The 'Obsessive' Way I Fall in Love as Someone With Borderline Personality Disorder
This month I realized I needed to take a break from dating, while I was still fully in the throes of my latest fling. I need to stop having “casual” relationships because there was nothing casual about them. I flew to another country to meet up with a man I’d only known a month then spent two days crying after we parted. That’s not romance — that’s torture. It was not the first time I had traveled hundreds of miles for a man I barely knew but I hoped it would be the last.
I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) in 2015 — characterized by impulsive behavior and intense but unstable relationships with others. I am obsessive in love — falling quickly, deeply and I always put my partner’s needs before my own. The couplings may last a few weeks or months, but I usually end them before they get a chance to fall in love. I try to keep civilian casualties to a minimum.
The last serious relationship I had ended in divorce a decade ago. It was relaying the story of that marriage and its fallout that enabled a psychiatrist to begin to recognize the BPD which had ruled my emotions for my entire adult life. I married a man I had known exactly five months, then eight weeks later, attempted suicide when he went on a night out without me. Convinced he didn’t love me, at that moment I would rather die than have the relationship end. I was hospitalized, diagnosed with severe depression and sent home to a man who didn’t understand how the woman he married seemingly changed overnight.
The early days of our relationship were passionate and impulsive — we went on our first holiday together within a few weeks and were living together two months after meeting. But the further I fell in love, the harder it was to control my feelings. I was consumed by love, needed to be around him constantly, if I couldn’t be with him I needed to speak to him five times a day. If I didn’t get an immediate response to a text, I would catastrophize, imagining he’d left me for another woman. I suffered intense mood swings that made me want to fuck one minute and fight the next. When we were newlyweds, he enjoyed my constant attention but soon tired of this, especially when I insisted he leave the bathroom door open in case there was an emergency and I couldn’t get to him.
Paranoia crippled me, keeping me awake most nights when I’d find myself scrolling through emails and phone messages looking for clues he was going to leave me. I was convinced he was sleeping with every woman he knew and accused him of cheating daily. I had an overwhelming feeling of emptiness and did anything I could to give me a buzz now my relationship seemed to be imploding. I drank too much, took drugs, flirted with younger men and spent a lot of money. On one particularly impulsive day, I booked flights I couldn’t afford to New York City with a man I was barely speaking to.
Our fighting escalated until one night when he told me I was a crazy bitch, that he didn’t love me anymore but was scared to end the marriage for fear I’d kill myself. I became vicious, attacking everything he held dear, being nasty in a way that only someone who really knows you can. I threw things, destroyed sentimental objects and ripped up some of his clothes in a fit of rage. Within a week I’d moved out of our home and the following year we divorced.
I’ve struggled with emotional entanglements ever since. Once I become attached to someone, I get drunk on lust as dopamine floods my body. I’ve fallen in love so many times, it’s like an addiction. I crave the affection and touch of another human so much I have overlooked some questionable personality traits just so I don’t end up alone. So much of my identity becomes tied up in who I’m dating that I don’t know who I am anymore. Every time I fall in love, I unravel. It’s the trigger for all the worst aspects of my personality. When I am in love, my friendships suffer as my mood swings are out of control, I struggle to function at work and to even hold a conversation about something other than the person I am smitten with. Every brief relationship I’ve had since the divorce has been ended by me because as much as I crave the acceptance love brings, I fear abandonment so much I am willing to break my own heart rather than have someone else do it.
While I await therapy, I know I need to stay single. I’ve been told relationships with a BPD sufferer can be tricky, but not impossible. Time, patience and understanding go a long way. I’m not sure how I would explain BPD to a potential partner. I’m not planning on attaching this link to any future dating profiles, but hopefully the more I talk about how I am feeling, the more people around me can understand my actions. Sadly there’s no magic pill I can take to fix me. There’s no easy cure for BPD. I am only hope I can break free from viewing the world, my relationships and my life in such a narrow way. The aim is to not hit the self-destruct button every time life gets hard. Easier said than done…
Unsplash photo via Wesley Quinn