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Navigating Relationships With Borderline Personality Disorder (Part 2: The Warning Label)

TRIGGER WARNING: If you struggle with Borderline Personality, there is hope. Contact me and let’s work out a way to move forward. What follows is meant to be a guide for those who love you as they attempt to love you well. Some of this may come across as harsh, but, if you choose to read, please read to the end.

Now, last week’s post being said, I would still advise caution during these times, as this connection during the “I love you” season can become seductive^. Borderline Personality can easily fall into the performance trap of working to earn love, and this can throw off the relationship. Allowing for this trap can cause feelings of: 

  1. entitlement: when something has been earned
  2. resentment: when something earned is not paid, or
  3. imbalance: when one earns and the other pays

Staying ahead of this trap can make the difference between peace and pitfall. Ensure that your words and actions convey some consistent messages:

  1. no one is earning or owing love
  2. love is freely given
  3. love is a response to being, not doing

Some ways to do this:

  • Do not return compliments. Instead, say thank you. Then, offer your compliment at another time.

Doing this shows that positive attention is not a part of any chain of cause and effect – it is outside of their control. This is leading them toward connecting being, as opposed to doing, with love. This is why we offer the compliment at another time – outside of the cause and effect window so it is harder to explain away as the result of coersion.

  • When you give a gift (of time, money, etc…), refuse to allow them to pay you back.

Once again, we are heavy handed with anti-reciprocity (real term?). We communicate that our expressions of love do not come with strings attached – a novel concept to the individual inexperienced with unconditional love.

  • (This one might sound cruel) Do not take the bate when they make threats.

Do not negotiate or make any attempt to keep them in the relationship if they threaten to leave. If they are going to go, let them. This might be the only way they could come back if they ever chose to. By doing this, you have communicated to them that, while you may want them in your life, you don’t need them. Why is this important? Making themselves needed is part of the working to earn love pitfall. If they threaten to leave, and you panic, now they know you need them. Maybe for financial gain or pleasure or affirmation or backup or solace or a salve for insecurity or whatever else. If you need them, there’s little room to genuinely want them in your life. Now, you just want them around to do that thing they do.

If you refuse to make them needed in your life, they must depend on you wanting them instead. They are, as are we all, at the mercy of the kindness of others. After all, we do not love because it has been earned. We do not love because of others. We love because of ourselves.

  • Do not take the bait when they make themselves ‘better’

In a similar token, do not respond when they attempt to make you want them more – such as becoming more like you, more like what they think you might want, more agreeable, etc. This shows them that you like them as opposed to any manipulable characteristic about them

Ultimately, our task is to love our Borderline loved ones because of who they are and not what they do. This is no small task, and the message will not always transmit. Even now, some may choose to see this write up as an indictment instead of a guide.

As we say in the Cluchey household (with great lack of eloquence): Just because someone else makes sad choices, doesn’t mean you have to join them.

I’m Adam Cluchey, and we are Raising Consciousness..

Navigating Relationships With Borderline Personality Disorder (Part 1)

Many of us struggle with how to handle those back and forth relationships in our lives. Hot then cold. Close then contentious. Loving then antagonistic. These relationships can be a regular source of stress, confusion and frustration. Well, there is a secret sauce here. Something that can turn down the volume on the chaos: expectations.

The bad news: 

When we are dealing with Borderline, we are dealing with a pervasive pattern of perceiving the world. What this means at the most basic level? It is very hard to shake. A family member struggling with untreated Borderline will feel the pull to reframe your actions as abandonment. This doesn’t mean they will give in to that pull, nor does it mean they will act on it…but probably they will. 😕 (This is where personal choice (and treatment!) step in.)

(Note, if you are struggling with this yourself, there are things you can do about it. Your disorder does not define you. Contact me and let’s talk.)

The good news:

The border line!* Ok maybe that news doesn’t sound all that good to you. But, in light of the bad news, this makes the difference between a relationship of nothing but pain all the time and a relationship that goes through seasons. The stereotypical caricature of Borderline Personality Disorder is “I love you! I hate you!”, and this means that sometimes we’re in the “I love you!” season!

In my experience, these individuals have an incredible capacity to connect! They are highly intuitive and emotionally aware. While they could certainly use some cognitive and emotional healing and self-awareness (this can be acquired), they are already equipped to feel deeply connected to others and the world around them. Odds are, they know what you’re feeling before you do!

This is a season of intimacy^, affection and closeness. Enjoy it!

So, adjust your expectations, and you may find you are not so thrown by the back and forth of Borderline. There will be hard times, and there will be pleasant times. Keep this in mind, and you will be prepared for the hard and open for the pleasant…

And, as much as I hate to put the cliff hanger here of all places. We’ll save the warning label for next week…

I’m Adam Cluchey, and we are raising consciousness..

*This is not actually what the word ‘borderline’ is referring to in it’s original usage, but I find it helpful here – so there.

^Not necessarily in the romantic sense

Why “Inner Vows” don’t work

Have you ever made an “Inner Vow”?

  • “I will never be like him”
  • “I will never cheat on my spouse”
  • “I would never do that”
  • “I will never treat my friends that way”

Typically, promises like these represent a passionate attempt to hold fast to certain values or commitments.

They also all but guarantee the opposite outcome.

Why? False security. When I make an “Inner Vow” like this, I’m actually just attempting to secure a certain outcome. When I then trust that imaginary security, I rely on it and become blind to the risk. Now let me ask you: who is in greater danger?

  • The man who vows to never be caught unawares
  • The man who knows he could

My advice: Don’t make promises to yourself or anyone else. Promises are the blustery understudy of actions. Make choices.

Us Against Them?

I’ve been solicited for my opinion on a video that has recently gone viral. Here it is:

I liked it, and I agree with its sentiments. I like the emphasis of spirituality over systemic rules. I also think the video was well done and I appreciate the artistic presentation. I very much enjoyed this video.

I do, however, hold against it that it’s tearing down a straw man. I’ve noticed this a lot lately: a lot of people attacking religion…but nothing from religion in return. I’ve never known someone to argue the other side of this argument! Where are all of the “pro-religiosity” folks that we are rallying against? I appreciate and support people wanting to revive and contribute to the systems they live in. I suppose, if we must, we can create a straw man to rally against, but I think this is just setting people up for disappointment: we’ll never triumph over our imaginary foe. In my experience, it is better to simply affirm what is good. It’s usually not necessary to point out what is wrong in order to point out what is right.

This brings up another issue: if creating an enemy is usually not helpful for the development for one’s argument, then what is it helpful for? I propose that any action, including manufacturing an enemy, is an attempt to meet a personal need. I wonder where these videographers would claim their affirmation or self-worth normally comes from?

On identity.

Oftentimes I feel the urge to be outgoing and extroverted with others. I think I’m not the only one who feels pressure in social situations to act a certain way or be a certain type of person. In my opinion, this is usually not a healthy impulse. I think it is always better to embrace my natural personality and explore how I can honestly contribute. What I have to offer is always better than what others want me to have to offer (if they’re different).

As a rule, I ask myself “does this serve the kingdom of heaven?” It’s not always a definitive yes or no, but the answer is usually more one than the other. Life is best when I am serving the good pleasure of my King and His Kingdom (c.f. Matt 6:33 and Luke 12:31 – I’ll comment on the “Prosperity Gospel,” which is not what I’m espousing, in a later post).

Your thoughts?

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