The Romanticized Drama of The End Game
This is an opinion article about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) from my blog (which is not available right now). Since i'm feeling functional & constructive at the moment... i thought this would make an interesting NowPublic piece about a topic many people are frustrated by... even if they don't know it. i do not define BPD in this article so i will summarize:
BPD is largely a defensive mechanism of the human mind in response to extensive and intolerable amounts of mental (and often physical) abuse. The DSM-IV-TR lists the disorder within "anti-social personality disorder" instead of listing it separately, as it used to with BPD and sociopathy in earlier revisions. It IS an anti-social disorder in the sense that it operates counter to societal functioning, but, like sociopaths, people with BPD are often very "social" in the way they carry themselves. For a summary of the clinical traits, visit this site: http://www.toddlertime.com/dx/borderline/bpd-traits.htm
Part of Borderline Personality Disorder is the act of bringing on the end of [relationships]. It's [very much a part of what's] called "the self fulfilling prophecy."
What creates the prophecy?
Fear of rejection, betrayal or envelopment. Sometimes all three [or many others]. Maybe more than just sometimes. [There's] another [paradoxical facet here]:
It's a need.
i look back and i can see the "End Game" in each of [my relationships with people i believe have BPD]. What i hadn't realized before [writing this article], nor read about in my research [about BPD], is that some borderliners actually feed on the drama of a doomed relationship. [This means] it isn't just a case of fear. There needs to be another shot of energy. Another hit of adrenaline to the borderliner's system, because they've already gotten over the "new relationship energy" (as people call the excitement of the a new companion or lover). They've already gotten through the drama of the first sexual experience together. The premature declaration of love. The agony over whether or not the borderliner is loved back as they need and expect to be. There is a lull and it must be filled with something substantial!
Setting up the dramatic end is the bookend to the original build up of expectations and agonizing over "does this guy like me?" [this all goes for males with BPD, too, but i'm using the common female subject] That thrill of first contact is bookended by the thrill of the death of the romance, or the replacement of their infatuation (thought to be love) with hate (justified by something the lover did or does).
After the newness wears off, borderliners spend a lot of time questioning whether it's "real or not" and agonizing over "how is this fated to go terribly wrong?" It's called "waiting for the other shoe to drop," a phrase i never understood until it was used in the context of borderline personality disorder [by a trained practitioner]. After i had gone through it a few times [as the victim, [i] even started to feel those dreaded "waiting for" agonies myself.
At this point, a borderliner becomes easily let down by their current lover or agitated by [issues] she/he [had] told her/his lover were non-issues... way back during the initial orientation period of "i like this and i don't like that." [Then, suddenly] "this and that" change; [these things that were non-issues suddenly are issues and are reported as always having been issues that they merely "tolerated" for their lover at the time... but now "it's gone too far"]. [Most] distressing is the reality distortion: "It was always that way, you just didn't understand" or "i thought you would change" etc.
[The peson with BPD] starts reverting to old behaviors [they had] previously "outgrown." They give up on projects and resolutions established to lure you in. They start comparing you to "the last guy" ... Except this time, the tale of "the last guy" isn't fierce anger. This time, they aren't building you up as "the better catch." This comparison is the "romantic regret" comparison.
Sometimes (at least twice in my own experiences) borderliners even attempt to [contact], or actually do contact, the previous lover or companion. They want to hear that all is forgiven. They now wistfully accept their own "contributions" to the failure of that relationship. The borderliner needs to see if they have been absolved of the damage they did, somehow no longer feeling quite as justified in their anger and hate as before. [This behavior functions to] maintain consistency with how you [the current lover] used to be an example of "how much [the borderliner has] grown since the last guy," [The borderliner] will describe this romantic regret as "wisdom and growth."
It's just another one of the steps on the infinite stairwell of their cyclic behavior.
"He was polite, but he made it clear we were never going to be friends," she said to me. [actual quote from a girl who complained about an ex to me so fiercely until the End Game began... and she sought him out via email]
i wondered why she had even tried to contact him. It worried me. i wasn't sure why, but i knew it wasn't fear of her going back to him. i sensed something more complicated. Even though i thought she was bipolar [at this time, the end of the relationship], i ended up seeing things a lot more clearly later on. Bipolar [Disorder] would almost be a comfort because BPD is a [far more] complex system. [It consists of common elements that victimize others, such as the] setup, opportunism, rejection and demoralization. Bipolar, in comparison, is almost comparable to a mood swing, and they can recover from it without swapping lovers out. Borderliners make a complex and specific process out of each and every step of the cycle. [The more complex the process, the more entrenched their BPD and lack of self-awareness - also the more likely that their damage sustained early in life was severe].
[Borderliners always feel compelled] to take that next step because they need the next shot of adrenaline and the next rush of "feeling." Without it, they feel that something is missing or wrong because the high has gone. [Many borderliners] have never achieved stability before and [therefore] don't comprehend the concept, nor know what it might feel like [or what to do with it]. All they can do is compare "now" to "before" and see the disparity between the stable [and dull] "now" and the exciting "before."
"... but jace, you just don't seem to... you know."
No i don't know! You haven't told me!
[actual dialog with person quoted above]
Apparently i just didn't seem to... you know.
[Many phrases could fill in her hanging phrase, such as:]
"Be the 'right' one."
"Act like you love me."
"Behave as i expect you to."
Yep, that's the one: "Behave as i expect you to." It isn't what she would have said, but it's what she was actually [unconsciously feeling]. She was [finding all the possible reasons that "this" was "wrong," and] turning the [frightening and level] stability into a letdown. [A justification for changing her mind.] A letdown that sets up the beginning of the end.
When the old lover (or lovers) start [being painted in a kinder and gentler light], or when [borderliners] reach out to them, looking to possess some "friendship" as a prize to prove the damage they did wasn't so bad after all... When [borderliners] start sounding wistful and melancholic [making it clear that] your very existence is no longer filling them with "love," "life" and "brilliant color" ... Know that they are romanticizing the [soon to be] end of [the] relationship [with you].
What's the connection between romanticizing the end and a kinder image of the previous guy? i'm not sure. maybe some the part of the borderline personality feels oncoming guilt for where they're headed. They can't put it where it belongs because that would mean that they are responsible for that oncoming doom. It is far more preferable to make the other party be the enemy than for the borderliner to be the seen as an impatient, intolerant, unloving bad guy, kicking away this latest lover for no rational reason. They have to find somewhere to go with this "feeling..." Why *not* become all wistful and melancholic about the previous guy and soften the guilt by "exchanging it" for an older, safer event that is already in the past? Re-association. Re-assignment. [And, of course: Revision].
[This hypothesis] sounds plausible. i think there's still a piece of this part of the cycle i'm not getting. It doesn't fit quite right firmly. Maybe instead of re-assigning the emotions, it is part of demonizing the current companion by making him seem worse than the others. i'm not sure. It might be a variation from one borderliner to the next. [It is, in fact, very likely a lot of variation, but not very far from the individual's historical pattern, nor that of the typical BPD relationship failure patterns].
Still... [Whether i'm sure of the cause or not,] this romanticizing of the end is definitely going on. Some borderliners drag it out, with a mixture of intolerance for the current companion and self-loathing. Some choose total hard-core hate and intolerance for the current "looser boyfriend" or "the asshole controlling/manipulating/holding back my life." Sometimes they oscillate between the two [or go for both at the same incoherent time].
[Regardless,] they are building up energy. Driving up the emotions. Piling on the anxiety so they can have that orgasm of the final moment: The grand "this is over!" The angry ones will just [declare] you to be worse than everyone else. The passive-aggressive ones will literally drive you mad enough to make the break yourself. Either way, it's your fault, not theirs.
At best, you may get the "i still want us to be friends" [crap]. [Or] the "it just wasn't meant to be" tripe. Notice the romanticized "fate" [element being the true cause of] breaking you apart... It wasn't her fault, really... even though she said some unkind things, and/or pushed you into saying unkind things... it's "just the best thing for everyone" that it went down this way.
Oh yeah, sure. It had nothing at all to do with the complex set of expectations and demands that the borderliner propped up in her head, [or that she] only informed [her lover] of about half of those expectations, or [that she] simply changed them (after the fact), and then acted like [you] let [them] down or betrayed [them]. Right.
At worst, you become the evil bastard they will vilify before the ears [or eyes, on the internet] of every person who crosses their path from that point on, until... well, until they need to displace you from the throne of "worst guy ever" so that someone else can sit there. [the next guy - the next piece of soon to be wreckage in their wake]
How do you know which [type of End Game] you're going to get?
Look at the inbetweener. She probably told you about him. Was he a quick mistake and a dismissed jerk or was he some poor misunderstanding? [The kind of misunderstanding] that the [borderliner] tell[s] you [about, saying] "i think i hurt him..." [demonstrating a kind of] sympathy a non-pet owner gives to a co-worker's dead cat or dog.
"Aw, poor thing. Too bad about that. Oh well, you know they just don't live as long as we do. You know eventually you have to let go and just get another one."
[The "cool off period" (like between orgasms, shots of the "drug" called "drama" or "excitement") varies] between individuals. Some people go cold and declare "never again!" (or use the near term equivalent "It'll be a long time before i ever love again, that's for sure!"). These are the lazy ones. Other [borderliners] will head for a different destination to get [more of] the "drug" from a different source. This type of borderliner is the thrill seeker. The runaway. [Always full of] brilliant schemes and grand plans. Time to travel. Time to do "all those things he held me back from doing" [(and find another hot lover along the way)].
Either way, the borderliner will find a way to fulfill their short-term needs. There's the thrill seeking, the drama, the casual sex and the poor, wretched inbetweener.
[Upon consideration], maybe the inbetweener is just a less important, convenience lover that gets caught up in a smaller, shorter round of the borderline game. i don't know [for sure; each person has variations in behavior and patterns and no one definite absolute applies].
Lest you think i'm a horrible awful man for all these declarations and bitter "judgments..."
i possess empathy for their [lousy] situation. Really. How long will they continue this mad cycle? How many times will they chew through lover after lover? It's not that they consciously WANT to harm or hurt. It's not that they consciously seek out the downs and the fears and the anxieties. Their experiences have wired them up for hurrying things along. [They're wired up with multitudes of] defense mechanisms. Their experiences have wired them with addiction to thrilld and [to] the rush of one [type of] drama or another. The worst [of these people] are the ones who have been brought to this point by physical and/or sexual abuse. [It's unfair, unjust and horrific what life experiences have done to them].
i know these things. i comprehend them. The [awareness] interferes with my bitterness and keeps me from being hateful. Not that i haven't sent [my own] hate mails in response to being toyed around [with] and [abused]... i admit it. BUT i know what's really going on and i know why. Worst of all (for me) is that i still love them. i love who they claimed to be. i don't know if that claim is a real person or not, but it's the only thing i have that's any good, so i hold on to it. Bitterly and ... sigh ... wistfully.
Actually, there IS a scenario in which their behavior is intentional and conscious:
A borderliner can progress only so far before they are aware of their own steps and procedures and either chooses to get help and change... or decides that they have finally found clarity and control by simply using all the experiences they've had as a map for "how to manipulate people." Not just lovers; friends, co-workers, employees.
This is when the borderline personality [disorder] has gone from solid borderline stimulus-response to sociopathy. Willful anti-social behavior for personal satisfaction or personal gain. No longer motivated by fear (except [the fears in their] ego; fear of being called out for what they are), they are motivated by lust, greed, the need for accomplishment... whatever. [They want, they know how to take it, and they WILL].
[That kind, the sociopaths] are the people i have no empathy for. Once someone starts to willingly manipulate another person, for personal gain, they no longer deserve humane treatment because they are actively behaving in an inhumane and socially destructive manner. A wound deserves treatment and care, but a knife requires a sheath.
Or better yet:
Something to dull its cutting edge.
But... then we're no longer discussing borderline personality disorder [and] thus ends this particular rant [i mean, thoughtful opinion piece].
[As a bonus] here's [a] related rant from my [now extinct] journal at OKC [OKCupid.com]:
"The Sudden Departure"
i've noted that this is the exact type who broke me a few years back. i noted just today that [OKC] changed the wording a little. It used to say something along the lines of "no doubt, there's somewhat of a trail of wreckage behind you..." That was part of what made the type's description so dead on. Why the change?
i call her [name]. Through her, i call myself "Treg." Yes, [there was a] piece of wreckage behind her, preceding myself. Where there are two, there are likely to be more. A trail of it. i'm sure it didn't stop with me.
To all of you sudden departures out there: your problem is most likely your fear of envelopment and rejection. Basically, you "get scared" (to quote [name]) and back out just when things are moving along nicely... but you've had some time to think... or you're waiting to actually make contact. Yeah, that's when the fear and anxiety seeps in. TIME. Too much time without disaster... WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT?? That's when the borderline personality disorder takes over. The lust. The runaway. The jealousy. Whatever. That's when you toss away a perfectly decent lover/potential lover, toss him a half-cooked story of fate and misunderstanding and other such BS that comes from you wanting not to feel like you're what you are: "the bad guy."
Here's a tip: evolve. Get help. Try some sincere apologies, too. If you try to spend the entirety of your life with this behavior, you will end up miserable. More miserable than you are right now in the core of your being (that little place, compacted and pushed down and hidden where you store all your hurt... the little gem of hate and brutality you bring out in order to drive your current no-longer-interesting companion into becoming "the bad guy" so you don't have to [take that role]). You will end up miserable-alone or miserable [by marriage] in a sudden attempt to escape the fate you fear most: being alone.
"i'm lonely!" she complained to me.
Maybe if you admitted to it, and spent some time being personally responsible for your actions... and maybe if you actually spent some time really, actually ALONE, you would get a little further along than "leaving soon." And really, with the casual sex, the friendsex, the one night stands, the lovers, the boyfriends, the "not-boyfriends," "not lovers" and all other spectra of labels... [the drinking yourself drunk, the drugs, the pharmaceuticals,] you really haven't BEEN ALONE. Not really. Not long enough for it to count. That's why you can't wait longer than a few months to see someone. You need your fix NOW.
Get off the merri-go-round. It's not merry at all for [those people who become your] wreckage, and i suspect that [a] core part of you is just as sick of it as you [previously] claimed you were, "back then..." for the few months you were lucid, self aware and trying...
-jace of dysamoria dot com