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What Dating Is Like With Borderline Personality Disorder

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Editor's Note

If you have experienced emotional abuse, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

I have never been a fan of online dating or dating apps, mainly because I don’t know what to write about myself. Even if I am just listing my accomplishments or positive attributes, I think, “This is pointless as they’ll eventually realize this isn’t really me.” I can post nice pictures of myself and think, “If they saw me in real life, they would think I am disgusting compared to how I’ve made myself look.” So, the fear of rejection wins again, to the point I can’t even face making a dating profile because it makes me self-obsess and catastrophize too much. So, I stay in my shell until I meet someone in the real world, which, let’s face it, is much harder nowadays.

But, it does happen. Usually, I am swept off my feet by love bombing men with narcissistic tendencies because I am being held on a pedestal and subjected to the kind of love and adoration I want. It’s the most amazing feeling, connecting so much with someone and they only see you in a purely positive light. There’s no hesitation, the conversations are flowing. “This is what love is all about,” I always think.

Obviously, that doesn’t last. The mind games start, the lies, the ghosting and silent treatment, the mental anguish of someone starting to deprive you of all that lovely adoration they gave so freely. It has happened to me numerous times in my life and all my experiences have been different, but the only people I have ever been completely besotted with have been these kinds of abusers in their own right.

Now that I am more self-aware, I realize the problem is my boundaries, accepting love too quickly when it is being used as a weapon to manipulate and control. In reality, I think love isn’t like this. I am not sure I know exactly what love is. With this self-awareness, you would think I could then pursue a relationship with a healthy individual, but it’s not that simple.

“Normal” people can show vulnerabilities too fast for me, as opposed to the types with narcissistic tendencies who don’t seem to have any vulnerabilities or issues and everything is great for them (obviously not true). Unfortunately, someone being vulnerable (seen as needy or clingy), talking openly about mental health struggles too early on, etc. is off-putting to them. The fear of engulfment is activated and I worry I am going to be trapped and smothered by this person and expected to take on their problems as my own. I don’t have the energy to take on someone else’s problems, not at the beginning anyway. I can be fairly brutal in these situations and cut people off out of the blue.

There is always that period at the beginning, however, where I am not sure how I should act toward the new love interest. Does this person want me to be happy-go-lucky? A little bit unobtainable maybe? I should maybe ignore their messages for a while to see if that makes them make more effort. Should I be comfortable in my own skin or would this person maybe like me better with makeup on? Do I act unbothered or really bothered? Most of the time, I flit between all of these based on how I feel the interaction is going. Cue, unstable behavior, hot and cold emotions, splitting, etc. Recipe for disaster.

The problem with not having a sense of self is I don’t know how to be my authentic self to someone. Sometimes my authentic self seems to change. So, how do I know what is real and what isn’t real? I don’t know how to get out of this disordered way of thinking. If I take an approach that seems to put the other person off, it triggers a spiral of self-hatred.

“Why am I like this?”

“What am I doing?”

It’s truly exhausting. The more invested in someone I become, the more even the slightest hint of rejection can trigger me. They will either get a silent treatment, some kind of verbal abuse or sarcastic provocation or I will try to act unbothered and keep them on the side. This behavior is toxic and I know it. I try to stay rational in my head, but it doesn’t always work. I am different people, my core self seems to be made up of different people.

So, I will often retreat back into isolation once a relationship has broken down, unless I have been the person to discard (where I have no issues moving on). I’d love to meet someone I like who I could explain all this to and who would accept me for this. I am too scared to tell anyone though and don’t want to be seen as a “personality disorder.”

My aim is to continue working on myself with self-care and self-awareness and I hope one day I am able to have a fulfilling relationship. I feel quite hopeless that will be the case, but I will try to stay positive as I know I am capable of loving someone deeply, caring for them and being there for them. I feel like I have a lot of love to give, but haven’t had the chance to properly give it to someone yet. So, in my darkest times I always remember I want to love and be loved. I am working on myself to be able to achieve that. So, there is hope after all.

Getty image by Antonio_Diaz

Originally published: April 6, 2021
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