist
The Narcissistic partner’s presence in the Borderline’s life involves rejection, abuse, and withholding and so becomes intolerable and painfully unbearable. Agony, anger, frustration, repressed aggression, heartrending disappointment, restrictions on freedom, and emotional blackmail overwhelm the Borderline’s fragile and dysfunctional self-regulation. Her antisocial and callous behavioral choices are then intended to lead to a dissolution of the hurtful bond.
Finally, of course, there is avenging perceived wrongs, slights, and abuse, real or imagined by engaging in a tit-for-tat and escalating the confrontation
Identity diffusion or
disturbance is an aspect of Borderline Personality Disorder: shifting -
often diametrically opposed - values, opinions, beliefs, plans, preferences,
wishes, commitments, and priorities.
I maintain that both the narcissist and the Borderline possess a rich fantasy life that impinges on the cohesion and temporal consistency of their core identity: if you can be anybody at all - you are nobody in particular.
The narcissist's fantastic grandiosity relates exclusively to himself but he idealizes and devalues others. So does the borderline, whose delusions revolve solely around others.
Out of touch with her inner
objects, the Borderline is frequently overwhelmed by her emotions. She feels as
if she is drowning in a sudden tsunami (dysregulation). Most Borderlines learn
to bury their emotions under an avalanche of facts, actions, and events.
Instead of FEELING - they ACT. They keep busy in order to keep the thoughts - the inner noise - away.
The Borderline tackles her threateningly immersive "flayed skin" environment in two ways:
1. She suppresses her emotions and goes numb, avoidant, or withdraws altogether; or
2. She acts out: go wild, reckless, unpredictable, promiscuous, and defiant.
As the Borderline gets older, she grows calmer and settled. But then she feels "dead" because she designs her life - her job, for example - to accomplish exactly that: zero titillation and no potentially triggering stimuli.
Years of chaos and waste render the Borderline terrified of her savage dark side. She constricts her existence and impoverishes it in order to keeps in the straight and narrow.
The Borderline's intimate partners abandon ship because they feel that she is not there, there is nobody home, just an emptiness. Coupled with the Borderline's unending drama and egregious hurtful acts, it takes an extreme codependent to survive such a relationship.
Conditional love is offered
only when the love object takes certain actions or attains certain performance criteria.
In contradistinction, pernicious or toxic love sends a mixed signal: "Only
I love you because you are not lovable and you are better off dead"
Conditioned love connects love to certain acts and minimum accomplishments. Toxic love links love to pain, hurt, and self-eradication.
People exposed to intermittent love in early childhood bribe other people to secure their caring and succor. They become people-pleasers, codependents, histrionics, or narcissists. People who grew up with dual signaling (I love you - you are unlovable - kill yourself) end up being internalizing borderlines, schizoids, schizotypals, or externalizing psychopaths.
All these intimacy-challenged, intimacy-anorectic types have rejection sensitivity coupled with zero latency: no matter how emotionally invested they are in another person, the minute they anticipate or perceive rejection, they catastrophize and instantly switch off any emotions they may have had. They do not mourn or grieve and they immediately transition to a new love interest or friend, in some cases within minutes from the breakup.
The codependent and Borderline
believe that, in an intimate relationship, both members of the couple need
to CHANGE in order to become ONE, to fuse and merge into a single
interdependent psychodynamic entity, a polychephalic bicellular organism.
But in a HEALTHY relationship, both parties REMAIN AS THEY ARE. They accept each other as two distinct, separate, and different people.
They bring into the relationship experiences and others from the outside. They do not feel threatened by personal autonomy: theirs and their partner's. On the contrary, they embrace it. Instead of abandonment anxiety they experience the anticipated joy of a functional togetherness. They do not chain and constrict each other but liberate one another.
True love is about letting go - as any good enough mother knows.
Narcissistic and Borderline
(secondary psychopathic) people triangulate often as a
relationship management strategy. But their triangulation is unusual: they
openly flirt with others in the presence of their primary partners and then, in
many cases, ostentatiously proceed to full-fledged substance abuse and
infidelity as their horrified, petrified, and agonized mates are left to ponder
They then sadistically proceed to describe to their spouses their sexual exploits and other misconduct in excruciating details as a form of coming clean, maintaining openness and honesty, and expressing remorse, repentance, and shame, or expiating guilt.
But why go into details? And then why lie about many of these data? Why assume the risk of a breakup? And why settle on such a course of action to start with?
Intended to get a rise out of the partner, triangulation helps to raise the "market value" of the straying mate in an invisible auction among other potentials. But totally accurate info would lead to a dissolution of the bond and to other adverse outcomes. Hence the prevarications and confabulations: I was drunk, I can't remember, he raped me, we only hugged or danced or kissed, or ... he fell asleep, we only had drinks together and he returned to his hotel and so on.
The Cluster B partner feels compelled to triangulate in this total, conspicuous, and extreme manner because she anticipates abandonment and feels that she has nothing left to lose, having already tried every other method and failed. At best, the romantic jealousy and hurt caused by the indiscretion may motivate her rejecting and abusive companion to reclaim her. At worst, it will just speed up the inevitable.
Borderline and Histrionic women
are secondary psychopaths. They are defiant and competitive. They convert
every relationship into a power play and bear long-term grudges as they seek to
settle sexual and romantic scores, old and new, both with their partners and
with third parties (sometimes even with casual strangers) who had injured or
challenged them somehow.
This irresistible competitive urge, the permanent power play, the need to prevail over her mate or over others, the drive to "restore justice" and thereby her self-esteem, and/or the compulsion to consummate a flirtatious and seductive hunt or a chase successfully often result in cheating on the primary intimate partner.
But the Borderline or Histrionic does not perceive her misconduct - however egregious and extreme - as cheating. "I needed to get it out of my system, it had nothing to do with you and I have no intention to hug/slow dance/kiss/make out/sleep with him again now that I proved to myself that he desires me sexually. I am no longer attracted to him. In future, I will meet him just for coffees and chats, nothing more even if he asks for it. Whatever happened there between us, stays there", she protests indignantly to her shattered significant other.
Or: "You made me do it: you rejected me, abandoned me, you communicate with other women, and you withheld sex when I wanted it. So, you had it coming. But why make such a big deal out of it? It was meaningless sex with a nobody! I don't even think about him anymore until you remind me! You are so jealous and insecure! It sucks!"
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