I wanted to think a bit about the idea that people who deal with BPD are manipulative. It seems to come up in the scant writing that's out there about the disorder, and it's an aspect of the condition with which I've been wrestling.
But before I start, I just want to reiterate that what I'm writing is my own perspective and experience. I don't claim any authority. I'm just telling you how it is for me.
If I described to you the way that my thought process moves, especially in terms of interactions with other people, I could certainly see where the idea of manipulative would come from. Though quite chaotic in general, I am a planner in interpersonal relationships. I think for hours, sorting through possibilities, playing out interactions, until I come across the exact right words, behaviours, or exchanges to achieve my desired ends. Like, yeah, that sounds pretty cold and manipulative. It would be weird to be the focus of such a practice. I could see it being off-putting.
If I were what our culture considers “neurotypical.”
How I've described it above is how I've seen it represented in some reading I've done. That idea that BPD verges on sociopathy with regard to how we manage our interactions with others. So let me fill in some of the blanks that I intentionally left in the previous description.
I think for hours about all of the things I shouldn't do that might, with just cause or not, make the people I'm going to be around want to be around me less. Since my diagnosis, I am acutely aware of this and still do the wrong thing sometimes. I play out every possibility that could lead to the best outcome for everyone involved, because if everyone is happy with the outcome, there's less chance they'll harbour some resentment toward me for something, anything I've done. I have conversations, draw on my education in literature to choose exactly the right words to provoke the right responses because if I leave it to the moment, if I wing it, I think there's far more chance I'll do damage than good.
And the worst part? It almost never works. It almost always backfires.
We are not manipulative. We are meticulous. We are keenly aware that,any interaction can push away the people who help us to thrive, with just cause or not. It is terrifying.
It is absolutely terrifying.