The Cycle of Dating I Go Through as Someone With BPD
A week before Christmas, I was lying on the floor in a pitch black room, sobbing. I’d texted the guy I liked (who seemed to like me back, although “seemed” is never, ever, ever enough for me). I believed, I had completely ruined everything. No matter how hard I tried to be positive, my anxiety built and soon I’d spiraled into a full blown none of my relationships have ever worked out so why should this one train wreck of thought. Eventually my mom had to come peel me off of the floor and dump me lovingly into bed.
Welcome to my life with borderline personality disorder (BPD). It’s not the first time I’ve “lost it” in a relationship. Let’s just say I’ve attempted the whole dating thing more than a few times, but my relationships all seem to end the same way (I’ll give you a hint, I’m still single). Here’s the pattern I’ve tracked, and you can let me know if yours is similar:
Phase 1: It all starts with my idolizing the guy. I meet him, he shows a lot of interest. Suddenly he’s perfect, we’re perfect for each other, everything’s so flipping perfect. I ride on the high of a new and dazzling possibility. This time I’ll be able to hold down a stable relationship, I tell myself. This time for sure. This delusion lasts about a week, maybe two.
Phase 2: He does something to rock my faith in the relationship. It’s usually something small — he doesn’t text me back as quickly, he doesn’t seem as excited to see me that day, he checks his watch during a date — and suddenly my whole world is falling apart. I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. I’m terrified that this person who I was so sure would fix the emptiness I live with every day is going to leave me and it will hurt.
Phase 3: So, I start to push back, just a little — I don’t want to drive him off completely. In my efforts to keep him, I resolve never to be the first one to text him, to invite him to do something, to talk to him at all. I test him, gage his behavior, wait for him to do or say something to convince me he still likes me (or the other way around).
Phase 4: But a couple weeks of this and it’s already too late. His cute little gestures produce only temporary bliss on my part. No matter what he does, I’m officially positive that he’s going to leave, and it feels unbearable. I keep it all inside when I’m with him. I’m pleasant, bubbly, overbearingly validating — because that’s what I want from the relationship: validation, confidence, safety. But all these bottled-up feelings (paired with the ever-present emptiness that’s always a part of me) leaves me with nothing to say to him, no matter how much we have in common. We endure many an awkward silence. It feels like I’m breaking the relationship, and I have no idea how to stop it.
Phase 5: Then, it happens. He begins to pull away, and all of my greatest fears are validated. Sometimes, out of sheer desperation, this is when I open up about a few things. I tell him about my struggles with mental illnesses, or at the very least, I say that I have “walls” that will take some time to break down, hoping he’ll buy that’s why things feel off between us and he’ll stay. Historically, this has never done anything to preserve the relationship. He leaves anyway and, after a good cry, my emotions suddenly shut down. I’m empty again. I’m alone.
Phase 6: Sooner or later though, emptiness makes way for rage. Most of the time I didn’t even realize I was mad. But leave me alone with my thoughts for too long (without Netflix or really loud music to distract me) and suddenly I’m drowning in anger. It’s not just about people I’ve dated, either. It’s anger for everyone, for the roommates who made fun of me, for the friends who abandoned me, for the people who used my insecurities to make themselves feel superior. I don’t even know if these offenses are real or imagined anymore — I’m sure it’s a combination of both. All I know is that anger is my underlying defense mechanism, and that’s not good.
OK, so I’m aware of the pattern. What am I going to do about it? Good question. I’ve dated a plethora of personalities, so “finding the right guy” can’t be the only solution. I’m guessing therapy’s a good start, maybe some medication. *weary shrug*
Honestly though, sometimes I’m not even sure I want to “get better.” Sometimes I convince myself all I want to do is ghost everyone and hide in my house for the rest of my life. That’s the thing about my BPD, though — I can’t hide from the loneliness. Eventually, even the rage will succumb to it, and I’ll start looking for love again, desperately. Even if it means dragging myself through the agonizing process of trial and error a hundred times over.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.
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Thinkstock photo via demaerre.